People or a Cause

urban

(FreeImages.com/MatheusAlves)

We read the newspaper articles, and feelings of anger immediately flare.  We see the pictures, and outrage occurs.  You don’t have to go further than a Facebook browser to see that there is immense suffering and needs on this earth.

We may decide to join a cause that goes along with our feelings and beliefs.

Sometimes though, we focus so much on a cause, a ministry, a platform, a political stance that we forget that our motivation is supposed to be about people.

There are worthy causes.  There are worthy ministries.  There is a time to stand on a platform and to speak to the heart of a cause.

We just want to be careful that in our pursuit of ministry and a cause that we don’t forget the individuals for whom we fight.

If we are not driven because of authentic compassion and respect for the people, then perhaps we should get off the platform and get down among the people.

People are not a cause or a means to find your platform.

People are people who need to be loved, heard, and seen for themselves.

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Ingredients for Kids

Spices

(FreeImages.com/MassimoZunino)

The other day, my husband and I were discussing our kids and their strengths and weaknesses.

It’s easy when you see various character flaws in your kids to become discouraged.

I couldn’t help but think how preparing food relates a lot to kids.

I realized that we often want to see the finished product when we are still in the mixing stage with our kids. 

It helps to understand that you can’t expect to see a finished product when you are still at the stage of adding in a generous dash of patience, a cup of kindness, a teaspoon of generosity, two cups of truth, one quart of grace, etc…

Parenting and baking require diligence and careful measuring so that the right ingredients go into the finished product.

Some days, I have to toss out the batch because I missed an important ingredient when I am baking.

Other days, I forget that it takes a lot of patience to wait for the baking to complete.

Baking also needs to happen at the right temperatures.  If it’s too “hot,” our products are scorched.  If temperatures are too cold, the product is never finished.

It’s all about patience, the right ingredients, right amount of ingredients, and the right “temperature” within the baking environment when you prepare food.  It’s the same way when it comes to raising kids.

Lord, give me patience.

What Lice Taught Me

taking out lice

(FreeImages.com/MarceloTorterello)

Writing about last week’s “adventure” makes my head want to crawl…

Last Wednesday, I had two kids complaining of itchy heads.  Immediately, the mom alarms were sounding in my head.

As soon as I was home, I sat down at the computer, Googled lice, and read everything I could in order to identify them and their signs.  I then checked my itchy kids’ heads.  My examination revealed that sure enough, our family had two confirmed cases of lice!

I had never dealt with this before so armed with all the information I could find on the internet, I began the grueling task of treating my kids, preventing the rest of the family from becoming infected, and making sure the house was also not infected.

When you have a large family, it would be so easy for this situation to quickly take on epic proportions and become an epidemic!

The next three days were invested to wash 30 loads of laundry, vacuum every bed and piece of furniture, vacuum every vehicle, wash every piece of bedding and every item of school clothing, clean suitcases from a recent trip, vacuum every rug, spray every mattress and piece of furniture and vehicle with repellents, wash every stuffed animal and blanket, treat every head in the family, and pick through every strand of hair several times to insure that no nit or louse remained.

At the same time that lice were discovered, my husband was also leaving for a business trip.  He bought me the treatment stuff and special nit-removal combs but had to leave me to deal with the situation on my own.

As the day progressed, I frequently found myself forgetting why I had gone upstairs or why I had gone downstairs because I would quickly get distracted by about five other jobs that needed to be done at the same time.

As the hours ticked, I knew it was a race against time.  I had so much to do before the kids could return to school, and I wanted to get some sleep that night.

Throughout my day, I kept muttering, “God, help me.  Have mercy on me!  This is too much for one person.  I can’t do it all.”

Later, the Lord would reveal to me how He truly had been there with me throughout my exhausting day.

It’s been nine days since we first discovered the lice.  Thankfully, I am fairly certain we got rid of it all.

Yet, I remain vigilant.  I make my kids change their clothes as soon as they arrive home from school.  I wash their bedding every day, vacuum their carpets and beds every day, and vacuum our main rugs and furniture every day.  I check heads at least once a day (first week, I checked heads twice a day).  I did a second treatment for lice on the infected kids.  I continue to be on high-alert, hoping to avoid any infestation again.

As I tediously examined each strand of my child’s thick hair, I couldn’t help but think how thorough I have been in protecting my children from lice and to rid our home of the creatures.  I have done everything possible to insure that no infestation will continue or occur again.

It struck me with the probing questions, “I am thorough in protecting my children’s heads, but how thorough am I am in protecting their minds and hearts?  Am I just as careful to insure that no harmful ideology, mindset, or attitude remains?”

As I continue to vigilantly guard against lice, my heart is also awakened to the need to guard my children against more insidious dangers of the heart and mind.

My kids may not always understand why my husband and I say “No” to certain games, activities, movies, music, or media outlets, but I know that there is more at stake than simply protecting against bugs and an itchy head.

The trajectory of their lives will be influenced by the things that shape the way they think and believe.

 

The Attraction Of The Familiar

Hands

(FreeImages.com/MarcoMichelini)

I sat beside him, breathing in his scent.  It’s subtle, but I love it because it’s his scent.  It’s familiar to me.

I remember reading years ago that there are pheromones that we all release and that part of being drawn to someone is also this subtle pheromone attraction that has to occur.  (See http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=116833&page=1.)

When he calls on the phone, I recognize immediately who my caller is, based on his tone and the timber of his voice.  I love listening to him sing with our worship team at church because I can always distinguish his harmony apart from the others.  My ears are drawn to him.

During the night, my body instinctively tries to locate his body by touch.  If we are hot, it might be just my feet against his feet.  Typically, a part of me is always touching a part of him.  I like his touch.  It’s comforting.  Studies show that physical touch releases a powerful hormone, called Oxytocin.  (See https://bebrainfit.com/oxytocin-love-hormone/.)

My eyes are also drawn to him.  I can pick him out in a crowd from a distance because I have memorized his height, physical characteristics, and even habits.  I am familiar with him.

There is a definite measure of comfort in the familiar.  It is predictable, known, hopefully safe, and there are many memories built within the familiar.

This past Wednesday as I was sitting in church, enjoying the worship music, I suddenly realized how familiar God’s presence has become to me.  I am beginning to recognize Him more and more — in His Word, in His creation, in how He speaks through His people, the many ways He communicates with me, the comfort of His Presence, the holiness of Who He is, His love, etc…  I was thinking how precious God is becoming more and more to me because of my familiarity with Him.

He is no longer this God from afar — removed from me in thought, in concern, in involvement, in love…  He is a present God, intimately involved with every detail of my life.

Lately, I have been made aware of how many ways He cares about even the smallest detail of my life.  It amazes me how much He cares to be involved in even the silly and mundane parts of my day.

He sees me when I am vacuuming for the upteenth time, changing poopy underwear off my toddler for the countless time, paying bills, and even the simple look I just gave my child.  He sees when I am discouraged, overwhelmed, sad, worried, and lonely.

I remember just last week when I was extremely overwhelmed with a situation.  I felt so alone with my burden of responsibility.  I kept muttering, “It’s too much!  This is too much for one person.  I can’t do all of this.”  Later, God revealed that He never intended me to do it all myself.  He was right there with me.  Every time, I cried out for His mercy, and even when I didn’t, He was helping, loving, and watching over me.

I love the attraction I have towards my husband and the comfort he is to me!  There is something so precious about that.

I also love it that God, the Creator of the Universe, is becoming more familiar to me!!  I love that He is not Someone I blame for the bad things that happen.  I know Him too well to associate Him with the consequences of bad choices people make and of the results of an earth that lives under the fall-out of the consequences of human choices.

I find that I am drawn towards this God I have come to love.  I want to know Him more!  I want His breath, His presence, His tone, His touch to be so familiar to me that I can distinguish Him in the dark, from a distance, in a crowd, and His voice above all other voices begging for my attention.

The Gauntlet

Monument to Alexander the Great in Skopje 1

(FreeImages.com/aljabak)

The gauntlet has been thrown!

Last night, a number of dear friends, my husband, and myself gathered for hours of prayer. The prayer time was absolutely amazing — so fervent, and we prayed for whatever God was placing on our hearts. We prayed for so many things, but one prayer stood out to me: for a wave of love, healing, reconciliation to sweep our nation. God was speaking so clearly to our hearts, and I am still basking in the peace and joy from His presence.

At the end of our prayer time, I received a text with very tragic news from a family member. My heart has been burdened for them, but I am walking in the hope that God can bring beauty from ashes.

Anything we surrender to Him — including our worst sins or deepest wounds or horrific trials we may be facing — can become the soil in which He sows His most precious seeds that nourish and heal souls.

There is so much happening to derail us, to divide us, to distract us, and to intimidate us.

Warriors though never look at their enemy to decide on their next move; they simply listen for the commands of their officers. It is the captain’s responsibility to direct, protect, and orchestrate victory moves.

Today, I refuse to be intimidated by the fear, hatred, bitterness, and destruction of the enemy (not referring to any specific people, groups, or religions). Instead, I will tune my ears and focus my eyes even more for the next command from the Captain of my Soul.

The gauntlet has been thrown, and it is not about political parties, denominations, races, or genders. It is the challenge between good and evil, hate and love, bitterness or forgiveness, grace or pride, selfishness or selflessness, and truth or deception/compromise.