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Revisit – Good Monday MorningĀ 

This was posted July 27, 2015. It made me chuckle because it is as true today as it was then. Enjoy. 

Psalm 23:4 – “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
Good Monday morning. 
I just returned home from visiting family this last week. We had a long drive yesterday and I really didn’t get much sleep while traveling. So, this morning I was stumbling around my kitchen trying to remember how to make coffee and put away a few things, when I dropped a can of root beer. It goes to spewing all over their floor. I tried to put my finger over the hole enough to get it to the sink. This worked somewhat but not enough to save me from having to spot mop the floor. 
Good Monday morning. 
What does this have to do with walking through the shadow of death you might ask? Perspective and attitude. Surprisingly, I handled the situation quite well. No harsh words uttered. No bad thoughts passing through my brain. Just “well, I have to clean this up.” Maybe it’s because I’m so tired that I can’t muster up the energy to get mad. Maybe though, God used this moment to remind me that it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is how I choose to respond to it. And I feel like I chose well. “Very good, young patawon!” (I told you I’m not quite all here this morning!)
Good Monday morning. 
Let me encourage you today to let it roll. Let perspective and attitude be what keeps you afloat today. Don’t let Satan drag you down with mishaps and upsets. Show him that God is on your side by choosing to walk through the valley of the shadow of death with no fear. 

Rotten bananasĀ 

1 Corinthians 15:33 – “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.”

Sometimes in life, we have to stop and evaluate the people with whom we spend our time. 

Especially as adults, we don’t want to think or consider that our “friends” are really not a positive influence in our life. It’s a lot easier to hand out a bucket of excuses than to say “Yep, these people are the rotten bananas in my fruit salad!”  Admitting that people in your life are a problem is tough because we care about them. We see that we are a positive influence in their life. We know that without us, who knows where they would be. 

But what we fail to realize is the yuck they are bringing into our life each and every day. They bring problems. They bring speech patterns that fail to glorify God. They bring hate and discord. And as much as we think that we can resist these negative influences, eventually they will have an effect on us. If you are around a negative person all the time, there’s a good chance that you too will start to see things negatively. 

Children are especially vulnerable. They just want people to like them. They want to be popular. They want to be accepted by the “cool kids”. But as a parent, it is my responsibility to guard them from times like these. And just like I have to monitor my own relationships, I have to monitor theirs as well. When I see that it may be time to walk away, I need to be there to provide whatever they need to make that tough decision. 

The One thing that we as followers of Christ can give ourself and our children is the gift of having Jesus with us every step of the way. We don’t have to make those determinations ourself. We can let Jesus show is the rotten bananas. We don’t have to have the words to explain our decision. We can allow Jesus to give us what to say in those situations. We don’t have to feel alone when we do walk away. Jesus promised to never leave us or forsake us no matter the age, no matter the situation, no matter the level of hurt. 

So let me encourage you to evaluate your circle and the circle of people surrounding your children. Make sure that the influences in your life are wholesome and bring honor and glory to God. 

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. 

Two sides of a coin

Judges 4:4-9 – “And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time. And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedeshnaphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun? And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand. And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go. And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh.”

Sorry there are so many verses – one or two just wouldn’t do!

Let’s think about Deborah for a few minutes today. I was having a lively discussion with my little spitfire daughter last night. I love her tenacity and grit. She isn’t afraid to lay it out – even to a teacher, respectfully of course. 

She reminds me a lot of Deborah. Deborah is the only female judge that I know of in the time of the judges. Can you imagine? Women were usually considered second class citizens in those days. Yet, here she was telling it like it is to an army commander. 

Deborah was a judge. But she was also a wife – and more likely than not, a mother. No children are specifically mentioned but they usually come along with the territory of a wife. 

I know that Deborah was prophesying when she said that the victory would be given to a woman, but can’t you hear just a bit of sass in that response? I can almost see the eyes rolling and the arms flopping to pick up her things to leave. Maybe there was some mumbling under her breath. I’m sure many prayers were lifted for this man who needed a woman to come along to assure Israel’s victory. 

I guess the point that I want to make is this – there are two sides to every coin. Every woman has two sides – the “get out of my way or I’ll run you over” side and the “here, let me take care of that” side. The side that says “well, I’ll do it because it needs to be done” and the “come on, you can do it” side. We all have two sides. In my perspective, a woman’s two sides are just more pronounced. It depends on the day. 

I was thinking about what I’m teaching my daughter. Am I doing it right? Will she have that meek and quiet spirit that is sometimes needed in a relationship? I know she already has developed the “get it done” gene. And the sass gene seems to be working quite well too. 

I want her to be like Deborah- capable of being wife and leader all at the same time. A wife is a helpmate – someone to come alongside and help out, not a dictator or wet washcloth to be swished around. But rather, a beautiful combination of sass and grit, gentleness and compassion. 

We need more “Deborah”s in this world. We need more women listening to God’s word and living his statutes and commands in their life. We need more gentleness and compassion in our marriages. We need more grit and sass for Godly truths in our society. We need more lively conversations between a parent and their child. We need more students respectfully stumping their educators.

 We need more pronounced sides to our coins. It’s okay to have two sides – God gave them to us for specific times in our life. We need to develop them both equally and efficiently. 

If you have children, pray for them. They need it. We, as parents who hold ourself accountable to God and God alone, need to develop within our children the characteristics they need to be the Godly men and women He is calling them to be. Pray for both sides of the coin. 

Oh, middle school…

Proverbs 27:17 – “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”

Middle school girls. Know any? With all the hormones and sudden interest in boys, it can be a terrifying and heart wrenching and just plain stupid experience. It is all drama, drama, drama. 

Right now, my thirteen year old daughter is experiencing friend troubles over a boy – an eighth grade boy. Now, I have had an eighth grade boy, so I can say this – rarely is a female friendship is worth destroying over an eighth grade boy. But this is something these girls are going to have to figure out. My advice seems futile and until someone gives, they are all at a stalemate. It is sad. 

But one thing this whole bit of drama is doing for our precious girls is teaching them valuable life lessons. They probably don’t understand, but they are sharpening one another. They are teaching one another. They are learning how to live in a world where things don’t always go your way and people don’t always behave like you think they should. They are learning that they are going to have to put on their big girl panties and deal with things instead of turning away from the situation. 

Friends are beautiful treasures that can decorate your life like nothing else but can also weigh heavy on your heart at times. But a true friend is one that walks with you through all the heartaches you face – even when that heartache is from another friend. 

Friends sharpen one another. 

So, let me encourage you to be a friend. Be a friend that walks the walk and talks the talk. Be a friend that is life long and precious no matter the situation. 

Spilled coffee

1 Thessalonians 5:18 – “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

I had this brilliant idea this weekend – I was going to make some killer cold brew coffee. I found the recipe online, bought the necessary items and got it all ready. Yesterday, the brew was supposed to be done. So I get out my handy dandy fine mesh strainer to pour it up. And, no lie, I poured about three quarters of it on the counter and on the floor. You want to talk about a mess??!! Coffee granules EVERYWHERE! The granules had clumped together and when they came out, the dam broke and wa-la! Coffee flood. Not pretty. 

But God, in His infinite wisdom, had bestowed upon me, at that moment, some kind of miraculous grace and mercy because it didn’t completely destroy me. I didn’t cry. I didn’t scream. I didn’t begrudgingly hold back words that wouldn’t have been pleasing to Him. I just looked at it and said, “Man, what a waste of ten dollars!” 

So what could I possibly find to be thankful for in this situation? I don’t know how the coffee tastes. Honestly, I’m a little scared to try it since God poured almost the whole thing out. I’m thankful that He gave me what I needed in that situation. I’m thankful for paper towels. I’m thankful I didn’t drop the glass pitcher I was holding when the dam broke loose!

Sometimes it is hard to be thankful in crazy and upsetting situations. Sometimes that gratitude takes time. But God wants us to see each and every situation in our life as an opportunity to learn and grow. It is a chance to find Him working in your life in a way that you could never imagine. 

So this week, take nothing for granted. See God working in your life. See His hand molding and making you in ways you never imagined. And thank Him for that. Be grateful that He loves you enough to give you what you need at the very moment you need it. 

Something we all need

Matthew 6:14,15 – “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

So let me give you the brief rundown of my day yesterday. I went back to work after being gone 4 days for a long weekend at a really tough soccer tournament- tough emotionally, not necessarily physically. I had a Christmas party at my house last night for the youth group (which, by the way, was so much fun!!). Needless to say, I was a bit frazzled. 

I went to the wrong client’s house – I was an hour early. Oh. My. Goodness. And to top it all off, it was the same client who had called me the day before and wanted to know why I wasn’t there – she had me scheduled for a day I had taken off, yet, it was my fault. I didn’t argue. No need. But to make another mistake on top of one hurt already there? I felt like a “cotton headed ninny-muggen” (Elf, one of my favorite Christmas movies). 

I apologized. And then apologized again. I owned my mistake. I admitted she was right. And apologized again. I felt terrible. It still bugs me. I know I’m forgiven by her and my Heavenly Father because I asked. 

But I hate making mistakes like that. Your plugging along through your day thinking that you have this thing all together and BOOM! Reality check. You are just playing like you have it together. It stinks 

However, I am so grateful for forgiveness. But the thing about forgiveness is when it is asked for, you should give it. And when you ask for it, you have to accept it. You can’t keep beating yourself over the head with your mistake. Neither can you keep beating someone else with their mistake when they have asked you for forgiveness. You gotta walk away and don’t go there again. 

Forgiveness can be a beautiful healer for both parties involved. It is tough to ask for and tough to give. Yet, we need to follow the example of Jesus who forgave…always and sometimes without them asking. 

People are going to wound us. We are going to wound others. Forgiveness needs to be a part of who we are because sometimes we all need forgiveness.