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The Contract

Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

As a parent, I have the responsibility of training my child to live in an adult world. The real one. Not the one you see on television. I mean the one where no one separates your laundry or cooks your food or balances your checkbook. That education, my friend, falls upon us as parents. 

Several weeks ago, I was fed up. I felt like I was the maid, cook and chief laundry doer all without pay – and I was done. Hence, The Contract. I typed (yes. Yes, I did) a contract for my two (beloved) teenagers to sign. Now, being an occupational therapist, I knew that expecting my children to accomplish all I had going on in my head at one time was unrealistic. So, I broke them down into attainable goals. 

February tackled the laundry. March will tackle the breakfast thing. April will attack the lunch situation. Come summer, they will be taking turns doing the laundry in its entirety for the week and cooking at least one meal a week – I have lofty aspirations. 

So, yesterday morning I reminded my two cherubs that tomorrow was March 1 – the beginning of make your own breakfast month. The response was less than enthusiastic. It made me chuckle. Bless their hearts, I have spoiled them rotten. 

Don’t get me wrong. They are terrific kids. I couldn’t have ask for better children. I just want to make sure that I send them out of the nest with the ability to fly. 

And that starts with laundry and breakfast. 

I fear that in some ways we are failing our children. We coddle and shelter them so much that failure is foreign and “no” is incomprehensible. 

I love my children with my whole heart. I know that God has given them to me for a very specific purpose and plan. And if I fail to prepare them to fly, then I prepare them to fail. 

I remember the days when I thought my son would always sleep in the swing in our living room. I remember thinking that my daughter would never have tame hair. But my son now sleeps in his bed and my daughter brushes her mane. It’s all good. But it didn’t come without coaxing and crying and fussing and complaining- even on my part. 

So let me encourage you – train up a child in the way that they should go. This applies not only to domestic duties but also to spiritual growth and maturity. Jesus is what makes it all happen and without Him, everything (and everyone) falls apart. Happy Wednesday. 

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Cooking with my son

Deuteronomy 6:7 – “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”

My son is 14. The time has come to start teaching him to cook. He wasn’t too thrilled at the prospect of cooking, but he is a good kid and did it any way. And guess what? I think he actually enjoyed it. He followed the recipe and made a few blunders, but all in all, he did a very good job and was very proud of himself. 

This whole experience caused me to remember that I need to be diligently teaching my children the principles of the Lord as well. They need to see me studying, praying, applying God’s principles and doing whatever else God has called me to do. They need to see. 

I need to be encouraging their walk with Him. They need to know, understand and appreciate that He is the only One that can be with them throughout everything in their life. 

Educating our children is vitally important. I have been reading in the Old Testament lately about one generation serving God and the next one has straying far from Him. And part of me doesn’t get it. I try very hard not to judge but rather to understand how that can happen. It is hard for me since I grew up in a home that loved the Lord, as did my parents. I can’t imagine my life without Him in it. 

But that is because my family was faithful. They taught me about God, about Jesus and His sacrifice. They taught me right from wrong based on the Word of God. But here is how it keeps on going – I chose to follow Him. 

I can teach my son all day long how to cook and clean and do laundry and any other task necessary for domestic survival, but until he decides he is going to do it, it means nothing. 

The same is true for the teachings of God. I can guide him and teach him and instruct him in the principles of the Lord, but until he takes them and applies them to his own life, they are just hanging out there in the air. 

But regardless of how things may or may not turn out, it is my responsibility to be diligently doing what I know God wants me to do. All I can do is teach and pray. And so, that’s what I do. 

A fourteen year old cooking breakfast for dinner is a big deal. But a fourteen year old living out the principles of God is an even bigger deal. 

Let me encourage you today to be an educator in someone’s life. You may or may not have children, but I can guarantee that there is someone in your life that needs educating. And God put you in their life to teach them about Him. 

The hammock swing

1 Thessalonians 5:21 – “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”

Several weeks ago, we purchased a hammock swing. I love those things! We have been so busy that my husband just got around to putting it up this weekend. 

He got the hook and the epoxy and was set to hang it. As he was reading the instructions for the epoxy, he realized that there were no written instructions – only pictures. They say “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Well, not so much in this case. 

He didn’t realize that he needed to prime the epoxy by squirting some out to let it mix first. He went ahead and squirted it up in the hole and then wondered. He wondered if it would hold. He would sit and stare at the hook and think. He was fearful that one of us would sit in the swing and end up with a head injury from it falling to the ground. 

He had pulled on it, hung on it and it all seemed ok. However, he tried turning the hook. And it twisted right out of the hole. He had to start all over again. 

This time, he is confident that he completed the task correctly. I’m planning to use the swing today, if I have the opportunity. 

My point in all of this is sometimes we have to do extensive proving to determine if things are good. They may seem good at first. It may seem like things will be okay. I though the swing would be fine. Boy am I glad that my husband listens to that still small voice that warned him that something wasn’t right!

When we do find the good and the true and the right, we have to hold onto it for all we are worth. We have to guard its place in our heart fiercely. We have to choose to make sure that it has a rightful place in our day to day living. We have to hold steadfast to it. 

The best place to find all that is good and true and right is in the Bible. It’s all there. It’s ready to guide, comfort and provide all that we need each and every day. But like I told my Sunday school class, it won’t do you a lick of good if you don’t use it. 

Open it. Use it. Remember it. Apply it. Cherish it. 

Leave me alone

Hebrews 13:5 – “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

“Leave me alone.” I think that we have all said that at one time or another. We may be tired, angry, frustrated or just down in the dumps and we want to be left alone. And sometimes, that’s okay. We all need our alone time. I remember when my children were small and going to the bathroom and closing the door was my idea of alone time.

These days, however, I feel that my alone time has multiplied. They are at activities and I am at home, alone. Now, sometimes I enjoy my time at home alone. I get things done. For example, this weekend while one child was away at a soccer tournament and the other one was at play practice, I was able to get some serious house cleaning done, of course you can’t tell it now, but at some point during the weekend, it was spotless.

But there are other times when I miss having them home. I miss their conversations and dancing and questions and challenges. I guess this is all part of God’s plan to prepare me for an empty nest. But I don’t want to talk about that right now….

Anyway, no matter how alone I feel, I am never really, truly alone. I can’t be when I have accepted Jesus as my Savior. He promised that He would “never leave thee (me), nor forsake thee (me).”

There are times, however, that we may feel that He is gone. We feel like our prayers are bouncing off the ceiling and that our reading of His word is no more than words on a page. But that isn’t Him. That isn’t what He does. You see, the problem is that I have moved. He hasn’t left me alone. I have left Him alone. I have let some sin come between me and Him.

But so many times, we don’t want to admit that we have moved. It is much easier to blame Him and say that He has moved than to admit that we have messed up and allowed sin in our life. Sin makes us move – makes us move away from Him.

So this week, when you feel alone and left behind, remember, He doesn’t move and He will never leave you alone. If you are feeling away from Him, move back to Him. Ask Him to show you the sin in your life that is keeping you from His presence. When you walk with Jesus, you are never alone.

Home

Matthew 28:19b – “and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

There is just something about home. Whenever you have had a really long day and life has been piling up on you like crazy, it is good to go home. It is good to have a place to “hang your hat” and just relax. Every one needs a place to kick off their shoes, put their feet up and be brain dead for a bit.

Of course, you know me, I woke up at 4 in the morning to go to the bathroom and had a song in my head. On Sunday night, we had 5th Sunday sing. One of the songs requested to sing as a congregational was “Anywhere is Home.” Here are the lyrics:

1 Earthly wealth and fame may never come to me,
And a palace fair here mine may never be;
But let come what may, if Christ for me doth care,
Anywhere is home, if He is only there.

Refrain:
Anywhere is home, let come and go what may;
Anywhere I roam, He keeps me all the way;
So for His dear sake, my cross I’ll meekly bear;
Anywhere is home, if Christ, my Lord, is there.

2 Oh, I’m tossed about and driven by the foe,
Sad within, without, wherever I may go;
But I press along, still looking up in prayer,
For it’s home, sweet home, if Christ is only there. [Refrain]

3 I will labor on till I am called away,
Till the morn shall dawn of that eternal day,
Looking unto Him who keeps me in His care;
Anywhere is home, if Christ, my Lord, is there. [Refrain]

What a great song!

There is a joke in my family that my mom writes our address in pencil in her address book because we have moved so much. And true, we have lived in a number of locations. But no matter where we have lived, we have had one constant – Jesus has always been with us. We have always had love in our home and peace in our presence because of Him.

I’m not sure why this song was in my head this morning, but as I got up to start my day, it gave me comfort. No matter where I go, no matter what I do, I am home as long as Christ is with me.

Oh, I still need somewhere to kick up my feet and chill, but “home is where the heart is”. I want my home to be with Jesus. I want His presence to be the place where I am completely and totally at peace. I want His joy to be what lights my day even when I am burdened down with a load of care. I want to keep on going because I know that He is with me every step of the way.

So let me encourage you today – you may not have the most lavish place to live here on earth, the carpet may be stained and the kitchen a mess – but “anywhere is ‘home sweet home’ if Christ, my Lord, is (only) there.”

New eyes

Psalm 122:1 – “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.”

Sometimes you just need to see things through the eyes of another. 

My family goes to church seemingly every time the doors are open. And that’s a good thing. Yet, sometimes I find that my joy in the moment is tarnished. Excitement is not the word I would use to describe my feelings. 

Last week, we had a new person attend our little church. And she was so excited to be there. She told me that she had been looking forward to Sunday every since last Monday. She said that she couldn’t hardly stand the waiting. And she also said she wants to be there for every thing we do. Man….

Needless to say, my heart as convicted. I take for granted the privilege of attending a sweet fellowship such as ours. I forget that there are others out there searching and seeking to find a place to feel like they are home. I forget that there are real people out there that are hungry for the Gospel. There are people out there searching for Him. 

I want to encourage you to get excited about worshiping God on Sunday. Get excited about the opportunity to spend time with your spiritual family and to have the privilege to worship our Heavenly Father. See your time through the eyes of another – someone who has never had that experience. Every day should be such a blessing. Every day should be such an opportunity. Every day should be so exciting that we are ready to crawl out of our skin. 

Footsteps

 
1 Peter 2:21-24 – “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”

We sang this song yesterday at church. I have sang it a million times but this time, the words sort of popped off the page. It was the chorus that got me – “Footprints of Jesus that make the pathway glow. We will follow the steps of Jesus where ere they go.”

I remember as a kid walking in my parents footsteps, whether it be through the snow, sand or mud. Following their path made mine a whole lot easier. They had already forged the way. 

The same thing is supposed to happen with our Heavenly Father. We are supposed to walk His path. See, He has already forged the way. He has already walked the path. He knows all the pitfalls. He has made His steps clear and plain. All we have to do is follow after Him. Sounds easy, right? But we all know that is not always the case. Sometimes His footsteps lead up steep mountains that have sharp, jagged rocks. Sometimes His footsteps lead through dark valleys where the only way to get through is by seeing His footsteps glowing with the Light of His love. And sometimes His footsteps lead beside a quiet brook where you just want to lay down and stay there forever but something inside of you says that you have to keep moving. 

His footsteps never lead you anywhere that you aren’t supposed to go. There may be something you need to learn, something you need to see or someone you need to comfort. And if you keep following those footsteps, one day they will lead you to the Gates of Heaven where He will be there waiting for you. 

This picture that I took is from an old hymnal at my church. You see, we are a church in the middle of a swamp with a bunch of good people just serving the Lord and holding fast to His promises. We sing the old songs. We read the King James Version of the Bible. We baptize completely under the water. And we love each other fiercely. I guess you could call us an “old fashion” church. But that’s okay. You see, we are following the “Footsteps of Jesus.”