Friday, July 20, 2018

Clark's Trip to Israel

At the beginning of the summer, as soon as the Spring semester ended, our youngest son, Clark, went on a 14 day trip to the Holy Land, as part of his college degree.

He left us an itinerary, and a book with a little bit of history about the things they were going to see and study. I did my best to read and follow along each day. 

This quote, in one of his books, really stood out to me on the first day: “This land that cradled our Christian faith, where Christ was born, where Constantine established the great Byzantine Empire, that, for all practical purposes, was officially “Christian” until the 7th century...this land became Muslim in one generation, and has been the undisputed domain of Islam for thirteen centuries since.” 

IN ONE GENERATION, y’all. 

Why? 

Continuing, “The simplest explanation is that the Christian church itself had become weakened and paganized...where people had begun to worship images, relics, and saints as part of the Christian faith and practice.” 

Oh my goodness. 

What a responsibility we have to share our faith with others, and to diligently teach it’s principles to our children...because other teachings and religions are racing us to the hearts of our families and friends. 

And, in many cases, they are winning. 

The Christian faith is not built on any man or woman, dead or alive, but on the PERSON of Jesus Christ...that He came to earth, lived a sinless life, died on a cross for your sins and mine...and rose again on the 3rd day. 

However great a pastor is, a Bible study teacher, college professor, denominational leader, or any of the well-known authors and speakers...don’t get your theology from their words alone. BE CERTAIN they line up with Scripture. 

A couple of months ago, I stayed home from church with my baby grandson, and I watched an on-line church service from a different church. The pastor was not as “polished,” as many might prefer...and the words from his sermon didn’t leave me feeling “good” about where I am in my Christian life...just a plain ol’ pastor speaking plain ol’ truth from the Bible. 

I think sometimes we let the emotions of our times blind us from the fact that there is no good in us; that we are all sinners in need of a Savior. 

And, I think sometimes, we just want to hear someone tell us it’s all gonna be okay, so we sit there and let them...and then we bask in that and talk about how great those words were...because the truth that things are never gonna be okay this side of Heaven seems too hard to bear. 

But no flowery words from any podium, however beautiful or poignant or timely, on their own have the power to convict or save. 

Oh, how we all want to hear a message of peace and love...but peace and love are found in Jesus ALONE, and in the words He left us in the Bible.

"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Night To Shine 2018

Back in Febrary, we went to an event that is always one of the best nights of our entire year.

Back in February, we went to Night to Shine. Or, Joshua did.

If you're not familiar with Night to Shine, it's an event put on by the Tim Tebow Foundation. It's like a PROM for teens and adults who have various special needs and challenges.

On this one night, all over the United States...and in several foreign countries...these precious individuals are honored at a prom that is just for them.

In a world where only those deemed to be "perfect" are celebrated, this night is always a breath of fresh air. It is the most inspiring, emotional, and motivational night for everyone involved.

Beautiful, loving people...being acknowledged and celebrated for who they are.

Everything is FREE for the participants. They can have their hair and make-up done. If they don't have a dress or dressy clothes, those will be provided for them. They walk a red carpet, and everyone cheers and takes their picture!

There's food...dancing...limo rides. ALL FREE.

Every participant is crowned King or Queen...because, like Tim Tebow says, "that's how Jesus sees them."

Perfect, beautiful...worthy.

Joshua met up with Jenni-the-girlfriend when we got there. This night would not be possible without a ton of volunteers, and churches who step up and host these events. Joshua and Jenni each got a "buddy." The buddies make sure that the participants have someone to dance with and eat with and sit with...there are no wall-flowers at Night-to-Shine!

With Joshua in capable hands, Jim and I went out for a DATE. We had dinner, and then shopped at Bass Pro...which, I realize that, for most people, Bass Pro does not sound like date night. I hear ya. But Jim likes to go there, and I like Jim, soooo...

Plus, it was FAH-REEZING COLD OUTSIDE, and it was warm inside Bass Pro.

Amen, and amen.

When we got there to pick up Joshua, they had just had the crowning ceremony. All the guys had a crown, and all the girls had what Joshua called, "more girlier" crowns. Joshua and Jenni were dancing to a slow song, and it was pretty much the sweetest thing ever.

Joshua and Jenni don't always get along and act sweet. There's almost always some drama. After 10 or 13 years together (depends on which one of them you ask, and if they are getting along at the time), we've seen it all.

Or, not ALL...but a LOT.

They are one of the main causes for my gray hair, I'm just sure of it.

But on this night? They were precious. :)

I have always loved Tim Tebow. I never understood the negative press he got for standing up for his convictions...or the ways he expressed his faith. I love how he has remained steadfast and consistent, in spite of the criticism...continuing to do what God is calling him to do.

If Tim Tebow never does another thing the world deems as "noteworthy," his legacy can be these Night To Shine events. Seriously. He's made my kid, and his friends, feel valued and worthy and celebrated...and that.is.enough.

If you ever have the chance to volunteer at this wonderful event, DO IT. It not only blesses the participants, it blesses their families.

And it will bless YOU.

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." 1 Peter 2:9

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

More Than I Can Handle

Over the years, I've been told one thing more than any other...I bet you've heard it, too: "God won't give you more than you can handle."

And to that I say, "Ummm...yeah, He will." 

Because, here's the thing: if we could handle it, we wouldn't need Jesus. Right? 

You remember Job? All that he went through in his life...the unimaginable loss and suffering...and yet he would say, "God might kill me, but I have no other hope." (Job 13:15) He knew that, even if he had everything...He would be utterly lost if he didn't have God.

If we could handle everything on our own...death, sickness, loss, abandonment...how would we ever recognize our need for a Savior?

In the New Testament, Paul wrote of the hardships in his life: beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, long journeys; danger from rivers, robbers, from his own people, from others; faced danger in cities, deserts, and on the seas; he worked long and hard, had many sleepless nights; he was hungry, thirsty and cold; many times, he didn't have enough clothing; and he had a great burden for all of the churches.

What God said: "My grace is all you need. My power works better in weakness."

What Paul said: "When I am weak, then I am strong."

I don't know anyone who has been through horrible things like Job or Paul. I'm using them for perspective, and as examples of two people who persevered under great trials.

We all have struggles and challenges...that's a fact of life. What we need: more of Him...less of WE.

"He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:30

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Parenting: Prayer & Persistence

You pray for a safe delivery...that they'll eventually sleep through the night...and for them as they start to school. You pray for them to have friends and to BE a friend, and that they'll choose to follow Jesus at an early age.

You pray for them as they study and date and learn to drive...for their college courses...for a job...for them to choose the right mate.

You pray for them as they start their families, as they begin to figure out how to parent and teach their own children.

Parenting is a roller-coaster ride of highs and lows; times where you raise your hands high with abandon, and times when you just hold on for dear life...in the twists and turns...through dark times that seem to never end, until you burst out the other side.

There were literally a million things, big things and small things, from birth to adulthood, that we quickly realized we could not handle on our own.

Young parents, hear this: YOU ARE NEVER DONE.

You never get to rock back with satisfaction, and say, "I'm done." You never close the folder, lock the door, cross "raising my kids" off your list.

As our children age, our role as their parent changes, for sure...but there is always a need for advice or counsel or encouragement. Sometimes there's a need to just listen.

Actually, I would say there's always a need to listen.

Being a parent involves daily sacrifice. Daily laying down your wants, your needs, your schedule, your plans...for the good of your child.

Nothing in my life has made me fall to my knees more often or more quickly...than parenting these 4 children God gave us.

If you have children, you are in it for the long haul.

STAND FIRM. Don't give up.

"So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up." Galatians 6:9

Monday, July 9, 2018

Boys, Motorcycles & Parenting

So what had happened was...

SIDE NOTE: Our middle son, Logan, had a friend who used that phrase all the time. Logan figured out real quick that, whenever his friend started a sentence with, it meant a BIG LIE would follow.

But, this story is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth...

For years, Logan, has been talking about wanting a motorcycle.

Every time he would bring it up, I would just say, "NOPE," and go on with my life. Because I'm not interested in my son riding a killing machine, thank you very much. 

Doesn't this make me sound like a grouchy, old, fuddy-duddy?

Get off my lawn!

And, even tho I think I parent with intention, and do my best to try to learn about the things that interest my children...I was apparently not interested in taking the time to listen to my son's heart on this matter...or even entertaining a conversation about something I don't like.

Like a lot of us in America right now, huh?

ANYWAY, a couple of weeks ago, Logan sent Jim some info on a motorcycle he'd found on CRAIGSLIST. 

Which, in my mind, Craigslist is where people go to die. 

You young people turn down your music!

He was wanting to borrow our trailer, drive to Tulsa on the weekend, and pick up this motorcycle. FROM STRANGERS.

When he came home later that week, he talked to us about it. I started off with my typical, "NOPE," and he quietly said, "Mom...I'm not asking."

Because, ya know, he's an almost 27 years old, married man, who has the complete support of his wife on this matter.

WELL.

So fast-forward to later that night: Jim and I crawled into bed. He said, "Moose, I am NOT feelin' this whole motorcycle thing. I don't think it's safe at all. If he does this, he's going to have to pay for it himself...I'm not paying for it." And he went on and on until I stopped him. I said, "you need to have this conversation with Logan in the morning."

And, y'all, I woke up in the morning, and walked into the kitchen. Logan was sitting at the table, drinking coffee. I asked if we could talk about the motorcycle, and he said, "yes." I expressed my concerns about the whole motorcycle thing, and asked some questions...which he answered completely and rationally. And then I did the most awesome thing: I LISTENED TO HIM. 

I listened as he told me about how much research he had done on this particular type of motorcycle. I listened as he told me how he had saved money for this motorcycle. I listened as he told me that he'd bought a helmet, and other safety supplies. I listened as he admitted that he was not comfortable riding a motorcycle yet, so was wanting to keep it here with us until he was. I listened as he told me how he was wanting to ride the motorcycle to work to save money on fuel, and wear-and-tear on his car. I listened as he told me how he dreams of weekends spent riding on some beautiful roads...seeing parts of the country at a slower pace.

I gave him a hug, and my "if you are sure this is what you want," speech, and went back to get ready for the day.

When I came back to the kitchen...just a few minutes later...Jim was back from his run. He and Logan were deep in excited conversation. Those two goons were looking at pictures of motorcycles on the internet, and they were...giddy.

And I heard these words from my husband, the love of my life: "Logan, I know that is a little more money than you wanted to pay, but if it's a newer model with less miles on it, I MIGHT PITCH IN SOME MONEY IF I CAN HAVE FUN ON IT, TOO."

Exxxxxxx...SCUZE ME?

How long did I sleep?

How did, "I'm not for this...it's not safe...pay for it yourself," get to "YIPPEE, LET'S HAVE FUN TOGETHER ON A MOTORCYCLE AND HERE'S SOME MONEY TO HELP?"

I don't understand. 

I knew Jim's family had a history with motorcycles. When we were dating, I remember his youngest brother rode a motorcycle to work or school. When we were first married, I remember that we took that motorcycle on a date...and he taught me how to ride it. I also remember insisting I could ride the larger bike, since I had, ya know, ridden the smaller one for all of 5 minutes. Being a "city girl," I had no clue that cows walk in a straight line...or that that line makes a deep-ish track in the field that is a perfect place for a motorcycle tire to get stuck. Good thing I was only going 2.1 miles an hour, because I tumped that big bike right over.

Jim said that his cousins had motorcycles, back when they were all young. The story goes that Jim and his two younger brothers BEGGED their parents for them, but they were NOT havin' it. 

Until they came home from the motorcycle store with THREE of them.

I'm sensing a pattern in Jim's family: all bark, no bite.

So the bike in Tulsa sold before they could make plans to get it, but they found one about 35 minutes from our home...and, on Saturday afternoon, armed with a wad of cash, they took off to go get it. 

I was more than a little nervous about it. To be perfectly honest, they were, too. But they plugged the address into the GPS, and off they went.

To hear Logan tell it, it was quite the trek. He said they got off the main road, and started taking gravel roads into the boonies. They had to turn around when the GPS led them to a road that led to nowhere, and they had to turn around. Jim said, "I'm concerned that these people might rob us, and then kill us." Logan said that, about that time, they passed a pipe-line area, where TONS of equipment was parked. Logan said, "yep...and that's how they'll bury our bodies."

There's more to the story, but it would require another long post, and this momma is tired. 

They met up with a couple of "good ol' boys." The bike sale was all legit, and everything. 

When the guys asked if Logan if he wanted to start it and ride it, he deferred to Jim...telling the men his dad had more experience...even tho Jim said he hadn't ridden a motorcycle since 1982. 

But Logan said Jim fired the thing up, and TOOK OFF DOWN THE ROAD. When he got back, he said Jim had the biggest grin on his face. He told the men, "IT ALL COMES BACK TO YA, DOESN'T IT?" 

Which, the face, the smile, and that comment are NOT what you want to say when you are trying to negotiate a lower price, amiright?

It's basically why, on the few times we've shopped for cars at a dealership, Jim will tell me, "DO NOT ACT LIKE YOU LOVE THIS CAR." 

So that's what happened over here this weekend. 

"So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him." Matthew 7:11