Restoration Projects

When winds howl at 95 mph and storms rage, damage is inevitable. Lucky people may escape with mere brush to pick up. Others are left with gaping holes in their homes’ infrastructure or worse, no home at all.

Imagine if your hometown is declared a national disaster zone by the President of the United States.

News teams swarm in donned in their galoshes, rain-gear, and microphones in hand.  Everyone makes the assumption that the President will make a speech empathizing with the community, promising to send aid to restore what the hurricane destroyed, and recognizing with understanding some valuables cannot be replaced. “National aid is sure to come,” think all watching.

Consider their surprise when the President walks by the cameras and outstretched microphones and boards Air Force One with a wave and a smile. He leans over to his press secretary instructing him to tell the people they can attend his next press conference. “I want to put this disaster behind us and forget it ever happened.”

IMG_0489

What? Forget 95 mph winds blew through and crushed everything in their path? “Come on”, you think, “I am not the President, but even I know it is impossible to act as though this hurricane never happened.”

It is the same way in our lives when families have a blow up of any size. Regardless of who started or finished the argument. It is impossible to merely sweep hurts and memories under the rug and avoid restorative reconciliation.

Yes, forgiveness on our part, even unsought forgiveness, is necessary. However, merely pretending a hurricane never happened is impossible.

While denial may be the best option for our pride, it is not the way of our Father and it does not restore health to the relationship.

Matthew 5:21-26 and Matthew 18:15-35 have much to say regarding anger, repentance, and forgiveness among brothers and believers. I am still sorting them out.

Consider with me that every good and even questionable mother teaches her young children to say “I’m sorry.” Our children are instructed to say, “I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?” To which the other should reply, “Yes, I forgive you.”

If children can kiss and make up, why not grown adults?

How can we ask our children to do what we are not willing to do ourselves?

I know what it feels to be an angry bird. I have a black belt buried in my back yard as a coercion ninja. Yet, I also recall this:

Put on then, as  God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,  compassionate hearts,  kindness,  humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and,  if one has a complaint against another,  forgiving each other;  as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on  love, which  binds everything together in  perfect harmony. ~Colossians 3:12-14

God is in the restoration business. He takes our failures, our sins, and when laid at the foot of the forgiving cross of Christ turns them into something redeemed. Something profitable. What needs restoration in your life? I am praying for restoration in mine.

signature

5 Comments
Share This Post With Your Friends!

Classic Grass Is Greener

Cue the gasp and high pitched voice. “Look at the wood paneling on that…and it isn’t even a station wagon. Is that a Jeep?”

Enter, sideways glance and mocking voice, “You cannot be serious.”

Those were the words between my husband and I Sunday afternoon.

I have a confession…I like wood panelled station wagons.

I know it may sound strange, but I sincerely would like to drive a station wagon.

Truthfully, I am saying this before ever test driving a station wagon with its’ “baby got back” extended cab. Perhaps after actually driving a station wagon, it would lose its’ affinity.

This jeep certainly lost its’ affinity for me once I drove up to take a closer look.

Vintage is vintage for a reason.

The paint seemed to be wearing thin in certain areas. The leather cracking. The old car smell was probably profuse as well.

I decided this was a classic example of the old adage, “The grass is not always greener on the other side.”

Growing up, my youth pastor would say, “If the grass is greener then you can’t see the manure piles from here or it has to be AstroTurf.” Similarly a friend says, “If someone else’s grass looks greener then take the time to water yours.”

Let us put on our spiritual lenses and apply these snippets to our current mental thoughts.

Perhaps we have been “green with envy” in some personal areas be it car, house, job, clothes, body, spouse, kids, you name it. If we knew what it cost to have what someone else has, or the reality of what we supposedly see then we might too say the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

Instead, we might see the faded paint, ripped leather, and smell the old car smell as it really is.

What about you? Do you have a classic case of “the grass is greener?”

Also, am I the only one with station wagon love? I sincerely hope not.

 

4 Comments
Share This Post With Your Friends!

Truth Hits the Spot

My choices reveal more of the inner woman than I usually care to decipher.

Meditating on the motive behind my desires or frustrations with self and in relationships may become a new practice. This is necessary because, don’t all troubles really start with some stronghold that needs to be overcome?

It was for me on Sunday morning. Emily was ready wearing the dress of her choice and with her hair combed in the most obedient fashion… or at least that is what I am presently recalling. As I was gathering all the necessities for church I noticed that Emily had chosen her worn play-clothes flip flops as the final accoutrement.

I did what any caught in the temporal mother would do,”Emily, are you sure you want to wear your play shoes instead of your nice flip flops to church?”

I had planted the seed of doubt and want without thinking of the consequences to my daughter’s view of how a woman should adorn herself.

Do not let your adorning be external– the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear– but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
1 Peter 3:3-4
I then reaped what I sowed, a beautiful little girl standing her ground in her choice. That is… until… it was time to buckle-up. Then, she wanted to wear her beautiful new Yellow Box flip flops!
Already hopelessly upset over such a trivial matter I gave way to the crying and whining and muttered unnecessary words while retrieving the more desirable flip flops.
It was the picture perfect start to Sunday worship of our Creator in packaging alone.
Amidst worship and soul-searching, I remembered a valuable nugget, it is not about the condition of our clothes, but the condition of our heart before God. I humbly expressed this truth to my daughter and prayed that I will choose more wisely the next time.
Sometimes a difficult and challenging experience ushers in the teachable point we so desperately need to grasp. Like a well timed refreshment to my soul, this truth hit the spot.
Another well-timed refreshment? So glad you asked. Our visit with Nana and “Do Daddy,” upon which we visited the local Yogurt Spot for a Sunday afternoon treat Yellow Box flip flops and all!
1 Comment
Share This Post With Your Friends!

A Canvas of Thoughtfulness

Our days are fleeting like a blank canvas soon full with the artist’s desire.

One moment fresh and new we enter the world, and a few breaths later the Gallery Cathedral of the Great I Am.

It is silly for me to even think I have a sense of measured control in life.

I have control over my responses to events and the pursuits that I so choose. However, so much else is much like grasping water in my hand; impossible to control.

Laying in bed last night this thought struck me, “I cannot control my death.” Startling is it not? I sometimes fool myself into thinking I am assured of my next breath.

The last two days with the children have been as ideal as it gets with this mama’s limited patience combined with that of a two and four year old.

In the surprise moments of revealing in God’s created world, thankfulness for gifts each morning have been so sweet.

As the brush holds midair awaiting it’s next stroke, I pause to tell God thank you for this moment and this moment and this moment.

Then the next moment, when I forget and hasten to sigh, roll my eyes, clench my fists, and demand my own way.

The brush strokes black.

Next movement, the ultimate Artist’s Son’s blood washes it clean in the cup of everlasting life and brushes a vibrant color onto this canvas in it’s place.

So thankful that the Gallery awaits wretched sinners turned saints like me. Thankful for His brushstrokes. Thankful that I have this family painted on.

Leave a Comment
Share This Post With Your Friends!

A Prayer Practice for the New Year?

Two weeks ago I was hit by a driver who fled the scene. When the police called him and he returned to the scene of the hit and run accident, the young man told me he was sorry. However, upon questioning from his father, “Did you know you hit her? You must have felt it.” The offender did not take responsibility, but said that he was not sure he had hit me.

What kind of sorrow or apology is one that does not confess guilt?

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Psalm 51:17

A true spirit of humility; to be contrite is to recognize my sinful state before the Holy God in whose presence no evil can stand.

The only way that I can approach God, is to not only say that I am sorry, but also come to Him with godly repentance that leads to everlasting life.

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

2 Corinthians 7:10

Worldy sorrow says, “I am sorry that I am caught in my sin.” Godly sorrow conveys, “Against a Holy God I have sinned and I ask you to forgive me and lead me in Your paths of righteousness.”

This year I would like to propose two new practices for us.

First let us, like the man in the video below, confess to Jesus our sins and the sins of our people and ask Christ to have mercy on us.

Secondly, would you join me in praying for the nations via Operation World? Click here to subscribe for the 60 day prayer e-mails that will be delivered to your inbox. The prayer prompts feature Prayercast videos that can guide your prayers for the nations. They also highlight unreached people groups within each country. Unreached means that less than 2% of that population has ever heard of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I hope that you will join me.

Let us all learn from the humble prayers of brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus around the globe.

Linking up with:

Leave a Comment
Share This Post With Your Friends!

Things I Should Know

As I re-wipe counters that were morning clean, fold and put away the same shirts and underwear as last week, and re-sweep floors that were a few days ago Swiffer fresh, I should know…

Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, everything here on planet earth is temporary.

Man is like a breath, his days are like a passing shadow. ~Psalm 144:4

That I like Moses should pray,

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

~Psalm 90:12

Feet will not always dangle from seats too high.

Imaginative play lasts only for a season.

Even tantrums, the “no” stage, and time-outs will eventually fade away.

Then the little girl and little boy stand up and take their place in God’s world.

Time on earth is temporary and fleeting. Eternity lasts forever.

Shouldn’t I work for the eternal? See my children and their fleeting days till adulthood as a gift and a heritage to be cultivated in tiny hearts? Seek to serve the poor and the persecuted?

Indeed.

I should know that each assignment the Lord gives me on this earth will last, at most, only a lifetime. Perhaps that is why I was drawn to the quote in a Joan Walsh Anglund book this week:

Where is the yesterday that worried us so?

I should know that today is a gift, yesterday a memory, and tomorrow is a hope yet unrealized. I want to be a good steward of today and the resources God entrusted to me within it.

There is pressure in this knowledge, but also freedom.

Dear Father,

Please teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Help us to live for the eternal, hold onto things loosely, and work for Your glory and fellow man’s good. Help us to seek the things that are above and remember that all victories or defeats in this life are but fleeting. Help us to delight in You and spread your fame through all the earth. Help us to be rich in good deeds and pursue a godly and peacful life. Let us do the work you give us with joy and sow a godly heritage in the children you have blessed us with.

In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

 

 

 

1 Comment
Share This Post With Your Friends!

The Water Ripples and Wrinkles Time

I had not been there in years.

The creek at my father’s birthplace.

A few miles from the house that he and my mother now call home… yet really a world away.

Standing on the slippery, wet rocks took me back to elementary years when trips were more frequent and apprehensions of falling in ran a bit higher. Reminded of the thoughts of long ago that only encompassed myself and held no room for the two that we now call our own.

The water ripples and wrinkles time and this home is temporary.

A few decades back would have found my father and his family here playing and bathing in this same creek; full of water to the brim then. Yet now it finds him the grandfather of three and one on the way.

Present. The present is all that we really have and it is ever fleeting. Yet we choose to run ahead to grayer hair and “the day when,” although I dare say that day will not find me all “caught up” and content unless I choose to abide in the this day.

Our trip to Daddy’s land was a gift on the cusp of the new year, as was visiting with a cousin. Both I will treasure these next twelve months and in years to come.

Linking up with Rachel.

2 Comments

Share This Post With Your Friends!

Of Christmas Without “Them”

I can still hear her voice quiver as each year she gathered her houseful of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren around the table. Just before the blessing, she would recount her love for her family and her thankfulness to God for being alive to share in the celebration of Christmas with those she loved most.

via Pinterest

My great-grandmother was a mother to five, three girls and two rambunctious boys, but known as “Mama” to most. I called her Grandmother Cost. She lived through the depression, along with her husband and children, and her life-long work ethic was a testimony to this.

Each Sunday she would prepare a home-cooked (usually home-grown) meal complete with a made-from-scratch, scrape the plate clean, chocolate cake. For any and all family that would gather to eat after church, Mama’s was the place to congregate.

via Pinterest

Her home would not grace the spreads of any fashionable magazines, but rather was a place of memories made. I can picture in my mind the brown and gold shag carpet and worn linoleum floors. Feel the coolness of rooms long ago filled with laughter and quarreling, that in the later decades remained shut to sustain heat in the main living areas.

It always felt to my childhood mind that the presence of those past memories and people,  namely at that time my great-grandfather I  never knew, roamed about in those rooms, but that is probably attributed to the overactive imagination of a child.

Mama worked her own garden and mowed her own lawn until her death in her mid nineties.  If the Braves or Crimson Tide were playing, you could find her in her matriarchal recliner occasionally arguing with calls made.

Sunday’s you would find her at church.

via Pinterest

My Grandmother Cost knew that her days were numbered, but she did not know the number of her days. That is why with tears and a quivering voice each Christmas before grace was said and thanks was given, she would let her offspring know of her love and appreciation for us all.

When we were ready to eat, we knew that Mama would be making her yearly speech and the room would grow uncomfortable with the thought of not having her presence at the table in subsequent years. They were the words of a woman who loved and was loved and needed to tell you one more time.

As we are entering Christmas week, my thoughts turn to broken hearts that have lost loved ones this year. How they must weep with their loss. I can recount the lives that I know have passed this year. A father, husband, and cop. A daughter, mother, and sister. A friend, co-worker, Papa and dad. These are only three lives who have in someway intersected with mine, but who bring hot tears when I think of their loved ones who miss them so much.

What about us? Who is it that we need to express our love, extend our gratitude, or grace with verbalized (perhaps unsought) forgiveness this Christmas?

This may be the last Christmas… or the beginning of more meaningful friend and family-filled Christmas’ to come.

I would much rather be remembered for a quiver in my sentimental voice than have regrets that I did not say, “I love you, He loves you, and the only real decision that will matter in light of eternity is:

What did we do with Jesus?”

When the coffin is closed, when death has stung, when our time has come, what did we do with the baby born in Bethlehem? The Christ-child turned crucified Savior and finally the risen King of Redeeming Kings?

We may have some regrets as we contemplate the thought of one last Christmas or that last Christmas with the one we loved. Our Father knows that we are but dust-formed lives. He sees, He knows, and He forgives those who ask. I pray for healing in hurting hearts that may read this post. After being a wreck earlier this year, I know even more fully that it is God who numbers our days.

As we joyfully celebrate this blessed season, may we seek restoration in Him and seek to restore others who are hurting and broken over Christmas without them.

If you are reading via e-mail subscription, get out your tissues and click here to watch the accompanying music video by Matthew West.

Raise the Risk Challenge:

  • Say, “I love you, I forgive you, or thank you,” to those whom God speaks on your heart.
  • Write a card or word of encouragement to someone who is spending their Christmas without a dear family member or friend.
  • Help a family in need in spiritual and physical ways this Christmas.
  • Watch this message by my pastor, Dr. Willy Rice.

2 Comments
Share This Post With Your Friends!

Why Santa Doesn’t Deliever Presents to our House

I remember defending his existence in fourth grade, then finding out I was wrong soon thereafter. A man I had never met in the flesh, but looked forward to his coming on December 25th every year.

Santa Claus.

via Pinterest

The good-will ambassador for many girls and boys across the world is truthfully presented as a character along with Charlotte, Wilbur, Rudolph, and any other fictional characters we encounter in the children’s literature in our home.

As far as I know we are the only people in our family who do not teach our children to believe in Santa Claus. We have not been ridiculed for our choices, but I want to lay out my reasons here to prompt your thinking on the matter. Truth is too important to flippantly follow the status quo, and therefore, I want to give you some meaty measures to add to your milk and cookies for Santa this year.

First, there are  attributes we assign to Santa that are only manifested in God: omniscience and omnipotence.

Omniscience, means that one is all-knowing.  The holiday song, Santa Clause is Coming to Town, goes, “He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when your awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good. So be good for goodness sake.” 

Only God knowns our thoughts and ways, our lying down and waking up.  He judges the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts like no one else can.  Omniscience belongs to God in His triune state alone.

Omnipotence, or unlimited power, is attributed to the man who can fly around the world in one night, fit down chimneys or pass through locked doors, and magically provide your heart’s desire one day every year.

Unlimited power is only found in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Second, and equally important, Christmas is a religious holiday about the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. This Christian holiday has been secularized so that it is more palatable to non-Christian’s worldwide. Yes, there is an atheistic movement to quiet or extinguish the celebration, but Christmas is largely a money-making secularized holiday.

We have run the risk of making Christmas more about ourselves than the King born in a manger. A jolly old man bringing us more material presents is not the presence that should be celebrated this time of year.

Please understand that I genuinely love Christmas movies, music, and decorations. You will find me glued to Hallmark on many occasions during the Christmas season. Honestly, one of my favorite creations of my artistic mother is a two foot Santa and Mrs. Claus that she painted in ceramics. However, I have chosen to make Santa a fictional character in limited books and movies for my children so that they will not miss the message of Christmas found in the nativity and Christ-centered books on our shelves.

Growing up, my parents followed the three gift rule like many other parents I know. They gave my sister and I three gifts each Christmas just as the wisemen presented to the Christ-child. (Albeit there could be ten pieces to the “one” gift.)

My mom and I.

However, this post by Ann challenged my perspective on even this practice. Jesus is the gift and the three gifts were given to Him on His birthday not the opposite. What do we give Jesus on His birthday?

That is why we, along with multitudes of others, choose to give to Gospel for Asia, Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Christmas Child, World Vision, and Compassion International at Christmas and throughout the year. In serving the poor, needy, orphaned, and unreached, we are presenting sacrificial thank offerings to God and His Son, Jesus at the celebration of His birth.

Does this mean that we cannot exchange gifts with others? I would say no. To show our love and appreciation for each other as an extension of the gift of Christ Jesus in our life is a blessed privilege. Must we exchange gifts to celebrate Christmas? Likewise no.

We have had the Kneeling Santa figurine since a Christmas Wedding Shower 10 years ago. As I reflect upon its meaning now,  I am unsettled in my spirit. Yes, Santa is bowed worshiping the New Born King, but this even implies that Santa preceded Christ. The true “Santa” was actually St. Nicholas who lived after Christ and gave to the poor in the name of Jesus.

via Google Images

The face of the Father of Christmas may indeed be merry and bright, but it is not found at the North Pole. Conversely, He chose the lowly and humble stable to make his glory known. Then brought forth wisemen from across the earth and angels soaring in the sky to announce His coming and celebrate His Son, the gift of Christmas. He brought His Messenger in this way so that the heart of every boy and girl could know the favor of their Creator through Christ the King.

However you choose to celebrate Christmas in your home, I hope that you will submit these practices to God and seek His will. I pray that you will make Christ predominate in your hearts, homes, and heritage this Christmas and each one to come.

Raise the Risk Challenge:

  • Read Ann’s post referenced above here.
  • Consider who the face of Christmas really is in your family and make any necessary changes.
  • Give a gift to Jesus by sponsoring a child locally or either here, here, or here.

5 Comments
Share This Post With Your Friends!