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Flexibility

I wrote recently on the fact that life does not always go as planned, and that can be frustrating if you are a planner like myself. Another week of homeschool has gone by and we are about to make some more changes to the plans that I made for our family. While I believe this change is going to be good, it is also a little frustrating because I put a lot of thought into the original plans. With that being said, my thoughts have turned to the idea of being flexible. Sometimes this can be good, and sometimes – not so much.

What situations are best to be flexible in?

Like I mentioned in my last post, plans will change, and you have a choice in how you react to this. For example, it could be that a flat tire means you can’t go meet a friend you haven’t seen in a while. While this is disappointing, you have a choice. You can let this completely get you down, or you can realize that these things happen. I encourage you to study and implement Philippians 4:8-9 and pray about your disappointment.

What if the change you are dealing with is bigger than just this?  Perhaps sickness, job loss, people breaking promises, or even death has come your way. Maybe you are being hit by more than one of these. On the other hand, it could be that someone is treating you badly because of your faithfulness to Christ. If it is persecution, know that “…all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12”. While this is an intimidating thought, it is going to happen. While this is something that needs to be accepted, so also is the fact that God promises to never give you more “fiery trials” than you can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13). That includes the everyday things as well as pointed oppression. As painful as trials are, they serve a purpose. I encourage you to study 1 Peter. There are some really great verse by verse lessons available through Tullstar from the 2016 TLC Retreat that were a great encouragement to me that you should check out.

God wants us to know that we are not here alone. He did not leave us to figure it all out on our own. When you don’t know what to do – ask Him (Proverbs 3: 5-6 & James 1: 5-6)! God gave us His Word, and when we, in turn, put it into our hearts by studying it, He is telling us what to do. This requires trusting Him. To be perfectly honest, that is something that has been on my mind a lot lately; and I understand is not always easy.  Something that has brought me much comfort is Christ’s words at the end of Matthew: “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” Amen.  Matthew 28:20.

When can being flexible be bad?

While many situations call for flexibility, sometimes we need to dig in and see something through. You need to be able to commit. Without commitment to an ultimate goal, your flexibility can turn into fickleness. I smile as I write this because of some of the changes we are making with our curriculum choices and scheduling issues. I need to trust this decision and not be ready to flip flop next week. If I don’t, I would not be a good steward of my time or money. So, believe me, I am writing to myself here.

Before I sign off, I also want to mention another time it is not good to be flexible, and that is in your faithfulness to God. God’s Word is infallible. There are some who are flexible in their interpretation of Scripture or the need to submit themselves to it. Perhaps somebody you love has decided to indulge in something God spoke against, and you are wondering if maybe you have been wrong about the issue. I mean – if He really meant that was wrong there sure would be a lot of condemned people! The simple fact is, sin is pleasurable. If it wasn’t – no one would do it.  It is also a fact that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). If you bend the Scriptures to suit your life, as opposed to bending your will to His, it doesn’t actually make evil things good. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1.

There is more that can be said about this, but I will end by encouraging every soul to remember that life is going to pack some punches. Roll with them…and when it happens turn to the Lord and His Word. It is literally epic.

 

 

 

 

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Bad Advice

Learning from past mistakes

Open Mouth Insert Foot

So, this morning I learned a hard lesson.  I say learned…I suppose I am in the middle of learning it.  I realized that a piece of advice that I gave my child (two years ago) was not good.  I shared something that I had been taught, but when I did so I did not give complete context and frankly, the premise of the advice was just wrong.

I gave the advice with pure intentions, passing along something I had been taught that seemed legit.  It was not until it had come full circle and my child had put into practice the advice that I had given, that I realized the flaw in what I had taught.

What is a mama to do?

Part of me wants to run myself through the ringer.  I found myself saying “What can I possibly have to say that is worthwhile?” “I just need to stop handing out any advice…” Like all the other times I berate myself, I realize intellectually what I am doing to myself, and that I just need to stop. I am not perfect, although sometimes I hold myself to an unreasonable standard.

The thing is, choosing to live an epic life does not mean living a perfect life.  I will make mistakes, it is what I do with those mistakes that will determine if I have an epic life or average.

So, I am choosing epic.  That means that I am choosing to learn from my mistakes and do my best to not repeat them.  That isn’t going to happen passively. It is a choice and one that I need to make every day.  The next time that I am faced with a situation like this (or the one I did two years ago, that just reared its ugly head) I am going to remember today and say something…different.  Wiser.  I am going to seek advice from those who are wiser than myself and use a filter before I blurt anything out.  That’s my plan.  However, just in case I drop the ball (because that will happen again at some point), I am going to try to be more forgiving of myself.

I’ll leave with some parting words from my beloved when I was beating myself up.  He said, “We will do our best as parents, and bathe our efforts in prayer and Bible study”.  Sounds like an epic plan to me.

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Epic Planning

Epic Planning

This week was our first week of school.  While I have been homeschooling our eldest for a few years, now we are homeschooling all our boys. I have been excited, hopeful, and a little nervous. I have filled out my planner, and put together daily and weekly schedules, as well as planned field trips. With all that being said, I knew that it didn’t matter if I put tons of thought into our school time, there were going to be days that did not go as I have planned.

You see, I am a planner.

I enjoy designing cute schedules, and I thrive on check lists.  However, if I have learned one thing in the last ten years or so, it is this. I can plan my little heart out, but life seldom pays attention to your intentions.  Curve balls are a given, and sometimes a piano falls from the sky so to speak, and you have to figure out what to do.

A few years ago, I put a lot of thought, planning, and preparation into having our son naturally at a birthing center.  Lo and behold, my body just flat out would NOT dilate past five centimeters, even after 30 hours of labor, so I was transferred to the hospital, where I endured an emergency C-section. I was told later that if this was 100 years ago, we both would have died. It took me a few years to find peace with that, but I am no less of a woman because of life not going along with my plan.

This week, school went…okay. Not bad, not great. We did not do everything I had written down, and there were a couple of meltdowns from the boys (not me thankfully). Instead of throwing my hands up, I took a deep breath, and decided to re-evaluate and tweak my plan.  I am still figuring out what to do, but I do know that it is going to be all right. They will get a good education, and someday, I hope they will see that we put a lot of thought into raising them, and did our best.

Plans are not a bad thing.  God has had a plan before the foundation of the world, to save those who submitted to Christ (Ephesians 1:3-6).  He told us that we need to be ready, because Christ will come as a thief in the night to take His bride home, and judge the world (Matthew 25:1-13, 2 Peter 3:10). His plans will not fail, and those who follow His plan will be saved.

So, if you happen to be a planner like I am, or not, I encourage you to do some planning. Plan to be faithful to Christ, and that includes giving your worries and concerns over to Him as well (Matthew 11:28-20).  He meant it when He said that He was here for you, even until the end of the world (Matthew 28:19-20). Planning for Heaven is the most epic plan you will ever make.

Photo by oliva732000

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Flip- Flop

Flip-Flop

Today was the day.

The day that has been on my mind for months. One that I have been looking forward to and dreading at the same time.

It was the last day of public school for my family.

I am hoping to write more about why we made this decision later, but right now, I wanted to spend a few minutes reflecting on this momentous day.  This was by no means an easy decision.  My youngest boys have had two great teachers this year.  Great – is actually an understatement.  While they both love their teachers, my middle son, who is very much like myself, especially bonded with his teacher.  I knew he had NOT been looking forward to today, and I have been trying to think of how I can make it easier for him.

Sure enough, when I got them out of bed this morning, he asked me what day it was, and when I answered he broke out in sobs.  Can you say heart crushing?  While he is excited to homeschool, he hasn’t yet made the connection that he would not be around her everyday next year.  So, he connects homeschool with never seeing her again. Funny thing – he hasn’t said a word about any of the kids.  Let’s just say bonding didn’t really happen there.

Have you ever felt very confident about something, and then flip flopped where you questioned EVERYTHING that you were so confident about…and then did it again?  That has been me, for a while now, but ESPECIALLY today.

I showed up to turn in my withdrawal paperwork, and get the guys.  First, I went to my youngest son’s classroom where I visited with his teacher while kids strung out on last day in-human inertia climbed the walls. She informed me that while she knows we plan to homeschool, that she just found out today that she is moving up a grade level and has permission for this class of students to move up with her.  AHH! How cool is that!?

Flip flop.

I calmly congratulated her and maintained composure as I questioned everything I believe in, before saying that “Yes, we do still plan to homeschool”. Then, I walked down the hallway to get my other son, and passed a group of students singing and dancing on the stage to a boom box blaring “Whip & Nae Nae”.  I was reminded of my youngest kindergarten graduation last year where instead of singing “Deep in the Heart of Texas” or some other classic kids song, they had my FIVE-year-old “Whipping & Nae Nae-ing”  on stage (can’t even believe that is a thing).

Flip Flop.

…and I was back. I am totally okay if my children don’t whip and nae nae.  Completely. In fact, you could even say it was a preference. I get to my oldest son’s class. Big gulp. I was so afraid he would be a hot mess.  Thankfully, he was okay.  He was helping his teacher move desks and clean the classroom while the others played on iPads. I admit that he is a little bit of a teacher’s pet, and thankfully, still young enough to not be bullied too much about it. I know that would have changed next year and he would have been super confused. Guess what? I am okay that he would rather help his teacher than play on an iPad. Empathy is a character trait that I want to encourage.

I visited with this teacher. She is super sweet and I can tell that she cares about teaching.  Hugs were exchanged and pictures taken.

Flip flop.

What am I doing? Am I making the right decision? I don’t know. Yes. No. I don’t know. THEN, out of the blue one of the kids yells out “What the heck!?” to my son who was stacking chairs.

Flip flop.

Nah – I’m good.  I seriously don’t want my sons in an environment full of attitude and bad language. He has already seen more this year than I would like for him to have.  I want time to put them through “life boot camp” if you will, so they will be ready to fight the devil when they are older.  That takes time.  I know that it won’t be easy.  There will be good days and bad, but I am going to put my confidence in God, and be constantly in prayer to help my husband and me raise our sons to work in His kingdom.

 

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The Most Beautiful Thing Part 2

Why Is Marriage So Important?

When Jesus was on this earth, one of the ways He taught people was through parables. He used stories with characters that people could understand and circumstances that they could relate to in order to teach a greater lesson. For instance, someone familiar with farm life would understand what it meant to get ready for the harvest. This same teaching principle holds true with marriage.
Man takes off ring from fingerMarriage has its earthly benefits, as was evident when God made Eve to be a helper for Adam. This partnership is also a way to teach the importance of our relationship with God. When we become Christians we have made a promise to God that we are going to faithfully serve Him all of our days. When we get married, we vow to our spouse that we are going to stay faithful to them all of our days. We did not promise God that we will be faithful except when times get hard, and the same goes with our spouse. If we are unfaithful toward our spouse, it is the same as being unfaithful toward Jehovah. God sees this as being so serious that He made adultery the only stipulation for a person to be able to get a divorce and be allowed to remarry someone else afterwards (Mt 19:1-9).
So when we ask why marriage is so important and why adultery is such a big deal, we should also ask why truth and honesty are important as well. Throughout the Scriptures we read of condemnation for those who speak lies and are false witnesses. The reason it is such a big deal is because Jehovah is an honest God (I Sam 12:24), and Satan is the Father of lies (Jn 8:44). If we break our promise to our spouse then we are breaking it to God, and we are following in the footsteps of Satan. Yes, it is that serious.
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The Most Beautiful Thing Part 1

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.” Albert Einstein

Is Everybody Doing It?

I once read a news article that talked about the rising trend of couples living together before getting married. This was not altogether shocking to me because I have known several people who have done just that. One of the reasons why this has become so prevalent is the lack of biblical education on how men and women are supposed to relate to one another, the purpose of dating and marriage, and how to have a healthy relationship. There are several passages throughout the Bible that address these very issues. I find it interesting that when Paul wrote about it to the Ephesians, he commented how mysterious all of this can be (Eph 5:32).
Since there are several different reasons why people decide to live together before getting married, it is a good idea to study God’s Word to know what He thinks about it all. Although most of the people I know had the intention of marrying their significant other at some point in the future, there are others who don’t feel like marriage is important enough to even strive for. So is living with the person you are dating before marriage wrong? In order to answer this question we need to explore the intricacies of temptation, influence, dating and marriage as well as the complexities that encompass couples living together without marriage. I hope you will enjoy this three post series on appreciating marriage.

The Beauty of Marriage

Marriage. What a simple plan that mankind has made so very difficult! Whether it is done for love, money, social status, spite, force, desperation, or in the middle of an incoherent booze- fest, it is something practiced in just about every culture all over the globe. A man and a woman make a promise that they are going to stay by one another’s side through the good, the bad, and the ugly. No matter how it is proclaimed, a vow like that is huge!
Husband and Wife KissHave you ever wondered where this tradition originated? If you think about it, how could cultures whose lifestyles are so vastly different from one another share something like this? The only answer is that, as the Bible confirms, Jehovah our God designed matrimony. In Genesis chapter two we read a deeper account of the sixth day of creation. It is here that after making Adam, God put him in the Garden of Eden and charged him to take care of it.
God knew that in mankind, loneliness would ultimately breed insanity. So, He made the animals and had Adam name them. It was through this process that Adam was able to learn that animals and humans could not be equal to one another in any way, especially as mates, and also to appreciate God’s plan for compatible mates (Gen 2:18-20). After this, the scriptures teach that God “… caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man” (Gen 2:21-22).
Adam was able to realize that this new creature was compatible with him, and called her a woman because she was taken from man. After this, Jesus points out in Matthew 19:5 that Jehovah performed the first marriage ceremony with the instruction that a man and a woman were to leave their parents and join one to another. Now, because marriage is an invention of God, He has every right to set boundaries and have precepts concerning it.
Everybody knows that when parents set rules for their children, they are doing so because they love them and do not want to see them get hurt. After all, if a parent does not have rules for their children they will act foolishly (Prov 22:15). When a mother tells her son not to play in the middle of the road and he starts running toward it, she scoops him up and swats his bottom. However, she is not doing it to be mean. She knew he could have been killed, so she set the rules, and gave a memorable consequence for breaking those rules so he does not do it again.
Our Heavenly Father is the same way. He loves mankind, and wants what is best for us. He knows us inside and out, and when He gave us marriage, He did so with the plan that this is how we could show love to a spouse and build families without producing painful consequences. Unrestricted sexual behavior can cause so much pain, and breaking the rules He has set in place about marriage can as well. The difference in breaking marital laws though is that there are consequences here on earth, and left unrepentant, eternal consequences as well.
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Two Ways God Is Interested in Your Love Life

Hands spelling the word loveDoes God have plans for your love life? Yes! He does! However, you might find that His focus might be a little different than where ours tend to go this time of year.

Number One – Love God

In Deuteronomy 6:4-9, we read that we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and strength.  Not only that – we are to remind ourselves daily of our love for Him.  That is because, quite frankly, we (people in general) tend to fill our minds with a whole lotta distractions and not make room to focus on loving God.

Jesus repeated this in Matthew 22:37-38: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment.” Anything else you do in life will be in vain, if you don’t start here.  Jesus then lead into my next point when He said “And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Number Two – Love Souls

To love another person, you need to change your perspective from seeing that person driving next to you, your co-worker, your sister, that cashier, and I could go on and on, to seeing souls.  Strip off the title and see a soul that God created and Jesus died for.  While God has given specific ways in which to show that love (Matthew 19:19/Leviticus 19:18) He explains that each of those actions start with a decision to love that soul (Romans 13:8-10).

Yes – that means the person with a different skin color than you.  The person who dresses different than you.  The person who doesn’t smell all that good.  The person who wasn’t raised like you were.  The person who is nice to you and…

the person who doesn’t love you.

It is easy to love those who show it back, but if we are to be Christ – Imitators, we must do the hard stuff.  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…” (Matthew 5:44)

How do we do this?

Well, sorry to break it to you, but there is no easy button for love. In fact, love is a decision we make and a process we strive to improve at for the entirety of our lives.  Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:1-6, that we change our attitudes, and work on our patience so that we may walk worthy of being called a Christian.

Why Should You Love?

While I could probably go into immense detail as to all the reasons to love God and the souls around us, the reason to love can be simple summed up to:  Love because God loves us – flaws and all.  For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8).

How can we possibly look at another human being and see them as anything other than amazing when God looked at us while we slapped His love away with our sin, and loved us anyway?  So yes, God is concerned with your love life.  He raised the bar, and expects us to humble ourselves and do the hard stuff.

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The Never Ending To Do List

Have you ever had one of those weeks where you start off making this huge “To Do” list and all week long you are tackling those tasks like a boss?  However, as the week progresses, it seems like two or three things replace the one you completed.

That has been my week.

I must confess, that week’s like this…you know, the ones where you feel pretty good about all you have accomplished, and totally aggravated at all you have left to do, and it is all rolled up in a nice little box of frustration, can challenge my goal of having an epic attitude.

As I thought about these things this morning, I made a decision.  I decided to think about the positive side of my week.  So here it goes:

  • I have an awesome responsibility to write Bible class curriculum, and I am making good progress on Sunday’s lesson.  This is something I get to do.  I get to spend many hours a week thinking about teaching precious souls the Word of Life.  That is pretty awesome.  Even if I do not finish everything that I want to do by Sunday, I can always add it later.
  • I get to help write and design an update for our supporters.  There are people in our lives that see the need of what we are doing, and who make the sacrifice to support us in any way they can.  That is so humbling and I am excited to tell them about the progress.checklist to do list happy blessed
  • I have a husband and three amazing boys that I get to care for. I take my role as a homemaker seriously, and even when the list grows instead of shrinks, it is a blessing to do life with my family.

I could keep adding, but basically it comes down to the fact that technically, my “To Do” list will not be done until I leave this physical world for my eternal home.  So, I have a choice to make.  Am I going to get stressed out and depressed over all the things I need to do that are not getting done?  OR Am I going to realize that the fact that I have so much to do shows what a full life I have and that in and of itself is a blessing?

That is my choice, and it can be yours too.  So what are you going to choose?

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The Most Beautiful Thing Part 3

Why Is Marriage So Special?

Whether it has happened already or not, the day you get your first boyfriend is one you will most likely remember till the day you die. I remember being nervous around him and how awkward it was when he called me his girlfriend. I also remember how childish our break up was. It is humorous how unlike a real relationship it was because of the rules our parents put into place regarding our little infatuation. At the same time, the innocence of the crush is a good memory of my youth. Teens sharing headphones
Most would agree the magnitude of difference the words boyfriend and husband, girlfriend and wife have. Not long ago, I was watching a show where this fifteen- year- old boy was expressing to his girlfriend how he wanted her to be his wife. Looking at the young man it seemed ridiculous to see him as a husband at that tender age. It is the same feeling I got thinking about eight- year- old Josiah becoming king of Israel (II Kngs 22:1). Why is that? It is because the roles of a husband or a king bring a responsibility and maturity that someone at that age seldom has.
Not only do the words husband and wife imply maturity and responsibility, but also commitment. Promising to spend the rest of your adult life with one person is not something to be done flippantly. A person needs to step back from all the gushy butterflies making his or her heart go pitter- patter and soberly look at what he or she is about to do. It seems more and more these day’s people enter into a marital relationship with no more thought than what is put into dinner plans. Please do not misunderstand me; love and romance are very important. Even more important is if this person’s number one goal in life is to be in Heaven and if they are committed to helping you get there as well.
Elderly couple on hammock

Image Copyright 2006 Patrick Dugan.

The fact that marriage is so serious, though, is what makes it so special and sacred. There are times in life to goof off, and this is good. When Solomon was an older man, he looked back on his life and wrote what he learned. One of the things he talks about is that there is a time for everything:
“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace. What profit has the worker from that in which he labors?”(Ecc 3:1-9)
Marriage is so wonderful because it is a time for a man and a woman to commit to one another as they have committed their lives to Christ. It should not be thought about or dealt with frivolously, but held in a place of honor and praise. It is something that children should be brought up to desire, wait for, and cherish once it is theirs.