Navigating the Un-Fight

I’m in one heck of a crazy year, season…life.  Between my daughter flipping her truck and breaking her neck and spine in January, turning 18 in February and graduating in May, my son announcing plans of relocating to another state, my husband getting a new job (which he doesn’t enjoy) that is causing him to travel more and more (which came close to destroying our marriage last time) and seeing my original littles at the elementary school move on to middle school, I am an emotional wreck.  Did I mention PTSD and menopause? The Lord seems to have me at the end of my rope.

And although I KNOW the lesson.  I just can’t seem to LEARN the lesson.

I will spare you the gory details and cut to the chase, the fight, the plan.  Apparently, it looks more like the sit, the stand, and the wait.   SERIOUSLY, GOD?!?   I’m a mom and a wife.  We don’t wait around for things to happen.  We forcast, plan, and schedule.  Ever see what happens when someone hurts one of our little darlings?  We come out SWINGING.  We protect, we hold vigils, and we are in motion.    We sport wonder woman bracelets, ready to ward off all that would threaten our worlds.  We love our accessories.

My scripture message from the Lord this morning was in 2 Chronicles 20.   Jehoshaphat was completely overwhelmed. He told the Lord that he and the Israelites were powerless against the great horde coming against them and they didn’t know what to do, but…get this… “Our eyes are on You.”   Just then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Zechariah’s son and gave the people this message:  DON’T BE AFRAID OR DISMAYED AT THIS GREAT HORDE, FOR THE BATTLE IS GOD’S, NOT YOURS.  TOMORROW, GO DOWN AGAINST THEM.  YOU WILL NOT NEED TO FIGHT THIS BATTLE. STAND FIRM. HOLD YOUR POSITION, AND SEE THE SALVATION OF THE LORD ON YOUR BEHALF.

He repeats that they need to go out against the great horde and that He, the LORD will be with them.   In the end, they believed, and sang and praised as they marched in, and as they sang, the Lord set ambushes, and their enemies destroyed themselves!   Israel ended up getting a ton of great stuff; too much to carry.  And in the very end, verse 30, it says the kingdom of  Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God gave him rest on all sides.

I don’t know about you, but my heart needs peace, and the hope of rest on all sides? Yes, Father, please… I don’t know the elements of the great horde you may be facing.  But we all face them sooner or later, and God promises to fight the battle for us.  Would you pray for me in this Un-Fight?    Because it is the toughest fight of my life.

It apparently goes like this:  Believe.  Enter in. Worship. Praise. Stand Still.

How To Handle Snakes

Ever read the account of God responding to Isreal’s sin by sending fiery serpents into their midst?  I did just a few weeks ago in KIDS Church.  It’s in Numbers 21…go ahead and read it. I’ll wait…

I told of snakes in the camp, people dying, and growing desperate enough to finally remember God. I told how Moses went to God on their behalf, and how God didn’t remove the snakes.  The point of this post isn’t the actual story.  It’s about one five-year-old who made this statement:

“Yeah, I wish we could go to the New Testament and read the good stories”

He’s five, I get it, but aren’t we all guilty of only wanting the warm fuzzy stories sometimes?  You know, the times when Jesus is so overwhelmingly beautiful and gracious?  When we see God’s pledges of faithfulness?

When it comes to our children we run an inherent risk of only including the “good” stories.  But when we do this, it is only half of the picture. Those somewhat uncomfortable stories show us the holiness of God.  God, whose ways are so much higher than ours.  They leave us unable to wrap Him up and put Him in a box.  Not everything can be explained away when it comes to Him.  He is a holy God and not to be trifled with.   If we aren’t comfortable with the mysteries of such a God, then we certainly can’t help our kids get there!

Of course, there is a balance.  God may not have removed the snakes, but He did provide His way, the only way of healing for those who believed…sound familiar?   God doesn’t always respond to our cries for help by removing the snakes.  But He always, always, always does what is GOOD for us. And that is not only the point of this post, but the point of the lesson I taught that Sunday.  The KIDS Church kids listed some snakes they wish God would get rid of in their lives.  Some were as simple as bad guys, and bedwetting.  Some were a bit heavier and all are the subject of my prayers for them.  The Word tells us that God is ALWAYS faithful, Jesus is ALWAYS overwhelmingly beautiful and gracious, and there’s only One to whom we  look  for healing.  And it’s all GOOD.

How do you work out the mystery of a loving Father who doesn’t always remove the snakes from your camp?

Hebrews 4:15-16

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in our time of need.”

In the past whenever I used to read or hear this verse, it always brought me comfort, but the depth of it never really struck me so much as it did the other night. After a long day of toddler parenting and cleaning I was at my breaking point. I was just annoyed with everyone and everything. I was so thankful when bedtime came, yet I felt this overwhelming feeling of guilt over my attitude. It is in times like these that I wonder why I can’t ‘tap into’ that strength Paul talks about during his weakness. What does it really mean to have God’s strength? I have been reading through the book of Hebrews recently and just came to this verse. It was like an answer to my inner longing for a reminder that God will truly help in these times.

I always saw “sympathizing with our weaknesses” in light of his suffering, pain, and death. But his weaknesses stretched far deeper than what happened at Calvary. He was in all ways human just as we are. He faced hunger, loss, sadness, disappointments, etc., and I cannot help but think that there were times that he felt annoyed or overwhelmed. He understands where I am at in my emotional spectrum and, here’s the kicker, while he did face all those emotions he never sinned. What strikes me the most is what follows that truth. The writer is not saying, “This is what he did so you have to do it.” He is not placing an unattainable demand on our lives, but he is offering an encouragement for the difficult times. God knows you and I are not perfect, and for that reason we look to Jesus for the hope and strength that will carry us through. He makes it possible for us to come BOLDLY to the Father — not shrinking back in our guilt, imperfections, or weaknesses. We are to come BOLDLY to the throne of grace. Did you catch that? Throne of grace, not judgement — grace that we may find help in our time of need.

I hope this strikes a chord of encouragement in your life as well. Parenting is hard. Being a parent is hard. But you are not alone, and neither am I. We have help and the ability to come with boldness, no matter how ‘bad’ or ‘off-base’ we feel we are, to the throne of grace. And that is an incredible thing!


It’s not about the Show

It’s not about the Show

In this article Phil Vischer reflects on what changed his life as a child. You might know I have a deep appreciation for Phil Vischer and I would love to tell you why, but it is too long for a brief post. Much bigger than my appreciation for the work Phil has done with children’s ministry is my gratefulness to work at a church, and have my children growing in a church that encompasses this very articles theme.

Phil writes, “As I look back, I realize none of the things that actually changed my life at my church cost anything at all. They required no money. No resources. No fancy buildings, fancy equipment, or fancy intentions. They simply required people showing up and being the body of Christ. Loving on a young boy with a limp.”

I am not trying to be prideful or even say our church has it all together because the reality is that no church does. BUT I can say with all boldness that each program and event we set into place we fill with volunteers who truly love God and out of that love, love your children. I see such importance in creating environments where kids feel loved, known, and taught the truth of Christ. So please read his reflections because they are much more eloquent than if I were to continue to ramble, and just know it is not about the money, or the ‘funnest’ events it is about the relationships. And I challenge you to reflect on your own spiritual growth and think about the ‘who’s’ and the ‘what’s’  that shaped it. I bet you will find more people than programs.

For more from Phil check out a previous post Teaching a False Gospel


New Year, Old Me

Yep…another blog about resolutions. You see, I get a double whammy every year. My birthday just happens to be December 31st, and when it rolls around I’ve spent a perfect calendar year doing, well,… what have I been doing?
The older I get I, like most, tend to look back at my failings in order to choose a resolution for the new year. I, like most, wonder if I’m wasting time; if I’ve mattered, if I’m making a difference, If it’s too late to make a difference. What-ifs like to visit as we age, and they ride in on the wings of giant moths. Moths–be they drab or beautiful,  hang out in the darker areas of our lives to find the perfect place for egg laying. They serve a purpose just as in nature, and interestingly enough, it’s those baby moths that leave the holes in our cherished things…

I need a flyswatter.

Last Sunday, we merged our Sunday school classes because of low numbers. It was great, and I was richly blessed. However, when being told, I exhibited absolutely no grace or even kindness on my face. Burnt into my brain is an incessant need for things to stay consistent. It’s from the ongoing trauma I endured as a kid. I don’t process change well or quickly. I need time to realize I’m safe, the world is ok, nothing is falling apart. My struggle is real, but it’s ugly. Worse yet, it is sinful. This moth has larvae all over my (spiritual) house.
For the first time in years, 2016 gave me full-time employment and I have discovered what it’s like to want to slap the person who says they spend tons of time in the WORD, or prayer, or exercising, or reading, or keeping their house clean. I feel okay telling you this because I used to be the person saying such things. Along with the extra work hours, have come its extra fruit…weight gain, laziness, messiness, and fleshiness… GO ME.
Don’t get me wrong. 2016 also brought much healing and blessing. God is so Faithful! After all, he’s the one who ordained the circumstances that help me identify my mothy places. And as Old Me stands at the beginning of my New Year once again, He gives me perspective. I have a choice. I can worry about my temporal things getting holey, or my heart getting HOLY.  My new resolutions really add up to one thing. When this single thing is my goal, the things of earth truly will grow strangely dim.

And, my beloved friend, so will yours:

2017 Resolutions
Be less self-centered + Manage time better + Eating Better (feel better) + Patience +     More time in prayer + Exercise (increase beauty) +
Loving more intentionally + Being more grateful +
Focusing on obedience to God + Serving better
Learning to trust Him with my fear +
Controlling my tongue + Killing pride
= Knowing HIM better

Rend your heart, not your garments. Return to the Lord your God. For He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents over disaster.   Joel 2

My Story ~ Paula

My story is one of those ugly-beautiful stories, and in HIS love, this is only a part.         Click the link to read how God reached down and held me.  (Grab some kleenex)

Grace Was A Boy That Asked