Who’s Your Daddy???

Who’s Your Daddy???

If I remember one thing about my daddy, it was that he never gave advice until he was asked. I on the other had have never had that quality. I just kind of spit out what I am thinking even before I am asked. Thus, the reason I have this blog page. I lost my daddy when I was just 23 yrs old. He died of congestive heart failure right in front of me, as Jeff gave him CPR. “Alesa come quick your daddy is dying” I heard for the other room as my mom called out.

 

As hard as it was to stand there and watch my daddy die, It was actually an answer to prayer. You see being a preacher’s kid and living in 5 different states in 18 yrs, and attending 9 different  schools in 12 yrs. My parents were not around when their parents were rushed to the hospital before they passed away. I can remember time after time, my family would get a phone call wherever we were living at the time “ Hurry come quick, we don’t know how much time Mom or Dad has” that call would come from one of my Aunts or Uncles, concerned with one of their parents and every time my family would rush around and drive as fast as we could praying all the way there that they would still be alive by the time we got there.

 

I don’t recall, when or even where I said it and I am sure it probably wasn’t an audible request, but I know I said it in my heart “God don’t let me have to live so far away from my parents that when their time comes to meet you, I have to get the call that says, Hurry come quick!”  

 

And so God granted me that request with both my parents I was there when they took their last breath. But He hasn’t always granted me every request I have asked for. You see as Jeff was doing CPR on my father I was calling 911, the ambulance came and the EMT’s worked on daddy to do everything they could to keep him alive, but he was pronounced dead at the hospital. I can remember, they allowed us time to go in and see him once after they had called it, and I can remember walking up to Daddy as his lifeless body laid on the table in the ER and in the same way I called out to God and said “Please don’t let me get that Hurry come quick, phone call”. I called out to God and said “I know you can raise him from the dead!, In the name of Jesus rise up be healed!”  

 

But that time, God didn’t answer my request. What makes God answer one request and not another?  Why does someone else get what they want and we can pray for the same thing and never get it? This is the questions that plagues many of us. It is the question that has been asked a million times and the only answer anyone can really say is “I don’t know” But I do know, that…….

 

God is the all knowing and all seeing God. He spoke the world into existence and if He can do that, then I think we should follow what He says because He has the right to do just about anything He wants

 

Romans Chapter 5 tells us that  ”because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us”

 

Now don’t misunderstand what the verse is saying here God is not sitting up there with a big sledge hammer waiting till you ask for something just so he can jerk it out of your hand, saying “No! Hahaha!” In a big hideous voice laughing at the authority He has over you because He wants to teach us a lesson.

 

No, the bible says that “While we were still sinners Christ died for us” it also tells us that “All things work together for good to those who love God,  according to the plan He has for us”

 

So I don’t know why my dad didn’t sit right up when I called on God to raise him from the dead. I mean I believed, I trust God’s word is true and it happened in the bible it can happen again. Does it mean, I didn’t believe enough, does it mean I didn’t have enough faith, NO! It means God had a better plan. The same way my grandchildren come to my home today and want to eat all the candy, Ice cream, cake and pop I will feed them. But, I know that it is not the best for them, because they will wake up with a stomach ache or throwing up, so I have to be the mean Mimi and say “No!”. Now do you really think I am being mean by telling my grandchild she can’t have her 4th piece of cake or 12th can of pop?  No, you would say I had already indulged them enough, you would say I know best because those things aren’t good for them. It is the same with God, He knows best He can see the future and wants what is best for us.  

 

So why can’t we trust the creator of the universe, the man who predicted His death burial and resurrection with what we ask Him? We can, we just have to realize that, when things don’t happen the way we plan, we know it is just a testing of our faith. We may have a plan for our lives, but God has a bigger plan and so when it feels like we are suffering because we didn’t get what we wanted.  We need to realize if we will just trust God and persevere our perseverance will produce character and out of our character we will gain hope in God and God won’t put us to shame, but He will turn what looked like something going wrong, to something better than we could of ever dreamed of,  if we will not lose hope and only persevere.

 

You know that is the kind of character that our Heavenly Father is looking for in His people. He is looking for a person that will trust Him. Because a friend trusts. We need to see this character in men today because we are living in a generation where many kids don’t have a father, and often a mother they can rely on.

 

It use to be when I would tell people about Jesus I could relate it to a loving father or mother, or even grandparent that had taken care of that child but today with the destruction of the family I am not sure there is a general example that we can compare Christ too,  and you know what? Maybe that is why people don’t trust God like we need to, its because we don’t have that example in front of us anymore.

 

So I don’t know what kind of family you come from, but on this Father’s Day Weekend. It doesn’t matter if your dad was around or not, it doesn’t matter if you have never met your dad, and it doesn’t matter if your daddy is in heaven like mine is. Because we have a Heavenly Father that said He would be the Father to the Fatherless. So trust in Him this week. Even if He has to tell you no. Just remember, He knows best and He loves you enough to keep you from harm even when we don’t understand. 

 

Divine Command

Divine Command

“Deut 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

 

This scripture give us as parents a divine command to teach our children in the way they should live. In a world where parents are more concerned with being their kids friends and often spend more time at work or away from our kids. We are failing at this whole parenting thing.

 

This past weekend was Mother’s Day and my children held their traditional Mother’s Day card competition. Where they try to pick the most sentimental card that will make me cry. They find great pleasure in being the first one to make me cry. My oldest gave me a card that as I pulled it out of the envelope and began to read the first line, I totally choked and couldn’t get the words out loud. It said “I know times have been hard…” As I read the that line my mind flashed to all the hard times we have had in our life that he has lived through, many we tried to hide from him or we prayed he was just too little to remember. Our Homelessness, Joblessness, Lost of Loved Ones, Mean church Members. Through each one I pray our son has seen God’s love through us in all our mess.

 

Satan has one purpose and that is to destroy this nation, and if he can destroy the family he can destroy the church if can destroy the church, then he can destroy this nation.

 

I heard someone say this past week  “Christianity is just one generation from extinction”.  The question we have to ask ourselves is, “Will we be that generation?” Will we be the generation that fails to teach our children what God has done for us? Will it be on our watch,  that the next generation will lose the understanding and knowledge of God’s love?

 

As parents we have to realize we have a real responsibility greater than clothing and feeding our children, but it is our responsibility to bring them to the understanding of the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. If we fail to live that life everyday, if we fail to take them to church so they will know we weren’t made to do life, by ourselves. We are failing them.

 

We need to talk about God’s love, when we drive down the road in our car, we need to talk about the goodness of God at the mealtime with our kids, We need to not be scared to let are kids know, we are going through a tough time, and at the same time, show/tell them how much we are trusting in God to get us through. Then when he comes through, we need to rejoice in that as well with them.

 

The problem is we aren’t spending a lot of time with our kids, we have bought the lie that says, Quality is more important than Quantity. We must be intentional about spending time with our kids and living a life that is pleasing before God. So what if you have made mistakes don’t be afraid to tell them you did and don’t buy into the lie that says “ I can’t tell my kid they can’t do (fill in the blank) because I did it when I was their age and you know what, that is probably why you are partly missed up today. So you are the perfect one to tell you kids not to do that, especially if you have experience with it.

 

God may of had you walk that path because to protect your kid from walking through it but if you are too concerned with being a hypocrite instead of being concern your kid could die and go to hell.

 

With graduation weekend, many parents are taking a deep breath and thinking “Okay, we got them raised, Now we can move on with our lives.” But are we worried whether or not our kids are going to heaven or hell?


The bottom line is we have our priorities messed up, we are more concerned with our kids being on the track team or the volleyball team. Than in Sunday School on Sundays. Our kids can’t hide God’s word in their heart, if they aren’t being taught it. Psalms 119:11 says “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

 

Let’s make this summer a time when we prioritizes our children and their relationship with God. Maybe as a parent or grandparent we need to re-prioritize our relationship with God ourselves so we can lead the children God has placed in our lives according with what His word says.

Unashamed

Unashamed

There is this girl I know, she was conceived in unfortunate circumstances, raised by preachers, who did not tell her she was adopted till he was 16 years old, engaged to be married and as her father was about to go into open heart surgery. She was sexually abused not only by a young man who called himself a christian, but right inside the church walls. She was bullied and made fun of by her peers, people who didn’t even know her believed she would never turn out to be any good. Adopted at birth,  She herself suffered from infertility, for 10 years. Struggling with body issues she was bulimic for a time, just to try to conform to what she thought the world expected from her, and to fit into a family that would never love her.

It seemed every time this girl would get ahead in life, something would knock her back down. People in the churches she was raised in rarely acted like the God that she knew. Her dad, kicked out of 2 churches, himself, should of made her hate God, she herself was fired from three jobs in her life,  and each time her father was asked to leave, it was as she herself had been rejected again. How could people that call themselves Christians act like this? She not only faced emotional bankruptcy but financial as well. She lived in 5 different states, and attended 9 schools in twelve years, living in countless houses but never really having a home.

Just looking for someone that would find value in her, she searched everywhere,  including an emotional affair. She lost the only father she ever knew and loved, when she was only 23 yrs old, and became the full-time caregiver for the next 33 years to her handicapped mother. While, homeschooling all 3 of her children one being severely dyslexic she felt again she had failed and blamed herself for her child’s challenges. Early in her marriage she and her husband with one child to care for, found themselves homeless, her family has rejected her, her church has rejected her, and her own mother has even rejected her, she felt all alone.

 Exhausted and tired from all the circumstances of her life, it is no wonder that she locked herself in her house for a season and refused to leave or answer the phone for fear of what the world was going to do to her next.

She had seen a lifetime of hurt and pain that no one should see their whole life, let alone before the age of 30,  and once this girl finally got brave enough to leave the house again, she did so, but not without putting up some walls in her life to guard her from ever being hurt again. Especially around people that called themselves Christians, because all this girl had ever known was to be hurt by these so called people who loved God. This girl finally put on such a hard exterior that no one could get through, and it’s no wonder she decided that she didn’t care if the whole world would die and go to hell.

Her plan was to just follow Christ like a racehorse with blinders on, laser focus to the finish line, because suicide wasn’t an option for her but a natural death or the rapture would be her only escape. Because,  after all, God was the only one who had never left her. With her hard exterior and protective layer she soon went in straight survival mode, guarding what she said, and preferring to be alone. She was hesitant about anything she would say around others,  because all to often in this Christian world, like a puppy that would just barely stick its head, out of its cage, she had all to often been slapped back in before she barely got her nose out the door.

She felt whipped, beaten and alone. She felt unsure of who she was and what she could ever do. There was a battle raging within her of what she knew she could do, and what she felt like would be accepted by those around her in her life. Her mind tossed and turned contemplating, what she wanted to do, and what she knew she had been called to do. So all to often it was just easier to step back and do nothing. That is when again, she drew up into a shell, and just really wanted the world to pass her by.

Until one day the Lord begin to show her in her own prayer time that He had great plans for her, that her circumstances were not a punishment, but a badge of honor to wear. Not proud because of her mistakes, but a victory that she kept going and did not quit,  that she was a fighter and a winner. So slowly but surely this girl would attempt to stick her head outside the cage one more time, maybe it was just saying “Hi” to a person, maybe it was just inviting someone over. But just as quick at she stuck her nose outside that cage, she would pull it back in, for fear it would get swatted again like it had so many times before.  

Over and over again she tried each time sticking that wet, scared nose out of the cage, a little bit further each time, with the success from the last. With each attempt to let the world back in,  she would stay a little longer outside the cage, looking around a little more, till finally one day she was totally revealed to the rest of the world. She had come completely out of her cage.

All the while, her mind battling against what she wanted to do, which was crawl back in her cage and let the whole world die and go to hell, and at the same time realizing that God had bigger plans for her,  and those plans would mean stepping out of the comfort zone of that cage and allow the world back into her life. That process took well over 40 yrs and she still is working through it.

But that girl doesn’t hide in her cage anymore, afraid to stick her nose out for fear it would get smacked because she isn’t good enough. That girl, now looks back on her past, not with shame,  but with gratefulness of what the Lord has brought her through, that girl realizes that she is a child of God, and no matter what man may do around here, or think of her, it doesn’t matter, because God is her ultimate authority and He calls her His child.

Oh! Does she still battle with the fact life would be easier, if she just stayed hid in her house and let the rest of the world die and go to hell. Sure she does! But she also realizes that the very reason she was created, and the reason she had to walk through what she did, was because she needed to know there was a God that could bring her out  and there are many that she needs to tell of this goodness of God.

So when you hear  this girl talk about how shy she really is, when you hear her say she really prefers to be alone, believe her. Don’t be shocked when you see her laughing in a crowd or sharing with a group of people. Remember at those times, what the Lord has brought her from. Understand that the girl you see today has not always had this freedom. You need to know that there is still a battle that rages within her.

But also know that she has drawn a line in the sand and she as decided that she refuses to allow her feelings to abort what God has called her to do.  And I know all this, because that girl is me!

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:25, But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5 NIV

The Butterfly Effect

This past week was Easter Sunday, not only is it the day we remember the resurrection of our Savior but, it is the day that my life was changed. Oh! Not directly but indirectly. You see probably 70 plus years ago a young couple ready to throw their marriage away decided to give it one more chance and go to church before they filed for divorce. They said “If this doesn’t work we are throwing in the towel and this marriage is over”. That Sunday the man walked down that aisle at the end of the service and so did his young wife, neither one realizing the other had done so because,  if my memory serves me correctly of the story I heard, It is because they refused to sit together that Sunday.

But when they got up from that altar, they looked  at each other and knew their lives would be different because they had given their lives to Christ. 70 plus years later, we can all look back and see,  not only their lives were changed, but God used those two broken individuals to impact the lives of many people over the 40 years the couple were in ministry. That couple was the people I called mom and dad. The two took a baby into their life unexpectedly when my birth mother couldn’t raise me. They taught me that Jesus loved me from birth. All I have ever known is the love of God,  because one couple decided to give God a chance in their marriage. That small decision had a generational impact not only on me, but my children and now my grandchildren. Had they not made that decision I am confident I would not be who I am today. Nor would my children know about a loving God and my grandchildren would not know that there is a Jesus that loves them.

I wonder, what one small choice would you make that would make a generational difference on your family? Is there a choice you have already made that has changed your world? Maybe you don’t think,you are that important,  or nothing you would ever do make that big of a difference.

I have to tell you, you are wrong, in fact there was a study done called the butterfly effect. The butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.

Just like my parents giving their heart to Jesus and surrendering their life to Him, had an eternal difference in my life, so does it have an effect on my kids and grand-kids, as well as every person’s life.  Just like me writing this article, to every person my kids and grand-kids lives touch, their choice, affected a larger change many years down the road. Not only did their giving their lives to Christ make a difference in their lives, but they went on to help others. Everything we do,. Every choice we make, every decision made  has a cause and effect.

Recently, I was re-reading the letters of condolences that was sent to our family when my mother passed away,  almost 7 yrs ago now, and when I read this one , it reminded me of this fact

Many years ago, on the Bowlus Center stage, a little lady limped onto the stage, sat on a stool and sang “When He Was on the Cross, I was on His Mind”. That song personalized His death and sacrifice for ME. That lady was Doris and I will never forget her even though I never met her.”  

See,  I don’t know this person who was so kind to write this on the website condolence page of the funeral home where my mother’s services were, but even at 70 something years of age, as my mother who could barely walk with a cane at the time,  decided to sing a christian song at a community talent show. Many would of written the old lady with a cane off, but all those years ago, she submitted her life to Christ and decided she would serve Him and tell others about Him till her dying day.  She stood before a community of people from all different walks of life and beliefs and again, made a difference.

As you go about your life this week, how about you think about what choices you are making and where they are leading those closest to you. Let me encourage you, if you don’t attend church weekly, start by making that difference in your life. Find a bible believing church and make sure you are there and take your family with you. Begin to make it a habit every week, where you can learn more about God and tell others what He has done for you. It doesn’t matter what you have done in the past, what matters is what you do from here on out.

You have a chance to make “ the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.” You can create a butterfly effect in your life. The truth is you are everyday anyway. Why not make it a positive one. See because, the sensitive dependence is only good conditions, it is bad too. If you choose to abuse alcohol or drugs your kids and friends see that and it has a negative affect sometimes for generations. If you choose to gossip or treat others unkindly, you are teaching your family how to to treat others.

So if you are going to create a butterfly effect in your life anyway, Why not do it right. Show up Sunday at a church somewhere and give your life to Christ decide you will live for Him, no matter what,  or go ahead right where you are now and tell Christ you want Him to come into your life, and forgive you of your sins, just like you would talk to me you can talk to God right now.

This can be the beginning of a generational effect for all those who come after you or you are around. Now get into church Sunday and begin to make a life that will forever be a blessing to others, like my parents,  we can make a difference and the bonus is, You’ll go to heaven too!

Pet Peeves

Pet Peeves

I have a pet peeve! I am not gonna lie, I have had it for a long time,  and I would be willing to bet, it is one of God’s pet peeves too, although I know He handles it with greater grace than I do.

When my children were younger, I like to think, I was like any mother, who would ask my children to do some things around the house, like clean their room, put their laundry away, general tasks  most moms would assign to their children. But I am sure, my children aren’t the only ones in the world to ever responded “Ok! I will be there in a minute”, to which I would respond, “If I wanted you to do it in a minute, I would ask you in a minute, but I want you to do it now!”

This frustration also coincides with people who promise to do something and then don’t follow through with their commitment as well. I think people should be a person of their word and I strive in my life everyday to do the same.

So, I can’t help but think God might have the same pet peeves as I do. I mean we can look at the bible and find Him getting a little frustrated with children of Israel, so much so that even after they had begged God for years to rescue them from their evil Egyptian tasks masters, when He finally did, they doubted Him and went against what He told them to do, and because of that, all but 2 of them ended up not getting to enter into the promised land. (You can read more about this in  the book of Exodus in the bible)

Then lets not forget Jonah,  who was told to go to the city of Nineveh and because he didn’t want to, he ended up being swallowed by a whale. (You can read all about him in the book of Jonah in the bible)

I promise, I would never let my kids get swallowed by a whale! But nevertheless I get frustrated. It has been said that delayed obedience is still disobedience.

So what has God told you to do? You may say “ Oh! He has never talked to me” But the truth is He has, we may have not heard His audible voice but He left His word for us called the bible. He gives men and woman, called Pastors, words to speak to us, every week, and we can hear it when we go to church. One of those things He told us to do in His word says, we need to go to, church (Heb 10:25)

Now when we go back on our promise to God, when we haphazardly live our life claiming we love God, but not following what His word says to do , It makes me wonder if God isn’t a little sad with our actions. If we aren’t being a little like those in the bible,  and I wonder what is yet to be.

See, we hear a lot about God’s love these days and some of us have come to believe, that love will just overlook the times we have chosen to ignore what we have known, and what we should be doing. But I don’t believe that. We are all allowed to make the choices we want, but we are not free from the consequences of those choices. Those consequences are not because God doesn’t love us, but it is because He does love us and wants us to choose what is best for us, but we often times believe we know best and decide we will do what we want to do.

I heard someone say recently “How can a book written over 3000 years ago relate to my life today”. Well, the bible can because the Creator of the Universe is the one who ordained the writing of that book and the one who inspired every word of it and the bottom line is, the Creator always gets to tell His creation what to do. 

10, 2 and 4 Baby

10, 2 and 4 Baby

I have always been a night owl and hated going to bed. I think it is because I was afraid I would miss something. I remember my mom used  to call me her 10, 2 and 4 baby because I would wake up at 10pm, 2am and 4am. I think I finally wore my parents down because, by the time I got to be a teenager  my father made me a deal and told me that as long as I got up the first time he called me in the morning. I could stay up as long as I wanted at night. So as soon as I would hear my dad call my name in the morning I would jump up out of the bed as quickly as possible calling back to him “ I am up! I am up!” just so he would know that I was up,  and I wouldn’t have to go to bed early the next night.

 

I will never forget one night, as a teenager, my parents let me have one of my friends spend the night. About 2am we decided we were hungry so we started cooking. Of, course my parents had long been in the bed but I didn’t think they would mind. So, my friend and I looked in the refrigerator and discussed what were were going to have and we debated about eggs, but went with something else. I don’t remember what we decided, but whatever it was must’ve started smelling good, because my dad showed up from the other end of the house, in the kitchen half asleep and as he opened the door to the hallway that  separated the kitchen/family room from the rest of the house, he hollered out at us “ I am gonna break you from sucking eggs” and with that my friend and I looked at each other and said “ I thought we decided not to have eggs?” as we burst into laughter my dad turned around and went back to bed. I still believe to this day he must of been talking and walking in his sleep.

 

Of course, it was a weekend,  so I didn’t have to get up early the next day. But that didn’t stop me from making sure when my dad did call, I was right out of the bed as soon as I heard his voice the next Monday when it was time to go back to school.

 

All that got me thinking, Do you have your ear tuned in listening for your Heavenly Father’s voice? Are you looking for His return and ready to go as soon as He calls?  The bible tells us that Jesus will return one day to take us to heaven, but He will only be taking those who are looking and living for Him. The bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 ESV

“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”

 

I don’t know about you,  but I want to always be ready to go when the Lord returns. I want to be listening for His voice. Just like I was listening for my father’s voice when I woke up every in the mornings. I wanted to be ready and not late because I knew if I missed it, there would be a consequence to pay. Just as there will be if we miss Jesus return.

 

But how do we make sure we won’t miss HIs return? Well, Romans 3:23  tells us that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”It is as simple as A,B,C  Admit that you are a sinner, (Romans 10:9-10) Believe in Jesus Christ and Commit your life to Him. start, going to a bible believing church, start making Him a part of your everyday life, by talking to Him in prayer and letting Him talk to you through His word.

 

It is only when we know, Christ then we will know His voice. We can’t hear Him if we don’t know His voice. I knew my daddy’s voice and I listened for it. We need to listen for our Heavenly Father’s voice so not only when He calls us to heaven, but every day He talks to us too and has a plan for our life and that plan is more than give your life to Him and go to Heaven.

 

There is something He has planned for us everyday. He wants us to be a part of our everyday life and has a mission for us here on earth before He comes back. For some it is to love others that can’t be loved, for some it is to give more to help others, for others, it is to make a difference in someone else’s life. We won’t know what He has in store for us until we get to know Him and we can’t get to know Him until we surrender our lives to Him and choose to follow after Him.

 

See, I knew  my daddy I spent time with my daddy, and I did everything I could to please my daddy. So, the question is, do we do the same for our Heavenly Father, If you haven’t I highly suggest that you do because you don’t want to miss His voice when He calls you to come to heaven. I think you want your answer to Christ to be the same as mine to my dad “ I am up! I am up!”

The Unexpected Christmas

The Unexpected Christmas

The Christmas Season is usually a super hectic time of year at our house, besides the traditional stress that we feel during this season. I usually choose to add additional levels of stress by hosting an open house. I love hosting people in my home, and Jeff and I feel,it is a gift of love we can give to all our friends. For probably 25 years or more we have,, more than likely, had an Open House in our home, now mind you not every year, but a lot of them. Having a Open House during the holidays is not easy task.

 

I begin working about 60-45 days out. We shop most of the year for it. The house has to be cleaned from top to bottom for what I like to call, Model Home status,  which if you don’t know what that is, it means the house needs to look like no one lives in it. So needless to say it’s a lot of work and a near possible task, that often puts a lot of stress on the whole family.  

 

But this year, we are taking the year off. There will be no open house.  In fact, there is even talk about just having a low key Christmas day and driving over to Wichita, eating Chinese food and going to the movie theater for the day to catch several movies we have been wanting to watch.. So we can just chill out with our kids and focus on spending time together while we honor what the real meaning of Christmas is. Either that, or we are going to spend the day in our PJ’s just relaxing with the kids and watching Christmas movies on the TV.

 

Everyone handles the stress of Christmas differently. The problem comes when we forget what the day is really all about. We can get so focused on, trying to get the best gift, or not having enough money to afford the Christmas you would like,  or maybe it’s just missing that loved one that isn’t going to be at Christmas this year.

 

I remember one specific Christmas, times were really tough for our family, Amy was probably 6 or 7 years old. We had to struggle to get what little we could for the kids,  and at the last minute Amy decided she wanted a Baby Alive, but there was no money left for such a gift, and as much as I tried to explain to her, that Santa had already done all his Christmas shopping,  so it might have to be next year before it happened, she refused to listen to such an idea and was determined that it would come.

 

Christmas morning came and all of our presents were unwrapped, and as Amy looked around, realizing that all the presents under the tree had been opened, she stood up, and with both hands on her hips,  she calls out with an attitude that told you under no uncertain terms that she was not satisfied with the results of her Christmas. “I know there is another gift around here somewhere”she begin to look all over for her Baby Alive that she was certain Santa would bring , but unfortunately it wasn’t to be.

 

Maybe you were expecting something this Christmas and it isn’t going to be either. Maybe, there is no way you thought you would be where you are today,  but you are. Perhaps the stress level is so high at your house, you’re not for sure you even want to celebrate Christmas this year. Let me encourage you to look to the reason for the season.

 

Christ came,  born in a manger, not some palace like the people of that day expected. He was born to a mother and His step dad, not the expected family of that day either. His parents, had to run for their life because people were after Him. He came to die for a group of people that  couldn’t even appreciate the sacrifice He made by coming to earth. But yet that sacrifice is the greatest gift we could receive.

 

Nothing went like the people expected that Christmas night, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”  is the question asked even years later, John 1:46 but yet it turned out to be the best thing that any of us could ask for, because without it, there is no eternal life for those who trust in and rely on Christ.

 

Nazareth was just a small town of probably about 150 people,  according to my research, with a majority of a Jewish population, the same Jewish population that rejected Him as the Christ. Imagine everywhere you go, being rejected? Christ doesn’t have to because it happened to Him. In fact the bible says, that He has been tempted and felt every pain we have.

 

So, don’t get discouraged and frustrated if things are not going as planned this season. Remember it happened that way on the very first Christmas as well. There was no room in the Inn for Jesus to be born,  and Mary had to ride a donkey for who knows how many miles.

 

The bible tells us, that we need to have a “Whatsoever” attitude when we begin to get frustrated. You know, you have heard kids say “Whatever” when they are disgusted with someone’s attitude or comment. Well, I believe God wants us to have a Whatsoever attitude,  He tells us that in Philippians 4:8 whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are noble, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—think on these things,  it tells us this is the only way to have peace, and not to be anxious is by bringing your requests to God and thinking on these whatsoever list of things. The good, the praiseworthy, the lovely and so on. I am sure that night Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph could have focused on the terrible surroundings the Christ child was born, they could have focused on what bad parents they were for the King of kings to be born in such a place, they might have even thought what did we get ourselves into, but I don’t’ believe they did. I think they had a “Whatsoever” attitude and choose to focus on the glory of the Christ child before them.

 

So this season, don’t get discouraged because you aren’t getting the present you wanted under the tree or everything isn’t just how you imagined it. In fact, don’t even focus on the ones who are not with us this Christmas. But focus on the one who told us in Rev 1:8 NIV “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty. Remember, that the first Christmas all kinds of unexpected things happened,  including the greatest gift of all Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

24/365

24/365

Since my boys have moved away it is now my responsibility to watch football with Jeff. Football is Jeff’s favorite sport, and I am pretty sure it is the only sport he really likes. Of course for Jeff being born and raised in Alabama, there is only one team and you guest it, it is Alabama. What once was a time that I made snacks and went shopping while the boys watched the game. Is now my responsibility to sit with Jeff and watch the game and all sports related news because after all, he looks so lonely watching the game by himself, and he has since given in to watching Hallmark movies with me, since Amy has moved away, so you can see this empty nest thing has changed everything in our lives.  

In the process of learning to love this sport, I have watch a lot of documentaries of just how Alabama works because that is what I like, I like knowing about the administrative part of it. One thing I was surprised to learn was that the Alabama football players don’t just train during the school season. No! They school and train year round. Once you make the team, you are Saban’s and you do what he tells you to do. I was really kind of shocked to hear this because for some reason I just thought September through January is all the time they spent on football. But that is not the case.

If you have been locked in a cave somewhere, then you may not know that the Southeastern Conference National Championship game was this past Saturday. Where Alabama played Georgia and won 28-35. But it was not an easy task, Georgia was ahead all but just a little over a minute of the game. (the last minute at that)  Something that hasn’t happened to Bama at all this year. Up to this last game I believe the longest Alabama had been behind in a game this season was about 70 seconds.

It looks as if Alabama is on its way to winning it’s 17th National Championship and just won it’s 27 Southeastern Conference Championship. Unless you were raised around this kind of excellence you really can’t comprehend what Alabama football means to it’s fans.

But it really isn’t that different than being a follower of Christ. There is an standard of excellence that is expected from God from His creation and we as His followers are expected to train and follow Him 24/365. We can’t just expect that, showing up for church once a week thinking this is gonna get us to the level of relationship with God that we need to be, so we can tackle this day to day life we live.  

Alabama is known as a 2nd quarter team mainly for their endurance, not because they often come from behind in the last half, but because they don’t give up when they are ahead. They don’t quit. They play up to their potential all 90 minutes of the game, not their opponents abilities, but none of that would be possible if they didn’t train 24/365.

Our life of following Christ is a 24/365 choice. We don’t get to just pick and choose when to be nice to our neighbor because God already said “Do unto others as you would have other do to you” and  We can’t just tell God, I don’t have time for you right now, or when we get scared we run to anything but Him. Because He already told us that” we should have not other God’s before Him!”

Most Christians don’t know what God’s word says, that is why we are so easily deceived into doing things that aren’t true and we sure don’t either, know or believe the promises He made us like “All things work together for good to those that love Him”. because if we did, we wouldn’t get discouraged so easily.

The Alabama football team, was able to endure to the end of the game this past week because they train 24/365 and in the last minute of the game won. In fact it was sort of a restoration story as our 1st string quarterback, Tua,  got hurt and was pulled out and was replaced with the 2nd string quarterback, Hurts, who took us to the victory.

The funny thing is, almost a year ago the exact opposite happened. Last year Tua, who is our first string quarterback this year was our 2nd string quarterback, and a similar situation happened then in a championship game. These 2 quarterbacks have worked as a team this past year. They aren’t in a competition their goal is for the good of the teamWhen many people thought last year’s first string quarterback  Hurts, should leave Alabama football when he wasn’t put back in as 1st string this year. But Hurts endured and knew Saban had a plan and he trusted the process he was going through. Doing so, he was able to restore his name and now he is admired more than he ever was before because of the character it showed. Hurts is a better player by being on the second string this year, because he was able to work on the things he needed to improve on. Then, when the test came, he put that new ability to use and won the game for his team.

I wonder if any of you have ever felt like you were discarded to 2nd string in this life? Have you ever felt like you failed and there was no coming back? God wants you to know, that He is working on you and we are all just in the process of life. You may not feel like you are on the 1st string team right now, or maybe you don’t even feel like you are on the team at all.

But that is why we train everyday as Christs follower 24/365. We need to read our bible, pray, listen to God, follow what His word says, work out with His team (at church on Sundays)  Then when we play in this game called life, we are prepared, we know God’s word, we know who we are because of God’s word and because we know His promises. We endure to the end when we trust the process.

God took what Hurts thought might be the end of his career in college football and turned it around to a winning championship. Because over this last year, Hurts has been faithful to train, practice, and he didn’t quit.

I don’t know what you are going through today, but don’t quit, don’t give up! Trust the process. Just like the story of Joseph in the bible. He could of given up and turned his back on God when he was sold to slavery and the later, put in prison. But all the while God was using it for His good and God has good plans for you too – Just trust the process.

Thanksgiving

Well, the Thanksgiving season is upon us, many will soon be gathered around the table with their loved ones and friends reflecting on the blessings we have received this year. If your house is like mine, there will be a moment before we indulge in the food before us that we will pause and go around the table, allowing each one to say what they are thankful for.

Now in a house like ours some might choose to move this process along by simply saying all they are thankful for is God assuming He covers everything,  just to hurry up and pro take of the feast that sits before them. So, you may be surprised to find, at our house, it is made clear before this process begins that we know, God is responsible for all that we have been given and so, we want to hear what specific things that God has given you this year that you are thankful for.

Another tradition in our house at this time of the year, is I try to prepare all the foods my kids want. It’s a favorite dishes kind of meal. I ask everyone what they want to eat and since there is 9 of us and at least a couple of choices by each person, the amount of food can add up quickly and that isn’t limited to just the side dishes or desserts, but also includes what kind of turkeys we have, which can range from fried, roasted or smoked, there is usually at least 2 turkeys, (smaller ones) cooked different ways for us to enjoy!

Now although my kids are active in the meal preparation these days there’s still some dishes I make that they demand only from me and I in turn have favorites that only they can make. I have been working hard for many years to teach my kids how to cook, so that I know when I die they won’t starve. Essentially I want to work myself out of job of cooking on the holidays but I am no quite there yet but I believe the plan is on track..

You may have heard of people who do food prep and make all the food they are going to eat for the week in one day, then cook it throughout the week?  Well that is kind of what Thanksgiving is like for us, except we cook enough food for a week all on Thanksgiving day and then graze on it for the next 3 days while the kids are here. I like doing this because, I am not stuck in the kitchen the whole time the family is here and I can take pleasure in just enjoying my family.

You may think, my idea is crazy but let me tell you the reasoning behind my madness.  One of the most disappointing Thanksgivings Jeff and I ever had was after we were married and had moved to Kansas, we returned to Alabama for the big day anticipating eating my mother in law’s traditional thanksgiving meal.  

We were so excited to be going back to celebrate with Jeff’s family. My mother in law is an amazing cook, this woman who made biscuits everyday for breakfast when her husband was alive and homemade cornbread for every other meal had our mouth watering as we traveled the 14 hours to visit them remembering how good Thanksgiving is around my in laws house. So needless to say we had great expectations of eating her famous dressing, and enjoying all the other dishes she is known for. But to our disappointment, when we arrived it was announced that this year, Mrs Miller was tired of cooking and had decided to have the meal catered in.

Our hearts sunk, although we understood, it did not consul our craving for her own cooking that we had missed so much, by living all those hours away and rarely getting to see them, let alone taste those famous home cooked meals she was known for.  So that is when I decided when my kids grow up, I was determined to make sure they never felt that disappointment after coming back home.

You know, if we are all honest with ourselves, there is that one dish for most of us that we remember as being our favorite from our mom or grandma, and it doesn’t matter if we follow their directions to a tee to make it, it still never tastes like it did when that person we loved made it. So, yes that is why I indulge my children when they come home. I never want my kids to walk away from my home on a holiday wishing I had cooked something,or we had done something, I want them to have that special memory of home.

Have you ever expected something, that didn’t happen the way you planned? Were you disappointed? We often have expectations. We ask God for something and believe and even have faith that He could do it,  then when the time comes and it doesn’t go the way we planned, we are disappointed, sometimes mad that we didn’t get our way.

There will be a lot of people who over this holiday season will reflect on this past year that have much bigger issues than Jeff and I did on that disappointing day. They may not have anything to eat at all, they may only be able to think about that empty chair where their loved one use to sit.

I read somewhere your tough job is an unemployed persons dream, your small home is an homeless persons dream, your annoying child is an infertile couples dream, and your smile is the dream of every depressed person. So be thankful in every situations.

Whatever the case, let us all remember that there is always someone worse off than we are. God has placed us here to bless others and you are blessed to be a blessing. Oh! You may not have as much as someone else, but is that really what God is looking for? No where in the bible have I ever read, you have to have this much money in the bank, or this much food in your house, or even your children act a certain way for God to love you.

God looks on the heart in 1 Samuel 16:7 God told the prophet Samuel … “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

How about we do that this holiday season? How about we not judge ourselves or others on anything else, but what God sees. Let’s ask God to help us see others with His eyes,  love others with His heart. But most of all love yourself the same way. Give yourself a break! So what if this year didn’t turn out how you expected it? Tomorrow is a new day and the bible says God’s mercies are new every morning. So that means, every day there an opportunity for a fresh start and nothing is lost if we learned from it. Just like that disappointing thanksgiving vacation, Jeff and I had, you also can learn from whatever you are going through and because of that today two more generations reap that blessing. Perhaps God has allowed you to go through whatever you have dealt with this year so you can make a difference in the generations that are coming behind you. One thing is for certain tomorrow is a new day and the best is yet to come. So let’s focus on that as we sit around our table this week and thank God for what He has done and will do!

Who gets the Victory in your Life?

One of the first things I remember being a preacher’s daughter was my mom telling me, I couldn’t bring my baby doll to church with me on Sunday nights anymore. I was probably in kindergarten or first grade and being that services typically went long on Sunday nights. I always enjoyed  bringing my baby doll with me. I am sure it kept me occupied during the long night and I probably ended up cuddling with it and falling asleep at some point. I really don’t remember, but one thing I do remember is sitting next to the daughter of the deacon that night who had told my daddy I couldn’t bring my baby doll anymore to church. I sat there and watched as she played with her doll, wondering why the rules were different for her than me.

 

That would not be the last time I would be singled out as the preachers daughter and be expected to keep a standard higher than others around me,  but it will forever be embedded in my memory. I still deal with fighting bitterness and anger from that incident. Especially since I still have contact with the daughter and see how she now gets to care for her parents. I am not going to lie, I have wondered, why would God allow someone that was so mean to my father,  still get to live and why would a God that loves me take my daddy instead, and at such a young age. My daddy has been gone since I was 23 years old. He hasn’t gotten to be a part of my kids lives nor see his great grandchildren or see what kind of a woman I have grown into. My husband has missed the mentoring that my father could of provided to his ministry that would of been so useful especially in the early years.

 

But one thing is not different about me, I am still expected by God to forgive. Just like anyone else in this world. You may ask “Well what is expected of us”.  The bible says If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?” (1 John 4:20) Then Matthew reminds us “But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:15

 

Oh! That isn’t the only hurt in the church that has happened to me, in fact I am pretty certain satan has instigated many opportunities for me to be bitter and angry at God’s people. It’s not important I share all the details of the opportunities for offence I have had. See,  I am not alone in this. Satan has been using these tricks to discourage believers since the beginning of time. Just look at the story of Job in the bible. We are told that satan and God are having a conversation. When God says “Have you considered my friend Job” In the conversation God basically tells satan, you can do anything you want to Job except take his life, and he will not turn his back on me”. So satan goes after Job, he ends up taking everything Job has expect his complaining and nagging wife, which if you read the story you realize, she was probably working for satan. Even in all that Job lost, his children, his home, Job refused to turn away from God. Job tells us that even if he dies, he will not stop trusting in God. I guess that is what I would have to say too.

 

See, my family has failed me, my friends has failed me, my church has failed me, my denomination has failed me, but one thing I can say is my God has never failed me. Oh! I lived in a season of my life in bitterness and anger and all it did was hurt me and the people around me.  And you know what? The people that hurt me so much and who I was so angry at continued on with their lives as if, nothing had happened. I was the only one hurt. I was letting my bitterness and anger hold me captive while the one that I wanted so badly to hurt went on with their lives.

 

I was a prisoner in my own world, a world I had created of bitterness, isolation and anger. I didn’t realize that I was angry at the wrong people. I, like all of us, needs to focus on the real enemy and that is satan. I,  like all of us also, needs to realize that with every opportunity for bitterness,unforgiveness and anger that comes my way, I need to remember that this also, like Job, maybe a test, Perhaps God has put so much faith and trust in me, He has told satan, “Go ahead, see what you can do to her”. Like a coach who puts his best player out in the time of the game that is critical to the team, he is depending on you to make that finial point for the team to win the game.

 

When we come to look at every opportunity for offence as an opportunity to rise above and be the shining star on God’s team. We will then let Christ’s love in us shine through and overshadow any root of bitterness. When we realize every opportunity of unforgiveness is just a trick from the enemy. We will begin to see a whole lot less opportunities for unforgiveness, bitterness and resentment. Because satan soon leaves stops using tricks that don’t work. It is important that we realize we are not a war against people but satan, its just that satan often uses people as his ploys. We can see from the beginning of time, satan as only used those things to slip us up and keep us from the life that God has called us. But Jesus died for us to live.

 

Christ doesn’t desire for us to just have life here on this earth but He desires for us to live an abundant life John 10:10 tells us that satan comes to steal our joy, kill our hope  and destroy our faith in God. But Christ came that we would have that abundant life, not just an ordinary life but an abundant life that is full of joy and peace, that is a comfort for those who are in need and a peace to those who are troubled. One of the ways we can receive that abundant life is the choice we make when we are tempted to refuse to forgive and live in unforgiveness, bitterness and resentment.

 

Make no mistake we always have a choice how we respond and that choice either glorifies God, or glorifies satan. So the question is, who are you living for? Who do you want your life to glorify? It isn’t the people that hurt us or our families we need to be angry out, it is satan himself and the sooner we realize that,  the best defense to his skeem is to not play in his hand. Because as long as we live in unforgiveness and bitterness satan wins and I for one refuse to allow him to have any victory in my life. What about you?