Opryland and the Zoo!

So many things I would like to say, but I’m not going to. So many things I would like to whine about, but I’m not going to do that either. Just because you think it, doesn’t mean you have to say it.

People are being bullied, and this thing we can’t live without called social media, is the reason. Would you repeat some of the things you say on social media when face to face?

Here’s something to whine about: People die everyday. Just last night there were deadly tornadoes in Georgia and Mississippi and a shooting in a San Antonio mall; more than 1500 people died yesterday from cancer, and every day 125,000 abortions are performed. If you want something to whine about, grieve with these families that lost something or someone. Grieve for those women that were never born to have a voice. What happened to their rights? Why did no one care that they didn’t get to march?

When my son was little, maybe 4 years old, we had Thanksgiving dinner, just the four of us. We went around the table and gave everyone the chance to tell what they were thankful for. Noah’s response was, “Opryland, and the Zoo!” In his 4-year old mind, those were things to be grateful for. He’s matured a little, and the things of importance in his life have increased to bigger things, like two parents that love him unconditionally, and other family members that he can count on in any event.

Just because you don’t get the recognition you think you ought to, or because you might not get your “way” is not a reason to protest and cause dissension in a community, a state, or country. Be grateful. Grateful to be alive. Grateful to have that baby the doctor said you might never have. Grateful to have another day with your loved one that could be gone in the blink of an eye. Thankful to have a job that pays your bills. Thankful to have a roof over your head. Blessed to have someone that loves you unconditionally. Blessed with a family that accepts you. Blessed with the rain we received today. If you don’t have these things, try to find a support system that will afford you these things. Don’t depend on the “state” to reaffirm your self-worth, or to prove that you matter.

I borrowed something from the message at church today:

Rejoice in the Lord always. (I Thessalonians 5:17) Refuse to be anxious. (Matthew 6:34) Replace worry with prayer. (Matthew 6:34) Receive God’s peace, (Philippians 4:7) and Reject negative thoughts. (Philippians 4:8) Thanks, Brother Randy.

If you can only think of Opryland and the Zoo as things you’re thankful for, that’s a great start. Build from there.

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Push, Kiss

 

My 19-month old grandson has made it clear he doesn’t like to Face Time. In our most recent Face Time events, Walker decides to end our time together with an exclamatory, “Push”, followed by a kiss, and then the line is dead. “Push”, meaning, “Hey mom, if you’re not gonna push that big red button in the center, I am.” It’s not that he doesn’t love us, or want to see us. He’s just “over” this technological phenomena, and more into the car or dinosaur he was playing with prior to the call

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “She’s gonna go off on this Face Time thing with God, and church, and all that.” You are ABSOLUTELY right! God wants some Face Time with us, with me, with you, with your church. A lot of times, we show up for prayer time, or our quiet time in the morning, or we show up at church, and we go through all the motions, do all the right things, say all the right words, and when we’re done; we push that red “end” button, and we’re out. We go back to our regularly scheduled lives, already in progress.

So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. (Exodus 33:11) Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. (Exodus 34:29) Talk about Face Time! Moses had the ultimate Face Time experience. God didn’t say, “push”, kiss Moses, and hang up. Moses spent forty days in the Divine presence of God.

Scripture tells us that, in a village called Emmaus, a very long time ago, a couple of guys sat down to eat with a stranger they crossed paths with on the road. When He broke the bread and shared the cup with them, their eyes were opened and they recognized him to be the Risen Lord: and He vanished out of their sight. Face Time. (Luke 24:13-35)

As the woman at the well encountered Jesus, she immediately understood her life was different and no longer her own. We don’t know her name or age, but we know she was thirsty for truth. Jesus told her “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again” (John 4:13). Then Jesus made us all a promise: “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst” (John 4:14). In one sentence he went from everyday life to life everlasting. That was Face Time.

Jacob limped away after his Face Time encounter with God, and with a new name, Israel. (Genesis 32:22-32)

Our face-to-face with God may not leave us with the Shekinah glory that Moses was left with, and maybe not even a limp.  We have been given a tool that Moses and Jacob did not have – the Bible. We have knowledge of the love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness of God. We can read stories of others that had Face Time with Him and how they were transformed. We can get a picture of what God requires of us. We can get to know Him as well as Moses knew Him.

This Face Time is more than just reading about Him. We can also talk to Him in prayer. The more we pray, the more we hear and understand Him. We can sing praises and give thanks to Him. God likes to be acknowledged for what He has done in our lives.

Let’s get connected. No iPhone, webcam, or WiFi needed.

And…I’ll see YOU next time, Walker!

 

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She’s Got the Look

I saw Abbey, a former student office-aide, last week. I haven’t seen her since she was in Jr. High, giggling with her office-aide partner, and completely exhausting me. I was always glad when that bell would sound, ending 3rd period, and then the next day, couldn’t wait to hear them giggling again. (Abbey is now a junior in high school. Wow, time flies!) We chat for a bit as she waits. I keep looking at her face. Her features have changed. She’s completely out of the “awkward” stage, and she’s become such a beautiful young lady. I finally say, “Your face is different than when you were in 8th grade. You look so mature, and more like your mom.” She was glad that I noticed she had morphed out of her tweenage face, and replied, “It’s funny how you just…change.”

Just like Abbey declared the swift change in her appearance, we just…[swiftly] change when we decide to follow Christ. We change from a person lost with no hope, to a person found with ALL hope. It’s that simple. We are a new creation, the old has passed away,  (II Corinthians 5:17) and we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. (Romans 12:2)

And like Abbey grew to look more like her mom, our goal as Christians is to look more like our Heavenly Father. I want others to see Jesus in me. I have to get out of the way so Jesus can be seen in my life. (John 3:30) If you haven’t seen me in a long time, I hope that you would walk away from our conversation with the perception that I am more mature than the last time you saw me. (II Peter 3:18)

Abbey has more growing and maturing in her future, and she is doing it splendidly.

 

II Corinthians 5:17 ~ Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Romans 12:2 ~ Do not be conformed to this world,[a] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.[

John 3:30 ~  He must increase, but I must decrease.

II Peter 3:18 ~ But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

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Family Ties

One normal spring day, we stood at the doors and watched as the Department of Human Resources came and took a child away in a car unknown to us. He was being taken from his family. All for good reason, but still sad to watch. His family life wasn’t stellar. It wasn’t even less than stellar, or even good. It was bad. His family ties were being broken, stripped away from him.

1 Timothy 5:8 ~ But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (ESV)

Family is important. It doesn’t matter if it’s your immediate family, extended family, step-family, your in-laws, or outlaws. It doesn’t matter if you’re adopted, fostered, or blood. Family is important. Family takes care of it’s own. According to the Word, as mentioned above, so that they are not a burden to the church…or in more recent times, the government.

When families are estranged, it’s “strange” for everyone. Different people have different reasons for becoming distanced. It might be because of a lifestyle choice, disagreements over money, religious differences, marrying someone from a different background, or even bad behavior (Another day, another blog). We must not forget that we’re still family.

You can read Stop Being a Butthole Wife and apply it to any family member. I’ll let you read and decide for yourself.

http://herviewfromhome.com/?s=butthole+wifehttp://herviewfromhome.com/?s=butthole+wife

When they’re grown, they’re grown, and when they’re gone, they’re gone. Life is way too short to miss out on anything. I lost my dad, and my older sister at a very young age. We were close, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to have had them in my life, but there’s not a day that passes that I wouldn’t wish for just another day with either of them; when in reality, I’m so glad they are not here to experience the world that we live in today. I am thankful for the promise that I will see them again.

I have a husband and two children that I adore, and a grandson that is the absolute apple of my eye. I have a son-in-law that was a missing piece of our puzzle, and an about-to-be-daughter-in-law that will put us over the top. There is nothing that could keep me from gettin’ to you babe, nope, that’s Ashford and Simpson. Seriously, I would move Heaven and Earth for them.

We all have our differences, and that includes family. We have disagreements, controversy, and discord; disputes, debates, and quarrels, but they don’t have to turn into problems that divide our families.

Don’t be the family butthole that severs family ties. Be the one that encourages peace. Matthew 5:9 ~ Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (NIV)

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What’s Your Story

This post comes from a Bible Study the ladies in our church did this summer. It was about Telling Your Story. We talked about different ways of sharing your story with others. Practice, be concise, tell the before, during, and after. It helps you to stay on task. Don’t keep listeners away by saying things like, “My life is pretty boring, but here goes.” “Well, everyone has it tough in their teen years…” In doing so, you’ve already interpreted the story for your listeners.

Be a good listener. The story teller is giving you a gift, don’t squander it. We’ve all experienced the awkward silence when we’ve finished sharing and we’re staring at a group of people. Be the one that says, or at least your face is saying, “thank you, I want to know more.” Don’t stare blankly like you’re bored or too proud to be moved. Allow others’ stories to impact, inspire, disturb, and disrupt you. Ask questions, be curious, and most importantly, be kind. Don’t comment with belittling explanations: “It isn’t that bad.” “You should have done this.” “If you’d only prayed more.” Don’t hijack someone’s story by saying things like, “What you just shared reminds me of what happened to me.” Then finally, don’t gossip and call it sharing a prayer request.

Out of this study came my story.

After giving my life to Christ at age 11, almost 12, I had the greatest Sunday School teacher ever! I would tell him these ideas I was having, or ways that I thought God was speaking to me. He helped me to realize at a young age that God was calling me to work for Him. I joined the youth choir, and was involved with everything I could get involved with at church.  I used to go to church when no one else was there and try out all the musical instruments. I confess. It was me. I’m sure to this day the organist hated me, but it had so many interesting settings.

I got married a few years later, and continued my call to be a good church member. Still thinking there was a little more to it than that, I joined the choir at the church we were attending, and thought, “This is it! This is what God wants me to do!” For 23 adult years I felt like I was answering my call. Singing in the choir, teaching Sunday School classes, or leading a Bible Study, keeping the nursery, whatever I could do at church to help out. I served as church treasurer, and eventually, part-time church secretary, but singing in the choir turned Praise Team gave me the most joy! I was on top of the world, looking down on creation. No, that was Karen Carpenter. (That’s the part about staying on task I didn’t get)

One day I was asked to sit down. To no longer sing. To not come to practice. Don’t show up early. “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” Those were his exact words. I’ll never forget the feeling I had as I sat there and listened to those words as two of my friends acknowledged that this was the right thing. I could still attend, but not serve. It was disconcerting to sing along in the congregation. Worship was all but impossible. I would think about the words I was singing, and how I didn’t feel what I was singing. I had been stripped of my joy. The idea that I had been rejected was overwhelming. I sat in the congregation for 6 months thinking, “So what happened to my calling, Lord?”

While attending a bible study outside of church, the group we were meeting with decided to plant a church. We went through several Worship Leaders, and no one seemed to work out. Plato said, “Necessity is the mother of invention “, so I volunteered to lead worship while we searched for a real Worship Leader. At first, that’s all it was, I was filling in until we could find someone. I enjoyed it. A lot. I felt so comfortable singing again, sharing scripture, and leading others to a place of worship. It took some time, but I finally realized…this was my calling, this is what God was leading me to do for so many years, and I was either not willing to yield, or I wasn’t ready. I had to be broken in order to be repaired.

It’s been an ongoing process for me to trust that God cares about the pain of that experience, and then lowering my defenses to open my heart to care, and repair. Opening my heart to forgive was easy. The forgetting part took a little more time. It still creeps up from time to time.

There is SO MUCH more to the story, and maybe during this blogging experience, the opportunity will present itself  for me to share other things that led to this revelation, and ways that God has worked through my ministry since.

What’s your story? Everyone has one. Claim it, live it, love it, share it, and invite others to do the same.

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Foxes and Rabbits

“If the world only sees the fox as shifty and untrustworthy, there’s no point in being anything else.” I felt so sad for Nicholas P. Wilde in Zootopia. Though naturally, rabbits really can’t trust foxes. Foxes and Rabbits are two different species. One is predator, the other is prey.

Moms and dads, you and your children are the same species. You gotta trust ’em. I hear parents (mostly moms) say all the time that they read and follow everything their kid does on social media. That alone would be a full-time job. I have a full-time job, and my own social media outlets to keep up with 😜. “Get a life”, I say. One mom told me I wasn’t a good parent if I didn’t read my kid’s text messages, or check their phone records to see who they talk to, etc., etc., etc.

The number of times I looked at my kids’ phones? (0) ZERO. The number of times I checked either of my kids’ backpacks? (0) ZERO. Well, Unless my son said he turned something in, and I found out he really didn’t. Or that time I smelled something really stinky, and traced it to his backpack, and it turned out to be his dirty PE clothes. (Now I’m telling on myself, because we didn’t wash them everyday) Who does that? Who has the time? Anyway, I’ve chased a rabbit.

My daughter came home for something she forgot before going out once while visiting a couple of friends. She was wearing a mini-skirt/loincloth. Her “friend” let her borrow it because she, the “friend”, felt like she wasn’t dressed inappropriately enough to go wherever it was they were going. She definitely wasn’t trying to hide it from me, but I decided I couldn’t trust her to hang with that particular group of girls. I promptly sat her down and told her she had to change clothes. I continued the conversation; telling her, “the people you hang out with now (2002 at the time), will define the kind of person you become as an adult.”  She wasn’t exactly happy at the time, but thanked me later. She didn’t hang out with those two very much after that.

We must trust our children if we want them to be trustworthy.  If your child does something to cause you to suspect them, by all means, check things out, but until then, trust them. You’ll save yourselves a lot of heartache in the long run.

Remember the old “Train up a child” bible verse? A different version than King James reads like this: Teach children how they should live, and they will remember it all their life. ~ Proverbs 22:6 (GNT) That doesn’t mean your child will be perfect, and will always follow the rules. It does mean, however, that raising your children in a godly manner gives them a really good idea of what it would mean for them to choose God’s way of life, when the time comes for them to make a choice. Children raised in a home that puts God above everything else will have the opportunity to see His way of life in action on a daily basis. They might get off course, but they will never forget what their parents taught them, that they trusted them, and they treated them with respect.

Judy eventually came to trust Nick P. Wilde in Zootopia. Until given a reason not to, parents should naturally trust their children.

 

 

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Happy New Year!

“He ran, and ran, and ran, not knowing where he was running to.” I said that regarding my 18-month old grandson, Walker, a few days ago. The same can be said for us as Christians. We run, and run, and run in many different directions in our Christian lives.

It’s New Year’s Day, January 1, 2017, Sunday, Church day, The Lord’s Day. I was excited as I arrived at church this morning. We had musical guests, and I was there early to help them set up, help with their sound, instruments, plugs, coffee, lighting; whatever I could offer in assistance I wanted to be at their disposal.  I was expecting a good portion from The Holy Spirit this morning, and a good crowd because it was THE very first day of the year, Sunday, Church day, The Lord’s Day. Time for a new start for many people who made resolutions last night to do better, be better, feel better, better themselves for the future. Boy, was I brought down to earth. Not because The Holy Spirit didn’t show up, but His people didn’t. We had lots of visitors, people had come from different churches, and different cities. We were glad to have them, but where were our people? We had a small dusting of church members, but the majority were missing. I was sad for our musical guests, sad for the people that didn’t get to experience the worship that I did. I was sad for a family that was missing because her mother passed away yesterday. I understand why THAT family was not in church this morning.

I know people were out late celebrating the New Year last night. I know people have jobs they have to go to on Sunday morning sometimes. I know people go out of town occasionally. I know, I know, I know all these things. Today is the very first day of 2017, Sunday, Church day, The Lord’s Day. Let’s be, let me be “a new creature” in Christ[1] this year.

I would imagine that many churches across our city experienced the same lack-luster attendance today as we did. Our culture needs to change. Our people need to get it right. (Another day, another blog.)

We run, and run, and run not knowing where we’re running to. Let Him direct our paths this year because we’re acknowledging Him.[2]

 

[1] Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 1 Corinthians 5:17

[2] In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:6