Personality. My daughter has it. In fact, she has so much personality she has little time for things like cleaning her room on her own. Personality people love group activities and let’s face it: cleaning your own room isn’t a group activity. Greta loves to help in groups and will be the first to volunteer and she’s great at cheering on the team. That’s why we love personality people.
But her room is still a mess and the boys don’t wan to make it a group activity that Greta will love and help their little sister out. So we bribe them. Matthew is paid to work in the room for a while. Greta is thrilled to have company on doing a chore and the room gets cleaned. We gloss over the arguments and chalk them up to simple sibling rivalry.
The next morning, Greta came out with a huge smile and one of her recently rediscovered treasures, found deep in the recesses of her previously hideous closet. It was an envelope full of homemade cards from the kids at her school – from when she was in the hospital. She came out waving the envelope and shouting to the world:
See mommy, people do love and care about me.
Of course I responded that I never had any doubt and smiled, and tried not to cry, as Greta read card after homemade card from different schoolmates expressing that she get well soon and how much they loved and missed her. It’s been two years since our lives changed and ADEM came to our home, but those words of love and encouragement still found loving reception in Greta’s heart, and mine.
I told my class at church – I wish everyone could go clean their closet and find an envelope full of the love and encouragement folks have given them when they went through a difficult time – and remember that people still love and care about them. Go ahead, right now. Go clean out the closet of your memories. Don’t dwell on the obstacles and hurts. Remember the love and support of those who stood by you and perhaps even carried you through that time. Like Greta, hold those precious memories high and say to yourself that it’s true! People still love and care about me!
In the past two months, I have attended two funerals at the same church, with the same nice funeral home folks from down the street and the same congregation and community. But the funerals were vastly different.
Same church, same desire to love God and serve Him with their whole life, but the two men who passed away had one major difference. One led with truth and the other led with grace. The Bible has a lot to say about truth and grace. The truth will set you free. Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds. In John’s gospel account, he says we were able to catch a glimpse of the glory of God in Jesus – full of grace and truth.
After spending time devouring God’s Word, it seems that we need both truth and grace in our lives. From reading at the beginning of all things, in the book of Revelation, to the beginning of our little part of it on Planet Earth, in the book of Genesis; the truth is that we screwed up. We disobeyed God and brought much suffering upon ourselves and a curse upon humanity. But Jesus led with grace. He already had a plan in place to save us.
Two funerals. Two different men. The man who led with truth, had a few people say some nice things about what he had done to serve others. Those attending the funeral were scattered around the largely empty church. The man who led with grace? His funeral was packed with standing room only, even in the balcony. So many people shared stories amongst themselves about the impact this man had made in their life. Relationships were healed that day as folks saw a living demonstration of grace and healing.
Two men, two funerals, two outcomes. Lesson learned: we make a better impact for God when we lead with grace.
I’m really enjoying the Creation Health classes I go to every Thursday. Our topic today was rest, emphasizing mental and spiritual rest as well as the expected physical rest. Did you know that losing 3 hours of sleep a night can cut your immune system in half? Adequate rest is so vital to our health.
When it came to spiritual rest, the Creation Health plan describes it this way: spiritual rest is being at peace with God. We were asked to say what that meant to us. My mom, also in the class with me said it best.
If you’re not at peace with God, then you are at war.
Where are you at in your spiritual rest? Are you at peace with God? Or are you at war?
Where were you when..?
For each generation this question has a different face, but it all represents the same thing: innocence lost. For my grandparents, they remembered where they were when they heard about Pear Harbor. My mom remembers where she was when it was announced that President Kennedy had been assassinated. For my generation, the question is about September 11th, 2001 and the four planes that changed our world.
My youngest son is in elementary school and their memories are so different. A fellow student one year older only has the memories of what her mom has related to her. She can’t remember her infancy. Matthew was still in the womb. He was born into a different world than the one he was conceived in. I can’t seem to put it into words how much has changed since that day. The kids have grown up thinking this is life. But we know it used to be different.
I suppose each generation has mourned what their kids will never know. You might think of it as a chipping away of our innocence. Generally, it is portrayed that each generation gets its own statue of innocence that gets a little knocked off over time and events. I don’t think that’s true. I think we all have the same statue of innocence and too much has been chipped off lately.
I would fear that my grandchildren would have nothing left. I would fear that this world will be its own demise and take me with it, except for one thing I know.
I’ve read the end of the book. God comes back, kills the dragon, gets the girl and we all get to go home. As my children and someday in the far off future, grandchildren, see innocence chipped away, I’ll remind them of the one thing that changes everything.
I will freely admit that my ongoing battle with Crohn’s Disease is wearing on me, but something amazing happened today. I woke up with a song in my mind. “How can I keep from singing Your praise!” A great song by Chris Tomlin.
I settled in for my morning worship time and read part of Psalm 119 an identified with David as he cried out to God to deliver him from the evil that surrounded him. I prayed again that God would be in charge of my battle with Crohn’s and that He would give me peace.
As I often do, I put on some uplifting music while I started on waffles and home made strawberry sauce for breakfast. Karl came out to the kitchen and wondered why I was playing an old CD. Evidently the box that arrived yesterday was the new CD by Steve Green that he ordered for me, but I had mistaken it for something else. He opened it up and got it going in my CD player. One of the songs? “How can I keep from singing Your praise.” It gets even better. The lyrics were meant for me.
I will lift my eyes
In the darkest night
For I know my Savior lives
And I will walk with You
Knowing You’ll see me through
And sing the songs You give
This was no coincidence. This was God’s signature on my day, giving me peace in this battle – a peace that only God can give.
It has been a long project and it still isn’t “done.” My husband got the garden boxes built for Mother’s Day, but we had to wait until today to get great soil from an heirloom gardening place in town. It is rich, dark and looks like it can grow anything. For people like me, we need all the help we can get.
Everyone in the family has work or gardening gloves except for me. Karl asked me again this afternoon, are you sure you don’t want some gloves? I assured him that I would be fine. I don’t mind getting my fingers dirty. I know how to use a nail brush, soap and running water. I’ve never seen “in the bag at the store” potting soil that looked anything like what we got today. It is so beautiful and it felt wonderful to work that soil with my hands.
The children had helped in various stages of the project. Michael, Matthew and Greta have helped build boxes, seal boxes, water seedlings, pick out starter plants, shovel the special soil and maybe a few other things. But I’m the one that took the plants out of the starter pots and placed them in their new homes, working that rich soil. We’ve all had contact with it and hopefully that will make the taste of the fresh produce that much better. I’m looking forward to tomatoes that have taste and strawberries that smell good, look good and taste good!
I’m praying for God to bless our gardening efforts. We need it. I’ve failed many times before. We keep trying to improve, like getting good soil and using starter plants instead of trying to grow from seeds. I’ve already been blessed, getting a connection with the soil that will provide the environment that will grow plants that will feed my family. What a process. What a gift that God has given us – to be connected to the world He placed us in. Resting in all of God’s goodness and what He had provided was our first duty and gardening was our first job.
Shoes aren’t bad. But for some reason, God asks folks to take their shoes off because they are on holy ground, in His presence. There’s some rich symbolism going on here to be further explored at a later time, but the point is: it’s not an everyday thing to stand in the presence of God.
My oldest has been reading from a book called Steps to Christ, and he has been sharing his thoughts with me. It seems he came to understand judging one another in a new light. When we look at others, the only standard we should ever compare them to is God. When we compare others to our own standards (think your personal preferences and how you interpret rules and regulations) then we are doing a dangerous thing. We are putting ourselves in the place of God. The Bible calls that blasphemy and it isn’t taken lightly. Michael went on and talked about the fact that when we compare others to God, but we tear them apart and try to point out all their faults, again, we are in trying to stand in the place of God.
Moses trembled and took off his shoes. Isaiah, Daniel and many others fell down unable to move when seeing a vision of God. And we try to stand in His place? We wouldn’t last a moment in His presence on our feet, chin up in the air. We would be instantly humbled at His majesty and glory. Yet we dare to judge others and try to stand in His place?
Thanks for sharing Michael. Thanks for the reminder that we must all be careful where we stand.