Monday, June 30, 2014

Lewis & Seuss

People I will Hug When I Get to Heaven

Of course there is an enormous list of people that I long to wrap my arms around in a joyous embrace of gratitude and relief when I finally am allowed to be in the presence of the Most High, but there are some that are beyond the accepted norm. All of my family, and I mean way back in my family lineage, will be among those I hug and jump up and down with as we are seeing Jesus face-to-face together. Yes, I believe that the same enthusiasm we express when we see a celebrity (insert images of teenage girls for Elvis, Beetles, NKOTB, and Justin Timberlake) will be expressed when we see the GREAT I AM. Think about it! You are going to finally see Jesus right before your eyes. Sometimes that creates in me the exact same energy I have when I cannot wait for Christmas to get here! Squeal!!

This leads me to the list of others. C.S. Lewis is one that I will hug and thank for his faithfulness to share his faith through his brilliant mind in not only his writings depicting his conversion to Christianity, but also the writings of the Chronicles of Narnia that are so masterfully authored to reveal the simplicity of faith through the actions and adventures of children. Thank you C.S. Lewis! Always winter, and never Christmas! What kind of a world would that be? Not our world. For a babe was born to a virgin, and allowed his life to be taken instead of the wicked so that there would be a Christmas – there would be reason to celebrate. The sacrifice of Aslan was the sacrifice of your savior – he died so that we do not have to die, but we can live forever with him. We celebrate Christmas because of the gift that was given to us and the punishment from which we were pardoned and protected.

I LOVE CHRISTMAS. Which brings me to another person that I will hug tightly – Theodor Seuss Geisel! I am a mom, so the whole concept of reading children’s books is just a given, but I am also a teacher and am always looking at the underlying meaning or the theme of the story I am reading my children or allowing them to read. Last night, I had an early Christmas in July. I sat down and read with my kiddo the wonderful How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Oh the story is so brilliantly written with just the cuteness of prose that Seuss presents in all of his writings, but the story’s theme is unmistakable to those of us who BELIEVE! Makes me giddy like a child. Talk about therapy – just go read a good children’s book and you will be smiling again!

“Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more!” – says the Grinch

Ah! I LOVE IT! Thank you so much for that! Do you know what that means for me? So many things! Because of this writing, I can communicate with my children the actual meaning of Christmas. Because of this writing and Lewis’ writing, we can communicate with others the true gospel in a hidden message through classic children’s literature! I can show that those who are bitter and jealous and sad can be touched and CHANGED by those who are celebratory of the Giver of Life. And those who are bitter and jealous and sad can be accepted by others. Genius!

Others I will hug, well that list is super long and may be in another post, but these two guys – I love them so! Thank you for using your talents to honor your Creator and utilizing your platform to speak truth!

You know you are itching to go read one of these stories all over again. Turn the TV off tonight and curl up with one of these authors. You will be glad that you did as your heart will be filled with joy and hope!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Bob White

Bob White. Bob White. Bob White.

As I sit here this morning, I hear it over and over again and I am quite tearful. You see, this morning, I sit at my Father’s feet begging for some sort of sign that He is hearing me and will take care of me during a small storm my family is encountering. I sit and I beg and I finally say to Him, I will sit still and listen if you will just speak to me.

Do you ever have those moments? A time where you feel like you have faithfully been laying a request at the throne and trusting that He will hear your plea and will give you some sort of direction as to where to move? A time where you feel that you have been patient, and then the patience is beginning to turn into anxiety? And even then, it isn’t anxiety in a lack of trust of the One who will deliver you through all weaknesses, but an anxiety that you have failed to do something you should’ve done? Anxiety that you are doing something wrong? Anxiety that you missed a step in the path and need to go back and make it right? Do you know that feeling?

Well, that is where I am, and where I have been for about a week now. I am totally believing that God will provide for me exactly what I need, and more importantly, what my family needs. I believe that. Yet, I never want to be someone who is idle in their duration between petitions to the Father and receiving of His blessing. I never want to appear as though I am deserving of ANYTHING, so to not be actively in pursuit or working while waiting is out of the question. But today, I found myself a little discouraged.

Still reading Isaiah, and well, let me just tell ya, today’s passage was all sorts of fun (sarcasm). Chapter 22 is Isaiah’s prophecy about Jerusalem – you know, God’s CHOSEN people. In this chapter, Isaiah proclaims to them (paraphrase)
You see that you are not prepared for battle or for defense. So you work hard to begin making preparation for the impending doom. You make actions and recruitments and adjustments in order to be more prepared…but you never rely on the strength of the One who can deliver you.

I feel like I do rely on the Lord, but I also know that He had me read that for a reason today. There is no mistaking to His word, and there is no mistaking to His timing. He spoke. I am apparently in a tizzy and didn’t realize how anxious I was until today. Then, I close the Word, and I tell Him I am listening.

Bob White. Bob White. Bob White.

Oh God, thank you for quiet mornings and the masterpiece of Creation that is so audible and LOUD for me. Thank you for speaking to me. Thank you for a quiet morning of solitude. Thank you. Thank you.

The area of the country where I now life has been inundated with torrential rain. We have been here 21 days now and I believe it has rained at least 16 of the past 21 days. No, I am not in the Pacific Northwest, but I have asked if anyone has seen Noah somewhere in a field cutting timber. After every storm, God uses Creation to communicate with one another that the storm is actually over for a time. All the vocal animals come out of hiding and begin calling to one another, “the coast is clear. Time to dry off. Did you make it?”

After every batch of rain we have had through the past few weeks, there has been the unmistakable call of the quail or the Bob White birds to each other in the fields. It is so peaceful and assuring, but even more so is it amazing. We sit in our homes with sturdy walls and trusted roofs (built by man) and often find ourselves sometimes afraid of storms. This morning, I find myself ashamed and embarrassed. As I sit in my air conditioned shelter, the bobwhite proclaims their praise to the Almighty for another day as they endured the storm head-on out in the very elements of the downpour and furniture scattering wind. The storm passes, and they vocalize their praise.

My storm is so miniscule when I consider what they witness out there. So today, I say Amen, even though it is still raining in my world. I say Amen. I say Bob White.

Here are the lyrics to one of my favorite Casting Crowns songs. If you don’t know it, go YouTube it.

I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

And I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm
I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to you
And you raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can't find You

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

Friday, June 27, 2014

I Don't Do Debbie Downer

Confession for you all – and this is so that you can pray for me instead of judge me. (Insert scowling eyes for the judgment followed by Precious Moment eyes for the plea of prayer) I am a counselor in many regards, but I am flawed. Here is my biggest flaw in this area. I struggle with people who always see the cup half empty and are nothing but pessimistic and negative. I truly struggle with it.

Now Jodi, you know that not everyone has had a great life as you have had – you may say. Absolutely. My heart wrenches daily in the occupation as public school educator as I encounter day in and day out those children who are in situations that THEY DID NOT CHOOSE. That makes me so sad and mad at the same time. They have had no choice into the life situation in which they were born, but it has happened.

Nevertheless, I feel that it is my job to open those children’s eyes to what is good so that they can have hope. Yes, I have led a student to Christ before in public school and I will do it again if the child point blank asks me to. God knows the rules and He graciously helped me obey them while still winning souls for His kingdom. Good stuff. Another day another story. Many students enter into my classroom with behaviors that are the result of a tragedy. They are hungry. They had a fight with their mom that morning. They were abused by someone the night before. They have lost power at their house and as a result took a cold shower. They do not have running water. They have a medical condition that is not being properly treated either out of absence of funds or neglect. They don’t even live with either parent because those parents are unable to raise them. I cannot tell you how many students I have had over the past few years that were not being raised by grandparents, but by GREAT grandparents. Any of you ready to take that on? Of course not. Great-grandparents should be enjoying that title – GREAT. They have passed through the challenge of parenting phase and are now in another stage of life that is not focused on constant management of child development.

But there is good. There is good. And I strive to help these kids find the good. And believe it or not, we almost always do. Goodness in the fact that someone is raising them. Goodness in the fact that they will get 2 warm meals today at school and probably a snack from me for the road. Goodness in that they are able to get an education and rise above the challenges they are immersed. Goodness in the beauty of a sunset with which they have eyes to see. Goodness in friendships that they have from loyal buddies. Goodness in heat. Goodness in shoes. We count blessings. Do you?

This is where I struggle in counseling. I find it ok to work through the cloudy vision of a child. They are not mature enough to see what is good or they haven’t had a chance to have someone mentor them through this process. But adults who wallow in “woe is me” world make me crazy. Crazy. I mean really, you survived middle school and high school. That is enough to hear the Rocky song playing in the background each morning you get up. If you see me in deep thought, there is no telling what is going on in that vast open space up there in my skull, but I often find myself wondering why people are happy in victimization. DON’T YOU SEE WHAT YOU DO HAVE?

List what you do have compared to others.

1. Are you breathing? If you are reading this, than yes. Even deeper, are you breathing without the assistance of oxygen? Are you breathing clean air? Are you breathing with full lung capacity?
2. Do you live in America? If you didn’t read yesterday’s blog, than this might catch you off guard. However, you still live in one of the few countries that allows freedom of religion and assembly.
3. Do you have a roof? Yep, one up on many there.
4. Did you eat yesterday? Again, better than most in the world.
5. Do you have an option for clothes? Go visit a 3rd world country and see not only absence of clothing options, but absence of shoes and absence of warmth.
6. Did you go to a job or to school today or yesterday? Ok, not everyone loves their job, but you are getting paid aren’t you? More than many.
7. Did you go to public school in America? That was free. Did you actually appreciate that given? I hope so.
8. Do you still have contact with family members? Even though they may drive you crazy, be thankful they are there.
9. Do you have a friend? Awesome. If you have more than one, than get up and do a hallelujah dance.
10. Do you have indoor plumbing?
11. Do you have running water?
12. Do you have electricity?
13. Do you have a car? Does your family have more than one car?
14. Can you put gas in that car occasionally?
15. Did you have covers as you slept? Did you have a place to sleep last night?
16. Do you have a coat for the winter?
17. Here are some more luxurious amenities – do you have a fridge? A stove/oven? A microwave? A dishwasher? A washer? A dryer? A TV…or 2 or more? A computer? A cell phone…or 2?
18. Do you have group to belong to? A church? An organization? A club?
19. Can you walk and/or run?
20. Can you communicate with others without complications?

Do you see what I am saying? I don’t know how we can find ourselves in the pit of despair for long periods of time if we actually take a look at all that we have to be thankful for. Listing your blessings has always been something that people debate. Some people see it as vain and conceited. I see it as awareness for who you are, where you have come, and what your future can be.

Satan has spent the past few weeks seeking to discourage my family and provide a pit of despair. If we fall into the pit, than he wins and we stop being effective for the kingdom. I refuse. I have lost my mom, nearly lost my husband (more than once), lost a child, been in financially challenging situations, survived car wrecks, been unemployed, diagnosed with not cool medical conditions, worked in extremely challenging environments, battled weight issues, struggled in school, had regrets, and so on and so on. Today, I have so much – still much more than I know I deserve. When you find yourself wondering what else can happen or why me, than begin your list of why you – who has so much and what else have you been blessed with? Start your list. I guarantee you won’t be able to finish it today or on one piece of paper. Why you? Because your story is one that is being written so that others are inspired and encouraged. Why you? Because you are amazing and uniquely designed by your creator with a purpose. Why you? As you start the list, the story will unfold.

Shed the Debbie Downer and find Penelope Praise.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Our Can of Whoopin' is a Comin'

Oh great nation, how we are in a great state of decline. There are instances in our lives that happen and catch us completely off guard. I am a planner and find myself constantly observing and trying to prepare for things before they take captive areas of my life. Yet, sometimes we are slow in the progression to the demise and the final straw is crippling. Granted there are some things you just simply cannot prepare for. A drunk driver. Cancer. Natural disaster. But most things, we have been given the wisdom to prepare for.

For instance, debt. You can prepare for this. You can prepare by saving for upcoming expense. You can prepare by having an emergency stash for the other unexpected life expenses (emergency room, new tires, transmission, unexpected travel expenses, etc.)

Illness – striving to maintain cleanliness of your home, cleanliness of you, limited exposure to dangerous material – in work and in leisure, dietary choices, exercise – these are ways in which you can seek to minimize medical complexities

Conflict – Decipher the demeanor of the person you are communicating with in order to utilize the best communication strategies, determine the necessity of your comment (sometimes we speak out of selfishness), willingness to communicate and not have a one-sided conversation, THINK before you speak – Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it inspiring? Is it necessary? Is it kind?

Car repair – keep gas in your car, change the oil, balance and rotate tires, change tires, change filters, etc.

Home repair – clean inside and outside, change air filters, maintain proper insulation, protect from infestation, prepare for proper drainage, etc.

Then there are other instances in life that are seen as the unnatural disasters. I am speaking out of a concerned citizen, not a particular party representative, so before you shut me out; know that both parties are corrupt in my opinion. Each election has become the choice of the lesser of two evils.

Our nation was originated through the ambition of citizens of another land seeking to escape authoritarian tyranny. Our nation was originally a conglomerate of many different people groups (meaning we have NEVER been just one ethnic group), all with the similar desires. They wanted to live in an area where they had the opportunity to choose their economic practices. They wanted to live in a land where they could develop their own governmental standards. They wanted to live away from forced religious dictation. They wanted to explore and discover and seek to grow in knowledge AND possession. Make no mistake, the original intent of our nation’s beginnings was humble, but there was still just a smidge of corruption even back then. So often the argument of the conservative is that we must return to our roots and the visions of the founding fathers. Again, don’t misunderstand me. My educational focus for most of my life has been social science which investigates the origin of not only our country, but also the rise and fall of all great people groups. There is a key word in that last sentence – fall.

As I said before, there was corruption even in the early 1500s and 1600s. Not everyone who came to our country was in pursuit of Christian freedom and promotion of the common welfare. There were selfish and greedy conquistadors that invaded Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, and Texas. There were aggressive French and English who assumed the native inhabitants were ignorant and needed to be tamed and realigned. And those who came for innocent pursuit of a new life, well let’s just say that their strength was challenged and their ideals questioned.

Fast forward to the late 1700s where there is stability and a collected alliance under one country with the 13 colonies all under the rule of one King. The American Revolution was truly remarkable and shook not only the great kingdom of England, but caused a tremor that altered structure around the world. The very idea that common citizens could rise up against the government and challenge the government and overtake the government was unheard of. Yet, it happened. And it spawned riots, rebellions, and revolutions across the globe for centuries to come.

We do need to know that the colonists were not seen as excellent law-abiding citizens throughout the world though. The colonists received freebies for years as inhabitants of the new world – free military protection, free trade agreements, free provisions of supplies and materials (tax-free that is). Then, all of the sudden, our little group of colonies began receiving notification that it was time to contribute to the pot that was being redistributed back to them. In other words, a series of taxes began to be dumped on the colonists causing confusion, anger, rage, and bitterness. Now granted, some of these new taxes AND restrictions were excessive, but some were justified. So our colonists were viewed as basically spoiled brats and cry babies. What? We have to actually contribute to the pot? We have to take some of our earnings and chip in so that all of the provisions we receive are covered?

Every day, I am thankful for our nation and for those who sacrificed their lives in order to defend our freedom. Every day, I am thankful for our nation and for the freedoms that we still have that have not been taken away – yet. Every day, I praise the Lord for the very idea that I was allowed to be born here.

Every day, I mourn and grieve our country as well. Every day, I beg the Lord for mercy and empowerment of leaders who will stand up for what is right – what is right! Every day, I beg forgiveness of the Lord that we have let generation after generation after generation continually excuse selfishness and disrespect and compromise of integrity. Every day, I find myself wondering how much longer before he allows the Assyrian army to invade and rain down the punishment that is coming for the constant disregard of truth and justice. Our Bible is full of stories where God waits, and waits, and waits, and waits on His people (His people is ALL OF CREATION TODAY, BTW) to stop their ignorance of justice and their tolerance of filth so to return to Him. Every day, something else happens in our society and in our government that gives me that sick feeling of OH NO!

Selfishness and sin existed in the 1500s when they all began to arrive. Selfishness and sin existed in the late 1700s when they created the foundations for our nation. The difference is, acceptance of infectious disease was not tolerated and preventative measures were taken to keep the illness of our land minimal. I don’t even feel we are taking our vitamins any more, much less eating a well-balanced diet with exercise. We stopped taking vaccinations 80 years ago. And we are getting weaker and weaker. The white blood cells are few and if our country is to get any better, than they must multiply. What are you doing to replicate? Are you content in where we are? Or is this decline something you are oblivious to? Our can of whoopin’ is coming. Read the Old Testament. Read Isaiah. Oh the parallels are astounding. If you don’t have a faith in Biblical standards, than read your Roman history – the very empire we are compared to as a nation. Read the end and how they collapsed. Makes you have an A-ha and Oh No moment all at the same time. Let’s replicate!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

For Perry

Heartache is difficult to grasp as the origin of each anguish is different. Even when the origination of the wound is the same, the affect is different. My mother has been in Heaven now for 8 years, but I reflect upon the vast difference in how each one of my family members came to accept her departure. She left behind her parents and a sister, along with a husband and two kids. Each one of us came to acceptance of her passing at a different time and in a different way.

I don’t see the difference until tragedy presents itself in my sphere once more. This past Sunday, our family was forced to say goodbye to our beloved family dog. Perry would have been 4 years old on July 4th. And even though he was our “family” dog, each family member had a different relationship with him. Common characteristics in our roles in the family came to light in this unfortunate event. Perry was squirrely and cantankerous. He came to us as an only child as the other puppies in his litter had died at birth. We were unaware that this would matter, but the more people we spoke with concerning his behavior, the more we were made aware that only child puppies possess Alpha Dog demeanors. He was a jealous dog and did not play well with other dogs. He was a terror to anyone who made him feel threatened – even us. His worst behavior was experienced by our loyal groomer who tried time and time again to make him look the way a schnauzer is to look. Apparently, Perry disagreed with the groomer and wanted to look like a rooster as many times she would have to forfeit trying to groom his backside resulting in a tuft of hair sticking out like an alpha male chicken. Fitting.

Perry hated to be alone, so whenever you threatened to go into another room or downstairs or out the door, he was hot on your heels. At the same time, there are many mornings when we would get up and forget to let him out and realize it only because one of us asked where he was. He was quietly sitting in his crate waiting on someone to notice. He couldn’t open doors and it was quite funny. He would sit at the top of our stairwell from our basement with the door cracked and just sit on the top stair not making a sound AND not attempting to push the door open. So many more Perry stories, but I shall save them.

Sunday evening was so hard. My husband had the unfortunate challenge of not only discovering our beloved beast, but also to do the fatherly duty of burying him. Yes, we bury our pets. They are a part of our family and deserve to rest in peace as well. Our little man let the alpha dog get the best of him and challenged a car for the last time. The mother in me grieved through that role. Not just the role as the mother of my two little girls, but the mother of Perry. It was my responsibility to make sure he was safe, so I immediately felt extreme guilt that I let him go out without a leash in our new home. Then I accept that horrible error next to decipher as to whether he suffered. He is a child of mine and I do not want for any of them to hurt.

Then we go into problem solving mode – how do we tell the girls? How long can we wait, or rather, how long can we keep them distracted? My husband did something for my girls that I never had done for me. My husband allowed them closure. I was petrified at what scarring images might be sustained for them, but yet God was faithful and it was just what they needed. Perry was still soft and sweet and appeared to be asleep, so they were able to tell him goodbye and remember him in a fond and comforting way. They knew he didn’t suffer. Their hearts were able to take that as one of the bandaids.

Yet the two of them have grieved differently as well. My oldest, sobbed – well, they both sobbed. However, after a time of expressing of emotions, she put on her big girl pants and began consoling her sister. Nevertheless, she is my enormous sentiment laced girl. She is a horder because everything has meaning. Sometimes it is for good though as it serves as a part of her coping mechanism. When we got home that evening, she dug to the bottom of her stuffed animals and found the plush schnauzer we gave her. She has carried it everywhere since then. I don’t know how much longer she will, but I allow it as I know that she is grieving and healing through that comfort. She is reflecting and remembering and processing it all in her very sharp little mind.

My youngest sobbed, then found excitement in a little escape with some friends, and then the moment she thought of him again, she sobbed again. You see, it is different for her in their relationship. Perry slept with Abigail. He was her buddy. She loved him VERY MUCH. So I hurt for both girls, but I know that she lost a friend, and unfortunately it is not the first actual friend that Abbi has had to grieve in her 6 short years.

Abigail’s coping mechanism is also tied to her personality. If you haven’t met her, she is my dramatic and creative child. (Emma is 85 in a 9 year old body – but that is for another day) So as I have watched Abigail process this, I am aware that her grieving patterns are consistent, for she did the same thing when she lost one of her best friends last July. Abigail continues the story. You have probably done that also in your life, but Abigail’s story is full of life and joy and connects all of her family and friends. She has talked nonstop about Perry since Sunday night and so far, Perry is in Heaven playing with her baby sister and protecting her like the alpha dog does. He is receiving treats from Grandpa and being fed table scraps by my mother. Perry is running and playing with Lily Belle, Abbi’s friend, causing constant giggling. Perry is giving other people joy that are important to her and those other people are happy as she wants them to be. She wants that same joy for all she comes in contact with here as well. She is so special.

Then there is Jeremy. He’s the tough guy, so not to be bothered by the death of a pet. He loved Perry; sometimes more than me. His heart was wrenched and as most men do, he went into the blame game. It was his fault that all of this happened and if he had done a better job of doing x or providing y or being z, than this wouldn’t have happened. The truth is, it most likely would have happened. Perry mattered to my girls. Satan knew that. After the great adventure we have been on, he was mad that we were unmoved. So he attacked a weak spot. Think about it. The moments in your life when you are actually mobile for the greater calling, Satan comes at you like a spider monkey attacking from every angle until you crumble.

I know he was just a dog, but he was special to my babies. So attacking my babies makes mama bear mad. However, I am determined to use this anger for God’s glory. That mama bear is God acting through me driving me to prevent Satan’s hold on my family. That mama bear is because God created me as a being that is capable of feeling. I’m so thankful to be under attack. I’m squaring my shoulders and putting on my gear. For Perry! OK, really - For God!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Humans Part II

Last night, my family participated in one of our frequent family activities – family movie night! We are fans of cinematography and love curling up on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and some chocolate milk for a few hours of escape into someone else’s false reality. Our dramatic piece in which we invested our time for the evening was The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

*Commercial break - If you have not taken the time in your life to read the epic series written by the genius of C.S. Lewis, than stop right now and go to the library and begin. Better yet, click over to amazon and order it. It is worth the investment as you will pass it down from generation to generation in your family. The Chronicles of Narnia is a fantastic series written with phenomenal creativity and provocative verse that beckons to be read over and over again as each time the spirit of the Lord awakens within you the underlying story of His grace and mercy that Lewis so brilliantly presents without even a mention of Bible. This is mission work to the academic arena as all, believer or not, is attracted to this series and the nonbeliever receives the great story of Christ’s love without even realizing it! Amazing!

If you have not seen The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, I will try not to ruin the movie for you for I do want you to read it and see it. In this movie, the heroes are battling a villain that is capable to capitalize on your fears by morphing into your greatest fear and utilizing that to render you either helpless or subject to his service. During one scene, the villain morphs into a large sea monster and threatens to destroy their ship as one of the heroes allowed the thought of such fear to sweep through his mind at just the “wrong” time. Yet earlier in the movie, the villain creeps into the scene and attacks more subtly. A female hero, Lucy for all of you who have already seen the movie, is exposed to the possibility of altering her appearance to become more like her older sister whom she covets in beauty and maturity. Lucy does not sustain the spell, but does steal the page from a book so that she may experiment with it later on down the road. And yes, later on in the movie, she engages in this attempt once more and battles a stronger grip from the enemy.

This is yet another human quality that we all, ALL, possess. We have weaknesses, fears, and struggles. Do not think that you are exempt from the same experience that Lucy had. Satan is very determined to not allow you to be a part of the effective population. He wants you to be a part of the effected population that is contaminated and unable to do the work needed in order to further the kingdom of God and protect those who are in need of our strengths. Satan knows your EVERY weakness and if you do not stay on top of this, you will find yourself in the middle of the ocean fighting to swim before you even realized you were traveling on a boat that would lead you to this fate. Temptation is EVERYWHERE – even at church. No one is immune. Not one! You’re human. It is our job to love God and love people – the Jeremy Powell paraphrase of the greatest commandment (Mark 12: 28-34).

In order to love God, we must daily spend time with Him and get to know Him and learn from Him how to protect ourselves from the temptation to disengage slowly from an interwoven relationship with Him. God knows your weaknesses even more than Satan does. HE MADE YOU! He didn’t necessarily give you weaknesses, but HE DID give you strengths and He wants you to find them and use them!! It’s like exercise. The more you exercise, the stronger your body becomes and the weaknesses of your body are overpowered by the strengths.

In our developing of our strengths, we are also equipping ourselves to better love His creation, including others. If you are a believer, you might have experienced this. The closer you are in your relationship with God, the easier it is to love others, including the unlovable. You tend to exude greater patience with the rude and better tolerance for the manipulator and less disregard for the arrogant. You tend to find the good in you when noting the desirable attributes in others. You tend to love people and in that love you are pushed even harder to become stronger SO THAT you can prevent yourself from being brought down to the level of those you are loving…those that are in the mire and in need of rescue from the temptations and struggles. Before you can truly engage into battle and fight for the innocent, you have to be ready to go into combat. Know your weaknesses. Know where you can and cannot go and where you are effective. Know who your allies are and who possesses the strengths you do not have. Know when to walk away before you get sucked into the storm. Until you know, perhaps stay away.

I cannot fly a plane. Therefore, I am not even going to place myself in cockpit. If you cannot handle overspending, stay out of the mall and off of amazon. Make sense?

More tomorrow…God is good. He loves you so. God is BIG. We are small. Yet, He finds us where we are.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Humans Part I

Ah, the pinnacle of creation - man, and of course the finishing touch - woman. God created all of nature and decided on his final day of laborious work to form the human. It is unlike any other creation. It has strength and wisdom imparted from the Creator, yet it has fragility and delicacy also designed by the Almighty. And each one is so extremely different - even those whom are related and better yet, identical - something is distinctly different. Merriam-Webster defines the word human as susceptible to or representative of the sympathies and frailties of human nature. So even our scholarly world takes notice of the frailty and emotion that goes with the design.

Humans were not designed to simply evolve and coexist with the rest of creation (yes, I said evolve…more on that later). Humans were designed to dominate and rule the rest of creation with authority and power. Humans were designed to react to AND with creation as the world changes and ebbs and flows through progression and digression. Humans were designed to SURVIVE and to analyze, judge and decipher so that the best possible outcome can occur. Humans were designed to be plural meaning they were not meant to be alone or reclusive denying themselves the indulgence of relationships (yes, that too is plural). Humans were designed to disagree. Humans were designed to express emotion, and not just crying. Humans were designed to fear. Humans were designed to fight. Humans were designed to celebrate. Humans were designed to WORK. Humans were designed to rest. Humans were designed to be present.

Currently, I am reading through Isaiah and am in the great elongated prophecy of the detriment of the pinnacle of creation. Isaiah speaks of how the freedom and power given to the ultimate created being is abused, neglected, and thwarted. You see, man was created to desire a relationship. However, God grants us the freedom of where to focus that desire. His desire is for our desire to be Him. Yet, as we interact with His creation, our eyes become like that of a child in a candy store, or a grown man at the Bass Pro Shop. We see things that we wish to rule over. We see things with which we wish to establish relationships. We see things we desire to use for our benefit. We see things that threaten us. We see things that rise up envy.

God allows us to see all of His created glory – all of it. Right now, at this point in history, we can see farther into outer space than ever before – that is farther out into the creation resting in the palm of His hand. We can see deeper into the structure of the millions of cells that make up the inside of the pinnacle of creation. Grasp that! He has allowed man to peak behind the curtain of SELF. AND He has allowed man the material, wisdom, and ingenuity to pursue ways to combat flaws in His creation through research and modern medicine. God has allowed us to see the highest mountains and the deepest seas. God has allowed us to discover the numerous plants and animals that inhabit different regions of the earth and to understand the extinction of some and danger of others because of the ever evolving climates and territorial shifts. Even in my own yard, there are about 13 different blades of grass. GRASS, for crying out loud! He made it all and allows it to all exist and react to one another as He allows us to do the same.

We can learn so much from the rest of creation. For instance, when there is an absence of water – a drought – in an area, what happens? Plants die. Animals migrate or leave or die. And healing must take place before the land is restored to its original state; and sometimes it never is. A hungry predator moves into a region and destroys a population. The rest of the population both remains and endures the fear or it fleas forced to live somewhere that is unknown. An egg hatches and the hatchling struggles to emerge from the protective shell. If the struggle is prevented and assistance is given, than the hatchling is without the proper strength needed for survival.

Humans look at each other with covetous eyes and want. Humans look at a land or an area and decide that it is in “need” of their ruling authority. Humans determine relationships based on how that relationship will benefit their wellbeing, not a reciprocal nature. Humans neglect all other gifts and awareness of need in order to satisfy immediate desire. Humans fear being ruled and overpowered, so they fight to the detriment out of jealousy and insecurity. Humans detest loneliness and force relationships or pretend they need no one only to physically deteriorate. Like the area ridden with drought, your life can be lifeless without proper nourishment (spiritual, physical, mental, AND emotional). Like Scar and the Hyenas in the Lion King, if you find yourself too greedy and satisfying your desires to gluttonous levels, you will run out of necessities too soon. Like the hatchling, if you make life too easy, than you find yourself in situations where you are at the mercy of others and can be easily abused.

Isaiah spoke to the children of Israel giving them warning about their abuse of human freedom and where it was leading them. The prophecy that Isaiah delivers is one that does find itself fulfilled. However, I foresee this prophecy being fulfilled more than once. Each time I watch the news, or just people watch in public, I find myself wincing at decisions that are being made or the evidence of a previous decision made that is an exercise of the human freedom being abused. God allows it to compound itself for a duration of time before destruction and punishment and repentance and restoration occurs. I wince as I wait for the final straw and the smack down to begin. I wince as I know that every action I make in reaction to the rest of creation is so vital to assisting Him in redirecting His people back into His arms. I wince as I catch myself in covetous behaviors. I wince as I find realization of comparison and desire to be above the norm. I wince a lot.

Are you the pinnacle of creation? When others see you, do they find themselves keenly aware of who they are and where they can be in life with peace and contentment? Will others follow your leadership to a life established first in the greatest relationship? Or do they wish to compete with you? Do they wish to give or take? Work or be lazy? Love or hate?

What kind of human are you?