Monday, December 30, 2013


I’ve been talking about the life of a Christian and how persecution and comfort effect that life.

Persecution is nothing new.  We can go back to before Christ was born, before God’s people begged to be like other nations and have a human king. In the time of the Judges, the people would grow complacent in their lives, accept the ways of the world and drift away from God.  Then enemies would come to ravage the people and their land.  What was the inevitable response?  A cry to the Lord.  In His faithfulness, He would accept them back, save them from themselves.

He continued to do this through the time of the human kings. This is phenomenal to me because just having a king was a rejection of God.  How faithful He is to our unfaithful hearts. 

Jesus arriving in human form didn’t stop the persecution.  We see Romans 8:28 play out time and again throughout ‘modern’ history.  The church adopts the ways of the world.  We might start out by christinaizing a practice, dressing it up and making it look good.  But soon we throw off even that sham.  Soon no one can tell the church from the rest of the world to save the church’s life—literally. 

Then comes the persecution.  Honestly, I think persecution is us just finally reaching that ‘line.’  We accept all sorts of pagan (meaning non-God, which is why many are so acceptable; many are morally neutral) activities, but then something comes along that offends us and we start protesting.  Can you imagine the confusion of the culture around us? ‘We were all getting along just fine and now you are throwing your hands up at us.  What’s the matter with you?’

Whatever the object of offence is, it wakes us up and we remember we are different and we weren’t meant for this world after all.  The only thing that makes us different is that we accepted what Jesus did, so the way we deal with this rude awakening is often pretty poor.  And this ticks off the ungodly community who can’t—can’t—understand what all the commotion is about.  They certainly don’t like being called names by us.  So, we feel beaten up because they feel beaten up.  Disrespected and uncomfortable.  In some very real ways throughout history and today, Christians are persecuted.  They lose their property, are jailed, tortured and murdered.

When you are facing certain loss, you are forced to choose.  Is it worth it?  It is easy to say we love Jesus when it costs us nothing.  But will you still call His name out in public if it means you lose you job?  Your home? Your life? 

I think God uses persecution to keep His believers close and bring more to believe in Him.  That is certainly for our good!  I think when we start to feel that tickle of discomfort, it is time to praise the Lord.  Be full of joy and glorify Him because you are not quite so comfortable, not quite so entertained by this ashen world.  Remember our job here.  It was  never to get comfortable.  Get back to work!

We are here to help rescue people.  That can be the only reason.  If we are saved by grace alone, then when we accept Him as Lord and Savior, we’re ready to move on from this earth.  But that isn’t what happens.  We stay here.  Why?  It can’t be so that we will just learn for our own sake, or just mature in our faith so that we are more fit for heaven.  That doesn’t make sense.  If that were the case, it would mean that we are doing something to earn our spot.  Jesus’ blood wasn’t enough.  I need to help Him out.  uh…. no.

SO, if I am still here and it isn’t for my sake and it isn’t for God’s sake, then why?  It must for for others’ sake!  The first thing I need to do is stop trying to get comfortable, stop fighting for my spot in this world.  I should be pointing to the emergency exits on this failing contraption of life.  And I can’t do it like a scary monster that makes others run away from me.  I have to tell the truth, with earnestness and love so they trust me enough to follow me to Him.

Sunday, December 29, 2013


Yesterday I shared how my family has responded to persecution and how we have changed when the persecution was removed.

Allow me to interrupt myself to discuss this word, persecution, because there is persecution and there is persecution.  I know I have never faced persecution.  I have been yelled at, called names and made distinctly uncomfortable for being who I am or believing what I believe.  However,we have never had cause to worry for our safety, our lives, our possessions, Brian’s job… People have asked us—strongly—to not speak of God.  We have lost friends because we talk about Jesus too often. But none of that really can constitute the type of persecution Christians have faced for their faith in Jesus.  We know that.  We all clear on that?  Good.

I think America has done much the same thing, on a larger scale, across the decades of time, as we have. We all got lazy. We accepted that we were a “Christian Nation” and allowed for our individual relationships with Christ to coast; we depended on the masses to carry us along. I picture us as hobos hopping on a train and riding it wherever it takes us. We feel quite pleased with ourselves because we got on this cool train. It is comfortable. People take care of things. Eventually, we abandon our hobo clothes and find an empty compartment that we make our own. It is a sweet deal. When we step out to look around at the other cars, someone cleans our room. No cooking for us, either! Food appears hot and tasty when we order from the menu. Life is good.

We allowed the harmless in. We are molded by our secular society more than we care to admit. But, as decades have passed, some of us are waking up. We see that maybe we aren’t in such a Christian country after all.

I don’t know that our responses are all that effective, though. Imagine that train again. We feel the temperature fall, we see the terrain that is speeding past the windows becoming less familiar. So, we stand up and start hollering. “Wait! I got on the Christian train! This isn’t right! Where are we going!?” All this yelling annoys the passengers who got on and knew where they were going, and we get a little hoarse. Nothing really changes and we don’t even realize that we look like clueless idiots. But we keep yelling and waving our hands around, because the truth is still not something we want to face. It is there, but we hope the bluster we create will keep it hidden.  We hope against the truth our hearts know.  We hope that we can somehow change that truth.

What is the truth? We. Have. To. Jump!

There is no other way. The train isn’t going to stop for us. It is going right where it was always meant to go. (The train and the people on board aren’t doing anything wrong!) We are the ones who screwed up. That is what is so uncomfortable. That is the embarrassing truth we were hoping to hide or maybe even change.

There is no Christian train. Christianity was never meant to be traveled by rail—it doesn’t speed. There is no short cut. It is a walking faith, a faith of relationship. It is slow. Each person must travel it with purpose. Not a single step of your faith can belong to any other human. So, we aren’t just on the wrong train, we were never meant to get on any train in the first place! Whoops!

What are you going to do? You are going to look like a fool jumping off of that train. You are going to get hurt and you can’t take anything with you. The longer you stay, the further you get from where you belong, the more you will accumulate and the colder it is going to get. What are you going to do?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Press In

I can look back on my own history and see the blessing of being around people hostile to our faith.  Our Christmas traditions are far more Christ-centered than those of my own childhood.  I grew up in a Christian-is-status-quo environment.  So, we had a lot of not-Christian stuff, because we all knew what it was all about.

My kids have grandparents malignant to the things of Christ.  In response, we said no to elaborate Santa games and yes to serving the less fortunate. We talked about the real man who inspired the Santa traditions with his great love for Christ that manifested in generosity and gentleness to children. My kids didn’t see the traditional Rudolph and Frosty movies until recently, but we never missed the birthday cake and song to Jesus. We lessened the number of times we sang Jingle Bells and sang O Come All Ye Faithful in our sleep. 

Everything we did was with thought and purpose.  My kids knew the Christmas story frontwards and backwards before they were two. They knew the pagan roots and Christian symbolism of the tree, the date and the candles.  They can tell you what all the aspects of the candy cane represent. 

All our nativity scenes were active—meaning the wise men started in another room of the house and slowly moved toward the barn.  So did Mary and Joseph, for that matter. On Christmas day we ‘appeared’ the long awaited Baby in each of our crèche sets with great drama and joy.  The wise men continued to travel until their own celebrated entry on January 6.

The contentiousness was something I would never have wanted in our lives. But as I look back, I see how the One we call Lord maintained His position by putting a war just outside our door. We pressed into Him. We impressed into our children the meaning of life. It was imperative they knew, because the lie that seemed so harmless was invited to our dinner table. We had to learn NOW the way to love the people who hated what we lived for, because my children were sitting on their laps. We had to know why we believe what we believe, because there were a thousand reasons telling us we were wrong…in our living room!

To our heartbreak, we are on a sabbatical from the relationship that was such a precious trial to us. And I see a change in how we live. We are in a fabulous church, so everything is Christian all the time. And how easy it is to let the ‘harmless’ in. My kids have now seen all the traditional Christmas shows that have nothing to do with Christ. Stockings from Santa is one of my favorite things. The nativities are still around, but they are whole from the get-go.

I can excuse the lax traditions by saying the kids are older, life is busy and they know the truth. But the fact is that I have grown lazy in the safety of our lives. My guard is down and the world is coming in.

Friday, December 27, 2013

How Will We Stand Against It?

There are some beautiful nativity scenes out there.  We have several in our home, and the guy down the street has this awesome life size manger scene lit up in his yard every year.  It is pretty easy to call to mind the image of the parents gathered around the Baby in the feedbox. But what happened next?

When I think of the days after my own babies were born, they are pretty special.  The crowd goes home, we get to know each other and we settle in to a new life.  We practice the first of septi-ga-frillion nursing and diaper sessions, we learn what the different cries mean and we come to intimately know this teeny person.

In the days after Jesus was born (from day one to several years), there was a king with an army at his disposal looking to destroy Him.  Angels sang from heaven and shepherds worshiped.  Wise men traveled miles and brought gifts fit for a king.  But there was another response to the news of a newborn King.  Murder.  Horror reigned when the king’s men violated countless families to eliminate the threat a Child posed to jealous Herod’s throne.

A day of great joy is followed by untold terror and loss. As long as we live in this world, this seems to be the pattern. Bad things happen. Really, really bad things. Good things happen, too, but sometimes it looks like the bad is winning. Evil seems to come on in indefatigable waves. How can we stand against it?

The holidays hold a lot of pressure to make everything ‘good.’ We are supposed to be jolly. Families get together. We have goodwill and peace to all men jingling in our heads. Be happy, happy, happy! Unfortunately, the calendar wasn’t consulted by the cancer that invades, the cars that crash or the relationships that unravel. Sickness and strife come. It stinks any time of year, but we feel a special failing when it attacks during a holiday. How do we stand against it?

We go back to that small Baby, Who grew into a strong and gentle Man. He overcame all the evil with undying and inexhaustible Good. It may be hard to remember when another wave crashes over us, deafening and disorienting. It certainly goes against our instincts that scream to us to scramble up for air, but try instead to reach down. Down to the Rock. Reach for the unshakable. Press your body to it and don’t let go.

The story has already been written. We know the outcome. A lot of bad will continue to happen. But God wins. Good wins. Love wins. Healing and reconciliation and wholeness go on without end. Hold on!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Happy day after Christmas to you! The presents have been unwrapped, the food has been eaten and the family has been visited.  It is done…but it continues!

Thankfully Christmas isn’t just a day.  In the liturgical churches there is an entire Christmas season.  Even without a calendar to dictate, we are rightly encouraged to carry the joy and meaning of Christmas to the world throughout the year.

How will you continue to celebrate the glory of the Lord?  How will you remember that He came for you?  What will you do to show others that they are precious enough for the Son of God to live in a flesh body, experience temptation and suffer Himself to death?

Carry the joy that today is the day the Lord has made!  Share His love with a smile and a helping hand.  Your love makes a difference!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Merry Christmas!!  May your sights and hearts be lifted above this earth and life to the glory that is our Savior and the to the opportunity for a new life with Him that will never end. Amen!

Eh, Not SO Great…

There is a song that just captivates me.  The group Sidewalk Prophets sings “Live Like That.” Check it out here. It is so good.  Go ‘head, I’ll wait.


If I could write beautiful, heartfelt poetry or music, these would be words I would use. Oh! It just speaks my heart.  I do want to live like that!



Here is another. ‘Well Done’ by Moriah Peters gets me through the end of my literal runs, but also inspires me to ‘keep on keepin’ on’ with regular life, as well.  Oh, I do want Him to tell me, ‘Well done’!

I want to exemplify love.  I want wisdom to course through me so that all my choices glorify Him.  I want the parts of me that show to the world (and my family) to be the perfect parts that Jesus Himself created, restored and perfected.


How’m I doin'?

I was recently unfriended by someone on Facebook. Unfriended!  That is a purposeful thing, you know. No matter what excuses some people propose, it just rarely happens by accident.  I realize it isn’t the end of the world.  I can’t even tell you when it happened.  I only noticed because a third party had her listed and her icon was not annotated as a mutual friend.  But it happened.  Someone chose to remove me, not hide or modify my access, but remove me.  I was amputated—something I just wrote about yesterday.

I’m guessing I’m not living up to my inspirational music.  I sing it while I cook and shower.  I pray that God will aid me in each moment to embody His Love to the world.  But, if I were doing that, I don’t think a friend would take time from her busy life to exclude me from it.  *sigh*

To quote my very clean-mouthed dad, isn’t that just the shits?  (In case my tone conveys inaccurately, I am being quite sincere about my dad's mouth. I can recall him cussing less than five times in my entire life. Each time he did, he used his words most appropriately, as I intend it here.) And worse, I hate failing, but I hate being confronted with my failure even more.  Boy, I’m a mess!

Tomorrow is Christmas, the second most important holiday to the Christian faith.  The thing that distinguishes Christianity from all other religions and faiths is that Perfection with a capital P reaches out to humanity.  All the others either say there is no perfection or offer instructions on how humanity can reach it.  Christians have to (get to?) come to the miserable but undeniable truth that we are abysmally incapable of following even the most basic instructions, even when we desperately want to.

Jesus knows this about us (duh, right?).  He wants to be friends, but knows that the only way to do it is if He does all the work! Christmas is when we celebrate the first part of the amazing process that brings us together again.

I am so sorry I lost this friend.  I am so sorry that she is just another name on a list of people who chose to quit me.  It breaks my heart.  I love my friends and cherish them so dearly, and I over and over and over again cause them enough harm that they amputate me from their lives.  And my goals were so lofty—that we all live happily ever after.

Thankfully, this isn’t the end.  Until the end of time, the story always ends with ‘To Be Continued.’  It is written.  The story is final.  Praise Him.  Happy Birthday!

Monday, December 23, 2013

We Are

Authentic reproduction, amicable divorce, war games, sanitary sewer, the sound of silence.  These are so much fun!  I found a site that has a list of oxymorons—or oxymora, I just learned. Some are hackneyed (expect the unexpected), some are funny (aging yuppie), some are cynical (marital bliss) and some went right over my head (helicopter flight?).  Church business?

Church business is not an oxymoron, though I am not sure we should go so far as to make the two words synonymous. The church certainly has business to conduct.  We have a commission to tell others about salvation, baptizing the nations in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  We see this in Matthew 28.

18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

We also have internal business.  In Acts 6, we can see the church select helpers who serve as ‘in-reach’ ministers called deacons.

But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food.

2 So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. 3 And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. 4 Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.”

5 Everyone liked this idea, and they chose the following: Stephen (a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit), Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas of Antioch (an earlier convert to the Jewish faith). 6 These seven were presented to the apostles, who prayed for them as they laid their hands on them.

Sometimes I grow concerned when I see the church strive to emulate business.  While we do have business, or work, to do, I don’t think that we should work as a business.  Church and business are different ‘creatures’ with different functions or goals.

I think one of the big differences between the two is that a business has the goal of numbers.  Whether a company is marketing a service, an image or a product, its success is measured in numbers.  When an employee fails to produce for any reason, they need to be removed and then replaced as quickly as possible.   The business is seen as a single entity, perhaps organic, but expected to function as a well-oiled machine. The parts are not as important as the whole. People are the nuts and bolts, the screws and gears. Broken parts are not repaired. 
In a church the function or goals are reconciliation and relationship. We need to be reconciled to God and others so that we may be in relationship with each other. There is no product to be produced.  We cannot accurately measure the success of a relationship by numbers. 

The church is comparable to business in how it is seen as one entity.  But the Bible uses a single body and family as analogies for the unity of the church. The individuality of the members is crucial, which makes them irreplaceable. The wellbeing of those individuals is important enough to compromise the other parts to maintain it.  When one person is not able to ‘work,’ the body metaphor shows an activation to heal that part, from white blood cells to affecting a limp to favor a compromised limb. Amputation is the last resort. 

In a family metaphor, the other members gather round, strengthen, encourage and fill in the temporary gap. An aging grandpa would be brought into the home of his children so that his wisdom is shared and his needs are met. 

People who are lost from the family are mourned, not replaced. In fact, widowers, widows and orphans are names that define people by their loss.  We do not erase those memories.  We cherish and share them.

When the church is unified, it will look like a body or a family.  Members will work together doing various parts of a job, complementing one another, maximizing strengths and covering weaknesses.  And since the primary goal is relationship, there are no deadlines, there are no quotas, there is no frantic rush to perform.  The church is a state of being: we do not go to church, or do church.  We are the church.  We exist.  We love. We gather. We give.  We share.  We heal. 

As the I AM’s Body, we are.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Last Christmas we were sick and shoveling snow.  This year looks like we might squeak by and come out ‘oh for two.’ (I am not a sports person and this is the first time in my whole life I have ever tried actually writing that phrase.  I realize that I don’t know how to spell the ‘oh’ we use for the number zero.  Hmm…)

I actually enjoy shoveling snow.  Sadly, clear skies are forecasted for the whole week.  We have had picturesque snow on the ground for a few weeks, because of the eyeball-freezing tempuratures since the last snowfall.  Looks like we got a thaw just in time to have a brown, muddy Christmas.  I don’t remember ol’ Bing singing anything dreamy about gloppy doggie prints on everything I own! 

For the other part of the score, the kids have had what I am calling a 36 hour fever.  Thankfully, as sick goes, it’s  not so rough.  No stomach issues other than loss of appetite (please pause to sing the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah with me), no wracking cough, no stuffy heads. Both kids more or less slept for two nights and a day, and had a recovery day of lounging. I am truly thankful for these blessings.

The nice thing about sick is the forced slow-down to our schedule.  We have some pretty phenomenal friends and I love spending time with them.  Our calendar can get pretty packed without much effort.  Being on lock-down gives us a chance to reconnect as family, serve one another when we are weak and take the time to rest.  I don’t ever like missing the neat things we had planned, but I am almost always appreciative for the restorative time together.

Hopefully, my husband and I will be spared this particular infection, our doggie will continue to get back to normal (the surprising wet spots on the carpet are getting super old) and we can have a very merry, healthy Christmas! 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Family Traditions

We have some family traditions to help us stay focused on Christ during the Advent season. Some evolved over time, initially happening either by chance or without any regularity, but over the years they have just come to be cherished activities our family anticipates each December.  Other traditions we have established more thoughtfully and with more purpose.  And some on this list are new-to-us traditions.  I’d love to hear from you about the things you do that acknowledge this special time of year.

Most of these are pretty inexpensive and not too time consuming.  Feel free to try some out for your own family.


Read Jotham’s Journey

Make and Send Christmas Cards

Donate the Christmas Coin Jar

Go Christmas Caroling

Make a Blessings Poster

Do a Random Act of Kindness

Make Christmas Ornaments

Bake for the Christmas Tree Lighting on Main Street

Decorate the House

Watch Charlie Brown Christmas

Make a Christmas Dinner with Friends

Watch the Grinch with Jim Carrey

Make Paper Snow Flakes

Write a Letter to Family Members

Watch The Santa Clause Movies

Make a Birthday Cake for Jesus

Have an Advent Wreathe

Go See Christmas Lights

Watch the Polar Express

Watch The Very First Noel

Family Game Night

Make a Pinecone Bird Feeder

Special Christmas Breakfast

Make Marshmallow Snowmen

Make Snowmen Pizza

Put on a Play

Christmas PJs

Play the Stocking Game

Make a Christmas Cookie Tree

Find New Christmas Music

Make a Countdown Garland of Green and Red Paper

Make a Christmas Craft

Bring Goodies to Fire, Police and Hospital Workers

Buy gifts through World Vision

Make Popcorn Garlands for the birds

Friday, December 20, 2013

Little Green Men…or Grey, if you are so inclined

Somehow during school we got to talking about aliens.  So the question came up. Are there aliens? This led to the next question. Does it even matter?

The world is so big. The distance between planets, solar systems, galaxies. We are just little dots in both a time and a space that seem infinite. Does that make us insignificant?  If course not!  We were made to be in relationship with the One Who made us. That is all that matters. So what if we are the only beings on the only planet orbiting the only sun?  So what if there are countless species of aliens on countless planets and moons across vast stretches of space—or even countless universes?  We can be at the center of the universe or in a tiny pocket that the universe has forgotten. None of that matters when we are face to face with the love of our lives.

What seems to matter is from where we get our identity.  Is it about being in the center?  Being the biggest?   The first? If so, then you can feel pretty unimportant when you compare yourself to all creation.  If, however, you know your identity is connected to your Creator, then however much else He chooses to create has nothing to do with your worth.  He said you were worth the Blood of His Son.  What more needs to be said?

When we got married, my husband asked what we would do if I were to realize I were homo- or bisexual--we are weird and have conversations like that, ok?  My answer was simple: who cares?  Would it be ok for me to cheat on my husband with a man?  No. So how would it be ok for me to fool around with a woman? I am face to face with Brian, my husband, for whom I vowed to forsake all others. All others.

The same is true with God. No number of aliens--even zero--will change my purpose in life. I was made to love and glorify Him. My place is secure.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Check me out getting all hot-topic political!  Actually, I won’t bother with my views on the subject at hand.  I have discussed it plenty of times before with people all over the spectrum and it is safe to say that I offend them all and stand alone.

So, what am I going to talk about? Phil.

Meet Phil. Redneck. Hunter. Backwoodsman. Conservative Christian. Beard-growing maniac. I’m talking about Phil Robertson known by the famed Duck Dynasty reality TV show.  If you hadn’t heard of him before, surely you have by now.

He was recently interviewed by GQ magazine.  (Apparently the ruckus is about a few words he said regarding homosexuality and sin, and not the profanity-laced editorializing of the interviewer.  Go figure.) He has been let go from the show as a result of what he said in the interview. 

This was Phil's response to being let go! Robertson has issued a statement in response: "I myself am a product of the 60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior. My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together.

"However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other."

I have to ask a question here.  Are we surprised he thinks homosexual acts are a sin??  Really?
He is an individual. That's why we like watching him. No one thinks A&E agrees with his every opinion. His own family members don't agree with his every opinion. So what is the harm of his sharing his opinion on homosexuality honestly and maybe un-popularly?  Who cares, really, that a man who was born, lives and will die in the swamps of Louisiana thinks homosexuals are sinning?
But A&E decided to choose divisiveness. They divided the patriarch of the family, business and show from the show. And not quietly!  To cover their butts?  I don't think so, for a few reasons.  For starters, the interview had nothing to do with A&E.  Furthermore, the author of the article commends the network for editing the show to keep it apolitical. A&E’s butt is simply not exposed for it to find need to cover it.  And finally, watch what happens next, and keep in mind that A&E is in the business of entertainment and publicity.

The conservative Christians react:  freedom of speech!  Rally behind the good family man! Speak the truth!  Rail against A&E, Hollywood and all American society! People preach tolerance until it is an opinion that goes against the liberal agenda. We cry foul!  What about our founding fathers? We cry hypocrisy!
The liberals react: here we go again with all the hateful hate talk!  Talk about hypocrisy! For a god of love, his people sure are hateful!  How can you cry about freedom? You fuss because we are only asking that you keep a civil tongue in your head. Ironic that you want freedom when all you desire is to take away my freedom to live my own life in honesty. You are upset because you can't speak your hate when all I want is the freedom to express my love!

Oi!  Haven't we had this conversation once or twice before? 

Meanwhile, Duck Dynasty is getting more publicity than they could have ever generated without A&E triggering this Rube Goldman machine of hatred where the parts are human beings.
rubeWhat upsets me is that so many lined up like good little dominoes and played their parts with beautiful predictability. Did anyone bother to ask what the final goal is?  Nope. 

This isn’t an honest discussion of the issue.  Phil Robertson isn’t being victimized.  He knows public opinion is fickle and the show won’t last beyond too many years.  He lives a life with a final goal to share the Gospel, not to serve ratings.  He doesn’t depend on the show for livelihood and certainly doesn’t live for public opinion.  So he doesn’t need ‘defending.’  Gay people haven’t been harmed.  Phil didn't  say anything that is earth shattering and he wasn’t speaking to people whose minds will be changed based on his words alone.  Let me reiterate this.  Phil is fine!  He wasn’t jailed, fined, beaten or threatened. 

Doesn’t this beg the question? What are we defending Phil from?  Why does he need defense?  If we can calm down and look at this fairly, it may save us from becoming caricatures of Christianity.  Either Phil said something wrong, and he should apologize and take his ‘punishment’ humbly.  Or he obeyed the prompting of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit will advocate for him (and he should remain humble).  Right?  Do we believe in this God, or not?  Do we need to make it right?  Where exactly were we instructed to speak the truth and then control the reactions of the listeners?

John 15 says this:

18 If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates Me hates My Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have [g]sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. 25 But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’

We aren’t supposed to rely on this world for justice.  We aren’t supposed to find love in this world.  We are supposed to bring the love.  Please read that last bit of verse 25 again.  “They hated Me without a cause (emphasis mine).”  When we strive to be like Christ, we cannot give cause for the hatred we may receive.  Phil did his part.  Let us trust God to do His, now.

Let’s review.  One guy said something that fell squarely on one side of a divisive issue.  That is how it started and should have ended.  But it didn’t.  He got suspended; his wrist publicly slapped.  That is actually what started the frenzy. 

Now we need to be critical thinkers.  Who started it and what is the desired result? A&E gets free publicity from both sides of the issue and happily pockets their money. A&E are the pot stir-ers, capitalizing on manipulating people to react so predictably.  Let’s not be part of the problem.  Let’s remember that Phil is fine!  Let’s remember that people are watching. 
We need to engage our minds and tap into compassion to stop the chain reaction of reactions. Let’s not make this bigger than it is.  It is one man, leading one family and speaking what he believes.  You believe differently? Go home and hug your kids.  Tell them the truth of love as you see it. 

(You may choose to point out that I hopped on the bandwagon and helped with the free publicity, but only three people read my blog, so I think I am pretty safe!)

Now, if you still have some righteous indignation and a godly thirst for justice, see what you can do to help people who are actually being persecuted and whose God-given freedoms are in serious jeopardy.  Mission India is sharing the Gospel, teaching people to read, write and do math at a fifth grade level, empowering people to support themselves, planting churches and bringing encouragement and support to the downtrodden.  And they are getting beaten up, their houses are being burned down and their lives are being threatened.  If you think it is wrong to victimize an American millionaire by suspending him in what could only be described as a publicity stunt, what do you think of this?  Families striving to get by one day at a time, traveling miles just to get the day’s water, which may or may not be clean.

Perhaps there is a godly fire in you that desires to take action and spread good over the world, but it got misdirected.  That’s ok.  Adjust your target, and start moving forward.  Pray, donate money and research how else you may make an amazing difference in the physical and spiritual lives of countless people living in the shadow of death.

gift-catalog_0  Sponsor a child or give a meaningful gift this Christmas that can bless a family into the coming year. Support World Vision.




Pray for the workers in India, pay for children to go to Bible classes and adults to go literacy classes. Support Mission India.



Help improve maternal/child health and maternity outcomes through education and service. Support Midwives on Missions of Service.



32e65800-286e-11e2-bf96-005056b06a0e-5436920Stop human trafficking by lending your support to the A21 Campaign

logoProtect those most vulnerable, those who need your advocacy, whose rights to basic freedom have been completely stripped away.  Support Voice Today to end child sexual abuse. 

3Help homeschooling families who have suffered devastating loss due a variety of tragedies.  Support the Homeschool Foundation.


If none of these float your boat, find something that does.  There are plenty of people working to bring health, rights and truth to this broken world.  Cancer research, patient support, elder care, support for first responders, loving families of deployed soldiers, Bible interpreters, missionaries, Habitat for Humanity, local food banks, local shelters, children’s hospitals.  Be part of the good.  There is no shortage of need.  If Christians would each dedicate the smallest fraction of our money and time to serving these needs, no one would be tolerated for saying all we do is spout hate and hypocrisy.  Be blameless, my dear Family.

And if you are still a big fan of the Robertson family, as my own family is, reread his response.  He wants people to love God and love each other.  Honor his wishes and spread the love.

Happy Anniversary to Us

Today is a special day.  Two years ago this day we moved into our current home!  We now live about five miles out—and about 900 feet up—of our little town.  At the time we moved, I had my sights on moving more like 90 miles from town.  Since where we live is just a tiny neighborhood off the beaten path and no one happens by here on accident, it was a workable compromise.

This house has been a true home to us that has offered a time of incubation, healing and renewal.  I came here pretty lost and broken.  As I look back, I marvel at the changes that have come into our lives since we first arrived. 

But the plan was that we would make that big move when the lease was up seven months from our move-in date.  So, to be celebrating our two year anniversary here is a bit surprising.

As I ponder things, I realize that maybe I shouldn’t be too surprised that we are still here.  My husband is a roots man.  When I was a kid living with my dad, we moved all the time.  After my parents divorced, we achieved more stability and moved just six times from the time I was 8 to 22.  When Brian and I got together, our first years mirrored my time with my dad; moving five times in less than five years.  I think that was harder on my husband than it was for me.  In his life, BC (before Cindy), he could count on one hand the number of moves in his whole life!  Wild! Or not.

We soon settled down and by the time we were in the same place for seven years, I was starting to go a little nuts.  While I can blame the economy, I can’t say that we would have moved even if money’d been falling from the sky.  My darling is a roots man.

We lost our home because of that economy after living there for 11 years.  My daughter and husband both got teary eyed each time we went to the old place to clean.  Not me; I felt that we were overdue and I was happy to move forward.   Brian actually accused me of not being sentimental, but that’s a digressive rabbit trail I’ll skip.

So here we are.  Two years.  Each July, when our lease is up, I anticipate a move—either in town or out.  For 2014, I’m embarrassed to make my normal nomadic noises.  I might become a running joke as we pass year after year in our hidden paradise.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

You Know Your Tired When…

I just read an article about what sleep deprivation does to the brain.  The summary is that a sleepy mind is a dirty minds and sleep cleans the brain. It was a timely article because just a few nights ago we were laughing at ourselves for being so tired.

We were saying goodbye to friends after Bible study and I was sipping on some hot cocoa with a spoon in the mug. To keep it from knocking around, I rested my finger on the top of the spoon and began to sip.  Ever so slowly I began to tip the drink.  I am embarrassed to say that I actually poked myself in the eye with my finger.  Worse, I just held that position as I tried to figure out how to tip the mug further because I still hadn’t gotten anything to drink.  It took me far too long to pull the mug away.  I spoke aloud, ‘I just poked myself in the eye.’

My friend said, “I know; I watched you do it in slow motion.”  I am so dignified!

My husband was so sweet and bought me a little box of chocolates.  We were sampling the variety, smelling each other’s chocolates, which I guess is a little weird in itself.  It was the end of the day, so I wanted to extinguish the candle in front of us. What did I do?  I tried to blow it out with my nose!!  I blame it on all the chocolate-sniffing.

One of our usual calls to the kids to get them ready is, ‘teeth, face, deodorant!’  It is most often the thing we holler before we head out of the house. 

But this time, just before bed, Brian called out, “Feet!”  He drew even himself up short at that!  We all stared at him and I know he was wishing he had a second pair of eyes so he could stare, too.  He said, “Did I just say feet?”  Yes, you did, dear.  And no one knows why.

If only to confirm that the poor guy needed to be in bed, he thought for a minute and decided that he was trying to call out our usual teeth, face, deodorant but accidentally blended the two words teeth and face.  Again with the staring.  How in the world do teeth plus face make feet?  Tired man seems like he needs a brain scrubbing!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


My kids had an exciting weekend.  My son tested for the next level in his red belt for tae kwon do on Friday night.  He has tested plenty of times before, but this one was a little nerve wracking.  His teacher told him that if he didn’t break his boards, he would not pass.  My son has his daddy’s long legs, so sparring is pretty easy for him.  He has a memory to beat all, so performing his form and reciting verses is something he can do on demand without much effort. That said, board breaking is his least favorite part of his class. His strength in the other areas has allowed him to skate a little on board breaking.  His teachers wanted to push him and not let him get away with being lazy.  He was pretty anxious about this task and we prayed about it all week. 

My husband took him to the testing while I hosted a Bible study and kept checking Facebook and texts for updates.  As much as we expected it, we know that bad days happen, so the reports that he flew through his sparring and then his form both came with welcome relief.  After too long a wait, we finally got word that he broke all of his boards!  Praise be!

Our daughter was preparing for a test of her own on Sunday.  She participated in a recital and had more dances than ever before, including a solo.  Let me tell you that this girl worked!  For months, she attended classes and practiced diligently at home, building strength, programming the choreography into her muscle memory and worked on elevating a series of moves to an expressive dance.  She was wonderful!  My sorrow is that we were sitting so far from the stage, that I didn’t get any photos or videos.  Great sorrow. 

Mirroring that loss, I didn’t get any footage of my boy at all.  Here are just a few pictures of them sort of around the times of their achievements.  Best I can do.

at Harts


Grandma and Grandpa






Madi after recital

Madi before recital







madi dance

Madi's hair


max and granddad

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Magical Time

I have a treasured friend who is just about in her final month of pregnancy.  It’s quite a period of time, the third trimester.  Women at this stage are getting big enough to lose even the last positions that previously allowed for some comfort.  And being so visibly pregnant invites more than just the bold to make comments and ask questions.  “Wow, when are you gonna pop?”  “Have they checked to see if you are having twins?” “Should you really be drinking that?” In what other stage of life is it suddenly acceptable to rub your hands all over a woman you have never met? And then there are the horror birth stories. ~~Why do we do that? The darling lady who just needs to put her feet up listens and smiles and answers the same five questions over and over again.

It may be frustrating, and it is probable that most would choose to skip some of these distinguishing experiences of baby-growing.  Too bad!  The problem is the wonder and miracle of pregnancy.  It is just too amazing.  All humanity is drawn to it.  And why not?  It is life!  It is life.

Those who’ve been through it are even more in awe than those who haven’t.  Personally, I am brought up short, forced to pause in a moment of reverence for the fact that I got to participate in this wonderment twice.  I remember feeling life in me.  Tremendous!  Crazy!  What superlative suffices to properly describe the experience?

My pregnancies were hard.  So hard my husband couldn’t stand the idea of my doing it again after our last baby was born.  But you know what?  I tell you unequivocally that the hardship matters not one bit.  I would do it a thousand times over.  Of course the yuck of it is worth it just for the amazing human souls they produce.  But there is more to it.  Even a pregnancy that offers miserable pain that puts you on your knees is still phenomenally other-worldly.

So, poor mommas growin’ babies, I’m sorry for you.  I know you are tired of having to go to the bathroom again.  I know you’d like to just pop off that belly for two minutes so you can take your first proper breath in months.  I know it takes restraint to hold that smile in place while people make comments about you being the size of a house.  But soak it up; even if you have ten children, the wonder never ceases.  You are a walking miracle and we all know it.  We can’t always help ourselves.  We are compelled to take part, to reach out and touch the future, even if we do so lamely.  Bear it and bear it well.  It will be over all too soon.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

My Son’s Writings

I gotta do some bragging.  My son’s writings this week have given me great pleasure and I want to share them. 

First up is his blessings poster.  Our Advent traditions have gotten off to a rough start, but I am trying to incorporate some of our plans into our day in spite of circumstances.  The blessings poster is a new one, and both kids had fun doing them.  I was impressed at the depth and breadth of their appreciation.  My daughter listed the precious people in our lives and made her poster so pretty with her artistic flair.  These babies are going on the wall! Here is the list from my son.

photo of blessings

  • Timothy (our rabbit)

  • My creativity

  • Bailey and Ava (our dogs)

  • The games we play

  • Our dad for being a hard worker and loving us

  • The ability to keep in touch with family far away

  • A wonderful year

  • The off time we have to be together

  • The park up the street

  • School to help us follow the paths given to us

  • Our toys and books

  • Everyone in our church

  • That even in hard times we’re given what we need

  • To know that we are saved

  • So many reasons

  • The deli where we can meet and help people

  • That Bailey has made friends with Timothy

  • To be able to give in so many ways

  • That we’re given all these things we don’t need

  • That we have doctors to heal and officers to keep us safe

  • That something happens every day to look forward to

  • Good music that we listen to often

  • A world where we are connected enough to know what’s happening

  • Fun snow days!

  • The sledding hill

  • Our great neighborhood

  • God’s protection

  • The material to make great things

  • The good food in our pantry

  • That mommy can stay home

  • That we have so many blessings

  • A good weekly schedule

  • The freedom to express our faith

  • People in our lives to help and love and to receive help and love from

  • Our car that’s lasted so long

  • Our wonderful school program

  • That our house can hold us and anyone who comes to it

  • The shows we watch together

  • The trips we go on

  • A family full of love and respect

  • Every day we spend as a family

  • Schooling Rylee

  • Money to afford what we have

  • That we always have someone to look to for comfort

  • People and things that came along to remind us to not get distracted

  • Foundations class, where we have so much fun

  • The privileges we get and the trust we have throughout the family

  • Things to keep us productive (smelly markers)

Isn’t that cool?  Another assignment was to give three silly excuses for missing a Christmas party.  Here is My son’s paper.


I’m sorry I missed your Christmas party.  I would have come, really, but something came up.  My pet gopher grabbed my pie recipe and buried it.  He has so many holes, and I had to go through all of them before I found out that it never even went into the ground, but instead got blown by the wind out of my gopher’s mouth and into a neighbor’s yard.

So then I had to go to all my neighbors and find out which one’s yard my recipe got blown into.  The owner of said yard turned out to be away, so I decided to climb over his fence and grab it myself.  But that didn’t work because my neighbor has twenty-seven cats who, when they saw me, panicked, clawed me up and ate the recipe.

Then I had no recipe anyway, so I had to go back to the store from which I got the recipe and ask for another one.  But when they started writing the recipe out for me the power went out.  And then the nice worker there couldn’t write the recipe because she couldn’t see what she was writing.  So then we decided that she should go to my house and bake the pie herself, if I could bring her to the party.

But then, while making the pie we needed eggs.  I pulled out the carton and dropped it, breaking every single egg.  So then we would have had to go to the store to get more eggs, except that the power was out at the store where the eggs were.  So we then figured it wasn’t worth the trouble.  I drover her back to her own home and then returned to mine so I could sit down and write the letter.


He is a funny dude. Finally, this is a short essay about what he most anticipates this winter.  True to his form, he cannot select just one thing.

It is December, the first month of winter.  It’s very cold, and it gets dark quickly, so some adjustments have to be made.  But there are also some things I’m looking forward to that can’t be done any other time of the year.

One of the biggest things I’m looking forward to is sledding.  There’s a great sledding hill just behind our neighborhood that we visited multiple times last year.  We don’t have any sleds, but we know friends who will happily bring them if they can use them with us.

Snow is another thing I’m looking forward to.  We have some right now, but it’s only a couple of inches, so it just gets in your shoes, and is very, very cold.  What I’m really looking forward to is lots of snow!  My sister and I have built snow forts and trench systems in the past, and played on  huge mountains created when the driveway is shoveled.  A lot of people don’t like this neighborhood because they say it gets too much snow.  But more snow is more fun!

And of course there's Christmas.  We don’t have a lot of money for presents this year, but I think that’s a good thing.  It helps us remember that we’re actually celebrating Jesus, instead of presents.  Also sweet doggie Bailey just came back from the hospital, so she’s Christmas present enough.

This summer was the best summer I can remember.  This winter is also going to be great as we get together with friends and celebrate God’s grace.  It’ll be great! 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Dogs! Mixed Blessings

We have had an adventurous week concerning our first dog, Bailey.  Last Wednesday morning she was acting meek and needy.  That escalated through the day so that by four in the afternoon she was frantically shaking and panting.  We called all the local vets.  Some were sick, some on vacation, some didn’t answer phones.  Then there were the frustrating ones.  One lady answering the vet’s line told me I needed to get my dog in to see a vet!  Why, thank you so very much for your helpful help, you helping helper.

The only place we could get her in was the animal emergency room in Reno, so we packed her up, grabbed our girl out of dance class and headed out.  That doc suggested a disc issue and gave us some anti-inflammatory meds.  That was a rough night, but we made it through.  By four the next afternoon, Bailey hadn’t gone to the bathroom at all in over 24 hours and was still very distressed and unable to walk.  I began my round of phone calls again.  This time I got an appointment for the following morning at a vet hospital in Reno.  I looked for a ride fruitlessly, so poor Brian had to call in sick to get us there. After midnight Bailey finally went potty for the first time in something like 33 hours and I didn’t care a hoot that it was on my bedroom floor.

Friday morning we learned that Bailey’s back was indeed a problem and she would need a $5000 surgery or be paralyzed and in pain.  OH, and they don’t take payments.  Wow.  We drove home in stunned silence, each of us left to our prayers and hopes.  At least this time we had muscle relaxers to ease her pain.

That evening Brian’s brother and sister-in-law offered to loan us the money and the surgery was planned for Saturday.  We had friends visiting at the time the arrangements were made, and one offered to take us to Reno, another offered to take my kids to the Christmas cookie making party that was planned.  Isn’t God grand? 

I have to say I struggled—struggle—with spending that type of money on a pet.  We worked all that time to get debt free, and we just dove right back into it.  And worse… we are in debt to the only member of my husband’s family who’ll still speak to me!  Oh, the wisdom…

Nevertheless, off we went Saturday morning to get Bailey fixed—well, not that kind of fixed.  Fixed on the flip side.  After a mind-blowingly frustrating game of phone tag (who ever wins at that game, anyway?), we got the hap- hap- happy news on Sunday afternoon that Bailey didn’t need surgery after all!  Praise Him!  The radiological test they administered revealed healing from disc trauma.  We had to wait to hear about one more test that might indicate cancer, and then we could bring her home Tuesday.  Cancer at this point seems unlikely and we conclude our little seven day drama.

In a couple of weeks we can get the staples removed and her hair should fill in soon enough.  Our Miss Bailey is healing nicely, but we have strict orders to keep her from walking around too much or using stairs.  Boy, is that easier said than done!  She is our jumper and she gets herself up and down from the couches and beds before we can stop her.  We have to carry her in and out for every bathroom break.  She seems to think the fuss is just plain silly.  I am eager to prevent further injury.

We have spent the days since her return keeping things as low-key as possible; we are shoving drugs down her throat and carrying her to bed and potty.  One afternoon after school, I was snuggling under a blanket on the couch with my oldest kid and both dogs while I read.  My son stood up to walk away and pulled his blanket with him.  To our great surprise, we both felt … sprinkled.  What?  The blanket was wet, and my son’s sudden movement had flung the offending liquid all over us.  What could that be?  He took a sniff and shrugged his shoulder.  I just stared.  What?!

He gathered up the blanket to take to the laundry room and tosses over his shoulder, “There is a puddle on the carpet there if you want to smell it.”  What?!  Sure enough, there is a dish-sized dark spot on the carpet under where both dogs languished sleepily.  Now, I didn’t fuss when my nearly paralyzed dog piddled on the carpet in the middle of the night after holding it for over a day, but that was never intended as some sort of invitation to a new world order!  My dogs are four and five years old, for goodness’ sakes.  I am done with doggy messes on my floor!

Brian hears me holler and comes out to see what the problem is.  I tell him we don’t know the culprit, but that we had a potty accident in the living room.  While he is out there, Brian realizes the time for our daughter’s dance is approaching so he calls her name.  My son misinterprets the events and calls out, “No, she didn’t do it!” Brian and I do the slow turn to look our smart young man in the eyes.  You sure about that, Son?  Silly boy!

Meanwhile, I am mopping up the carpet while my family members make jokes and meander.  The dogs have not budged.  I am telling you, there was just not enough guilt in that room!

Friday, December 13, 2013

May My Kids Never Forget—Be Real

My sweet kids, I think you guys are wonderful.  I know I have this whole string of things I want you to remember.  I don’t want you to be overwhelmed, though. So, with full appreciation of the irony, here is another thing for you to know and never forget. Ready? Don’t bother about being perfect; just be absolutely real.

Your testimony matters, and some will use that as motivation to compel you to be as perfect as you can be and hide the flaws you can’t avoid.  There are lots of problems with this.  First, it isn’t honest.  And what good is something if it isn’t even true?  If you gotta lie to get in the club, the club aint worth it.

Second, it is exhausting!  Squirreling away your sins so people won’t reject God, keeping all the lies straight, watching your every tick and squeak, analyzing how others will interpret your words and actions… How could you even get out of bed in the morning?  Where is the freedom in that? Joy?  Devoured. 

Third, the focus is all wrong.  When you are working so hard to project the right image, what are you thinking about?  Yourself!  Why are you being perfect? To impress others with yourself so they will want to be like you.  Where is God in all that bustle?  And if you are so great, what do you even need God for in the first place?  It just makes no sense.  When we testify, we are not supposed to be giving evidence about ourselves.  We are giving evidence about what we witness.  It is impossible for us to witness much of anything if we are staring at our own reflections. 

So, eyes up, Children!  Look to God, look to needs of the world. Look for opportunities to share love and truth.

Remember what this is all about.  God made you on purpose with love to be in this family at this time in this place.  He doesn’t make mistakes and He doesn’t make trash.  You are fantastic!  You inherited a sinful nature and you choose to go your own way.  This separates you from God, Who is the source of life.  But Christ saw you at your worst and still considered you worth dying for.  May I repeat: God doesn’t make mistakes.  So if He saw you in sin and thought you were worth saving, who are you to argue?  You are great because he made you and thinks you are worthy.  Case closed.  Save yourself from making yourself crazy by chasing perfection.

Be you.  You are enough, especially when you stick close to the One Who made you.  Be flawed, quirky and silly.  Be ok with messing things up, honest about what you don’t know and willing to try new things.  Tell people about your weaknesses, temptations and even your major flubs.  Doing so takes the destructive power from them.  It shrinks them to their proper size, especially when you place them next to your Giant Father.

Don’t be afraid of sin or Satan.  God is more powerful and the battle is His.  Take a breath and use it to praise the Lord.  Smile and keep moving.  You are terrific!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

May My Kids Never Forget—Fill yourself each day with the Word

This idea is cousin to praying first, last and always.  Life isn’t always easy, so make use of the equipment available to you when you can! 

There are two things that make reading the Bible each day so important.  The first is that the Word of God is the only living, breathing Bread of life.  It matters to every person every day for all of time.  Pray (first, last and always) while you read it and let it comfort you because of past hurts, meet you where you are in the moment and prepare you for what is to come.

The second is that this world can be a rough place.  There are a lot of things out there that can distract and deceive you.  Some of it is downright evil, aggressively and out-rightly bringing destruction. Other things may be evil, but more subtle in its attack; seductive temptation can destroy the complacent.  Other things aren’t evil at all.  They could even be good things distorted by obsession or distraction from what you are supposed to be doing.  With all these things that could draw us from God, arming yourself appropriately is just sensible.

The Bible is so very relevant, and is something you can assuredly stand upon.  Don’t take my word for it, or any other person’s.  Don’t only read books about the Bible, or sermons teaching on the Bible.  When Jesus died on the cross the curtain dividing the Holy of Holies from the people ripped.  We have direct access to God!  You can read the Bible and understand it; you can pray directly to the God of all creation! 

Christ died to allow for this.  He did it on purpose for that very reason—to reconcile us to God.  We no longer need priests and other go-betweens. We are adopted children, loved and accepted.

When you live out your day, you will meet with ideas and practices to which you will need to respond—in approval, in rejection or with apathy.  To respond rightly, you must know the Truth.  How will you unless you fill yourself with Truth as a regular diet?

Just like I said in the prayer post, reading your Bible each day is not a chore or something to feel guilty about when you miss.  Feel privileged.  Feel responsible.  Know what it cost for you to be able to read that book.  Know that it would be utter folly to walk out in the cold without the proper winter gear—and equally foolish to walk in this world without Truth coursing through your thoughts.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

May My Kids Never Forget Part 4

I love the lesson for today.  I have preached this one since before precious kid number two was even born.  Son, remember we bought you Blue Baby, a lifelike baby doll, to help you practice being Big Brother?  You sure took those lessons to heart, because I know no other brother who is as wonderful to his little sister than you are.  And it made a difference, because I also know no other sister who loves her brother as much as you, my dear daughter.

And that leads me to the thing I want you to know and to never forget.  Be best friends with each other. 

Having friends is terrific.  Blessings.  You know how much I adore my own friends.  I see them all as gifts from God.  Some friends are purely circumstantial and are companions for what seems only a moment—a pal to see you through a brief lesson or period of grace.  Others stick around for a longer season—a college buddy or Mommy commiserate-er.  Some people you see frequently because schedules dictate it—for a few weeks to many years.  You get along famously, but a change in interests or availability suddenly vaporizes that friend so quickly that you may wonder if he was even real.  Then there are friends for life.  Some few people really do stick around through thick and thin.  Man, hold on to those treasures!

But siblings are in another category entirely.  No one will know you for as long as you two know each other.  No one else will have grown up with your mom, your dad, your traditions, your family culture.  No one.  You guys can be most real with one another.  You guys have the most practice forgiving one another.  You two know each other’s fears, pet peeves, favorites (and that the boy just despises being asked about favorites).  You know what you’ve overcome.  You don’t have to give any background information to each other; you just get to share!

That is a pretty cool thing.  Look after each other.  Make the effort to keep your relationship close.  Keep the slate clean. Even if you move across the world from one another, you live in an age of glorious technology; there are no excuses.  Keep in touch. 

Hold each other accountable.  Encourage each other.  Like each other.  Drop everything for each other.  Listen when you yell at each other.  Save each other from stupid choices.  Get together in the same room whenever possible. 

Don’t let anyone ever drive a wedge between you.  I promise whoever would cost you your sibling will drop you, too.  No other relationship is worth your sibling.

If you marry and have kids, take in the extra family.  Love your sib-in-law.  Show your love by preserving that marriage.  Listen to frustrations about marriage, and send each other right back to apologize, even if you think the in-law is wrong.  Be the best aunt and uncle ever. Be at the births. Celebrate the firsts, raise the cousins to love each other.

You two are so special.  I like you both and love how much you like each other.  Love the other friends.  Be great friends to those you meet.  But never underestimate the special thing you have going between the two of you.  Cultivate it and protect it.  Be best friends!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

May My Kids Never Forget, Part 3

Here is another truth I want you to live out each day:  Pray first, last and always. First Thessalonians 5:16-18 in the New American Standard Bible says, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” If you haven’t yet, tuck these verses into your heart and mind to get you through your day.

For today’s post, I want to focus on verse 17.  “Pray without ceasing.”  “Never stop praying” is the New Living Translation.  I remember I used to think that this was just impossible.  So impossible that it wasn’t even supposed to be taken seriously.  I read, ‘Pray without ceasing,’ but I thought, ‘Pray when you remember to, and when there is nothing else you could be doing.’  I mean, really.  Who can actually pray without ceasing?

You know that song What a Friend We Have in Jesus?

The second verse laments:

Oh, what peace we often forfeit

Oh, what needless pain we bear

All because we do not carry

Everything to God in prayer

How true this is!  Remember what prayer is.  We get to talk with the Creator, Counselor, Abba, Friend personally!  Why on earth do we pass that up?  Paul’s instruction to pray unceasingly is not a rule that you have to feel guilty about breaking.  It is more like a friendly reminder to drink, eat and breathe!  It is for our own sakes that we need to pray.  Prayer is an astonishingly extravagant gift.  Don’t let it gather dust on a shelf.

At the beginning I told you to never forget to pray first, last and always.  Troubles come.  When they do, instead of doing everything in your power and keeping prayer in reserve when all else fails, pray first.  Before you take action, start making lists in your head, or let your blood pressure hit the roof, pray.  Tell God all about it.  Talk with Him about what is going on, what has you excited, what concerns you and even the stuff about which you are fully confident and don’t even ‘need’ Him for.  Then—now this is important—listen.  Be still.  Even if you are running as fast as your legs will move to the sound of ominous crashing, be still in your heart and listen.

And when it is all over, and you are only realizing now that you haven’t taken a normal breath in a day, week or month, pray.  Thank Him.  Go over it all again.  Learn from it.  Relive it in the safety of His arms.  Cry. Laugh.  Praise Him.  Find joy in the sorrow.  Ask Him to show you the redemption in it all.  Pray last.

During the trials, during the mundane, during the things that try to steal our minds from the truth of this life…Pray alwaysPray without ceasing.  It means acknowledging and welcoming His presence and care in your life.  It means Jesus isn’t just your ticket to Heaven, but your Lord and Friend here and now. 

I love you both so much.  Remember you aren’t alone.  Talk to the One Who is always with you.  Listen to His wisdom, experience His love, take His everlasting life into yourselves.

Monday, December 9, 2013

May My Kids Never Forget, Part 2

Today I want my kids to know and never forget to be kind.  Choose it.  Be kind on purpose.  Think about it.  Look for (until you find) opportunities for acts of kindness.  Go out of your way to be kind.  Inconvenience yourself.

There is a saying that says something like, ‘be kind, it costs you nothing.’  There is truth to that.  A smile, letting someone ahead of you in line, a compliment, being patient, wishing someone a good day (better yet, praying the Lord blesses that someone)… These things cost us little to nothing, but can make a tremendous difference in the days and lives of the people we see. If it costs you so little, why begrudge such gentleness to others when life is already hard enough?

Is that the full measure of kindness:  niceties that cost us nothing? I don’t think so.  There is more to this being kind thing.  Leaving it there misses something vitally important. 

The truth is, sometimes you do sacrifice to be kind.  In an episode of Grey’s Anatomy—I am not going to get into the morality of the show, or of watching it—Izzie is being kind to Alex when he really needs it, but certainly doesn’t deserve it.  In response to being asked why she would help she offers this:

This makes me laugh because sometimes being kind is hard.  Really hard.  And very right.  Izzie struggles with being kind in a kind way, but determines to be kind the best she can in spite of herself. 

I would modify the little saying in this way:  Being kind costs you nothing except maybe that which you need to lose. You may have to pay with your indignation to be kind to someone who you don’t want to forgive.  You may lose some pride when you are kind to someone who doesn’t receive it graciously. Your self-righteousness will take a hit when you show kindness to someone you thought was less worthy than you—and you discover how much you really have in common! Consider these instances double blessings!

You will certainly pay with your excess time and money if you are being kind as often as you can, especially when you are kind to strangers and to others who cannot pay you back.  You will likely even pay with your not-so-excess time and money if you are doing it right. 

When you lose these finite commodities of time and money, you will have to choose more carefully how you spend what you do have. You won’t be able to buy what you want when you have already spend some of what you had on kindness. You will need to evaluate what you can do without. This will free you from ever being owned by your possessions.    You will be blessed with a life that is made more simple, and more free to be kind!

So, my kids, be kind.  Plan on it.  Don’t let it happen on accident.  Budget for double the toll (or coffee) so you can pay for the car behind you. Take the time to look at the lady bagging your purchase and ask her how she is—then listen to her response.  Keep gallon Ziploc bags with toiletries and non perishable snacks in the car to hand out to homeless people you see.  Donate your clothes.  Over-tip whoever serves you, and look them in the eye when you thank them.  Smile.  Wave at pedestrians.  Be kind.