Why the New Coke Machines Will Be the Death of Us

I walk into a restaurant and see this:

coke machine

and I cringe. I hate this machine. As a coke (a cola) addict, the source and purity of my frosty beverage is of utmost importance. I absolutely HATE the taste of the drinks that come out of this machine. My kids claim there isn’t a difference. They try and convince me that the choices make it cool, they try and persuade me to “just try” the cherry vanilla flavor. It’s all a lie.

I’m assuming those who drank Cokes out of this machine understand my lament:

vintage coke machine

We can ALL agree that a Coke out of a bottle is golden, even royal. We can taste the difference, I can taste the difference.And I’m sending this out as a PSA to save yourselves from the destruction of the American Institution of convenience and the right to choices and do not conform or utter a word about how the new Coke machines “aren’t that bad.”  BLASPHEMY.

This is typical of our society and even our lives. We allow slow, seemingly insignificant changes to seep into our worlds. We shrug, we even taste the difference, but we convince ourselves that it isn’t horrible so it must be good. Sins, lies, behaviors, small interruptions that frustrate us but not enough to actually do anything about it.

Marriages, slowly fading, with lack of connection, sitting on opposite ends of the couch on Facebook.

Parents, writing off that their kid is just a teenager and all teenagers spend all their time in their bedrooms, refusing to step into their world because, well, their favorite episode is on.

Friendships, clouded by tinges of jealousy that obviously are justified because you are such a good person and do such good things, and it’s all just not fair.

Work, church, neighbors–we make allowances for tiny white lies, changes in ourselves and others, and then before you know it, Coke isn’t using real cane sugar anymore and no one notices. We are told, we are warned, we see the difference in packaging, but we choose to ignore.

I have learned that we do have a lot of choices, according to the new coke machine, 100+, yes PLUS. But having more options doesn’t mean that we are any more equipped to make the right choice, nor does it ensure that we will focus on the choices that matter.

The only assurance we have is rooted in a relationship with Christ. One that clearly spells out that we have a choice this day of life or death, blessing or curse. It doesn’t matter what we drink with our burger and fries, or which machine it comes out of. What matters are things of eternal value, and we are daily to examine our choices, to fill the cracks and choose life, found only in Him. Like choosing what to eat 3 times a day, it’s a moment by moment decision, and one that will last eternally longer than this trendy new Coke machine.

Where in your life have you allowed tiny things to seep in, things that seem like they aren’t a big deal, but eventually will numb you to the truth that you are swimming in sin ??? Comment and Share.

LG|LP

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How To Build Relationship with Kids to Change the Faith of Families.

I live in a large, interconnected neighborhood. In order to save money on school bus service, schools tend to be plopped down right in the middle or our community. At the end of the day bell, the streets are flooded with kids. First elementary school, then half an hour later the middle-schoolers.

Tons of kids, even more families, just waiting for us–the church.

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That’s all I saw that day, a bunch of teenagers who needed Jesus. I wondered how many of them went to church. I wondered how many of these kids who went to church ever invited other kids. I thought of how Christians are pulling their kids out of schools, pulling Jesus out of schools, and I was saddened at the thought. (But that’s a post for another time.)

When  I lived in Florida, one day I drove into our gated community at the same time the bus was dropping kids off. I counted them. Fifteen. There were 15 kids, and I knew their stories. I could have invited them to church, but they wouldn’t have come. Instead, I brought church to them. The first week I ordered pizza, twelve kids showed up to eat the free food and hear about Jesus. The next week we grew, and the next and the next. There were nights I had 40 kids piled on top of each other in my living room, just dying to hear, dying for community, dying for connection.

I find that kids, including teens are willing to take responsibility for their own faith apart from their parents. We need to find ways to connect with kids even if parents aren’t willing to come to church. In fact, we can change the entire trajectory of faith in Jesus in families through kids and their faith. It isn’t going to happen with a single event, or with flyers on doorknobs. People need real connection, real relationship and that takes time.

Here are some ways to minister to families through kids:

1. SCHOOL INVOLVEMENT: whether you are in PTA, or just show up to a class party, getting to know kids and begin building friendship with them is a great start.

2. OUTSIDE TIME: When you see a group of kids outside, or you have a park near your house, get off your couch and go play some basketball.  One of the things I try and do as much as possible is walk to pick up my 4th grader. I talk to his classmates, give fist bumps and high fives. Sometimes I even end up with groups of kids around me as we walk and talk together. Not only am I getting to know them,  most of these kids are going home alone and I can offer a sense of security for their walk home.

3. GAMES: Go to local highschool or middle school games and get to know kids names and start conversations with parents.

4. BLOCK PARTY: throw a block party with hot dogs and juice boxes in your front yard. Have a few games out or a football. It’s a great way to get to know the kids in your hood.

And I wish I didn’t have to say this, but have some boundaries when hanging out with kids. Don’t friend them on Facebook, or ever be alone with any of them. As you begin to build friendships, make sure other kids and adults are around as you spend time with them.

The reality is, not every child or family will come to church with just an invite, but we can always bring Jesus to them, through our kindness and acts of love, and showing them how much we care.

What are some ways you have or you can start building relationships with kids in your neighborhood? Comment and  share your ideas. 

And LIKE my FACEBOOK PAGE somewhere over there —-> for daily updates, encouragement and crazy talk!

LG|LP

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Do You Want To Stop Struggling With Guilt?

I wrote my opinion about something on Facebook a few weeks ago and was accused of causing guilt in someone’s life. I was so impressed that I had that much power over a person and a person I never even met. (Lord, it’s hard to be humble.)

Don’t get me wrong, I know that some people have a tremendous gift at guilt trips because they want to make you feel worse than they feel about themselves. But I promise that wasn’t my intention. For this FB post, I was simply stating my thoughts and even why I felt the way I did. I read my post over and over, just to make sure I wasn’t in the wrong. Then I let it go…let it go…(You KNOW you just sang that!)

I spent most of my life feeling guilty about things I didn’t even do and even more over the things I did that were wrong. My guilt was such a burden and so destructive that it just led to a deep self hatred and shame. Guilt is so ugly, and causes us to do ugly things. So I’m here to set the record straight and hopefully, bring you some freedom.

Before I move on, I want you to know that I wholeheartedly believe that God gave us all of our feelings, even our negative ones. He didn’t desire for us to actually experience pain or heartache, but he also didn’t desire for us to sin. Our negative feelings are an innate part of being human, and our human experience is what draws us nearer to God. With that said, I believe that guilt is a feeling that God can use and here is how I believe it works.

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There are two types of guilt:

  1. CONDEMNATION
  2. CONVICTION

CONDEMNATION is when we feel guilt the enemy uses it to pull us out of or away from our relationship with God.

CONVICTION is when we feel guilt and the Holy Spirit purposes it to draw us nearer to God.

The situation doesn’t determine whether it’s condemnation or conviction. The foundation of what we believe will lead us to accepting one or the other.

Let’s say you have tried to stop smoking. You know that it’s not good for you, you understand that you are ruining your body and can actually cut your life shorter by your choices, affecting not only your life but the lives of many. (see what I did there, you should stop smoking).

Let’s say you do a really great job and for 3 weeks you don’t touch a Marlboro. Never light it up. Then one day, work is particularly painful and you are walking outside to your car and someone walks past you with a cigarette. One whif, you’re a gonner. You don’t even try to NOT smoke. You stop and buy a pack of cigarettes, light one up on the way home. As you throw your butt out into the street, littering, breaking the law (see what I did there? Don’t litter!) you feel an overwhelming sense of shame for what you just did. The guilt floods in. You can’t control it. You’re so stupid you can’t do anything right. Why do you even bother trying. God is just so disappointed because you are a loser.

So is it possible that God intended to use that guilt to draw you closer to Him? Is it possible that the Holy Spirit is trying to whisper this instead, “Hey dude. You messed up. It’s okay, I know it’s hard. Let’s start over. Throw the pack away. Brush your teeth. And know you don’t have to do this alone. Depend on me, lean on me, when you are weak, I am strong. You stepped away for a minute, but come back to me. We will do this!” Ta da: CONVICTION

Instead, we take those negative whispers, and agree with them, smoke the rest of the pack, and feel like an even bigger failure. We feel far from God, like He could never really love someone like us, and feel the weight of our shame every single day. Dum dum dum: CONDEMNATION

When Paul wrote a letter to the Romans, he knew they struggled with sin and the fine line between flesh and Spirit. Romans 8:1

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

Wait, what? Ya. That is what this means. We don’t have to let our guilt become condemnation. If you have a relationship with Jesus, you don’t live under condemnation. All of Romans 8 (and even 7) talks about this struggle between flesh and spirit, sin and freedom. I love this, too:

If your sinful nature [condemnation] controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit [conviction] controls your mind there is life and peace. [interjections MINE]

So here it is. All laid out for you, free to believe, free to change your thinking, to change your life. To bring you actual freedom.

Choose the Holy Spirit. Choose conviction. Be free from the guilt that presses down on your chest at night and makes you second guess your every decision. Free from the guilt that makes you afraid of saying the wrong thing, taking the wrong turn, doing the wrong thing. Free from the guilt whispered by people you love, and those that hate you. You don’t have to. You just don’t have to.

You should not be like cowering,fearful slaves. You should behave instead like God’s very own children, adopted into his family—calling him “Father, dear Father.”

LG|LP

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No Mercy, Kids! No. Mercy.

Zac’s been home sick a few days. I was so over hearing “I’m bored!” “There’s nothing to do!” “I don’t want to be sick anymore!”

I decided to be a great mom, like a super great mom. We turned on some National Geographic Show about polar bears brutally eating innocent little baby seal, ate pizza and played cards. When playing games with my kids, my rule is: No Mercy. (Well okay, maybe a little.) But the one thing I will NOT do is let my kids win.

Sounds mean, doesn’t it?

We were playing Skip Bo and Zac only had one card left in his pile, I had four. He was so arrogant, just knowing he was going to win. But then mom AND

Boom

 

But the thing is, Zac doesn’t lose well:

skip bo

 

He was so mad, he threw the cards everywhere and stomped his way upstairs.  I sat and patiently waited for him to come back down and pick them all up. It took a good 20 minutes or so before he worked through his tragic loss and picked up the cards.   I thanked him and we moved on.

I just don’t “get” the everyone deserves a trophy, where we don’t take score, and all kids are winners. Life doesn’t work that way. Life is way harsh and mean. Losing well is a necessity in life. We spend way more time on this earth losing, than winning. If our kids can lose well, even at a game, then they will be more prepared to deal with the real losses, the ones that actually matter.

What do you think? Do you let your kid win at games? Comment below.

Let’s Chat!!

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How Clooney at the Globes Challenge Us to Greatness

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Sunday I sat on the couch watching over privileged, pretentious actors tell each other how amazing they are over food and drinks that cost so much it most likely could have fed the entire population of hungry and homeless of the entire GLOBE.  Hence the name: Golden Globes.  I was not impressed by their hidden LGBT agenda, or their super shiny foreheads, but I did enjoy some of speeches. One in particular struck me.

George Clooney received a lifetime achievement award. His eyes teared, yours perhaps could, too. Or maybe not.

 

 

It dawned on me that there is something to be said about the appreciation of marriage as we grow older. I’m not certain Clooney would have even publicly expressed his love in such a way to a wife at 30, or even 40 years old. At 53, Clooney  appreciates his role as husband. It seems he embraces the feeling and choice to love.

Michael and I are working on our twelfth year of marriage. Only in the last two years have I truly grown to respect the covenant of marriage. Besides this roller coaster we ride called hell LIFE that has taken him and I up and down and then back up and then back down, it has been my age, my mistakes and God-given wisdom that gives me my new outlook.

Marriage is hard, people. So very hard. Hard enough that half of the people who decide to do it, bail out. And then there are the group of people who don’t even dare try.

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Tom Hanks as Coach Jimmy Dugan said it best in the movie A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN:

There’s no crying in baseball!

Yah, that was a very. important. statement, by the way.( There is absolutely NO crying in baseball.)

But when Geena Davis’ character Dottie is leaving the team, she explains to her coach:

“It just got too hard.”

And Coach replied:

” It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.”

We all want great marriages. We want to be the Proverbs 31 wife, and our husbands to flawlessly transition from provider to husband to father. We wish we had Clooney’s money because we are tired of being behind on bills, and let’s not even talk about how our kids have outgrown every piece of clothing we bought a few months ago, all $400 of them. We want our co-workers, and fellow MOPS moms to sit around and clap and give us awards so we can tell millions of people how grateful we are for our love and our chemistry that happened after waiting a lifetime for the right person and Praise God, we made the right choice and there is no looking back.

LBR (Let’s Be Real)

It just doesn’t work like that. Because…

Marriage is hard.

But when we do have those moments, those brief exhales when we can look around at our unbathed kids as they giggle at their dad’s crude jokes, and there isn’t one thing on the living room floor, and it is the day you washed your hair, we have our own version of greatness. Embracing those simple, fleeting moments is what gets us through the hard, and is what will make us great. Embracing great moments needs to be enough to fuel us through the hard.

Because your husband may never do a load of laundry for you…

Or know exactly what that squint of your eyes actually means…

or be able to talk to you for two hours starting the second he walks in the door from work.

Your wife might not always have every single dish put away…

or know why she’s crying…..

or understand the burden you carry every day.

But each of you have the possibility of greatness, within your marriage. Embrace it, and love it–like you’re a 53 year old Clooney.

LG | LP

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