Survival and Parenting

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They may be hard to see, but there are nine tiny little trees planted in this picture.  We had two trees die in our front yard and am hoping their replacement will thrive.   My father had been a member of the Arbor Club.   He passed in March of last year and the next month 10, actually 11 tiny sticks came in the mail for him from the Arbor Club.  They had sent him free tree starts.  My mom knowing I was wanting to plant some new trees gave them to me.   I planted them in a safer place by our tiny garden as directed.  Seven of those actually survived and I decided to go ahead and put them in a permanent home before they grew too big for me to handle this year.  There are two other trees that seeded in a flower garden that I transferred last fall.   I had counted those trees as dead because the tops of the trees completely died.  Low and behold this spring green springs of life came from lower on the trunks of those trees and they appear to be thriving.

The odds are against these little trees.  My husband and I are not even close to being arborists or arboriculturist.  I know I have made a thousand mistakes in caring for this gift of life already.  My prayer is that they will grow into beauties despite my mistakes and lack of expertise.

This has reminded me of parenthood.  God has entrusted Mike and I with two young lives.   We are not perfect parents.  We have already made thousands of mistakes.  My prayer is that their lives grow into beauties despite the mistakes and lack of expertise.   The trees and our children were created by God.  They are his to begin with.  We are just the stewards.

Like the trees I planted last fall sometimes children can be slow to blossom, make mistakes, seem like they are giving up.  Our job is to be patient, love, encourage, train, provide, and just wait to see what God will turn their life into.  They may have weak branches, but wait to see what the roots they have been given do.

I am so grateful that my creator God is patient, loving, encouraging, trains, and provides for me despite my mistakes.

The Things we Hang on to

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The other day I was searching through my closet and stumbled upon this old dress of mine.  I bought this dress in high school and graduated 24 years ago so it is at least that old.  The last time I put it on and thought of wearing it my youngest daughter and self proclaimed fashion expert told me it looked weird.  She said the dress was cute, but that I looked like an old lady trying to be a teenager in it.  Hey it still fits so personally I think that is half of the battle, but alas I followed the little diva’s advice and hung it back in the closet.  The bright pattern of this dress is what I love most and for some reason I simply can not part with it.  I figure if my husband and I ever get to go to Hawaii I will wear it there.  Even if I am NINETY I shall wear it!!

How many of us have things or areas of our lives we just do not want to give up?  That is the hardest obstacle I think there is for a person to come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  Satan puts it in our head that we would have to give up too much.  Looking back on my life what I have given to Jesus was what was weighing my life down.  My sins, grudges against others, etc…   When giving him the best of me he even takes that and makes it better.   Giving Jesus my all, the good, the bad, and the ugly has been the best decision of my life.  He gave everything for me, how can I not fully surrender everything to him?

What are you hanging on to?  What is so much more important than a life of freedom, joy, peace, hope, and that is eternal?

Matthew 16:24-26 “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.  What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”

“But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.”

One thing I love so much about the bible is that every word and sentence has a distinct purpose for God including it.  As a mother reading the four gospels I often find myself paying close attention to Mary.  A simple young woman that God planned to use to change the world.  Just recently I mentioned to the middle school girls in Sunday school how much I loved the verses that say “Mary pondered and treasured these things in her heart”.   There is a specific purpose for Luke chapter 2 to mention that Mary intentionally paused, pondered, marveled, and took time to treasure distinct happenings in the young Jesus’ life.  She knew that his conception was of God and that there was something special and miraculous about this child she bore.  She didn’t have the full picture and understanding until this child grew to a man, died, and rose again of what God’s purpose was for this child.

Little by little Jesus grew and revealed himself and his purpose to Mary.  Each special moment, each little hint of who this son really was, Mary stopped and recognized it.  She kept these moments in her memory until eventually God revealed to her that the son she bore was God in the flesh who had come to save the world from sin.

These scriptures are a reminder for me to stop, ponder, marvel, and treasure the moments in my life that God reveals himself.  Each answered prayer, each “perfect timing”,  each time I see His divine protection, and with every miracle.  He is always there and patiently waiting.  He reveals himself and his plan little bits at a time, as much as my maturity and faith can handle.  I am so grateful for the blessings of those moments.

Luke 2:19 “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Instead of Bringing “Sexy” back Lets Bring Back Some Mystery

This gal is far from being a fashionista or new trend setter, but having eyeballs does qualify me on some level in the world of fashion.  The new trend I would love to see is “Mystery is the new Sexy”.   If you find yourself stumbling across “The People of Wal-mart” photos or just take some time to people watch while out and about you are going to pick up what I am putting down real fast.  These thoughts were triggered recently as my life path led me to stumble upon a tube top that happened to be size 3XL.  A mental image of a lady wearing this in a public setting popped into my head and left me feeling disturbed.  Actually if it had been size zero these thoughts would have still been triggered.  There are some articles of clothing that really are not flattering to any body size or type.  This blog is not  meant to be judgmental, but to stimulate thinking on how we present ourselves to the rest of the world.  This blog is not meant toward one gender over the other as men can leave some mystery as well as women.

There has been an article floating around social media that I still have not actually read, but I keep seeing the title that “The dad bod is the new sexy”.  Then there is a photo of a man with a rounded belly, undefined muscles,  with a beverage in his hand.   A mistake I made yesterday was mentioning this to my 45 year old husband.  He walked into our bathroom as I was getting ready for church without his shirt on and triggered my recollection of this article.   As I told him that the dad bod is the new sexy he puffed up his chest, threw his shoulders back and exclaimed “Well then you are married to the sexiest man alive!!”  We had a few laughs, but it continued the thoughts on how much nicer we all look in nice conservatively flattering clothing.

Personally  from my female perspective the more clothes a man has on such as their work uniform, tool belts, a full suit, etc.. the more attractive.   If a man were telling the truth especially when searching for “Mrs. right” the more clothing such as work uniforms, a nice “mystery” providing dress, etc… a woman adorns the more “marriage potential” they have.

No matter what or who we are what we wear does leave an impression on others.  Do we leave a respectful impression with an element of mystery of who we are or is there no mystery that leaves a person really not wanting to know anymore about us?

1 Timothy 2:9-10 “Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.”

Mother

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With this being Mother’s Day I have been reflecting all day on the mother God chose to give me.  He could have not planned my life at all or planned for me to be placed in a horrific situation.  Instead He created me and placed me with the most loving and Godly parents a person could wish for.  There are not enough words to describe the humbling gratitude I feel when I think of my parents and my mother specifically on Mother’s Day.  My mother’s own mother passed when my mother was just shy of turning 12 years old.  It was an unexpected death and my mother didn’t get to say “I love you” one last time or good bye.  I truly can’t imagine what she went through yet God got her through without an ounce of anger and bitterness.  There have been many situations in life that I have witnessed her “survive”.  She always continues on with the joy of Jesus radiating from her often as bright as sunbeams.  The unexpected loss of my father being the most recent trial she has endured with tremendous strength, grace, and joy.   Having been a wife for 44 years and a wife of a pastor for the majority of those years her world changed dramatically within just a few moments.   As a retired school teacher she now was left without the “jobs” of wife and pastor’s wife as well. Instead of folding up into a lonely ball of despair I watched this amazing women continue on with her life of selflessness.  She dove right into the lives of my sister’s and my children.  She began volunteering at the elementary school my sister works in investing her time and life into the lives of other children.  She began volunteering at a special ministry of our church that provides counseling and benevolence help.  She partnered up with me in our churches Awana program and helps 3rd and 4th grade girls memorize scripture from God’s Word.  My mother is truly the most selfless person I know.  When it came to clothing or her needs she always made sure my sister and I had what we needed before ever buying for herself.  In fact she still has some of my old sweaters from when I was in high school and still wears them.  Happy to take the “left overs”.

My mother is a true living example of motherhood and how God intended motherhood to be.  Her life has taught me so much more than any schooling of any kind ever could.  She is the most beautiful, loving, God fearing, strong woman that I know.  I will be eternally grateful for my sweet little momma.  What God didn’t give her in stature he gave her in a giant sized heart and faith!!

Proverbs 31:28-30 “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. ‘many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’ Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

Hey! Guess What!! Wrong is Still Wrong!

It does not cease to amaze me how society has changed literally at warped speed in my short forty two years of life.  Music has gone from eight track tapes to I-tunes.  If a person had a BIG (twenty four inch)  TV in a box when I was a kid I considered them wealthy.  We had a Twelve inch black and white for my first TV in this life.  Phones were rotary dial with a cord that attached to the wall.  Now we carry small computers for phones and have our face in them all the time.  The school principal use to be able to give kids a spanking if they were acting outside of the standards of ethical behaviors.  (How’s that for a politically correct way of saying “when we were bad”?)  Mom’s were able to stay home with their children.   Children were able to freely ride their bikes all over the neighborhood going from friend’s house to friend’s house. What in the world has happened to us?

Now it is constant bombardment of news media with people screaming about their “rights”.   There are a lot of different weaknesses we have as human beings.  We are tempted toward all kinds of addictions, immorality, evil acts, and sexual sins.  What has blown me away is how sin went from consequences or if it was a lifestyle it was kept private to being in the face of the whole world.  Criminals can get  a lighter sentence if they plead “not guilty” when they obviously are guilty.  It amazes me to hear interviews of a person who is clearly in the wrong making their excuses and actually demanding that others say they are right.  It has become our society.  “I will do what I want and get as many human beings to say I am right as possible.  Maybe I will be able to get a few laws changed to say I am right too!!”

The one true standard that will never change is God’s.  Our society can change all it wants.  We can get as many people to tell us we are right and do what makes YOU happy, but it still doesn’t make what’s wrong right.  Nothing within our human power can wipe away the guilt that we all have.  I write this as a sinner.  There have been countless times in my life that I have been brought to the humbling point of realizing my wrongful ways.  In fact the more I try to live for God and ask him to make me more and more like Jesus the deeper realization I have of my sin.  So many times I have been brought to tears and brokenness realizing how wrong I am.   Then the brokenness turns to gratitude as I realize it is the Grace and Mercy of Jesus that has covered my wrongs and has given me hope and a future.    It is when I admit that I am wrong God teaches and grows me into something so much more.   When we demand that our wrongs are right we miss out on so  much that God has to offer.

At first when I see the news I have to admit that I feel frustrated at all the standards of God’s love and God’s creation being broken.  Then the next feeling is compassion.  I know what it feels like to have the burden of guilt and shame lifted by the blood of Jesus Christ.  I know how it feels to have a hope and a future beyond this life with no shadow of a doubt as to where I will be.  As I look at the world I feel compassion because God has created a desire in me for the whole world to have what I have!!!   No matter what standard or no standards we live by in our life we still will all face that final day when we face God’s final judgment.  God will look upon us and see a sinner covered by the Grace of the Cross OR He will not even be able to look at our sinful person and will cast his rightful judgment on a wasted life.  That will not change no matter what other human beings say, what human laws are passed, and no matter what “we get away with” in this life.  God is still God!

2 Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”