We Need Hope This Christmas

It is never going to change. There is just no hope.”

My heart felt a stab of pain when I heard a student say those words recently.

I supervise in-school-suspension as part of my school responsibilities and it is not uncommon to have a student occasionally land with me who is struggling with more than just a case of mis-guided behavior.

Family problems, broken relationships, the many uncertainties of life that encompass their tweens and teens are not just a phase of immature perception but rather real life -on- life issues that many of them deal with on a continuing basis.

What do you say to someone when you know that they feel like life isn’t worth living?

With the suicide statistics at an all time high, I can tell you that students aren’t the only ones who are feeling hopeless. We have a whole world of hurting people.

We are awash in a sea of human need.

Drug abuse, human-trafficking, sexual addiction, robbery, rage and hate have taken an ever increasing grip on our society at the same time we educate and promote more and more self-actualization and personal empowerment.

All of our yoga, positive thinking and selfies aren’t going to fix the fact that we are a broken people who need much more than a band-aid in this seemingly God-forsaken-life.

We need a God who forsook everything.

This is the hope of Christmas because there is a God who did just that.

He knew that in and of ourselves we could not get it right.

Even in the best case of scenarios, we would be no match for this sin nature that would rear it’s evil head inside of us causing us to hurt not only those around us but our own selves as well.

Yes, despite our best intentions, our self pats on the back, we can never pull off leaving it behind by sheer determination and strong will.

We need someone to help us.

Not just help us, but literally to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

We have been wronged and done wrong and justice demands that these things be made right and restored.

Evil must be dealt with or life truly is not fair and all is in vain.

Let’s all just throw in the towel if these things cannot be made right and indeed declare, “there is no hope!”

But, not yet!

What if there is?

If you have ever seen the billboard that says “Don’t make me come down there”…….’God’, then you will find great hope in knowing that is exactly what He did.

His gift of  His presence displayed in His one and only Son would come to save us from our sins that we could not free ourselves from.

He in perfection, blameless and sinless would be born in human flesh and take on the temptations of this world, yet not succumb to them.

He would offer himself to allow justice to be served for my sins and yours in his own death.

He would unjustly pay my debt and take on my punishment.

This sacrifice would offer me a new life in this world so I am free not to sin but from it!

His provision gives eternal life for those who would receive this free gift of salvation.

A future of no more sin, sorrow or pain.

This, my friends is mercy! 

This, precious, hurting people is grace!

This, dear world is hope!

Jesus, Messiah 

“He became sin, who knew no sin
That we might become His righteousness
He humbled himself and carried the cross
Love so amazing, love so amazing
Jesus Messiah, name above all names
Blessed redeemer, Emmanuel
The rescue for sinners, the ransom from Heaven
Jesus Messiah, Lord of all
His body the bread, his blood the wine
Broken and poured out all for love
The whole earth trembled, and the veil was torn
Love so amazing, love so amazing, yeah
Jesus Messiah, name above all names
Blessed redeemer, Emmanuel
The rescue for sinners, the ransom from Heaven
Jesus Messiah, Lord of all
All our hope is in You”
(Chris Tomlin)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lighten UP!

Maybe it is just me, but I think with the political climate so hostile and everybody pointing fingers at everybody else, we are in dire need of a good dose of humor!

I mean, seriously people. We are taking ourselves way too serious, if you know what I mean!

So, that’s why the other day, I decided to lighten up and have a little fun.

It just so happened that some students wandered into the school library to check on an experiment that they had going on in a spot that I had allowed them to use.

I was at my desk and as they completed their task, a couple of the boys strolled over my way and informed me that they were going to hawk up some nasty sinus drainage and land it in my waste basket.

Despite my strong admonitions to discourage such unacceptable behavior, they did it anyway and laughingly exited the door.

Typically, these two boys don’t give me much trouble and I could tell that they were just in a jovial mood, so instead of pulling out the big guns (i.e. informing the office of their behavior), I decided to get even instead.

I happened to have a roll of yarn in my desk drawer, so I pulled the trash liner out of the trash, tied a nice neat bow made of yarn on it and headed down the hall to their class.

Finding one of the boys sitting nearest to the door and noticing the teacher hadn’t started  teaching yet, I announced that I was delivering an early Christmas present and deposited it directly on the students desk.

The look of surprise on his face and the laugh from the rest of the class gave me all the satisfaction I needed to move me from victim to victor.

The next day, they showed up again to check their experiment but somehow they had no need to leave a deposit in my wastebasket!

That was wise on their part since it might not have served them too well to press their luck again.

There are definitely hills to die on in life and battles that must be won. However, sometimes the order of the day is to take it down a notch, be creative and have a little fun.

As comedian Ken Davis is known to say, “lighten up and live!”

 

The Personalities of Thanksgiving 2019

I have always been an observer of people and am convinced that each and every one has gifts in their personality that God knew the world was going to need.

More specifically, I think that each family is blessed with exactly who God knows they need to fill in the missing pieces of who He created them to be.

So of course, I love it when the holidays roll around and most of the family is all together, celebrating, giving me an opportunity to enjoy the gift of who they are.

The more people we add to the mix, the more gifts are brought to the table.

We have introverts and extroverts, artists, poets, writers, musicians and techies. We have theologians, mathematicians and teachers.

We know exactly who is going to make us laugh, who will bring the fun, who will challenge us with engaging topics of conversations and who will be the first one to offer to serve or help.

We know who will lose their phone or keys, who will find them, who will organize and who will assist, who will chill, who will stress, who will be the Martha, who will be  the Mary (the secret is out that I can be one or the other, depending on the moment!)

Most of all, we know who we are the most thankful for.

Every…single..one…

Happy Thanksgiving, from our family to yours!

 

 

 

What Have I Learned in 37 Years of Marriage?

Now that, is a hard question!

My daughter-in-law asked me that one yesterday morning at the breakfast table!

I had to stop and think because there has been so much and I never quit learning!

I guess, I would have to say that patience and communication is something that is absolutely necessary! In fact I have an immediate example that just took me away from this blog:

Rick and I were at the office and he noticed the flowers outside were wilting and needed watered. I volunteered to deal with the flowers since he was getting ready to leave to go downtown. I told him to make sure to leave the door unlocked, so I could get back in.

He left in his car while I was watering the plants and as he was driving off, I went to open the very locked door!

All of my keys, cell phone etc. were in the office that now was locked.

So, on a hot day with me wearing a long sleeve shirt and wearing sandals instead of my tennis shoes, I marched myself all of the way downtown to retrieve a set of keys.

Good thing I had a long walk to cool off!

He explained that he actually had left the door a bit ajar but the wind must have shut it.

There is a choice in those moments to unleash one’s annoyance or to accept the fact that most of the time, the spouse who declared their undying, sacrificial love at the altar is not deliberately trying to sabotage the other’s life with obstacles to make it more difficult.

That also falls in line with grace. We must extend grace when the flub ups or misunderstandings happen. Heaven knows, God has had much grace and mercy on us!

Who are we not to extend it to those we love the most!

Humor comes in very handy when tension flares. Knowing not to take yourself or the other too seriously can carry a marriage down many a peaceful road.

Choose your battles and know which hills to die on.

Does it matter if the toothpaste lid got left off or the shoes got mud on the floor? No!!

Does it matter if someone has an affair? Yes!

Easy breezy!

Finally, I would say that due to the oneness factor in marriage, the work you put into loving that other person and building them up with much positive encouragement helping them be the best they can be, is the extent to which you will have a joyful and rich marriage.

Husbands and wives that criticize, nag, complain and control will only have a beaten down, discouraged and depressed spouse. This will do nothing for either partner.

Rick and I are a team. We are each other’s greatest cheerleaders. No one will know my weaknesses like he will. He can use that against me or lovingly and prayerfully help me with them. And I will do the same for him.

Nobody but a psychopath gets married in order to destroy another person. Most of us have the best hopes and dreams to build a foundation for a future that will last.

I believe that all of us can have that if we are quick to apologize, walk in humility and never quit growing and learning.

Christ is the author of that kind of love.

You have heard these words a million times but they cannot be stated enough and it will take a lifetime to apply them:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

These words are the measuring stick of love for me.

These are not words to throw up in Rick’s face but mine to be responsible to live up to.

Someday, I will stand before God and give an account for my life and I believe the most important question next to did I know His son and have faith in him, will be did I love like Him.

So, what have I learned in 37 years of marriage?

That I am only beginning to scratch the surface on this love thing and will need many more years of practice to get it right!

Lord willing, may it be so!

 

 

 

 

 

A Power Made Perfect in Weakness

Most mornings when my husband and I wake up, we pray together about our day.

It was no different this past June except on this particular day, we especially prayed that God would direct our steps to be a blessing in some way to the people we would encounter that day.

After praying, I met my adult daughter downstairs for a morning walk and we headed towards our usual route. Something was different though in that for some reason, I suggested we take a different route and head towards the north end of town and loop around.

We hadn’t gotten very far before I heard moaning and wailing. I looked over at a yard and saw 3 men. One was lying on the ground all bloodied, another was standing and on his phone, while the 3rd one was lying on top of something in the yard.

I was on the phone with a friend while my daughter and I were walking and I told her something was wrong and I needed to go.

We got close enough to see that the man on the ground was badly wounded. I wasn’t sure if they all had a big fist fight or what had happened until I saw the man lying on what I thought was an object was actually a dog.

I realized then, that this was a serious dog attack.

I asked the man on the phone if he had called the police. Badly shaken, he replied that he had. The man lying on the dog said, “hurry, I can’t hold this dog back much longer!”

The thing that you may not know is that as a child, I was attacked by a dog once.

I am not one that will go near a dog if I feel he is a threat.

However, here is a man, terribly wounded with blood everywhere, writhing in pain and he needed help. The dog was being held inches away from him with the possibility of breaking loose.

I can say nothing except when you hear of God taking over, that is what happened.

I asked the man on the phone to run in the house and get me some rags.

He did and my daughter and I began to apply pressure to the man’s wounds.

The wounded man’s throat was badly bleeding and ripped open. I tried to put pressure on the main artery as my daughter put pressure on the other wounds. I have never seen such a traumatic injury.

I began praying that Jesus would help bring peace and calm in the midst of this trauma because I knew this man needed it, my daughter and I needed it and really everyone involved was going to have to recover from how horrific this whole situation was.

Soon, the police came and dealt with the dog, the E.M.T.’s came to give aid to the man and my daughter and I went on our way.

We went through the rest of our day trying to process what happened. My daughter had a good cry and I was too caught up in trying to figure out how I could even have stayed calm in that situation at all.

One of my favorite verses of scripture came to mind that day: “My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

It was obvious to me that Christ had given me the strength and courage to do something that I could not in and of myself do.

He enabled me to put my fear aside to help someone in need. He did the same for my daughter.

Later, when talking to the men who were involved, they thanked us for helping and all I could say was that we were there because God loved them and sent us to help. I had no other explanation.

That is the sort of God He is. He just shows up in the most amazing of ways!

Later that day, my husband had his own divine encounter when he was the first responder to an ATV accident on the road outside his window.

Who would have thought that our morning prayer time would have led to all of this?

We will never forget that day. I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night replaying in my mind what happened and ask again for God to just give me peace as I wrestle through the images and trauma. I know eventually, it will pass.

It helps a lot to know that in the worst of situations, God is there.

It is also a reminder to be careful what you pray for, God just might take you up on it!

The Summer of Weddings!

There are things that mother’s know about their kids.

Call it intuition or just knowing how to ask the right questions. Never rule out reading their body language!

So, when you begin to notice  them talking about one particular person exclusively, with a slight smile on their face or a different tone in their voice, all mom sensories are on high alert!

When they are on the phone talking into the late hours of the night, booking flights, driving 3 hours to meet halfway for a date or reading a book titled; “101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Engaged”, you know that more than likely, wedding bells are soon to be ringing.

Having 5 children within the span of 10 years offered a slight probability that some weddings might possibly overlap and this summer was the “bingo”!

As if two weddings in one family aren’t interesting enough, the fact that one would be the groom and the other the bride made it especially so.

The two are definitely not the same and I don’t necessarily mean in the hammering out of the details, I mean emotionally.

Having married off three sons, I am well aware that now when they need ‘female’ input, they will no longer need mom. Their wife will offer the feminine perspective, the nurturing and the special touches in life that we women are so good at and men so often need (whether they admit it or not!) It is not always easy for mom’s to let go of sons but if we love them, we will want them to have the gift of a good wife who will be all those things and more. I could not be more grateful for three wonderful daughters-in-law who are exactly who my sons need.

For a daughter, it is a whole different set of emotions. I don’t care if your girl is the CEO of a major corporation. Everything within you wants to know if this guy is going to love, cherish and protect her. Despite the movies that show women body slamming 250 lb. men right and left, you know better.  He may be the more emotional, sensitive one and she the logical one but at the end of the day, you want to know if her groom is going to be a safe place for her.

There are many conversations, questions and discussions as the relationships progress. Rick and I are both very forthright with our adult children on covering the bases that we feel need addressed to ensure that they are thinking beyond romance and looking ahead to life on life.

We have always said that the wedding is a day, marriage is a lifetime.

You wonder as the day of celebration nears if you have covered everything. Did you give them all the tools they will need to establish a good foundation for marriage? Are they really ready for the obstacles life will throw at them?

So, you talk, you pray and you let go, realizing that the God who loves them more than you ever could will lead them, guide them and provide for them in the same way that he did for you.

You look back over the years as yet another anniversary heads your way, and you see that you have made it thus far by God’s grace and if He is big enough to carry you, He is big enough for your kids as well.

You remember the hard times but the good times too. The laughter, hopes, dreams and fun. It’s all there, the better and the worse. You realize that the early years are just a glimpse of all the joy to come, if you both are all in.

So, you celebrate the day, kiss them goodbye and wave as they head down the road with a prayer on your lips:

“Yes Lord, may it be that the best is yet to come!”

 

 

 

Light Fixtures, Shutters and Why My House Won’t Be Featured in the Next Issue of “Better Homes and Gardens!”

I am not a details person and it shows!

Oh not that some things don’t matter to me, it’s just that not EVERYTHING matters to me and that is when I get into trouble.

Take this house remodeling project for instance.  I am way obsessed with light fixtures for some reason (don’t try to figure it out, it is just the way I’m wired), so I find these adorable, outside lights that will be perfect by my front door.

I scored big time on the purchase of them because I found them at the thrift store where, incidentally, you can find the absolutely coolest and most amazing light fixtures of all time!

Anyway, I decided as well, that our darling little 1920’s house needed shutters to accent the original, rolled, paned glass windows that grace the front porch.

The problem started when there wasn’t room for shutters and the two porch lights on either side. Unwilling to compromise on my light fixtures, I decided that we would go with shutters on the outside edges of the window only and see how that worked. (Please do not tell Chip and Joanna because they would most undoubtedly, “shudder” at the thought!)

Did I mention that we have steel siding, which will not be replaced until the next tornado rips through town?  Or that my husband spent hours trying to put up the light fixtures, wiring electricity and getting them perfectly even after he dutifully mounted the shutters?

I will mention that the lights look amazing and the shutters now look, well, less than that.

However, I won’t be mentioning this to my husband who informed me that once the shutters go up on the steel siding, they won’t be coming down. Neither will the lights. This is your cue to either sigh, cry or laugh on my behalf.

So, shutters matter. Light fixtures matter. However, the small little details about their placement and the end result seemed to slip my mind and now, my house won’t be featured in the next issue of Better Homes and Gardens or Country Living either, for THAT matter.

I haven’t figured out yet how to remedy the whole situation but “Rick, the fixer” agrees with my solution that maybe I should get some tall, black urns to place under each light fixture to balance out the windows.

I priced some at Home Goods on clearance the other day and since they were right at about $75.00 each, I decided to clearance myself right out of there and keep hanging out at the thrift stores to see if they might miraculously appear.

Either that, or I could start a new trend similar to the one where people place gnomes all over their yard, everyone gets excited and it becomes a hot selling item.

Whatever I decide, stay tuned for more details.  Or not. I promise, you won’t be disappointed!