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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

Traditions vs. Truth

Posted by on Mar 20, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 0 comments

I just directed “Fiddler on the Roof” at my school. I’ll be honest – I was nervous about directing this beloved show. It was a massive undertaking by all involved. The biggest musical I have ever directed. But it turned out to be amazing! Other than that one cast member who chose not to show up to the performances, it was perfect! (Soap Box moment: folks, don’t ever do that to a director…or an employer…or anyone who is counting on you. You could end up blacklisted, fired, or worse – subtweeted on my blog!).

Tevye, the main character, watches as his family and his village change before his eyes. His oldest daughter chooses her own husband! Without a matchmaker (*gasp*). Tevye wrestles with this, but decides a matchmaker is just a tradition, not a Truth, so he gives his permission. His second daughter doesn’t even ask his permission to marry. She just wants his blessing. Again, he wrestles with whether or not he can do this. But love for his daughter overrules love for tradition, and he gives both his blessing and his permission. His third daughter, however, chooses to marry outside the faith. As Tevye thinks through this, he realizes this isn’t simply a tradition Chava has broken.  It is the sacred Law of God. In the most quoted line from the play, he says, “If I bend that far…I will break.” And he walks away from his daughter forever. In the end, his entire village must leave their homes because of their faith. The Russian government no longer wants Jews in their country.

Folks from all ends of the political and religious spectrum connect with the themes in this show. As a Christian, I feel for Tevye. I understand that some of what I hold dear are just “traditions” — getting dressed up for church, having worship music before the sermon, being clean cut and tattoo-free – ideas that the church has held to for years, but aren’t actually related to righteousness. But much of what I
believe is based on the unchanging Truth of God’s word – the high value of life and marriage, for example – Truth that is becoming less and less acceptable in my “village”. Like Tevye, I can only bend so far. I should only bend so far. Because honoring God’s revealed Truth is far more important than being accepted by the world around me.

As I watched this show, I was reminded of who I am. Whose I am. I was reminded that there are times when I need to let go of traditions that I have held to, and other times when I need to stand for Truth. Even if it hurts. Because God’s laws are for our good, because He loves us.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2

On Being an “Artsy” Christian

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

I am, and always have been, “artsy.” Growing up, I was pitiful at athletics and academics, but I excelled at drama and music. Songs speak to me. Standing on stage is fun. Standing on stage with people watching is really, really fun.

There are great benefits to being artsy: I’ve never been nervous going into a job interview. I love being asked to speak to a group of people, and I am fairly adept at speaking extemporaneously. I am confident (most of the time), and it takes a whole lot to embarrass me.

But there are also negatives: I spent a lot of years allowing other people’s opinions of me to determine my opinion of myself. So there were times I thought I was the greatest person on the planet and other times when I thought I was worthless.  I also spent a lot of years comparing myself to others, and feeling incredibly antagonistic toward people who were better than me.God Rest

In my late teens/early twenties, as I began to get really serious about my relationship with God, I began to be convicted of that sin of pride in my life. But rather than blaming my own sinful thoughts, I blamed the arts. So I stopped doing much of what I loved. Stopped acting, stopped singing anywhere but in church. And, when I did sing in church, I often chose songs out of my range, so I wouldn’t sound very good, thinking that “proved” my humility.

As I grew to know God better, I began to see myself more clearly. God revealed that my pride in my abilities wasn’t gone. It just transferred to pride in my refusal to use those abilities. The sin was still there, waiting to be dealt with.

When I finally dealt with that, God began to show me that those gifts I had were from him. He gave them to me to use. God is a creator. THE creator. Rather than being opposed to the creative arts, He is the author of them. When I learned to recognize that, to give Him the glory for the gifts he has given me, I found incredible freedom. Freedom to use my gifts to the best of my abilities, and freedom to recognize the abilities He has given others. Rather than feeling competitive, I can feel inspired by the many people whose abilities exceed mine. Talk about freeing!

If you’re artsy, own it! Know your gifts are from God. KNOW your gifts are from God. Know your gifts are from GOD. Allow yourself to experience His pleasure in you when you use them. Make your art an act of worship. Encourage other artsy people – be a community, not competitors.

“Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully, and shout for joy.”

Psalm 33:3

Future Tense

Posted by on Feb 20, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Last year, a tradition started with the class of 2017 that we call “Circle Time”. There haven’t been a lot of Circle Times (I really do teach, I promise!), but when the need arises, we put English or Drama on hold and have a chat about concerns either the students or I have.Image result for circle time

A couple weeks ago, I felt God leading me to call a “Circle Time” with my seniors. I was seeing something that I have often seen in seniors – a tendency to be so focused on the future that they miss what is happening right now.

I thought I’d bring this particular Circle Time discussion here, because I am confident that my students aren’t the only ones dealing with this issue.

We can all get “future tense”. For the seniors, it’s the burning desire to move on to the next phase of life (I refuse to call it the “real world” because teens are living in the real world. You can read my blog rant on this if you’d like). And IImage result for dreaming about college get it. They’re ready to have more freedom, to be a “college student” instead of a “high school kid”. They want to move that tassle and get on with what will surely be more exciting than the life they currently lead.

But, teens, as I told my seniors — this temptation to live in the future will always be there. When you finish high school, you’ll be tempted to look forward to finishing college, to getting married, to having kids, to getting a promotion, a new car, a nice vacation…It never ends! You could find yourself at the end of your life realizing you’ve spent far too much time fantasizing about the future instead of living in the present.

So acknowledge this temptation for what it is and battle it.

God has plans for you today. He has lessons to teach you, people He wants you to impact, good work He has prepared for you to complete. Don’t miss out on the joys that are before you today because you are dreaming about the joys that you hope will come in the future. Because, to be honest, the future never turns out the way we expect! Not that it’s worse – it’s often better than we imagined. But it’s always different. Faith means we trust God with everything – even the future – knowing His ways are better than ours.