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!

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The Hope of Easter

Today is Easter and we’ve celebrated with egg hunts and even a Passover Seder. Today we will gather with family and friends at an Easter Service to celebrate once more. Why all the celebrating? 

Well, let me assure you, it is much more than colored eggs and bunnies. We are celebrating the miracle of life. 


A precious ‘son of my heart’ posted the following words a few days ago. He blessed my hear with his words. 

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Galatians 6:9

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
I am living proof, that if you invest Jesus into someone, as little or mundane as you might think it is, that seed will grow. That flower may only need to break through loose, fertile soil. Or in my case, it might have to break through red Georgia clay that’s under a foot of concrete. But be patient and continue to water it, and oh how sweet and beautiful it is once it blooms. 
To all of those that invested in me, I say thank you. And now I pay it forward, investing Jesus into other people, planting my own seeds.

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This is the miracle of new life, eternal life that we celebrate. This hope was made possible by the most important moment in history. That moment was when Jesus Christ, Yeshua, our Redeemer, defeated death, and gave us hope of new beginnings, fresh starts and forgiveness. 


If I told you more of my what Gary had faced, experienced and been through you would be amazed that just before Easter he was baptized as public proclamation of his faith. If I told you about his life, some of his choices, some of his struggles you would rejoice with me that he has come home spiritually. If I told you of the hundreds of prayers and years of waiting, you would take courage as you pray and wait for your own prodigals. 

So, yes, today we celebrate the hope of Easter! And today as Gary posted this picture of his wife and precious daughters, I know the miracle will continue. The hope will grow in the lives of his children. The hope of Easter changes everything. 


So, from my family to yours, I wish you a blessed day and the hope of Easter! 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Lodes and Nodes

Some times I really do think that we mommas think we are impenetrable, unstoppable, and without limits. Okay, well maybe that’s not what we think, but it is how we tend to live. We function on too little sleep. We operate under too much stress. We press on when we feel we must even when we are feeling exhausted. 

We are, after all, the ‘mother lode’. We are indeed the source of so much that our children, our husbands, our friends, our churches need. That’s what a mother lode is. It is defined as the abundant and rich source of something valuable. This is an apt description of most mommas that I know. 


Of course being a mother lode can be quite the load. It can be draining. It can wear you out and run you dry. And yet, still we are tempted to continue on, to hide our weariness, to pretend all is well when our well has run dry. 
As a Christian I fully understand that I am not the true source for anyone. I know exactly who my source is and when I’m thinking straight, I run straight to Jesus for strength beyond my own, wisdom beyond my years and courage beyond what is humanly possible. 


Yes, mommas are human too even when we don our capes and place the coordinating masks upon our face. We do have our limits even when we are desperately trying to ignore them. And guess what, they aren’t ignoring you. 

I am not a medical doctor nor a psychologist. I have however lived long enough to be convinced of a few things about physical health and emotional wellbeing. Here is one of them.

When we consistently ignore warnings and continually over stress our bodies and minds, there will be repercussions. It may be simple things like being short tempered and snappy at our family, poor performance at our job, or even lack of energy. It may also lead to serious health crises. 

I recently read a number of reports claiming that stress and anxiety can cause a number of issues, one of which I’m experiencing right now, swollen lymph nodes. Our bodies respond to our stresses. What stresses us out, stresses our body out. 


Tomorrow, January 26,  I will be having surgery and having a biopsy on a lymphnode. All the initial tests have good results and I’m so thankful. I am not expecting a bad report. But something is causing my axillary nodes to be distressed and I’m blaming stress itself. I believe the constant strain and drain I’ve put on the ‘mother-load’ has lead to consequences. 

Now, what to do about it? Be brutal. Slash that calendar load. Say no more often. Find time to rest and to spend time in the presence of God. Make sure you eat right, rest well and exercise often. Refuse to live in a manner that tears you down bit by bit. 

You might as well know that I’m talking to myself and letting you listen in on the conversation. I hope I’m listening well and I hope you are too.  

When Christians Disagree

As Christians we expect and can understand that we won’t see eye to eye on many issues with those who don’t believe. After all, a non-believer doesn’t recognize the Bible as having any authority to tell them how to live their lives. Naturally their viewpoint will be different. 

But for those of us who do recognize Jesus as the Lord of our lives, it would seem that we’d agree on most things and certainly the most important matters. And yet, that simply isn’t the case. So, how do we respond when Christians disagree? What if that person is someone you care about deeply? How do you react when they’re as convinced that they are right as you are convinced that you are right? 

I can’t recall a time when the differences of beliefs, convictions and opinions have been more starkly apparent than they have been the last few months. I honestly was never so eager for an election process to be over. I truly thought things would settle down, that people would settle down, that we would move on.  I was very disappointed when that wasn’t the case. 

It has puzzled me as I have observed the reactions of people, some of whom I admire and hold in high esteem. These are people who obviously love the Lord, openly profess Christianity and yet fall into polar opposition to me when it comes to extremely important issues. How can this be? We serve the same Lord, profess the same faith, read the same Bible. 


I’ve prayed about it, I’ve pondered it and I’ve yet to discover the answer to how one follower of Christ can so vehemently disagree with another. I only know that it does happen; it is happening now. This is why there are different denominations and ways of worship. Sometimes, perhaps ofttimes, we disagree.  

What does the Bible says about how to handle other believers that don’t agree with each other?

“Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭14:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Look carefully. It does NOT say to accept their beliefs, agree with their convictions or compromise your own. It says to accept the believer. One might wonder, who is the one ‘weak in faith’? Well we probably can all agree on that answer. It’s whoever isn’t seeing things the same way we are of course. (A little light sarcasm). 

Bottom line, we can reject ideas, opinions, viewpoints, policies and lifestyles. We should not, however,  reject each other. There is a great difference. 

“Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? Their own master will judge whether they stand or fall. And with the Lord’s help, they will stand and receive his approval.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭14:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

As Christians, we belong to Jesus. He is our master. He is the one who will judge us, our actions, the way we live our life. Let me assure you of this, He is more than able to judge, approve, intervene, persuade, convict, and help those who claim Him as Lord. 

“Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭14:12-13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I’m not accountable for the way you live your life. I’m accountable for the way I live mine. You are accountable for the way you live yours. Decide today that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall if there is a better way. Then find that better way.

“So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up. Don’t tear apart the work of God over ____________________________ if it makes another person stumble.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭14:19-20‬ ‭NLT‬‬ (blank inserted)

I purposefully inserted a blank there. You can fill it in as you choose. Whatever the disagreement is, I know this, it never ends well for a house divided. 

“Jesus knew their thoughts and replied, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭12:25‬ ‭NLT‬


That applies to kingdoms (such as Christianity). That applies to churches. That applies to nations. That applies to families. That applies to friends. 

Please DO NOT misunderstand. I am in no way saying you should condone wrong behavior or compromise your own convictions. Be true to your faith, your beliefs and your God. But what I am saying is learn to stand firm without causing a fellow Christian to stumble. 

How do you do that? It is one of the most challenging things you’ll ever do. It requires you to say, 

  • I do not agree with you but I still love you. 
  • I don’t think you are right but I will leave the correcting to God. 
  • I am sure I am right but I will listen carefully to the Holy Spirit. 
  • I am worried about you, concerned that you have been blinded or deceived, and I’m confused as to how you can come to this conclusion and still be a Christian! But I will leave the judging to God and I will walk, speak and act in love towards you even if we can never agree.

Finally, there is the thing we should do firstly and continually. We should pray. We should pray for those we disagree with. We should pray for those we are concerned for. We should pray for clarity and understanding. We should pray that blinded eyes are open. We should pray that those who are deceived will see the error of their ways. We should pray for wisdom as to how to treat others in a manner that builds up instead of tearing down. We should pray and believe that God is still God and we can still trust Him. 

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”

‭‭James‬ ‭1:5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

In closing, if you are afraid, if you are worried, if your heart is anxious…


“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.


And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6, 8‬ ‭NLT‬‬



The Come Back Year

I was inspired by the sermon one of our pastors delivered yesterday morning at church. He referred to our new year, 2017, as the year of the come back. His message really got me to thinking. And I’m thinking he’s absolutely right. 

No matter how far off track your life may seem, no matter how hard it may be to regain your footing, no matter how impossible it may seem or undoable or unlikely. The truth is you can see a magnificent come back in your life this year of 2017. 


Being a Christian doesn’t guarantee that we won’t stumble. We will, I’m sorry to say, we most certainly will. And sometimes that stumble results in an extraordinary mess that can be quite daunting when we contemplate trying to recover. That’s what a come back is, after all, a recovery. 

If 2016 found you struggling, stumbling, drowning, sinking, or in a pit so deep you aren’t sure you can see even a glimmer of light (hope), take courage!

Yes, take courage because you can recover and 2017 can be the greatest Come Back Year of your life. Then, after you take courage, take steps back in the right direction. 

If last year left you practically bankrupt financially, you CAN recover. 

If last year left you feeling rejected and betrayed, you CAN recover. 

If last year left you in a state of failing health, you CAN recover. 

If last year left you with a broken heart, you CAN recover. 

If last year left you on a dead end street, you CAN recover. 

If last year left you with tattered hopes and dreams, you CAN recover. 

If last year left you feeling beaten and bullied, you CAN recover. 

If last year left you in a place of doubt, you CAN recover. 

If last year left you wondering if your efforts really mattered, you CAN recover. 

If last year kicked you to the curb, like unwanted trash, you CAN recover. 

No matter how bleak the situation is. No matter how ashamed you are for what you  have done. No matter how angry you have been because of what was done to you. You CAN recover. 


This is EXACTLY what I plan to do in many areas of my life. I am planning for a great Come Back Year! 

We can recover many things. 

  • Health
  • Peace
  • Purpose
  • Joy
  • Trust
  • Patience
  • Order
  • Hope
  • Respect
  • Strength

What about you? If this year could be (and it can be) your Come Back Year, what would you hope to recover? What would you long for the second chance to begin again in? What area do you you pray for a fresh start? 

Backstory

My editor recently requested a backstory on a character in a part of my soon to be released book. It was a good suggestion on her part and the additional info I added would be sure help a reader understand the character better. 

I started thinking about how differently we would view people if we knew their backstory. How might we react if we understood a little bit about what another person had faced? Had survived? Had lost?


So many times we judge a person by their actions. They act arrogantly therefore they must be arrogant through and through without an ounce of humility in them. They appear aloof so they obviously must not care. They seem so negative, always expecting the worst and need an attitude adjustment. 

Oh, we are so quick to draw our conclusions and the truth is, no matter how convinced we are that we have a person all figured out, we don’t really because we don’t have the backstory. 

That parent that seems impatient with their teen may have just bailed her out of jail the night before, but you wouldn’t know that. That surly looking older gentleman may have recently lost his wife of many years, but you wouldn’t be aware. That rude young man may be considering suicide. That demanding customer may be on the verge of bankruptcy. That crying child may have autism or sensory issues and his mom who appears to be ignoring the behavior may be doing so as a part of his therapy and encouraging coping skills. 

I could go on and on, you get the drift. You know what I mean. And this brings me to the real lesson here for us all. Don’t judge people. You don’t know their hearts. You don’t know their backstory. 

This is why God is the only just judge. He knows what they did, all the sordid details. He knows how they acted, what they said, what they chose, where they went. He knows exactly. He is after all omniscient. He not only knows about present behavior, He knows the backstory completely, every tiny detail. He knows their heart. He has the right to judge because He understands. 


Recently someone I love made some terrible choices. I was shocked and ashamed after all, it was shocking and shameful. I was scared for them because I knew there would be consequences. I was sad because the choices led them to a place they never intended to go. I was tempted, oh so tempted to judge them. After all, the evidence was clear, there was no doubt of what they had done. 

Then I was reminded, thankfully, that I didn’t know the backstory. I didn’t know all the details although I knew this person well. I didn’t know their heart, their intentions, their pain, their hurt that led them to the choices they made. 

Now, let’s be clear, I’m not talking about excuses. Excuses are dangerous. Excuses say I can’t be held accountable. Excuses say the bad behavior has a right to continue. Excuses allow a free ride past consequences, or so it may seem. 

No, I’m not talking about making excuses. I’m not talking about them or their actions, choices and behavior at all. I’m talking about us, you and me, and how we respond to those who have stumbled. Maybe they have fallen flat on their face. Maybe they’ve wallowed in the pig pen and stink to high heaven. Maybe they’re so ashamed that they’re incapable of saying so. I don’t know. I don’t know the entire backstory. 

Here’s what I do know. We are not to judge each other and there’s a good reason why. So, although I was sorely tempted to judge this person, here is what I said. “I don’t know why you’ve done this but I know this isn’t who you really are and I’ll be praying for you.” And I meant it. 

Rethinking Tough Love

I’ve parented a long time and will continue parenting for a long while yet. Still, I am often in need of fresh perspectives and a reminder of what is important, what is really important. 

Recently I attended some workshops dealing with trauma related and adolescent behavior. As is often the case I viewed some of the concepts with skepticism. You know, like when you frown a bit and say to yourself, “I just don’t know about that.” But I must also  admit I gleaned a lot of good practical information and felt there was a lot of value in what was shared. I was indeed given a fresh perspective. 

In addition I’ve done some reading and research on my own and I’ve arrived at some conclusions that have led me to rethink my stance on a very basic parenting technique that I’ve implemented for decades. It is commonly known as ‘tough love’ and as I said, I’m rethinking it. 

It’s challenging to parent in the best of times and let’s face it, these are not the best of times. As a matter of fact, these are downright scary times. 

I hesitated to blog my thoughts as they are still being formed and I’m not sure I can clearly communicate what I want to share. Yet, if you’ll read on, I’ll give it my best shot. 

Two terms you’ll often hear in the parenting world are ‘enabling’ and ‘manipulation’.  These are to be avoided. We, as parents, need to avoid enabling destructive or addictive behavior as well as guarding against emotional manipulation. This is true. And so, we suit up, like a catcher in a baseball team and prepare ourselves to protect ourselves from whatever our kids might hurtle towards us at any moment. It’s rather a defensive stance but better safe than sorry? Right? Well, I’m not so sure anymore. 

Sometimes I think we become so focused on being determined that we won’t enable and we won’t be manipulated that we are distracted from what really matters and that is relationship. 

All my life I’ve heard that you can’t be your child’s friend and parent them properly. I see that to a degree. We can’t be afraid to parent and negligent to properly protect because we don’t want to appear the ‘bad’ guy. On the other hand, before we cross our arms and dig in our heels on any given subject, we may want to reconsider. We may want to reconsider what it is we are attempting to accomplish. 

Sometimes I think we are so on guard for an attempt at manipulation that we overlook the obvious opportunities to strengthen relationships. And that, my friends, is what really matters. 

Sometimes I think we are so determined to resist the urge to help lest we might be accused of enabling a struggling person that we miss the chance to connect and impact a life. And that, my friends, is also what really matters. 

I have seen a lot of talk recently about a blog by a celebrity that I usually agree with. The basic premise was that once a child marries, that child can’t come home again. The concept of course is admirable and I understand that they’re trying to say that marriage is forever. But the more I thought about it the more I knew that I will never say that to my children. It won’t be the plan, certainly. It won’t be taken lightly, certainly. But my children will always know this, they can come home. They will always know, when it looks like they are out of options, there is an option. 

If I’ve learned one thing in my decades as a parent, it is this. Life can throw you curve balls. And sometimes when you’ve given it your very best, tried your hardest, made your best effort, you stumble, you falter. At those times, we all need to know we have a safe place. 

At what point does God say to me, you’re all grown up, you’ve messed up, you can’t come home. Never. Does that mean He will enable me or allow me to manipulate Him. Certainly not. But He will also never miss an opportunity to strengthen our relationship. He will never ignore the chance to provide me a safe place. 

His grace is amazing. His mercy is never ending. And He is my parenting example that I want to follow and pattern after. 

“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.” Proverbs 3:27 NLT

“Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone, especially to those in the family of faith.” Galatians 6:10 NLT

A dear friend of mine shared with me some of her story. She was young and making terrible choices that actually put her very life at risk. Most of her family chose tough love. I’m not criticizing them. I may have done the very same thing. But one family member chose to maintain contact, repeatedly reaching out, refusing to sever the lines of communication. When the day came that she was ready to enter treatment and change her ways, it was that person that she reached out to. He was her lifeline. 

Another friend recently told me of a friends relative that was turned out of their home because of his addictive behavior. For decades they’ve refused any contact feeling that they were enabling him if they did so. She said something while we chatted that has struck a chord with me. “How many homeless, destitute people get better in that situation, alone?”

Oh, I know, we all have choices, we all must face consequences, and sometimes, when the situation is dangerous, dire decisions must be made. There’s nothing neat and tidy about such situations. 

But, y’all, in the end we can’t strong arm other people with threats and ultimatums. We can’t make them change by withdrawing emotional support. If we attempt that, aren’t we doing to them what we accuse them of doing to us? Manipulation?

Look, I don’t mean to imply that I have this all figured out. I certainly don’t know the details of your situation. All I know is this. As for me and my children, I intend for them to always know without a doubt, they can come home. I hope and pray that knowing that will help them know they can always come home spiritually too. Because, in the end, that is exactly what really matters. 

If you care to read more about this concept of dealing with a wayward child, you might find this article of interest. 

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/12-ways-to-love-your-wayward-child

Jeremiah 31:16-17 “This is what the Lord says: “Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,“ declares the Lord. “They will return from the land of the enemy. So there is hope for your future, declares the Lord. Your children will return to their land.”

It is my intention to take our my guard attire and pray for wisdom in dealing with my children and those I love. I don’t want prove to them that I can be tough. I want to show them instead that there is hope, God will always love them and so will I.