Raising A Generation

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I haven’t been able to write lately. I am not sure why it happened, nor have I found a solution to help the next time it happens. It could very well be because I have so much going on in my head that to try and “put pen to paper” it daunting to say the least, or it could be that I am just lazy…..pick one I won’t be offended.

What spurred me on to write today is something that I lament about since my children were originally raised Catholic till they were at least 11 and then accepted Jesus at a Skillet concert when they had an alter call. That’s not the part I lament about, I regret that while I raised my children to know Jesus they did not accept Him as their Lord and Savior until they were almost in their teens. I see other mothers at church who pride-fully tell you that their children accepted Jesus at 3. The mothers and fathers read article upon article about raising children so that they flourish in their faith as adults, or are so worried that they are being indoctrinated in the ways of the world if they go to public school (and in some instances in private and parochial schools). Then I think all I wanted was for my kids to love Jesus and for me to be an example of someone who took the sacrifice that He made seriously.

I wonder if too much pressure is put on children and then later on we find that we have a generation of prodigals or backsliders. There is nothing wrong with having them learn verses and be able to recite them, or if you home school teaching lessons about stories in the Bible, however I think the panic that is sometimes expressed that one lesson or practice in school or club or group will undo everything that you have taught them so far.

My boys were not necessarily evangelists in the sense that they could preach the gospel chapter and verse to their unsaved friends, but they most assuredly could reach out in a way that worked for them. My one son was a disciple by simply sharing Christian music with his friends. The kids that were listening to Nicki Minaj, Adele and Ed Sheeran were exposed to Skillet, Thousand Foot Krutch, and Need to Breathe. They realized that the music was good even if “that Jesus dude is mentioned” My other son would sit at lunch and read his Bible. He didn’t speak much and never forced anyone to listen to scripture, but by his example he was discipling in the manner that worked for him. The kicker is that my boys attended public school from the time they were 5 till they graduated from High School and very little of what we tried to instill in them was undone in any lesson. I won’t say that clarification wasn’t needed or enforcement of what we believed versus the world, but their faith was not shaken and their resolve was not lessened.

That does not mean that my kids have not made epic mistakes……then again we all have even the saved at an early age (your epicness might not reach the heights of mine or vice versa), but the ability to return “to the fold” was what they knew and what they did. So maybe the key is to lighten up a little, work with their strengths, teach them how to turn a secular teaching into a way to praise God and pray instead of worrying, because worry is a poor excuse for prayer.

Happy New Year?

happy new yearI would suppose that wishing everyone a Happy New Year would be in order, but as I sit here and I read through some Facebook posts and some Twitter feeds it would appear that doing that is an exercise in futility. The reason that I say that is because many people have posted that they are so glad to see the year 2017 go and hope the new one will be better.

I wonder what people are actually expecting. Is a new year fairy going to appear and create a world where heartache, sorrow and joy no longer exists so that a better year is going to magically appear once the clock ticks over to 12:01?

Let’s face it we all work and suffer through things we would rather not throughout the year, but we also get to experience great things that otherwise wouldn’t happen if we weren’t where we are, in that space, at that time. I have learned to cherish every moment. We don’t get a say in how many moments we have and instead of bemoaning the past year rejoice in the fact that you got to spend that time with family, no matter how frustrating or anger inducing they might be, rejoice that you got to watch your children, nieces, nephews or grandchildren grow for another year. Rejoice in the fact that you had another year to build your relationship with God, so that at the end of your time He will say, “well done good and faithful servant”.

I don’t hope that 2018 will be a better year, I hope it will be the year it needs to be for me to live the life that God intends for me. It’s like wrinkles on our faces, we don’t always like them and even at times lament their existence, but be proud that you have them because it means that you lived and if you lived for Him the best way you know how then embrace every line and every wrinkle, you’ve earned them.

Struggling In My Space

holzfigur-980784_1920Today is the day that my father has his procedure. Usually I am the one who is not worried, but I must admit I am concerned this time. I think I failed to realize that I have not truly embraced the idea of not IF, but WHEN. I know that the outcome is in God’s hands and His will be done, but what will I do if His will is to take my father home?

I am not a worrier, my mother has that particular skill covered and so does my one son. however, to admit that my flesh so wants to worry is shaking my foundation a little and making me feel vulnerable. Growing up it wasn’t a good thing to open yourself to be vulnerable because that was something that wasn’t forgotten and brought up as an arrow to the heart to make you feel guilty later on.

I know that I should count myself lucky that I don’t have other family to battle over my parents leaving this earth. There will be no epic battles no other opinions, no hurt feelings and no sibling shouldering most of the responsibility. But I have to be honest, right now I would welcome some of that. Maybe because I don’t really know what that is like, to have to argue over every little detail or wish that my brother or sister would help a little to ease the pain and lighten the load.

I guess my biggest struggle is accepting that I have to leave this in God’s capable hands and grasp that whatever happens is within His perfect will even if I don’t like it. It’s just HARD. It’s time like these that, I think, test my faith. I can be all about prayer and being in His will until a really challenging trial comes and that is when I feel like I crumble like a cookie dropped on the kitchen floor. It feels like I hear this in my head more often than not (Matthew 14:31) “Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” I wonder if I don’t inwardly become that little child throwing the tantrum and scream, “I WANT IT MY WAY! IF THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN I DON’T BELIEVE IN YOU!” I know that is the devil getting a hold of me and me not listening for the still small voice or waiting for the moment of peace to over come me. What I really need to rest in is 1 Corinthians 2:3-5, “I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”

The power of God…..and a mighty power it is, rest in that.

 

So Tired

woman-1006102_1920This post contains affiliate links

I don’t think I can adequately describe how tired I am. Yes, I do have some chronic illness in my life, but this tired is not the kind of exhaustion you feel while battling an illness, this is soul wrenching tired.

I am an only child, and no, I was not spoiled, let’s just get that out-of-the-way. If you met my parents you would know that was impossible. Did I get a little bit more if there was extra money? Yes, but that was only because there was just me. Being an only child was not for lack of trying on my parents part. I know they, most particular my mom, wanted more children, but it wasn’t to be. That lead to my parents being older when they had me. By today’s standards they were still young, but my parents are old souls and over 50 years ago 27 (mom) and 31 ( dad) was considered “very mature” for starting to have children. So with the scene set let me tell you why I am so tired.

My mom has dementia. It wasn’t a surprise, yet how can you ever be prepared to know that your mother is slowly losing her capability to reason. At 79 my mom cannot walk without assistance (power chair and walker), she is significantly stooped over, with a heart condition that began back in her youth, and now she sometimes does not comprehend what you said 2 minutes ago. I will admit that I am impatient on my best days, but this is really testing my mettle. Today, I think I hurt things more than I helped while we were discussing scheduled appointments.

My father, who at 82 and still works full-time as an aerospace engineer (I heard that gasp of surprise, yes full time at 82), I think, is in denial. I know he sees and hears what is happening, but to acknowledge it means that reality becomes not, IF, but WHEN. Part of the fear stems from both of them not knowing for sure that they are going to heaven. Before you ask or berate me, I have tried. I have spoken gently, directly, scripturally, and even to the point of being pushy, but my parents are tough nuts to crack (and I wonder why I become intractable at times). Dealing with my father is a whole different issue. It has been heard that while I am the executrix of my parents will,  they have left everything to my two grown sons. I don’t care about any money or things, but to be passed over in favor of my children proves a point that while I was growing up I never quite measured up. I’ve accepted that fact and I even understand a little where it comes from, but it doesn’t make the sting of that knowledge go away. My dad almost refuses to hear me when I ask them to gather their papers, and to file for power of attorney for medical and financial issues. I am not asking to be named as such, but it needs to be done so that the state does not step in when something happens. It’s been an ongoing battle for awhile now.

All of this to say that I am leaning on God and Proverbs 3:5-6,
“5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.”
Yet, this is HARD and it is wearing me out. Consequently I have been dealing with bouts of depression because no path seems straight. I know that God will work this out and in His perfect timing, but even with that knowledge I am exhausted in mind, body and soul.

I think I am also draining myself looking for ways to help alleviate the discouragement. I am a part of the Young Living family and have been trying to come up with combinations to diffuse or put on the back of my neck, but it’s hard to isolate one symptom to try and ease. I have been scouring The Word and most especially the Psalms to give me perspective. King David’s Psalms have been some comfort as his Psalms run the gamut of human emotions which has been my life lately. Each way helps, yet when I am not actively doing them the depression settles in and sometimes takes root for a whole day. Lately it has been coming in waves and since Thanksgiving has been almost crippling at times. I will get past this, but in God’s timing. I feel this is my season of refinement and I am bucking the system.

My husband has been a wonderful support, but I fear that I will wear him out too and that would not be fair. So for now I have to hold on to the scripture I mentioned before and, Deuteronomy 31:8, “The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” and Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” and most especially verse 8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Recipe For Marriage

12524327_1008648415876985_7798880142393794622_nMy husband and I are going on an adventure for the weekend. Not because our marriage needs work, not because we need to get away, but because we want to go and we sincerely enjoy being together. Oh yeah and the fact that the time between Black Friday and New Year is very busy for my husband and I will not see him much, might have a bit to do with it.

We both marvel at how many marriage seminars, weekends and workshops that are dedicated to marriage and yet we don’t attend. That’s not to say that at one point we needed so much more than just one of these marital strengthening events, but we have found our “groove” finally and for us marriage is fairly easy.

We learned how to talk about the hard stuff, that sometimes we need to go to neutral corners before we can discuss something and find a solution, that we need to present a united front in dealing with our children, that our needs as a married couple need to come before that of our children and that our boys are not our whole world, that there are days that one or both of us are just “off” and it’s just better not to make a major decision at this time.

All these things came to us because of a severe trial that found us almost divorced sharing our children every other weekend and nowhere close to having a relationship with Jesus.

I say all this because don’t think that the next seminar, speech, DVD series, weekend is going to be the panacea that will make your marriage great. What it WILL is to take is an honest look into your own heart because we each are the biggest problem in our marriages, a sincere effort on both your parts and faith in Jesus Christ.

Is It Good Doctrine

 

bible-428947_1920As a new believer I was once told that I had to be able to speak in tongues to be indwelt with the Holy Spirit. That was some of the most damaging words that anyone could have spoken to a new believer like me, in my opinion, and could have seriously derailed my faith and walk.

There are other beliefs out there that I think could also be just as damaging and could stumble a brother or a sister. It happens when one small piece of scripture is used to build doctrine around. I am not saying that the sincerity or earnestness of those who believe as this, and they are doubtless quite honest and well intentioned in what they claim. However, there is still deception in the thought process.

One of these is the filling of the Holy Spirit only happens if a believer speaks in tongues.  This belief creates a good bit of division in the church. Jesus never once told us that we had to speak in tongues to have the Holy Spirit within us. We receive the Holy Spirit the moment we believe and the filling of the Holy Spirit is an ongoing process in the Christian life. Jesus told us that He would give us another comforter/helper, John 14:16-17 ” I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” There are no conditions that you must speak in tongues first anywhere in scripture.

Another one that puzzles me is that to complete your salvation you must be baptized. Many think that when Peter tells the Jews, who are asking how they can make their evil deed right, to repent and be baptized in Acts 2 that one must be baptized to be saved. Peter is speaking to the Jews who crucified Jesus and he is telling them that they must repent first and then be baptized since baptism is an outward sign of an inward change. Jews were not known to be baptized, so this was a big deal and a sign to all that they had changed. Further on in the verse it also proves that you don’t have to speak in tongues to have the Holy Spirit because Peter says, ” ……. Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Many of these misconceptions come from teaching that takes something so simple and tweaks it to fit man’s ideas. Such as calling out over a person with an ailment, “And by His stripes you will be healed!”  It’s true by His stripes we have been healed because, “But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:5-6)

Jesus paid the price for our salvation and making statements that don’t line up exactly with scripture, but kind of do, can damage a person’s walk and their faith. Lately it looks like we are raising generations of backsliders and I believe that this kind of teaching is a glaring example of why it is happening. Context is everything!

Message From ME

messageYears ago I wrote something similar when Sandy Hook occurred and I have resurrected it at times. Today I revised it after reviewing my post from yesterday.

You have chosen to remove Me from, just about, every place where I can most certainly be of service. You have turned away from Me because you can do so well on your own. However,  when a day comes that tests you or if you are a believer, tests your faith, you ask Me, “Where were You God?” I’ll tell you where I was…..I held the hand of the little girl as she lay in a hospital taking her last breath and whispered to her that everything would be OK and that she would be with Me soon. I wrapped my arms around the mother who lost her only child to a violent act and held her while she cried. I strengthened the resolve and provided a way of escape while a man battled temptation and then I watched and placed a hedge of protection around those who protect you and the freedoms you enjoy, those who will face down evil in a country that is not their own, on a street where they fear the next person they encounter will be the one to end their lives, or who run into a burning building to save the family pet.

Yes, I have watched, my heart breaking as a man who is unstable carry out a horror that resided in his head and I made sure that he took only those whom I needed home. I have watched as a young girl took back her will and made the choice to stick a needle in her arm for the last time, and I cried bitter tears as one of Mine chose to come home before My plan for them was completed.

Now in your infirmities and fear you are finally looking to Me and asking everyone to pray. Why now? Why not yesterday, why not tomorrow? But this panic and want for comfort will fade and again you will only remember Me when it gets hard, or you will rail at Me when you don’t understand My plan.

Evil exists in the world you have created and yet many blame Me for the choices of man, wanting Me to stop what you have done. I have asked many times over that you come to Me of your own free will and yet you refuse. You scoff and complain that I don’t exist, that I should not be allowed in the places I can do the most good. My only Son’s birth shall not be displayed because, “not everyone believes in that stuff,” and forget mentioning Me in mixed company because someone might be offended. Then a reminder of the barbarity of the human race, inhumanity is displayed, or corruption begins to brew, and you ask Me “Where are You?” I am here watching and waiting for you to come to Me and making sure that no matter how bad it gets, you can go on.

Free Will

The question of free will has been coming up in my quiet time and in most of the Bible studies I am in. I used to have a great deal of difficulty with understanding free will. I could not wrap my head around the fact that if God knew everything then how did we truly have free will, He knew what we were going to do, so why bother giving us a choice and did we really have a choice to begin with?

Then I began pondering the question further. For argument sake let us say we have free will and the ability to choose. We come to a fork in the road and we make a decision based on the information that we have; here is where our free will and God’s omniscience comes into play. We can choose either fork, but God knows the outcome of each choice. I still wasn’t sure I was on solid ground with this assumption, so I went to a sister in Christ who is also who counsels women who come to the church for help. This lady is full of Godly wisdom and she helped me make sense of what I was pondering. I hope my illustrations can fully explain it to you.

We each make decisions in life and they add up to our experience and help to make us who we are. We also come a to cross-road where we have to decide to zig or zag and the total of those zigs and zags is us. I typed a number that is beneath this blue square.

total

 I have also typed out a chart consisting of 36 numbers in a grid pattern

first

I asked a friend to choose a number on the grid

second

She chose 15. Now think of that number as a major life decision, like what college you are going to attend. Once you have chosen that you have knocked out all the other choices around that one (i.e. other colleges you could attend).

third

I asked her to choose another number. This would be another life choice like who to marry (#26). Then that would knock out all the other men in her life that she could have chosen to marry out of the running.

We continued on in this vein until we had covered the chart with life choices and knocked out all the other options.

sixthI added all the circled numbers together. 1+10+15+24+26+35=111 and then I revealed what number was under the blue square.

total revealWhen I was shown this it confirmed for me that I did indeed have free will because I made the choices each time I came to a fork in the road (whether I did it prayerfully or in my flesh), but God knew the outcome no matter what choice I made.

It helped me to come to terms with His omniscience. Right now in my precepts study we are in the book of Genesis and we just finished where Adam and Eve chose to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This whole exercise helped me comprehend at least a little of the reasoning behind why the tree existed and why we were given free will, but still are made to praise and worship Him. I don’t have it down pat, but I do kinda sort of “get it”.

Yeah still in that whole “work in progress” section of life, but it’s not a bad place to be.

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Anxiety In The Pain

Back for blogI have found it incredibly hard to write as of late. Having moved and trying to put my house in order has taken up a lot of my patience and a lot of my time. I have also been not feeling up to par. I thought it was stress, but this is becoming a real issue and is wearing me out. Then there is the scariest thing…..

In 2013 I had major back surgery. I had gotten to the point of having to use either a walker or a scooter to get around because my back had gotten so bad that my legs would randomly stop working. I saw an excellent specialist and I became the owner of two rods 4 screws and three cadaver discs. It was a long recovery, but afterward I was so grateful that I could walk again even if there were twinges of pain it was nothing.

Then comes the big move. I was feeling some pain off and on and had some difficulty doing the tasks that usually came naturally, but being overweight and having to pack up a whole house was what I thought was the main contributor to the problem. Now the boxes are primarily moved in and while I am still overweight the pain is increasing at an alarming rate and I will admit, I am scared.

I have had to sincerely focus on Philippians 4:6-9, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” to just get by lately.  When you are in pain it is hard to find that for which to be thankful. I am thankful that for now I can still walk, I am thankful that the pain is not overwhelming, I am glad that my husband is understanding and helps all he can, I am thankful that no matter what happens with my back I am breathing and able to enjoy my family and our new house. I have struggled to find the peace of God, but I know it’s there and while it has been fleeting moments there at least have been moments.

I will make an appointment with the specialist as soon as I can, but I am anxious Lord, help me to focus on the steps I need to take to lessen the pain and not drown out your still small voice.

Wounding Reply

SpeechWhat do you do when all you did was try and offer a little comfort and maybe a different perspective on looking at a situation and all you get back is hate and anger? I got a belly full of it today and it was completely undeserved.

A fellow believer mentioned that her parent had cancer and a brain tumor and was going to be having surgery of which he had a 50% chance of survival. I know how it can be so easy to focus on the 50% that means death, my mom was very ill while I was growing up and I lived with the thought that the next heart attack could be her last. That was extremely hard for a young girl to live with. Imagine being 7 years old and your mother falls on the floor unconscious, you try everything you know to revive her, and your father is at work (no cell phones then) over 20 miles away. Or being 4 years old and the only way your mom can play with you is from her hospital bed in the middle of the living room. So I know sorrow, I know being scared and I know hurt, and now I am struggling with the mortality of my parents yet again, but yet I was the target of a really nasty reply to my message of focusing on the 50% chance of living and being concerned about his salvation because if he knows Jesus the battle is already won.

I was called a bully, that I obviously never learned that people go through these feelings in any psychology class. I was accused of finding people’s faults instead of sharing the good news of Christ like a good Christian would. It hurt! I didn’t think I did anything to deserve that emotional vomit. It was as if someone poured acid all over me because they were hurting.

This whole incident has really made me think how it feels when I lash out at those who don’t deserve it. I know we operate in a meat suit and it’s hard not to let emotions get the best of us, but to completely unload on someone who meant nothing but good and certainly no harm…..where is the love in that?

Now I get to lick my wounds, overhaul where my attentions will be today and try make sure that my words follow Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”