Are You Living In Abundance

Our family says a prayer before our meals. We believe it is important to acknowledge the hand that feeds us. Cody was three or four years old and we asked him to pray. After a moment of silence in his toddler voice, he begins,” Thank you God for my fork. Thank you for my napkin. Thank you for my salt shaker, thank you for my cup. Thank you for my juice….” With one eye, I peeked to see him surveying the table and giving God thanks for every tiny thing. The rest of us somewhat annoyed, but him content with naming every.single.item.one.by.one.

I was reminded of this as I drove around yesterday, speaking out to every thing I love about Florida: I am going to miss you palm trees. I’m going to miss you ocean. I’m going to miss you green grass. I’m going to miss you church. I’m going to miss you friends….

This season in Florida has been one of the most difficult of my life. I have dealt with death, deployment, disappointment and disaster. But I have also celebrated life, watched kids be baptized, saw faces light up when the Holy Spirit settled in teenage souls, made life long friends, witnessed marriages and held new born babies.

In John 10:10, Jesus promises us an abundant life. The American world wants to believe that abundant means lots of stuff and loads of money. But the abundance that comes from Jesus is living a life that allows you to experience every facet of every feeling and every emotion that our hearts were designed by Him to endure.

The abundant life is hard for us to accept, but it is ours to live. We can choose to embrace every season and allow it to sanctify us. And in doing so become one step closer to holiness. If we refuse it, we miss all that God has for us.

3 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

You are loved, in every season.

The “F” Word

In case you haven't noticed, it's Monday. With Monday's comes whining by 7 am, and this morning a sick child before 9. Let us not forget the empty fridge because I was too busy to go to the Walmart this weekend. My whiny complaints are actually pretty menial. I really enjoy my life, but what I always tend to do is build everything up, in this tall well-stacked tower, and just hold my breath as I wait for it to topple over.

I do this with my work, too. When I'm ready to start actually “working” (writing, ministry stuff, Biblical Study, Market Research, Blah Blah) I tower that up too, a tall pile of papers waiting to proof read, books to read, newspapers, books, peridocials, blah blah. Sometimes I just sit and stare at the pile, trying to climb the tower to the right floor, or maybe even just hang out at the top waiting for my knight to rescue me.

But in my long life of painstaking experience, I know that I can't sit and wait for anyone in shiny armor to ride up on a horse, because the back of a horse isn't exactly condusive to typing and reading, not for me anyway.

Growing up I had horrible experiences (plural) on horse. The summer after third grade, I was riding a horse at summer camp. The horse was tall, the horse was old. There were three of us riding it. The Texas summer heat was beating down, the trails seemed long. I was bored. The tree limbs were low, the girl in front of me was suppose to duck. But she didn't. All three of us BAM! fell right off. Mortified, but not hurt, I swore myself away from thousand pound animals from that day forward.

Fear. The F Word that motivates me to ditch horses, and over analyze the piles of work. I just fear not finishing, or not doing it well or right. My check lists are long, and none of my “To Do's” seem to get checks next to them. Then at the end of the day, I just hate myself for not getting anything done. It's an ugly vicious cycle. And torments me from Monday to Monday. I'm trying to break out of the cycle, but it's not as easy as riding a horse, that's for sure.

What is your “F” Word?

Rage Against “The Man”

Wednesday brought me great excitement. I hadn't seen my Hoodies in a few weeks so I was ready to have a house full of teenagers along with my counters covered in red solo cups. I decided that I would teach these kids a little about Christmas. My plan: quickly go over the Christmas story and then talk about how Jesus was a long awaited promise, and answer to prayer. I planned on digging into prophecy until…

I learned that 80% of the kids in my living room did not know the real reason behind Christmas. I will wait until you read that last statement again, because I know you are overwhelmed with disbelief. …. ….. ….. ….. …. …..

On to plan B (which I never had to begin with) Open the Bible and start with Mary getting pregnant. So we chatted, and decided that we are not much different: chosen, but scared, favored in need of making a choice. For the first time, they understood the Christmas carols they have been singing for years. And finally knew that the words were “Silent Night, Holy Night” and NOT “Silent Night, HOPELESS Night”.

After the Hoodies left and the shock of the evening subsided, I thought of how many people out in the world don't really know why we celebrate Christmas. So as my family and I rage against the man this Christmas, I believe Jesus wants me to share the real reason for Christmas this year with strangers, family and friends.

So now, I am praying God will bring people across my path, divine appointments so to speak. And this weekend I will empower and equip my kids to share the story of Christmas with everyone they know.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, that whoever shall believe in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. God sent his son not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17

I Hate Christmas

“I hate christmas.” I stood before my husband and saw the exhaustion in his face from working too many hours for too many days.

“Oh honey, lets find a way to love christmas.”

“Ok, the day christmas is over. I will love christmas.”

Somehow by the end of our conversation he committed to turning a cartwheel when the fa la las had faded. And by the end of the day I had committed to changing what Christmas is all about.

I am not talking about surface changes, where the kids receive fewer gifts and we serve at the local Salvation Army for a day. I want a total and complete infusion of new values and Jesus' perspective on not only the holidays but on the people who celebrate them.

Our kids aren't any different than yours, they want things. The Christmas lists are drafted and the eyes grow wider with every advertisement for the latest gadget, toy or perfume. America entices us, and is built on the very foundation of wanting more. In fact, it is human nature to want more, to become better than we once were, to have better than we once had. But the question is, more and better of what?

So I have decided to change that for my kids. I think it may be the greatest gift I could ever give them. There is no promise that our economic status will be better next Christmas. There aren't guarantees even for a next year at all. So this year I will not allow guilt to control my spending. I will not allow the pressure to spend dictate the values of our home.

I'm just not sure how exactly I am going to do it.

I am beginning with prayer and, lots of it, and a treasure hunt through scripture to guide me, trusting in creativity from THE Creator to lead me to the next step.

So far, so good:

“Therefore my people, though you are such wicked rebels, come and return to the Lord. I know the glorious day will come when every one of you will throw away the gold idols and silver images that your sinful hands have made.”

I am convinced thus far that what the journey will be about is returning to the first of the ten commandments and the one spoken of by Jesus:

Love the Lord your God with all of your heart your soul and your strength.

I invite you to come along with me on this journey. I have no idea what it will hold, but I can guarantee it will be radical, and uncomfortable and unlike any Christmas you have ever experienced before.

The Season of Old Age

Monday night I was minding my business, fluttering about the house doing my duties, and bam! Something happened. I don't know if I twisted wrong, bent over incorrectly or if it had anything to do with my ninja-like cleaning skills, but I pulled my back.

Now the first time I pulled my back, Michael was in Afghanistan. It was quite the circus around here. EMS, my mom catching a quick flight to help out, my amazing friend Melanie driving me to the ER while her mom babysit all the kids. Mel saw my bum get a shot, and held my hair while I puked.

Since that first instance, this has happened at least 4 more times. This time, though…this time. I experienced the absolute most excruciating pain of my life. Yes, worse than childbirth. My back muscles spasmed and my legs thrusted up in the air, i broke into a cold sweat and I actually almost threw up. Never have I had to throw up because something hurt so bad.

I laid in bed literally for 36 hours. I could not walk at all and please don't ask me how I went pee. I am exhausted from all the drugs and completely discouraged at what I consider time wasted. It seems it will never end…

How quickly I forget the seasons of life. My previous blog was named: Every Season Under Heaven. I lived very aware of the constant changes in my life and I embraced them, sometimes with fear, sometimes with faith. The last few years have seemed like one long season of winter in so many ways, yet bear the image of the bloom of spring in so many others.

I am getting old. No, I am not like 90, but I'm not 20 either. As I cycle through the many changes in life, growing in age is one of those things in the seasons I must embrace. My body is changing, my hearing going, my back failing. But with it hopefully comes wisdom, and a touch of gratitude. And it's comforting to know that the same Jesus has been by intimately involved in my life from before the world was created.

Do you embrace the seasons of your life or do you tend to fight against them hoping for something different, or something more?