But, I Didn’t Want That…

Not getting what we want does not mean that God loves us any less.

Last weekend a little girl in our town fell. Traumatic brain injury. The kind of fall that many get up from. The kind of fall that could happen to any of us. The kind of fall her daddy never saw coming. We prayed for a miracle….but she didn’t make it. Hearts are broken.

She has rocked so many people’s worlds. Watching this family grieve, lifting their hands and hearts to their Heavenly Father. Literally praising Him in their storm. Giving their daughter back to the One who gave her to them. Helping others by donating and giving other children the gift of life through the loss of her own. The ability to share so publicly that their love for God is not for one minute lessened by this tragedy. They know He weeps with them.

To hear that they may not have received the miracle they prayed for, but that now she has become the miracle that so many parents had lost hope in.

Seeing all this has renewed my boldness for our God. If God can do that…. If God can be seen here. If God is not doubted for a second by this family in this tragedy. How have I ever allowed it in my life? It’s not crazy. It’s crazy faith.

They prayed that their little one would recover. She didn’t this side of heaven, but she has blessed eight others with her gifts of life and countless others by this family’s testimony.

Their grief is glorifying the God so many do not understand. This is the type of situation that makes people question if God can be a God of love at all. That an innocent child would die by such a random accident. And, if so, how will their parents respond? Will their faith be shaken? Will they turn away? Will they change their minds and hearts towards the God they thought they knew, but must not have? That’s what the devil wants. But, the answer to all these questions is absolutely not. Their faith is stronger than ever.

They plan to show their God off. In her memorial service. Online. In person. They will use this to share His Glory. How is this possible? Only through a personal relationship with the One who they KNOW loves them most, even though. And their daughter too, even though. Only because that love has been cemented in their hearts and souls. God didn’t answer their prayers the way they wanted Him to. So, yes, they will grieve, but nothing will stop their faith in and commitment to the One who had another plan for their daughter and that was to help so many others, including me.

You Never Know!!

You know when you’ve had a really hard and confusing couple weeks, even sleepless nights, and the Lord finally tells you what you need to know?

Yeah that. That’s me today.

Lesson #1: You never know what someone is going through!

They can have what looks like the best year ever. Blessing after blessing all the while being hit by things you never see and would never know if you aren’t close to that person. The devil doesn’t let up. He gets angrier. He hits you where it hurts. He knows your every weak spot too. He’s relentless. But, that’s only because he relentlessly hates us.

Lesson #2: Every friendship isn’t meant for you any more than every romantic interest is.

You can be friendly to all, but friendship is mutual. Friendship comes when both are at a place to share openly. To learn about the other. To share with each other. To start building trust. That is a healthy friendship.

Each best friend you have now gave of themselves too.

Just like with romantic interests, the timing might be off, locations may impede or promote the relationship, interests may not be the same, etc…

God Himself knows who you need in your life. And that includes friends. When it’s real, you’ll both know. He’ll clue you in.

Rejection in your love life can hurt immensely, rejection or replacement by friends can too. But, know that HE will replace who you wanted so badly with someone better suited for you in the timing that you both need it. HE will heal you, teach you, relieve you, and help you through the stages of grief. And, grief is also normal and needed.

Feeling anger and jealousy and confusion isn’t of our Heavenly Father. He is love, peace, joy. So, heal. Ask Him to help you. And love anyway…. because you just never know!

Thank you, Jesus, for these lessons that I had to live to learn. May they help others too and possibly prevent some of their sleepless nights… You just never know..

 

Pass the Salt, Please

Too much salt can ruin a dish, maybe even more than not enough salt. We can always add salt…

This got me thinking. Jesus said His followers are the salt of the earth. So, why don’t we spread out more?

“You are salt for the earth. But if salt loses its taste, how will it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people.” — Matthew 5:13 (GW)

We tend to fear different schools, different churches, different places. But, why don’t we spread out? Many times believers feel they need to stick together AS the salt of the earth. And, while I agree, we need each other too, and as the Bible also says we should not neglect meeting together (Hebrews 10:25). That’s a lot of salt, all in one place.

Too much salt in a dish makes us cringe, we spit it out. We can’t fix it or remove the salt in a recipe gone bad…But, not enough salt, can easily be remedied.

Go, and share Jesus there. Go, and love like Jesus there.

Go. Spread out, and pass the salt, please.

Jesus also says “GO to the people of all nations (and churches and schools and workplaces) and make them my disciples (followers). Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world.” — Matthew 28:19-20 (CEV)

These days the word “salty” is also used as slang for “tough, aggressive, angry, irritated”. I say stay salty (tough) for Jesus. Stand up for Him and He will surely stand up for you. Jesus Himself got “salty” at people who abused others or accused others without addressing their own logs in their eyes.

Can we do the same? Can we humble ourselves and share that Jesus is our Corrector, Forgiver, Best friend, and Savior? Can we stay salty for Jesus and spread Him around? In different places? Can we show them Jesus? And His love for all? Can we do what He asks us to do? And go?

I pray salt into every church, private school, public school, prison, office, neighborhood, country, home, heart on earth.

We need to pass the salt please. It’s what Jesus asks us to do, and quite frankly tastes better too.

 

 

What If…

What if that choice is where He’s leading?

What if that fear is what He’s asking you to face?

What if that conversation is where He’ll be found?

What if your willingness will open the flood gates?

What if your honesty loses that person?

What if it inspires them?

What if that person can unlock the door?

What if that person will close it?

What if the friend you wanted so badly doesn’t feel the same?

What if opening up is where the healing is?

What if closing off is what’s necessary?

What if something you’ve always thought was true turns out not to be?

What if someone disapproves?

What if it’s family?

Will you still?

Jesus whispers “Peace, be still.”

He says He’s got you. He’s got this. He’s leading you.

He’s bigger than all of it.

Even if.

Watching Pandas…

I just returned from a trip to Washington D.C. I got some work in and lots of time and exploring with my husband. We got to visit some family in the area and enjoyed some slow starts to the day. These are even more precious considering his alarm goes off at 4:40 most mornings.

One of my highlights was getting to see pandas at the National Zoo there. I didn’t know D.C. had them! I didn’t know how close we’d get to be. I didn’t know I would get this thrill. They are my favorites..

There were three pandas in this exhibit and one was a baby. His name was Bei Bei to be exact. How precious is that? I could have watched them all day. Watched them eat, sleep (that’s what Bei Bei was doing), watched them just being them.

As we moved through the exhibit, we came across just that. A room full of cameras and behind glass so that we could see too. There was one lady researcher sitting at the desk surrounded by live videos of each panda. She could zoom in to get better angles of each of them no matter where they were. These pandas were being watched at all times.

They have no idea how much they are loved. They have no idea their every move, scratch, potty break, bite is being observed. One panda was completely passed out on top of a tree. Arms out, head down, asleep. And being watched. We’ve all been there too.

We don’t realize that we have a God who can zoom in on us at anytime and does. He loves, He sees, He watches, He cares. He can zoom in on that tear. He is watching. We have no idea how much we are loved, just like those pandas don’t.

One panda was begging to come back inside, probably hungry. Probably wondering why he had been abandoned. Why no one was answering. Why no one was letting him in. I’m sure the keeper had her reasons. I know he wasn’t forgotten because I could see the researcher watching him. But, I bet he didn’t. He didn’t know if anyone even knew he was out there.

A beautiful reminder that when we are feeling forgotten, hungry, passed out, or bumping into corners, we are still being watched. He loves us and we have no idea sometimes how much.

Rockabye

When I had babies in the house, by favorite time of the day was rocking them before bed. I’d hit rush hour traffic to get to them as soon as I could, make dinner during “witching hour”, and put them in the bath. As soon as that lotion and sweet baby smell took over, pacifier was popped in, and it was time to rock. Just baby and me.

This was when we could both get still and quiet. Sometimes, it took longer to settle down, but most of the time, once we hit that rocking recliner with jammies on, it was time for us both to chill.

I think about how this must also be God’s favorite times with us, when we rest in His arms and let Him rock us. He’s there for all of it. The hard times, the rushing, the washing, the crying, but in those precious moments when we let Him hold us, I imagine how happy it must make Him too.

As parents, holding our sweet smelling and contented babies, is when we can look past all the rushing and worries, and know it’s worth it. Sweetest times ever were holding my baby girls and feeling them relax into my arms. I miss it.

I know our Father in heaven must too.

We can do this anywhere. At our desk, in our beds, in our car. Let Him hold you. Let Him rock you. You are His precious child and that has never changed.

Building the New…

Are we focused on fixing the past? Or building the new?

Jesus has the power to make all things new….and one glorious day He literally and physically will. But, while we are still here, He helps us too.

He doesn’t erase the past, but He provides wisdom from it. He doesn’t change what hurt us, but He equips forgiveness for it and provides a testimony from it. He doesn’t remove the people, He teaches us new ways of relating to them.

In heaven, all our troubles will vanish. Until then, looking to Jesus in our hurts can lead to better decisions, courage, and change.

He doesn’t call us to live like our parents did, He doesn’t call us to live like our friends do. He doesn’t call us to cower to human beings. He calls us to follow Him. The King of the universe calls us to make Him the King of our hearts. And, when we do, we should expect change. Changes in ourselves and in our circumstances.

 Watch for the new thing I am going to do. It is happening already—you can see it now! I will make a road through the wilderness and give you streams of water there. Isaiah 43:19 (GNT)

He goes to work. Change is scary, but when we make Him the King of our hearts, we can also expect His help in these changes. He asks us to.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8 (NIV)

Sometimes, the new things He’s doing don’t seem good at first. They may even appear opposite. I’ve come across this many times. What I thought was a disaster, was Him making His way. So, I will trust You Lord. You are working. This is how You create change. In all things. We need to know He is still good and always good even and especially when things are not.

Last week, I apologized to my daughter for mistakes I’d made. Almost immediately, He lifted a burden. Today, no matter even her opinion of me, I’ve done what He called me to do. And, I thank God for that fresh start. May we trust His love enough to be human. To admit where we’ve messed up. To humble ourselves, receive His mercy, and show our kids how to do that. I believe God put that on my heart to better our future relationship. And, I thank Him for that.

Building the new is exciting. With Jesus in our hearts, we can expect help when the waves crash. He may not stop the storm, but He will show us how to maneuver and how to receive His peace and strength in it.

We can’t change our past, but we can learn from it. We can’t change people’s minds, but we can love them anyway and from a distance when necessary. We can’t force our way, but we can ask God for His and then follow step by gracious step.

What are you doing today to better yourself? Your relationships? Your health? Your finances? Your future? Your new? Let’s build.

I’m Done.

I’m done looking for love that was clearly never there to begin with.

I’m done explaining my choices.

I’m done trying to earn approval and hoping others like me.

I’m done pressuring myself to write or pressuring myself to stop.

I’m done expecting anyone other than God Himself to save me.

I’m done giving people God status. They are human, just like me.

I’m done letting my kids (or anyone else) tell me how to parent.

I’m done listening to the lies and accusations that I’m not a good one.

I’m done filtering my doneness. (That’s a real word, I looked it up).

I’m done trying to prove my love to people. Either they receive it or they don’t.

I’m done trying to do everything on my own.

I’m done looking for other things to make me happy.

I’m done. This is me, this is now.

Strength in a Spouse

One of the best things I’ve noticed since remarrying, is the strength I receive from him. He builds me up, supports my calling, kisses me every day, hugs me a lot, tells me I’m beautiful, holds my hand, sends me funny memes, prays over me, and texts me Bible verses when I’m anxious.

We have similar interests. We love to travel and can’t wait to be able to more.  We love to cook and try new places. Last night I hugged him and told him being married IS like a sleep over with your best friend, right? This is something I’ve never had. This is a happy happy thing. This is such a blessing, what marriage is intended to be.

He respects me and corrects me. Because of his tenderness, I receive it. He even encourages me to put myself first at times. He knows how hard that is for me. Just last night, he told me “Honey, sometimes it’s okay to think what about me?”

He is polar opposite of what I’ve experienced and his character is exactly what I prayed for. Kind, patient, strong, and supportive. I thank God for the growth I needed and went through to desire this. A true partner and friend to do life with.

He thinks I’m amazing and reminds me most every day. He helps inside and out. He admits when he doesn’t know something and his favorite place to be is with us.

He isn’t perfect, but doesn’t expect me to be either. His view of perfect is me being me. All of it. That’s his favorite version.

To feel stronger rather than weaker. To speak my mind more rather than less (he urges me to). To not fear disagreement because the love won’t change. To know that my smile is the most beautiful thing in his eyes and that my tears hurt his heart. To know I can ask for help or do nothing at all and his love is the same. To know he knows his own weaknesses and takes steps to protect himself knowing that protects us. To know he loves me that much.

This morning, I’m inspired to write this about him. He doesn’t get nearly enough credit. So, as you sleep honey, know I’m thanking God for you too. All of you.

Bracing for Impact

Teenagers.

We are coming in fast, and nothing can stop it. We have three teenagers in the house now. Well one is twelve, but will be in a few months and considers herself one.

We have a fifteen year old boy learning how to drive and twelve and thirteen year old girls in our newly blended family. It’s scary. I’m prayerful and it’s still scary. A new season.

We also have a mix of public and private schooling at our house. I’m blown away with what the public schoolers encounter at this age, and just as aware that the private schoolers will too, if they don’t already. It’s the world we live in.

Putting myself in their shoes has also got me thinking about how I was as a teenager…Not easy either. I couldn’t wait to go to college to get out of the house and have some “real freedom.”

I think about how much more trouble I would have gotten into if texting had been around then..

I remember my dad would pretty much only answer the phone if it rang after 9:00pm. And, that was to make sure boys and friends wouldn’t call the house after that time. If texting was an option, that wouldn’t have been an issue. I loved phone time. I remember talking for hours.

I remember getting caught on the phone in a lie. He happened to pick the phone up at the exact same time I did and heard stuff immediately that prevented him from hanging up. He caught me red handed. He asked me three times and I lied to his face three times. He already knew the truth, oh how that must have hurt his heart. The lying.

I’m going through this now. When our kid can look us straight in the face and lie, repeatedly, it kills us. And, we’ve probably all done it.

My dad’s punishment for that was swift and severe. He didn’t let me get my license when I turned sixteen and he sold the car I’d saved money up to buy the very next day. Severe. But, he knew me lying to his face was too. Righteous anger. And, I have some of that now too.

The video games drive me crazy, the constant secrecy of phones drives me crazy, the tablets annoy me, the staying up all hours drives me crazy, but I can’t help but think… “Would I be any different if I were raised in this age?”

My daughter has asked what I did all day when I was home for summer…I watched Price is Right, Let’s Make a Deal, and Young and the Restless with some movies thrown in. Same as them, except they watch YouTube and Netflix. I played Nintendo and they play graphic shooting games. The content is so much more risqué and/or violent than we had access too…Porn could be found, but not at the touch of a button. Google is wonderful, I use it almost every day. But, it’s made everything different. For better and for worse.

Summer downtime comes with summer boredom…Idle hands are the devil’s workshop. And, we’ve all fallen victim to them and to him. So, what’s a parent to do? Brace and embrace this season. Just like we did all the other ones…

So, as I write, my heart is racing and I’m bracing. But, still I will trust.

That our kids will lie and get caught and hide and also make us proud. That it will be hard, but that we will also have good times. That I will never know everything. That they will make good friends and not so good ones. That just because some friends or our own kids may lead to trouble now, doesn’t mean they always will.

Turns out the boy I got in trouble with is a preacher now. Every kid we encounter on our kids journeys are on their own too.

I will also trust that God’s grace will sustain us and that He will walk alongside us in this season too. May they come out of it knowing that no matter what get’s taken away (be it phones, games, tablets, or trips) that they are loved. And may we, as parents, model how much they have to gain when we lean on Jesus to get us through the hard stuff.

I don’t think it will be pretty, neither was having an infant. I don’t think it will be relaxing, neither was having a toddler. I don’t think it will be easy, neither is having a middle schooler. But, I believe it will be possible. Because, with Christ, He promises all things are. (Matthew 19:26)

And, I know seasons will change….because they always have.