Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Shut Out The Noise

Tomorrow my son turns 6!  That is crazy for me because it feels like yesterday that I was sharing the news of my pregnancy after years of trying to conceive.  Caleb was born at 9:02am.  Every year since that day we have celebrated his birthday with breakfast at Corner CafĂ©, a local breakfast spot, and met in front of the hospital at 9:02am with a cupcake to sing, "Happy Birthday," to our boy.  It is a special time and I love the tradition and celebration of this amazing life now built into my daily existence. 

Not everyone I share this tradition with takes it with the same excitement it gives me.  Often I am met with a scoffing remark letting me know they think this tradition is silly. If I let it, I can allow their negativity or mocking tone steal the joy I have in this part of our celebration or even be tempted to do away with our ritual.   In other areas and times in my life, I have actually allowed someone's negative response to keep me from doing just what I shared with them.  I don't know if you have ever experienced something like this, but while reading the Bible this week, I was encouraged to see Jesus even had his own version of these life happenings. 

Matthew 9 shares a story of a synagogue leader who came to Jesus after his daughter died.  He asked Jesus to come and heal her so she may live.  Jesus went into the leader's house and was me with a noisy crowd.  He told them to go away for she was not dead but sleeping.  The crowd's response was to laugh at him.  Then in verse 25 it says:

"After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. News of this spread through all that region." 

Please NOTE:

1. It didn't say, "when the crowd left willingly." 

Picture for me a party at someone's house.  Asking the crowd to leave does nothing.  You have to force them out.  Its this same thing concept that I expect happened in this story.  The crowd was put outside.  They were probably made to leave.  Jesus asking them to leave so he could heal her only elicited laughter, not compliance. 

Sometimes, we have to force the negative people out of our lives.  Maybe it means getting off of social media, leaving an event or conversation, or not sharing your life with certain people.  When people don't respect our boundaries, we have to take action to protect our boundaries. 

2.  The Crowd Did Sway Jesus

Jesus didn't allow the negativity of a crowd distract him from his mission and purpose.  He knew what he could do, and he intended to follow through.  He stayed and he healed the girl. 

Anyone who makes their mark in society or in the lives of people does so by going against the current.  That means following through on what you set out to do.  Maybe your dream isn't inline with family expectations.  You have to respectfully stand your ground and do what you know you were made to do.  This can be as simple as my birthday tradition or as big as moving to another country to start a business or non-profit.  Don't allow the opinions of others to sway you.  (Please note: There is a difference between seeking wise counsel and following the voice of masses). 

3.  The Order Of Events

What most struck me in this passage was first, he put the crowd outside, then he healed the girl.  Jesus could have easily healed her in the midst of the noisy crowd.  He didn't.  It doesn't say exactly why, but I can only imagine that even though Jesus was God, because he was also human, the crowd was a distraction and their presence could have tempted him to doubt.

Now, I may very well be wrong about Jesus, but my speculations do apply to us.  Very often to re-focus on the goal and retain the confidence in our aim, we must first silence the noise.  When we allow the noise of popular opinion to cloud our judgement, we find ourselves joining the crowd instead of standing up for what we know to be right or our purpose or even what we want to do to celebrate a big event.   Regardless of what the crowd that stands mocking you looks like, you must first put them outside, then do what you set out to do. 

Too often we allow the opinions of others to stand in our way of our own confidence in our unique abilities and personality.  We were never intended to be someone else.  We must allow ourselves the space to be the beautiful person we were created to be. 

I hope this truth and story met you with the same encouragement that it gave me!!  May this be a great day!!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

And The Winner Is...

The other night I was honored to be invited to a 60th Anniversary Celebration.  The couple had three wonderful children, and 8 grandchildren.  The husband was a respected, retired attorney.  As speeches began, many tales were regaled in humor and candor.  But as I listened into the lives they’ve led,  I became attune to an inequitable system in our culture that seems to only focus on public accomplishment.  

As in many cases, the husband is described by his many workforce achievements, volunteer positions and varying expertise.  Its a list that involves paragraphs in the recollection.  In comparison, the wife was then described in truncated verbiage; only taking up mere sentences, with her support role as wife and mom.  Regardless of the details, this scenario could be a similar format for many families I know and love (note: the roles are reversed in some homes).  No one said anything wrong in this tribute, but just like in many Bible stories, the fewer the words, the greater the work.  

I recently posted on Facebook about jokingly setting up a camera to create a time-lapse video of the mundane chores I do repetitively each day.  Tasks like sweeping under the bar stools, picking up toys, or cleaning the kitchen counters have become my life.  It can feel deflating at times as a monotonous stream of routine breaks me down by sheer boredom.  Moms do the behind the scenes, always going jobs.  

These are jobs that need to be done, just like changing diapers, wiping faces or cooking evening meals.  But there is no award ceremony or trophy for these duties.  Moms get no plaque for holding her child’s hair most nights consecutive during a bout with a stomach virus.  No award is given for the sleepless nights caring for a baby or waiting up for the teenager who has stayed out past curfew.  The best meal award is not a real thing and there is no byline for the hours clocked in the front seat of the kid taxi.  Its a unrecordable existence.  

Marriage is a team sport and what the husband does both away and at home are vital parts of the equation, and seems to always get top billing in the retelling of history.  The wife’s role may not always garnish the best wages (though she does in many cases, yet still has most household responsibilities in addition to the long work hours with an employer), but what she does means a great deal.  For “Stay-At-Home” moms, spending the day shaping the future generation is no simple task.  

The other day, I was on a play date with another mom and her kids.  We were discussing the proverbial scenario when our husbands come home from work seeing the house wrecked and no dinner on the table.  The first question often asked is, “What did you do today?”  My mom friend said her simple reply is, “Your kids are alive, you are welcome!”  Motherhood is not an exercise in productivity, but instead it's a relational marathon.  That often means messes and other duties fall by the wayside.  Sure its not magazine ready and wouldn’t make Donna Reed proud, but its real and honest and focuses on the important parts of life.  

Its a hard job and quite frankly can never be accurately depicted in a celebratory recap of 60 years of wedded bliss. Instead its a quiet, steady job that pays dividends in the lives of those who come after us.  

Its legacy life and sure it should come with a better byline, but at the end of the day, its who we are and what we do and I don’t think any mom wouldn't trade it for the world!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

5 Activities To Build Patience In Your Kids

Patience is a virtue.” 
                           Psychomachia - Aurelius Prudential Clemens

We’ve all heard this proverbial phrase countless times, but its not only true, its a virtue on the verge of extinction in an instant gratification world.  We have fast food, instant-post social media, free-two day shipping, instant answers with google and the list goes on.  

Today’s generation is not equipped to build patience, and it is necessary in life, because the best things only come with time.  A career, lasting relationships, self-confidence are built over time, not ordered with rush shipping.  So we better start being intentional in parenting with our patience training!  

Here are 5 activities that can help build patience in our kids (and ourselves!):   

Go On A Fishing Trip 

I have some good memories fishing as a kid.  The first time I caught a fish it grew exponentially with each recollection of the event.  Fishing makes the list because not only does it give you time to just be with your fishing buddy, but it takes quiet patience to wait for a fish to take the bait.  Its a fun, low-key activity that builds patience, allows for quiet moments and quality relational time. Three must-haves in life.  

Grow A Garden

Whether you want to plant flowers or some veggies to eat, this is a wonderful introduction to nature as well as some training in consistency with routine watering and weeding.  Patience is also germinates as kids have to wait for seeds to become plants.  The process is grants joy as you wait to see what develops with time and experience each stage along the way.  

Gain A Musical Skill

Learning to play a musical instrument introduces kids to consistent practice and puts them in a position to face and overcome failure.  In the beginning if they don't get it right away, they may be tempted to quit.  When we don’t give up we experience the best victory because we kept trying when it got hard, and they will know how to play an instrument to boot!

Get A Pen Pal 

Now, we just send a private message, text or email and send a quick message to someone, but we used to write words with a pen onto paper.  Then that paper was folded into an envelope, addressed, stamped and sent to its destination via the mail.  There is beauty in writing words on a page that you have to give thought to because you can’t just instantly delete mistakes.  

Getting an international pen pal is a wonderful introduction to different cultures, and it helps kids develop relationships over time.  They get to write a letter and wait for a response.  They get to learn to write sentences and ask questions.  Its is a win-win exercise.  

Gather Supplies For A Renovation

In our DIY culture, getting an old piece of furniture and re-working it is a great activity to do with kids.  Smaller kids can get a box or some other raw wood piece from Hobby Lobby or Michael’s to paint and glue gems or some other embellishments on, once the paint has thoroughly dried.  Learning the stages of such a project and taking the time to do each step, will give kids some patience in anticipation for the finished product.  

Bonus Ideas: 

  1. Gear Up For A Road Trip or 5K Race
  2. Gird Yourself With Clothes You Sewed As a Team
  3. Grab A Puzzle And Put It Together
You may have to alter some of these a bit depending on the age of your child(ren).  You may also have some ideas of your own (feel free to comment some below).  Regardless of what you do, patience is worth the time to cultivate in our kids!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Power of Purpose

We all encounter hardships and roadblocks and its hard at times to know what our response should be?  Do we ignore it? Do we walk through it?  Do we get discouraged?  I think the answer to those questions can be found in one word. 


In Acts 23:11 we hear God speak to Paul about his purpose.  God has illuminated Paul's ministry path (literally) from the beginning.  Each step of the way, God instructs Paul.  Here we read that Paul will preach in Rome.  So having that before him, he must have confidence that whatever stands in his way will be knocked out if it is to keep him from Rome. 

In my Bible reading this past year, when I got to a particular story and road block in Acts 28, I took great pause as this confident purpose and focus connected with my own life. 

You see Paul, who had just been shipwrecked, had not only helped everyone get to shore with the assurance that all would live, but as they sat near a campfire, he shook off a venomous snake after it bit his arm.  Those around him questioned if he was a god, but Paul was sure to point to the Savior, as the true God and source of healing and power. 

What caused me to pause, was Paul's response to the snake. 

He didn't acknowledge it. 

He didn't ask for prayer or yell for help. 

He didn't check to see if there was a doctor nearby. 

He just ignored it and kept going. 

If you know anything about Paul, you know he didn't die of old age after a long, fulfilled life.  He was martyred for his faith.  This was a man who looked death in the face and knew it was on the horizon (2 Timothy 4:6-8).  So it wasn't that nothing every stopped him.  It was his purpose instead that determined his response. 

We often don't know how to react to the roadblocks and enemies that come after us because we lack purpose.  We drift through life with the average American existence and lack any true direction. Our world (and I believe ultimately, Satan) keeps us from having this focus with the many distractions we encounter every day.  Its the greatest way to defeat us.  Without a singular purpose and focus we are drifting and often trapped in the midst of hardships that should hold no power over us. 

Paul wasn't the only one with focus. 

In "The Master Plan of Evangelism" by Dr. Robert E Coleman, we get another example of a man of purpose.  That is of course, Jesus.  I love what Dr. Coleman says (page 19) when discussing Jesus' purpose:

"Not for one moment did Jesus lose sight of his goal.  That is why it is so important to observe the way Jesus maneuvered to achieve his objective."

"He had confidence in the future precisely because he lived according to that plan in the present.  There was nothing haphazard about his life - no wasted energy, not an idle word.  He was on a business for God (Luke 2:49).  He lived, he died, and he rose again according to schedule."

I love it! 

Death wasn't the enemy, it was the avenue for life.  God, in the form of Jesus, died for us so that we might live (John 3:16). 

I've heard stories of people coming to know Jesus because they were in a specific hospital that missionaries came to visit.  Their sickness brought them before God and in the end saved their life! 

Before you can face any mountain in life, you must know your purpose so you can know if you are to conquer it or die on it.  Don't waste time by trying to conquer what you weren't meant to conquer or die on a mountain that you were destined to overcome.

Are you standing with me at a place ready to find deeper purpose? 

I am standing before God readying my heart to hear more about that purpose so I may know my response to each issue along the way.