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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

Say what you mean and mean what you say. It is a classic phrase or quote. It is universal. It can be understood for parenting, relationships, and legal transactions like selling a car.



Is honesty important at all today? It feels to me as though generally I don't trust what a company tells me. Phrases like "100% beef" or "All white meat chicken" and "all natural" or "no artificial preservatives" that have popped up with fast food companies lately cause me some concern. What was I eating 20 years ago? Not meat? Does it cost more to have real food? (We know that is a yes.) Just getting into food labels is enough to cause a person not to believe much of anything a company tells us. They are very deceptive and use trickery. Why is that?


Society and news media has plenty to say. How do you identify what is real or fake news? Apparently there is a new class at my local library to help with that. It is now that big of a problem.

In my own life, I hear myself and my husband saying things that don't make any sense to my kids. Threats about ice cream or milkshakes and taking away toys. I have taken away several things, and it doesn't really make much of a difference. I don't understand why I am doing it anymore but I feel like I need to do something. Discipline is so hard.The threats would make so much more sense if I was consistent and followed through every time.

Discipline is so much more than time outs and taking things away. Whether I bribe my kid with a sucker in the grocery store or not, I still get the looks from other people who appear to have some concern over my parenting style. Sometimes I think they understand and have been exactly where I am, other times not.

I can apply the quote "say what you mean and mean what you say" to myself too. I swore I wouldn't do this or that, but I did or do. I swore I wouldn't bribe my kids. I have heard others say the same thing and yet here we are using candy or treats to get through a shopping trip.

I'm irritated a lot these days. I don't know how to handle discipline and I'm not even disciplined enough to stick with one technique. I am inconsistent often. I'm trying so hard to be positive but after several mishaps I lose my patience. I pray as often as I can out loud in front of my kids. That is my most real solution. I know God hears me and I know my children do too. Maybe it doesn't help immediately but it will. Tonight, I felt like I was praying against a demon that I wanted to scream to get out of my house. My child yells and kicks at me when I pray sometimes but I am not giving up. I believe in Jesus.

Why am I so confident in Jesus? I am confident in the Word of God and how Jesus has redeemed my heart. God is the only one I think I truly ever did really believe, it just took me awhile to accept it fully. One thing about God is that he is worthy of respect. He doesn't go back and forth like we do. He doesn't set an expectation and change his mind. God is holy. God demands perfection which was satisfied through the blood of his son Jesus Christ. God hasn't changed. God is and always will be holy and deserving of worship and praise. He just so happens to be the most gracious by loving us and making it possible to have that relationship with him. I can't measure up. I'll never perform enough. His arm is outstretched, what is my response?

Ever heard that "one bad apple ruins the bunch"? I think it can often be that one bad memory or experience is enough to write off a whole relationship or in this case, faith. I have met people that are "christian" but didn't treat me like I imagine Christ would have. I have seen churches say they want to become mission minded and then do nothing. I have also witnessed amazing people and churches that are reaching out and living among others in authentic community.

I see time and time again people that are trying their hardest but are flawed and overcoming their own past hurts. Do we extend much compassion on each other? Or if someone does one perceived wrong thing, do we shut them out immediately? Are we reacting based on our own open wounds?
Proverbs 12:18-19


Do we think that because one person on the Facebook says an awful thing about another person or group of people that all people believe the same thing? When I see anti-Christian hate on social media, especially from people that know me well, I get a little hurt. I don't think I deserve to be lumped into that category or that I am being hurtful to them by my actions. Am I? Do they even think of me that way? I also get offended by the opposite, too much negativity coming from people that are supposed to represent Christ. People should be more careful what they put out into the world. It is making impressions quickly. Typically I keep my mouth shut, except now of course.

Ephesians 4:29

Lately, I am tired. Physically, mentally tired. Worn out and when I get that way, I am more likely to say things I shouldn't. Kinda like the whole point of this blog. It is not wise to say things without taking pause, without removing the knee jerk reaction. If it is angry, hurtful, or simply selfish, why do we need to put it out there to get its own momentum?




Every time I write, I am cautious. My words are not the important ones, but they matter when I am representing God. I strongly advise anyone to get into the Word and dig into Scripture to confirm what you are being taught, by anyone. Pray about it. Ask and God will reveal it to you.

Set up boundaries with people. This is often necessary with at least one person in a family. Or if someone asks you to serve at church, and you don't want to or can't, say what you mean and don't feel bad about it. Or if you want to and are happy to have been asked, be joyful. If you are up front and honest things will work out better in the long run.

I realize that this blog post may feel a little all over the place. That is how I am lately. Who knows whether or not we are going to have toys and ice cream in the house tomorrow. My kids aren't sure so they keep testing us. I'm regularly asking them for forgiveness for my shortcomings as a parent. I am genuinely remorseful but will they believe me if I keep saying the things I don't mean or follow through on? Would you?

Dear God, Thank you for sending Jesus to reconcile my relationship with you. Thank you that I can completely trust you. Thank you for forgiveness and the way my children truly don't keep record of my wrongs. I want to improve my disciple techniques with them before I damage our relationship. I want them to know how much I love them and understand that I can be relied on, that I mean what I say and am trustworthy. Help me to move forward in my parenting and grow from each day. In Jesus  Name, amen. 

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

My IKEA Visit

During a recent visit to Columbus, there was this pocket of time that occurred when the kids needed to nap and we needed to drive. So, I knew there was this store I wanted to check out near by called IKEA, maybe you have heard of it? A friend told me I would like that store years ago but I never had the opportunity to get there. But after a half day at the Columbus Zoo and Zoombezi Bay, that moment finally arrived. Thank goodness my husband was willing to drive around the parking lot for me to get my 40 minutes in the store before the kids woke up.  I was also lucky that IKEA Columbus recently opened. Those 40 minutes ended up being so energizing for me and most memorable part of our whole visit to Columbus.

Instantly, my mind was visually awake. I didn't really want to blink, unless to refresh my eyes to be able to take in each new mini home. As I was walking through these staged apartments, I thought of the movie when the girl lives in a Walmart. I want to live in an IKEA. They should be selling the tiny homes made out of shipping containers fully furnished. I bet they could really sell those. The shipping container movement has been seen in Columbus, Cleveland and in Akron, it may be still a small scale but it is inspired.

Anyways, there is really so much to see in the store. Too much to take in within 35 minutes, and it took me 5 minutes to get to the exit, only because I was willing to ask for directions. There were tons of arrows and signs directing me but I didn't have time to waste. With a store that large, there are more emergency exits than I could probably count, and guess what, they all have a sign pointing to them. I found those but needed help finding the main exit in a hurry. I will give myself credit for making it from upstairs to downstairs on my own. Score! Ha ha. I have to laugh at myself so I hope you do too.
Exit signs galore

Isn't life like that sometimes? Did you ever feel like you were in a situation that you needed to get out of but couldn't seem to find your way? Like being lost on a trail and you keep on going in circles. Or perhaps like the scene in Seinfield where they can't find the car in the multi-level parking garage. Or that you are unhappy but can't quite figure out why, so you experiment with different spiritual options, workouts, therapy, art, sports, drugs, friends and on and so on. I know people like that. I was one at times in my life. Sometimes it was casual and harmless and other times it felt uneasy and unnerving.

Do you think we live on this earth as though we are shopping in a large warehouse filled with everything we could ever want, in any color, style, and price point? Do we wander aimlessly writing down our wish lists and calculating the cost? Do we dream that we could make our life look like this other life over here or there? Do we live like we have all the time in the world? That its all about our comfort?

Don't get me wrong, I want several items in the store. Will I ever get them, we'll see. They are reasonably priced and practical. If the opportunity and need presents itself, then I will highly consider purchasing from this store or requesting gift cards for any future holidays or celebrations. I did even just send some gift cards to my sisters for their birthday.





Now that I have been talking about it, I am learning about how many other people like shopping there too. So if you like IKEA, enjoy! But I can't help but connect this shopping adventure to God and how often I get confused about my time on earth. I don't want to take for granted the opportunities and time I have on this planet.






Life is not about whether or not my furniture is modern and sleek. It's about how I shine from this inside out. Does the love of Jesus pour out of me? Do I have the joy of knowing Christ even during difficult times? Do I make an effort to share the amazing gift of grace?

Dear God, Thank you for your amazing creation and design that surrounds me every day. You created the flowers, the stars, and everything in between. When I look at my children, I am blown away by my blessings from you. I am so grateful to be a mom even though it is so hard some, many, days. Help me to shine your love God even when I am dealing with a temper tantrum from one of the kids. Give me the wisdom to stop and pray, to show the kids and those watching me, that I depend on you God. I am not rock star mom, but I have the most amazing Father. In Jesus Name, amen. 

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Saturday, July 1, 2017

Spoiled


As we celebrate the freedoms we have this 4th of July, I am reminded how blessed I truly am. There is so much to be grateful for.

Christmas in July special blog post:


It's a couple days after Christmas and here I go talking about the word spoiled. I just looked up the definition of the word "spoil" on dictionary.com and realized that maybe the way I had initially thought of referring to it might not make sense. You see, I was feeling, or so I thought, spoiled. I felt almost ashamed because I went to the doctor again today, making it twice in the last week, just for me. Normally I can ignore my own colds but this virus was kicking my butt and our insurance is going to be changing in a couple days and I was getting worked up about it all. So they called me in a nose spray and I was going to need to stop at the pharmacy again and I started thinking do I really need to go in there again. I literally could roll my own eyes at myself right now for that "woe is me" attitude. How privileged I am to be able to get to the doctor, to get to a pharmacy, and to attempt any relief. I did get over myself and dragged myself and my also sick kids into the store again.

A few days ago, I was happy to see the Call the Midwife Christmas special on. I recently discovered this show and have been waiting for new episodes so this was a pleasant surprise. In this special, the midwifes are on a mission trip in Africa and dealing with much graver circumstances, like finding a way to get clean water. The show takes place in the 1960's. It is a reminder to me of the blessings of today in America. I can easily lose sight of how wonderful we have it.

So I was initially thinking that I was ashamed because of how spoiled I am. But the definition below from dictionary.com causes me to challenge this thought. 

3. to impair, damage, or harm the character or nature of (someone) by unwise treatment, excessive indulgence, etc.:
    to spoil a child by pampering him.

This links back to me the way I continually struggle to accept love, particularly from God. We just finished celebrating the gift God gave the world, Jesus Christ, his Son, the Savior and I'm feeling guilty. This has been a problem for me when I was single and now as a wife and mom, it just shows up differently. I am grateful for the ability to see the doctor but I don't think God would want me to feel shame for using that gift. In The Message version of the Bible, John 3:16-18 reads:

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need to be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person's failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him. 

John 3:16-18The Message (MSG)  (I added the highlighting)

 

Why did I highlight that part in green? It is to remind me that God isn't standing up in Heaven looking down on me with a big giant pointed finger and mean face. No, that is not our God! As it continues to read, He came to help. God loves us enough to send Jesus to live on earth with us, to walk with us, to die for us. I've had to get past the feelings of shame and imperfections and misunderstandings about who my God is in order to accept His amazing grace. I guess I'm not spoiled as I started to think, I'm loved.
Some antonyms for the word "spoil" include: save, mend, protect
So I'm going to say that instead of feeling spoiled, I feel saved, mended, and protected today.  

Dear Lord, Thank you for loving me so much to give your son to come to earth and die for me, being separated from you. If anything is unfair, that would be it. Guide me in my pursuit of happiness to be representing you Lord. I don't want to be greedy or raise my kids to be unaware of how good they have it. I wantto find a balance in appreciating what we have but not loving anything more than you. Thank you for continuing to pursue my heart and those in my family. In Jesus Name, amen.


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