Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Drawing a Conclusion Pt 1

I admit it. I am a documentary addict. I love to learn and it turns out there are many, many documentaries available to watch {and from all different perspectives, so I must put on my thinking cap to separate truth from propaganda}.

I also love books, especially non-fiction books that glorify our great God and encourage my walk along the narrow path.

I am about to draw a conclusion that is disturbing, but at the same time, it is full of hope because I think I see a link. I'm going to introduce each piece of the pie as evidence.

Evidence #1

This past summer, I did a book study through the book, "Six Ways to Keep the Little in Your Girl" by Dannah Gresh. In chapter 8, she is encouraging parents to unplug their kids from electronic devices. She states that the lack of imaginative play eliminates {or decreases drastically} children's self-control. One example is a child's ability to stand still.

Before all the technical gadgets, TVs and gaming devices came along, a child ages 5 and above was able to stand still for an indefinite period of time. Can you imagine that? Can your child stand still for any amount of time? Now that our children are spending hours in front of screens, they have lost the ability to focus and stand still. They cannot self-regulate.

Sound familiar? I'll bet if you are a first grade teacher, you would understand this in a big way!

Evidence #2

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Time of Reflection, Pt 2

So 20 years ago, I was a High School senior dreaming of what I would be when I grew up and preparing to start tackling those dreams.

I pointed out in the previous post that, even though I would have told you that I was a Christian, I was not walking with the Lord at all. Mistake #1.

Fast forward 10 years. I am married {to an unbeliever - mistake #2}. After several months of trying, we are finally pregnant! We called everyone we knew to tell them the good news. We even came to an agreement on a name for the baby {if it were the boy we were hoping for}.

I had an early ultrasound since it was my first pregnancy. There we found out that we were not in fact pregnant. My body just thought that it was. The technical term is a blighted ovum, which means something went wrong during the fertilization and there was not a baby in the growing fetal sac.

Devastated. My entire world came crashing down. My foundation was built on shifting sand and it just imploded.

It hurt so badly and deeply to even think about, so I began to numb the pain. I escaped reality. I looked for anything or anyone that made life fun and happy, even if it was temporary. My husband was not being supportive or loving {I mean who could love the tornado I had turned into anyway}, so I looked for love in other places.

At the time, one of my best friends was also going through a very difficult emotional situation. We often referred to ourselves as train wrecks. We were out of control friends searching for anything to make us happy. I was a horrible influence on her and she was a horrible influence on me.

But we would have both told you that we were Christians.

10 years ago...

I lost the baby I longed for.

I ruined the marriage I thought would last forever.

I pushed everyone away and hurt anyone who dared get in my way of having fun.

I was on my way to breaking all 10 commandments.

I ran as far away from God as I possibly could.

God was going to show me that it took more than walking an aisle or being dunked in water to be a follower of Christ. I had to lose everything so that I could clearly see the glory and grace of God.

Whoever says “I know him”
but does not keep his commandments is a liar,
and the truth is not in him {1 John 2:4}
Whoever says he is in the light
and hates his brother
is still in darkness. {1 John 2:9}
Do not love the world or the things in the world.
If anyone loves the world,
the love of the Father is not in him. {1 John 2:15}
Ashamed and broken. Hurt and alone. I had broken so many hearts and I cannot even imagine how God was feeling at this point, looking down on the mess I had made of my life. It took a while to get back on the right path to God, but at least I was starting to search again. At least it was becoming very, very obvious that I needed to be back in church.
Hebrews 12 tells us, "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” 
I was not being punished for my sin - Jesus took care of all that on the cross. I was being disciplined in order that I might seek the Lord. I was being disciplined to save my life.

I am ashamed of my sin, but I am thankful for the Lord's forgiveness and mercy. My life has changed so much in the last 10 years that it is hard to remember who I used to be. Of course, there are ramifications to the sin I committed {mostly emotional scars and temptations for sin} that I will carry for my entire life - but I have found love, forgiveness, grace, mercy and eternal hope in Jesus.

Have you experienced forgiveness through Jesus? Do you know for sure that you will go to heaven when you die? If not, I highly suggest you learn more about Jesus and how to become a genuine Christian.

Do you ever take time to look at all you have been saved from and the person you used to be {the "old man"}? I think remembering who I was makes the salvation I find in Jesus even more sweet.



Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Time of Reflection, Pt 1

This year, 2013, is going to be a very significant time in my life. It has only just started and I can already feel myself being pulled into thoughts of the past {some good, some not-so-good}. This is year marks the anniversary for so many different things in my life that I cannot help but be pulled back onto memory lane and view it through my current world view {aka, the lens of age and experience - imagine how thick those lenses will be when I am my grandparents' ages!}.

First, it means that 20 years ago, I was a Senior in High School. Ah! I know, I look so young {lol!)! But seriously, 20 years?! How on earth did 20 years fly by so quickly?!  I was not a popular kid or even an unpopular kid. I had many friends and a couple trusted BFFs. Of course, like any normal HS girl, I bounced around the thoughts of "love" for this boy or that boy, but there was not a significant "boyfriend" {until after I graduated}.

At 17, I thought I knew everything there was to know about everything. There are a few HUGE regrets I have {even though I know God uses it all for His glory and for my own good}.

Purity - Not having a good biblical view of purity and understanding why God has all these rules. I wish I had an understanding that went beyond the mean, legalistic, narrow-minded rules to the beautiful, God-honoring, pure view of marriage. When a person has a goal in mind, and that goal is beautiful, sacred, wonderful, fun, and secure, it makes the rules "worth it". But when there is  no goal in mind, the rules just seem unreasonably harsh and are easily thrown out the window with the "everybody else is doing it and they seem to be enjoying themselves - a LOT" kind of excuse. When you see how the beautiful, pure bride represents the church and the handsome, strong husband is Christ, it sheds a whole new light on marriage and relationships.

Knowledge vs. Relationship - Even though I thought I knew everything about everything as a teenager {and if I didn't, I had enough control of the English vocabulary to use an avalanche of words to convince anyone that I did - lol!} I did not have a full understanding about what it meant to be a Christian. Oh, I had read some of my Bible and been attending church, but it was not a sound bible teaching church and they didn't teach {or at least I didn't listen if they did} about what it means to have a relationship with Christ. They taught about sin and hell and that we all need a Savior {that's a good starting point}, but they didn't tell us what to do after we walked the aisle, confessed Christ as our Savior and were baptized.

Mom - One thing I regret most of all is the way I treated my Mom. My mother is a jewel. I know everyone thinks that about their Mom, but mine really is. We did not have an ideal situation at home, but my Mom was determined to keep our family together. She loved {and still does} my father so much and was willing to stand by him through extremely difficult decisions. At the time, I remember thinking {and actually saying to her - unfortunately} that she was the biggest doormat ever and there was no way I would ever let a man treat me that way! I recall times when my Mom would not make a decision about something until she could talk to my Dad and I would roll my eyes and give the big, full-body sigh {you know the one that gives the message that "I am so smart and you are so stupid"} in unbelief that she would respect or even care about what he thought.

Looking back - my Mom is an excellent example of a biblical, submissive wife. She is not perfect, but she tried her best to honor and respect my Dad, even if  I didn't think he deserved it. She loved him when he was unloveable. She took seriously those vows they said 38 years ago - for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, to death do us part. The only way she was able to do this was by the grace of God. My Dad did not make it easy on her - but neither did I. That is the part that I regret. I wish I could have seen her through the eyes of Jesus. I would have helped her more instead of condemning her. I would have loved her more to help fill the painful wounds in her heart. I would have willfully helped out more {instead of begrudgingly}with my younger sisters. My mom truly is a jewel and I wish I could have seen her beauty when I was such a "smart" teen.

Dad - Ok, so I talked about my Mom, now I'll admit my regrets about my Dad. You can already tell that he wasn't perfect, but I love him so much! You see, we all have our own personal walks and some of us make decisions early in life that impact our entire walk on the Earth. We make decisions to be involved with things that are addictive or we are exposed to abuses as a child that impact how we handle life - some more than others. It is only by the {common} grace of God that we are not all partaking in the amount of wickedness that we are capable of.

With that being said, my Dad did a number of things that I am sure he regrets that were sinful and not godly. However, he did many good things. He is such a loving father and tried to make up for the difficult times by making sure we knew he loved us. Even though his walk wasn't perfect, he loves the Lord. He made sure that we knew God is the Creator of everything. He made sure we knew that we are all sinners in need of a Savior.

I regret not seeing my Dad as a person who was drowning in his own sinful choices. I only saw him through my self-centered agenda and concentrated on how he wasn't meeting MY needs. I didn't see him through the eyes of Jesus - Who loves my Dad unconditionally. Oh, Jesus hates the sin, but He loves my Dad. I needed to just love my Dad, too. I needed to be compassionate and loving, especially when he was broken.

You see, it wasn't that many years later that I was trapped by my own sinful choices and broken. I am thankful that Jesus was there to pick me up, instead of treating me like I treated my Dad - smug, self-righteous, know-it-all, I-told-you-this-was-going-to-happen. I love my Dad and am so very thankful that God chose him to be my father.

Sisters - I was so self-centered that I did not care much about my little sisters. I should have been a good role model and had a desire to mentor them. Did I? Nope. I was so selfish that I looked at them as burdens {since I had to watch them so much of the time}. Oh the regrets!!!  It breaks my heart to think of my daughters treating each other the way I treated my sisters. Amazingly, we are still friends today {even though we are not as close as some sisters are} and I pray this relationship will grow through the years. I would do almost anything for my sisters today, although because of past hurts, they do not tend to ask.

So basically I would have told you I was a Christian when I was a teenager, but I was ignoring the greatest commandments. I did not love God with my entire heart, soul, strength and mind and I did not love others more than myself.

We all have stories of regret. The key is deciding how to give it to God for the glory. Remember, if we are His child, He has allowed all of this for His glory and our good. I hate that all this happened, but God used it to shape who I am today. Without a gross picture of my own depravity, I would not see my need for a Savior.

This was 20 years ago; next up {and even more painful} is what happened 10 years ago...