Patience with Impatience

Are you ever impatient? I’ve been known to be mighty impatient at times; impatient with myself, impatient with others, mighty impatient.

Part of it has to do with my intense personality. Part of it has to do with my extraordinarily busy schedule. But, the greater part is a matter of heart and attitude.

This morning The Lord spoke to my impatient heart and helped me adjust my attitude. I am undone before Him and rightly so. He has been so patient with me all of my life.

  • He has shown me the same truths over and over when I should have already learned that lesson.
  • He has given me countless fresh starts when I stubbornly insisted on my own way.
  • He forgives me when I ask.
  • He helps me face the consequences of my poor choices even when I ignored His warnings to consider the paths before me and choose wisely.

Oh, I love Him so.

Here’s the wonderful part. Once we have been made aware, we don’t have to stay in that impatient place. We can ask for help. We can pray.

My prayer today and for many days to come is that I will extend that long-suffering kindness and patience to those I love and come on contact with.

And remember,

  • You never know what a person is struggling with.
  • You once were just as young and impulsive.
  • Impatience leads to the wrong thing at the wrong time.
  • Patience is a virtue worth pursuing.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:2 NIV)

You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. (James 5:8 NIV)

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. (Psalm 37:7 NIV)

And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. (1 Thessalonians 5:14 NIV)

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My 2018 Emancipation Proclamation

I enjoy numerology, the study of numbers and their meanings. It intrigues me. Sometimes it inspires me. So as 2018 approached, I began to investigate the numeral 18.

I was not excited about what I read. It seemed every article referred to one negative word – bondage. That doesn’t give you any warm fuzzy feelings. That makes you think of coercion, slavery, chains, exploitation, persecution. Not exactly what we hope for as we begin a new year.

And then I continued to research and I came to an understanding of what I believe 2018 will mean for me. I’ve decided to become an abolitionist. I have decided to invest my time, my energy and my resources into helping people I know and love break chains of bondage in their lives. I’ve decided to confront any issue in my own life that demands servitude from my soul and distracts me from spiritual growth. I’ve decided this will be the year of bondage busting, freedom gaining, chain breaking, persecution confronting, and slavery abolishing!

That’s a mighty big declaration, but I serve a mighty big God! My faith is stirred up! I want in on the revolution! I have located my courage. I want to help lead folks to freedom! I want to hand them the keys they need to let their souls soar! I want to be the candlelight in the darkness. I want to offer hope and healing!

Who do I think I am? How do I dare make such a claim? Why do I think people really can change? Because they can! And it doesn’t matter ‘who I am’. What matters is ‘whose I am’! I dare because I have seen the faithfulness of my God. I have witnessed the power of love. I can testify on behalf of hope!

I believe! I choose to believe! I’m determined to believe! What about you?

https://g.co/kgs/nKDfhQ

Resolutions

You may be surprised to know that this week, the very last week of ever year, right between Christmas and the New Year, is very important to me. I may even consider it my favorite week of the year.

It is the week that I contemplate the year almost gone and consider the year about to begin. It is the week that I make plans, create calendars and decide on my New Year’s Resolutions. It is the week I dream dreams, catch my breath and gather my courage

I know, I know, some folks think all that is pointless. But, as for me, it helps me to focus. It helps me to decide what really matters to me. It helps me prioritize. It turns my face in the right direction.

For a couple of years I’ve sorted my goals into categories. Those who enjoy a good spread sheet or a planning book will appreciate my method.

My categories this year are –

Spiritual Growth

Physical/Mental Health

Relationship Mending

Financial Stability

Writing/Author Projects

I don’t know about you but with life zipping by at the pace of a race horse, if I am hoping to just get around to things when I can, well, those things don’t stand a chance of getting done. I need a list. I need reminding. I need goals.

As a #momofmany, I do a lot of cooking for a crowd. I have had to learn to put a few things on the back burners of the stove while I concentrate on more pressing matters that need my focused attention. That’s kind of how my lists and plans and resolutions work for me.

One of my life-goals for instance is to visit Israel. That’s not going on the list for 2018. It’s just not going to happen. But it will one day, another day.

Y’all! It’s going to be 2018! And the truth is, we have no idea what it will hold. I can attest to being surprised by a number of people and events of 2017. So, I know we can’t be making these lists in concrete. We will have to be flexible. But, as I’ve heard it said many times, to fail to plan is a plan to fail. I believe that.

If you want to read your Bible every day this year, find a reading plan. Our church (Church of the Highlands) offers a online One Year plan. YouVersion has several to choose from. There are loads of options.

Do you want to save more money this year? Open a savings account. Want to get out of debt? Cut up some credit cards. Need to lose a few pounds? Schedule time at the gym. Hope to have a better marriage? Better health? Better job? Better future? Prioritize and bring those things to the front burners of your proverbial stove.

No matter how you choose to spend 2018, make it count. Every one of the 365 days, every one of the 8760 hours can matter. They can matter to you and to the people you love. They can even matter to total strangers as you invest in missions works or charities.

I’ve lived long enough to have learned a few things. The best things in life usually don’t just happen. We have to participate, on purpose and help make them happen.

Hope Renewed

Unless you have experienced infertility, miscarriage, and the struggle of feeling your own body has betrayed you, you can’t fully comprehend the impact it has upon you. It is demoralizing, discouraging and can leave you feeling hopeless. Oh the prayers I prayed.

Twenty-two years ago, a baby boy was born that would become the first answer to those prayers. He became my hope fulfilled. I found my courage anew.

The day he was placed in my arms as a 5lb premie was one of the happiest days of my life and always will be. Oh the joy he brought with his tiny little self!

Today he is a grown man, but he still makes my heart smile. He always will. His generous heart and joy-filled personality makes him a delight to be around.

Oh sure, there are new problems, new prayers. I suppose that’s the way of things. But Jesse will always be a reminder that God hears and answers prayers. He hears. He cares. And He can do something about it in ways we can’t begin to imagine.

Maybe you’re still waiting, still praying, still hoping. Take courage! Your day is coming! And believe me! It will be worth the wait!

Happy Birthday Jesse! You are treasured and loved! I prayed for you before I knew you and I still pray for you today.

Entanglements 

This morning I have been doing a lot of thinking and my thoughts have led to the entanglements of life. For the most part, those entanglements involve people. People don’t come in the easy-care, wrinkle-free, stain-resistant department. People are difficult. Whether young or old, they require maintenance and time and energy and effort. I’ll tell you what else they require, they require a lot of patience and forgiveness. If you want an easy, stress free, drama-less life you’d do best to avoid people altogether. Of course you’d also miss out on the best of life while trying to sidestep demanding entanglements. You’d never have a big family fight but, you’d never experience the joy of reconciliation. You’d never lose sleep worrying about problems that are not your own but, you’d never know the great delight that comes in sharing the victories that are not your own.
The truth is, people disappoint us. They falter and stumble. This morning I was reading Romans 15 in The Message and several phrases really stood out to me.
“Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?”

That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out.” Romans 15:1-3
One dictionary defines entanglement as ‘to twist together or entwine into a confusing mass’. Nothing about that definition beckons unto us saying “come a little bit closer”. As a matter of fact, it pretty much shouts “AVOID AT ALL COSTS”. When Henry and I decided to become foster parents we were cautioned by many to reconsider. After all, the foster care system is one entangled mess. I often call it broken, but, truly entangled is a better description. It is one thing to take a child into your home, it is another to deal with family visits and siblings and relatives and therapies and social workers and court appearances. We were cautioned but, we pressed ahead and in our fifteen years of foster care we fostered forty-five children. A few were there short term, maybe a dozen, but there were many who were with us for years and seven of whom we adopted.
When we were training to be foster parents one of my concerns was how I would feel towards the birth parents. Would I be able to be civil to these people who obviously didn’t want their children and had harmed them in some way? And then, as is so often the case, experience taught me differently. I began to meet these real, struggling, faltering human beings and I was for the most part flooded with compassion.
I remember once that a birth father showed up at our door early on Christmas Morning, pounding until we opened it. He held gifts in his arms and shouted at us to let him see his son. We had to try to calm him while we explained that his son was no longer there. You see, he wasn’t supposed to know where his son was because he would not respect the boundaries of visitation. Social services had found out that he had figured out the child was with us and after over two years of building a relationship with us, he had been moved. I’ll never forget the look on that man’s face when he realized that his determination to break the rules and outsmart the system had resulted in another move for his son. It was an entanglement.
Another time on another early morning one summer, I went to let our pooch out to potty and saw a vehicle parked in our driveway. Inside the car was the mother of one of our teen girls who was with us for nearly four years. She just sat there and I just stood there wondering what to do. I was in my housecoat and had rollers in my hair. I hadn’t even had my coffee. I decided to step to the car and she rolled down the window. “Would you like to come in for coffee?’ I asked. She looked so defeated and sad sitting there that I could hardly stand it. She came in and I hastily went and woke our foster daughter. “Your mom is here,” I told her, “come on, let’s fix her breakfast.” We did and I’ll never forget her comment that she couldn’t remember the last time she had eaten. It was an entanglement.
Once, we had a child placed with us rather suddenly. The social workers knew we could be counted on in a crisis and this was a crisis. The child’s parents were in a heated divorce and each accusing the other of endangering the child hoping to prevent the other from having visitation rights. Tempers had flared in the courtroom until finally the judge ordered the child taken into custody until it could all be sorted out. This was a Friday and that meant a long weekend ahead. The child wasn’t your typical foster care child. This was all new to him and to say he was traumatized is not an adequate description. He was nine years old and I already had two other nine year old boys, as well as several other children. He cried and cried. He would only speak to ask me to take him to his grandparents. I explained that I couldn’t do that but, I could keep him safe until he could return to his family. Finally, I asked him to tell me about his family and then I did something I wasn’t allowed to do. I searched for their number in an old fashioned phone book until I figured out how to contact them. His grandparents wept openly as I explained who I was without giving them a name or address. I’ll never forget their gratitude of just hearing from me, a total stranger that he was safe and being cared for. They had been praying, feeling totally helpless and alarmed. It was an entanglement.
One of my son’s birth mother and I spent a lot of time together. She was young enough that she could have possibly been my daughter herself. I kept her other children many times that weren’t in foster care to help her when she’d find herself in trouble once again. When she got straightened out enough that the judge was willing to give her another chance, I thought I would absolutely die. We were losing our baby. I had invested in her and now my reward was that she would have her son while we lost our son. See how entangled it gets? But I’ll never forget the day, just three days later when she showed up at my door with him in her arms. She told me she couldn’t raise him and she knew I was supposed to. He became one of our forever children through adoption.
If you will, scroll back up and read that portion of scripture from Romans once more. If you find yourself in a position of strength then take the opportunity to lend a hand to those who falter around you. Are you strong financially, then take that as an opportunity for service, not status. If you are strong spiritually, reach out to those whose faith may be faltering. If it really isn’t convenient to get involved, welcome to the life of extravagant love and get involved anyway. Not sure exactly how you can help? Then, ask how you can help. Wade right in. After all, that’s what Jesus did for us and He is our perfect example of how to live this life, even with all the entanglements.

This I Know


I want to encourage some hearts today! Here is a simple truth for you to consider. It is okay if you don’t understand it all, have all the answers or have it all figured out. 

I reminded myself this very morning of this same simple truth. I have been known to over-think matters. What about you? Not only that, I often grow frustrated with others who appear to be thinking too little. 

This morning I read in John chapter nine of a young man who had an encounter with Jesus. As is always the case after such an encounter the result was drastic change, miraculous even. People noticed. 

They did not instantly rejoice with him. Instead the people around him were suspicious, questioning, doubtful. They wanted answers, demanded answers. The young man did not know. He did not understand it all. He could not explain exactly what had happened, at least not to their satisfaction. 

Finally, he declared that he did not know the answers that they demanded but, he DID know one thing. I want to encourage you this morning to stop fretting over what you do not understand and rejoice in what you do know! What you do know is enough to celebrate, to embrace and to find hope in. 

What that young man said was “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!””

John 9:25 NLT



So, this morning I have a few things to declare myself and would invite you to do the same! 

I don’t know it ALL but this I know…

I was blind but now I can see! 

I was lost but now I am found!

I was empty but now I am filled!

I was hesitant but now I am sure!

I was without hope and now I hope again!

I was weak but now I’m strong!

I was without music in my soul and now it is filled with song!

I was hurt and unable to forgive but now I can walk in grace!

I was weary but now I am strengthened for this race!

Distractions & Reactions

I’m pretty sure I’m one of the most distractible humans alive. Well, perhaps that’s stretching it a bit. I know this, distractions are an inevitable part of life and it’s our reactions to them that impact our lives. 

What is a distraction exactly?

Well, simply put, it is anything that keeps you from giving your full attention to another thing. 

The thing is, we’ve grown so accustomed to multi-tasking, that we may have lost the art of undivided attention. I know I’m very guilty of the inability to focus on one thing and that thing only. 

As a #momofmany, presently homeschooling five teens, actively involved in our church and outreach ministry, entrepreneur and writer extraordinaire, I feel hard pressed to juggle as many balls as I can at once. 


Here’s the thing that I’m pondering today. If distractions are inevitable and a sure part of life, what can we do about them?

Now, you may be expecting me to tell you to clear your calendar and learn to say no more often! Maybe even stop trying to do it all and remind you to take some deep relaxing breaths. 

While those are good thoughts, that’s not what I want to tell you at all. What I want to discuss is not the distractions but our reactions to them. That’s the crux of the matter. 

You know what my greatest distraction is? People! Whether they are calling, texting, pulling on my sleeve or bickering between themselves, people distract me. Whether I’m reading FB posts, scheduling appointments, answering an e-mail, stopping to pray for them, giving them a ride or listening to their woes, people distract me. 

They distract me because I care and because I believe that #peoplematter. They distract me from the plans I have made for myself. They rearrange my schedule, undo my calendar and sometimes delay my goal-reaching efforts. 

And the truth is, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m glad I’m distractible when it comes to the folks in my life. I’m glad to know that my children want to discuss their days, my friends feel free to ask for prayer, that a stranger on FB is encouraged by my posts and that my reactions to the distractions in my life can speak volumes. 

Reactions to the distractions of life say loud and clear, “You matter to me!”

You matter enough for me to stop and listen, you matter enough for me to delay my plans, you matter enough to merit a brief comment on your post, you matter enough that I will allow you to distract me. 

And you know what, I think the world might be a better place if we were all a little  more easily distracted, not from what matters but towards what really matters, people. People matter.