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When our Travel Companions are Children

19 Jun

Yesterday I began sharing how I have learned several truths from our “reality break”.  I would like to continue on that journey by looking at how our travel companions bless us.  First, lets look at children.  Now keep in mind I have 5 children, four of which are teenagers.  I can tell you there have been times when I didn’t feel blessed as well as times that my heart felt like it was going to burst wide open because of how blessed I felt.  Let’s break it down:

HOW ARE CHILDREN BLESSINGS?

It seems clear that God declares all children to be blessings from Him to us.

Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate. Ps 127:3-5 (NAS)

We can take this by faith, but it may be helpful to contemplate just how children bless us. Following are few of the ways children often are, or should be, blessings to their parents.

1. Enjoyment and entertainment. When they are small, they are so cute, so fun to play with, so gratifying to watch as they grow and learn. They can provide endless hours of enjoyment if we are willing to take the time.  As they grow and mature, we find entertainment in their personalities – in the “child-like” questions/statements that result in their trying to process their knowledge/experience.

2. Teaching us love, self-sacrifice, discipline, self-control, gentleness, and patience. God can use children so effectively to mature us and help us to develop godly character. God wants to share His attributes & character with us.  What better classroom does God have to teach these things than a home with children to be raised? We can and will appreciate Him as our “Father” (Parent) when we accept the challenge of seeing our children as a gift and blessing.  This is another opportunity for us to learn and demonstrate God’s character within us.

3. The blessing of the love and trust of a child. The love and trust of a small child is so precious and can have such an effect in softening and keeping our hearts softened. When after a long day or trying event, your teenage son or daughter gives you a hug and kiss on the cheek – nothing moves your heart like that.  Unconditional love – how cool is that?

4. Assistance with our work. Children properly taught can be a big help around the household as young as 6 or 7 years of age. And as they get older, their abilities multiply, making their help even more valuable. Older children can handle nearly all household tasks, can be a big help in caring for younger siblings and can help with animals, a garden, etc.  Teaching your children to work alongside you aids greatly in their instruction and discipleship. Children should have the opportunity to become contributing members of the household, both for their sakes and yours.

5. Assistance in later life. When we are old and less capable of doing for ourselves, our children (and grandchildren) can and should be a huge help in a great many ways (just as we should also be to our parents and grandparents). Sometimes just having a grown child who sometimes visits or calls or writes makes all the difference in the life of an elderly person. When one becomes old and feeble, ones children, grandchildren and great grand children may become the primary reason for continuing to live.

6. Enlarging our impact on this world. Even as God associated being fruitful with the ability to subdue and rule over the earth (Gen 1:28), so our children, grandchildren, and later descendents extend our reach far beyond what we in ourselves could accomplish. With each child we have the priceless opportunity to teach and train that child for about 20 years. And even afterwards we can continue to influence and instruct and assist our children in some things through the rest of our lives. Even one child well raised can have a mighty impact for God.

Children are a blessing from God period.  God intends children to be blessings but sometimes we parents may not receive the child as such and may raise the child in a way that prevents the child from being much of a blessing to them or anyone else. It is your choice whether to accept the child as the blessing God intended.

How do you choose to view your travel companion?

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Don’t accept it as a Fact…

30 May

For the last 15+ years I have looked exactly the same.  Yes, my hairstyle has evolved numerous times but I am talking about my body shape and weight.  I’ve looked like this for so long, that I just accepted it as “the way I am”  I did not try any type of dieting program or weight loss prevention type things.  I just determined in my mind, that this is the way I am, this “season of life”, so why fight it.  Can you relate?  Has something been in your life for so long that you have just accepted it as a fact, the way things are?  It may not be weight.  It could be a habit.  It could be a mindset.  It may be that thing in your past that you have dragged with you FOREVER!  So what can you do about it?  If you were like me, you just accepted it as true and didn’t look for another way.

That’s where I was.  I just accepted me like that.  Please don’t get me wrong or misunderstand me.  I am not seeking a platform to beat myself up.  I’m not giving you a platform for beating yourself up.  My challenge is this:  Don’t accept what is as fact.  It does not HAVE to be. Walk with me and I’ll explain further what I mean…

A friend of mine was also dissatisfied with her “look” as well.  She researched different programs and weight loss platforms and discovered something that worked for her.  Then, her being the GREAT friend that she is, didn’t say to me, “Why don’t you try it? You need to lose weight!” or anything like that.  Instead, she said, “If you want to try it to, I’ll help you.  I’ll share with you what I learned and I’ll encourage you when you experience challenges.”

You see, she offered to walk with me on this journey.

She didn’t just give me the answer and then walk away. She chose to walk alongside me – over both the rough terrain and smooth paths.

And let me tell you, my friend, there has been BOTH!!

The result?  I have lost over 30 lbs and am now wearing the same size clothes I wore 20 years ago.  Yep, I’m excited and I can tell you my husband is even MORE excited!

Now I don’t want you to miss the point of this story.  It is NOT about losing the weight.  It is NOT about the weight loss program that worked for me.  It IS about the fact that my friend chose to invest herself in me and my “acceptance” of a problem that was not good for me to continue to carry on my life’s journey.  My friend knew I was unhappy, even though I had never voiced it.  She knew that I had accepted it as a fact. She chose to offer me her friendship, her support and her personal challenges, in order for me to shore up the courage to take the first step.  She believed in me – in our friendship and in the results that two together can overcome much.

It comes down to choice.  What was I choosing to accept as a fact?  She chose to offer a hand in my journey.  I chose to accept.  The result is my previous reality is no longer my current reality. Things can change. Things can get better.  Who, in your life, can you reach out to today? Don’t accept their thoughts or feelings as a fact…  The fact is, you can make a difference today.  Get out there and be a friend to someone today.

The results will amaze you!

Junk to One is Treasure to Another

15 Apr

I live in a small town that is known to antique hunters as “the place to go” to find really great deals.  Our Main Street is lined with numerous antique stores, an antique mall and multiple what-not stores.  My mother has a blast when she comes out to visit!  I have always enjoyed “finding” a deal.  Therefore, I recently rented a space in the local antique mall and have had a blast filling it to the brim with “treasures” for others to enjoy.  Each week I scour yard sales, thrift stores and the internet looking for deals.  I have been amazed time and time again how something that was rusted, very ready for the trash can be lovingly taken – restored – redeemed and be made beautiful again.  The other day I purchased a table for 25 cents.  The paint was chipped.  It was dirty, gross and just looked nasty. After taking some time with it, cleaning it up, working with the grain, sanding over the rough spots, I applied a fresh coat of sealer to it.  Look at the difference! Once the table was completed and made beautiful again, the table sold for $89!!  Can you believe it?  Being part of this transformation process made me truly appreciate how God shares with us that He too will make us beautiful.  Ecc 3:11 promises us, “He has made all things beautiful in His time.”  Yes! That means me.  Yes!  That means you too!  What in your life do you feel is rusty, ready for the trash, chipped and/or dirty.  My friend, you are promised to be made beautiful!  Give it to Him today.  He is faithful to sand over the rough spots, coat you in His spirit and make you worth much, much more than $89!

He loves you and so do I!!

Walking with Grace

31 Mar

When a crisis or situation would catapult itself into my life, I would always work through it, utilizing every skill in my spiritual toolbox.  Once the crisis had past and/or victory had been won, I would then share with my friends and family how God and I had conquered that challenge. I never consider sharing with someone the battle that I was in.  This is a pattern developed over many years.  The end result; yes, victories were won but I never connected with someone on more than a surface level.

Don’t get me wrong, I listened, cried and rejoiced over my friends problems.  I was the first to pray, to be there, to support but it was a one way street.  I didn’t let my guard down.  I wasn’t truly real with them.  They thought I was because I would share the victory (after it was achieved) or what God was doing in my life (non-crisis).  Yet when the chips were down, it was me and God verses whatever life altering problem before us.

Recognizing this as something that must be overcome, when asked to join a group of ladies twice a month, I accepted.  During our last three meetings we have been sharing our testimony.  When it came time to give my testimony, I told the uncut version.  In the past I would give the cleaned up and pretty version – yes bad things had happened.  Yes, I was hurt but God won – yeah!!  Can you relate?  This time, however I gave me – the realness – the truth.  I didn’t try to clean it up.  I didn’t make excuses.  I just told it like it was – uncut.

Want to know the cool thing?  They loved me anyway.  I was not judged.  I was not left alone.  That experience set a foundation that blew my mind.  Yesterday was one of those meetings.  After the meeting was officially over, the leader asked if I wanted to share with them what happened this week.  I did.  Let me tell you, my friend, it has been one of those weeks.  Normally the events of this week would be one of those “challenges” that I wouldn’t share until God had won.  Not this time.  I shared.  I cried and so did the ladies.  They prayed over me, my situation.  Love washed over me with every tear that fell.  It was one of the coolest moments I’ve experienced in “church”

Grace is described as “unmerited, or undeserved, favor coming from God.  I could have continued to “protect” myself by keeping my problems to myself.  I have gone on many, many years like this.  Yet, I know that God is calling me to be different, to respond differently.  Therefore, I opened up and found Grace.  Today, I walk with Grace.  Tomorrow, Lord willing, I will walk with Grace.  The best part?  I have a group of ladies that is walking with me.  Together.  In Grace.

Until tomorrow, blessed one – walk in Grace.  

Nashville or BUST

3 Mar

A friend of mine has been a fan of Brad Paisley’s for many years and for the last 10 years she has wanted to attend his concert in Nashville.  Over the years she has attended fan parties, listened to all of his CD’s, and has looked for ways to make this dream come true. Whenever the conversation of country music was broached, she would eagerly share her excitement about Brad and her desire to attend his concert.  When she learned of his 2011 concert tour agenda, she became excited.  Numerous times she attempted to make her dream a reality.  Time and time again, her attempts failed.  She found a ticket to the concert but she could not arrange airfare.  Last Saturday she sat by the phone and shared with a friend that she was not going to be able to make it happen.  She shared with me that after that conversation she sat down and talked with her Abba Father.  “God, I have tried to make this happen and it is apparently not meant to be.  So unless you intervene, I understand that the timing is not right.”  On Wednesday, just 3 days before the concert, her phone rang.  A husband of another friend had won a plane ticket that was expiring and was going to go to waste.  The husband and wife decided to give my friend the ticket.  I am happy to share with you that last Friday her dream became a reality.

Galatians 6:2 from the Amplified Bible reads, “Bear (endure, carry) one another’s burdens (concerns) and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ (the Messiah) and complete what is lacking [by your obedience to it].You see if she had not shared with her family/friends the desire of her heart, others could not have helped her complete it.  Those that helped her “carry” out her plans were as blessed by the experience as she was in attending the concert.  It became a win-win situation

I don’t like to share my burdens while they are going on.  I like to “work through it alone” and then share with others how it works out.  I don’t want to be a burden to others and/or put them out.  By listening to and watching the above work out, I realize that by my keeping things to myself, I am missing out on blessings and I am also denying others the blessing of being obedient by helping me bear it.

What about you?  Are you trying to go it alone or are you blessings others with being real and allowing them the privilege of being your burden bearer? Allow your friend to assist in the completion of what is lacking – you both will be blessed by it!

What Are You Investing In?

22 Feb

The sun began shining brightly in my eyes as I was driving through an area of town that I was unfamiliar with.  In order to maintain proper driving technique, I pulled down my visor to continue on my journey. When I did so, something fell into my lap.  In surprise, I looked down and realized that I had failed to mail some important letters the week before.  With eagerness I began searching to the left and right sides of the street looking for a mailbox.

As I continued through this unfamiliar area, numerous things caught my eye.  Finally, I found a blue Metal Box in the horizon.  I got SO excited!!!  At last I could mail the important documents.  I turned into the parking lot full of promise and excitement. A few moments later my spirit downtrodden, I looked at a blue – metal – trashcan.

As I sat there looking at the trashcan I realized several truths:

Both of the containers (the one I was seeking and the one in front of me) were made a metal

Both were blue

Both had openings for you to place things in

Both had four legs

Both had VERY different endings to the materials deposited in them!!  They may look alike but the end result is very different.

If  I put my letters in the trashcan, they would not go where I intended them to go to.  Instead, they would go to a place of ending – a very nasty, dirty place. A place of finality – of absolute ending – a place with no hope or future.  This is not what I needed. Instead, I needed the true blue metal container that would give me the results that I wanted.  Driving ahead I finally located a US Mail Box and deposited my mail to be picked up later that day.  I could breathe a sigh of relief!

As I thought about these things,  I had to ask myself:  what are you entrusting my other valuables in?  Are you putting the things that are important to you in “containers” that will give me the results I want?  Or am I throwing my treasures away – to places that are not good, possibly nasty and dirty and definitely not a place that will give me the results I want?

I sat and took inventory.  I evaluated the things that were important to me.  What was I investing them in?  Where should I be entrusting them?  I became aware of the many things and times that I didn’t get the result I wanted.  At that moment I realized it was because I entrusted them to the wrong thing.

How about you?  What results are you seeking? Where are you entrusting the things that are important to you?