For the Soul: I Married McGyver

Do you remember the guy from the 80s who could fix anything with…well…anything? His knowledge of physics and chemistry  paired with unconventional thinking always got him out of whatever corner he was backed into…as long as he had his Swiss army knife. My husband doesn’t own a Swiss army knife, but he does own several rolls of duct tape. With duct tape in hand my mild mannered minister man suddenly becomes McGyver. (The 1980s one…the humble one. Not a fan of these remakes!)
“Honey! Where is the duct tape?” 
Those words honestly used to make me cringe…but with good reason. 
Back when my husband was a bachelor waiting for me to graduate from college so we could marry, he furnished his home with what he could afford. He bought a couch, end tables, and a coffee table from I don’t know where. The couch was decent enough to begin with. The end tables and coffee tables looked to be matching gigantic spools with a Formica top. At the time I knew this would more than likely be our first home and I must confess I had a secret agenda to rid ourselves of those coffee tables as soon as I could! 
The couch was under my radar…until I came to visit and was greeted with duct tape cushions. The seams had begun to split and he did what he could to make repairs on his own. It may not have been as bad if it had been one of the new pretty patterned kind instead of the old silver standby….okay…yes. It would still have been as bad. 
As horrified as I was it was my first lesson in duct tape 101:
Duct Tape will hold anythingtogether. 
Motherhood has taught me another lesson:  
Things are going to break. 
We have gone through countless ounces of wood glue, super glue, and hot glue and innumerable rolls of scotch tape, packaging tape, and…you guessed it…duct tape. Papers are torn, glass is shattered, and knick-knacks get knocked. Sometimes those things are fixable…sometimes not. Many objects in our home are sentimentally special to me….our wedding cake topper…an original painting created for us as a wedding gift…a music box I had when I was little…they are more than objects to me. They are moments in time, memories I desire to hold on to. Yet, I have learned not to be quite so heartbroken when something comes crashing down because they are things
 I’ll admit it is not easy to hold my temper when the girls break something, but the consequences of treasuring my trinkets over my children are dire. They may be punished if their disobedience caused the calamity, but I make sure they know their punishment is for the disobedience, not breaking something. I never want my precious daughters to feel I have treasured objects over them.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21

Rocking Ordinary: A Launch Team Preview

Ordinary…it’s the way most of us feel most of the time. Running through the day’s tasks whether they be housework or number crunching, diaper changing or paper grading, we struggle to feel successful at the little things, let alone dream we could possibly be making any kind of eternal impact. Sometimes we need a friend, someone to walk alongside us and help us realize we are not alone and we are indeed making a difference.

So where do we begin? 
How do we make any kind of first step towards something different? 
How doe we become more than ordinary?

If you study the Bible you begin to see a pattern. When God chose someone to do great things, they didn’t start out as anything except ordinary. It was an ordinary woman living as a prostitute who acted out her glimmer of faith in order to preserve the spies sent into Jericho. An ordinary little boy, born from a barren womb, became the priest who led Israel back to worshiping the One True God. The ordinary youngest brother, a shepherd boy, became the most famous king of Israel. An ordinary girl from an ordinary town, became the girl, the one chosen to carry God’s plan for salvation in her womb.

I wonder, on the day before they heard the voice of God calling, did they question their ordinary existence? Did they feel inadequate or unable? We don’t read about most of those day-before moments, but I have a very real suspicion that they existed because as Ecclesiastes says, there is nothing new under the sun. Our emotions are not new or exclusive to our generation. It may feel that way at times, even to the point that we may feel alone on our journey. Then someone comes alongside us and we see we aren’t alone.

Rocking Ordinary, the new book from Lea Ann Garfias, is one of the best books I’ve ever read to encourage women along their journey no matter what path they are traveling. It’s tough out there in the world. Everything we do is critiqued and criticized either directly or indirectly through social media and blogs. We beat ourselves up over perceived inadequacies and then we turn on those around us with judgement. With each page you will feel as if Lea Ann is that friend you’ve always longed for with wise, gentle answers you know you can trust. Her fun personality shines through in every word. 

If you have ever desired to be more than ordinary, this book is for you. As you read, you will discover within these pages that you already are.

Grace-Filled Encouragement: I Willn’t!

A few years ago my three-year-old liked to talk as if she was 25. She did her best to mimic and emulate our speech. Some of her phrases were just plain funny and many of them took us a while to decipher their meaning.

At one point she used the contraction willn’t. In reality it’s much more logical than the correct contraction, won’t. Think about that. Why do we change the phrase will not to won’t. The letters o and n do not appear in the word will. I wonder who came up with that? Logical or not, won’t is indeed correct.

I find myself questioning God’s logic sometimes. It just doesn’t make sense. I return over and over to 1 Corinthians 1:21-25 and 1 Corinthians 3:18-20 which explain the problem of our logic versus God’s.

One of my favorite singers is Michael Card. The song below is one of my favorites. Praise God for His wisdom, foolish as it may seem to mankind.

Seems I’ve imagined Him all of my life

As the wisest of all of mankind

But if God’s Holy wisdom is foolish to man

He must have seemed out of His mind

Even His family said He was mad

And the priest said a demon’s to blame

But, God in the form of this angry young man

Could not have seemed perfectly sane

We in our foolishness thought we were wise

He played the fool and He opened our eyes

We in our weakness believed we were strong

He became helpless to show we were wrong

So we follow God’s own Fool

For only the foolish can tell

Believe the unbelievable, come be a fool as well

So come lose your life for a carpenter’s son

For a madman who died for a dream

And You’ll have the faith His first followers had

And you’ll feel the weight of the beam

So surrender the hunger to say you must know

Find the courage to say I believe

For the power of paradox opens your eyes

And blinds those who say they can see

So we follow God’s own Fool

For only the foolish can tell

Believe the unbelievable, come be a fool as well

By: Michael Card

For the Soul: I’m tired…

There you go…I said it. I’m really, really tired. I have all sorts of wonderful lovely ideas of what to write about floating around my muddled brain and all I can get out when I start is, well, the truth. A week ago my girls came down with a wicked fever caused by a mean old virus. For a full week I’ve been checking temperatures nearly every hour, praying for their healing as I watched the numbers slowly creeping up. It was a little scary at times because their fevers went high, like crazy high. You know it’s been a high fever when you see 102 and breathe a sigh of relief.

As soon as the pediatrician gave me her most likely guess as to the name of this virus I did what every good modern mother does…Hello Google! In my research here is what I found…

1.  It is highly contagious in the right environment, but not too dangerous in areas kept consistently clean.
2. You are sick before you know you are sick and symptoms don’t show themselves for several days.
3. There are no long-term affects from the virus itself.
4. The symptoms mimic other ailments and it sometimes goes diagnosed.
5. There is no treatment for the virus, only symptom management.

Someone once pointed out to me that sickness in the body is a reflection of what sin does to our souls. She was not implying illnesses are always born out of sin, but that the parallels are great. I put her theory to the test and here is what I concluded.

1. When we are consistently in the right environments and keeping our home environment spiritually healthy, we are less susceptible to sin. If we get out of the habit of weekly fellowship with other believers or if our eyes are consistently viewing material which glorifies ungodliness, we’re more likely to ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I strive to keep our home environment as germ-free as possible. Am I striving equally to encourage godly thoughts and actions?

2. Satan is sneaky, crafty, wily. He likes to take us off guard and slowly wear down out faith-armor. I don’t even realize it most of the time. The temptations come in such sneaky ways I sometimes neglect to realize what they really are. Emotions and energy level are big ways I’m attacked. He tempts me to give into feelings of discontentment and convinces me I have every right to skip out on my morning time with God because I’m just so tired. Guess what? No matter how crafty, wily, and sneaky he gets, I’m still the one responsible for the choices I make, not Satan. I am accountable even though it may take days for me to realize I’ve fallen prey to these temptations.

3. Temptation is not going to cause long-term issues. However, giving into temptation certainly will. The more I give in, the harder it is to resist. We are given the promise that if we resist the devil he will flee from us (James 4:7), but I forget that one a lot.

4. I don’t always recognize my failings as what they are: plain and simple disobedience. All 10 Commandments boil down to relationship with God and mankind. Selflessness is the key to obedience and boy am I guilty of the opposite, selfishness! Yet, I don’t recognize it as such. I try to convince myself my actions are justified, but eventually I come to understand I have sinned and must ask forgiveness.

5. Praise God there is indeed treatment for our sinful hearts! Forgiveness and salvation are offered freely to those who seek Him. Although the illness my girls suffered through for a week had to be waited out to run its course, the same cannot be said of a sinful heart.

If you have never asked Christ to cleanse you of your sin and become your Savior, it is very simple and He is waiting to do so! The steps are simple. First, recognize and admit you are a sinner in need of a Savior (Romans 3:23) Next, believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God and came to rescue the word from their sins. (John 3:16) Finally, confess Christ as your Savior. (Romans 10:9) The simplicity of the gospel is clear, yet we make it so much harder than it needs to be.

If you are already a Christ-follower, but find yourself falling prey to Satan’s temptations, Christ is faithful to forgive us when we ask! (1 John 1:9) Praise God for His never-ending mercies which are new every morning because I know I need them every day.