More Judging.

So last night I went to bed wondering about what all this judging others was doing to me.
After all I’d judged myself to be perfectly fine up until I started digging into the weeds.

Wandering around the house picking up after the day and turning off the lights I started praying. I’m guessing it looks like I’m a crazy person talking to myself and I’ve considered getting a blue tooth ear thingy just so when I’m driving I don’t look crazy but that’s another blog.

So I asked God what He though about all this judging. He’s super good to me and answered me promptly.

By the time I woke up this morning I couldn’t wait to share with you all what I’d learned. I had to force myself to stick to my new routine of breakfast and exercise. Which is torture because I always get great ideas and prayer time in while on my morning walk.

“So….what’s the scoop”, you’re thinking.

Did I discover that I’m in fact better than you? Did I feel the need to fall on my knees and confess for the next ten years or so?

Nope. Neither.

First I felt like God got a good chuckle out of it. Told me I was ridiculous but that He delights in me just the same. I wholeheartedly agree I’m ridiculous. No arguing there.

Next I learned that judging isn’t the same as comparing. Weighing in on a matter is good. Having an opinion is healthy. That’s what most of this is.

I’ve started a new thing with the kids. I’m hoping it will be a great success but then I hope all my projects end in great success. I’ve started a game called, Good Better Best. The idea is to get the kids to understand how to evaluate themselves and the work required.

When doing the dishes, I require a good job. I have no desire to die from the plague. I’d prefer they did a better job than the sloppy mess they manage but so far they get the job done. When I do the dishes it’s a different story. I do my best. Why? Because I enjoy a clean, sparkling kitchen. So the time involved is worth the effort. My kids could care less so a good job is all they understand.

This also translates into behaviour issues. “When you get home from school what is a good choice for your time?”
“Getting your snack and doing your homework,” replies my smartypants daughter.
“Putting away your backpack and shoes,” chimes in the other kid not to be topped.
“Great. Both of those are good choices,” I  heartily agree. “Now tell me a better choice”.
This took only a brief moment of consideration.
“I could do my homework on the bus, using my time wisely, grab my snack and check to see if I need to do my chores before I watch TV,” responded Katie. Oh she’s good.
Tyler added, “I could make sure I walk the dog and choose a healthy snack instead of junk food. That way Bella isn’t in the way when I sit down to do my homework. Bella is important and needs to be treated like we love her.”
Secretly I’ve always known my children are brilliant.
Really warming up to this I asked them what the best choice was. I must also add that the natural competitiveness of my children works in my favor.

After enjoy the dream of hearing all the wonderfully productive ways my children could be using their time I asked them if it was always necessary to put forth our “best”. (Darn their smarticalness) They instantly realized that “best” wasn’t always needed. In fact many times, good really is good enough. Why? Because of time. Once you add time to the equation it changes what is really, good better and best.

I’m loving this game. The kids seem to as well. It’s developing critical thinking and is going to make them wickedly good chess players once I get around to teaching them how to play. Right now I still like winning….so it might be a while.

However, you’re wondering, “Does she realize she’s completely off topic? Weren’t we talking about judging others? Surely she’s not going to tell us that we should be coming up with good better and best ways to judge others?”

Ah but I am. Judging others has categories. When you’re simply evaluating a situation it’s good. You are supposed to be aware. We’re supposed to think things through. This is good. This is how we were created.

It’s even better when you take it to the next step and apply it to your life. Take for example my random judging of my neighbors lawns. I’m weighing in on how the neighborhood is treated. I’m noticing who cares and who doesn’t. I’m also noticing who has time or needs help. This is where thinking about it becomes important. I should notice enough to see who needs help but not to the point where I’m critically deciding the weight of a persons character based on their lawn care skills. (based on lawn care skills I’m a wreck)

To take this one more step, what’s then the best way to judge this situation? I should perhaps go to my neighbor with the gorgeous lawn and ask for him to help me with advice and whatnot. Frankly I’m not even sure what I’m doing wrong most days. I also wonder what he could possibly be doing in his lawn morning after morning. The kids and I have confirmed he is NOT an international spy trying to track down dogs that poop in the night.

Yes, I’m totally judging my neighbor as crazy. Both the lawn nut and the dog poop lady. Is this the best course of action? probably not but for the most part it’s harmless.

It becomes harmful when I’m so critical of their behavior that I don’t allow them grace to be who they really are and not just who I’ve assumed them to be.

Passing judgement that is the end all be all is terrible. Being critical is the judgemental attitude that is trapping us. When we decided that all Liberals are wrong or Republicans are always religious fruitcakes. The words, all and always, are traps. Using them is not leaving room for change. This is when we end up being judgemental in a way that hurts us.

So feel free to argue with me that Kerri’s red Honda Pilot is better than mine or that Malea’s Honda minivan is far superior to both. I’ll continue to believe mine is the best but I’ll listen. I’m willing to be flexible. After all, I plan on getting a newer better car someday. Can’t lock myself in now. Flying cars are bound to come out soon.

I will continue to wander through Robin’s house smelling all her lotions so that I can go to the store and buy all the ones I like. She’d probably prefer that to having me just swipe hers. I did accidentally swipe her toothpaste at Easter and I apologize to the mirror when I guiltless use it.

I’m going to continue to evaluate and weigh all the information that crosses my path. How else will I know whether to keep something, swipe something, buy something or toss something? Judging things is part of my protective DNA.

I’ll also make sure that I stay flexible in heart and mind. After all I don’t have all the facts. It’s the only thing I’m absolutely sure of.

(Malea, that doesn’t change the fact that minivans aren’t as cool as suvs.)

And since I’m confessing I’ll probably continue to check out everyone’s pant sizes. I’m trying to decided what size my butt will look best in. It’s a random method of goal setting. I’m trying to encourange myself to exercise more and dreaming about me in the perfect pair of jeans is very motivating. This is what I’m doing if you catch me looking at everyones backside. Hm….perhaps I just made myself sound even crazier….
 

Judging others and blogging about it.

I met new people this last weekend and they were fabulous. They were family of good friends so it was off to a great start even before I learned their names.

As the evening progressed Amy mentioned something about….don’t judge her because…..whatever. It’s ironic that I hear this more and more. Maybe I’m just listening for it or maybe people are getting more sensitive to it. Either way I’m going to find out because this time I’m not protecting the innocent, I’m naming names.

They’re bound to hunt me down if I get this wrong.

So when my very gracious new friend at church invited me to dinner at her house she also made a comment about not judging her. Being the good sport that I am, I reminded Dawn that I’m a realtor. I have a clipboard and planned on assessing her house while I was there. We joked and I mentioned that I would deduct ten points for paint chips…… I believe the response was that I would be terribly busy in that case.

So when my new friend Amy mentioned that she didn’t want to be judged, I of course mentioned my clipboard and grading system. In her case, I also mentioned that I blog. I was drinking but in my mind it was hilarious. Promise.

I managed to slyly mention that I would be spreading their lives all over the blog-o-sphere for the rest of their visit.

At one point it looked like I was going to be an action blogger as the ever lovely Laurel almost demonstrated how to topple down some deck stairs backwards out of a patio chair. I offered to film it, for my blog of course. We wouldn’t want to be deprived of such a feat after all. We all assured Laurel that we’d stop laughing long enough to make sure she was okay.

Really my weekend was better than most reality shows.

Speaking of reality shows…oh man….has everyone lost their senses? Are we all running amok?

I joke about blogging but I think I am hearing, “Please don’t judge me” more and more. I’ve decided that reality shows are partially to blame. We’ve become a generation of individuals who sit on our couches like a jury sits in their chairs. Judging those on tv who have traded their dignity for fame. We, on our fat butts, doing nothing to contribute to anything other than obesity, come out judging ourselves to be superior.

Interesting. I of course am the most superior because I canceled my cable and only watch tv through the internet. Think Netflix and Hulu. (I hope you’re catching the irony here. Sarcasm is so hard to write) I’m pretty sure I jump at the chance to tell people how superior I believe myself to be for my super righteous behavior of not watching reality TV with the masses. (Oh brother, I’m terrible)

So I’m hearing, “Please don’t judge me” more and more but I finally realized that I’m far more judgemental than I realized. I’m quite blown away by it.

Stupid things. Comparing my car to others….I told Kerri that my Honda Pilot is better than her Honda Pilot because my red is prettier and my leather interior is gray not beige. Secretly she thinks hers is superior. Richard wasn’t allowed to vote.

I’ve started walking everyday in my neighborhood. Judging everyones lawns. Who knew I had a rating system? I didn’t realize it until I heard someone else commenting on the best lawn in their neighborhood. I just barely caught myself one upping their story. Now that I’m blogging, you should know that my neighbor works on his yard everyday and has topiaries. Yup. Spiral bushes.

So…my friends….how do you feel knowing that I’m judging you? Robin? Kerri? My new friends, Amy? Dawn? April?

Royally sucks. Probably hated seeing your names. I know I would….except that for the moment I have all the power and my name is in the title. I’m tempted to throw in more names just to see….Marjorie? Sheri? I’ve totally compared our pant sizes…didn’t mean to but did.

It’s like a disease. When did we (women) start comparing ourselves to everyone else and then putting us in order of whatever it is we’re judging? I’m mildly terrified at myself.

Interestingly I didn’t realize I was so judgemental. I thought because I don’t care where you’re pierced or tattooed I was cool.

I figured that I wasn’t judging people because I don’t tell people they’re horrible parents when I watch them ruin their children in Walmart. After all just because they don’t parent like me doesn’t make them bad (it totally does…I’m an amazing parent).

Make me stop….

Now would be a good time for me to get to the preachy portion of my blog and add scripture but I’m not going to. You’ve all heard it. I don’t need to quote it at you. In fact I’m realizing I need to figure out how to change my evaluation habits. I really don’t want to be judgemental.

I want to enjoy others for just being who they are. I want to let go of the burden of trying to be superior (it’s my cross….)(stop laughing)(seriously….I’m fabulous).

So, Amy – you’re awesome. I want to lose weight and look as good in jeans as you did this weekend. I’d prefer my butt though….

Dawn, your house is gorgeous and you’re an amazing cook. I’d eat at your house anytime. I promise to never count the chips in your paint.

Robin, you are an amazing parent and I think you are doing it right. Your kids don’t annoy me at all. I do however burn with jealousy over all your fabulous candles and froufrou hand lotions. Just to prove you’re not better than me I too have cocoa butter hand lotion at my sink. So there.

Marjorie, I miss you. We should go jean shopping sometime. Although maybe not….I see on FB that you’ve been eating better and exercising…….I might not be strong enough to not burn with jealousy. After all, you’re gorgeous.

Kerri….My Honda is still better. You do have fabulous reading habits though. Can we stay friends? Of course it’s a rocky friendship as you come with Richard. Your cross to bear….

Honestly though. I thought I was doing so well. I’m going to have to do something about this.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to become Catholic. I’d have to spent far too much time in confession. Laundry still has to happen. Eventually. At least I’m better than those Amish kids on the reality show….

 

When You Go To The Doctor.

So I’m sitting in the car, trying really hard not to watch the traffic on the Jersey Turnpike, thinking.

I had some Jehovah Witnesses at my door the other day and I’m still thinking about how I handled it.

Standing in the kitchen, taking my cold meds, wondering if it’s natural for a cold to last a month because if it is my chances of that happening are high. Glancing at the dishes wishing they would wash themselves and noticing that the dog has lost it. Completely berserk, she’s chasing her tail, barking and pawing the front door. In my medicated stupor I go to the door.

“Hi, honey, how old is your dog?”

“Um, she’s a puppy so if you don’t mind I’ll just keep the screen door closed. How can I help you”, I said instantly realizing that the somberly dressed ladies on my door where carrying watchtower magazines and bibles.

“Do you feel that the world today is worse than ever? Getting more violent by the day? Does it worry you?”

“No, I don’t feel the world is getting worse everyday but I think CNN would like you to believe it is. I’m not losing sleep at night over any violent acts.”

This momentarily confused her but she plowed on just the same, “Let me read to you from the bible.”

It was something from Psalm about God being our refuge and strength. It was a nice passage. Before she could say any more I interjected, “Thank you ladies, for reading me scripture. It’s never a problem to open my door to hear the Word of God.”

“I see you have a Watchtower magazine, Do you know Mark Schneider? I work in his office and he has a stack of Watchtower Magazines available at all times.”

“Yes, we know Mark, tell him we said Hi.”

“I’ll do that. Now I need to get back to my dishes before my cold meds tell me its nap time. Have a lovely day ladies.” And with that I firmly closed the door and went up to stare at my dishes. Wondering if I’d done the right thing.

It’s not like Jehovah witnesses are vampires but just in case I don’t want to invite them in my house. They very well could be anything, I really can’t trust people who don’t celebrate holidays. Call me shallow.

So back to me cringing on the Jersey Turnpike.

How are we supposed to deal with people?

Are we supposed to have 3 minute testimonies? Ready in a heart beat to sum God up in our lives to share with everyone?

I’m thinking no.

I’m thinking that we are supposed to meet needs.

This got me to thinking about going to the Doctor’s office.

You start with a nurse, who takes down basic info and takes your temp, weight, blood pressure, etc… You then describe your dilemma to the nurse.

When the Doctor gets he/she reviews the information the nurse took down and asks you for more information.

You talk. Communicating your need.

Then the Doctor recommends the plan of care.

I think this is the formula we should be following as Christians.

We should let people know we’re here to help but when they arrive we should start by listening. Then more listening should take place. Only after they are done telling us what they need to say should we offer a solution.

After we’ve listened.

How could this look? We could hold church garage sales, offering to pick up stuff for people. Once at their homes we can listen. We could maybe offer a card that works as a receipt for taxes that maybe has our website on it but no more. Continuing to listen. Not witnessing but communicating and maybe helping them clean house.

We could have people come into the food pantry and instead of a system that feels like we’re selling a timeshare (up sell them than give then the promised freebie) we smile and just give.

I’m thinking if we just pitched in and helped people, listening we’d accomplish more for the kingdom than a 3 minute testimony.

Theirs probably nothing wrong with practicing your testimony until you’ve got it down to three minutes. It might sound like an infomercial but people love infomercials. However, I should probably point out that the good Doctor didn’t really need to listen to you either. Your blood pressure, weight, temp, etc…tell the story pretty well without all your extra input. Oh, it helps but what it really does is help the person in need feel cared about.

Which is way more important that slapping a fix on something.

So as I think about how I handled my front door witnesses, I’m happy that I was pleasant and just listened. I didn’t need to ruin their day. They weren’t likely to change their minds and quite frankly that’s God’s job. I’ve been called to the harvest. Which is hard work but also quite easy.

The hard part is listening.

I love my son, I love my son….

I love my son. I really do. However, I’m also ready to sell him to the circus but I’m afraid they’ll return him far too soon.

He’s had the chore of dishes/ cleaning up the kitchen after dinner for almost two years. Last night he barely loaded the dishwasher, didn’t start it and piled everything left into a soapy sink. When questioned he said that’s what I’d taught him to do. Ugh. Little stinker.

Thing is because he wasn’t paying attention at all, he put dishes in the sink that his sister hadn’t properly put away and were completely clean. Like my cast iron skillet. Ugh again.

If that wasn’t enough, I found three pairs of shoes and neatly folded laundry, under piles of dirty laundry. He didn’t put away his fresh laundry but just started using the basket for dirty. Great. Way to make life harder. This explains why he never seems to have clothes even though I’m constantly telling him to do his laundry.

I could go on and on like this. If you have a boy I’m sure you could too. Katie is completely different in this respect. She seems to learn from her mistakes. She seems to have better sense when it comes to hiding clean laundry but she too seems to lack the ability to connect the dots.

How does one teach this?

I have a certain amount of awareness as do many mothers. It’s why we have stories about the back of our heads having eyes. What our little ones don’t realize is they can’t lie worth a darn and are noisy messes.

My husband has great situational awareness and political awareness. His awareness of the trash is growing. He’s also super at the lawn. He’s always saying he’s going to mow it before I notice it needs it. This is fantastic.

I’ve noticed that overall most people seem to have some awareness in some areas but then completely lack it in others. This puzzles me.

Like the teen girls at the store that from the neck up look like super models and from the neck down could be homeless boys or just homeless. Who are they trying to impress?

I doubt the teen boys are much better. They have made dragging their extra pair of pants an art form. Not only are they wearing gym shorts under their pants they have to walk with one hand holding onto the jeans firmly in order to keep them just so. Perhaps homeless supermodels are their mates.

Either way, I want to teach my children to connect the dots. To be aware of their surroundings. To be able to find their own clean clothes.

When I figure this out, I’ll be able to write a best selling book. It will be hailed by parents everywhere.

Until then I’ll probably feel cursed. As I can perfectly see all the details they are missing.

It wouldn’t be so bad except we have to share a bathroom these days. 
Pray for us. Katie turns 13 this summer……

Get Angry!

January I was attending a Bible Study and I got mad.
I was silently fuming.
If I was a cartoon smoke would have been coming out my ears.

I get that way these days when I hear the garbage women believe about themselves and about God.
To make matters worse I started to share with them, as gently as I could in my current froth, that God loves them and will always give them a chance.
They were insistent that many times God turns His back on us, forever.
Ugh.
I kept trying to say that God KNOWS we’re sinners. That’s never been a secret.
Well, right in the middle of me trying to once again say that God loves us extravagantly, a wrinkly woman in her 70’s pointed a finger at me, and spoke while slowing rising out of her chair to stand over me, “You’re sinning right now girl! Getting all angry. Anger is a sin.”
Stunned I just looked at her.
The entire room was nodding with her in agreement.
Ladies started searching for verses to quote at me about anger.

Whoa.

I shut up.
After it was over, three of the older ladies offered to pray a prayer of confession with me. I told them I was furious but that I wasn’t sinning.

I’m still rolling my eyes heaven ward asking for help as I think of this group of the “frozen chosen”.

I know, I know, name calling isn’t nice either…but you’ve got to admit that’s a funny one.

Anger.
It’s a confused issue.
Sure people sin in anger all the time. Probably one of the more popular feelings running through our veins while we sin.

No less popular than guilt, pleasure, or pride.

But I’m hear to tell you, listen closely, You have permission to get ripe royally furious and not sin.

This will not turn you into a bipolar Christian, vengeful and wrathful one minute, peaceful and loving the next. Wrong. Weird.

Matthew 21:12-14
I just want to start out by sharing that my Bible App gives titles to certain sections, and this title is “He Kicked Over The Tables”
vs.12-14
“Jesus went straight to the Temple and threw out everyone who had set up shop, buying and selling. He kicked over the tables of loan sharks and the stalls of dove merchants. He quoted this text: My house was designated a house of prayer;……”

Really picture this for a minute.
For some reason I see an old Sunday School picture of Jesus with a whip in his hand chasing people. As a kid I always got a kick out of that picture. I wish I could find it now.
I doubt it was like that.
The Bible would most likely have mentioned a whip in at least one of the gospels.

However, it does mention that Jesus was furious and He kicked over tables! Whoa.

And He did it without sinning.

How is this possible? How can we do the same?

Before I answer that I want to add some more pieces to the puzzle.

Why do we get mad? I recently read (the Cure: What if God isn’t who you think He is and neither are you? by Bruce McNicol) that we are filled with guilt and shame when we’ve sinned against another person and that we get mad when others have sinned against us.
So anger is often a sign that we’re being wronged.
An injustice has occurred.

This makes perfect sense to me.

I get mad at my kids when they directly disobey me. When they don’t take care of their responsibilities because they are rejecting my teaching, instructions and values.

I eventually got mad at Mike for having an affair. I had to go through the grief phase to get there but it happened. It felt like he’d reached out an cut me. I was a bloody freaking mess. (read my earlier posts if this is news to you.)

Sinned against makes us angry.

Jesus was furious because the Temple was being devalued. It was being sinned against.

Jesus responded by kicking them out. Literally. He righted the wrong in those moments.

vs. 14 ends with – “Now there was room for the blind and crippled to get in. They came to Jesus and he healed them.”

Justice served and God Glorified.

I want that. I want Justice to be served and God to be Glorified! Yes please.

Going back to my example of being angry at my kids. It’s interesting now that I realize better why I’m so angry I have more grace to offer in those moments. It’s allowed me to think clearly through the anger. Oh, I’m still hopping mad but I better understand that it’s justified anger. I’m supposed to be angry. It’s a physical, biological signal that something needs to be corrected. In this case my children.

Think about that again. Anger is a signal, a natural biological signal, that something needs to be corrected. You have permission to get anger. It’s perfectly normal and healthy. It’s a necessary function of the body.

What you do next is what sets you apart.

I still yell at my kids sometimes during the “correcting”. I feel it is appropriate to let them see my anger. Hear my anger. They are the ones who wronged.

I’m the one in this situation who gets to right the wrong.

Now is where sinning comes into play. Not in the feelings of anger but in the actions we take to right the wrong.

Two wrongs don’t make a right even if two lefts do. I’m not going to answer how to right the wrong. Its a post for another time. Plus you’ve all  heard how not to hit children or abuse people verbally. I’m giving you permission to feel MAD not commit murder.

After all, when you feel hungry you eat, when you feel sad you cry, when you feel bloated you run to the store for supplies….you know why. Now I want you to feel angry and realize there is a chance to right a wrong and Glory God in doing it.

I got mad at my husband. I threw an epic tantrum. Our house is a bi level and I hopped up and down screaming at one point. The whole house shook in a very satifying manner.Yelling that it wasn’t fair. I did resort to name calling which was still fair. I wasn’t playing dirty I was hurt.

End of story. I’m still married to him. I got it out of my system and God is healing and righting the wrongs. This marriage will continue to Glorify God. It’s a blessing to us and to those we shareour story with.
Our kids have survived and will continue to put up with us for many more years.

It wasn’t the end of the world. It was the beginning of my healing.

Get ANGRY ladies.

Stop believing the lie that anger is wrong. It’s like saying that people never hurt you. We all know that’s a lie.

Stop stuffing. Stop hiding it. Stop believing your sinning because you know you’ve been hurt.

Let God work in your anger. Get flipping Pissed OFF.

I’ll follow up on this later. Instructions for how to getting FURIOUS with a purpose. I’ll post it on my new, coming soon, blog that I’ll make live before July. Being looking for it.

 

Why we crave Harry Potter

I simply adore the magical world of Harry Potter. I’m delighted that my kids were the perfect age to grow up with his magic.
I also remember all the fuss surrounding him when he first came out. Which I kinda understand but mostly think they weren’t paying attention.

I was paying attention.

Here’s what I experienced.

I was drawn into an invisible world that had diferent rules. Remind you of anything? Perhaps Lord of the Rings? Star Wars? Narnia? Just a thought.

I cheered when the kid who was not being loved was taken away and justice was served!

And I cried when I heard that his mother’s love was the most powerful magic of all.

In those moments I fell completely in love with this invisible world. I wanted to see the magic that was all around me too!

Interesting thing is that I’m discovering that there is an invisible world.

In Ephesians 4: 17 NIV we learn

“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking”

I’m reminded of when Ron’s Dad would pester Harry about Muggle things. So completely not of his world he couldn’t understand.

This is a great example of how we as Christians need to be so focused on the Kingdom of God that perhaps we don’t understand the draw of reality TV or why people would make terribly selfish choices that destroy their lives.

Ephesians 4:18 “They are darkened in their understanding and separated fro the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost alll sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurtiy and they are full of greed.”

Bummer.

But we’re aren’t meant to be trapped by that.

 In fact. the reason we love Harry Potter so much is because it’s focus is otherworldly not mundane muggle things.

Our focus can also be otherworldly.

In the same way we watch Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, or Narnia and get caught up in the magic, the alternate reality, we need to realize it’s because it’s in our spiritual DNA. You were made to crave otherworldly. It’s more than a trekkie gene passed from Father to Son.

You’re recognizing that the reality you see on the news isn’t the whole story. It’s the darkness.

Ephesians 4:20 “That however is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires: 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds: 24 and to put ont he new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Do you get it?

Perhaps you can see like I do that Harry represents all of us. For we were all sinners (muggles) and through the greatest magic of all we were saved (love – God is love – Jesus loved us so much he died for us!)

Happy Dance!

So look at your life and ask, Are you living like a Muggle? Or do you understand that there is an Invisible Realm that you belong to.

Far more grand than Hogwarts.

 

Chills

God is working all around me
and through me so much
 that it’s giving chills! Thrills! and Excitement!
 This picture sums it up nicely.
Looks amazing and impossible.
Down right frightening! But super amazing!
 
Yup.
 
It’s frightening how God is changing everything!
However, it’s a lot like this roller coaster.
 
I can be assured of my safety. God’s got this. How can I lose?
It may seem to change course or ask the impossible but
its’ all planned.
To share an example, I’m starting each day asking the Lord tobe in complete control and do His will through me. I’ve never been so productive! Not doing things I thought I should be doing but what I felt was obedience to Him.
A perfect example was last week.
I was going to head to the store and run some errands on post before picking up the kids for a dentist appointment. As I was finishing dressing and getting ready to go I got a phone call from my prayer partner. So I dropped what I was about to do and took the time she needed.
It lasted right up till the moment I needed to get the kids for their appointment.
I picked them up before they’d had lunch but we were in luck, Taco Bell was right there. Hoping against hope we could get in and out in 15 minutes we had a quick lunch together. Always fun.
We managed to check in right on time! Always a good feeling.
As I was chilling in the waiting room I checked FB.
I had a message from someone in the local Home school group.
Interestingly, just the day before my prayer partner and I had prayed about homeschooling.
I am/was concerned about Tyler’s education but wanted to do what Tyler needed not just what I thought was best. I’d already received confirmation that I was to home school but it seemed very coincidental. Like perhaps I was reading into it too much.
Well, here I am in the waiting room on FB and what do you know. More confirmation.
God wanted to make sure I knew He’s got it and He does want me to home school Tyler.
Turns out, I couldn’t have run errands this morning if I’d wanted too.
I didn’t have my ID card.
My homeschooler friend had discovered it at the local Dog park (it had been dropped Sunday) and she thought to look me up via FB.
Wow.
Then others within the home school community reached out to me to make sure I got my ID back.
Wow.
So not only did God restore my missing ID before I even realized it was missing, He confirmed His will for me and Tyler.
Awesome.
Exciting.
It’s amazing to be living in such a close relationship to our Saviour and Lord.
Terrifying at times but always ultimately for us.
 
I’m getting chills just thinking about all the prayers He’s been answering and all the ways He’s working. He’s shown Mike and I things that He didn’t have control over in our lives and we’ve turned it all over to HIM.
So Changes are a coming! God Sized Changes!
I can only imagine…..and my imagination is fabulous!

 

God Answers II

As yesterday progressed I saw more and more ways that God is constantly working in my life and so I felt like my last post was incomplete.

While it’s not a formula, because God is way bigger than a formula, I have noticed a theme or trend. When it comes to answered prayers.

All through the Bible God blesses those who walk with Him.
So a constant relationship is key. In fact essential.

Then something crazy takes place. It’s not that my every whim and desire are being gratified but that my heart has aligned with God’s and I’m praying to see Him at work. Bear with me.

Praying for a person is a common enough prayer.
Why wouldn’t God want to answer you? After all, He loves all of us, He already knows everything about us – good and bad, He promises he’s tending to us. So when we pray for another we’re actually lining up our hearts and minds to what He wanted in the first place. Then if we’re watching and in a relationship with Him, he opens our eyes to it.

Confused?

Well let’s add more to the mix.

In Psalm 37:4 it’s mentioned that if we, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your hear”. Sounds almost like – If you love God and hope really hard to win the lotto – He’ll give it to you. Nope.

It’s more like, Focus your everything on God (spend more time with Him than with your TV or on FB) and the desires of your heart will be the WILL OF GOD.

Almost sounds like a bait and switch but I promise you it’s not. God’s Will is always sooo much better than what we could imagine.

I personally have a great imagination but I’m not enitirely sure I could come up with an elephant, trees, mountains, giraffee, or coffee in just a week. I’m most definately not in the same catagory as God is.

So why do we keep offering  up human sized solutions? Because they’re human sized problems? You might think they are but you’d be wrong.

Imagine watching TV in Black and White…just living like everyone else. Then you enter into a real and personal relationship with Christ. Blam – Color TV!
“Wow”, you think.
Everything looks so diferent!
Most Christians feel like they’ve  made it. They can see in Color!
The Holy Spirit has opened their eyes!
but wait.
What about flat screens that are super huge and boggle the mind?
What about 3-D?

I’m discovering that my color TV is blah next to the 3-D of learning to crave God’s Will over my everything.

I’ve also discovered that while I can only grasp this world in 3-D that perhaps it more. Mostly likely it’s a lot more! 64-D even. So mind blowing that I can’t even possibly imagine it.

So we’re down here thinking we’re reasonable and asking for normal stuff but in God’s reality we’re not seeing anything clearly.

Those human problems? Could very well be divine blessing and we’re just not tuned in properly.

So before I start sounding like I’m starting a Sci-Fy series, I want to share how I’ve prayed and how I’ve been answered. Just this week to keep it simple.

On Monday (around 10 – yes it really matters) April and I lifted up these concerns – and a few more.
1. Continued health
2. Our husbands and marriages. That we’d learn to see and love our husbands the way God sees and loves them. That God would tear from their lives anything and everything blocking them from Him.
3. What’s best for Tyler’s education. Not what I want but how does God want Tyler raised. Public, Private or Homeschool next year?
4. Prayer for sovergien control over my finances. That we don’t give in to spiritual warfare in this area of our lives.
5. Continued strength on my new diet program.

It was a slow week for us so that just about cover it.

Right before April and I had met for prayer Mike and I’d talked about getting a new dresser. We’d decided that it was a better decision to build one that to buy. The dresser I want is $1200 at the Pottery Barn but we found free design plans FOR THAT EXACT dresser for free. Mike headed to Lowe’s to get the supplies.

As he walked out the door I was uncomfortable about the decision. I was feeling like we might be overextending ourselves this month to do it now. However, I’ve been praying for two weeks to be the wife Mike needs and I could see that he just needed to be completely in charge of the project. Even the timing of the project. So I send a prayer up that asking if we were still completely within God’s Will and moved forward.

After praying together, on the phone, because we are constantly unable to meet in person, Mike and I unloaded the dresser wood and had lunch.

Katie walks in the door just after 3pm with the mail.

Inside the mail is a completely unexpected check for…..exactly the cost of the dresser. Woo Hoo!

It was a settlement check from how Chase mistreated us by trying to foreclose on us in 2009. It was decided that was wrongful on their end and we were in the clear! Bonus gift! Thank you God!

While I was waiting to tell Mike the good news I hopped on the computer to check my email as well. Two emails from k-12 asking us to come back at huge discounts!

Another ANSWER!

Another Bonus! I didn’t ask God to save us money if we were going to HomeSchool but He offered it just the same.

I started to think maybe I was reading a bit much into the whole email answer but tucked it aside.

Simply Thanked God for His swift responses and expressed my joy in Him.

Now you might be thinking, “God sure seems to answer Ruth and April quickly, I wonder what that’s all about.”

I’ve decided it’s two things. First God made me and April at the same speed. The speed of light. Microwave speed. It’s not that we don’t have patience or have been called upon to practice patience…we have. It’s that God is delighting in delighting us.

Two, We are both daily followers of God. I wake up wanting to check my bible app for what the day’s verse is. I like to walk down the hall, grumbling a good morning to the kids while reading my quicky biblestudy app.
Once the kids are gone for the day I start in on my meaty Bible Study. 
It’s more important that coffee.

Which brings me to another part of the theme – not formula of answered prayers.

Three weeks ago I was in the process of getting ready for gastric bypass surgery. I was informed by my doctors that it was less risk than being as fat as I am.
I was ready to go.
I figured that if food was in the way of my temple being fit than it needed to go.
I prayed about it many times but then April and I prayed about it together this time I prayed that I simply wanted a clear sign as to which direction I was supposed to take. Cut out my stomach or Let God heal me.

I’d been reading in 1Kings about a king that won many battles because God went before him but for one epic battle this king didn’t consult the Lord. Devistation was the results.

It got me thinking that I needed to make sure I wasn’t trying to do things my way but God’s way. I took the surgery to God and asked if it was His way.

Not three hours later I got a call from TriCare that they wouldn’t be covering the surgery. I’m not fat enough. Woo Hoo! This meant that God was going to heal me.

More on this amazing weight loss story later. It deserves it’s own blog. Spoiler – I’m down 8lbs.

Back to Homeschooling.

I was planning on running to the base for some shopping before gettting the kids for their dentist appointments today. However, the second I finished my morning Bible Study April called. Urgent prayer warrior stuff.

Our sharing lasted right up to the moment I needed to get the kids. I figured no biggie.

Getting Tyler from school I noticed that I was missing my ID card. Had to pull out my driver’s license for the school’s ID check.

I texted Mike if perhaps he knew where it was.

“Look in the kitchen”

Sure. Whatever.

I didn’t give it another thought.

Then sitting at the Dentist office I’m surfing FB and realize I have a message. My ID was found at the dog park. Best Part – By a girl in the local homeschool group. Yup. My name was even posted on the local Homescool FB page – looking for anyone who knew me to let me know my ID had been found.

How’s that for an answer? Reconnecting me with the local HomeSchool Group seems like quite the answer to me.

Wow.

And it’s only Tuesday!

As I watch for more God answers please pray for Rob and Mike. That’s our husbands. We’ve been praying for them and joked today that they could be in for a JONAH style problem. While I doubt God has a whale planned for a New Jersey men…..God is rather creative.
He gave Joshua Jericho by asking him to march and holler….
He gave women boobs……

Also, we’ve decided our prayers need to be bigger. Do you have something we can turn over to God for you?
 

God Answers.

My prayer life has changed drastically in the last year. I find myself amused.

I can barely remember what it used to look like but it feels like it was years ago instead of just last summer.

I’ve started really taking notice of how God answers.

Like a dective searching for clues, scooby looking for snacks, a coupon queen searching for a steal. I’ve been expectant.

So freaking awesome.

Lots of answers on every little thing. Super amazing. Last week I whined to God that I wanted a good book to read and I wanted a romance. I found myself that day in CVS standing in front of the books looking at a former favorite author. Asking myself if this was God’s answer and was he allowing me to read a romance novel again. I’ve also been praying for His leadership in our finances and in that moment I felt a nudge on my heart to leave it and try the library. So I walked away.

Later that night I was wandering around my house and I forget why but I stopped in front of my bookcase and noticed a series of books that I’ve been meaning to read. My sister in law gave them to me. I picked up the first book in the series – Mark of the Lion. It wasn’t until I put down the second book three days later that I realized God answered my whine.

I was blessed with an amazing love story. A fabulous story that fed the imagination and made me a better person for reading it. (Francine Rivers if you’re interested). Not only that but God answered my heart more than I asked. Instead of just one book I got three! Instead of having buy something – He knew years ago that this moment would come! and JUST HANDED IT TO ME!

Amen. Woo Hoo! Way to be awesome God!

I was telling my friend (and Mike) that when God has something he wants for you HE JUST GIVES IT TO YOU.

God wanted Jonah to go to Nievah. God made it happen, not Jonah.
God wanted David to be King. David did not seek the position. It was JUST GIVEN TO HIM.
God wanted His son to be crucified. It had to happen. So He did it. It could not have been stopped by man.

This has been a freeing idea. I mean I always understood that God was in charge but I figure I was supposed to be doing something. Nope.

I’m just supposed to obey once I see what He’s doing.

This is mind blowing once your wrap your mind around it.

Do nothing but wait on the Lord. Then when he hands you your task – run with it.

This works for every since area of life. In everything, whether whining, pleading, begging or just asking and seeking give it to God.

I’ve pass along some great requests that made me feel grown up and responsibly. I’ve also passed along some plain jane, run of the mill, striaght up whining. He’s answered it all.

I’ve been answered in minutes and hours. I’ve seen it take a few days. I’ve heard of it taking decades. But God hears and answers.

I’m having a blast watching Him at work. Connecting the dots.

I’ve turned everything over to him. My marriage – yeah, I’m still married because of Him. My finances, he’s doing a great work! My weight – have I got a story in the works! My friendships, my thoughts, my dog, my children. You name it – I’ve made it His problem.

He’s answering and He’s doing it His way which I gotta tell you is bigger and better than what I asked for.

God sized answers!

So exciting to see. Super exciting to experience. I just can’t wait to see how God works this week.

It’s all in your head.

Hi my name is Ruth and I’m addicted to Pinterest. Oh, and Facebook, Bradsdeals, Amazing Lightening Deals, maybe I should stop now.

I saw a quote today on Pinterest that resonated with me. Author unknown.

Watch your thoughts,
they become words,
they become actions.
Watch your actions,
they become habits;
they become character.
Watch your character;
it becomes your destiny.
WHO ARE YOU?

Wow. So true. I’ve seen this happen in my life. I’ve had it happen to me. Let me share two powerful but painful examples.

I’ll never forget that day. Tyler had been sick and I was worried but telling myself that until I knew what was going on I was just panicking. He was scheduled for his first MRI at 11:00. I wanted to show him that is was no big deal so I still put him on the bus that morning for school. I purposefully planned to make it a normal day.

Mike had left a few days before to return to Afghanistan. He had a few months left to finish his year apart. I was hanging on to my dignity by a thread. I wanted to stay curled up in bed but realized that wasn’t the message my kids needed to finish a year long deployment. I’d spent nine months telling them we loved Daddy, that it’s okay to cry but we have to still be joyful.

I picked Tyler up from school and drove him to the Magnetic Imagining Center in Watertown NY. I can’t help but remember all of Tyler’s details but have to stop and think about the deployment details.

I didn’t have Tyler’s social security number on me and Mike was stranded in Atlanta International Airport due to snow so I just texted him to look into it for me. I chatted with the receptionist and learned the difference between contrast and non contrast MRI’s. I remember my friend Robin asking me earlier if the MRI ordered was with contrast and at the time I had no idea what she meant.

Looking back I can see exactly how God was preparing me. Showing me all the information I was going to need and equipping me for my response.

Tyler went back without me. His choice. I wanted to stay by his side but he was going through the normal phase of life where he wanted to be grown up and do it alone. He’ll learn sometime in early adult that’s crazy but as a young man he will have to figure this out alone.

I was watching TV out in the waiting room. I was the only one there. At the time I was in a Beth Moore bible study and we’d just covered the importance of memory verses. Beth had joked in her video about needing to pin verses on her clothes like a mother pins notes to the teacher on her child. I chuckle every time I think of it. I’d combined this with something I’d heard on KLove at the beginning of Mike’s deployment.

When someone asks where you live pick a memory verse. In the military it’s a very confusing question to answer where you live. Do you mean, where was I born? where I grew up? where I just moved from? or where I reside right now? It’s made fun of on Armed Forces TV. I can totally relate so when I heard to share a verse and tell someone I lived there I loved it.

God gave me the verse Psalm 112:7 (NIV)
“They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.

I had it on an index card in my purse. I had needed it many many times in the previous nine months. I stopped watching the news that year because every little thing made it hard to sleep at night.

Sitting in the waiting room I decided to clean my purse. Silly the things we do when bored. I’d just finished tossing the receipts I didn’t  need in the trash and was clutching my index card when the nurse that was with Tyler came around the corner heading to the bathroom. She was crying.

Once she’d pulled herself together she exited the bathroom and walked towards me. Time started to slow. I put my verse in my pocket.

I remember word for word our conversation. She was asking where I attended church and was telling me she was Mormon and that Jesus loved me. That she had an amazing church fellowship and wanted to make sure I was surrounded by loving believers like she was. I remember being amused, curious and paralysed. I can best explain it as a looming darkness that I could see in the distance or out of the corner of my eye but I physically could not look directly at it. My hands clenched in my pocket. Around my verse.

I wasn’t told anything about Tyler other than he’d need fluids and to head straight to his Doctor’s office. I stopped at Wendy’s to get Tyler a frosty. He chatted non stop about his adventure. That he hated the needle and the fluid was super cold but that the headphones were awesome. Chatter about how hard it is to stay perfectly still when you need to tap your foot to good tunes. I listened while refusing to look at the looming darkness threatening to overwhelm me.

I burst into tears twice before I made it to the Dr.’s office and once in the waiting room. All before I had any idea. I sent Mike a text to update him but had no idea if he’d made his flight or could even get my text anymore. Once he boarded the plane his phone would be off until he was back in the US again. Otherwise a single text could cost $50.

In those moments I became conscience of the index card in my hand. Wrinkled, smeared and just there, in my hand. I choose in those moments to trust. I packed away my fear. I knew. I knew it was going to be bad. I couldn’t have known how bad. I don’t think I could have had enough faith after I heard the news. The decision to believe and have faith had to come first. I set the path for all future thoughts in those moments.

So in less than 20 minutes after my decision to believe that God had this, I learned my son was dying of a brain tumor.

I’ll stop here. I’ll share the good news that the tumor was quickly removed. Tyler’s chances to live were extremely low that January. We faced the possible death of Tyler, or the chance he would live but as a vegetable. The decisions we had to make were quick and dirty. Decisions that still make me tremble. However, God had laid a path and shown me His will. I wasn’t left to do any of this alone.

I experience a life changing moment and kept my joy. I was fought for with every breath I took that year. However, the battle was won in my head. Keeping my thoughts under control expelled the looming darkness. Like those monsters in Harry Potter that must me defeated by light. I had a patronis, GOD to go before me and expel the darkness.

The second painful experience I want to share is both my story and not my story. You’ll understand in a moment.

Mike became depressed.
He had plenty of reasons why.
His mind came to believe he was worthless.
He set the path in his mind to see disrespect and worthlessness believing to his core that he was unloved at home.
These thoughts eroded his character and allowed him to justify having an affair.
This created a deep wound in our marriage.

It all started with thoughts.
That lead to words spoken.
That fed actions.

Our minds are where we win and lose.
Words are a sign of your thoughts but by the time it comes out of our mouths the path has already been decided. The outcome predictable.

Who you are is decided by your thoughts.

I’ve heard the argument that you can’t control what pops into your head. Really?

Let’s look at Philippians 4:4-9 (the Message) because it would seem this is not a new idea and we’ve got instructions right here on how to combat this.

“Celebrate God all day,
every day. I mean, revel in him!
 Make is as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side,
working with them and not against them.
 Help them see that the Master is about to arrive.
He could show up any minute.
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray.
 Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers,
 letting God know your concerns.
Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness,
everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.
It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
Summing it all up, friends,
 I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating
 on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling,
gracious – the best, not the worst;
the beautiful, not the ugly;
 things to praise, not things to curse.
Put into practice what you learned from me,
 what you heard and saw and realized.
Do that, and God, who makes everything work together,
will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

Notice it doesn’t say try to avoid bad things, it says fill your minds. I picture this as a glass with oil in it being filled with water. The oil floats on top and spills over the sides as the glass overflows.

This is how I approach protecting my mind. I make sure it’s so full that there isn’t room for anything else. In our age of information overload this takes dedication but gets easy with practice.

I memorize verses. I fill up on reading good things. Not just the bible, I enjoy a bunch of authors that can best be described as fluffy. Romance novels can be wonderful. Filled with love and the importance of treating others with truth and respect. Or they can be filled with exciting things that are just junk. A good murder mystery can be inspiring or make it hard to sleep without the lights on.

Facebook and Pinterest are another great place to fill up on great things. However, it is just as easy to fill up on crap there too. What’s a girl to do?
Duh, make choices and decided to conscience turn away from junk. It gets easy with practice.

My facebook uplifts me. I have many friends that post memory verses or how well they’ve done exercising. Baby pictures and giggles to brighten my day. Politics from those who are concerned about our country but are searching for truth. While I might not always enjoy the truths they find they are doing it in a conscientious way that is not harming the dignity of those who oppose them.

I use Pinterest as I would a magazine. Fluff to entertain and to inspire me to do more with my resources. I’ve learned how not to coupon. I’ve been inspired to cook more. I’m filling my mind with all sorts of fun stuff.

I’m so full of it that I’m not overly phased when I’m at the mall and confronted with Victoria Secrets ads. I’m so full of it that I can move along just fine.

I know the truths of this world are frightening, scary and paralysing. I could fill my mind with knowledge on germs and parasites. That can very easily scare the pants off a normal person. When confronted with certain bits of truth I find I have to stay still for a moment to collect my thoughts.

I find I can’t face some things head on because they break my heart. I’m not going to ever really be able to go to the holocaust museum. I believe it is doing good and should be there. I support it but my heart is too tender to see it more than out of the corner of my eye. I recognize I need to protect my heart.

As a bonus though I’ll tell you that filling your life with good thoughts will bleed into your dreams and your children. Maybe bleed isn’t the right visual, LOL, perhaps I should say the joy of your life will spill into those around you.

Then you can be more like Jesus. Turning others to love because you loved them first. This is what I want my witness to be.

I want others to be at peace in my presence. I want to bring light, joy and love. Laughter and good times even when we face awful truths. I want others to feel loved by me just because it can’t help but overflow from my life.

I’m choosing thoughts that are the necessary building blocks for this witness.

What are you thinking?
Who are you becoming?

It’s all just in your head.