Where is God When we Fall?

goal

Soccer season is in full swing. Early morning games on the weekends make us yearn for the off season until we arrive on the open field moistened with dew. The air is chilled and there is an underlying hope that this game will be epic. It wasn’t any different this weekend. Parents stood there with coffee as the girls began their warm-up routine. They had to win or tie to make the finals. After an hour, the team came away with another win. Oh it wasn’t an easy win, they had to fight for it making the victory that much sweeter. In the end, it moved them into a tie for first place. Their only reward was facing the aggressive and sometimes dirty team again. Regardless, they marched to the next battle.

Four games in two days will wear out even the most physically fit person. But these girls didn’t show any signs of exhaustion. They went to the field determined to win. They knew the championship was within reach because they had tied this team the day before. It was a tough game. The girls were aggressive, insulting and obnoxious but our team charged on. Every girl on that field fought hard and when their opponent scored, they fought even harder.

The score was 1-0 with the opposing team ahead. The clock was running out when our striker got the ball and headed for the goal. She outran their defenders but only by a few steps. We held our breath. This was it. When she made this goal she would tie the game pushing the deciding factor to penalty kicks. She planned her attack glancing toward the defenders when all of the sudden she tripped. She fell to her knees sitting on the ball. Her moment was over. The hope of a tie score had diminished as the ref blew his whistle giving the other team a free kick. Our striker was devastated. Those of us cheering her on fell silent.

My girl’s team lost. They finished in second place even though they played well. The coach worked hard to encourage them but their disappointment was obvious. Our striker hung her head refusing to be consoled. Her Dad, knowing her regret, made his way to her. Lifting her head, she looked at her father. Immediately her eyes flooded with tears. That tough young lady stood there and cried as her father held her.

Life is a battle. It’s hard to balance all we have to do. We have demands placed on us. There are things we are required to do. We struggle day in and day out to do the right thing, to have the right attitude and to honor Christ with our lives. Some days are victorious. Others we want to forget. But always, and I mean always, whether in joy or in pain, our Father is there. He celebrates with us and He comforts us when we fall down. There is nothing that can keep Him from coming to us because His deepest desire is to be with us.

As you walk through this week, know He walks with you. He is cheering you on. He is for you. He will guide you and show you the way. And when you trip and fall, He will offer you a hand up and a shoulder to cry on. He’s that kind of Father.

The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him;  though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

(Psalm 37:23-24 NIV)

Focusing on God

focus

This morning, I found myself praising God for today. I thanked Him for this moment in time where all is well. I thanked Him because I know everything can change in the blink of an eye. So today, I simply sat and thanked Him for today’s blessings.

My prayers today came about because of a conversation I had with someone. She was throwing out a bunch of what-ifs. She asked what I would do if this or if that happened. She wasn’t being cruel. In her mind, she simply wanted all of the bases covered in case something happened. I think she was surprised by my response. I told her I can’t live my life worrying about the “what-ifs”. I told her it wasn’t biblical to concern myself with things that may never happen. And I told her I would drive myself insane if all I did was think about the possibilities. The fact is they are endless.

Rather than worry about what might happen, I thought, what if for today I was completely satisfied with where I am in life. What if I were satisfied with our home and all of its needed repairs? What if I were content with my car because every single day it starts and takes me where I need to go? What if I had no expectations from my husband except to come home at the end of the day and spend time talking? What if I were absolutely without want for anything more than I already have? This perspective made me cry.

It is too easy to think about what could be or what might happen. I believe this is what Paul was saying when he said, ”We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”(2 Cor.10:5 NASB) He’s urging us to take every unholy thought and make it obedient to Christ because he knew our thoughts, if unchecked will wreak havoc in our lives. They can cause us a tremendous amount of unnecessary stress. And quite frankly, if we are looking at what-ifs, we will not have our gaze focused on the One who is in control.

Thank you Lord for today. Thank you for your abundant love. Thank you for your provision. Thank you for holding my future. AMEN!

Trusting God with our Children

Jonah Scout 042

A few years ago

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.(Romans 8:37 ESV)

Last week, I went to open house for my son. Since we talk a lot about life at school, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. Some of his teachers greeted me asking who my child was. They offered kind words (whew!) which I always appreciate. Then they did their presentation. I was surprised though. I assumed the teachers my boy favored would be the fun teachers. What I realized is that my boy prefers the teachers who are personable. Those who took the time to shake my hand, look me in the eye and offer encouragement about my boy where the same teachers who have taken the time to get to know my child personally.

God knows each of us personally. He knows our children personally too. It has been a season of changes and I am thankful for this scripture. It has become real to me over the years and now I am reminded of it as I send my children off each day. He loves them. He will protect them. And He will draw each of them closer. Unfortunately, growth often comes when life is hard. Yes, God wants our kids to struggle so they can learn to rely on Him.

My tendency is to make life easy for my kids. I love to surprise them. I enjoy blessing them unexpectedly. But the reality is, those things aren’t going to increase their dependence on God. Real life happens every day and I’m not supposed to hide them from it. Instead, I’m supposed to teach them how to walk through it. They will come up against challenges and I have to let them pursue the solution. If I do it for them, they will never learn on their own. It is a hard road but I KNOW God is with them. It is comforting to see God has surrounded my children with wonderful people. Some of these people are fellow Christians. Others are not. All are welcome in my children’s lives because they all have something to offer and they care.

God never called us to an easy life. He doesn’t call our children to leisure either. Their spiritual growth will come when they fall down. They will learn from their mistakes. It will not ruin them if they have a misstep here and there. We just have to get out of the way and let God work.

Thank you Lord for those who surround us to teach us, guide us and encourage us. They are blessings from you meant to help us as we journey through this life.

Kind Words

words

Last week, my girl had to give a speech in class. This alone sends shivers down my spine. My first experience with speech giving sent my seventh grade teacher into hysterical laughter. She doubled over with tears in her eyes cracking up. The thing was, it wasn’t meant to be funny. It wasn’t supposed to entertain and as the students carried on, I decided that would be the last speech I would give. And it was, at least in seventh grade.

Karoline told me she couldn’t bring herself to speak in front of the class so she postponed her speech a couple of days. When she finally stood before her peers, she started to cry. She said she pulled herself together and pushed through but was not at all impressed with her delivery. She was just happy to have it over with. I truly felt her pain.

Our experiences in life along with our beliefs develop our understanding. We become what we’ve experienced whether it is good or bad. We are humiliated when we make bad choices therefore becoming humble. We are offered mercy when we least deserve it making us more compassionate. We are forgiven for the worst offences allowing us to look past sin to the heart of the offender. Every single traumatic experience has caused us to grow and expand our perspective.

Our lives are filled with mountain top experiences and sprinkled with difficult times. It is in those times of struggle we draw closer to God. We rely on His strength. Our trust is solidified. It’s funny, but most people will talk about difficult times over the easy because that is where change has happened. When we push through we see it was not us, but God. And we learn we are dearly loved.

After my daughter gave her speech, she moved on to her math class. Her teacher told her she had heard about the speech. Karoline was surprised when she said she heard it was really good. Many, many people around us are struggling. Sometimes they just need to hear words of affirmation. We may not be at the same point, but we are all on the same road. It’s a wonderful thing to lift someone’s spirits and remind them we understand.

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.(1 Thess. 5:11 NASB)

Giving up is Not an Option!

 grace

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. (1 Tim. 1:12-14 NASB)

I’ve been painting Jonah’s room over the last few days. He’s had the same design since he was three and last year, around his birthday, I told him I’d redo his room. I redid his sister’s so now it’s his turn. I’ve found myself, looking in at his room as I walk by. I flip on the light and look around at the drastic change. It was reminiscent of the many, many nights I would enter his room after he was asleep making sure he was breathing.

Jonah’s asthma has resulted in a couple of intense hospital stays and too many sleepless nights. I have been told he could die (a mother’s worse nightmare). I’ve heard the heart wrenching cries of my boy as the hospital staff removed mucus from his lung so it would start working again. I’ve sat quietly, reading my Bible only to jump when the alarms from the heart monitors rang. It’s been traumatic at times to say the least. Although his asthma has been under control for years, this morning I was right back there again.

Jonah also has to deal with eczema. Apparently, it’s common in asthmatics. Day after day I remind him to slather up and most days he ignores me. This morning he was complaining his eczema was burning and when I looked at his legs I became upset. It’s infected. He isn’t doing what I tell him. He’s not putting cream on. He’s not doing wet wraps. And now it’s a mess. So, this morning, my boy, who I love so very much, got an earful from his mother. My final comment was, do you realize if you do not take care of this, your infection could get so bad that you could die? I was angry and so was he. He didn’t say a word when I dropped him off at school.

I know my anger came from the fear he would have to suffer again. I’m trying to help him. We have all the tools. We have the education but he just won’t do what he’s supposed to and it upsets me. It hurts my heart because he will have to face the consequences and I will have to watch. I wonder if that feeling is something God possesses when we mess up. He gives us His Word for inspiration. He speaks to us through His Holy Spirit to encourage and warn us. He offers so many signs and yet, we walk right back into the same old sin over and over again. Then He sits with us while we endure the struggle we have perpetuated. Oh how our Father loves us!

Once again, I will take over; making sure Jonah is following his regiment. And after a while, I will hand the responsibility over to him again. I don’t know if he will rise to the occasion, but I will offer him a chance again. I won’t give up on him because God had never given up on me!!

What’s Missing?

 

building

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7 NIV)

I was driving down the street the other day and noticed a building was missing. It had been demolished with only the cement slab left intact. Hmmm, I thought. What used to be there? I’ve driven by that exact building a thousand times but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember what structure stood there. Of course, this made me think of why I couldn’t remember. Rather than admit I’m getting old, I decided my memory lapse was because I had never once entered into that building. I had no need to go there, so for me, it was an object taking up space.

This past week, a news story of a middle school boy has made the headlines. He committed suicide in a bathroom at his school. Rather than continue to live as he was, he decided it just wasn’t worth it anymore. Every single day, people passed the boy and had no idea he was suffering. Just like the missing building I passed every day, many didn’t even notice he existed. That in itself is a tragedy.

I think about that boy and others like him. I think about the people God ordains to cross my path each day. I want to be more mindful of them. It doesn’t take much. A smile and hello could be the simple act to cheer a downcast person. An offer to help could brighten another’s day. Listening to another’s struggle could show you care. People just want to know they matter to someone, anyone.

I confess. I find myself caught up in my to-do list each day. I rush around completing my errands without a thought of those around me. I am cordial to the clerk offering my thanks but I am completely unaware of his demeanor. I am so focused on my responsibilities; I have no time to allow anyone in even if God opened the door.

Lord, I know I am often distracted by the tasks I need to complete. Remind me to pay attention. Show me where I can make a difference. Help me look at those around me as precious children You love.

Is Jesus Angry?

anger

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. (James 1:19-20 NIV)

Was Jesus an angry man? I’ve been thinking of this lately. The political ads are beginning to increase. They are filled with jabs at opponents. Today marks the 13th anniversary of 9/11. People are remembering the horrible loss of life. Americans and Christians are under attack by terrorists around the world. It’s easy to become angry.

It seems everyone is angry about something. And it can get to the point where it consumes all of our energy. There is certainly plenty of fuel for the fire. But I have to ask myself how Jesus handled all of the injustices He experienced. What exactly made Him angry?

One of the events that recorded Jesus anger was the overturning of the money-changers’ tables in the temple. He was angry because they had taken something holy and made it an opportunity for financial gain. They had no care or concern for the spiritual well-being of their people. They were only interested in making money. His anger arose because a few were tainting the purpose of temple worship.

Jesus also became angry with the Pharisees. They were the spiritual leaders of the day but instead of honoring people, they imposed strict rules. They used their leadership as an opportunity to oppress people while Jesus offered freedom. Throughout His time on earth, Jesus challenged them because He knew they were leading people away from God. Their rules prevented people from worshipping God.

So, what makes us angry? Are we irate because the world doesn’t accept our views? Do we condemn those who don’t hold the same values? I suppose I would have to answer “yes” to all of those questions at some point. But what I realized is the thing that made Jesus angry was watching those He loved be led to believe they were not loved by God. He hated when people were told they didn’t matter to Him. I believe that’s why He spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well. I think that’s why he healed the blind man and forgave the woman caught in adultery. Over and over, He went to the imperfect and showed them they were meaningful to Him. Every day of His life Jesus showed people they didn’t have to be perfect to follow Him.

It is angering to remember 9/11. It is frustrating to hear of wars and brutality all over the world. And it’s saddening to see how we treat each other. It’s heart-wrenching to see how hate and condemnation lead to such violence. But, in my anger and in my sadness I have to remember Jesus’ love and His desire to have a personal and loving relationship with each and every person, regardless of their sin.