Thursday, August 21, 2014

What Word Describes You?

Two weeks ago, our Sunday School teacher passed out questionnaires to everyone, and told us to "interview" someone sitting at our table. So the teacher's wife, she was sitting across from me and asked if I wanted to partner up with her.

We had to ask each other these questions and write the answers down. I didn't realize until it was over that the teacher wants to put them in a book.

Ummm...I'd like to change some of my answers.

Some of the questions were simple, like "where did you grow up?" Or, "where did you meet your husband/wife?" And then there were some that required a lot of thought: "if you could ask Jesus to change one thing in the world, what would it be?"

I don't even know how to answer that last question.

But the one that stopped all of us...the 4 women at our table...was this one, "if you could describe yourself in one word, what would it be?"

And you should've heard us hem-hawing around. The two who knew each other were asking the other person's opinion. No one wanted to say, "hey, I'm really humble." Or, "I'm really nice to others." Or, "my family and friends would say that I'm very friendly and out-going."

No one wanted to claim that they had any good qualities.

Ladies, why do we do that to ourselves?

God made us. Surely He gave us spiritual gifts. We have talents and good qualities that we have also worked hard to improve.

But no one wanted to say anything good about themselves, so they kind of put something out there and ended it like a question. Like they weren't sure. Or like they didn't want people to think they were arrogant or something.

"Ummm...I might be a good listener?"

"I kind of like to serve my family, is that what you're looking for?"

"I'm really organized. Wait...that sounds bad. Put that I'm friendly. Wait. No, just put that I'm organized. (sigh) That sounds boring."

The men who were interviewing each other? "Uh...MIKE, I'd like to describe myself as driven." Or strong. Or decisive. Or a leader.

Confidence. Why don't we have it? I think maybe we've associated it with pride...like the bad kind of pride that can take over your life and make you believe more in yourself and your abilities than in the God who created your own self and gave you those abilities.

But we can have confidence...in Christ. "For You are my hope; O Lord GodYou are my confidence from my youth." Psalm 71:5

And we can acknowledge that, yes, God created each of us uniquely and with different personalities and gifts (I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made..." Psalm 139:14); We have strengths that we should work to improve on with His help and guidance, and we have weaknesses that we should be aware of and, with His help, work to minimize.

Me? I said I was "funny."     
                                                                                                                  
My husband piped up from the peanut gallery to say I was funny LOOKING.

(And, as my kids will mimic my in-laws saying, "and he just laughed and laughed..." But they'll say it like this, "he just lay-uffed and lay-uffed.")

I'm slow blinking you right now, Mister.

"But He said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me." 2 Corinthians 12:9

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

More Than Sparrows

I've heard it said that when you hear a Bible truth more than once from more than one source...God's trying to tell you something.

This happens to me all the time.

So, all of this stuff going on with Joshua at our church...it's hurtful, even tho it's not intentional. And it's easy to give in to the "poor me" attitude and withdraw from people...and from life.

But that's not right, is it?

And since one of my main things with Joshua is showing others all of his great qualities, and showing others that he's not all that different from the rest of us...it's not gonna be too good if I hole up in my house because someone hurt my feelings.

Last Sunday, our church participated in an annual event called "Dorm Storm." It's a bunch of our church members (like, over 250), along with members from a couple other local churches, coming together to help the freshmen move into their dorms at one of the colleges in our town. We have three universities here, and Dorm Storm takes place at the largest one. It's always a lot of fun...and very HOT. Jim and Clark, Holly and Aaron, had all signed up to help. I decided to stay with Joshua and go to church with him. I had pretty much planned to drive to church back in our "home" town, because they have a special ministries class...and, I don't know...I just wanted to be with people who know and love Joshua.

BUT, my friend was staying here with us, and the timing just wasn't working out. I'm kind of wondering if God didn't orchestrate her visit just to keep me in town.

By the time our friends left, Joshua and I couldn't make it to Sunday School, so we just went to late church. Joshua was still kind of out-of-sorts from last week...and even this week, he seemed agitated sitting in church.

Joshua really does not handle change well. Anytime we have to change something, we try to make time to prepare him for it in advance. We can't always do this, but we try.

One of the hardest things about parenting someone who has challenges is that they can't always speak for themselves...and even when they try, they aren't always sure of the words. Joshua can't tell me, "my stomach hurts because my heart is sad." Or, "my stomach hurts because I ate too much at dinner."

We try but we can't always put our finger on what is wrong...what is causing his distress.

So, this week...Joshua is just not...right. I'm hoping that when his Therapeutic Recreation group starts back next week, things will be back to normal. It's upsetting to see my normally happy-go-lucky man-child be so anxious.

The verses that kept coming back to me were the ones where Jesus tell us that we are more important than birds.

Read:

Matthew 10:29: "Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will."

Matthew 10:31: "So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows."

Luke 12:6: "Aren’t five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God."

Luke 12:7: "And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows."

Resting in these truths today.

"And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and tomorrow thrown into the fire to heat the oven, He will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?" Matthew 6:30

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hard-Headed Hypocrite (I'm Talkin' About ME)

I am such a hypocrite at times.

Are you?

I no more read this post and commented that I need to do this more often...and prayed for God to give me opportunities...when I was presented with a situation and I almost missed it.

By choice.

UGH.

I have been blessed over the course of my life with great friends. I've written on here a lot about how Jim and I have been supported, encouraged and refreshed by the friendships in our lives. There have been times when we were scared and discouraged...and a note or a call from a friend was like a B-12 shot in the arm for us. Boosted our spirits and lifted our heads.

I am convinced that one of the things most of us want in the world...for women, anyway...is for someone to just listen to usNot tune us out...not roll their eyes...not laugh or make-fun of...not give us a list of how to fix things...not try and fix it for us. We just want someone to LISTEN.

And, hey, it might not be that we are listening to anything "important." Nothing about life decisions or deep-seated insecurities or unspoken dreams. Maybe it's just about kids or recipes or which brand of running shoes are the best. You know, the "regular" stuff of life. How great is it to have someone just STOP and be totally engaged in what you are saying? It's rare, these days.

On Friday, Jim took Joshua and headed down to visit his parents. The plan was for them to spend Friday night and then meet Clark and I at noon at a picnic we had to attend in Little Rock on Saturday. I was excited. School is starting and it's Clark's senior year and I don't know...I have just been feeling kinda of "meh" about the whole thing. I had wanted to paint our master bathroom all summer, but it just wasn't working out. Jim doesn't really like all of the clutter that happens with progress (ha) (I'm pretty messy and I work slow), and so I like to do home-improvement projects when he's going to be out-of-town for a night. I figured Clark would be hanging out with his girlfriend, and I would have many hours to myself to paint and then get things back in order. My mind was ticking...what to hang on the wall beside the tub and maybe we need new bathmats and rugs and how I needed to look up on Pinterest about framing a bathroom mirror because this one is not coming down off the wall without a fight (I've tried...it's stuck on there with wall texture).

I could hardly wait for Jim and Joshua to leave (in a good way!). I went to the store and got the paint, just so I would be all ready. I wanted to get started as soon as their car had cleared the driveway.

But then I got the text from a friend: "we are passing through on our way to a funeral...can we stay at your house tonight?"

And my first thought, minutes after reading that post, was of MY PLANS...how it was going to affect MY PLANS.

And then, I heard the cock crow. Oh, not really...but it might as well have.

And then I laughed...because of how easy it was for me to spout off all the right words. And how easy it was for me to forget the very thing that I had just prayed about..."Lord, make me aware of opportunities to serve You."

Hello?

Knock-knock? Anybody there? 

I called my friend and I told them to "COME ON!"  I welcomed her into our home. It was perfect timing, even if I didn't think so at first. I am honored that of all the places she could stay, she asked to stay here. It made me happy that she felt comfortable and relaxed here. We talked about life...and about nothing, and just hung out. And when she asked if they could stay a second night, I didn't even have to consider my answer.

"YES!"

"So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up." Galatians 6:9

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Last First Day of School (Clark)

Today is the first day of school in our town. I have LOVED seeing all of the posts and pictures on social media. Makes me miss those days so much!

(sniff)

But today is our youngest child's first LAST day of school...he's a Senior this year. And honestly, I am frustrated with the whole thing...with him. Over the course of the last couple of months, I have offered to take him "back-to-school" shopping. He's been all, like, "I'm good."

WHO ARE YOU?

Because I talked to his girlfriend about it and she said, "oh...I keep a list on my phone of things he wants, like for Christmas and birthdays and stuff. I listen when he comments on things, and then I write it down."

Well, aren't YOU smart, missy?

I do that, too, but then when it comes to the going-and-the-getting of said items, he doesn't seem too interested.

I kinda took it personally this weekend...when, after we had planned on going shopping, just the two of us, after a picnic our family had to attend...he said, "you know? I think I'm good with just going home."

I put my sunglasses on and bit my lip the whole way home, because I just wanted to cry. I took it as he didn't want to go...WITH ME. Because I knew there were things he wanted. Hello? I've seen "the list."

I just never had this problem with any of the other 3 kids. Joshua loves to shop...for clothes, shoes, groceries. You name it, he loves it. Holly? If I had said, "If there's anything you need..." she would be in the car before I finished the sentence. And I love it. Some of my favorite times are shopping with her...we just like to look at everything. And Logan? Well, he is a nightmare to shop with, not gonna lie. But it's just because it takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r for him to make a decision and he won't talk and we go back and forth and then go back to the first thing he saw three hours ago...but at least he WILL go if I offer to take him.

I wanted to tell Clark he was taking all of the fun out of his Senior year...for ME...but I didn't.

Expectations...they can be a real buzz killer, can't they? (sigh)

So, last night, he opened up the "school-supply" cabinet that I keep here at home. I've got pens, pencils, notebooks, paper, folders...stuff like that that I pick up periodically. He chose a few items and put them out on the table. He went upstairs and dumped out the stuff that was STILL IN HIS BACKPACK FROM MAY...and put the new stuff in...changed out the batteries in his calculator that haven't been changed out in about 6 years...and announced that he was good-to-go.

Before he went up to bed, tho, he gave me a hug and said, "so, are you going to make chocolate chip pancakes in the morning, like usual?" And I said, "of course!"

It was the first time that thought had crossed my mind. Do I usually do that? Did I do that last year?

And then he said, "oh, B-T-DUBS...you don't have to pack my lunch tomorrow, because Faith is bringing lunch up to me at school."

Oh, okay. Nevermind the "love-napkin" I was going to put in there, along with the special treats I bought for your lunch on your Last First Day of school. Ugh.

And, side note: I love his girlfriend and I am very thankful for her. She keeps me in the loop as much as she can. I would really miss a lot without her.

This morning, after the pancakes, he made his iced-coffee and walked out to his car. I went out with him, trying to get a Last First Day picture. He was not cooperating. I got a picture of him from the back, walking to his car.

Lovely.

When I finally got him to turn around for a picture, he wouldn't smile. Seriously?

And then he grinned at me real big as he backed out of the driveway. The little weasel.

I'm sure he thought he was soooooo funny.

"I'll get you, my pretty...and your little dog, too."

(sorry)

This is how photographers get us, moms of boys. They patiently wait us out. They know that the last few years of school will be like this...us fighting to record these precious memories for all time, and our boys fighting NOT to be captured on any device operated by their parents.

And this is why we pay them, the photographers, the big bucks...because we know that for one part of one day in the summer, or early in their senior year...our sons will reluctantly agree to pose in clothes of their own choosing, with the understanding that this.must.never.happen.again.

I'm there, people.

"Love the LORD your God with all your soul, with all your heart, and with all your strength." Deuteronomy 6:5

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The End of the World and 16 Years

Three years ago, on the day of Holly's wedding...someone predicted the world would end.

And everyone freaked out.

Of course, it didn't end.

The Bible says that no one knows the hour or the day when the Lord will return...not even Jesus Himself. "However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows." (Mark 13:32)

So, all the psychics and analysts out there...save yourself some time. You are not going to be right.

I know that I should always be watching and ready for the Lord to return, and many days I do. But I confess that some days, it doesn't cross my mind. I'm embarrassed to admit it, because, how sad is that? I think that if I kept it in front of me and lived with purpose...and told people of Jesus with the urgency that is needed to keep people from Hell...my life would be different.

And so would the lives of others.

But if the world ends in a few hours, not gonna lie...I'd be okay with that.

You know...if it was just about me.

Because, as of today, my Mom has been in Heaven for 16 years. I can hardly believe it. She's missed so much, and yet I guess she's really missed nothing at all. She's with Jesus. It's the ones who are left here who are missing her presence every day.

So, yeah...if the world ended today, I'd be okay with that.

Because, I'm ready. I'll be spending eternity with my Father, in His House of no tears, no death, no sorrow, no pain.

And it's not because of anything I've done at ALL (Titus 3:5), but because God sent His only Son to die for ME....and for you (John 3:16).

But, it's NOT just about me, and my heart aches for those who have not yet made the decision to accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord of their lives.

You don't have to live in fear of tomorrow, or any tomorrows to come. You can know Him today. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." (Acts 16:31)

Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow."

"For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thiefin the night." (1 Thessalonians 5:2)