Let the Messes in Life Build Character

“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” Richard Branson

Life is not fair.  The quicker our children learn and accept that, the better their lives will be. Parents have a huge responsibility in the care of a child.  We must meet their needs: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  Our job is to instruct them, so when children become adults, they won’t need us anymore.  Every child has a specific will that God has ordained for their lives. When we micromanage or control every aspect of their life, we stunt their growth into becoming what God’s intends for them.

I overheard part of a conversation between a young husband and wife.  The wife said, “I was not allowed to watch television, ever.” Her husband nodded and explained the subject at hand. I believe her parents tried to protect her from harmful things influencing her, but life is messy and unfair. Unfortunately, children will see and find out things that are dangerous and scary.  It is better for them to know what to do than be overwhelmed by the evil in the world.

My daughter is at the age, where she can be responsible for the proper care of a dog.  We recently adopted a rescue puppy. However, I know my daughter well enough, that she will forget things and relax on some of the responsibilities.  Potty training is the messiest (literally) part of this process. However, every accident this puppy has made in the house; my daughter has had to clean up.   It only took a couple of puppy bathroom accidents for her to realize, I better take this dog out regularly. She is learning this dog needs to be taken care of for the dog to be healthy.

Parents are not doing their children any favors by sheltering or guarding their lives against the difficult things in life.  God allows us to experience pain and suffering to either help others or for us to make a change. God is not a helicopter parent and neither should any of us.

Lesson Learned: Life is not fair and the sooner we and our children accept that the better off we will be.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for trying to control my child(ren).  Help me to let go of the control and learn to mold and shape their lives as you intended.  I will trust in you for the will you have for their lives. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

The Love of the Father

“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves.” Proverbs 3:11-12

When you love someone, especially a child, you want to take care of all of their needs. You don’t want them to feel pain or fail. It is easy to do everything for them instead of letting them do it themselves.

My husband is a middle school math teacher. The students are still young and immature but think they know everything. One Friday afternoon, my husband came home with a migraine. He took a nap hoping to sleep it off. Just as he fell asleep, I heard a person yelling outside of our front gate for us to open the door.

I looked out the window and recognized the man from a neighborhood Halloween party from a few months back. I went outside, and he asked if this is where my husband lived and he wanted to speak to him. When I said, it was our home; he explained that his son needed to turn in a math assignment or he couldn’t go to the concert that night. The father was there to deliver that assignment.

I stood there, floored. Many thoughts were running through my head, such as, how did he know where we lived? This father had some nerve coming to a teacher’s home unannounced to turn in an assignment for his kid. And maybe he should let his kid feel the pain so that he doesn’t do it again.

In my anger, I lied (sorry, Lord!) and said he wasn’t home. The father seems displeased and ask if I could take the assignment and give it to my husband. I accepted the homework and closed the door. His son is never going to take responsibility because he father will always clean up his mess after him.

I realized that I do that with God. I expect God’s grace to ignore my sins and still take care of me. God has a big heart and is full of grace. But there are times where God will let us suffer the consequences and feel the pain of our sinful actions. It seems strange, but this is a way to display love. If we make our kids feel the pain of missing out because of their mistakes, then they learn and become more responsible. When God allows us to feel the pain from our sin, we then will try not to continue to sin and come to a place of redemption.

Lesson Learned: Sometimes we have to feel the pain to have growth in our lives; otherwise we will never change.

Prayer:
“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for my sins. Help me to learn from my mistakes. Thank you for loving me and for your discipline. Remind me to do what is right than ignore responsibility. Help us who are parents and teachers to do the same for our kids. In Jesus’
Name, AMEN!”

Recruitment Status

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19

I am not sure if I will ever hear God say precisely, “Dear child your purpose in life is…”. My patience gets weary because I want to know because I am not getting any younger. Maybe I have heard it, but ignore it because it doesn’t sound good to me.
Yet, I know something is out there for me to fulfill.

My pastor gave a great sermon (as he always does) last Sunday regarding how God is recruiting for His children to work here on Earth to further His Kingdom. We all play a part. Some people’s talents create life changing books, movies, music. Others are mentors or teachers that will give meaning to people’s lives. And some will live a life of service and help others have a better life. So what will I do?

I pray every once in a while about this subject. What should I be doing? But I realized whatever stage I am in my life, something can be done for the advancement of His Kingdom. As I reflect in the stage I am in my life, motherhood, I know I should be focusing a lot of my time and effort on my child.

In my life, I suffered through some things. A lot of fear and anxiety, abuse of many kinds and torment. When I was single, I remember a person at a church, praying for me and saying something about a “generational curse”. It was the first time I heard that term, but I understood it right away. Something happened somewhere in the generations of my family that carried through to me. I started to pray for my future child that this would not carry over to them and it would stop with me.

That story popped into my mind when I was thinking about my purpose in life. I knew that I would strive for my daughter to not ever suffer through what I did and generations before me. We hear about how genetics play a role in our health (physical and psychological issues) too. My husband made a conscious choice in his early 20s that he would not take after his biological father as he was an alcoholic. To this day, he has not had one sip of alcohol. (Thankfully, that was something I wanted in a husband, someone who did not drink.). He knew how it destroyed that man’s life and he did not want that carried over into his. It doesn’t have to be “like father, like son” when it comes to the bad things. Behavior can trump bad genetics.

If my only purpose in life is for my daughter to have a better life, than that is fine. Who wouldn’t want to be responsible for molding a child into an upstanding citizen. However, I do hope there is more!

Lesson Learned: No matter what your purpose may be, always look to advance His Kingdom.

Prayer:
“Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for trusting me to advance your Kingdom. Equip me and shape me into what you want for me to achieve. Help me not get caught up in the world’s view of success. If there are any generational curses in my family, I bind and rebuke them now, in the name of Jesus. Restore those areas in my life. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Being Supportive Without Getting Involved

“But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.  But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”  Galatians 5:15-16

When I hear of people going through painful situations, I want to be helpful and supportive.  I want to listen and give some sort of advice or encouragement, if wanted.  Sometimes when people are venting, more information gets shared than necessary, such as gossip or slander.  It is a dangerous road to travel.

On my side of the family, I encountered such the episode.  I received a call from one family member and she was upset and crying.  She went on for an hour about all the problems her spouse was giving her.  She berated him and I could feel she was wanting me to join her in her beliefs.  It was difficult to listen when I have a close relationship with that person she was having problems with.

The very next day, I received a phone call from the spouse calling to complain about their problems with the one who called me yesterday.  He went on to describe in detail what was happening.  I felt so uncomfortable, I stopped him in mid-sentence and said,

“This is inappropriate for me to listen anymore.  I can no longer take part in listening to issues with your marriage.  Please find help.  I will continue to pray for you and her.”

There are some thing to get involved with, but some things that are absolutely off-limits.  Gossip and slander are so hurtful.  I know it is so easy when venting for me to paint a negative picture of people hurting me.   But when I make up with them, the people I confided with in these issues will wonder why I am still continuing that relationship(s).  They get a negative picture of them and that is all they see even when you get past the current hiccup.

I felt God tell me, pray but stay out of it.  I even heard it from a third-party person too.  They said, “I know you are trying to help, but STAY out of this!”  It will be hard, but it needs to be their burden to bare.

Lesson Learned: Pray for other always, but don’t get too involved in things that are none of your business.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for knowing all things we go through.  Help me to be an encourager and listener to those in need.  But let me have boundaries that protect me and others.  Give me discernment to know when to be involved or just be an ear to hear.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

The (Dis)Connected World

“What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”  Mark 10:9

 

I like technology.  Fast internet. Emailing.  On-line banking.  Streaming wirelessly through the Blu-ray player to watch Netflix.  Awesome.  But with the good comes the bad.  Our eyes are glued to our smart phones.  When I look around, I don’t see people’s faces.  I see the tops of their heads.  

 

What is so important on our phones, that we cannot give our attention to what is in front of us?

 

My family and I were at a restaurant.  I noticed a family across from us.  The mother was on her iPad, the husband was on his phone, their son was on his gaming device and their daughter was reading a book.  I glanced at them every few minutes to see if they ended up talking.  Sadly, they carried on through the entire meal as I first saw them, completely disconnected from each other and their surroundings.  My husband said to me, I know I don’t talk much, but let’s make sure, we don’t become that family.

 

Again, what is so important on our phones, that we cannot give our attention to what is in front of us?

 

The dangers of distracted driving and sadly, distracted walking are so obvious.  Yet, we still do it.  Are we willing to risk our lives and those around us for a status update?  Are we that scared to be in the moment anymore?  I saw this video called, “I forgot my phone” by Charlene deGuzman a few years ago.  It is a poignant realization of how ridiculous things have become.

 

There are countless times, my daughter asks me to watch her do a cartwheel and I am looking at Pinterest.  I hear, “Mommy, watch me!”  about 10 times before I look up annoyed.  Why am I so annoyed?  I would rather see her cartwheel, than what is on Pinterest.  Family and friend relationships are so important, especially to God.  There are many instructions in The Bible on building these relationships.  I can’t speak for God, but I wonder if this great disconnect is sad to Him?  Family and friend relationships are so important, especially to God.  There are many instructions in The Bible on building these relationships.  So, I am going to continue building my reality than social media’s reality.

 

Lesson Learned:  What is so important on my phone, that I cannot give my attention to what is in front of me?  Probably nothing.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for being distracted by mundane things.  Help me focus on what is important.  Strengthen families around this world and strengthen their bonds.  Bring to light all that needs to be forgiven and issues in our relationships.  Let there be a shift towards spending quality time and experiencing life together, than spending them alone with our phones or devices.  In Jesus’ Name.  AMEN!”  

 

 

It is never too late

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Acts 2:21

I love being in church when there is an altar call. When I hear the pastor acknowledge a person accepting Christ, I am filled with joy. Another soul saved. Most times leading a person to Christ is never that easy. We ask people if they have been saved and it becomes an argument about religion and hypocrisy.

My grandpa was an agnostic. He came to America from escaping Germany at age 4 during the World War I and ultimately settled in California. The only time he seemed to have any sort of religion in his life was because of his wife, my grandma. He went along with the Jewish religion because of her roots, but never committed to anything. When his son (who is my father) became a Christian, my grandfather was skeptical. We would invite him to church and he would go, but mainly to have lunch with us afterwards. I remember him questioning everything he heard in the sermon. This happened over the next 15 years.

My grandpa said he wanted to live forever. He was healthy, both body and mind. He took care of himself by eating right and exercising every day. He could out walk anybody. However, Grandpa seemed scared to die because he was unsure of his eternity. My dad would ask him every once in a while if he wanted to accept Jesus into his heart but he would say no. When my grandpa turned 92, he was diagnosed with bone cancer. He didn’t want to eat and stopped exercising. I remember, he called our home crying because he was so scared of how he was feeling. We took him to the hospital and it was decided he needed round the clock care.

My dad went to visit him often. The facility was telling my dad, the end was coming soon for his dad’s life. My dad took the opportunity to talk to him about giving his life to Christ. He told my grandpa, “You have lived a full life. But you can make it complete and give your heart to the Lord.” My grandpa finally said yes to Jesus! He was 93 years old. He died a few days later.

It is truly never to late. But we cannot take up the burden if our friends or family members do not accept Christ. It is the Holy Spirit that changes the hearts of people. We need to continue the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:11-21). We be the example, the hands and feet of Jesus. We live our lives so others see Christ.

Please do not be discouraged when people we love, live their lives in the world. Keep planting seeds and love them continually. You just never know when or how someone will give their life to Christ. But celebrate and praise the Lord, when they do!

Lesson Learned: Keep planting the love of God into others and await the change of the heart, no matter how little or long it takes.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for every soul that isn’t saved. Show me who needs to experience God’s love and forgiveness. Help me give encouragement and continue the ministry of reconciliation. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Why are we at war with each other?

Disclaimer: This blog post is not about relationships that are abusive in any way. Physical, sexual and mental abuse are serious and one should seek professional help. Please call 911 and find professional help, if you are in a situation like this.

Therefore confess your sins to each other, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

We have all been hurt. Sometimes, the hurt is minor. Other times the hurt is so deep it is anchored into our soul. Months, even years can go by and the hurt is still there when you see that person. This is difficult for me because I feel everything. When someone is dealing with a hurt, I begin to feel it. If there is tension between people, I feel it. It could be a complete stranger, yet the feeling is so strong, it was as if I was experiencing it myself.

There have been a few examples that I have seen recently, of just how life and strained relationships mess with us. I saw a neighbor walking her dog, she waved and smile as she always does as we passed each other. I stopped to let my dog sniff and inspect this one area and noticed she was passing her husband as he was leaving in his car to go to work. He looked at her but she completely ignored him and walked towards their house. He had this hurt look on his face and drove away. You could tell that something was stirring. Another resident in the neighborhood, drives super fast down the street to her home. She couldn’t care less if you are walking by. She chain smokes and her high school aged son smokes other substances with his friends at all hours of the night. She sits in her garage yelling on her cell phone and let’s everyone know by her conversations, she isn’t to be messed with. Her ex-husband picks up their son on his days. But instead of coming to the door to pick him up, he honks the horn (sometimes at 6:00 a.m.) to avoid getting out of the car and facing her. (By the way, I am not standing there watching her. I have to walk past her place to get to my house and this occurs daily!) The last example was the most scary. We were on our way to church and my husband, all of a sudden, made this u-turn in the middle of the street. He saw this man and woman fighting right on the sidewalk. My husband has no fear, stops the car and just walks over to try to defuse the situation. As I call 911 and give a description of what is going on, I can see both the woman and man crying. The pain on their face was heart breaking. They leave and my husband comes back into the car and tells me that the woman was trying to commit suicide. The man was her fiancé and he was trying to stop her. He had tried to commit suicide only a few weeks before and now she was threatening to do the same.

That last experience produced in me a full-blown anxiety attack. I hate conflict like that. It hurts to see people in so much pain. Someone either caused us pain or we caused it. No one wants to be honest. Maybe there was an attempt for reconciliation, but someone wasn’t ready or they are gone. Pride interferes with reconciliation. Admitting fault and truly apologizing can begin true healing. Sometimes, I cannot even remember what the fight was about. But the longer the fight goes unresolved, it begins to fester and rot the relationship. Most times, we just want to be heard but instead we just hurt. Shaming and threatening someone into changing their ways does not work. Patience and compromise may have to come into play. Some relationships are just done and that is okay, but most can be saved. It may be painful and take time to work through, but God is there for us. His Holy Spirit can guide us. Jesus can take the hurt and restore it with love and grace. I have to make a choice to seek Him. It maybe easier to quit and be done with the relationship, but many times those same issues come up in the next one. Take inventory of your heart. We are all worth it.

Lesson Learned: Admitting fault can be the beginning of the healing and restoration in the relationship.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, one reason for dying on the cross was for our wounds to be healed. Heal the hearts of those hurt by broken relationships. If there is room for restoration, change our hearts and find the source of the problem. If it truly is over, please replace those wounds with your love and grace. Change my ways Lord, if I harbor resentment and bitterness. Help me to forgive those who have wronged me and see them as you would. In Jesus’ Name. AMEN!”

The Prayers for My Husband Changed Me

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.” I Corinthians 13:4-8

Those bible verses are spoken at most weddings. It was spoken at mine. I have been guilty of doing the opposite of what these verses are teaching us to do. At the beginning of my marriage, I received and bought the books about praying for your spouse and having a Godly marriage. I tried to be that good little wife that all the Christian wives aspire to be. A lot of the times, I just couldn’t muster the strength to work towards a solid marriage. My marriage wasn’t bad or dramatic, it just wasn’t what I had envisioned it to be. I was too busy trying to fix myself that I zoned out on my relationship with my husband. Then you add a child and more of life’s stress, you feel like roommates instead of soul mates.

My educator husband was trying to transfer to another school for several years. He finally was given an opportunity to go to another school. He began a new chapter in his teaching career. He was nervous and excited. I always prayed for his career. I never had a problem remembering to do that. I prayed for his protection and giving him stamina and patience over the entire school year and favor with the administration. At this time, we had celebrated 11 years of marriage. I honestly felt like I didn’t like him anymore. I was too tired to even want to make things better. When his new school year started, I prayed my usual prayer of “hope he has a great school year”. I asked the Lord, what else did He want me to pray for. I felt a prompting from the Lord to pray for my marriage. I began to prayed for the following things: I would fall in love again with my husband, I would see all that I take for granted of what he does for me and our child and what a great man he really is. God answered that prayer rather quickly.

In that same year, our child started at the same school for Kindergarten. I took the opportunity to volunteer in the classroom. I saw what a teacher goes through nowadays. I was exhausted with all that has to be accomplished and taken care of in one day. I got a glimpse of what my husband goes through and he teaches middle school math. Double yikes! No wonder why he would come home and not want to talk and just fall asleep. Also, I had many different staff members in the school tell me how much they appreciate my husband and all he does for the school. I would have parents tell me either their child now likes math because of him or he was their child’s favorite teacher. The compliments for him were abundant. It opened my eyes to what I had all along. So when he came home that day, I couldn’t wait to see him and I hugged him wouldn’t let go of him when he walked in the door. He thought something was wrong with me. I told him, I loved and appreciated everything he did. In his usually dry humor he said, “well it is about time you noticed.”

If you have a relationship that has solvable issues, please pray for them. Don’t ever give up on something you know God has promised you. God wants our relationships to thrive and be beautiful.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray over any relationship I have that is currently under distress. I pray that you reveal what I may be doing to contribute to the mess and how I can change. Show me the way you want me to see them. Eliminate distractions and help me to focus on what is necessary. Let me see all the good they possess and how we can work together to make things change for the better. Create an open dialogue and communication in my relationships. In Jesus’ Name. AMEN!”

Forget Me Not

Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.” Psalm 71:9

My husband’s uncle was a hard working Wisconsin dairy farmer. He, also loved keeping record of his ancestry and would host many reunions. During some childhood Summers, my husband would go out to Wisconsin and visit. When he was a kid, his uncle would throw him up in the air and catch him in his arms. My husband has very fond memories of spending time with he and his family.

We went to visit that uncle and aunt this past summer vacation. My husband wanted to have our daughter see the place he cherished going to as a kid. Our daughter would be meeting my husband’s uncle for the first time. But we would have to visit him in a special facility. He has Parkinson’s disease, a disorder that affects his central nervous system. He had been living with it for many years, but he fell and has been needing round the clock care for the last 3 years.

The first morning we were there, we visited him. I saw his frail body sitting in a wheel chair, eyes completely shut to the world. The nursing staff, would talk to him and he wouldn’t even move. They tried to feed him, nothing happened. We decided to try a visit again tomorrow. As I walked out of the room, I burst into tears. I had an idea of what to expect. But it is was more heart wrenching than I believed it would be. All these thoughts came into my head…

Would my parents need this type of place?”

Would my husband or I need a place like this?”

We should have visited sooner.”

We came back the next four days in a row. These days were better. He was responsive and would eat on his own. He tried to speak. Sometimes, we could understand a word or two, most times, nothing. He did delight us with some Hymn singing. My husband’s Aunt, told her husband, that we came to visit. He looked at my husband. He stared at him. I wondered if he knew who he was. Then I noticed his eyes becoming watery and a tear fell down his face. My heart broke and leaped at the same time. He knew. He was happy. He said, “Been a long time.” My husband said, “I look a little different, a few extra pounds?” His uncle replied, “yep!” with a little smile.

We saw the room he slept in and I saw all of these pictures that my mother in law gave him and other greeting cards and notes. It struck me, even if he can’t communicate all the time, he is still aware of who his family and friends are. He probably is in high anticipation to receive any sort of mail or a visit. Yet, we forget. All the people in that nursing facility just want to be remembered. It broke my heart, that many patients do not have one visitor come for them. They sit and watch their television or put together the same puzzle, everyday. Society leads us to use email, texts or Facebook to communicate with everyone, rejecting true interaction. When what we need is to remember the forgotten with a visit, a phone call, cards and letters. Who wouldn’t want a card in the mail and know someone is thinking of us?

That visit to that nursing facility taught me several things.

  1. To remember what Jesus did for us and to daily seek a relationship with Him.

  2. To make relationships be the priority, not daily time wastes .

  3. Make people feel like they matter. Encourage and love one another.

  4. Cards may not be cheap anymore (yikes! But yeah for Trader Joe’s and dollar stores!) but it sure puts a smile on one’s face to receive one.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, help us remember the important things in life. Let it become a habit to reach out and remember family and friends. Let us not feel burdened but to let it fill our hearts. I thank you that you remember us all the time. Restore our hearts, so we can act in love. In Jesus’ Name…AMEN!”

Drama in the Family

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2

This verse can be used as a source of hope in with dealing with major trials. When I read this verse, however, it spoke to me in dealing with fights among our family and close friends. It still amazes me how the enemy uses them to hurt one another. How many times has there been an argument over something that seems so insignificant and the enemy uses it as an opportunity to expose a deeper problem? They forgot to throw away the empty juice container or give you an important phone message and the argument spirals into, you don’t care at all about me, I am worthless. I have seen families jump in on social media comments about a post about kittens and then decide to put you on blast in front of the world about how they feel you are crazy or stupid or air your dirty laundry. What the what?!

We expect them to love us unconditionally and support us. Some family members feel they have free reign to speak hurtful words because of who they are to us, but it is harmful at best. You can lovingly explain how their choices could end up hurting them or disagree with their opinion without trying to destroy their self worth. But it does not work out this way.  The following quote speaks volumes of truth. 

Hurt people hurt people. We are not being judgmental by separating ourselves from such people. But we should do so with compassion. Compassion is defined as a “keen awareness of the suffering of another coupled with a desire to see it relieved.” People hurt others as a result of their own inner strife and pain. Avoid the reactive response of believing they are bad; they already think so and are acting that way. They aren’t bad; they are damaged and they deserve compassion. Note that compassion is an internal process, an understanding of the painful and troubled road trod by another. It is not trying to change or fix that person.”

-Will Bowen

I believe that through God, anyone can be changed and be redeemed. I know it is difficult being the bigger person because of all the pain they caused. But we can ask God to guard us and keep us safe and carry us through all our trials without being damaged. Sometime we talk to others about our problems it may feel like is helping, but it ends up as gossip. Last time I checked, gossip is not a part of the Lord’s plan.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Help me Lord to look past people’s harmful actions and words and see they are broken. Please quench the fiery arrows of the enemy and place your protective shield around me. I renounce any word curses brought upon me or my family and render them inoperative. Help me to be forgiving and to offer love towards these people. Remind me to give people grace as you do for me. Help me laugh into the face of evil and know You Lord will always prevail.

In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!