Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Why? Well...because!

"Why can't I have that?"  "Why can't I do that?"  "Why can't I go there?"  "Why? Why? Why?"  Dylan has a way to overwhelm me with his demands.  Honestly, I can't sit around and explain every single detail of why he should not play Fortnite every single second of his awake existence.  Trust me.  I have tried to explain it to him.  In great length Dan and I had talked to him about the damage that non-stop video gaming does to a person, particularly a growing person.  But it has made no difference.  Inevitably, Dylan would come back asking "why?"

He doesn't get it.  He doesn't want to get it.  Why would he?  He loves the game too much.  Playing it brings him immense satisfaction.  He can't understand, for the life of him, why his parents, who profess to love him intensely, would refuse to allow him something that brings him so much pleasure?!

Sigh...

This situation with Dylan makes me think about the unanswered "whys" that we all have dealt with and will deal with in our lives.  Dylan is definitely not the only one, the first or the last person in the world who sinks in frustration when his "whys" are not adequately answered.  I heard a teacher on the radio today say something that intrigued me.  He commented that "Jesus didn't come to the world to answer why." 

hmmm...

But, why wouldn't He?  If there is someone who knows how to answer all and every "why" is Jesus.  Then, why didn't He come to do that?  I mean, wouldn't that make life easier for all of us, including Himself?  The constant nagging would stop, right?

The thing is that Dylan, as well as many of us, me included, don't really care to know why.  That's not really the issue here.  We just want it our way.  The question, "why" is only a distraction to see if we can get a yes there somewhere.  The explanation is actually irrelevant.  That's why Dylan continues to ask "why" after we have provided him with sound reasons.  The questioning doesn't have much to do with reason as it has to do with control.

And that's what Jesus wants.  He wants for us to give up the illusion of control and surrender to Him.  He wants us to trust Him even when we don't understand.  Most remarkably, He wants us to trust Him even when we do understand, but still demand or hope to have it our way.

The disillusionment and the frustration of having to give up the control we so tightly hold on to is softened by the reality of Christ's love and guidance.  He is holding our hand through the true path...the path that will lead us to a level of intimacy that says:  "Not my way, Lord, but Yours!"

I'm not sure if Dylan will ever stop asking "why" to certain things we as parents decide for him.  But I do pray that one day, perhaps a long time from now, he realizes that it was all about love.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

What Stories Are You Telling Yourself?

"God still writing your story.  Quit trying to steal the pen"

I saw this message at the Tobymac#Speaklife site not too long ago and it really hit me.  The reason it did, most profoundly, was because, just like a day before, I was deeply convicted by something Dan told me that was very much related to the thought above.  In a "discussion" we were having, he said to me something like:  "you better change the stories you are telling yourself..."

Hmmm

Of course, at the time he said it, I did not want to admit how wise that comment/admonition was.  But it did affect me, precisely because there is so much wisdom and truth in it...sigh...I do tell myself crazy, misrepresented, deceiving, marred,  scarring, hurtful and totally made-up, untrue stories about myself...about who I really am.

My identity is so marked by these stories I tell myself, that I can't hardly recognize the true me anymore.  The lies I tell myself have hidden my actual self so far behind their webs that I'm like a mummy...sigh...I can barely see me, and neither can those close to me.  

After our "discussion" I couldn't help but thinking that it is time I change my narrative. 

When I saw the Tobymac sign, though, I realized that my conclusion above was only half true.  What I actually need to do is to let go of the pen, let God keep on writing my story, or unfolding it, rather, and just sit by His feet and listen to it as He recalls it to me.  Instead of listening to the distorted stories I tell myself about myself, I must listen to the only Voice of Truth...and believe Him!

I think I'd like to explore this topic in a few other posts.  So, if you are like me, telling yourself stories packed with lies about who you are, let's see if we can pause and begin playing the track of the real story of us, the one that only Jesus can tell.


My Unruly Tongue

Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. Proverbs 21: 23 (ESV)

Why is it that often we hurt so deeply those whom we love the most?

I have asked myself this question for ever...and still, I have no answer for it.  Do you?  Do you ever wonder about that?  Maybe you don't because you are not in the group who does.  Maybe you are kind, forgiving, gentle and loving, joyful, peaceful, good and faithful always and to all, especially to your loved ones, so you have no clue what I'm talking about here...but it's important for you to know that there are some like me who aren't like that.

I struggle with my bad temper and with my unruly tongue.  I have a bad reputation in my home.  I love deeply, but, like my younger sons says, "I have too many emotions" and often they take control over me and I become someone I'm ashamed of.

Sigh...

I always watched those Moms who are so tender and gentle...whose voices are so sweet and melodious that even a reprimand sounds like a lullaby.  I truly admire them...I envy them...They are like Snow White or Cinderella.  You know, those old Disney Movie Fairy Tale Princesses?  The ones who, though immersed in the saddest and harshest of circumstances, where always so delicate and soft.  Not me...I could have never played dress-up and pretended to be one of them.  I was always one of the ugly, clumsy and hardened step-sisters or Grumpy, the dwarf, at best.

The thing is, I'm full of pride.

Yes, that is the root of my harsh actions and unleashed tongue.  I want to be respected.  I want to be thought of as smart, wise, insightful, discerning.  I want people to do what I say when I say it because I am convinced that I am right!  And why not follow my commands?  After all, their lives would be so much better if they did!  I know better!

It's exhausting to be this great.  Especially because it takes a lot of energy to try to make the entire world understand and appreciate my greatness.

Yes...I'm full of pride.

So, when people don't just act like puppets in my hands, I lose it.  I become some kind of warmonger, and my weapons are my words.

I want to win so badly, that I totally forget Paul's admonition: 

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4: 29

I tear apart.  I destroy.  I crush.  Then, when it is all over...I mourn.  I weep.  I regret.

Today, I pray that the Holy Spirit would be the one tearing apart, destroying and crushing the pride that has taken a stronghold in my heart, and free me from it so I can mourn, weep and regret no more.  

If this is your struggle too, let's unite in prayer so the enemy would not continue to enslave us.  

I know I will never be Snow White or Cinderella, but I know I don't have to be Grumpy or Griselda either.  I just want to have a soul free from pride and stop stepping on those I care about the most...covered by His Banner that over me, is love.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Obsession

Obsession: a persistent, disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling.  This is how Merriam and Webster define the term.  I happen to concur.  Obsessions are persistent.  They are often disturbing.  They sure keep one preoccupied.  And the whole thing is usually pretty unreasonable, right?  This reminds me of Dylan and this one video game he is into right now.  He is completely obsessed with it.  And, playing it, alters him in ways nothing else does.  He becomes unrecognizably intense and passionate when he plays it...but not in a good way.

It's not just Dylan, however...I have several obsessions to admit too:  moving, not becoming too attached to things, retirement, vacation plans, the beach, the future of my sons, my husband, work, romantic comedies, and anything involving melted cheese and chocolate cake.  

Deep, huh?  I know!

The thing is that I usually don't consider my obsessions a problem.  I figured, if I'm not hurting anybody, who cares, right? I mean, they are part of my little, inner world.  So, what's the big deal? Well...

The question is:  do obsessions help me grow closer to God and to His people or do they rather become a barrier between us?

Are obsessions from God or from the enemy?

If I look at Dylan's obsession with his video game, it is clear to me that this video game is the devil itself!  If I look at my obsessions, not so much.  Since when being preoccupied with one's kids, husband, retirement, etc. is a bad thing?  Those are noble things that God put in my path to care for and about.  But, to what level?  To what level do I let my preoccupation with these noble things/people/objectives negatively impact my relationship with Christ?

That's the key, isn't' it?  Are my obsessions, really my idols?


Our God is a Jealous God. (Exodus 20: 5)  He designed us to worship Him.  That is our greatest purpose in this life and in the next.  Therefore, anything that distracts us from our God-given design and pushes us to worship other gods is nothing but a tool of the enemy.  And we would pay dearly if we go along with it: 

"It shall come about if you ever forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you will surely perish. (Deut. 8: 19)


But, how do we know if the intensity we are feeling comes from our obsession or from the innate passion of God's calling?

That's the million dollar question, isn't it?

It is a hard question to answer because often, the root of the intensity is obviously identified with an obsession:  Dylan's video game.  However, many times, it is not so easily identifiable.  So, is there a test to find out for sure?  Well, I doubt it.  An important part of spiritual growth and the process of sanctification is to develop the ability to discern the fine lines that divide right and wrong...and the ability to self-regulate and self-check.

Asking for wisdom should be a high priority in our lives if we believe we might be dealing with an obsession.  The entire Book of proverbs is a reminder of the believer's need to pray for wisdom.  Wisdom is the mother of discernment.  In wisdom, we could probably develop some kind of an awareness test we could apply to ourselves:  is this thing I am so passionate about, ultimately glorifying God or me?

Who does this object of my affection and passion have to do with?  Who am I doing this for?  Who would be standing at the end of the race as the winner?  Who would others be pointing at as the hero of the story in the end? Whose is the name that would be remembered, mine or the Lord's?

It's funny that I so easily criticize Dylan for wasting his life on this video game he is obsessed with; but I can't see that my own obsession with wanting him to quit playing and go do his homework or read or do something productive with his life stems from a deep longing to be thought of as a good Mom...

Sigh...

Obsession: a persistent, disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling...an idol that separates us from God and makes it all about ourselves.






Monday, October 1, 2018

Let it go...summer is gone...






Once again, I'm having issues letting go...this time...of summer...

I can't believe another summer has closed its door right in front of my face.  Leaving behind the season of ease and slow-pace it's never easy to me.  Ushering in fall it's always a challenge...sigh...

But, I must accept. 

I know...I've been in denial.  That's why it has taken me this long to realize that summer has ended.  School started.  Homecoming dances have come and gone.  Fall decorations are on my door.  But the part about accepting the reality of summer being gone has just sank in.  What prompted it?  Having to unearth a sweatshirt and a pair of socks.

Up until now, I've been living the flip flop lifestyle.  Yesterday morning, however, as I was getting ready to go to church, it hit me:  the sock drawer was wide open in front of me.  Astonished, I looked at my bare feet.  They were NOT ready to go in hiding.  Then, to make matters worse, when we came back home, I stood paralyzed in front of the high shelf where I have all my sweaters and sweatshirts, fearing the truth that I was going to have to reach out to grab one 'cause the house was a freezer...sigh...

Life does that to us sometimes.  We are just going along, enjoying our ride...when BAM!!! Slap on the face, reality hits!  The way seasons change is a good reminder of this truth:  change happens.  Don't get too comfortable, because in an instant, it goes all away...life is a series of cycles.

The complication is, however, that for some of us, the very idea of change causes a physical reaction, kind of like a panic attack.  I speak for myself here, I do not deal well with change.  I fear change.  It causes me great discomfort.  The root of my fear of change is found buried deeply inside my psyche.  It has to do with fear of losing control.

The main reason I dislike change so much is that a great measure of the unknown also arrives on the bus of change.  And there aren't many other concepts more unruly and out of control than the unknown. 

My issues are so pervasive inside my mind that, since I know change is going to happen regardless, I try to orchestrate it ahead of its natural progression.  Do you know what I mean?  I want to have control over what happens in my life so badly, that often I try to manipulate things so change happens on my own terms.  Like a house, for example:  I lost the ability to go back to my parents' house, the house that was the symbol of stability in my life since I was born.  And, losing that house has created great heartache.  I never thought I would not be able to be in that house ever again.  I don't want to have to go through that again.  So, what do I do?  I want to constantly be on the move.  I don't want to get attached to anything.  I know someday, I will lose whatever house I'm in at the moment, so I might as well just beat fate and move before fate moves me.

Complex?  You bet!

The seasons, however, are a great analogy that God created for us to remember that, whereas change is inevitable, He is the constant behind all changes...and like the seasons, it's a cycle...a necessary cycle that allows us to grow closer to Him...to find Him...to depend on Him...to surrender to Him.

I am having problems letting go of summer.  However, what I must remember is that this is not the first time it happens.  "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens." (Eclesiastes 3: 1)  And now it's the season to let go of the season past and embrace the one coming on.  It is the time to discover the blessings of the new season and reminisce on the one we are leaving behind.  It is the season to renew my trust in the One Who Holds the seasons in His hands and entrust all change to the One Who Never Changes.  And, o yes, it's the season to enjoy all things pumpkin spice!

So for now, so long summer.  It was great having you around.  See you soon!





Thursday, September 20, 2018

Fully Known and Fully Loved

Have you ever looked back on your life and seen nothing but poor choices and piles of regret?  I try not to do that.  Sometimes, however, it's hard for me not to be crushed by my bad decisions and mistakes.  On those days, I truly feel like a reject.  My inadequacies and insecurities cover me like a blanket of darkness and the weight of my guilt barely lets me take the next step.

Today, I have realized what a huge waste of time that is.  Those moments in which I have allowed myself to be smashed under my own stupidity are nothing but moments I have surrendered to the enemy.

I cannot continue to let my precious time go down the drains dug by the schemes of the devil!  I must stop giving him the control that belongs only to the Holy Spirit.  I must stop allowing him to usurp the place that belongs only to Christ!  The father of lies must not take what belongs only to my Heavenly Father!

This life is not meant to be lived by our own power.  We can't go through the hardship of the everyday grind without God.  The enemy knows that.  And he exploits it to his advantage.  He makes us believe that we are not worthy of God's love.  He deceives us into thinking that no one who knows us could love us...because there is nothing worth loving in us.  The way the enemy tricks us into believing this is by igniting our insecurities and by reminding us of our past missteps. 

The truth will set us free (John 8: 32), however!  And the truth is that Truth is a Person.  He lives in us.  And He reminds us of His presence whenever we need it if we pay attention.  Like today, as I was running some errands, feeling the familiar wave of inadequacy begin to stir in my heart, a song popped on the radio...a gentle, beautiful tune sang by Tauren Wells, with much inspired words.  The line that injected truth into my veins was:  "I'm fully known and loved by You."

WOW...

I mean, really...let's read that again:  "I'm fully known and loved by You."

This verse reminds me of one of my favorite Psalms:  139.  In this precious piece of Scripture, God reminds us of the most basic truth:  He knows us intimately, better than anyone else for He created our inmost being...and, nevertheless, He loves us still for He just can't help it...I was created to be His...to be the object of His affection...to be His masterpiece!

How quickly I forget the truth.  That is why I must always remain in His Word.  That is the only way to be near Him...that is the only way I would be able to only listen to His voice and block all the lies of the enemy.

Have you ever looked back on your life and see nothing but poor choices and piles of regret? 
Remember, the antidote for this venom is God's Word.  Next time this happens, pick up your Bible and read Psalm 139.  It will remind you that no matter what, you are "fearfully and wonderfully made!"  And that you are "fully known and loved by Him!"

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

His Work of Art

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us,who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8: 31-32

What a magnificent promise!   "If God is for us, who can be against us?"  WOW!  What can anyone say to this, but Praised be the Name of The Lord!

But...how much do I truly believe it?  How much do I accept this words as truth in my own life?

Sigh...

Why would God be "for me"?  I mean...me?  Really? Does this promise really include me too?

I am no good.  I forget.  I walk on the wide road way too often.  I ignore.  I gossip.  I doubt.  I lack faith.

I read in Jon Courson's Commentary, something that made me pause, while considering this verses: "God views His people very highly and loves His people very deeply.  Why?  Because He already sees the end product.  We're already glorified in His eyes."

WOW...

I never thought of it this way.  He can see what I am supposed to become because for God, my future is His past.  From His point of view, He sees all of me, not just who I am today, but who I am meant to be.  Gosh...wouldn't that be nice?  I would love to be able to see into my future and realize that everything worked out well.  

The funny thing is, however, that, in a way, I can, indeed, see into the future!  I have God's word telling me that everything already IS OK...more than, OK, actually.  We are victorious!  "...we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8: 28  And "we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans." 8: 37

We see a glimpse of what God sees by reading His word!  He loves me.  He made me.  He knows me.  He holds me in His arms as He is molding me into His work of art!

And nothing will change that, for

I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8: 38-39