I’m just going to put this out there. I have gained some weight. Admittedly, not a huge amount but enough that I notice the extra lumps and bumps, the less give in my pants, the tighter fit around my derriere. It’s the kind of weight that leaves me wearing sweat pants more frequently than I ought.
So yea, it hasn’t been a lot of fun. Actually, it’s been kind of depressing. And when I’m depressed, I go into my not so favorite mode: self-loathing.
Wikipedia describes self-loathing this way: Self-hatred (also called self-loathing) refers to an extreme dislike or hatred of oneself, or being angry at or even prejudiced against oneself.
Though Wikipedia isn’t the most reliable of sites it’s accurate as far as how I’m feeling about myself these days—extremely disliking myself, being angry, even prejudiced against myself.
Self-loathing is nothing new for me. In the past, it’s been something I’ve excelled in. Back in the day, pre-diagnosis, it manifested itself in many ways. One of my least favorite phrases repeatedly banging out in my head? “You’re so stupid. You’re so stupid. You’re so stupid.”
The thing is, self-loathing has never done me any good. It’s certainly not helping me now. It’s not making me eat healthier. It’s not improving my outlook on life, and it’s definitely not making my pants fit better. It’s just weighing me down—more than the extra pounds, really.
2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”
The thing is when I’m practicing self-loathing I’m not practicing godly sorrow, because, you see, godly sorrow leaves no regret. No regret over that extra piece of chocolate cake, or that extra helping of chips, or forgetting to work out today. It’s not that I don’t need to learn self-control, it’s that I need to learn to stop hating every bad decision I make and, in the end, hate myself.
Godly sorrow leads to repentance with no regret.
God doesn’t loathe me. He doesn’t loathe every bad decision I make. He loves me. So me loathing myself isn’t healthy, it isn’t true, and it isn’t right.
My grandpa used to play a “game” with me called, Stop Hitting Yourself. In the game, he would take my hands in his, make fists out of them, and pretend to hit me, all the while saying, “Stop hitting yourself. Stop hitting yourself. Why are you hitting yourself?” Though I hated the game, nevertheless there’s a good lesson hidden in it. I need to stop hitting myself.
Are you practicing some downright mean self-loathing? Stop it. Stop it. It’s not doing you any good. In fact, if you’re anything like me it’s only making everything worse.
If you’ve got some things to fix, things to get right, then get before God and start fixing them. But get with God first, because part of turning things around is getting power from the only Source who can truly fix things, truly redeem things, Jesus Christ.
And while you’re at it, stop loathing yourself, stop playing the hitting yourself game. Remember that God certainly doesn’t loathe you. He loves you. Find the truth and beauty in that statement and live in faith, not in fear.
Creativity usually strikes me on the weekend, but it’s 8:00 pm on a Wednesday, and I’m feeling particularly inspired. I’ve been watching a new show, This is Us, which airs on NBC. It’s an inventive new drama with many story lines taking place simultaneously. The central theme of the story is family, more specifically growing up—how what happens to us when we’re younger carries over into adulthood.
As a parent, it’s a theme that scares me to death—this idea that so much of what my children will become is happening right now. Right under our roof. Right under our very noses. It gives me pause. What we’re doing now as parents will stay with our kids for a lifetime.
The Father figure in the story, played by Milo Ventimiglia, is a character named Jack. Jack is an amazing dad; full of patience, kindness, rolling with the punches, loving his kids unconditionally. He’s the kind of parent you’d want to emulate, but he hasn’t always been that way.
There’s a pivotal scene during which Jack must decide what kind of parent he’s going to be. It’s kind of like a “come-to-Jesus moment” for him. I wish I could have found a clip for it, but I’ll do my best to describe it:
Jack has been getting home later and later, spending more time at the bar than he does with his family. One evening after he gets home, his wife, Rebecca, played by Mandy Moore, has this conversation with him.
Sitting next to him on the couch she asks “Hey, how do you think we’re doing as parents?” Before he can answer, she responds, “I think we’re at a 6. On a sliding scale of 1 through 10, I think we’re at a 6, and I think I’m being generous.”
She continues, “I’m trying really hard to get us to a 9, because they are cute kids and they deserve 9 parents.” She pauses, “The thing is I feel like I’m there. I feel like I’m operating at a 9, because I do individualized lunches, and I do individualized tuck-ins so nobody feels jipped.”
Finally, she concludes, “But when you’re home and you’re you, you’re way better than I am. You’re a 10 . . . when you’re you, Jack.”
She confronts him about the drinking and gives him kind of an ultimatum about it concluding with, “Fix it, because I’m done letting you lower our score.”
Have you ever thought about it that way—that you’re in it together when it comes to parenting? You’re in it together. Divorced. Married. Separated. And here’s the deal, the stakes are high. Very high. High enough to scare the living daylights out of you, at least they should be.
I don’t know what’s going to happen in the show. I know what I hope will happen—that Jack and Rebecca will make it through the rocky parts and parent together for as long as they have. They’re a couple I’m rooting for.
But I’m going to root for myself and my husband even more. I want our kids to look back with fond memories on their childhood. I want to be the kind of parents that they look up to, the kind that they want to emulate someday.
More importantly, I want to parent with the end in mind. I want to intentionally raise our kids to be the kind of people we want them to be: smart, capable, caring, responsible, resilient. You get the gist.
Who do you want your children to grow up to be? What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind? Parenting is serious business, and it should be. After all, children grow up to be adults. It’s up to us to determine what kind of adults they’re going to be.
The topic for this week’s blog came to me as I was listening this morning to the pastor share his thoughts about Joseph and how God “changed his story.”
If you’re not familiar with the story of Joseph let me give a summary. Joseph was engaged to Mary, a binding commitment stronger than the one we call engagement these days. When Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant he made up his mind to “divorce her quietly,” so as not to publicly humiliate her.
After the decision was made, before he could set the wheels in motion, an angel came to him in a dream reassuring him that Mary had not been unfaithful. Rather, the infant growing in her womb was a gift of the Holy Spirit, Jesus, who would become the Savior for us all.
This morning when the pastor mentioned that Joseph seemingly had his own story, his own plan as to how things were “supposed to go,” it reminded me of me.
See I’m not sure how my family and I ended up in Ankeny, Iowa. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful and lovely community—a place where we’ll make many happy memories, I’m sure. But here’s the deal, this wasn’t how my story was supposed to play out.
You see, my husband and I are Nebraskans at heart. And I liked my life there. I liked where I worked out. We had our favorite restaurants, places to shop. Most of all, we called it home, and as a girl who doesn’t like change, I was content to spend my days in Gretna for many years to come.
So, when God interrupted and seemingly “changed my story,” it made me a little mad, a little bitter, a little, well, angry. What right did God have to change my story without consulting me?
I felt sad, alone, in limbo, so here’s what I decided to do, walk with him. Literally. This past week as I was struggling with these feelings of sadness, I went to my local Y and walked on a treadmill. My goal was to walk two miles each time and spend time in prayer—religious speak for just talking to him. As I walked I shared my confusion, frustration, my pain.
And I prayed for the change in my story, the one that was leaving me unsettled. Because the fact of the matter is that the change in my story wasn’t really a change to God. He knew where he was leading me all the time. The change was only news to me.
I know I’m at a crossroads and that I can either fight with God, or continue to walk with him—not just on a treadmill, but all the time, without props, or people, or places that are familiar but with him, the author of my story.
Change is hard. Accepting it is even harder. It seems fitting this time to end with someone else’s story whose world was rocked with change. The story of Mary, who was told she was to become pregnant with the greatest gift the world has ever known, Jesus.
When she received the news, Mary didn’t flinch, didn’t shrink back, didn’t complain. Here’s how she accepted the change given to her by an angel, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Mary embraced the change in her story because she knew the author of her story. May we accept the twists and turns in our own lives taking a cue from her.
So my friends, walk with God this week and let him show you how the twists and turns in life can be beautiful. Most of all remember that the ending of our story will be very happy, very happy, indeed. Merry Christmas!
Last Friday, we hit the road to begin our new life in Ankeny. The boxes were all packed up, the house was empty, and I said goodbye before picking the kids up from their last day of school in Gretna. I was a bit sad, but not overwhelmed with it. It seemed strange to not feel more broken-hearted about leaving. Admittedly, while driving to pick my kids up, I wondered why I wasn’t feeling more sentimental about this move.
My husband and I pondered this feeling of being detached from the whole process of moving. It isn’t that I didn’t enjoy life in Gretna, or make great friends, or hold so many great things about this community close to my heart. But the older I get, the more I hold on loosely to the things of this world, the things that change and shift, including moving away from such a fantastic community.
On the night before we left, my daughter and I were reminiscing before bed time. I asked her to name some of her favorite memories of the past seven years. At first it was hard to recall particulars, but as we talked dozens upon dozens of wonderful and beautiful memories came flying back into our minds: including the butterfly cake we made for her birthday, meeting one of her best friends when she was only 1 ½, playing with her other best friend with Shopkins and Legos, and scootering around the neighborhood. Yes, there was a lot to be grateful for.
Those last days as we said good-bye to friends, family, and to all things familiar, my husband who had already been living in Iowa for the past several weeks, said something pretty profound, “You are going to go through a lot of endings this week, and I feel bad that I won’t be here to help you through them.” Then he went on to say, “But, next week you get to experience a lot of beginnings, so that’s something to look forward to.”
On the night we left for our new home, as I was driving down the interstate, I pondered what he had said. And for a few moments I began to feel uncomfortable, almost panicky. We’d said our goodbyes in Gretna. But we weren’t to Ankeny yet. We were in an in-between time, and it was strange, shaky, and scary ground to stand on.
Admittedly when we reached our new place, I felt like an alien in a strange land. This didn’t feel like home. But as we began to move our things in, I began to feel more and more comfortable
Those next several days as we settled in, we began to make new memories. For the first time, Jack shoveled a whole driveway by himself. My daughter, Katie, bravely walked over to our neighbors next door when she saw their little girl playing in the snow. Later that day, the same girl and her sister brought us beautiful Christmas cookies—a welcome treat. We even went out and bought a new kitchen table that was much needed. Already, we’re into beginnings and it feels nice.
So yes, good-byes can be hard and beginnings can be scary. But when you’re on the road in-between, there’s no need to panic, it doesn’t mean everything is ending, it just means you’re on your way to the new adventures God has planned for you. And that, my friends, is a pretty great place to be.
Happy Birthday to me. Happy Birthday to me. Happy Birthday, dear . . . me. Happy Birthday to me. Well, it’s that time of year again. Another few days and I’ll be one year older. I guess it’s inevitable that another birthday has rolled around, but it sure feels like they come a lot more often than I’d prefer.
I used to get so excited about my birthday. Weeks, even months before, I’d remind everyone of the special day that was coming up. Just in case they’d forgotten, I’d remind them that December 3rd was a very important day in the history of the world. Narcissistic, yes, but I couldn’t help it. I loved celebrating me.
Thanksgiving was a holiday I looked forward to almost as much as Christmas because celebrating Thanksgiving meant that my birthday was only a week or so away.
A much-anticipated ritual of turning another year older was partaking of the red velvet cake my mom made each year. Mind you, this was before red velvet cake was all the rage which makes us way cooler than anyone else. (Boy, I really am into myself today.)
This year, rather than giving out my usual present requests, I’m going to make a new request, a strange one you might think. I’m asking God to help me live a guilt-free life. Not too much to ask, right?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m saying, “God help me to not feel guilty when I eat the entire cake by myself or steal my husband’s hidden chocolate stash.” No, I’m not asking for a get-out-of-jail free card. It’s not that. I don’t want God’s permission to do things that are clearly wrong and against his laws.
Here’s what I am looking for though: relief, peace, a sense that I am loved beyond imagination.
You see, I am a person guilty of always feeling, well, guilty. Guilt is not just an emotion for me. It’s a state of being—one that’s impossible for me to shrug off. And it’s only taken me forty-four years to figure out that I need to let go of the guilt that hunts me down, haunts me daily, and preoccupies my every waking moment.
As I’ve been contemplating all of this, I’ve mentally noted what types of situations or circumstances leave me feeling shamefully guilty. Some might seem funny but most of these events are things I truly obsess over every single day:
Top Ten Things I Feel Guilty About.
10. I haven’t spent enough time communing with God lately.
9. I’ve eaten way too many pieces of chocolate in one day.
8. I’ve eaten more ice cream than I should have. (9 and 8 are kind of hooked together since I usually top my ice cream with chocolate chips.)
7. I’ve messed up as a parent.
6. I’ve messed up as a friend.
5. In general I’ve just messed up. (5-7 go hand in hand. Basically, when I feel I’ve let someone down, I feel guilty.)
4. I spent too much money on purse number 115 of my all-time-purse collection. (My husband would agree with this one.)
3. I spent too much money at Target. Unfortunately, this makes me feel guilty but also good. Shopping at Target is a blast.
2. I didn’t walk my dog enough this week. (This one is pretty over the top. I mean it’s not like the dog is keeping track of the number of times I walk him in a week.)
And the Number One reason I feel guilty:
1. I feel guilty about always feeling so guilty.
Crazy stuff, right? At one point when I shared my struggles with someone, I made the passing comment that, more often than not, I’m motivated by guilt rather than grace.
This problem of guilt has consumed me for far too long. Really, since I was a child. Back then the only place I felt safe from guilt was in church, but the moment we were headed home from the service, guilt took me captive in its tyrannical grip. I couldn’t shake it off no matter how hard I tried.
Oftentimes, I felt like God was up in heaven shaking his fist at me for screwing up for the 1000th time in a day. Guilt left me cowering in the corner, hiding from the God I was sure was disappointed in me.
But deep down inside there was this place that knew God didn’t want me to carry that great burden of guilt around with me every waking moment of every single day. I mean that was the whole point of sending Jesus, right? Why would God have given his beloved Son for us if all he really meant was for us to wallow in our guilt and sin—sin that Jesus already paid for. Jesus came to set us free. Remember when he said that?
Luke 8:31-32 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Jesus came to set us free.
So what’s the cure for guilt? I think the answer is clear. It’s love. Pure and simple, love. A love that is higher than the heavens are above the earth. A love that is deep and wide—deeper than any guilt I feel, wider than my uncomprehending mind can wrap itself around. That’s what I want to be motivated by. Love, not guilt. Grace, not guilt.
I know I’m not quite there, but in this my 44th year on this planet, I’m asking God to set me free from guilt so that I can run in the path of his commands. Here’s to another year of learning to live in God’s grace. Happy Birthday to me!
There are a few things in the world that I don’t like to talk about. One of them is politics. I have my opinions, ideals, beliefs, but to throw them out to people who don’t want to hear what I have to say, let’s just say I don’t like to go there.
I’ll tell people I’m mentally ill, or that I’m on medications for bipolar, or that I considered committing suicide numerous times before I was diagnosed. Those are hard topics to bring up, but they’re nowhere near the panic I feel when I think about speaking my mind about American Politics. Especially in this time when our country is deeply-divided over who our president-elect is, Donald Trump.
I can’t say I particularly like Donald. In fact, like would be a word too strong to use. I really don’t care for the way he talks, or the manner in which he conducts himself. I think he has a bad temper. He’s egotistical, and he’s not a role model I want my children to aspire to be.
Back in the day, nearly a year before the election, I thought it was a joke that he was running. I never figured he’d make it past the primaries, let alone become the president-elect.
The night of the election, I turned off the television as I saw the inevitable, the unthinkable unfolding. Donald Trump would be elected as our forty-fifth president.
I love the office of the president. I have an ambition to read a biography about every president who’s ever served our country. When I was teaching in a multi-grade classroom, I started writing jingles about the presidents so that my students could learn the order and their importance in the roles they carried out. The first, ah, not my best, but it went something like this:
George Washington was number one.
In the Revolutionary War he carried his gun.
He loved animals. He had pets.
He even brushed his horses sets. . . of teeth that is.
Here’s the one I wrote for our third president. (I was particularly proud of this one.):
Thomas Jefferson was number three.
He founded Virginia University.
His home was called Monticello.
He invented a folding ladder; he was quite the fellow.
I worked hard to complete those jingles. In fact, I made it all the way up to Ronald Reagan.
Ronald Reagan #40 had been famous in Hollywood
But at age 70 as our president, would he be any good?
He worked to end the Cold War with our Soviet enemy.
“We resolve to build less weapons,” became our shared treaty.
No masterpieces, but you get the idea. The office of the president is one I greatly admire and hold in high esteem.
So, you’ll have to forgive me but I have a really hard time with people saying that the president elect is “Not their president.” I beg to differ, but he is, in fact, our president- elect. He is because we live in a democracy, and as it is often said after shocking events like these unfold, the people have spoken.
Throughout the campaign, there was one simple prayer that I prayed most fervently. It wasn’t even my own, but rather one I “borrowed” from the second president who served our country, John Adams. In a letter that he wrote to his wife on his second night in the White House, this was the blessing he prayed and beseeched God for:
“Before I end my letter, I pray Heaven to bestow the best of Blessings on this House and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise Men ever rule under this roof.”
And now with this—the election of a man I don’t want as my president I wonder, what was God thinking? Then I remember, God is not into politics. He’s not a Republican. He’s not a Democrat. As Jesus once said, “God’s Kingdom is not of this world.” But God is into us and, as the true King of all believers, God works everything together for good to those that love him.
America is not a monarchy. It is not King Trump who we will be bowing down to. If you don’t like him, fine, but don’t lie down on the train tracks and give up your rights to make a difference in the circle or sphere of influence that God has given you.
Our democracy was never meant to be about one person. Yes, the President is there to work on behalf of the people. But we the people of this great nation are the ones who make a difference in the day-to-day operations of this land. We are this country’s citizens and as such, we must work for the common good of all people.
So in the next four years, rather than holding your nose and barely tolerating the person who is, “Not your president,” work to make lasting changes at your level of citizenship. Visit a nursing home. Donate to your local food bank. Hold your leaders accountable. Be an advocate for someone who can’t be it for themselves. Give. Love. Work. Work to make and keep our country one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever known. And when that four years rolls around, vote. Even if you think both candidates stink, pray for wisdom and vote.
Finally, let God be God. Proverbs states that, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord: he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.” Remember whose Kingdom we truly belong to and whose reign will last forever. Remember which land we are truly citizens of and trust God.
God is in control. God is your President. He is your King and he, the honest and wisest of all rulers is everywhere, even in the White House. Even if we don’t believe it. So, swallow your guile and bitterness and trust the Ruler of all to make everything all right in the end. Because he will.
1 Peter 2:16-17 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil: live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.
Teaching is a topic near and dear to my heart because I am one. My experience has ranged from that of a third grade teacher, to a sub, to a multi-grade teacher, and, now, a teacher pursuing my master's in special education. As a writer, I've always wanted to write a book about how amazing teachers are. I plan on calling it, Why Teachers Deserve Professional Sports Players' Salaries. (Just so you understand this is going to be THAT kind of a post, a get up on my soapbox kind of post, but I'm confident you can handle it. Besides, I have some pretty important things to say.)
Lately, I've been thinking about people who have careers, gifts, and abilities way beyond my own. From computer programmers, to engineers, to NASA scientists, I stand in awe of people with that kind of wiring in their brains. Or how about people who operate heavy machinery, or know how to pave a road, or design and build a structure. Yes, there are a lot of jobs out there that leave me feeling grateful for how uniquely gifted we all are.
It's funny though how I often play off and diminish my own skills when it comes to teaching. I mean teaching is that degree for those who can't get a real job, right? (Believe it or not I've actually heard that comment before.) I know I have skills and abilities as a teacher but for the life of me I can't figure out why they're all that important. Until now, that is.
It takes a special well-informed, well trained, and enthusiastic person to be a teacher, and that's only describing the abilities necessary to design effective lesson plans. There are so many other skills a teacher needs.
How about patience, understanding, and a reassuring manner--someone who loves children deeply and is committed to helping them grow and flourish. No big deal there, right? Anyone who's a parent practices these skills on a daily basis, too. That may be true, but most families have two to four kiddos not eighteen, or twenty-six, or even thirty-five. Imagine your worst moment as a parent when you've completely lost control. When you're red-faced shouting at your kiddo and they're blubbering back at you. Teachers don't have the luxury of losing their cool like that. Think about how difficult it is to hold it together when your child asks, "Are we there yet?" or "Why do I have to eat this?" a dozen or more times. Think about moments when siblings are shouting at each other in the back of the car. Times like that require lots of patience, right? Now, magnify that patience times twenty or so and you get the idea of how it takes a saint to remain that calm for seven hours a day, five days a week.
As a substitute teacher this year I've been in a lot of different teachers' classrooms, and not a single one has failed to prepare lesson plans, lay out materials for the day, and leave a nice note filling me in on the details of the day. Many of those teachers are making plans Sunday night, because one of their kiddos is sick, or worse Monday mornings because they are sick themselves. (It is the worst thing in the world to write out plans when you're sicker than a dog.) But almost every teacher does it for their substitutes. Why? Because they care. They care about helping their substitute make it through the day. They care about their students and want to give them the least disruptive day possible.
At the beginning of this post I remarked on how amazed I am over so many talented people doing work I could never do. Those people are doing important things, building homes, creating infrastructure, programming computers, attending to the sick. Teachers aren't doing any of these things. Except, they are preparing future scientists, NASA astronauts, architects, builders, artists, nurses, doctors and so many more to do their jobs and to do them well. They're the ones teaching these students the value of commitment, hard work, perseverance, honesty, and integrity. Teachers are just as dedicated, committed, intelligent, and hard working as any other professionals. So let's treat them and esteem them like the professional they are. And if I ever write that book, Why Teachers Deserve Professional Sports Players' Salaries, here's hoping it will catch fire and teachers will start getting the salaries they truly deserve.
The image above is a picture taken three or so years ago when I was heading home after visiting St. Louis for a writing workshop. My seatmate took it after I pointed out how beautiful the scene was. She sent the picture my way and it's now one of my favorite images. The trip to St. Louis was a God-ordained event, a story too long to share at present. Let's just say that as I flew past this beautiful display of God's creation it reminded me that God is, indeed, in the details.
Psalm 37:23 The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will not fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. (NLT)
I walk through the living room, toys, games, clothes scattered everywhere. It's like navigating my way through a minefield. The dirty clothes pile is overflowing from the laundry room into the hallway, threatening to take over the entire second floor. In the kitchen, pots and pans have collected in the sink like age-old artifacts. Hardened sauces, soups, and casseroles stick to each one. The floor is covered in pet hair and long past due its regular mopping. Little smudges of fingerprints and hand prints mark the sliding glass door.
Toothpaste covers the bathroom sinks. Chocolate, at least I hope that's what it is, covers the light switches in ooey-gooey ickiness. Most of the bathrooms smell like a little boy with bad aim has frequently visited them. Everything is a disaster. It makes my head swim. I head to bed delaying the inevitable. My messy house is just too much to deal with on a Saturday night.
On Sunday, I wake up feeling refreshed and rested. Then I remember the condition my house is in, and I'm tempted to bury my head in the pillow and never come out. Having no options but to tackle the mess, I swing my legs over the side of the bed and whisper a desperate plea heavenward, "I don't know how it's going to happen, but, oh God, please help me get the house back in to order today.”
An hour or so later, the kids are fighting, I've barely made a dent in the mess, and I'm about ready to lose my mind. Then, inspiration strikes. I've called my kids down for breakfast seven times and have been ignored all seven times. So, I try something new. When they finally come down, I mention that they ignored me seven times and now they owe me seven chores.
It works like a charm. I may be on to something. There's a lot of cleaning that can get done when your children each owe you seven jobs. And the jobs have to be done up to Mommy standards—no half-hearted efforts today. If I'm dissatisfied with a job they've done, I supervise them until it's done correctly.
Walking through a much cleaner house, I smile gleefully. Maybe I can make this work in my favor for the entire day. In the afternoon, when they begin fighting like cats and dogs, I implement my plan once more. The extra jobs thing worked pretty well when they ignored me, why not try it again? When another altercation between them commences, I'm ready. "You have too much energy," I tell them, "You obviously need to burn some of that off. Every time you argue, you get a new job."
All afternoon long, all evening long, I give my little minions chore after chore . . . done up to my standards. By bedtime, my house is clean and I've barely lifted a finger all day.
Before I tuck her in, I reveal my important secret to my daughter. "Katie," I tell her, "I prayed this morning that God would help me get our disaster of a house back in order, and He answered my prayer."
She looks at me, a funny expression on her face, "Oh, Mommy, that's ridiculous. God doesn't care about stuff like that."
So, I tell her the story, how God cares about every detail of our lives. What's more, I tell her that He even has the hairs on our head all numbered. "Can you do that, Katie?" I ask, "Can you count the number of hairs on your head?" She gives me a silly grin. I can tell she's intrigued.
I go to bed that night, a satisfied smile on my face. My house is clean, and I know it's more than just a fluke. I prayed. God answered. It's as simple as that.
God's in the details, folks. He is. If you don't believe me, try it yourself. Pray about your problem, no matter how small it may be. Even your most "insignificant" problem is important to Him. Maybe it's time you started believing that.
Matthew 10:29-31  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[b]30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Happy are those who are strong in the Lord who set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping it will become a place of refreshing springs where pools of blessing collect after the rains.
The big news this week for the Meyer's . . . we're moving! You probably guessed that based on the picture above though, didn't you?
I'll be honest, this is a move I wasn't expecting. Not at all. In fact, a few months ago, if you had asked me how long we might live in our current home, I would have chuckled at the question. "Not until the kids graduate from high school," would have been my automatic response. Just the thought of packing up and leaving our big, beautiful home was too much to consider. After all, this place is filled with lots of amazing memories.
From tea parties, to birthday celebrations, to just hanging out and being silly, there are so many wonderful memories stored up in my heart. This house is the place where my kids grew up. It's the place where they lost teeth and celebrated holidays and, in general, just had lots of fun. The front garden is where I planted some of my mother's iris bulbs and for three summers watched them thrive and bloom.
If this house could talk it would tell story after story about how much my family has loved and grown, lost and gained, and changed while we've called this place home.
In fact, earlier in the week, as I was walking down the sidewalk, I noticed that the "Coming Soon" sign had been placed in our yard. For just a few moments, my heart sank. Someone else would be living in our house now--a house filled with my memories .
Many years ago before my mom passed away she was still living in my childhood home. Once while visiting her, I recall thinking how much I loved the house I grew up in. It was a place that was familiar and comfortable. Walking into it felt like, well, coming home.
In those days, I figured the visits to my childhood home would never end. At least, it seemed that way. But when Mom passed away in December 2011, and we sold the house to a different family, I knew something precious in my life was gone for good. Now a new family would be making their own special memories in that place.
That day, I realized just how precious life is and how a moment, no matter how significant it is, won't last forever. Life is always changing, and brief and precious are the times we live in.
Today, my thoughts are bittersweet. I am saddened about leaving this amazing life behind. But I'm confident in a God who loves us fiercely and only has plans to prosper and defend us.
He is that one thing in life that never changes. He is not something that can be replaced, or left behind, or altered. God is the eternal constant.
No matter how many times in your life you have to play the "coming-soon," game, or the what's-around-the-next-corner game remember that everything in life changes and that's okay. But with all the shifting in life, God is constant. Constant in his love for us, in his plans for us, in his mercy and in his peace. Cling to that promise and find rest and comfort even during those "coming-soon" changes in your own world.
Happy are those who are strong in the Lord who set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping it will become a place of refreshing springs where pools of blessing collect after the rains.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)
The following is a post that I wrote a few years back about how hard it is to have faith in a God we can’t see, in a God who speaks to us primarily through his word. I do feel the fool at times for believing in things I can’t see, but after all crazy faith is what life is all about.
My family is going through some major changes right now. I’ll be sharing a little bit more about that next week. For now, let me just say that I wish God would have given us a road map for this thing we call life.
In the past few months, there have been many times when I’ve wished that a little map of my life would miraculously fall from the sky. That way when I came to a fork in the road, I would know the right way to go—the thing God wanted me to do.
But whether I believe it or not, God is there to guide me in all types of situations and circumstances.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Still, I do wait for the day when that map of my life falls from the sky and shows me the right path to choose each and every time I come to a fork in life’s road. It would make things so much easier if I had that map. But then again where’s the fun in knowing where to go next?
October 3rd, 2012
Once traveling it's remarkable how quickly faith erodes. It starts to look like something else-ignorance, for example. Same thing happened to the Israelites. Sure it's weak, but sometimes you'd rather just have a map.
From Peace Like a River by Leif Enger.
Reading an awesome book right now and came across this quote. The book is actually fictional although it sounds like a religious book. Intriguing story. Mostly, I wanted to quote this author because what he wrote struck a particular chord with me today. I feel the pain the character in this story is experiencing. How often I feel the fool for believing in things I can't see, things that make no sense.
Even though I can "talk the talk" when it comes to faith it's much more difficult to "walk the walk." I had to smile when I read that "sometimes you'd rather just have a map" comment. I feel that way often. God why can't just spell it out in plain language, what exactly do you want me to do?
Not only do I wish he'd give me explicit instructions about how to live, but sometimes I have a hard time believing everything he says. I do feel naive. I do feel the fool. What craziness to believe in a Maker, a God who created everything out of nothing. Sounds more like a bedtime story than a place to lay a foundation of faith.
It’s then that I realize more than anything that what I'm suffering from is not a lack of faith, but a vain desire to appear more sophisticated, wise, intelligent to the world. I don't want to be the one that everyone thinks is a "little over the top" when it comes to things of God.
Oh, how fickle the human heart. Not hard to see when I look at my own. Of course, to say that my faith is always shifting with the winds of change isn't exactly accurate either. God has brought me quite aways in this journey of faith. But I find that with a more deeply rooted faith come bigger challenges, greater obstacles, and more painful trials to endure.
Sometimes I wish it weren't so hard. For my friends who are runners, I often think of it as a "race" of life. I'm a terrible runner, but maybe, hopefully, in the case of faith I run a good race—a race worth cheering about.