My Shadow

Written by: James Thompson

Last Sunday I had a shadow. It followed me wherever I went. I stopped, it stopped. I walked, it walked. I walked faster, it walked faster. I stopped suddenly, it rammed into my backside and giggled.

My shadow’s name was Lexi. Lexi is my self-proclaimed “Middle-est.” Of my children, she is not the old-est or young-est. But, by golly, she was not going to be the only one without an “-est”. So, lo and behold, she came up with “middle-est”.

So, as I went about my activities on Sunday afternoon, I was followed and followed and followed some more.

I asked my shadow, “What are you doing?”

My shadow responded, “Watching you.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because I want to watch you.” she replied.

Can’t argue with that.

The Middle-est, a.k.a. My Shadow
The Middle-est, a.k.a. My Shadow

 

The whole situation reminded me of something I’ve been told a million times. “Your kids watch everything you do.”

And, I mean EVERYTHING!

Usually this nugget of wisdom is thrown one’s way as an attempt to remind you to act better (don’t text and drive or check email at stop signs/lights) or maybe to stop a habit that you don’t want them little eyeballers to adopt (like smoking or drinking wine from a box).

This “wisdom” is usually thought of (at best) for a second and discarded.

Yet, a person’s comment this past weekend, brought back the implications of this “shadowing” this past weekend.

Last week, Missy and I attended a convention for Christian home schooling families. There were people everywhere. And, there were little people everywhere…..EVERYWHERE. It only makes sense. It appears that most of the families there had multiple children. By multiple, I am meaning at least as many as fingers on the average non-butcher/woodworker/lumberjack’s hand. We met families with 5, 7, 14, and as many as 19 children (yes, the Duggars were there). So, these people had lots of “shadows.”

One of the speakers said something to the effect of (“to the effect” means I wasn’t paying particular close attention until I heard something that caught my ear and then had to recreate the context in which it was said) that your children will only love a god as big as the one you worship. Wow. Never thought of it that way.

Father and son throwing pebbles into the sea

But, really is it any different than “the kids are watching you” advice/warning that you’ve heard so many times? Where that advice is to get you to examine your vices, this statement was one to get you to examine your convictions/beliefs.

I think that this statement transcends whether you have children (i.e. shadows) or not. If we are called upon to make disciples of others, what is the God like of which we are seeking to make disciples?

Who is the God you worship?

Is he a small God that you only worship on Sundays?

Is he a God you can control?

Is he a God that you listen to only when you have time?

OR

Is the God you worship the creator of the earth and heavens (Isaiah 45:12)?

Is the God you worship “greater than our understanding” (Job 36:26)?

I was convicted by the speaker’s statement. Not only because I fear the God I have presented to my children is thanked sporadically for his blessings; is not asked for his guidance first in every endeavor;  not spoken with daily; but because I may have also made him small.

father and son riding bicycle silhouette in sunset

Let us all remember that the God we worship is the same one relied upon by David against Goliath.

I Samuel 17:45-47

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

Be aware of the shadow(s) you cast.

JET

Are you a dim bulb? Find out here.

Written by: Vivian Wilson

I just spent a week with nearly two hundred brothers and sisters in Christ. We worshiped together, we ate together, and we served together, making life a little better for some who were in need. It is much easier to spend 24/7 with like-minded people, people of faith, than it is to spend even one day in the world, in terms of how we relate to others in such a way that we prove that we are light in the Lord.

“For you were once darkness, but now you are a light in the Lord.” Eph.5:8

The theme of the camp was LIGHT-BEARERS.

I have spent a good bit if time reflecting on my UM ARMY experience last week, and I have asked myself these questions,

  • Does my light shine for the world to see?
  • Practically speaking, what does that mean?
  • What does it look like to shine the light?

It is in Christ, who indwells us in the person of the Holy Spirit, that we are light, that we are even able to shine. I think what shines are the attributes and characteristics of God. In Galatians 5:22-23, we read that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

When we love others, as we are commanded, putting them before our own interest, we shine.

When we have joy and contentment in spite of difficult or unpleasant circumstances, we shine.

When we have peace in the midst of trials, we shine.

When we are patient in the midst of chaos, we shine.

When we do random, unexpected acts of kindness, we shine.

When we show goodness, we shine.

When we are faithful to Truth and Righteousness, proving to be people of integrity, we shine.

When we are gentle in the midst of anger and bitterness, we shine.

When we have self-control in the midst of the battle between the spirit and the flesh, we shine.

When we display grace rather than a critical or judgmental attitude, we shine.

And when we humbly serve others, we shine.

Unique Light Bulb Amongst Others

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.”

Jesus tells us to let our light shine. It seems to me he says we have a choice: we can let it shine or not. We can let our light shine brightly all the time, or we can choose to dim it at times.

When I was with fellow light-bearers, there were a lot of bright lights. But when I came home and resumed life pretty much as I left it, having to be in the world, I noticed how easy it would be to be a dim light. Because last week, there were fewer distractions that would cause me to take my eyes off of Him and put them on myself.

In the real world that we live in, I find that it is essential to stay in fellowship with Jesus by prayer, worship, and praise in order for my light to shine the brightest, because then my focus is on His will and not mine. I am able to see the opportunities that He provides for me to do the good deeds that will shine before men and bring him praise.

TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

Vivian

Which scars really tell your story?

Written by: Ms. O

I am getting to the end of my bout with poison ivy…have scratched my way through the days…and nights…knowing what the doctor said….it’s gonna leave scars…but I can’t help myself. It itches, so I scratch….and at the moment….I don’t care about the consequences. They will be added to the numerous scars that I have acquired over the years…and each one tells a story.

Bicycle with basket, Lille

I have this awesome scar across my one finger…jagged…not too pretty at all. It comes from riding a bike that was way too big for me…and I fell….hard. I remember my mom putting band aid after band aid on it…trying to stop the bleeding…but that didn’t happen. I should have learned from that….never “try things” until it’s time…but I didn’t….many times over….I have the scars to prove it.

During many of my cooking ventures…and I do mean ventures….as in venturing into places that I had no clue what I was doing. I have burned and cut myself. Most times it is because I am not paying attention…to what I am supposed to be paying attention to. During one of my harried make-it-quick Christmas cooking times…as I was heating up sugar to molten lava temps…I got ahead of myself…did not pay attention to the dangers of cooking with liquid sugar…as in heated to that level…and it slung…back…on my hand. The problem with sugar is…it sticks…and boy did it ever. I burned my other fingertips as I tried to scrap off the sugar on the back of my hand…and ended up with extra burns. You would think that I would have learned from this…pay better attention to what is in front of you…the task at hand…but I didn’t…still don’t…and my scars show.

When it came time to turn in my “mom card”….along with so many problems I had with my own body…I knew I would have an outward scar…one that would run from hip to hip. What I did not realize is that the scar would run deeper than that…it connected to my heart. Realistically I knew I was not going to have any more children…I was done…and God had blessed with me with two amazing children…more than I could ever have asked for…but as I rubbed my scar…that ran across my body…I touched reality…the cold hard truth…of what my body was incapable of…ever…again. I would recall my “pregnancy memories”….retrace those “reasons” that I have the stretch marks I have….as the new scar overlapped the old…and realized that those scars are my reminders of what I have…and a jab and what is over with. You would think I would learn…from both scars…but I don’t….I just carry the scars.

I have scars on my heart…nothing the naked eye can see…which probably makes it worse. They are well hidden…from plain sight…even from those who know me. Those scars left from unrealized dreams…expectations of myself that were not met…failings that prove to me that I have come a long way…but I still have further to go. Scars that all the oils and makeup will never cover…and I find myself “rubbing them”…trying to find the meaning of it all…so I learn…but sadly…most times…I don’t….I just hide them better than the visible ones.

All scars have a story….none will compare though to this:

“So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”

John 20:25

We all poke fun at Thomas….call him out on his so called faith…wanting to see and touch…Jesus’ scars…but in all honesty…I have done the same…more times than I would like to admit. The other disciples had seen the Risen Lord…spent time with him…but not so for Thomas….yet. He has a moment of total honesty…and it is recorded for all to see.

Before I try to stand so piously…thinking I am no way near as skeptical as Thomas…I think of how many times I have not called on the name of Christ…when He standing right in front of me….of when I have ignored Him…knowing He stands before me…scarred arms opened wide…for…..me.  Am I any different…or do I wrap it up a little neater than my friend Thomas? I look away from the scars…as if it makes them go away…but they don’t…and I thank God for that.

Yes, all scars tell a story….and His is the one that paid my debt…that called me from a life that had no meaning….into abundance that knows no bounds. His scars are a mark… of His atonement…for my sin.

Lord, let me stand before the throne…and place my hands upon those scars…and remind myself of Your great love, Lord….not in doubt…but with assurance…..that my scars are healed in You.

Amen…and amen. Ms. O

A prayer, just for YOU…

Written by: Amy Dalke

A prayer for YOU today…

Father, You alone know the way that we take.

And sometimes, we aren’t so sure where You are leading…or why we have to go that way.

Colorful sunrise on the sea. Sand beach and silent water surface.

Your unfailing word says, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

Because You are FOR us, we do not fear. Even when we sit in the midst of uncertainty, we will trust You. We believe that You work every single situation to our good…to Your glory…and we know that Your glory is always – always – always for our good.

You created us to carry Your glory to all the world! So give us the wisdom to come to You emptied of ourselves, so that our glory buckets can hold every ounce You want to pour into us.

Bring light today where there is darkness in our hearts.

Where there is despair, replace it with hope and joy.

Plant Your grace into every corner where sin abounds.

Let Your unfailing love be our strength in the face of fear.

Let Your glory unfold in us richly today, so that everything in our presence is touched by pieces of heaven.

And Lord…more than ever before, let us grasp the truth that You are for us, not against us.

In Christ’s name, AMEN.

 

Decoder Not Included

Dear Reader,

We regret to inform you that today’s blogger did not present a Viable Blog Submission for review. She did, however, leave this Very Badly Stated note:

Though you’d never know it by the Vacant Bored Stares and Violently Breathed Sighs of my children, It’s been a Vibrant, Bustling Summer already.

Why just this week alone, I’ve had a Very Busy Schedule. So much so……. that by the end of today, It’s quite possible I’ll have forgotten my name and need assistance to my car.
The doc says it’s called Vortex Brain Syndrome. But, with plenty of rest and a Vitamin B Script …… I should be Vastly Better Soon. Though he’s not completely sure what has caused it, I wouldn’t read anything into it. Sometimes, the mind just gets caught up Visualizing Better Stuff and can’t be bothered to pull away for the more mundane tasks of life. It’ll be fine, I’m sure. The one thing I know that I know…….Even when it all goes wrong, Jesus loves me!

#VeryBlessedSister #VolunteersBeSuper

There’s a message in there somewhere…….we think.

Hopefully Friday’s writer will get her act together Very Bloomin’ Soon!

Blog Management

Lord Willing

Written by: James E. Thompson 

Meet my grandmother, Josefina Flores. She was a immigrant from Mexico who came to the USA when she was 18. She was “green” before it was cool. She captured rain water, raised chickens in her backyard, and grew some of her own vegetables.

550067_3192429289123_798669203_n

She also would say “Lord willing” after almost everything she said.

For example: “I’ll get you an ice cream when we get home, Lord willing.”

This confused me. Was that a yes to ice cream? Or no? Seriously, am I getting ice cream or not?

It wasn’t until just recently that I realized how theologically sound her saying was.

[James 4:13-16]
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

Put it On the Calendar.

I make plans. As I get older, I tend to be more like my mother who has been referred to as “Plan Ahead Barbie.”  She likes to plan ahead……way ahead. During our wedding reception, my mother wanted to know when our first child would be born so that she can be sure to request the time off work and buy a new dress.

I kid, I kid…it wasn’t a dress but a T-shirt with “World’s Best Nana” on the front.

This year (in January), I started to fill in my calendar with things/events/activities to which I, and my family, were looking forward. Things that I did not want to see fall to the wayside because of poor planning. These activities included, a possible ski trip with friends (March); camps for girls (June/July); New Braunfels with the Penningtons (August); Disney with family (November); Thanksgiving (who is hosting this year?), etc.  Some of these things involve much planning – like Disney. You can ask Missy cause she did all of the heavy lifting on dealing with Mr. Mouse (“El Raton”).

It is easy to think that just because we made them, our plans will come to pass. We begin to believe that we control the future (or at least the second week in November when we will be eating with the Princesses), or six weeks from now when I’ll be eating it by tumbling off my tube at Schlitterbahn, or next February when I’ll be eating it on the ski slopes (that is, if my next ski experience is like my last).

It is unfortunate that we are usually only corrected in our thinking when tragedy strikes. Reading about a tornado hitting a school, driving past a car accident, or watching Cassidy Stay saying that her family is “in a much better place and that [she’ll] be able to see them again one day” jolt us into acknowledging how little control we really have.

That is not to say that we shouldn’t plan and that our plans may not come to pass. They will, Lord willing.

What does saying “Lord willing” do for us?

1.         Reminds us to submit.

It is about God’s will, not ours.  Submitting our plans to God’s will put us in our place. It is the Lord’s will that is important.  My mind immediately thinks of one of my favorite lyrics from MercyMe’s In the Blink of An Eye asks “How can I further Your kingdom When I’m so wrapped up in mine?”

2.         Reminds us God has a will for us.

You are submitting to God for a reason – He has a plan for us.

[Jeremiah 29:11]
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

What is the Lord’s Will?  
The answer to that question is above my pay grade.

However, here are some verses that may help shed light on the issue.

[1 Thessalonians 5:16-19]
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

[Colossians 1:9-12]
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way, bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

My Grandmother Knew

She knew that she didn’t know. She didn’t know what the future held, but she had faith that God would be there with her.

– Make the most of God’s blessings.

She didn’t know when it was going to rain. But, she appreciated the blessing and was prepared when it came. She worked with what the Lord provided and was able to draw it in for weeks afterwards.

– Don’t take blessings for granted.

She literally knew not to count her chickens before they hatched. Every egg that a hen lays doesn’t become a chicken.   Some eggs don’t hatch, some start to hatch and don’t make it out, and even some chicks that hatch don’t survive.  Don’t take things for granted.

–  You have a role to play.

My grandmother had a green thumb.  She planted things and they grew.  Yet, I believe she always kept in mind that no matter how well she planted a seed and watered it, it was God’s job to make it grow.  But, she recognized that she had a role to play.

I hope you got as much out of this as I got writing it. That is…..Lord willing.

JET

And__oh

Written by: Ms. O

“And oh, I’m running to Your arms…I’m running to Your arms…The riches of Your love…Will always be enough…Nothing compares to Your embrace…Light of the world forever reigns.”

I simply love that song. It sings to my soul and gives me a picture that is so vividly real. Perhaps it is the vision of running to…and not from…that speaks to a part of me that I have always been fearful of.

pic 1

I think about when I was young…and so “in loathe” with myself. I ran from my own image. Sadly…I still do. Mirrors have never been my friend. Perhaps there was a time that I would gaze at myself with hope…and self-satisfaction…but I don’t remember. I ran away from looking….catching a glimpse of what I did not like. I have become adept at getting ready without a mirror…it is easier that way…so I don’t have to “look”…really look…at…me. I…run…away. It keeps me from remembering how dissatisfied I am…which I know is hurtful to God…since He created me…but it is something I am still working on.

pic 2

I ran from the home I grew up…way too early…into a marriage that should have waited for a few more years. I did not care that I did not have a college degree…or plans for a vocation…all I thought was….get me out of here. What “here” was did not matter…it was not what I wanted at the time. So off I ran…a young 18 year old girl…with really no future to run to…just a past that I wanted to leave behind.

pic 4        pic 3

As my kids grew older…the realization set in…they were growing up…and away…from me. I did not like to think about it…what it meant to me to be…an “inactive mom”…a mom “from a distance”. I spent a majority of my time running from that fact….by over doing it…trying to be whatever they needed me to be…and I wonder if that was a good thing. Something I will have to ask them…one day…when I am ready.

I have never really figured out what I am supposed to do…with  my life. Perhaps it it because I have run so much…so fast…that I have lost my vision of who I am. Or worse than that…Whose I am.

It is when I hear the words to that song, I am reminded that there is “something”….. “Someone”…in front of me…with open arms…waiting for me to notice Him…and make that move towards…..Him. As I sing that song, I can truly picture myself RUNNING into His arms…seeking shelter…acceptance…truth…and the ability to live fully and abundantly.

It reminds me of those “welcome home videos” that you see…where the person goes running full steam into the arms of the one they have missed…without hesitation…without reserve….without looking behind them.

That will be my focus now…not what I am running from..but more like what I am running to…My Father…My Savior…My Heart.

“The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” Proverbs 18:10

pic 5

It is time for me to RUN to the Lord…into His arms…knowing He is simply…waiting…for….me.  Ready or not…oh wait…You are always ready…it’s me that is not…here I come…Amen…

Ms. O