Monday, October 31, 2016

When You Can Do Nothing...

"I'm scared"

"I think I'm going to die..."

"My husband is at work and my baby and I are alone at home."

"The storm is supposed to be the largest ever to hit..."

These were all messages and texts I was receiving. Hurricane Matthew was getting stronger and stronger. The forecast was not looking good AT ALL.  I prayed and pleaded with God to spare my friends and my Florida town but the storm just kept coming. 

I called my father-in-law and asked him to go west but he was determined not to leave his 80-year-old brother behind.  I called other friends and urged them to get to a safe place, but some of them flat out refused.  My heart was breaking and I felt frozen with nothing I could offer.  My husband came home from work to find a wife with swollen eyes; when he saw me, he just put his arms around me and I wept uncontrollably.  He kept asking what was wrong, but I couldn't speak. 

When I finally settled down, he asked if someone had died and I replied "Not yet."  I was so emotional and so not trusting the Rock on Whom I could stand. 

Have you ever been in that place?  Have you been so overwhelmed by "the storm" that you shook in fear and cried in agony.  Maybe your storm is a broken relationship or a health diagnosis. 

Well, my storm just kept on coming; when it came near to my Florida town, it was like the Lord put His hand between the storm and the shore and protected the land. 

Now, I know that this isn't what happens in every storm.  Many times, He allows the storm to hit ...and hit hard.  The end of the story is not always like this one. 

God knew.  He knew the whole time, what was going to happen. ...He knew that my little town of friends was going to be OK. 

I walked away thinking.  "WOW, just wow. I spent a week of my life WASTED. I fretted and cried and worried and wasted that week.  Instead I could have prayed and left the burden with God.  I could have trusted in Him for the outcome. but instead I wasted that week."

Even if the outcome was going to be bad, God knew and God could/would have walked me through that circumstance. 

This is a very personal story and I thought about not sharing but it's been a lesson to me and I hope this encourages you to not do as I did. 

Sweet lady, your storm may have a very different face, but the One Who created the weather can control your storm.  He will walk you through it, He will hold you when you need to be held.  He will be there.  So, when you can do nothing else, pray.  Leave your burden at His feet and REST in the fact that He has got it.  It is under control. - Rejoicing in the Present

Friday, October 28, 2016

Please Look Up

A few months ago, I found a Groupon for an indoor trampoline park.  It looked like it would be fun and the price was just right.  I bought it.  Because of the transition we've been experiencing, it's been sitting in my account for a little bit.  Finally, we had an afternoon free and we picked up A's cousin and headed to the park. 

Inside the building there were 5 areas where the kids could jump.  Right in the front middle area, there were couches and chairs spread out, with moms and dads sitting in them. 

I started getting the kids ready to jump, when Jer made a comment that made me raise my head.  I looked up and saw what he was talking about. 

Nearly every parent in that room was looking down at their phones.  I wish I could have taken a picture. This wasn't one or two parents, we are talking more like 15-20.

There were lots of kids jumping and having fun, but the parents didn't see it.  In fact, they were missing out on the opportunity to play and enjoy the time they had with their kids. The parents could have gotten in and jumped with their kids but instead their heads were all down. 

Well, we decided to have fun.  Jer showed the kids tricks. The kids copied Daddy and laughed with Mommy.  We played dodge ball in the dodge-ball pit.  We learned how to jump off the walls and flip into the big blown- up pillow.  It was a really fun night that I will remember for a long time. 

Now before, I get any "hate" mail, let me say, I do understand, Moms.  I do know that sometimes you have work to do.  I do understand that sometimes it's better to take the kids to a park while you work instead of the kids watching TV at home.  I get it.  I understand that sometimes you are so exhausted after a long day of work and you just want your kids to have fun while you relax.  I get that.  Sometimes you have to do what you have to do...

But, I also see lots of kids today are given toys instead of time. 

I also see lots of kids who are being taught to look down instead of out. 

I see parents who work all year long to take a 1-week "once-in-a-lifetime" vacation.  It doesn't makes sense.  

There are seasons in life. I totally get it. If you have to work so that there is food on your table tonight, keep on mom. You are are doing well. 

BUT, there are cuts that WE CAN make.

There is so much more than that game on your phone or your social media friends. There is more...

There is a child that is bouncing up and down on that trampoline with a huge smile and a heart that wants to be seen.  

There is a child who fell down and needs to be picked up and kissed.  

There is a child being bullied by some kids. 

Did you you see them?

Those pictures on Instagram are not always real life. Those DIY projects on Pinterest can fail you.  That game doesn't need to be won.  That phone call can wait. That comment doesn't need to be shared at this moment. 



up and out, 

the real world awaits. - Rejoicing in the Present

Monday, October 24, 2016

Global Soccer Mom

As I mentioned in a previous blog, I had the privileged of obtaining some extra cuddle time with my daughter during a recent illness. As she lay sleeping next to me, I read GLOBAL SOCCER MOM.

The story is about a mom, Shayne Moore, who was an advocate with ONE, a program fighting to end extreme poverty and fight HIV+/AIDS on a global level. As with any book you read, you have to chew the meat and spit out the bones. However, the overall message of the book was that we moms can do something and should do "something".

One of the thoughts that saddened my heart was from a conversation she related. She was commenting to a friend that the church was not going to be the one to be able to bring in billions of dollars to overturn poverty. It was going to take the globe to overturn it.  I thought sadly about this statement and wondered why we haven't at least made a bigger dent.  Why do we need welfare?  Why do we need the government stepping in?  Why haven't we done more?

So what can we do?

As I mentioned in previous blogs, I believe our family is our highest calling, so we must first make sure that that is in order.  

Also, I mentioned about being intentional. We can also be intentional when it comes to ministry. This is where that comes into play.

Take your kids on a missions trip.  Yep, I said it and Yes I have done it.  It's hard on the family but it's important that your children see what is going on in the world.  I TRULY believe that EVERY child needs to go on at least 1 missions trip before they leave the home.  One of my HUGEST blessings in life, is that I have had the opportunity to go to Mexico, The Bahamas, South Africa, Zambia, Ireland and Great Britain on missions trips. 

Here is an idea: Instead of saving up for a cruise or a Disney vacation, save up for a missions trip.  The latter will be much more fulfilling.

Have your family serve in a soup kitchen or homeless shelter, volunteer at a Ronald McDonald House near you.  Take meals to shut-ins and teach your children to be a blessing to the elderly.

Give your children a world-view.  When they are old enough to handle the information, give them statics.  Show them sin and the result of sin.  Help them to learn to love people no matter their sinful lifestyle.

We have a family in our church who serves in a poverty stricken area every summer. The mom is a nurse and she takes her two teenage children while the dad stays home with the other children. They are using their gifts for the Lord. This is intentional

Pack a shoebox for Samaritans Purse.  

Sponsor a child, foster or even adopt a child.

There are so many things that we can do to help change the world.  If we ALL did a LITTLE, we could make a HUGE dent.

We don't have to everything, just do something.  If we would all get on board and be the hands and feet of Jesus, the world would be a different and better place. -Rejoicing in the Present

Friday, October 21, 2016

Intentional Mommy

We LOVE books and there are TONS of books. We may (or may not) have too many.  :-)  but, seriously, I love that my kids love books.

So, let's just say that we read A LOT.  In fact, just this summer we were trying to hit the library goal for the year of 1000 books and, instead, hit 400 in about six weeks.

...but while reading, it hit me that it wasn't about quantity, but quality.

This was about the time that I started investing in Max Lucado's children's books as well as some other Bible or Christian-character-building books.

I want my kids to enjoy reading.  I want them to enjoy silly books, BUT what I want even more is for them to be fed spiritually.

It hit me that I needed to be intentional.

What they read, what they hear, what they do, I have to be an intentionally gospel-minded mom.

This means that my parenting comes from a foundation of the Bible.

For instance, when I discipline, I try to use scripture so they hear God and not me.

When we read, I want them to have seeds planted in them to love, to share, to have compassion and, mostly, to know the One Who loves them and died for them.

When we sing, I want them to hear about God and to hear of His love for them. I want them to worship Him and to intimately know Him.

When we do ministry together, I want them to see people the way God does.  I want to teach them to love and give.

As an intentional mommy, I do lots of giggles, tickling and silly songs. We do kisses, hugs and cuddles but DO LOVE.  We do "crazy" and we do "silly" but we also do "intentional".

Mommies, we can get distracted by all the books, the silly songs and the movies out there (and let me say there is a time and place for some of them). But we need to make sure that we are intentional about our children hearing the most important truths in life.

Proverbs 22:6 says that we are to train up our child.  Training takes work.  It takes intentional focus.

How are we being intentional today? - Rejoicing in the Present

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

My Calling

I started this post months ago but just never could pull together my heart on this issue. Then, it all finally came together, but in a really different way.

My daughter woke up early Sunday morning vomiting; because I couldn't sleep and she wanted to be held, I decided, while I held her, to read a book, GLOBAL SOCCER MOM, which I will discuss in another blog.  As I read about this soccer mom who was fighting AIDS, the desire to do "something more" stirred in me again.

Ironically before I went to sleep the night before, I had read the article When You Want To Do Great Things for God and He Keeps Calling You to Be a Mom.

So, with both of these thoughts clashing in my brain, I simply let my memories and thoughts take over.

I thought about the sweet chubby little princess in my arms who was battling a fever and just needed her mommy.

I remembered my months in Africa as a single missionary.

I thought of my sweet son who was learning and growing in Kindergarten.

I thought of my desires to be "Run Ma Run," William Carey or a Katie Davis, (a superhero for the cause of Christ.) 

I thought of Susanna Wesley, the mother of Charles Wesley and John Wesley. ...and I let my mind sit.

She taught her children.

She helped provide for them.

She cared for them.

She fought for them.

She was an intentional mom.

You see, God called her to something great.  ->  It was motherhood.

Moms, I know, I  looks like another load of laundry.  It looks like another meal.  It looks like another child's book, read for the tenth time.

...but Mommy, it is more...

Proverbs 31 says "She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar. 15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.... 21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. 25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. 26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. 27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. 28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her." Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. 30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Oh, my dear moms, it is so much more.  Motherhood is a HUGE calling. These kiddos are our next generation.  You may be raising a John Wesley, a Katie Davis, a Hudson Taylor or a Nancy Leigh DeMoss.  You never know.

So, instead of ministering at church and reaching into other people's lives, T & I sat and cuddled. We watched her favorite songs on YouTube like Jesus Loves Me and we sang. We read a whole basket of books and we worshiped Jesus together.

It was beautiful!

It was and is my highest calling.  I love ministry.  I enjoy working but my children are God's assignment to me.  If they are not getting the care they need, then I need to step down from my other positions.

THIS is my calling. - Rejoicing in the Present

Monday, October 10, 2016

Love and Law

You see two extremes in church culture.  Some have even given names to the extremes--liberals and fundamentalists.  Basically, there are the ones who love with no rules OR there are those who rule with no love. 

Both extremes have positives.  

Loving is important and keeping God's commandments are important. BUT, did you know that they are both equal?  IN FACT, did you know that God equates them to each other.
"If ye love me, keep my commandments." - John 14:15

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: - John 14:21

"If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." - John 15:10

I don't know which one you lean toward.  You may lean more to following and enforcing rules OR you may lean toward lawless love.  However, I would encourage you to be balanced. 

We must follow the commands that God has given us, out of the love that we have toward Him.  We must also love others with the sacrificial love He has bestowed on us and teach those in our care the commands that He wants us to follow.

So what's the plan?

Know what his laws are.

"And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment." - 1 John 3:23

The most basic way to wrap it up is to love God and love everyone else (including your enemies). ...with the commands that He gives us.  What are His commands? You can read the most basic commands in Exodus 20 and Jesus' teaching in the gospels.  But His commands are spread though out the Bible, so my best suggestion is to READ the BIBLE.  Ask God to show you his commands and He will. 

Let there be a balance.  Love God AND follow His commands. - Rejoicing in the Present

Monday, October 3, 2016

Love One Another

In his commentary on Galatians 6:10, Jerome tells a famous story of "blessed John the evangelist" in extreme old age at Ephesus. He asked to be carried into the congregation in the arms of his disciples and was unable to say anything except,
"Little children, love one another."
At last, wearied that he always spoke the same words, they asked: "Master, why do you always say this?"
"Because," he replied, "it is the Lord's command, and if this only is done, it is enough. Stories about John (Kelly Minter, What Love is)

To Love Is Enough

I want that phrase to really sink in. If we can just get it right about loving everyone, the rest will fall into place. 
Your relationship with your coworkers-How would love change that situation?
What if you truly sacrificially loved your husband? How would your marriage change?
In your neighborhood? 

The family-less foster child? 

That person who looks, smells and believes differently than you? 
Do you unconditionally love them?
Before we go on, I must state something important. Love is not tolerance for sin, but it is tolerance for the people. It is not saying that you are ok with a sinful lifestyle, but it is saying that you are ok with that person. It is not saying that you push aside truth; it does mean that you embrace the person and the person that God created him/her to be. 
This also doesn't mean that you allow sin-happy people to become your best friends or let them influence you. What it does mean is that you reach into their lives, praying for them, befriending them, encouraging them and doing acts of kindness. 
We see so many illustrations of Jesus, the friend of sinners, who often stopped what He was doing to reach out to the unlovely like, as in Luke 18:35-43.  He sat with sinners in Mark 2 and simply gave truth while everyone else judged (John 8:1-11). And, of course, we can't miss His sacrificially death and resurrection for all sinners. 
So as a Christ-follower, how are you sacrificially, unconditionally loving? 
Because my dear friend, to love is enough. - Rejoicing in the Present