If I must take a side, I choose Jesus.

I’m watching the coverage unfold with my 12 year old son.  His face bears the same disappointment I am feeling in my heart.

It seems like the battle has officially been lost.  One that I have never really understood in the first place.  We rally on the streets and preach from the pulpits.

With every word and action, the division in this issue has left a gap impossible to bridge. More than anything, I want my son to stand for whom he believes.  However, I want him to do so from a place of dignity and love as opposed to disrespect and judgment.

Because I know behind sin stands a story of brokenness.

And in brokenness, hope can take root and grow.

After posting John 3:16 to my facebook wall, I avoid social media.  The battle still looms.  The words from both sides are strong.  Above all else, I will take a stand.

But to what cost? Who is left to pay the price?

For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son that whoever should believe in him would not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

In this time of confusion, I still choose Jesus of Nazareth.  Why?

Because I am a sinner.  No one is without sin.  Not one, the bible says. The only person I can change is me.  No matter what I say on facebook.  No matter what I post on this blog, I can only change me.

I believe God is still in the business of healing.  Who paid the price?  His son, Jesus, who was sent to die for my sin before I ever had chance to walk this earth.  No prerequisites.  Merely a choice to believe that I can’t pay the price for sin on my own.

I can’t hold a nonbeliever to the same standards I follow.  Nor can I influence their choices without relationship. Love covers a multitude of sin.

When I lovingly confront one who I build relationship with, they see my heart in place of my hypocrisy.

I know that judgement from the church can bring more pain than promise.

No matter how big the divide, Jesus is bigger.  He came to fill the divide.  He came to bridge the gaps.  Even when it feels like I’m losing the battle, Christ has promised victory in the war.

“I urge ,then, first of all that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in godliness and holiness.

1 Timothy 2: 1-2

Fighting my way to the finish line, even when it’s hard.

“People really do this for fun?”, I think to myself as I contentrate on air intake.

Breathe, 2, 3, 4

Exhale, 2, 3, 4

It’s day three of couch to 5k.  The worst day yet.  My body and my lungs are not aligning. I think it’s the piece of gum I decided to chew.  I long to sprint like a gazelle, but today, I’m resembling Jumbo the elephant.

Thump, Thump, Thump.

Is it time to walk yet?

And while we’re here, let’s talk about sports bra’s.  Are these things manufactured on the darkside by minions of the devil?

I remind myself that this is not forever, just today.  I remind myself that I have 35 years of poor habits to correct. Achieving this goal will be a process.  I envision crossing the finish line at the 5k I have signed up for in July.  I envision leading my youngest daughter’s girls on the run group next year.  I envision the size 10 waist  I will have when I reach my final weight loss goal. I envision participating alongside of my husband in the physically challenging courses he likes to run.

I envision ditching the steroid prescription I have been given to manage my asthma.

But i’m aggravated. How did I let myself get to this point?

I’m embarrassed about how hard this is to figure out when experienced runners make it look so easy. If I can barely make it through a minute, how on earth am I going to make it through 30 minutes in just a few short weeks?  Plus, I am sore in places that I don’t even want to talk about.  When will I see progress?

It’s the hard that makes me want to quit.

It’s the impossible that encourages me to stop before I start.

It’s discomfort that leads me to hide in my comfort zone.

 I must decide now that I can run after the things I want from life, or I can let them get away. Only I can decide.

A plan must be formed the moment I decide to chase a goal. My plan is my course of action to reach the goal.  My plan is my road map.  It keeps me on track. My plan reflects benchmarks as well as progress toward the finish line.

I must then set my eyes on the goal as opposed to the things I am leaving behind. When I start a new goal, I write down the reason why.  My reason why is the driving force to get me moving when I would rather sleep a little longer or park my happy hiney on the couch (sans sports bra) with a good read. My reason why redirects my attention from what I am missing to what I will be gaining.

Then I will be ready to push myself past my current limits.  In this case, I enlisted my husband as a running partner. Part for expertiece and part for accountability.  He molds my perceived weakness into perspective.  He runs along side me with patience.  He coaches when necessary.  The gum was his idea.  Hmm???

It has taken me a long time to realize that a life worth living is not driven by comfort.  It is driven by the pursuit of growth.  Every single step I take in pursuit of my goal adds a building block of character that honors the purpose God has created me for.

I firmly believe that you fight for the things that mean most to you.  My health is worth fighting for.  Time spent with my husband and kids is worth fighting for.  My dreams are worth fighting for.  I have decided running is worth my effort even when it’s a fight to reach the finish line.

 

 

 

Helicopter Momma, it really is out of our control!

I’m freaking out.

Not had too much coffee before breakfast, freaking out.  More like box of Miss Clairol in one hand with a handy dandy brown paper baggie in the other.

I’m sending my 15 year old to Mexico on a mission trip.  With responsible, god loving adults who are not me.

I’m sending my 7 year old to church camp.  For a week.  With responsible, god loving adults who are not me.

I’ve always allowed myself to believe that I am a laid back momma.  My goal has always been to raise my kids well balanced in the tension of this world.  I work hard to make my home a safe place for them to land.  A place for them to take comfort.  A place of unconditional love and acceptance.

My kids know Jesus. They have had first hand experience of his peace and presence in their lives.  They know how to serve others in their community and they enjoy doing so.  They are learning how to construct healthy boundaries.

But one day, they will leave.

It might be to go down the street to play with a friend, or an overnight trip to grandma’s. It might be to summer camp or a mission trip.  It might be in a car with a driver license that just came hot off the press or off to college to pursue the hopes and dreams of their heart.  It might be to serve our country in the military.

But one day, they will leave.

It’s irrational, but I often times trust my kids more than I trust other people.  I just don’t ever want them to stray too far away.  I mean, what if they come across negative influences.  What if they are exposed to drugs, alcohol or pornography?

What if they find themselves in a position needing my protection and I am not there?

What if they think little Annie’s mom is more fun than me? It might be true, but I don’t want my kids to know that!

What if my teenager makes a choice that goes against what we have taught her in faith?

One day, my kids will leave my cocoon of protection.  Whatever is a mom to do?

Helicopter momma, here’s the thing.  My kids are only mine for a little while.  But, they belong to God forever.  At some point, I have to let them leave my influence so they can grow to fulfill the purpose that God handcrafted them for.

In the meantime:

I can build them up in his word.

I can teach them how to live their faith in a broken world with broken people.

I can help them build a community of like minded people that they can fall back on.

I can allow them the possibility of exposure- in small doses.

I can let God work in their lives without getting in the way.

I can pray, everyday, for my kids to know a personal relationship with their savior.  No matter what.

I can’t raise my kids in a “what if” mentality.

I know they will make bad choices.  I know that they will crash and burn.  I know that God, and I, will love them unconditionally.   I know that I will always be their safe place to land.  Their safe place to receive coaching, instruction, and preparation to get back into the game of life.

But I also know that they will make good, God honoring choices.  They will experience success.  And then?  I will be their place to celebrate and praise God for the amazing work he is doing in their lives.

For now, I will catch and release.  I will make the commitment to let go in small doses.  Allow them to make choices, good & bad.  Draw them back in. Coach them.  Teach them.  Love them.  Point them to God and release once more.

Helicopter momma,  I don’t believe raising kids is the hardest part of being a parent.  I truly believe it is the fine art of letting go and knowing that God is in control.

I’m praying for you.  Pray for me, will you?

 

www.compeltraining.com

#Compeltip:  I have been working to tighten my writing as well as reduce redundancy. Behind the scenes, I have been applying the 5-f’s from tired, typical writing. For more tips like these, visit www.compeltraining.com!

 

Pretzel pirate ships, blue haired church ladies & unpaid electric bills: God is still more than enough

I’m tapping my fingers on the counter and taking one more plate count.  We have just enough snacks for tonight based on the kids attendance for the week. Well, we will have enough if these two teens stop hitting my cheese blocks for the boat base. Otherwise, my crafty pretzel pirate ships are just going to be pirate flags. Boring!

As another plate is swiped from the counter, my inner blue haired church lady is channeled.  Just as I open my mouth to say something an over powering thought occurs:

Five loaves, two Fish

I’m taking another plate count.  Tap, tap, tap of my finger.  I can always make a desperate run to the store for more.  It’s only a block away.

Five loaves, two fish

Okay.  Five loaves, two fish.  Five loaves, two fish.  Five loaves, two fish.  I’m chanting now.  I’m giving God the snake eye and allowing the girls to take one more plate on their way out the door.  As they leave, teen girl #1’s brother enters.

I know your not supposed to have favorites, but he is one of mine.

“Miss Samantha, can I talk to you?”  He says.

“Sure.  What’s going on?”

“My mom needs help.  Our power has been shut off and we owe the electric company $756.00.  If we don’t get it turned back on by Monday, we will be kicked out of our apartment.” Oh boy.  It’s already Wednesday.

He continued telling me that after the power was shut down, the family did not have an ample supply of non perishable food.  The kids had not eaten much of anything in three days.  Thank God I had not opened my mouth to his big sister about the stupid cheese!

Isn’t it funny how perspective changes everything.

Five loaves, two fish

Do you think that there might be a reason that God illustrates the glory of his provision in his word.  A lot.   The story of the loaves and fish is not only told in the gospels, but it is tucked away in the Old Testament as well.  Different situation.  Same miracle.

Fast forward to a VBS centuries later and we find ourselves with the same miracle, different situation.

I am guilty of fretting and worrying whenever the supply in front of my eyes does not seem adequate.  I tap my fingers.  I toil.  I meddle to make things work out to my end desire.  But, over and over again, God assures me that he is enough to meet every need I have in front of me.  He assures me that if I take care of his kingdom priorities, he will take care of mine.  Actually, he is big enough to cover both. My only requirement is to move forward in obedience.

Retrain my brain to trust him instead of taking control.

To get out of the way so God can move in a spectacular way.

To thank him for the miracle that is yet to come.

As VBS concluded, I had more than enough cheese and pretzels to send home with two hungry kids.  Our loving church family provided the resources to get their electric bill paid in full.  A family was able to stay in their home.

Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Get out of the way so God can move.

They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

Matthew 14:20

Markin’ Time

Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me; My heart within me is distressed. I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands. I spread out my hands to You; My soul [longs] for You like a thirsty land. Selah “  Psalm 143: 4-6 (NKJV)

I was talking to a man who is near and dear to my heart the other day.  A career Veteran who has made to secret about how badly “civilian” life sucks.  We were talking about Christianity and the things that motivate us.  And then came the tone.  The same one David uses when he is getting ready to drive home a point. (I think they teach it in basic training).  He said, “Here’s what I have to say to that.  The thing that motivates me is helping soldiers succeed.  Now that I’m retired, I’m just here, Markin time.”  Whoa.  It took me back for a second and that is certainly not where the conversation ended, but his phrase, “Markin Time”, has hit me this week.

I am a checklist lady.  I have my list of things to accomplish filled out and checked twice every morning. Okay, more than twice, but it sounded good.  I follow my list to the “T” and become very discouraged if I don’t get something on it accomplished.  I don’t handle curve balls well.  I like for my life to have momentum.  Particularly if that momentum is carrying me to the weekend.

My feeling is that God has placed this phrase on my heart because, even though I don’t acknowledge it, “markin time” is exactly how I have chosen into living my life.  “If I can just get these things done, I can___.”  “I’m ready for today to be over.”  Etc, etc.  And the question that hit me this morning is,”For What?”  What is so important after today?  The only answer I have is that I will have another day, week or month just like today-only tomorrow. Right? What am I really working for?

God doesn’t create his people to live a life of obscurity. We are not here to “Mark Time”.  Daniel 11 says that the people who know God shall be strong and carry out great exploits!  Great exploits!  That’s what I’m talking about.  I’m headed back to the throne room today to rediscover the dreams God has laid upon my heart.  The dreams I surrendered a long time ago.  The ones I knew I would never accomplish on my own strength.  I’m making the choice to live my life differently.  To make my life count in some way each and every day. I firmly believe that I can have everyday adventures in the life God has given me.  But, will I give up my own agenda in order to make it happen?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured on the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:1-2