Category Archives: Children

Unfortunate misconceptions…

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In usual fashion, this post is quite long…ramblings of a sort. I’m honored if you make it to the end. Words fill my heart and head. And when they start to flow, I don’t want to hold them back. I hope each of my words touch your heart and leave you with love and compassion in a cruel world.
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Misconception

In light of the recent tragedy in Orlando, Florida, I’ve heard of and witnessed many stories filled with or fueled by hate. I’ve also heard many stories of the outpouring of love and support for the families of the victims involved in the senseless murders of 49 people and the many others injured, forever scarred by evil desires. It’s a mixed up world we are in and unfortunately, in a time when we should all come together in support of one another, we remain divided, allowing anger to fester between us. These are my own thoughts. Feel free to comment with your thoughts as well, but leave hate out of it. There’s no room for anymore hate. Comments filled with hate, from any point of view, will be deleted.

Misconception – a view or opinion that is incorrect because it is based on faulty thinking or understanding.

Religion – “the belief in a god or group of gods; an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or group of gods; an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group.

Tragedy – “an event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress, such as a serious accident, crime, or natural catastrophe.”

On September 11, 2001, thousands of people breathed their last breath. A country was impacted by the tragedy of violence, hate, and murder. A country mourned. The world mourned. We still mourn.

December 14th, 2012, in the peaceful town of Newtown, Connecticut, a young man walked into an elementary school and murdered 20 children and 6 adults. The children were 6 and 7 years old…still babies, learning to read and write, to dance, to share with one another, to walk in a line, to whisper, to live, to love. Their lives were invaluable to those who loved them but to that one young man, their lives were meaningless.

June 17th, 2015, in a small South Carolina church, a group prayed together. They welcomed a troubled young man into the church and prayed with him just before he took their lives. A tragedy of violence, hate, and murder.

On June 12th, 2016, at a night club in Florida, men and women danced, laughed, sang, and breathed their final breaths as a gunman ripped their lives away. A moment of terror left 49 dead and many others injured. Hundreds of lives, forever changed, by violence, hate, and murder.

It’s been said that many of these tragedies are done “in the name of religion.”

This is true. Many acts of hate and evil have been done “in the name of religion.” What this means is people, filled with hate towards a select group of men, women, or children, committed acts of horror, terror, violence, and murder and claimed to do so based their belief that in doing so, they would be fulfilling the desires of their god. When this happens, the unfortunate misconception is that religion is to blame. We lump all religions, every group of people who gather to worship a higher power, into one category. We label religion as evil. But that’s where we are wrong.

When religion is based strictly on a set of rules or laws that one believes must be met in order to receive salvation, that opens the door for competition, jealousy, anger, rage, and hate. It creates a need to “one-up.” It puts people in a position of attempting to attain the impossible … perfection. When religion is based solely on the grace and mercy of one man, sent from the Creator of the earth, we are humbled people, learning to extend compassion and forgiveness, understanding we are no better than any other, knowing we are all broken people in need. This removes ourselves from being the source of our own salvation and places that salvation in the wounded hands of the only Savior.

Not one of those lives stolen deserved to die that way. Not one. Not the youngest of the children at Sandy Hook, not the heroes who rushed into falling buildings to save the lives of others, not one man or woman based on their sexuality, their feelings, their desires, period. Not even the men who began their lives as one tiny heartbeat, 10 little toes and fingers, a light, soft swoop of hair on their head, raised and taught to hate to the point they would brutally torture and rape women, or sacrifice their own lives to selfishly and hatefully take the life another, in the name of religion. Not one of them should have died. Not one.

Let’s get something straight…

Religion did not carry a gun into the the flashing lights and crowded dance floors of a night club in Florida and the gun did not walk in there on its own. A man chose to allow anger and hate to fill his heart. He chose to carry guns inside a night club filled with people. He chose to murder many innocent men and women and forever change the lives of many others. A broken man. A man with empty places filled by hate. Religion is not to blame. Evil is. Religion did not fly a plane into the World Trade Center with the intent to kill thousands. Broken men did. Religion did not walk into a church, sit among a group of people as they prayed what would be their final prayers, and then rob them of another breath. A broken man did. Religion did not enter an elementary school, open fire on a terrified, helpless, innocent group of 6 and 7 year olds, and destroy the lives of many. A broken man did.

We are all broken. Hear me, we are ALL broken.

As broken people, we need each other. We need love, support, encouragement, hope, peace, faith. Each of us is designed to grieve, to mourn, to desire fulfillment, closeness, relationships, and more. But in a broken world, we are left empty in many of the places we need, so deeply, to be filled.

For some, those places are filled through work, friends, activities, addictions, religion, etc. Others find themselves filled through what most would call religion, but what I will call a relationship and faith. Faith in something better. Faith in a loving God. Faith in a God who became flesh to teach us, guide us, and love us. Faith in a grander place and a grand design. Faith in humanity. Hope.

A successful relationship comes from knowing someone. You learn about their character. You grow to understand them. Through prayer, through reading Scripture, I’ve been able to understand more about the God I believe created the world. I have learned He is a God of love, not hate. He is a just God, who will punish evil, but at the same time, reminds me to live with peace and unity among all, including those who have different beliefs, make different choices, live different lives, and even with my enemies. He instructs me to pray for my enemy, those who hurt and betray me. Praying for those who hurt me does not wipe away the hurt, the wounds are not forgotten, and the pain is not removed, but the hate that could fill my heart is replaced by forgiveness, love, and hope. What could make me bitter, angry, and hate-filled, instead, allows me to look for the good, to appreciate the blessings, to love the unlovable. Religion is much more than a set of rules. It’s a relationship with the One who gave me life, and gave His own, in order that I may truly live. Without a relationship, without that appreciation, without the mercy and grace given as a gift, we have nothing.

Marriage does not work without communication.
Parenting without nurture wounds a child.
Religion without Christ, the giver of grace and mercy, is empty.

Perhaps we need to create some sort of substantial separation between what we define as religion and Faith. I’m not even sure that works because there are peaceful, loving Muslims. There are peaceful, loving, Buddhist. There are peaceful loving people in all sorts of “religions”. And there are broken people in them, just the same.

As a Christian, I believe we all need…we all need a savior and I believe the source of salvation is not in acts of goodness, service, kindness or in acts of control, hate, or murder. I believe our salvation is based solely on the grace and mercy of a loving God by His own flesh, Jesus Christ.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10

Are bad things done in the name of religion? Yes.
Does that make religion bad? No.

But these words in my Bible, that I believe are breathed straight from God through man, serve as instruction and guidance for my life. They very clearly say that I am not saved by acts of kindness, service, or a good heart, nor am I saved by acts of evil, hate, or murder. I am saved by the acts of one sinless man, the very God I believe in, the one who created everything out of nothing, the one who fills darkness with light, the one who walked on earth in the form of flesh to experience the very same feelings and emotions we experience, in order to draw us closer to Him, to show He fully understands, to set an example before us of how to extend hope, love, and compassion to those around us, who created us with the purpose of doing good. Acts do not make me a Christian and believing in God does not make me good. I am a sinner. I have made bad choices. I have hurt people. Being a Christian, a believer in Christ, a follower of Christ, makes me a person who can freely admit that I have dished out my own fair share of wrongs and had wrongs done to me but am saved by the grace and mercy of one God, who took on the sins of the world through flesh, with the purpose that I will do good in His name. That in the name of God, because I have faith, I will love. I will show compassion. I will try to understand others. I will accept as they are, just as He has accepted me. I will pray for peace.

Do I profess to fully understand all of that? Nope.
Can I explain it without any doubt so that anyone else will also believe? Nope.
Do I have faith anyway? Yes.

There are a lot of “religious” people who spew hate and disgust at people who are different from them.  There are a lot of non-religious people who hate the religious bigots. That means there is a lot of hate going around. I don’t understand why this happens and I can’t explain the hate some are filled with.

Unresolved anger?
Fear?

Maybe there are no answers or maybe there are hundreds of answers.

What I do know is that we are designed with a desire and need to be with one another, to love one another, to support, encourage, and care for one another. From the moment a child is conceived, she has a need. She needs nourishment from her mothers body to enable her to grow inside her mothers womb. She needs comfort and protection as her organs form and she prepares to breath her first breath. And in that moment, the moment she takes her first breath, she needs love, comfort, and nourishment. Without those things, she will die. We are created to need one another.

While some people frown upon the word sin, one fact is, sin separates us. No matter what you believe or don’t believe, as a human being, you are not exempt from the effects of sin (or the wrong/bad choices people make). As a Christian, I believe sin separates us from God. I believe in a good God who can take no part in the evilness of sin, who mourns and grieves with us because of the evil in our broken world, but who promises us a place of peace and hope, to fill the emptiness left by the sinful acts committed by us or against us. As a person, who walks in the flesh, I believe sin separates us from each other. It doesn’t matter what religion you are or if you believe in anything, you are still subject to the effects of sin. Gossip destroys relationships, reputations, and lives. Infidelity puts walls between couples and robs them of the trust in their partner. Jealousy leads to dissatisfaction and a lack of thankfulness in the blessings of the meaningful things in our lives. Rape takes the innocence of an act designed to be pleasurable, fulfilling, intimate, and turns it into something horrific, a brutal, damaging form or torture that follows one throughout their life. Murder not only destroys the lives of many, but it robs the murdered of another moment, another breath, another chance to extend hope and love. It is an irreversible choice.

Sin, evil thoughts or acts, crimes of rape, murder, jealousy, infidelity, and so on, create in us a cold, dead heart. Not in the physical sense, but by us placing the value of a thing above the value of a person, in pursuing our own desires before those of another, in forcing things upon another against their will, in stealing ones innocence, in destroying the lives of others. It takes the love and warmth that was meant for us and replaces it with hate, anger, rage.

Religion did not destroy the lives of more than a hundred people at the Orlando shooting. Hate did.

While some claim hate in the name of religion, what people need to understand is, you cannot lump all those who have faith in a higher power under one title. Religion is not the source hate anymore than a tree is the source of money. An individual persons choices and actions are the source of and result of hate. Hate comes from many different people, religions, cultures, groups, beliefs, and so on. Hate can be found in a classroom, in a church, in a store, on a baseball field, in a group of friends, in a marriage, on a highway, or anywhere and in anyone’s heart.

So can love. It’s our choice what we fill our hearts with.

Religion – “the belief in a god or group of gods; an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or group of gods; an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group.

Can religion be the source of hate? Yes.
Does that mean religion is evil or hate-filled? No.

There are many peaceful, loving, caring Muslims who believe their God is a God of peace. There are many Christians who pray daily for peace, grasping for bits of hope for a better tomorrow, believing in a loving God.

And then there are those who have their own motives, fueled by their brokenness, filled with hate.

I can only speak from the Christian perspective because it’s what I know.

Do religious people hurt people? Yes.
Do non-religious people hurt people? Yes.
Do Christians hurt people? Yes.
Do non-Christians hurt people? Yes.

Does the Bible speak of hate, murder, sexual immorality, punishment, war, and many other horrors? Yes. Does that make it hard to comprehend? Yes. Have countless people asked, “How can a loving God allow so much hurt and pain?” Of course. Is it possible for that to create doubt in a loving God? Yes.

Here’s the thing…doubt comes from a lack of understanding. I can say that because I’ve been there. For most of my life, I’ve doubted that I was worthy of the love of a good and loving God. I also spent many years believing He was punishing me for being a bad person. I lived in fear, doubt, hopelessness. I wanted to believe in a good and loving God but I couldn’t imagine one who would accept me.

Broken people need.

They need healing.
They need hope.
We are ALL broken.

At some point, in my own life, I knew I couldn’t make it on my own. I was in a place of desperation. The only choice I felt I had was to depend on a God I couldn’t see, one I feared hated me, one I was certain would never accept me, but one I placed my faith in anyway. It was a choice. I don’t take pride in any of the choices I have made but I am thankful for the direction my life took that led to the choice I made that sunny September morning in 2005. What I’ve learned is the God I believe in truly is a loving God. He chooses broken people. We are broken, created with many needs, leaving us each with empty places, that I believe, only He can fill. He uses broken people. He uses them for good…not evil.

So when someone commits a horrible crime, destroy lives, robbing them of a future, of hope, and they do so in the name of religion, we need to understand there is a difference in them, their beliefs, and mine. Religion is not hate. Religion is a group of people, worshiping a God they believe in, because it is important to them. That does not mean religion can be defined as hate.

Are there some religious people filled with hate? Yes.
Are there many other religious people filled with love? Yes.

Please don’t put us all in the same category based on misunderstanding of religion or the differences in religions.

Personally, I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe in forgiveness. I believe in hope. I believe that someday, there will be no more pain, tears, suffering. I believe because it’s what I need. It’s what works for me. I have lived through many tragedies of my own. I have lived a very broken life, with many hurts, many moments of darkness, and many thoughts of escaping this cruel world. I have questioned the God I believe in. There are things I will never understand.

I have sat alone in a cold, empty room, having had everything even down to my underwear stripped away from me and in that darkest, loneliest moment, the comfort of God’s words were all I had.

“I will not die but live, and proclaim what the Lord has done.” Psalm 118:17

Those words were with me that night. Whether you believe in God or not, I believe those words came from Him, over 2,000 years ago, and in that moment, He used them to comfort me, to give me peace, to restore my faith and bring life back to my worn and tattered soul. He gave me hope that I could breathe another breath, that I could face another tomorrow, that somehow, someway, I could help another through the struggles of this life as well. I was not alone. Though physically, I had nothing but a hard cot, a scratchy blanket, and a set of paper scrubs, I was not alone and He provided exactly what I needed in that very moment. Those words were everything.

And still, I find myself asking at times…

Why does a mother have to say goodbye to her child before it can even take it’s first breath?
Why do people fulfill their own sick desires by violating innocent children?
Why does a man walk into a night club and murder many innocent, precious, people?
Why do we not value each and every life, breath or no breath?
Why does a child face starvation and desperation?
Why are people hated because of the color of their skin, their physical disabilities, or their sexuality?

What brings a person to the point that he or she sees no value in the life of another?

I could go on and on with the questions but there are no answers. The only answer that brings me peace is that the God I believe in is faithful and promises hope, love, and healing. He promises to never abandon, to provide strength in times of need, to hear our cries, to mourn with us.

There may be religious people who hate. But religion itself is not hate. Religion is a group of people in a shared group of beliefs in either a God, laws, rituals or whatever. But hate is what fills a person. Religion may teach works, hate, or murder. Religion may teach hope, faith and love. Each of those things are what a person is filled with and each of those people are given a choice in what they will be filled with. A man who chose to murder 49 innocent people in the name of religion chose to be filled with hate. A person professing to be a Christian, shouting hate-filled statements of disgust and anger towards a group of people based on their sexuality, makes the choice to hate. A person who denying the beliefs of any greater power or a different higher being and in turn mocks, condemns, or ridicules someone else because of their differences in beliefs, chooses hate.

Why? Why are we so afraid of people who are different from us? Why are we offended when someone chooses something we don’t agree with? Why do we feel our beliefs and desires have to be the beliefs and desires of everyone? Why, like God, do we not allow people to make their own choices, and extend encouragement, support, and love? Perhaps if the gunman in Florida had been nurtured and loved, raised to accept the differences in others, to embrace those differences, to love in spite of differences, maybe he would have chosen love instead of hate.

And as a Christian, I know there are many “Christians” who express disgust towards homosexuals, yet when one is found guilty of adultery, gossip, slander, stealing, or something else they deem those “sins” as inadequate compared to what they believe is the sin of a homosexual. What someone does in their bedroom is their business. It’s not mine. It’s not yours. It’s theirs. If you believe in God, then you also know that Scripture says…

“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19

Basically, it says butt out. Mind your own business.

While that may sound harsh, leave the judgment to the God you believe in. If you feel the need to do something or say something, follow God’s word and pray. Don’t pray to change someone who’s different from you. Genuinely pray for them, that whatever is best for them will be, that the God you hold so highly, wrap them in His loving embrace and comfort them in any times of trouble. Cry out to God with your frustrations, concerns and fears. When we fail to trust the very God we expect others to follow and trust, we are no example to them. If we believe, as we say we do, in a loving and just God, then we should show our trust in Him by leaving the judgment and correction to Him and extend to others the grace and mercy He has given us.

The greatest commands are to love God and love others. Before anything else, we love God and others. A friend said to me, “Does your Bible say homosexuality is wrong?” Yes, it does. It also says tattoos, gossip, infidelity, stealing, murder and more are wrong. And it says we are all broken. It says we are all in need of something to fill our empty places. And it says we all have choices on what those empty places will be filled with. And it says if we choose to let those empty places be filled with love, we are full-filling the greatest and only commands we need to follow. By loving God and loving others, everything falls into place as it should.

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:36-39

“Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:5-8

“Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Colossians 3:13

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. 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.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Romans 5:1-11

These are verses from my Bible. These are the commands of a loving, sovereign God.

Do bad things happen? Yes.
Does God punish people for the bad things they do? I believe He will.
Does He still mourn and grieve for those who turn from Him, those who do wrong, those who are hurt by the hands of another? I believe so.
Does He offer mercy, grace, and forgiveness? Yes.
Does He withhold that from anyone? No, it’s available to all.
Does He command us to do the same? Yes.

So while there are many things in Scripture that I may never understand, I do know God’s love is available to anyone. And I believe He loves everyone.

“… when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6

Christ died for the ungodly. Not the saints. Not the perfect people. Not the holier than thou. But for the broken, the needy, for all of us, not based on religion, sexuality, age, color, or name. We are all His creation. His desire is for not one person to be lost. But with that, He gives each of us the choice. He won’t force us to choose Him. We are free to make our own choices.

A religion may be a group of people who share a common belief, or even believe certain rituals or laws, but each individual is responsible for the choices they make. There are bad people and there are good people. There is sorrow and there is joy. There is pain and there is healing. What will you pour into others?

Many non-Christians or non-religious people say the Bible is filled with hate. I admit, there’s a lot in the Bible that makes very little sense to me, things I don’t think I’ll ever understand but as you really begin to understand the God of the Bible, you see, it’s His letter to us of guidance, hope, and love.

“We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.” 1 John 3:12

Cain was evil. He was affected by sin. Each of us are given a choice. We can allow sin to control us or we can take control of that sin. Cain allowed his anger, his jealousy, to enrage him to the point he murdered his own brother. His deeds were evil. Cain made a choice to commit an evil act.

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139:13-16

Each an every heart that ever beats is precious in God’s eyes. Every single one. And each and every person is given choices in life. The hate-filled men who murdered thousands of innocent people in the name of religion as they brought a country to her knees on a beautiful September morning…they were created, intricately, in the depths of a woman’s womb, fearfully and wonderfully made. And in a broken world, they had a need. They had an emptiness that only God should fill. Instead, the choices they made led those empty places to be filled with hate and evil. What should have been filled with peace, love and hope, was occupied by plans of devastation and murder, and done in the name of religion.

But religion did not cause the events of that September day. Broken people, who made hate-filled choices did.

Does God allow evil?

Each of those twenty precious babies from Sandy Hook Elementary had value. They had value to their parents, to their families, to their friends, and to a loving God. Did God want fear, suffering, and death for them? I don’t believe so.

I believe from the very beginning, from the moment God took the dust of the earth and formed it into a man, He had a plan. A grand, beautiful plan, but a plan we would play part in. He could have created us as robots that followed everything He desired but instead, He allowed us to make that choice for ourselves. Without a choice, there would really be no meaning or no purpose in our lives. With choices, we would learn to put others before ourselves, to love one another, to mourn with each other, to laugh and be joy-filled together, to pray together, to live together. And with that, we would learn differences, and with differences would come jealousy, anger, and hate. And we would have a choice. We could choose to look beyond those differences in acceptance and love, or we could choose to allow bitterness to take root and grow into a hate-filled heart.

If God is all-knowing and in control, how do our choices make a difference?

Because He is all-knowing, He knows our hearts. Our comprehension and understanding is inadequate compared to Him. After all, He created everything, with a single breath. Can you do that? His ways are beyond our understanding. But He is good. His purposes are good. His desire is for us to choose Him, to come to Him in our own free will…not forced, but to make a choice to serve Him, a good, loving God. Being in control means He is aware of the outcome and in the end, He wins. Evil cannot win. Evil does not get the final say. Hate does not win. Love does.

Some people bring up the Old Testament laws and use them against Christians today, calling us hypocrites. I understand that and honestly, there really are plenty of hypocrites in the church, and outside the church. I’ve been one myself. Again, we are all broken people. I’ve been a thief. I’ve been jealous. I’ve gossiped. And on, and on, and on. And I’ve loved. I’ve served. I’ve grieved. I’ve suffered. You name it, I’ve probably done it. I’m broken just like anyone else.

But I have something that the man who walked into a night club and took the lives of 49 innocent, precious, beautiful sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, did not have. I have faith in a good and loving God. My religion is not hate. My religion is Christianity. I am a believer in Jesus Christ. I believe in a God who became flesh as an example of how to forgive, to love, to care for others, to bring comfort, to serve, to live. I believe in a God who became flesh to show me that He understands the temptations and sufferings I would experience on this earth and that He alone can provide the strength and courage needed. I believe in a God who promises to be with me through every moment of joy and through every painful tragedy. I believe in a God who is not filled with hate or disgust for any person, because after all, He created each and every one of us, loving us from before our hearts even beat for the first time, with a grand plan that someday, we would join Him in a peaceful and perfect world, but only after He allowed us to choose that for ourselves.

Religion is not hate. God is not hate. Evil is hate.

“The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

People have a choice. Love or hate. Choose love. No matter what you believe, no matter what you’ve heard or what the media blows out of proportion. No matter the differences, no matter your location, no matter your history, no matter your future, choose love. Hate destroys what is meant to come together. Love brings unity and that is what God desires. We are “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” We are one nation. We are America. We are broken. We are all in need of something. Don’t let hate be what fills your empty places.

Let love win. Let love win. Let LOVE win!

 

 

Being made new…

MadeNew

First off, I want to give a big shout out to all the moms out there – new moms, old moms, want-to-be moms, stepmoms, adoptive moms, foster moms, fill-in moms, angel moms, and any other moms.  Praise God for giving you hearts filled with joy in the midst of trials, minds filled with strength and hope in the midst of chaos and panic, courage and faith in the midst of worry and fear.  Thank you for doing the best job you could do – a job only a mother can do!

Now that you’re feeling like you’ve accomplished something, many of you are really a mess, right?

You’re tired.
You’re worn.
You’re not just worn, you’re exhausted.
You’re overjoyed.
You’re emotional.
You’re desperate for a potty break alone.
You long for a phone call that doesn’t sound like an all call to the screams and cries of toddlers and teens.

You’re heart is full for your babies and children but is it full for you?  And I’m not just talking to the younger moms.  I’m talking to you older moms who’s kids are either soon to move into adulthood or perhaps already there.  Your hearts are full too.

Full of worry.
Full of questions.
Full of doubt.
Full of concern.
Full of hope for their future.
Full of love.

I’m figuring out, this being a mom thing brings on a whole world of emotions all on its own.  As if we women didn’t have enough emotions already?!  Thanks, Eve ;)

Listen up, moms.  Stop.  Right now.

Stop the worrying.

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?  Matthew 6:27

Think back to when you were younger.  Did YOU make any dumb decisions?  Do YOU make any bad choices?  I doubt anyone can answer that truthfully with a, “No!”  Did you learn from your mistakes?  Did you grow through them?

So will your kids!

The message I want to share with you today is to stop worrying and simply love them, unconditionally.  Support them.  Encourage them.  Believe them and believe in them.  Talk to them and listen to them.  Share your faults and failures and let them know that we are all human.  Tell them it’s okay to make mistakes.  Remind them that you will love them no matter what.  Let them know that God will love them because He wants to, not because of their good deeds or perfections.  Teach them that’s no excuse for sin, but to seek God in their sin, to turn to Him in the midst of their failures, in the middles of their storms, to seek Him with all their hearts.

And, if they aren’t there yet, be patient.  How patient has God been with you?  Don’t judge them or turn away from them.  Love them.  Pray for them.  Let them know that a mother’s love is only second best to God’s love.  Prove to them that you are their biggest fan, that you will love and protect them at any cost but also let them know that God is first in your life.  Lead by example.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

And moms, you’re going to fail.

You’re not always going to make the right choice or the best decisions, either.  And just as you’re patient with your children, God is patient with you.  He understands we make messes and He’s ready to help clean them up.  Let Him.

Stop trying to write their story.  Give the pen back to God.  He’s writing your story and theirs.  Let Him work in their lives and instead of trying to write their story, simply be a part of it…a good part, the part God intended for you to be.  He intended for you to shower them with love and praise, to encourage them, to protect them, to support them, to believe them, to love them.  Do your part and leave the rest to God.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  Ecclesiastes 3:11

You are being made new and so are they.  Every day is another part of the story.  Every triumph and trial is another part of the story.  Let Him be your author and theirs.  It won’t always be easy but it will be worth it!

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Hand in hand…

HandinHand

The moment she came into the world, there was a look upon his face.

Love.

Joy.

Pride.

You could see it in his eyes.  He would never be the same.

Today, she is three and three quarters.  For almost four years, she has had his heart. 

As the other woman, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

For years, I longed to see this side of him.  With our two boys, he’s been firm and rightly so.  It’s rules and sticking to them.  It’s simply less tender.  I ached to see this gentle side, one I had seen in other dads with little girls but one I had never experienced because my own father left before I was born.

She giggles.  He grins.

She tickles.  He jumps.

She dances.  He holds her hand.

She sings.  He’s her biggest fan.

She talks.  He listens.

She snuggles.  His arms embrace her.

She is safe.  She is loved.  She is his little girl.  It’s an amazing sight to see.  It melts my heart over and over again.

They have taught me so much about my own life and my walk with the Lord. 

You see, as he walks hand in hand with her, I realize, God has held my hand many times.  He has walked with me through fires.  He has been there to pick me up.  He’s wiped away my tears.  He’s carried me through the darkness.  He has given me life.

Every time I watch them walk side by side, hand in hand…
When I see him smiling down at her…
When she looks at him with awe…
When he holds her in his arms…
As he protects her and loves her…

It serves as a reminder that everything I’ll ever need in a father is right here waiting for me to reach out and grasp.  He will never let me go.

Colton Dixon “Never Gone”

Jesus never ever left you
Never ever left you, no.
He sees us, even in the darkness
Now you know you’re not alone.

I’m still standing here
No I didn’t disappear
Now the lights are on
See I was never gone
I let go of your hand
To help you understand
With you all along
Oh, I was never gone

 

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The reality of choices…

GoodChoiceBadChoice

Of the three little people who call me mom, the oldest and I tend to butt heads sometimes most of the time.  We always have.  That’s probably because we’re pretty much made from the same mold – too much alike.

Lately, I’ve been trying to think things through a little better, really think about what I’m going to say and how to handle situations with him and the other two little snuggle buddies that have free rent here.

Well … that’s not working out so great.

I harp and preach to the three about choices and yet I fail to listen to myself.

Thing is, maybe I feel I’m exempt?  Perhaps I think because I’m the parent, I have a right to my feelings or can justify my actions?  Why wouldn’t they have that same right?  Because I’m the parent?

My point is, we all have choices, yep, even me.  Well, this isn’t quite going the way I intended it to – I really thought I’d blog about how I’m wisely teaching the boy to be aware of his choices and how to make the right choice.  Hmm…

Instead, I’m learning, even through this blog post that we ALL have choices.

Proverbs 3:5-6  Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

When I react towards them, their mistakes, their whines, their annoying kid moments, out of anger, I’ve made a choice.  I’ve chosen to put aside a loving mother reaction and instead, chosen to allow the stresses of life to get in the way of a proper response.

I’ve been trying to encourage my kids to make good choices and to understand that bad choices have consequences but what kind of example am I setting for them when I make bad choices with how I respond to them.

So today, I walk away realizing that if I want to teach them, I can’t just preach it, I have to live it.  I have to learn to control my own responses and make good choices with my reactions and responses.

Do you struggle with this?  Have you found something that helped or worked for you?  Please share :)

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Phantom Verses (Part 2)

This is part two in this series.  You can view part one here.

“This too shall pass.”

“God helps those who help themselves.”

“To thine ownself be true.”

“Money is the root of all evil.”

“Spare the rod, spoil the child.”

You’ve heard these verses, right?  You’ve probably heard these many times and perhaps you’ve even said them yourself a time or two.  Can you reference them in the Bible?

While they may sound good and come with good intentions, the problem is these are either not in the Bible at all or key words are missing, changing the actual meaning.  They are not actual scriptures.

“Money is the root of all evil.”

Before you argue with me that this is an actual verse in the Bible, reread it…

“Money is the root of all evil.”

Now, read this… 

1 Timothy 6:10
10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 

“For the LOVE of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”

There is a very clear difference from the actual verse and the often misquoted one.  Money, the physical having of riches or wealth is not evil.  Many wealthy people do wonderful things to help others with their money.  They make donations, they share, they help others, they make wise investments and plan for their futures, etc.  There are endless possibilities with our money and ways to use it.  Money itself is not wrong or evil.  The love of money, the obsession or worship of money, is where the problem lies.  When we hold onto money, when we put it’s value before the value of others, before our love for God, before our concern for each other, we fall into a very dangerous place.

Even a lack of money can become evil when we obsess over it and become jealous of what others have.  We need to remember that we all have our blessings and we all have our struggles.  Just because someone else has a big house doesn’t make everything in their world perfect.  And to the opposite, just because someone may have a small house, doesn’t make their world any less beautiful.  Learning to be content with whatever we have in life is where we will find true happiness.

When we allow money and greed to take over our lives, to control us, then we succumb to its evil. 

“Spare the rod, spoil the child.”

And this one, is probably the most disturbing and most misconstrued.  

Proverbs 13:24
24 Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
    but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.

This verse is not a permission slip to beat our children.  Sure, as parents, we are entrusted to teach and grow our children into responsible, caring, compassionate, strong, loving adults.  Contrary to some peoples beliefs, this can be done without physical violence.  Each child is different.  We should get to know our children and figure out how we can communicate and teach them best.

The NIV Life Application Study Bible says “Without correction, children grow up with no clear understanding of right and wrong and with little direction to their lives.  Don’t be afraid to discipline your children.  It is an act of love.  Remember, however, that your efforts cannot make your children wise;  they can only encourage your children to seek God’s wisdom above all else!” 

The author of a popular Christian parenting book would have us believe this verse is instruction that spanking is the ONLY way to discipline our children.  He also says we should spank them often and repeatedly until they become “sweet”.  I won’t go any further into his ridiculous discipline suggestions, nor will I ever recommend his book.  Unfortunately, there are many churches and parents who have bought into his very questionable techniques or as some reviewers say, “suggestions of abuse”.

I am certainly not here to tell anyone how to parent their child and I do wholeheartedly believe that each child responds in their own way.  Having three children of my own, I can clearly see how some things work with one child that may not work with another.  While I have popped my children before, it’s certainly not something I am proud of or would encourage any other parent to partake in.  

Ephesians 5:4
4 Parents, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Mark 10:14 (an example of Jesus’ love for the children)
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  

Colossians 3:21
21 Parents, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

Matthew 18:6
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Children are trusting by nature.  They trust the adults in their lives to take care of them, to love them, to keep them safe.  When we fail to control ourselves and in turn bring pain and suffering to the children, that trust is shaken.  God holds us accountable for how our actions affect their ability to trust.  Jesus warned that anyone who turns little children away from faith will receive severe punishment.

Jesus showed instruction, acceptance and love to those he encountered.  We can learn ways to guide and teach our children without crippling their spirits or shattering their trust.  After all, don’t we want what is best for them?  Don’t we want them to know they are loved?  Twisting God’s word to justify hitting them won’t grow their trust, but it just might fuel their anger and make parenting even harder!

© The Imperfect Princess at theimperfectprincess.com

Lack of Understanding…

This week in Melissa Taylor’s Online Bible Study, from the book, Greater, written by pastor Steven Furtick,  one of the choices of topic to write about was…

1.  For the Good. What are your thoughts on this week’s reflection verse?

And 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 NIV84

Initially, I avoided blogging for this week.  I just couldn’t bring myself to take the time to sit down and write out my thoughts.  My emotions and feelings have been a tangled mess.

27 innocent lives lost.
A 9 year old boy dead after a house fire.

It’s been daunting but I know the feelings I’ve had are nothing compared to the families of those in Connecticut or the mother of that little boy.

I’ve read and read again Romans 8:28 and it’s times like these that make that verse less understandable.

It’s God’s purpose for twenty young children to die?
It’s God’s will for a little boy to suffer?

I’ve watched interviews with some of the parents from Sandy Hook.  They have faith in God.  They believe in Him.  They rest assured their babies are with Him now.

They love God.

“In all things God works for the good of THOSE WHO LOVE HIM”

They LOVE HIM and yet they are left to suffer, tremendous pain, anguish, devastation.

And because I too, love Him, I search and dig, for a deeper understanding because my simple mind just cannot understand this verse when it comes to the tragedies and horror we face.

Then I read…

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  Proverbs 3:5 


God gave us this verse because He knew we would not be able to understand.  His plan, His purpose is far grander than anything we could ever comprehend.  There is no explanation we could come up with to explain the good in any tragedy, especially when innocent children are involved.  

And yet…

We will see the good.  
We are already seeing it.

The parents are speaking out.  They are sharing how perfect their children were and how strong they were.  They are sharing their lives.  Without this, I would never have known of them.  I have had the privilege to learn about 27 people, their courage, their strength, their hopes and dreams.  I have seen their faces, prayed for them and poured out tears for their families.  My life has been changed because of them.  Maybe yours has too?!

And this boy, who went to school with my son, who got lost in the dark, overcome by the fire and perished too soon.  He leaves behind a sister, devastated that she couldn’t save her brother.  He leaves behind a mother, distraught that he’s gone.  He leaves a testimony of happiness, smiles, love and laughter.  I did not know him but all I have heard about him was what a joy he was and how he brightened everyone’s day.  What a blessing to hear his story, to learn about him and to give him a place in my heart.

Just as I can’t understand the reasons why these things happen, there were many things in my own life that left me with these same feelings.  Why was I abused?  Why did my father abandon me?  Why did I spend years filled with anger and depression, just waiting to die?  Why does God love me?  Why would He want to use me?  What good am I?

Even after spending most of my life asking those questions over and over, God has shown me time and time again that His plan is perfect.  Many times I planned my life, I chose my direction and yet, He continued to put stepping stones in my path that led me to a better place, a place filled with joy and light, a way out of the darkness.  Sure, there is still pain and a lack of understanding, but there is also faith, hope and love. 

“To shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”  Luke 1:79

I’m not meant to understand all the things of this earth but it is in Gods plan for me to accept Him, believe in Him and have faith.  I will continue to believe that there is a greater plan than the pain and heartache we see right now.  I have to.  

And that leaves me with…

“…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

Not even senseless shootings, fires or our own simple minds and lack of understanding.



© The Imperfect Princess at theimperfectprincess.com