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Not Surprised

Posted by on Jun 15, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 2 comments

In November 2000, I was 7 months  pregnant with my second child, Eliana. I had been going to a midwife, planning to deliver at a birthing center. Because my spine is fused, I can’t get an epidural. I chose a midwife because they offer some alternative pain management that doctors don’t. However, midwives don’t deliver babies that are in breech position – head up. And Eliana was in breech position. So, two months before my due date, I had to find a doctor. Who would take me at 7 months. With a fused spine. And a breech baby.

November 2000

But it “just so happened” that my Bible Study Fellowship small group leader was married to an Obstetrician. A Christian OB who specialized in high-risk pregnancies and who was willing to take a late term patient with a fused spine.

I went to this doctor – and I was pretty nervous. This was not my plan! The first thing Dr. Blair did was put a hand on my shoulder and say, “You know what, God isn’t looking down saying, ‘Oh no! That baby is breech? What do I do?’ No way. He already knows that baby, He knows you, and He’s going to tell us what to do.”

So we talked about plans – turning the baby (ouch!), delivering feet first (ouch, ouch!), C-Section (I’d be put completely to sleep and wake up with a baby…yes, please!!). We agreed to spend a week praying, and then make a decision at the next appointment.

When I went back the next week, Dr. Blair put a hand on my stomach and just laughed. Eliana had turned. And she wasn’t a small baby. At delivery (Jan. 8), she weighed almost 9 lbs. And I had no idea she turned a complete flip that week. It shouldn’t have happened…I was too late, she was too big, there was no room. But there it was.

I didn’t get to go to sleep and wake up with a baby. But I  did learn a great lesson: Nothing surprises God. I knew that, intellectually. But I didn’t know it, experientially.

God always has a plan. And it is rarely the same as mine.Image result for psalm 9:10

In the years since, I have learned this lesson in more ways. Sometimes – several times – the ending wasn’t nearly as happy as Eliana’s delivery. But every time, God got us through whatever unexpected situation occurred. And He taught us through it. He increased our faith and drew us closer to Him. In fact, “unhappy endings” were often the times that grew my faith the most.

God uses the unexpected events in our lives to remind us He is in control and He is never surprised. We can trust Him. No matter what.

Unfiltered

Posted by on Jun 9, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 0 comments

I recently read that, prior to the 1920s, most women had mirrors that were tarnished.  The view they received in those mirrors, then, was fuzzy, imperfect. Like one of the distorted SnapChat filters. Image result for mirror tarnished

As mirrors improved, women were shocked at what they saw: blemishes, wrinkles, dark spots, under-eye bags, crow’s feet, red blotches – no more filter!

Beauty products suddenly became a booming business.

As I read this, I thought about these verses…

“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” (James 1:23-25)

James says the Word of God is a mirror – a clear mirror that shows us our imperfections. A mirror that, at times, can make us uncomfortable. But a mirror that reflects reality so we can know exactly what needs to be fixed. When we remember that image – those ugly imperfections – we can focus on asking for help to overcome them (info on that in James, too!).

But I think many of us today have the same problem women prior to the 1920s had: we’re not looking in good Image result for mirror god's wordmirrors. Instead of peering into the Word of God for our “how do I look?” check, we look at other people and other books, even blogs like mine. Nothing is wrong with reading this blog (I’m so glad you do!), but it is meant as an encouragement, not a replacement for time spent in God’s Word. Devotionals are great, Christian books are great, talks with other believers are great, but none of those are as beneficial to your “spiritual beauty” as DAILY time spent in the Word of God.

So maybe it’s time for a mirror check – where are you looking to determine how you truly look? If it’s been a while since you’ve looked in the mirror of God’s word, then open it up, dive back in. Don’t be content with a “filter” on your spiritual mirror.

A Pile of Crap

Posted by on May 31, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 3 comments

We all have goals. For those of you still in school, it may be good grades, a date with that special guy/girl, acceptance to a certain college. For the rest of us, it may be getting a raise, having a family, going back to school.

None of these goals, in themselves, is bad.

But if they are “the” goal, then they’re not just bad.

They’re crap.

And I mean that in the most literal, biblical sense.

Image result for pile of dog dung

Check out these verses from Paul’s letter to the Philippians:

“The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him.” (Phil. 3:7-8, The Message)

Paul is saying that nothing – no science project, no research paper, no cute guy, no job, no diploma – nothing on earth compares to knowing Christ Jesus. Then Paul says that everything else he used to think was so important (and he had quite the list of accomplishments), was as insignificant as dog dung (the actual Greek word for “dog dung” is even more graphic than “crap”! Paul was serious about this topic.)

And yet, we spend most of our energy on the crap! We stress over it, gossip about it, spend time and money and brain cells on it. We are rolling around in poop, covering ourselves in it everyday. Parents, we push our kids into the poop. Teens, you let the media and your friends dump bucket loads of poop on your heads everyday.

Let’s get out of the waste. Let’s clean up, leave that crap behind, and seek Christ Jesus. Let’s do what we were created to do. Let’s fully embrace Christ and experience the pure joy of being embraced by Him.

 

Out of Time

Posted by on May 24, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 4 comments

My oldest daughter graduates from high school on Friday. This event has been looming in my my mind all year. It’ll hit at strange times, making me tear up, worry, and rejoice. It’s momentous, Graduation. It is both an ending and a beginning, a time to rejoice and a  time to mourn.

As a mom, graduation marks the end of an era. I have been, quite literally, very close to my kids all their lives: I stayed at home until they went to school, and then I went to school with them, teaching at K-12 Christian schools, where my classroom was on the same campus as theirs. It’s an end of an era for my kids, too – all three have been at the same schools all their lives, through all our moves. My younger two don’t know a world without Emma in it everyday.

That ends Friday. When Emma walks across the stage and receives her diploma, she steps out into the world – a world where I am not down the hall, where her siblings aren’t in her daily business. In August, she will be going away to college – 6 hours away. And, while I know she is a great kid and she is ready to leave the “nest”, I still grieve over that fact. I will miss her! We all will.

But then I think of something my mother-in-law used to say. Judy McGee was a godly woman who grieved the fact that all four of her kids lived far from her and her husband. Every time a visit came to an end, Judy would pull out her tissues and cry. She loved her family deeply. But then she’d remind us all, “One day, we’ll live together for eternity,” she’d say. “These momentary separations will seem like nothing compared to that.”

Judy is waiting for us there, experiencing the joy of that “forever togetherness” she always longed for. As I pull out my tissues and cry, preparing myself for this first high school graduation, knowing the other two will follow closely behind, I am reminded that all of this life is temporary. The moments – good and bad, painful and joyful – are fleeting. I am reminded to never lose focus on the eternal. I was created, not to live bound by time for however many years God gives me on this earth, but to live outside of time, to “graduate” to an eternity more amazing and fulfilling than I can possibly imagine.

Ready to Marry?

Posted by on May 17, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Marriage.

Almost everyone has an opinion about this institution. Some think it’s antiquated; others treat it like a terminal illness. Romantics see it as a lovely ending, and cynics see it as a trap.

Countless studies are done each year, seeking to determine the right age, the rig marriage mel brooks the princess bride GIFht living conditions, the right personality types…treating marriage like a math problem that simply needs the right formula. And yet, despite all these studies and all these experts, the divorce rate keeps rising.

As my kids get older, and we start talking about their futures, I am tempted to just go with the “wisdom of the age” – finish college, get a job, date around, enjoy life before “settling” down. But the truth is – that advice is simply not working.

The fact is that God established marriage. It is a good thing. But good doesn’t mean easy, and I think that’s where our generation has gotten messed up. So much in our lives is disposable or has a limited shelf life. We are constantly “upgrading” our technology or jobs or cars…or spouses.

Image result for christian pick up linesBut God created marriage to reflect His covenant with us: He doesn’t leave us when we frustrate Him. He doesn’t walk away when the “honeymoon period” wears off. He doesn’t give us limited forgiveness. He loves us – extravagantly and unconditionally.

I don’t believe that waiting to marry or dating around or using computer-generated algorithms is the answer to the marriage dilemma. I believe the problem is that individuals enter marriage self-focused rather than God-focused. And when we are self-focused, relationships fail. Every time.

So the question of “are you ready to marry?” has far less to do with age or education or compatibility than it does with each person’s relationship with God. If you are considering dating and marriage, make sure your relationship with God is your top priority. Then look for someone with the same focus. Ask God to help you seek, to help you find, and to help you wait. His plans are best and His ways are sure.

Unburden Yourself

Posted by on May 8, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 1 comment

We are weighed down – by expectations, by situations, by attitudes, by guilt, by life. It can get overwhelming, all those burdens. Sometimes I feel suffocated by them all. I know I’m supposed to “cast my cares” on Jesus. But how does one do that? Image result for burdens

I have been thinking through this lately, and I have come up
with some ideas.

First, I have realized that we have to define our burdens. I think there are two basic types, and each needs to be dealt with in a different way.

Burdens others place on us. These are burdens we didn’t choose, burdens dumped on us by sinful people or tragic circumstances. We deal with these by daily surrendering these burdens to Jesus – laying them down at his feet and asking Him to carry them for us.

Burdens we place on ourselves.  These are sins that we are hanging on to – anger and bitterness or guilt and shame. They are feelings we allow to weigh us down and keep us from walking in the Spirit and living the abundant life God has for us. We deal with these by seeking forgiveness – from God and then from others, if necessary. Then we accept God’s forgiveness, fully and gratefully.

So once we’ve done that, once we’ve laid our burdens at Jesus’ feet, once we have sought forgiveness…is that all? Well, yes and no. Yes, that’s all it takes. Jesus doesn’t make us earn forgiveness or work to be relieved of our burdens. He takes them freely.Image result for renew our minds

But there is something we need to do – renew our minds. How much time do we spend thinking about how we’ve been burdened? I know I can spend countless hours thinking angrily about how others have hurt me. I can spend days worrying about circumstances that I have no control over. I don’t even know how much time I have spent justifying my sins. Far too much, that’s for sure! So, when I have laid my burdens at Jesus’ feet, I need to replace all that wrong thinking with right thinking. I need to meditate on God’s word, I need to pray, listen to praise music, anything that will remind me of who Jesus is and why He is far more worthy of my thoughts than my burdens are.

So if you are burdened – lay those burdens down! God isn’t asking you to carry them. If you feel like it’s impossible to lay them down, seek help from a godly man or woman in your life. There are people who can help you. You are not alone. You don’t have to live weighed down by your burdens. That is never what God intended for you.

Image result for come to me all who are weary niv

What the &%$@ Is Wrong With Cursing?

Posted by on Apr 28, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 0 comments

I get this question from teens all the time. Words are words, right? Why do people make such a big deal about certain ones?

Image result for what's the problem gifAnd, technically, yes, words are just words. A conglomeration of letters. There are plenty of words we can say in other languages that just sound funny to us, but would be offensive to someone who speaks that language. So why be so uptight about “curse” words in our own language? Why are they so taboo?

First, it’s because we as a society assign meaning to words. If we lived 400 years ago, the word “swive” would be highly offensive. Today, it means nothing. We don’t use that word anymore. Therefore, in our 21st century society, it is not offensive. But other words are offensive. Often because they represent acts that are not meant to be used as exclamations or curses that are intended to tear others down.

Second, as Christians, we are commanded to guard our mouths, to speak life, to use our words to build up and encourage. Paul says,“Let your speech always be  with grace, as though seasoned with  salt…” (Col. 4:6). I have never, in my lifetime, heard someone curse graciously.

Third, many curse words include the name of God. That name is holy. It should be used with the utmost respect. (Ex. 20:6-8) We should never treat His holy name with anything but reverence.

Finally, there are millions of words in the English language! We don’t need to resort to curse words to express ourselves. We should, instead, look for those words that best explaImage result for shakespearean cursesin what we are thinking and feeling.

So if you’re upset and feel like cursing, try saying this instead:

  • Your choleric outburst has left me perturbed
  • Cease your nugatory interactions
  • Your boorish behavior is bedeviling
  • I do not anticipate ever being required to utilize this information
  • I am distressed at your incongruous behavior
  • My penurious sibling has refused to compromise

What do you think? Let’s change the world, one big, unoffensive word at a time :)

Check Your Fruit

Posted by on Apr 22, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 0 comments

You know how, when you’re with good friends, you’ll do a “breath check”? A quick puff out to make sure that garlic Image result for friend breath checkfrom lunch or coffee from Starbucks isn’t stinking it up every time you talk? Those are important. Helpful. People who breathe your air are grateful for the time you took to ask that question.

But, as important as breath checks are, there are other checks that are even more important. A “fruit check” is one of them.

The Bible often uses the metaphor of “fruit” to describe a vibrant Christian life. Christians who are growing in Christ are bearing fruit, and that fruit is noticeable Image result for fruit of the spiritto others.

What, exactly, should we be demonstrating? The Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23)

This list isn’t there to stress us out or to show us how pitifully inadequate we are. Only Jesus fleshed each of these of these out perfectly every day. But these are our goals. These. Not straight A’s or perfect highlights or a Size 4. Not lots of money or a new car or a promotion.

So, every once in a while, we need to ask a friend how we’re doing in this area. Because just like we can be unaware of bad breath, we can also be unaware of bad actions. We can think we’re really following Jesus, but in reality, we have no fruit. It is so easy to eat the “garlic” of selfish ambition and drink the “coffee” of self-love instead of pursuing “righteousness, faith, love, and peace along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Tim. 2:22)

So, every once in a while, ask for a “fruit check” – examine yourself and ask others to help you, as well. Because nothing, girls, nothing is as important as serving Jesus and growing in Him. A pursuit of anything else will leave us empty.

What is Good Friday?

Posted by on Apr 14, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 0 comments

What is Good Friday?

It is the day Christians remember Christ’s work on the cross.

On Good Friday, Jesus was led to his execution. He was sentenced to a death so horrendous that it was reserved only for non-citizens of the Roman Empire. Not even the worst Roman citizen would have to endure this. And Jesus was sentenced for one reason:

Because he claimed to be God.

He wasn’t killed for being a good person, for being a wise teacher, for hanging out with tax collectors and prostitutes. He was killed because the Jewish leaders of his day found his claims of deity to be blasphemous. They did not believe he was the promised Messiah. And they understood – rightly – that that is exactly who he was saying he was.

But Jesus was the Messiah. He was God in the flesh, come to earth. He lived a sinless life, qualifying him to be the only one who could pay the penalty for our sins.

Sins separate us from God. But God loves us, and he doesn’t want us separated from him. And so he sent his son to die the death that we deserve so we can have eternal life with him.

This Friday is remembered as Good, not just because Jesus paid the penalty we deserve, but because three days later, He rose from the dead – proving once and for all He is God and has power over sin and death. He is the victor. And through Him, we, too, are victorious. In the words of a beautiful old hymn,

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow

Because He lives, all fear is gone

Because I know who hold the future

And life is worth the living just because He lives

Matters of Life and Death

Posted by on Apr 2, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 5 comments

I woke up last Sunday to the news that my mom (age 62) has cancer. Those of you who have gotten news like that know that it is a major perspective-changer.

I know words this Sunday that I’d never heard of last Sunday – words like ‘peritoneal’ and ‘carcinomatosis’. I know about Stages and cancer centers and the fact that not all chemo is the same and wigs cost a ridiculous amount of money and some doctors are just not nice people.Image result for christian quotes about cancer

I also know that I have an amazing family – on all sides. I have wonderful friends – ones that I see often and ones I hardly see at all. I know that people who have walked this road before reach out and offer help and hope.

I know that, when you get news like this, life-changing news, what is suddenly most important is relationships. The horizontal relationships are vital, without a doubt. People around you hold you up and buy you coffee and hug your neck. But, even more important is the Vertical relationship.

We are immortal beings.  And our eternal life is far more important than our temporal one. One of Mom’s friends recognized that last week. A professed atheist, he came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as a result of Mom’s diagnosis!

Because this is still new, we don’t know timelines or percentages. We don’t know where the cancer originated or how far it has spread. We don’t know the exact kind of chemo she’ll need or for exactly how long she’ll need it. We do know, however, that God is in control. He is a God of miracles, a God who loves His children fiercely. He is with Mom and with all of us who love Mom.

This is not a chapter of our story that I would have written, but I know the Author, and I know His purposes are far greater than mine. We will look to Him.

“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” Ps. 94:19