Lessons Learned in This New Season

Lessons

A lesson I learned a long time ago was no matter what you are going through there are lessons to be learned. And that is kids how I have lived my life since late high school.

God really does want us to learn and grow even from the smallest things he brings into our lives. It’s called having a teachable spirit (And there is a blog post on that coming soon) but for now let’s check out some of the quirky lesson’s I have leaned I the last 4 days.

Lesson #1: Can You Guess It?

Let’s just get this lesson out of they first, because let’s be honest as soon as you saw the title this is what you thought. Lesson #1 is that we have reached a whole new level of CRAZY!

You know it and I know it. I live in NY and we get some decent snow amounts but even in the worst sense of the imagination, I have never expected to experience the mass amount of “preparedness” that has seemed to reach epic proportions, not just here in New York but across the entire country.

Lesson #2: A New way to Menu Plan

Let me just start off by saying that this is NOT my preferred method. This lesson kinda hot me yesterday (Sunday) as I sat down to prepare my menu and shopping List for the week. And I unsnapped my two month menu plan I use to make my weekly menus and I began to assess what I had in the pantry and what I needed fro the upcoming week. And as I began to plan I realized something.

For the first time I didn’t have confidence that the store might not have what I was going to need to basic meals.

In our family of 6 we have some dietary needs as well. AND as the afternoon went on I learned that we were going to be embarking on a “homeschooling adventure of sorts. Good thing we have experience in that. BUT it meant that two kids who usually eat 2 meals a day at school would now be eating them here at home.

HMMMM…..I usually start stocking the kitchen with kid food weeks prior to summer break and yet now I had zero planning time.

So I wrote out my list and told Hubby that the list was bigger than normal to deal with extra breakfasts and lunches AND there was stuff that in case you couldn’t find………You can get this instead. There were a bunch of things he couldn’t find

  • Pasta
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Tissues
  • Frozen Veggies

Have no fear we have plenty of food. we know we have a couple of cases of chicken we ordered a few weeks ago so no meat wasn’t really on the list and we have plenty in our freezers as well. I keep a pretty well stocked pantry but there were somethings that we were out of.

So this week for the first time ever I have made my menu based on what hubby COULD buy. (FYI I do NOT like or recommend this method)

Lesson #3 Speaking of Tissues……

So we are sick- 4 out of the 6 of us to be exact. I know I know Go ahead let the COVID -19 comments fly…..Are ya done ? Ok good Glad you got it out of your system :).

SO I have a 1/2 a box of tissues. So naturally that goes on the list. Well I put it there and NO luck. ANYWHERE. normally no big deal right? Just grab the roll of toilet paper….Except for that new level of crazy we talked about in Lesson 1 had lftf us in a TP shortage.. Never in my whole life have I had to second guess the usage of TP. It struck me as humorous.

Here we are living in a first world country and enough panic has been created that we have created a shortage on something EVERY single person in the=is country has probably taken for granted at one point or another.

And I thought about the question that has been circulating for a number of years “What if you only woke up with the things you thanked God for Yesterday?” HMMMMMM!!! Maybe we should be thanking God for the simple things we seemingly take for grated.

I must confess that I have learned many lessons in menu planning but this one has been the most difficult to wrap my brain around.

Lesson #4 Local Businesses

Today in our area restaurants were told to move to a take out only model. . Earlier in the day I had spoken with a friend of ours who drives our kids bus. She is not working because the schools are closed. Her hubby owns a local restaurant (one we love) and how they might be forced to close and the government was asking them to still pay their employees. THAT’s difficult if you aren’t making any money.

By lunch time we knew that they had to switch to take out only model. They rely heavily on college students until summer but the colleges have all closed as well. So today we supported our friends and even though we chose not to dine in because of the sickness we got take-out.

Out of all of these lessons, this one is probably the most serious.

Lesson #5 A New Use For My Planner

Ok this one got me a little today. Hubby and I were talking about how we keep taking things off our schedule because of COVID-19 and as two Introverts this is not a big deal. I told hubby I was really glad that I use erasable Pens (PILOT FRIXON PENS to be exact) in my planner.

Hubby told me not to erase everything but to just draw a line through it so we have an accurate depiction as to just how much our lives have changed. So that’s what I’ve done and you will see that in a later post.

That’s the monthly part but what about the weekly part. Each week I sit down and write the weeks appointments in. well I haven’t done that this week because there isn’t anything to really move over. So instead I have decided to use it as a daily journaling space to keep track of what’s going on.

Different for sure and I am sure t is going to take some getting used to.

So there you have it, 5 lessons I have learned so far in this new season of blank canvas. Tomorrow I hope to blog about some of the fun things we plan to do in the midst of this new season.

I am a firm believer that you only get out what you put into something so if you put in a bunch of negativity into life’s lessons that is what you are gonna reap more negativity So let’s keep a positive outlook.

Let’s talk about it : What lessons have you learned?

This is a positive space so comments in a negative complaining light will be deleted.. Thank you and Blessings

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COVID-19 & Kids with Compromised Immune Systems

COVID-19

Reality

CoVID-19 (or the Coronovirus ) is here, whether we like it or not. I hear the echos of many people saying JUST WASH YOUR HANDS, NO BIG DEAL…… but for our family it kinda is. We hear it all the time “You guys are sick a lot……” Yep we know it. We clean and disinfect and clean some more. But our reality is we have someone within our home who has a compromised immune system and with that comes a lot of issues….

COVID-19 and our family.

Hello My Name is Mary and I have a son with ASD- Autism Spectrum Disorder. And like most families with kids on the spectrum we live with A LOT of sickness. (And some families deal with weak bones)

That’s because our son with ASD picks up EVERYTHING. We wash hands, we disinfect, we use essential oils, we do vitamins, and supplements and we have a dishwasher. . And for the most part we as a family don’t catch the majority of what he gets. So when there is a major issue with something with the word contagious attached to it my ears perk up and I pay attention. COVID-19 is no different. Do we panic? NO but I now need to be aware and on guard.

When our not so little guy was first diagnosed 6 years ago he had some pretty interesting things that cued us into the fact that he might have ASD.

#1 HE LICKED E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G and E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E…No joke.

#2 He Had PICA- that means he would eat things that shouldn’t be eaten…Absolutely horrifying…and this took every mom trick I could think of…..(That clip from Mom’s Night Out- Sorry Mrs ________ you have called poison control too many times……Yep That was me!!) You can ave PICA without having ASD. it’s a form of anemia, but kids with autism can have it. Oh the stories I could tell! He hasn’t had PICA or licked anything weird in a LONG time, but in those moments I had no idea what was coming down the line. He was so much healthier that is until he got into school.

(There are a boat load of other symptoms but that is for another post entirely)

I Wish it was that easy.

I wish it was as easy as washing hands and disinfecting everything. Most people didn’t know the but we had to be super careful even clipping his nails. He was in Kindergarten and we clipped his nails. No breaks in the skin, not too close. To the normal parent it looked like a beautiful nail job but within a days time his finger was infected. it even baffled the Doctor.

He has had everything from strange viral infections, to skin infections,, psoriasis, and a very awful bout of athlete’s foot. He has become allergic to meds used to treat illnesses and had to be put on higher dosages or stronger meds. And even one time stripped his stomach lining to where he couldn’t eat anything an we had to start from a liquid diet, probiotics and then he grew stuff in his tummy that didn’t belong and that was a whole new set of OTC (over the counter) meds.

Today in New York State

Today here in New York State there are a bunch of really unhappy people and I get it it is a huge disruption to a lot of people’s lives. Our governor today shut down colleges as of Next week and they have become online school until this fall. I know this seems like an early reactionary move and it may be. But let’s be mindful of people who are on those campuses. Colleges are ready to head out on Spring break the end of this week. And there are big plans in the works for many students. Now I am not a promoter of these activities but in reality it’s a lot of people crammed into small areas and things spread like wildfire.

Now you may say Mary why do you care none of your kids are in college…..and for that you are right. My kids are not old enough to be at college however, everyweek my husband takes our youngest son to a college campus for therapy he doesn’t qualify for at his school.

Now that son could get germs and bring them home. He may not get a bad case of the COVD-19 but he has now shared this germs with the rest of our family including his older brother with the compromised immune system. He doesn’t seem to need to be around sneezing or coughing. He managed to pick up pneumonia this past summer while we were at camp. No one else was sick. He was around ZERO sick people….and then he shared it with me and I am super careful because as a person with Asthma getting the flu or pneumonia is dangerous.

(Let’s not get into the fact that my hubby is a pastor and visits and talks to people who are elderly, in the hospital and the like and I can cm into contact with pregnant women and babies where I volunteer). And of course we don’t go any of those places if we know we are sick.

So I gave you my take on our family but I have another question….

What should our response be as Christians?

Because you know the whole point of this blog is centered around our daily walk with Christ!!!

Response to the government officials? GRACE! They have to take am lot into consideration…..more than just how much it’s gonna be uncomfortable. They have to think ahead into scenarios that you and I might not even consider.

Here’s what the Bible has to say about this,

Romans 13:1-7 English Standard Version (ESV)

13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

God’s in control.

And then how about our response to families in these situations? How about caring, instead of passing judgement. My circle of friends have all experienced their fait share of illnesses this year and after talking with the various school nurses we can all rest in the fact that it’s hasn’t been as bad as some of the things floating around. At one point in one of our son’s schools there were five different BUGS traveling from kid to kid.

How about a little bit of understanding and love. How about a fist bump and a “Keep it up mama” instead of the “sick again?” comment.

We don’t know the circumstances behind sick kids. I can tell you that we don’t go around broadcasting our son has a compromised immune system, just like I don’t tell every person we meet that he has autism. It’s not easy having kids with Special needs We already feel like the world is judging us (and some of them are). AND we don’t really need a lesson in hand-washing , disinfecting and so on. We need people to see beyond all that and know we are fighting something beyond illness.

So just in closing here are a few other things we don’t do- Just in case you think that we are oblivious……

  • we don’t use drinking fountains
  • we don’t use hand dryers
  • we don’t do large family trips to grocery stores or any store for that matter
  • we disinfect shopping carts
  • we don’t use shopping carts unless necessary

So as a person who is a caregiver I get it and I am appreciative. I am sure it wasn’t an easy decision and even though I may not understand everything that goes into that decision I can rest in the verse up above. And I CAN have a good attitude about it because I CHOOSE to have a god attitude about it.

And yes I am aware this could happen at a school age level and yes I can choose to have a good attitude then.

I want to challenge you that with 1 in 8 kids having ASD what can you do in your sphere of influence to encourage a mama who is doing everything in her power to keep her family healthy? Let me know how you plan to encourage her in the comments below AND THEN DO IT!

Blessings, Mary

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Duck Your Attitude is Showing: Attitude Check

attitude

The Attitude Behind this Post

Seeking to Grow. That’s the attitude my Hearts desire is to challenge myself and others to a right relationship with God. So Many times I have watched both my attitude and the attitudes of others stand in the way of effective ministry. I watch as kids witness poor attitudes of the “righteous” and they walk away. Somewhere along the line have lost focus of what our purpose is is and taken our eyes off the one who gave us HOPE beyond all hope and turned our eyes to ourselves.

Today I had a discussion with 6 kids in Junior Church about having an attitude of Gratitude. The catalyst BIBLE MAN- a kids program that really focuses on the Armor of God and this particular episode talked about when we keep Jesus in view our faith doesn’t falter. We keep things in check right where they should be. THEN after the faith they talked about gratitude. Those two episodes back to back got me thinking. When we actively practice our faith (not just going through the motions and putting on a front of false righteousness) we then find ourselves choosing to be grateful and our attitudes are radically different……

So here has been my thought process in working through this study of sorts over the last month or so:

A Little History

Attitudes- if you listen to parents at all MOST of them will admit that at some point in their child’s life they struggle with having an attitude. Toddlers have attitudes. School aged kids have attitudes, middle schoolers have attitudes, High schoolers have attitudes….AND HERES’s A NEWSFLASH FOR YOU: ADULTS HAVE ATTITUDES.

When I was in middles school my school was divided into two sections and it was divided by the cafeteria, a couple of classrooms and the Library. On one side was the 5th and 6th graders and on the other side was the 7th and 8th graders and on the rare occasion paths would cross for the two aged groups and it was not uncommon to hear the older group say to the unsuspecting younger kid “Duck, Your epidermis is showing”. Now in that setting the poor unsuspecting 5th grader does not know what an epidermis is (It’s the outer layer of shin- visible on your face arms and hands. ). But the poor little kiddo thinks something much worse and immediately covers their pants thinking their zipper is down! It’s mean es yes I know But in the same respect looking back it was kinda hilarious. I didn’t do it to the kids at school BUT you can sure bet I took it home and tested it on my little brothers. (Pssst….IT WORKED)

An Epidermis and an Attitude are similar

Outside of being a mummy- everyone can see some portion of your epidermis. It IS showing. When we left middle school and went to high school no one cared about playing that trick anymore. it was childish.. Attitude on the other hand we think is hidden we put on a good front. We whitewash our exterior and put on a phony mask. we act cheerful and say hi and maybe even get into people’s faces and MAKE them say hi and then when we THINK everyone one is gone we let loose our complaints.

-OR- There are those who don’t care and are downright obnoxious about their bad attitude because they are entitled to their bad attitude. They Might say “Oh I was just joking or kidding around” but the truth of the matter is :

Matthew 15:18-20 New International Version (NIV)

18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

Jesus was talking to the Pharisees. The Pharisees were upset because they were al worried about outward appearances and what is being done and how things are being done. They would spout off and didn’t’t really care about the purpose or reason behind something. They were revealing what was really in their hearts.

But if the Pharisees had remembered and taken to heart their teaching they would have remembered “

Proverbs 15:28 New International Version (NIV)

28 The heart of the righteous weighs its answers,
    but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.

But I can hear it now you are saying “but Mary me and my buds aren’t asking for something evil.” My response would be:

Colossians 3:8 NIV


But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

So then what should our response be? Well In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV: we are COMMANDED to :

“give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Did you catch that?????? If you are NOT thankful in all things YOU ARE OUT OF THE WILL OF GOD! WHOA! This is an AHA! moment for me!. But we are also COMMANDED to have the Fruit of the Spirit which is found in :

Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

And the Bible ALSO says :

Matthew 7:16-20 New International Version (NIV)

16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

So are you full of wrath, anger, malice, bitterness? OR are you full of gentleness, kindness and patience? Earlier this evening as I was looking over some verses a thought popped into my head and I decided to share it to Facebook. I have been in more than one situation where someone walks into a room with the explicit purpose to set people strait or to raise a stink, or cause problems. The problem is it rarely if ever does anything positive when that approach is taken . Here’s what I wrote:

Studying out passages for my blog post I’m writing and here is my question…..As believers we teach our kids and believe That God is everywhere so where do we get off walking into a room proclaiming we are going to create problems? Do we really think the King of Kings is impressed with our attitudes and behavior? (That is downright hypocrisy- to teach one ay and live another) So not only did we just lose our testimony before those in the room but we also disappointed the Savior of our souls. Our words and attitudes hold far greater weight than getting across our own opinions-rights-desires- False joy/ happiness is spotted a million mile away when there are words of disunity to follow. 

Let’s be honest when we are in these moments of “making people see I’m right and choosing to stir up trouble” we believe we have righteous intentions but here is what Proverbs 1528 NIV has to say about the righteous person and their words:

The heart of the righteous weighs its answers,
    but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.

Yep I already shared that verse above but it really does need to be repeated and committed to memory!

I know I know but you say “Mary but I…..” We as believers REALLY need to give up our personal pronouns. We…..I…….You……Us……and we REALLY need to stat our arguments with “BUT GOD…….” and if you cannot finish that statement with a biblical principle or truth from God’s word – and not some phone baloney garbage that fits what you want it to say- than we need to recognize that I and we as it is. Selfish ambition. Luke 14:33 NIV says it best

In the same way, those of you who do NOT give up EVERYTHING you have CANNOT be my disciples.

OUCH! We cannot let our “stuff” get in the way of being disciples of Christ. This means attachments in physical, relational, emotional and mental. This means our selfish ambitions. YOUR RIGHTS. OUR STINKY ATTITUDES. This is hard to swallow but this is the principle of dying to self.

When we hold onto the anger, the wrath, and the malice we are letting evil into our lives. It changes our focus we lose sight of the purpose God has called us to and it distracts us from being useful in His work.

And yet we think ourselves righteous and religious and we think it’s our duty to spout off for whatever reason.

James 1:26 New International Version (NIV)

26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.

Now over the last few months I have been camped in the end of the New Testament and the idea of being deceived is a recurrent one. We can be deceived by smooth talkers. Ones who “make a good point” and we allow ourselves to lose sight of the greater purpose. To Love God and serve others. We get wrapped up in a feeling of feeling bitter. it’s kinda like the flu. one person get’s it and it spreads like wildfire if people aren’t awake and paying attention to what’s REALLY going on around them

I think one of the most frustrating events happened when I was 17 wish. It was in a church business meeting and our church had just completed a church building project. And a family in our church were foster parents and they had a daughter who was wheel chair ridden. Each week I watched her foster dad and other men from our church carry that girl up and down the stairs to where her Sunday school class was. It was dangerous to say the least. our church began investigating safer options that would accommodate this family. As a teen with a disability( though this did not directly apply to me ) Was proud that my church wanted to meet this need and couldn’t wait to vote to help this family. It came time for the meeting ad all of the findings were shared and the church had decided to go with an external elevator to be added to the outside of the new addition and it was almost time for the vote when someone from the back piped up in a very angry voice. This person saw no need for an elevator and it was a waste of money……the kicker in all of this was that this person too was in a wheelchair Her husband had carried her up the front steps of the church for years until a ramp was built which they happily used. She was the only one who voted no for the elevator. To this day this account breaks my heart. It left a lasting impression on my heart for what bitterness and anger will do to a person.

It was THAT dissension and disunity that affected me as a teen freshly given what I thought was a life sentence. I COULD have caught her bitterness……

As I have processed all of this “attitude” thoughts this week I have bounced from one thing to the next. I have had to re-evaluate my own hurt feelings God’s word is convicting. It’s supposed to be. Here are just dome of my thoughts I shared on social media as I hashed this out in my head….

Thoughts on Attitudes

We can stand and stomp our foot , yelling and demanding our own way like a two year old seeking our own preferences. We will be held accountable! but only when standing before our God will we be found shameful because we have wasted valuable time and energy for not seeking God’s will instead of our own. When He asks you why did you make that an issue how do you think he will react to “because I wanted it! “. There are people hurting who need a Savior. There are people dying. There are defenseless being harmed and we lose sight of those that Jesus died for because “I wanted it my way”

As I re-read this tonight I got to thinking about something, when we are fighting for God’s way instead of our own we will never have a bad attitude. We won’t lose our testimony. People may talk smack about us behind our backs (By the way that’s gossip and yeah that’s evil in the sight of God too). but in the end their testimony is ruined and we are still in the fight for God’s way. God’s way= right motives. Our way= selfish ambition.

Even if a million people decided to go against a principle in God’s word- it’s still sin. I don’t care what it is. We live in a country and a culture where our desires are more important than God’s principles. On the day he was crucified Jesus stood alone. Because people chose their comfort over the one who was about to die for them. AND YET HE STILL DID! He took his comfort and nailed it to a cross. He died to self in the most literal way! We as believers forget that we WILL have to answer to God too. Are we prepared to defend our choices and attitudes against Jesus’ sacrifice. Because that SHOULD be our driving force!

There is a lot that goes behind this statement. Most of which is my experience as a an extended short term missionary in a place that hates Christians. I have little to no tolerance for crazy church behavior and neither would you if you met people who went against their government to worship God We waste our time on foolish things.

  • I would rather know my life was spent: fighting for unborn babies, teaching moms to care for their children so they don’t lose them to CPS, care for teenagers who don’t know what real love is ,
  • I want to listen too the mom who is losing a loved one.
  • I want to hug the one who realizes her child is in danger and she can’t do a blessed thing about it,
  • I want to encourage those who are seeking to follow God with everything they’ve got and yet their world sees to be falling apart,
  • I want to care for kids who are not understood and are cast aside.
  • I want to bring joy and peace and growth into peoples lives.
  • I want to minister to the homeless man in the park after 9/11 and gets saved,
  • I want to hold someones hand who fears that their faith will lead to their imprisonment.
  • I want to hug that little red-headed boy who just saved his baby sister from dying as his drunk father sleeps in the chair next to him.
  • I want to see people come to Jesus and wipe away tears of pain as I share what HOPE really looks like.
  • I WANT to be doing God’s work NOT Satans destructive plans.

I don’t want to be a apart of silly useless arguments about elevators, carpet colors or whatever other stupid useless arguments churches find themselves in. What’s happening is SATAN is using those things to distract us from what’s most important PEOPLE. People who are hurt, broken and alone. (This isn’t about being a pastor’s wife- a lot of these things happened before I ever thought I would be a pastors wife and if tomorrow I was no longer a pastors wife I would still want to do these things).

You CHOOSE

I know we have spent a bunch of time talking about the negative Side of attitude. BUT there is hope and it is in YOU! You have the power to change a situation. We all have a choice to have a bad attitude, an attitude of indifference, an attitude that fosters a bad attitude or an attitude that points people back to TRUTH (in love of course because if it isn’t than it’s just a bad attitude wrapped in Scripture).

So I told those 6 kiddos in Junior church that they had the power to choose a Good attitude. and they were dumfounded. You wanna know why? I believe it is because it hasn’t’t been modeled for them. AND this is NOT necessarily a parenting issue. Remember back to all of my POWER of YOUR INFLUENCE blog posts. If you live and breathe you are an influence The choice is whether it’s a positive or negative one. And let’s be honest the very first influence you are with any person but especially kids is your speech and how you talk to them. I cannot tell you how many times I have had to answer “why doesn’t so and so like me?” and it was based all around what was said and how it was said.

We need to start making our choice to have a positive attitude. We have that power to change. and if we all actively choose to have attitudes based in the Fruit of the Spirit -We will change. And when we change our families will change. And when our families change, Our churches will change. And when your churches change our communities will change. And when communities change our country starts to look different. And THAT my friends is how one person can change the world!

We can have all the Bible Studies and prayer meetings and church services in the world but if gossip and bitterness pride and discord are allowed to enter, then they will always be fruitless.

In Closing

I want to leave you with perspective from Matthew 12:33-37.

33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

We take our words and our attitudes lightly. I challenge all of us to move past what we want in our attitudes and change them to a godly perspective.

So won’t you join me this week as I seek to let my attitude be changed !

Blessings, Mary

A Year of Words: When one Just Won’t Do

words

Words: An everyday thing

Words fill our days. As a new parent we can’t wait t hear our babies first words. And we fill with joy as we hear Mama and Dada for the first time. And when we have a child who doesn’t say words our hearts fall and fear seeps in. But over time we take words for granted. We sling them around. We say hurtful words, we use words to make promises we never intend to keep, we use words to build up and encourage.

But then there are other words. Words that seem to jump off the pages of books and Scripture and when those words and themes show up time and again we need to pay attention.

When Just one Word Won’t Do

Usually every year I pick a word to be the theme for the year- and this year is no different, I have “a Word” and we will get to that in another post HOWEVER as January rolled around and I was in a constant dialog with my “crew”. Group of Ladies who have become a part of my life like I have never had before). I began to realize that not just one word was going to define my year. .

Focus

As I texted in our group text I kept finding myself asking for prayer for Focus. As I prayed I asked God that I wouldn’t be distracted. I’ll be honest that is one of two reasons I have not blogged over the last few years like I once did.

But at this point distraction was creeping in in every area of my life.

Fearless

The second word that has been an ongoing theme through the beginning part of this year has been fear. I came to terms with the fact that I was letting fear rule areas of my life and one of them was blogging. I thought I had dealt with the fear centered around my blogging a few years ago. I wrote a specific post…..And then I just stopped writing the stuff God was laying on my heart. I believe the fear was probably two-fold and over the coming months of this year I will hash that out more but as of right now I can’t. (NOT OUT OF FEARS SAKE I can assure you).

Balance

The third word that I have been repeating in my head has been BALANCE. I have realized my need for Balance. I spent 4 weeks cleaning and re-organizing every cabinet in my kitchen. (I know that seems like a LONG time) I have a family and ministry responsibilities and other chores that need my attention. I am down to one cabinet and then wiping them all down! In the midst of that the dishwasher Kicked the bucket. As I tried to balance everything I quickly realized that I had fallen short on a bunch of other things.

And I am sure there will be others but for now these are the recurrent words. If there are more I am considering sharing more as they come along.

Themes in Our lives.

Every once in awhile themes pop up in our lives and I believe they are not just coincidence or by chance . I really truly believe that the happen because God is trying to teach us something. Or He wants us to pay attention to something.

As I have been doing my devotions through the General Epistles (James, First and Second Peter and first, second and Third John I saw there was a theme that stuck out to me was that of ATTITUDES and POSTURE of a believer…..HMMMM yep I wrote this blog post all about attitudes!.

Words Play apart in our everyday lives

Do you ever feel like you are sounding like a broken record.?Saying the same things over and over again. It happens all the time. In my prayer life, in my parenting, in my marriage. In my ministry. If you find this happening in Your life and you feel like a broken record take a moment and really ponder the significance of these repeating emotions, concepts….WORDS and really ask God, “What do you want me to learn from this?”

You will be absolutely amazed just how much you will grow when you are willing to have a teachable spirit (Blog post coming soon).

For now let’s chant about what themeless you have been seeing pop up in your lives and how God is working through them to make you more like Him!

Blessings, Mary

Coffee with Friends: Mary

A Little Background

Something I have struggled with for a while is why as Christians we feel the need to put our own guidelines on what is Best. We think we know what is best for us. There are countless books written on the subject and we give “steps” or questions to ask ourselves in determining the Best.

Now I am not bashing these books. I have enjoyed these books and benefited from these books but I think we as Christians get confused. I get concerned when we start evaluating what God calls us to, by what we think is best for us. It is a wrestling match for me, because I get what is going on. We say we want to please God and that we want to do what He wants us to. But, then when He brings something to us that doesn’t fit those 5 things or 10 questions, we toss the baby out with the bathwater because it doesn’t fit our ideals.

Just before Christmas this last year I read something that caught my attention… it was about Mary, you know Jesus’ mom. Now you might say “Mary, Christmas was almost two months ago, why on earth has it taken you so long to write this?” The answer is simple. When something is triggered in my brain I need to study it out. I wanted to look at my friends in the Bible and see what the pattern was. And I did. I wanted to see if I could come up with someone for the antithesis of my idea… and I couldn’t.

Meet My Friend Mary

We don’t have a whole lot of background about Mary. We know that she was a Jewish girl in the line of David, which means in her lineage they are amazing women like Rehab (a Prostitute) and Ruth ( a Moabite woman). We are going to talk more about these two later in the story as well. AND let’s add in Jesus since he is a major part of this as well… Mary was probably between the ages of 14-17. Girls married young in that culture. We know that Mary was betrothed to Joseph, a Carpenter. She was a virgin and greatly favored. To be betrothed is more than an engagement. They were basically married but without the wedding.

One night Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel and he had some big news for her. She was going to give Birth to a son and He was to be the son of God (paraphrase). She had one question “how will this be?” No virgin has ever given birth to a child before. It was a valid question. He explains how it will happen and her response was this, “I am the Lord’s servant, may your word to me be fulfilled.” And then the Angel left (Luke 1: 26-38 NIV).

That’s it. She did’n’t take into consideration the financial strain. Or how about Joseph’s reaction. How about the reaction of the people around her. After all people got stoned for being pregnant without being married in her culture. What about her family. She simply trusted God, She had faith.

What is Faith?

Hebrews 11:1 NIV tells us EXACTLY what Faith is.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Mary trusted the angel and what he said. He promised that Jesus will… (Luke 1:32-33)

  • be great.
  • be called Son of the Most High.
  • be given the throne of his father David by the Lord God.
  • Reign over Jacob’s descendants forever. His kingdom will never end.

Now I know that she had an angel that showed up to her, which for me shows even more that her faith and trust was great. She said YES with no thought at all to what is best for her. Now I am sure as she began to show that she was pregnant she had concerns. GREAT CONCERNS! But her faith stood firm. She trusted God, even when the scorn was great.

REHAB, RUTH AND JESUS- no angels, no questions

So I know you can say, yeah Mary, but her faith was easy because she had a visit from an angel. But what about the countless others who fully trusted God and set aside their questions and inhibitions ad didn’t chose their BEST. Ok so let’s stop right now calling it the BEST. in reality it is what is safest. The least amount of strain, struggle and Pain.

REHAB a prostitute in the city of Jericho. She received two spies from Israel when they were scoping out the land to conquer. She hid them on the roof and then lowered them outside the city walls after nightfall. She asked for protection for herself and her family and the spies told her how to let them know where she was. She then lied about them when questioned. She hung the scarlet chord in the window when the day of conquering came and she was rescued. Due to her faith she became a part of the line of Jesus.

She didn’t ask how this was going to affect me emotionally, physically, financially or spiritually. She didn’t ask what else might she be trading it for. She did’t ask herself, is this was what God wanted for her life. For Pete’s sake (I know I know- WHO IS PETE?) she didn’t even really know the God of Israel. She had heard of the miracles surrounding the Israelites. She didn’t ask which was the safest or which had the biggest blessing attached to it. She just plain and simple made a decision and STUCK with it- she trusted the God of Israel. The God who devours armies with the Red Sea (Joshua 2 NIV). She had faith, and then OBEYED. She didn’t have to. She could have chickened out for the possible difficulties she could face. Like what if the ruler of the land had found out she harbored those spies and helped them to escape. What if someone saw the scarlet chord hanging from her window and started asking questions. Was she nervous about possibilities? Probably but she was human. Doubts are not a sin… disobeying God is. And for her faith she is blessed richly. She marries an Israelite man named Salmon… their son, Boaz, is an intricate part of the life of our next lady of faith- RUTH!

Ruth- THERE is whole book about this woman of faith. Ruth was not and Israelite either. She was a Moabitess who married one of the sons of Israelite couple Naomi and Ellimelek. They were Israelites and the law very specifically told them NOT to intermarry with other cultures because those cultures would influence their relationships with God in a negative way. Well the men all died. Both sons and the husband and that left behind 3 widows Naomi, Ruth and Orpah. Naomi decided it was time to return to Israel and her daughter-in-law set out with her. But before long Naomi encouraged them to return to their country of Moab. Orpah listened to her bitter mother-in-law and returned but Ruth on the other hand made a few very famous statements:

  • Where you go I will go.
  • Where you stay I will stay.
  • Your people will me my people
  • Your God will be my God.

Her concern wasn’t about herself or her needs. She cared first about Naomi and God. She had no promise of even a home or really even food. She could have returned to her home, remarried and lived a fairly comfortable life, but instead her faith took her to an unknown. Her loyalty took her to a place of risk and selflessness. Was is easy? no way! She toiled laboring in the fields like many other foreigners in Israel. But her loyalty and faith made her stand out far above the rest. And Boaz took notice. Catch that name? NOW in this account we have a rare sight. In the final chapter of the book we get to witness someone who did count the cost of obedience to God. He was worried about his finances, and his home and his standing socially. And ya know what, we don’t know his name and he didn’t end up in the lineage of Christ. So Boaz and Ruth got married. And they had a son named Obed, the grandfather of David. Ruth became the great X30 grandma of Jesus. When we worry about what is best for us we can write ourselves out of God’s greatest blessings.

And then there is Jesus

Jesus is interesting because He is God and Man. By coming to earth, from perfect glorious heaven, Jesus certainly did not choose the best for Him. This perspective or choosing the greater purpose is seen throughout His life on earth. The first time we see Jesus make a choice that went against what “should have happened” he was 12 and got separated from his parents when he chose to stay at the temple and teach the priests. I cannot even begin to comprehend Mary and Joseph’s conversation. “Joe, what are we gonna do? God trusted us with Jesus and we lost Him. How could we have lost the Lord?” And then when they found him… Oh what joy they must have felt. Later we see him confront sin and Pharisees. Hypocrisy. lack of Faith. lack of love. All without considering the consequences of his actions. He didn’t agonize over decisions that could have cost him his life. Even in the moments leading up to the cross we see him asking His Heavenly Father to let the cup of crucifixion to pass from him but in the end he says “NOT MY WILL BUT YOURS.”

Not MY Will BUT YOURS!!

Surrendering our will- DYING TO SELF. That’s what real faith is. Trusting that God really does own the cattle on a thousand hills. That all things work together for good for those who serve the LORD. Even when things look impossible or horrible God can take ashes and make it absolutely beautiful. See we look at our lives AND our ministries and we say things like oh but I wanted to do this with my life. The problem is I cannot see the big picture like God does. Nothing surprises Him NOT ONE THING. and sometimes we have to travel a path to get to the place God wants us. When Ruth got married to the cute Israelite man, she never thought “Hey He’s gonna die before we have kids, and I am going to move back to Israel and take care of Naomi by working from sun up to late into the night picking and threshing barley and then I am gonna haul a crazy amount back home again just so I can wake up in a few hours and do it all over again.” And yet she chose to stick with her commitment even in hardship. Despite the fact that physically when she started she didn’t really have the capability to handle it. And yet God gave her strength.

I’m guessing when Mary said yes to Gabriel she didn’t have the financial ability to be a single ostracized mom .

And Rehab is perhaps the most amazing to me. When she said yes to God, she gave up her financial ability. You CANNOT say yes to God and still hold on to your sin. She had NO idea her home was going to be completely destroyed. Can you imagine the emotional strain she was under to give up her career and pick up a whole new culture after meeting two spies for less than 24 hours and not even having much interaction with them. PLUS the fear of being ostracized because A) the line of work she was in and B) she was not an Israelite. And spiritually, well she had zero. She didn’t meet the standards of her rescuers. So how on earth could this possibly be the best for her when at first glance NONE of this seemed to be in her best interest. And yet look at her legacy!

THAT’S IT: OUR BEST isn’t here on this earth, we may be able to to witness it but most of the time we don’t.

  • Rehab’s legacy- JESUS
  • Ruth’s legacy- JESUS
  • Mary’s Legacy- JESUS
  • JESUS’S LEGACY- all believers serving Him for HIS purposes INCLUDING ME
  • My Legacy- whoever is impacted by my choice to lay aside my comforts and desire- my willingness to die to self

And about our dear Mary, one more thought. Mary never once thought that saying yes to the Greatest gift-Jesus was also going to be her greatest sorrow. Watching the one she bore die. You know, the one promised to Reign over Jacob’s descendants forever. The one whose kingdom will never end, who would be given the throne of his father David. She watched her son, the Lord, die. Not just any death but the worst most shameful death a person could think up.

And as I looked and studied these women and Jesus I stood in awe of what I saw, then I began to think about all the others, and ya know what I discovered? All the people across scripture who made a lasting impression on eternity at one point had to set aside what they thought best for themselves and chose to do the radical and crazy. Some took a little longer and we watch their journeys and wrestlings unfold, but in the end the ONLY way YOU can be USED for GOD’S BEST is to lay yours aside.

So here are a few questions in closing.:

  • What are we holding onto in our lives that we have sealed off from God? It’s usually something that we deem as ugly, and unmanageable, or too traumatic to deal with. The problem with that is we are holding on to what God wants to use and transform into a beautiful thing.
  • Have we REALLY died to self? Have we set aside what we think is best and chased after the things God has brought to us- EVEN IF it makes us CRAZY uncomfortable?
  • What’s diverting our attention (aka distracting us)? It can be a good thing. It can be a great thing. But if it doesn’t fit with the story God has given us, we can be hiding, running or ignoring the path and purpose God has for us!

Let’s chat! What is the person in the Bible that grabs your attention most when It comes to denying their selfish ambitions and what was in their best interest according to them?