Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Taking a Stand

Alright people. Here it is. This is not for those who are offended easily, especially if you are offended by the word of God. Many have asked me not to hold back any more.

I am at a loss for adjectives to describe my feelings right now. Anger, appalled, disbelief -- none seem to really fit. Let me begin with my thoughts of sin. My sin is just as bad as anyone else on this planet. I am no better than any other human, even those that have committed the most heinous crimes. I am no more saved than any of you. I am no less saved than any one who seems to be better than me according to man's standards. God's standard is all that matters. Not mine, not yours, not any political leader or celebrity.

The flippant attitude in our society about sex outside of marriage absolutely infuriates me. Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained by God. The only acceptable grounds for physical intimacy is inside the marriage of a man and a woman. I am a conservative. I am very private. However, this has NOTHING to do with either of these personality traits. This is all about abiding by God's standard. I know some of you are not happy and may be wondering exactly who this is directed at. SOCIETY - that's who. Anyone who will listen - that's who. I think abstinence should be taught in high schools. Handing out condoms or contraception only gives students the go ahead. How stupid can we be as adults???? Allowing this to happen? God forgive us. WE should be the responsible ones.
Now, do I think that anyone who has had a baby out of wedlock should be punished? No. Everyone makes a bad decision. I'm the queen of bad decisions. Most of them involve not biting my tongue when I should. About 3  years ago, a young lady that was very special came to visit me. This young lady is very intelligent. She was gorgeous and had scholarships waiting from major universities. When she was in elementary school, we often had the conversation of how the sky was the limit for any dream that she had. She could have done anything - and that is a very literal anything. She was just one of those outstanding individuals. Her family was very conservative. She was raised to abide by a very strict standard. Anyhow, she came to talk with me about news that her mother had shared with me. This young unmarried 17 year old was pregnant. She was scared out of her mind. We talked many times over the coming months as she awaited the arrival of her beautiful baby. She and her boyfriend had been dating quite some time before she got pregnant. The very first thing she said to me was," I know this was not the way God instructed me. However, this is where I am. I've learned from my mistake. God does not want for me to have an intimate relationship with a man I'm not married to." She then burst into tears and asked if I could ever forgive her. My heart was breaking. I told her that she did not need to ask for my forgiveness. I was not mad at her. The difference between this amazing young woman and so many other young women is the maturity that occurred after learning she was pregnant. She immediately started seeking out Godly women who could advise her on how to raise a child. Also, she sought GODLY advice - notice the GODLY part, she wasn't talking to some of these idiot liberals out there - as to whether or not she and her boyfriend should marry. Over the past two years, this young lady has acted like a mother. She has put her child first. She is happily married - now, be careful. I do not think just because a young couple should marry just because of pregnancy. That is many times the recipe for disaster. This couple, however, had dated a while and planned to marry prior to the pregnancy. They are both doing really well. Life is a little harder than they thought it would be at this age, but they are seeking God's will in their lives and attempting to raise their child as God desires. I have seen some young ladies step up to the plate and mature just as this one. I try to support this particular young woman anyhow I can. Not because of a bad decision, but because she is honestly trying to learn from others and grow in God.
I think any mom (single moms, married moms, step-moms) should act in a certain manner. This means the life-style of partying and the actively, knowingly, repeatedly, and willingly pursuing carnal desires should cease. They should grow up and realize their responsibility is to raise their children according to God's word. This requires acknowledging the entire Bible and abiding by it. When I mess up, I have those Christian friends who will call me out and pray with me to fix things. I strongly encourage all moms to have at least one of these people (outside your family) to do this. I think someone called it.....spiritual mentoring?????? Sound familiar? I think that moms should act in a respectable manner. They should dress in a modest manner. This doesn't have to be off the great-grandma shelf at Wal-Mart. I know many people who look very trendy and cute, yet still dress in a modest manner. I myself am fashion challenged, so the trendy and cute part is not working for me real well all the time.
To sum up my ranting:
1. Adopt the biblical view on the aforementioned topic concerning physical intimacy.
2. If you mess up, start acting responsible and not like a pagan.
3. Seek Godly women who can guide you in the right direction.
4. If you are acting responsible, then people won't be quite as upset with your actions. This would be because you are acting RESPONSIBLE!
5. God creates every baby with a specific plan.
6. We don't need to mess with the order of his plan.

I'm not judging or throwing anyone under the bus. Just because I've been guilty of gossip before, doesn't mean that I can still do it without having to answer for it. Do I think gossip is as bad of a sin as any other? YEP! (I meant to spell it that way you grammar fanatics. I didn't mistype yes.) The same applies to any sin. God knows we are gonna' mess up. We've been messing things up since the Adam, Eve, the serpent, the fruit, etc. He's not surprised by our mistakes. He does expect us to come with a repentant heart and turn from our sin. Jesus told many people during his ministry that their sins were forgiven, and to go and sin no more. I think he says the same thing to us today. He's forgiven our sins. Don't keep visiting back to that behavior you know is wrong.
To the young lady I wrote about -- you know who you are. I love you and am so proud of how you seek God's will on a daily basis. You are a true example of repentance and surrendering your life to God. With all my love sweetheart, may God pour His richest blessings upon you and protect you for many days.

Another story if you are still reading.
I had the privilege of knowing a lady who was a single mom with two fantastic boys. Unfortunately she was divorced. She had been in a marriage that was quite tragic. This particular woman was raising these two boys by herself. Her parents were not around. No child support was being sent. She would not accept any aid from the government. Although, I wish she would have to help as she worked her way through college as her boys were in public school. She is the individual that would not stay on assistance forever - just until she got her feet on the ground. She made sure that her boys were given an example of a responsible adult. After all, she was the only example they saw with no extended family around them. So responsible. Such a hard worker. She will probably never know that respect I have for her. She never had vacations. Never received spa treatments. She totally focused on her college education, her job, and providing for her sons. Might I say, she provided very well for them emotionally, mentally, and physically. Maturity, focus, determination.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A soapbox

One of the things my aunt tried to teach me as I was growing up was the art of knowing when to bite your tongue. Now, not only am I having to bite my tongue, but with facebook, I'm having to control my fingers. Those of you who know me best are aware that I have strong feelings and am usually not afraid to voice those feelings. Filtering my thoughts before they are verbalized is a daily battle for me. Instead of climbing on one of my MANY soapboxes and screaming loudly, tonight I'm choosing an alternate plan.
Anyone who has ever worked with preteens and/or teenagers knows that they are different. I teach preteens and absolutely love being with them, most of the time. They can increase my blood pressure to unsafe levels at times, but it is worth it. The pressures facing our adolescent population today are downright frightening. I see what my students face each day, and my heart breaks for them. The tough family situations some of my kids live in...well, it's amazing they can even function. The pressures and temptations presented on television, internet, other humans - it is completely overwhelming. If you are not already making it a point to pray each and every day for the young generation - elementary school through college - then I encourage you to make that a priority today.
What young minds have to deal with is appalling. Depression, viewing themselves as worthless, bearing the weight of tragic family situations, pondering the lack of money in their family just needed to make ends meet...
I am happy to say that I have seen some young people who are attempting to reach their generation. Last year, I had a student who frequently shared the plan of salvation with his peers. He was quite remarkable. Other students looked up to him and respected anything he did or said. I know they saw him living out the gospel on a minute by minute basis. Another student would routinely refer to the scripture his mom placed in his notebook every week. Hats off to this mom! I'm trying my best to support these students and others as they try to reach their peers for Christ.
I see college students away from home who are sacrificing their time to come to church and involve themselves in ministry. Nobody is making them climb out of bed. They are not being forced to practice their instruments and songs that are to be shared at church. Praise God for these individuals.
My prayer is that the young generation will be drawn to these individuals rather than those who are living a self-centered life while actively and willingly seeking the temptations of the world. The world needs more people like Collin, Mary, TJ, Walker, Brandi, Tony, and Aaron. I love you guys. Words will never express what you mean to me. Read Phillipians 1:3-5. Know that you are loved. May God bless you as you continue His work.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lessons I've Learned through Motherhood

1. My children need my undivided attention as soon as I sit down in front of a plate with food.
2. My children will not eat the food on their plate, but find the same food on my plate irresistible.
3. They don't like sleep near as much as I do.
4. Don't take children through the checkout line where they have an issue of Cosmo displayed.
5. Children make you stupid by destroying your brain cells. It's their superpower that allows them to do this.
6. My children are very much like me -- much to my dismay.
7. Most of the bad habits my children have, came guessed it. ME!
8. It's physically difficult to spank a child when you are trying not to laugh at them. Especially when their father is in the other room doubled over laughing.
9. I will always love my children no matter what they do; however, liking them is a different story.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lessons I'm Learning

There's a childrens song that proclaims "He's still working on me, to make me what I ought to be.."

Oh, my. It did just take him a week to make all of this universe (although, He could have done it quicker if He'd wanted.) However, He is still having to work on me. Kinda' shameful for me - the fact that all that creating He did in a week, and I'm still so difficult that after almost 34 years, I'm far from finished. This week has revealed to me some of the ways God is trying to grow me. Notice I said "God is trying". He gave me free will. Sometimes that stubborn fleshly side of me really gives Him a good fight. I think that if I were sitting in a classroom with God in charge, the daily objectives on the board would read something like this:

1. Understand that God is still God and always has been God.
2. Understand that you are not irreplacable.
3. Understand that you do not make the world go round.
4. Understand that you can learn from others.

I frequently tell my students that if you fully understand something, then your actions will reflect that understanding and knowledge. I need to listen to my own preaching. #1 is a lesson He's teaching me with every breath that I have on this earth. Not sure I'll ever completely understand this one and comprehend all that is with it. The second objective I believe has been the hardest. Mastery of this one requires complete surrender on my part every moment of every day.
Those of you who know me best are familiar with the fact that:
-my way is the best way.
-you may have an opinion, but mine is right.
-I like being in control.
These attitudes contribute to the inflated vision I have of my importance in this world. Don't get me wrong. I know God loves me - Christ on the cross proved that one - and I know He has a plan for me. The problem is sometimes I act as if He can't function without me. I act as if this world, my coworkers, my family, my students, my children can't function without my help and input. The truth is, if I disappeared tonight, all of these things would eventually work out a way to function without me. That is a hard thing for me to admit. I'm not the end all be all in this world. Just a mere speck of dust in the vast expanse of this universe. (Now, I am a speck that Jesus loves and died to pay my enormous sin debt.) So, I'm a loved, saved speck. If I lived every moment of every day with the attitude of I can't live without Him not He can't live without me, what would the impact of my witness be? How would this change my outlook on servanthood? Might be worth a try.
One of the greatest reveals I've been blessed with over the past several years is the presence of spiritually mature women who are able to mentor and guide me in my spiritual walk and every other aspect of my life (wife, mother, teacher, daughter, friend, etc.) Although I believe my generation has much to contribute to the church, I feel as if we close our eyes and ears to the advice and examples offered by those Godly women who've been through all we're going through. After all, they've proven themselves successful. They're still here and thriving in the church, aren't they?? These women provide advice on how to raise my children and how to pray for my husband. Others have modeled patience and the ability to bite your tongue. Mine is becoming scarred from practicing this. Solomon asked God for wisdom. This was not just a verbal request, but a true desire of the heart. I've always SAID that I desired wisdom more than anything else from God. However, looking back, I see that this was not my true heart's desire. So many other distractions clouded my view. I'm hoping that through these lessons, my true heart's desire will continue to become true wisdom from God.

Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers. --Alfred Lord Tennyson

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Contentment & trust

Contentment. Is it a state of mind? an attitude? a choice we make? Am I personally and solely responsible for my own contentment? I've found that contentment comes when I know - the absolute, completely sure kind of knowing - that I am where God wants me to be. At the beginning of this school year, I began to wonder if there was something else. Not necessarily because something was wrong, but I'd been in the same job for 10 years. Surely I'd accomplished all I needed to in that place, right? I mean, if I couldn't do it in 10 years, then I must be some kind of complete failure. I began to pray and I can say honestly seek God's will in this situation. It's not easy to send me messages - I don't pick up that quickly. Kind of like Gideon with repeated testing of the fleece and the dew on the ground. I don't doubt God, I doubt my interpretation. Anyhow, I asked that God would give me some strong convincing evidence that would lead me down the right path. The path that will continue from where I am now, or another path that will take one of those really sharp hairpin turns along the side of a really steep cliff. Slowly, God began to reveal the answer. This came through people who didn't even know they were being used to reassure me. Sometimes, God whispered to me during certain circumstances (some fun, some not so much). As time crawled on, unusually slowly crawling this year, I had an increasing sense of contentment settle over my soul. I know where He wants me. My contentment is a very close relative of my trust in God. Learning this has been somewhat hard. To experience contentment, I have to trust that God will equip me to deal with all that comes my way. I didn't say I was content with an easy situation. Even staying where I am, and loving it, there are still those fiery trials. One in particular is more like a massive incinerator burning at full force instead of a lovely campfire. I prefer the campfire kind of trials myself if I am forced to pick one. Anyhow, staying content as He walks with me in the fire can only come if I totally trust His guidance and ability to take care of me.
A precious missionary couple in Haiti is a prime example of contentment and trust. Pre-earthquake Haiti had its dangers and hardships. However, post-earthquake Haiti's dangers and hardships have increased exponentially. More than I could ever imagine.... This particular couple has sought God's will always, but especially in the past few weeks. Many people may think it selfish that they remain in Haiti and "cause their family worry". I have a different opinion. Actually, I think it's more than opinion, but rather the "right" way of viewing this situation. If my narrow mind offends you, then feel free to quit reading and go recycle something to make the world a better place. Here it is---selfish has NOTHING to do with it. The contentment they have in their situation comes from actively seeking God's will for their lives and where He wants them at this time. I praise God for their family's support. Will their families remain concerned for their health and wellbeing?? You bet. That's what mothers do best isn't it? However, this family realizes that their children are focused on the thoughts of the ONE that matters. God. He has a purpose and a plan for them. Some precious Haitian will walk the streets of gold in our heavenly home because of these precious servants of God.
It doesn't really matter where you are or who you are. Contentment will come in that precious place where the Father wants you. He loves you more than anyone else, so He's not going to abandon you in His will for your life. I am blessed beyond measure that He chooses to use me. I am so unworthy to work for Him. Yet, He picks me up where I am. He helps me get to where I'm supposed to be - and He doesn't even need GPS.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Jesus and tractors

One of Andrew's favorite games is Bible Trivia. Our version is probably 20 years old, but the Bible has stayed the same - so I guess the age of our game is irrelevant. As Stephen was reading Andrew a question, Aaron decided it was time he become involved. Andrew did not remember the answer, so Stephen was trying to give him clues. The answer was John the Baptist. Stephen offered clues such as he was close to Jesus' age, he told people about Jesus coming, he was related to Jesus, etc. He finally told Andrew, "His name was John....." Aaron, not wasting any time, piped in with "John Deere?" Don't you feel good about the theological upbringing our children are receiving?!