43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
I have seen a lot posted on social media where people are taking a stand. Drawing a line in the sand so to speak and choosing which side they are going to be counted with. I think that’s fine. I have no problem with line drawing - no problem with choosing a side. I think that’s a good thing, a healthy thing even. What I don’t think is healthy is how we villainize everyone who doesn’t stand on our side. If, I’m being completely honest, I find myself doing it. If I see a post on social media that doesn’t align with my own personal, political or social beliefs, I belittle that person in my mind without even meaning to.
It wasn’t until a friend of mine posted the above verse on his feed that I began to think about what the true problem in America is right now. It’s not the left, and it’s not the right. It’s the citizens who refuse to believe that people from the other side are, in the end, just people too - people with their own thoughts and experiences who for whatever reason are standing on a different side of the issue than you are. Are they your enemy? Fine. But you know what God says about that. Love them. More than that, love them in a 1 Corinthians 13 way.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails.
Love the way God loves you. He is patient with you. He is kind towards you. He keeps no record of your wrongs.
Can you say the same about yourself? Are you patient with others. Kind towards them? Keeping no record of their wrongs? If you truly can’t say this about your worst enemy, maybe you need to stop posting on social media and start finding a way to bridge the gap, to conquer the divide, to love the way you are loved by God. In that truth press on, my friends. Until next time.
A couple of days ago, I saw a lot of posts on social media about National Daughter Day - so many beautiful moms celebrating so many beautiful daughters. I have a confession to make. I didn’t post one of my daughter. I also didn’t feel much like gushing about what a great girl she is and how much I love her. That made me feel extremely guilty, like maybe I don’t love my daughter enough.
Truth is, I do love her. Always have. Always will. But right now I’m having a hard time liking her. See, she’s a teen. Well, truth be told, she’s not quite a teen but she’s acting enough like one these days that it’s making it extremely difficult to want to be around her. She’s cranky, sassy, mean, short, curt and completely, if I’m being honest, rude and disrespectful. She yells at me, closes her door in my face and, in general, wants nothing to do with me.
It hurts and it’s tough. At times she gets her phone and screen privileges taken away but, sometimes, I just take a deep breath and remind myself that I’m in this for the long haul. Today in a journal that I’m keeping for her, I wrote this and prayed it most fervently for myself:
Praying that the way I respond to you, despite your “meaness” would be a way to preach the Gospel to you. Also praying that I wouldn’t be a doormat when I need to be firm. Help me to find that balance, Lord.
Anyway, I guess this is another case of being gracious with myself and realizing I don’t always have to have all the answers. It's also okay if I don't like my children at certain stages of their life. I don't have to like them to love them. Loving them is a choice and something that as an adult I have to practice every day - even when they hurt me, even when they are less than their best toward me.
So for any mom out there who is feeling the way I do, you're not alone. Hang in there. I have faith that better days are ahead for my daughter and myself. I have faith that in the future, we will be close again, find a rhythm and genuinely want to spend time together. May God grant it for Jesus sake. Amen. And amen.
A few weeks ago, in some ways what seems like an eternity, we were told that we would not be returning to school until April 13th. This past week, we got the unfortunate news that we will not be returning to school until at least the beginning of May. I don't know about the rest of you, but that was a tough day for me. The day I realized that normal is not going to look the same for quite some time.
Since I wrote my blog, Bad Mom; Part I, I've been posting daily updates on my Facebook page. Here are some of my favorites:
Bad Mom Daily Update: Day 1. Quote of the day: My daughter, after walking her dog two blocks. “I hate exercise and fresh air. It gives me a headache.”
Bad Mom Update: Day 2 Quote of the day: My son: “I’m going to Instagram my other friends and see if anyone else is making their 13-year-old do schoolwork.”
Bad Mom Update: Day 4: She knocked a plate off the counter this morning and broke it, pulled me across town on a walk and barked ferociously at me all morning. Yes, you’ve got it. My worst behaved child today is the dog.
But somewhere along the strange path we find ourselves on something began to change.
Bad Mom Update: Day 7: My daughter and I have a show we’re watching together called Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. While we were watching an episode something bad happened to the main character and my daughter got really upset. I reached over hugged and reassured her with the words “Don’t worry the happy ending is coming.” Maybe that’s what we need to remind ourselves of these days: no matter how bad things seem, the happy ending is coming. Hang in there and have faith!
Bad Mom Update: Day 8: The kids and I had a good conversation today about friends at school and what makes a good friend. Then we went for a long bike ride together. Things like this would never have happened on a “normal” day.
There's a couple of lessons I've learned in the past couple of weeks. Number One, this strange time we find ourselves in isn't just a time for educating my kids, it's a time to enjoy and embrace them. They are growing up way too fast and this is my chance to hold on to all the moments I have left with them. Number Two, I don't have all the answers as a parent and that's okay. I don't have to. Number Three, I'm not a bad parent, I'm just a parent trying to find my way. For far too long, I've compared myself to other parents trying to play the game of keep up - a game that leaves me feeling breathless, disoriented and completely worn out. These days, I'm learning to give myself grace and trust that God is guiding me as I parent - that he doesn't expect me to parent like everyone else is. He just wants me to do it in a way that is true to the way he's gifted me, created me, blessed me.
I hope you can realize the same about yourself whatever your role in life is right now. You're not like everyone else. You are you. Be true to that. Just keep doing your best, keep moving forward and trust that God is bigger than all your shortcomings and failures.
Photo by Krzysztof Kowalik on Unsplash
This unexpected time has brought me many things. Not the least of which is the renewed sense that God is in control. Today, as I was walking, I thought of all those people who have lost their jobs in the wake of this pandemic. My heart goes out to them, so I prayed that they would experience and know the peace of God through all of this.
Then, I thought about a story in the Bible from the time of the prophet Elijah. (1 Kings 17:8-16) It’s a beautiful story about what happens to a widow who is living in a time of famine. When Elijah comes to her town, he is directed by God to ask her to feed him. The widow, out of need rather than selfishness declares that she only has a handful of flour and a little bit of oil to cook one last meal for her and her son. Long story short, when Elijah encourages her to bake him a loaf of bread first, he gives her a promise that she will not run out of flour or oil until the famine is over. What happens, is truly miraculous because for as long as she has needs, God provides.
That’s what I want to encourage you with today. As long as you have need, God will provide. Each and every day. Look for the miracles and you will find them.
Another encouragement I give to you is that this would be a great time to dust off your Bible and spend some time both in prayer and the reading of Scripture. It is something I can neglect when life gets too hectic and busy. So, I’m seeing this pause in life as an opportunity to walk more closely with God and find out what he wants for my life. It also is a great chance for me to sit down with my kiddos and share the truths of Scripture with them.
See this pandemic as a blessing and not a curse. A chance to slow down and take stock in what really matters in life. Go on long walks, video chat with those you don’t normally keep in touch with, reinstate family game night. Most importantly of all, reach out to God whose arms are always open. Find him there providing you with the strength you need to live each day - one day at a time. ‘Til next time.
Photo by Katie Moum on Unsplash
Next week, I embark on a new journey as I am going to be homeschooling, if you can call it that, my 5th and 8th grader. Ironically enough, they have asked on more than one occasion if I would homeschool them. I am a teacher, after all, they frequently remind me. Now, that we're here though, on the precipice of this momentous occasion, I can't help but fear what might or might not happen in the coming weeks
I know what I want to happen. Angelic children, sitting earnestly at their desks every morning working on whatever assignments I give them. Begging for more to do and loving every minute of it. Meanwhile, I'm baking my fourth loaf of bread to stock up during the apocalypse that is Covid-19. We'll read together, play together, learn new skills together. That's my vision. As I type this, a smile comes to my lips, because I know better. I know it will not go nearly the way I plan.
First, how I've prepared. I've created two google docs, one for each of my children. Labeled with their names, each doc is specific to what they are supposed to be doing over the next several weeks. For instance, my son wants to be a physician. We decided it would be a perfect time for him to learn anatomy and more about the human body. So I put links to websites that have information galore and youtube videos that he can check out. Feeling good so far, oh yea. Next, I have listed a website called typing.com. On it, I've created an account for both of my kids so they can learn to use home row and not hunt and peck for the rest of their adult lives. Then I list reading, audio books count too, so I set up a link for them to search for books of interest. Math is covered by IXL in their respective grades.
Last but certainly not least, I listed Bible time activities. These include things like watching the series, The Chosen, reading their Bibles, doing devotionals, and, for my son who is being confirmed this year, listening to podcasts of sermons and taking notes. If I've failed at anything as a mother, it's that I've been entirely too quiet about my faith, and what it means to me. I want to rectify that mistake and this seems like a good time to do that.
But let's face it, if I'm being honest I've made a lot of mistakes as a parent. My kids are on screens way above and beyond what they should be. My son's language could rival that of a sailor. My daughter as a twelve-year-old can throw the tantrum of a two-year-old. On more than one occasion, the guilt of how many, many ways I've failed as a mom consumes me. I guess that's why I consider myself a bad mom. Because of all my shortcomings and failings.
And if that's the end of my story, what a sad sad tale indeed. Thankfully, it's not the end. Although I may have fallen short in many ways as a parent, I still have a chance. No I can't begin again, but I can continue on and take heart with one very important detail.
God is guiding me. My Father in Heaven is guiding me. There is a verse in the Bible that states, God gently guides those that have young. On more than one occasion, I have clung to that promise that as I watch over and take care of my little ones, God is watching over and taking care of me. There's a lot of comfort and encouragement in the knowledge that the One who has raised me up, the best of all parents, is gently guiding me as I raise up my little ones.
In that knowledge, I'm done with guilt as a parent. I'm done with comparing myself to others. I'm done with being embarrassed over how my kids are acting. No one is doing it perfectly. No one. It's time for me to understand this and find the best path for me and my kiddos - to parent as God intended me to parent, uniquely, and individually raising up the ones that he purposefully gave to me and my husband.
I have no idea what these next three weeks will bring. I know I tried to make it less structured and more them focused and I'm hoping that works. I've also appealed to their understanding of my weaknesses as a mom. My follow through and consistency aren't always great. This weekend, I reminded them of that and let them know that part of us having a few good weeks at home is them taking some responsibility and being willing to make the most of our learning time together. I'm hoping that message sticks.
If you are a person of faith, I would covet your prayers. Maybe most of all, a prayer for peace no matter what lies ahead. 'Til next time.
I have been thinking about death and dying lately. Not in a morbid way but more of a curious, I-wonder-what’s-out-there way. You see my mom passed away in December of 2011 and I have missed her more than a little lately. I remember before she passed, we talked a little bit about what was out there on the other side. She was a little afraid, because her church taught that we wouldn’t recognize each other up in heaven, that we would all just be souls up in heaven. I guess the thinking was that if we recognized each other we would be sad over the ones that haven’t made it. And since there is no sadness in heaven. Well, I get the premise I guess but I’m not sure I totally agree with it.
Then, lately, my own kids have been talking to me about dying and eternity and what it means to live forever. For them, it’s rather an abstract concept. I get that. I used to think as a child, that we would spend our days painting - think Bob Ross for an eternity. No offense to Bob Ross but that eternity seems pretty bleak to me.
But lately, I’ve begun to think of eternity as a place where the best of life is there to enjoy, while the worst that life has to offer is nothing but a distant memory. I’ve even imagined it as a place where I’ll get a chance to see all the people I’ve lost to death, including my mom and my dad - people that I haven’t seen in so long but miss so much. Maybe heaven is a little like a family reunion, where you get the chance to sit and talk about all that life had to offer and all the good and fond memoires are there to be shared with each other.
Either way, I’m not afraid to die, not like I used to be. Nor am I afraid of what eternity has to offer. The Bible says that God is creating a new heaven and a new earth. I can’t help but believe that that kind of a life is worth waiting for. A life where there will be no more death, or dying, or pain and where the old order of things has passed away.
A few years ago, I did a study on the book of Revelation, the last book in the Bible, one that I had previously stayed away from. But as I began to read through the book, what happened took me by surprise: I found myself enjoying it. It gave me a gift I hadn’t anticipated; feelings of hope and peace. Hope because there is an end to this unhappy story and peace because no matter what is happening in the world around me, one day it will all be set right. Jesus is the best and greatest king of all, and his stories always have happy endings.
Quite refreshing in a world that seems addicted to darkness. I’m an avid reader, but lately I’ve been quite discouraged. A lot of the literature that’s out there these days have such dark themes. Many of them don’t end happily ever after.
Call me a hopeless romantic, or a sap, or naïve, but I love happy endings. It makes me wonder why it’s so in vogue to have all these stories with darker themes. Is it because we’ve become so jaded that we just don’t believe in happily-ever-afters anymore? And if so, how sad for us.
Personally, in my heart I’ve got to believe that this wasn’t what we were destined for. We weren’t meant to suffer and hurt and cry. We weren’t meant to go to our grave becoming nothing but dust and ashes. We were meant for eternity. Made for it, in fact.
You see, I think God’s a hopeless romantic who loves happily-ever-afters as much as we do. And even after Adam and Eve became his enemies, God had a plan to fix what had been broken - sending Jesus to pay the price to bring us home where we will truly live happily ever after.
Revelation 22:1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse.
In some ways I wonder if dying is like the turning of a page, not the end of a book, but the beginning of a new chapter in the never-ending story of life. ‘Til next time.
My birthday is once again rolling around, and it’s time to reflect back on the lessons I’ve learned in my nearly 47 years on this planet. The other day I was going for a walk and thinking about life and all the ups and downs I’ve had. In a way, this blog has been a place for me to bear my soul about those ups and downs. When I’ve struggled, I’ve shared it. When life gives me a reason to celebrate, I share that. I haven’t often held back from revealing my thoughts, feelings, and ideas. I haven’t been afraid to communicate my weaknesses and struggles. It’s not that I like making myself vulnerable for the sake of being vulnerable. Rather, it’s in the hope that what I write impacts someone for good and makes life a little more bearable for them.
Anyway, when I was walking, I thought about all the lessons I’ve learned in this life and how each year I’ve grown, not only a little older, but wiser, too. And I wondered if I can make this next year of life the very best as I put into practice all the things I’ve learned, including:
How to put others interests before my own and love unconditionally; A cord of Three Strands
How to parent in faith not in fear; Feelings Nothing More Than Feelings
How to face the fears in my life; The Truth About Fear
How much I’m loved by my Father in Heaven; Adored
How to be vulnerable and real with people; A Good Story
How to turn my weaknesses into strengths; Slowly By Drops
How to carry on even in the darkest of times; These Three Remain
These are just a handful of the lessons I’ve learned along the way. It’s nice to know I’m not the same person I was ten years ago, or even last week. That’s what’s great about growing in Jesus. You’re constantly being shaped into the person your soul was meant to be.
In this New Year, I challenge you to do the same. However old you might be, whatever roads you may have traveled, reflect on all the lessons you’ve learned along the way. Then determine to live your best year yet. 'Til next time.
The other night I had another dream that just may be a game changer for me. I know that might sound weird, that a dream could change your whole life, but I believe in some ways it may just save me from something that has held me captive for far too long, FEAR. Even as I write this fear is nibbling at the corners of my mind, trying to hold me captive in its grasp. I’m not good enough. My words don’t matter, People will think I’m weird for what I’m writing. These and so many thoughts like it have haunted me, hunted me down for most of my life.
I wonder if you have any fears or thoughts that are holding you captive. You’re not good enough, you’re incompetent, you’re a fool. You’re unworthy. You’re not lovable. Well, in the hopes that what I dreamt might be a game changer for you, too, I’m going to share what has given me so much hope these last couple of days.
This is how the dream went. This is why it was so powerful to me. It was a simple dream as dreams go. Didn’t last too long, but when I woke from it it was like someone had turned a lightbulb on for me. I dreamt that I was in a house and something or someone was trying to get at me. Even in my dream, I remember being afraid. So what did I try to do? What every other human being on the planet does I believe when they’re afraid, I tried to barricade myself away from it. I was locking doors in an attempt to keep “IT” out.
Then something occurred to me; no matter how hard I tried I was not going to be able to keep it out. It was too powerful. All my defenses were no match for it. In that moment, I thought to myself, ‘Maybe instead of barricading myself away, I just need to face it.’ And that’s what I did. I opened the door and shouted, “I’m not afraid of you.” And that’s when I woke up. That simple dream, that profound dream hit me at just the right time.
I have some tough situations I’m facing at work right now. I won’t go into detail, but they are challenging me like nothing ever has before and many times this year, I’ve found myself cowering in fear because of them. And then, the other day, while dealing with one of those situations, that dream flitted like a butterfly in front of me. I thought, what am I so afraid of, why am I so afraid. Why don’t I just face this thing head on.
So I did. I faced my fears, some that have been with me for so long. I’m not good enough. What I do won’t work. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m incompetent, incapable. And maybe in some way, some of those things are true, but the thing is God never asked us to be perfect, He has that perfection thing down for us, I think he simply asks that we fling the doors that hold us back and face our fears head on.
I don’t have to hide from fear and neither do you. You don’t have to lock yourself away from it. You don’t have to cower or struggle to get out of its mighty grip. Simply face it. Meet it straight on and watch it dissipate before your very eyes.
I think part of the thing about fear is that it makes us think we’re not strong enough to deal with it. Picture it this way. Someone has taken the chains off of you; something that has been holding you captive possibly your whole life but instead of running free getting out of that cell, you stay frozen, afraid of the possibility that you might be captured again.
Let me assure you of this. Someone has come who has set you free. Rather than being afraid I think he wants you to enjoy the freedom he won for you - to simply run out of or away from whatever has held you captive most of your life. It seems so simple but then why is it so hard to do?
The Bible says that perfect love casts out fear and I’ve always wondered what that meant. Well, last night I had another dream that reminded me, while I may still face this foe FEAR, I no longer be held captive by it. The dream went this way. Someone was approaching me and I knew he meant to do me harm, I sensed that. Meanwhile someone else was watching me and I was waiting for that person to rescue me. Then something took hold of me, a strength I didn’t realize I had. Before I knew it I had wrestled this being who was trying to hurt me to the ground and had him pinned. I had defeated him and then just like that he was gone.
The thing is, I don’t believe that I’m never going to be afraid again, fear will always be crouching in the corner ready to pounce, but now I know with certainty, I don’t have to let it win. I can fling the doors wide open and meet it head on. I hope these dreams and simple stories will help you with the fears you face. Until next time.
There is a recurring dream that I’ve had ever since I was a child. It’s not the same dream every time, but it seems to have a consistent theme - the theme that I am adored. The dream usually plays out like this. I’m in a room with a group of people and there’s a man there who thinks I’m amazing, talented, gifted, unique. In short, he only has as eyes for me. It’s a love I can’t express even with the word adore. It’s a love that leaves me feeling whole, complete, enough, desired and a million other words that are hard to express.
Last night, I had this same type of dream and when I woke up, I clearly remembered it. In the Psalms, David talks about how even at night his heart instructs him in the ways of God. I can’t help but feel that this dream is God’s way of teaching me something about myself: I am adored by Him - the One who is over all, and in all, and through all. He adores me.
But the thing is, it’s not just me he adores. He adores you, too. Have you ever thought about that, the fact that you are adored by God? Before you brush that thought like a piece of dandruff off your shoulder, hear me out.
My husband adores me. I’m sure of it. I can see it in the way he looks at me, smiles at me, hugs me. He’s happy I’m part of his life. The problem is that, though he has told me on several occasions how beautiful I am, how amazing I am, I’ve always kind of brushed his comments aside. It’s as if I don’t feel worthy of being adored. And that’s the problem with adoration, it’s easy to nudge aside those feelings that we are wanted and desired because we don’t feel we’re worthy of those things.
But imagine, if we did - believe that we were desirable, adored. Imagine how that might change the way we think about ourselves, feel about ourselves. If we allowed that essential truth to consume our hearts and our minds, imagine how that would change us. Wouldn’t the world be a different place? I think that if I were to soak up my Father’s admiration for me, I wouldn’t be so afraid. I wouldn’t constantly beat myself up for what I feel are my shortcomings. I would be at peace. I would be at rest. I would live lavishly in love.
I have a cat. No, I’m not a crazy cat lady, but she is very special to me. You might say, I adore her. You wouldn’t be far from the truth. Her name is Molly and she’s a black and white beauty with just a touch of pink in her nose and on her paws. She’s adorable. What’s more, I think she adores me. She purrs when I pet her. She snuggles up to me in bed each night and “hugs” me with her paw. She’s happy with me. It leaves me wondering, why don’t I allow myself to experience the adoration my Father has for me.
How about you? Do you know that you are adored? More than that, do you live like you are adored? The Bible says that perfect love casts out fear. The amazing part of this story? God’s love for us is perfect. When we live in it, we really have nothing to fear. Not life. Not death. Not the future. Not our mistakes, and sins, and shortcomings. None of it can separate us from a Father who adores us.
Take time in your life to be adored. Soak it up when your spouse or child gives you a hug for being you, or when your friend sends you a card letting you know how much you mean to them. Even when your favorite pet cuddles up to you, it’s a chance to experience what it’s like to be adored. Then remember, for all you are adored in this life by your people, in your circle of influence, you are completely and utterly adored by a God in heaven who is for you and not against you. In that knowledge, find peace, and hope and life.
I have something to admit. I’ve been watching Game of Thrones. Can’t say I like every aspect of it, but it does have a lot of interesting characters and story lines. Here’s the deal though: lately I find myself not being able to stomach some of what I watch. Yes, I’m partially referring to the blood, guts, and gore, but there’s more to it than that.
I hate that the bad guys always seem to be getting away with being bad. You know what I mean. I haven’t watched it for several days now because the last episode had one of the bad guys getting away with killing someone off because, essentially, they were trying to do the right thing. I realize I’m being a bit simplistic, but it does leave me wondering why I’m so frustrated with the show at times.
I’m a girl who likes a happy ending. What's more, I’m not very patient when the middle parts are yucky and bad things are happening to good people. If I had it my way, I’d also like a happy beginning and middle thrown into the mix. In my post, A Good Story, I write about how I prefer to watch movies where there is mostly happiness going on - think Hallmark Channel movies. Maybe that’s why I’m frustrated with GOT.
The thing about life is we know our happy ending. We know because Jesus told us about it when he lived on this earth. After he ascended into heaven, he appeared to his disciple John and gave him a revelation of that new life - a place where there will be no more death, or crying, or pain. So, I know the ending will be happy, but, in the meanwhile, I hate so many things about the parts in between.
A few weeks ago, there was a horrific accident in a small NE town that we used to call home. Four young high school girls were killed in a gruesome car crash. It left that small-town reeling. These are girls who were only a few years older than my oldest and my heart breaks for the pain and suffering those families, friends and neighbors are dealing with. It seems like in some ways, evil wins.
And maybe on some levels, evil has the upper hand, but that’s when we need to take a closer look at what is really going on. What’s really going on is that we live in a world that doesn’t have particularly happy beginnings and middles, but we have a God who has promised us a happily-ever-after if you will.
When my mom passed away several years ago, my heart was broken. Every day, I missed her and wished I could still reach out and call her. The deal is, though, she doesn’t miss me. Oh, maybe on some levels she does, but I think she’s happy in the knowledge that we’ll see each other again someday. Meanwhile, she is living out her days in blissful joy - in a place where there is no more death, or crying, or pain. A place with no more messy, middle parts. A place worth calling home.
So, GOT may not always have the happiest of middles and, who knows, I may not even like the ending. But, unlike GOT, the middles we go through in this life have potential to turn into great endings. Keep that in mind and in that knowledge press on.