Guess Who

Yesterday I had the opportunity to observe a rather comical game of “Guess Who?”

 

My 7-year-old was trying to play with my 2-year-old. My 7-year-old son actually did a good job of teaching as they played, but his sister…well, she’s still only 2. My daughter happily sat across from the table, interacting, answering questions, asking questions, and even putting players down.

 

If you were not paying close attention, you would have thought she knew what she was doing. My son asked her, “Is yours a boy?”

 

And she said, “Yes.” But in reality, her person was a girl.  So now my son was playing the game with all the wrong player up to choose from. Eventually he realized what happened, and said she cheated. 

 

Well… yes… she told you the wrong information, but in reality… she probably didn’t actually understand the question, how to answer it, or even how to play… She really needed someone next to her helping her… but she’s two… she can do it on her own… well at least she thinks so.

guess who

I bet you can probably relate to a similar scenario. Maybe you were thrown into a role, job, or task you wanted to do but really had no idea how to do it. So, you just did the best, took instruction even though you didn’t really understand what that meant.

 

I know I can relate.

 

I have felt like this during every new season of my life. Marriage… I had no idea how to be a godly wife. Motherhood… I had no idea how to be a good mom. Homemaker… I had no idea how to keep a home, cook, or clean.

 

To be honest, I grew up hearing this message, “You can be anything you want to be.”

 

I knew what I wanted to be, I wanted to be a mom. But people would tell me I could be so much more. Well-meaning people would tell me I could be the president one day if I wanted to. I got this subtle message that being a mom wasn’t important. Your career was more important.

For whatever reason, being a wife, mom, and homemaker were completely under-valued jobs that you didn’t need training for. So I paid very little attention to anything that had to do with fulfilling those roles.

 

To be a teacher, I needed to go through four years of college. To be a doctor, you need much more schooling. Heck, just about any job requires some schooling or training.  Yet, to be a mom, you need to have a kid. Zero qualification. Zero training. But perhaps, the biggest thing you will ever do with your life.

 

I’ve heard people say that schools need to have “Life Skills Class” which includes cooking, cleaning, budgeting, and the like. That class would have greatly benefited me when I became an independent adult as I didn’t know how to do any of that.

 

However, today as I hear people begging for these classes, I wonder- why don’t you just teach your kids these skills yourself?

 

Model it. Teach it. Live it. Have your kids do it alongside of you.

 

Remember that your attitude towards it matters. Treat these skills like they are important, necessary, and helpful. Make sure your kids know that you want them to do it too.

 

Yes, they will never hold a class called, “How to be a Godly Wife,” but that doesn’t mean you cannot teach that to your daughters. It starts when they are little. Model it. When they get older, teach them to happily serve along-side of you. Advice: Don’t treat cooking and cleaning as chores or your children will also see them as such.  Chores imply you have to do it, serving shows you get to do it for your family. As they get older, share with them the blessings of the role they have. Teach them to pray. Teach them to go to the Lord in prayer before throwing around harsh words. Teach them to resolve conflicts peacefully. Teach them to put effort into their relationships. Teach them that marriage matters. Teach them that marriage takes three, and that a healthy marriage is a good thing to desire.

 

There also will never be a class called, “How to be a Godly Mom.” But once again we can model that. We can let our daughters see how much we rely on God. We can pray. We can serve. And when we mess up, we will ask for forgiveness. We can model love and show that our job is to teach them. Teach them to be independent. Teach them to fly. Show unconditional love. Show stability. Show Safety. Give them room to grow while nourishing their needs.

 

The big roles in life often appear undervalued in our culture, but that does not mean they are invaluable, especially in God’s eyes.  “Children are a heritage from the Lord… Blessed is the man whose quiver is full.” Seriously, there is no greater joy than to see your children walking with the Lord.

 

Our primary job as parents is to lead our children to a relationship with their Savior! Keep that in the forefront of your mind. We have no idea where this life will lead our children, but we do know one day they will die and meet our Heavenly Father. I want that meeting to be joyous reunion where they hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” So, I will do my best to point my kids to God in every situation possible.

 

Some of you have godly women walking alongside of you pointing you towards Christ in every situation- Praise God for that! Some of you do not. But regardless of the situation, God is on your side. God will lead you, guide you, convict you when your wrong, and walk alongside of you every step of the way if you will let Him. You just have to trust Him with your kids.

 

As much as you love your kid, God loves them more! Weird thought… I know. But our love is flawed. Our love tends to be selfish. God’s love is never-ending, always and forever.

 

Some of you may have been thrown into the roles of wife, mother, and homemaker completely unequipped.  But let’s not let that cycle continue. Let’s teach them the value of their role. The joy that comes from fulfilling them. And do all things to the glory of God! 

Distracted From the Beauty

My family and I recently went on a road trip for vacation. Our plans concerning vacation changed at least three times. So finally, my husband and I decided to just head to our “Bucket-list” spots. Near the top of that list was Niagara Falls.

We started heading north Sunday after church. Along the way we stopped at some of Lake Erie’s beaches. The lake was so massive! It was beautiful! And the water was freezing! Well not literally, it was probably more like the temperature of a glass of ice water.

We could see for miles. We saw lighthouses, boats, and a lot of seagulls. It was fun to soak it in, skip rocks on the beach, and watch my kids stick their feet in the extremely cold waters.

Then we were off to (in my mind) the main event- Niagara Falls.

We arrived at Niagara Falls, New York and went to Niagara Falls State Park. It was nicely laid out. Off to the side we could see the mist of the falls, so we headed that way.

It was huge! And the waters were rushing so fast! As I stood by the waters I actually felt as if I were moving! It was quite impressive.

But something was just off. 

There were so many people standing around. Many of them trying to snap a selfie with this natural beauty. It was hard to find a spot for my family of eight on the rail next to this massive beautiful waterfall.

For whatever reason, I didn’t really get to soak in the beauty. To the right I could see another waterfall, so the family and I headed that way.

This one we were able to admire, get pictures of, and watch a little bit more.  

On the way out of the park we stopped at a trail that went behind the falls and saw the rushing river and some smaller waterfalls. Sadly, here is where I first said, “Wow, this is beautiful.”

Later my husband and I reflected on the visit.

At Lake Erie, we had the opportunity to just sit back and enjoy God’s beautiful handiwork. But at Niagara, we saw a lot of tourists. We saw a lot of man-made things around the falls. We saw a lot of ways for people to make money on the tourists. But we didn’t really get to just sit back and think, “Wow, God you did that.”

We were distracted. Distracted by the large crowds that barely left room for my family to stand on the rails next to the enormous waterfall. Distracted by the buildings. Distracted by the signs and paths pointing in other directions.   Distracted by the options of things to purchase. 

My goal was to soak in a natural wonder of the world, but I was distracted. Distracted by people who had the same agenda as me (other tourist). Distracted by people trying to help me enjoy the experience more (tourist attractions and such). 

Distracted by people on a similar path. Distracted by things intended to help you… (or take your money.)

distracted from the beautyg

You know it’s not all that hard to become distracted. Distracted by the world. Distracted by people. Distracted by doing the right thing… distracted by church…

Hear me out- church is a good thing. Church, religion, and traditions are designed to help us grow in our walk. But sometimes we depend on them to be our “God-time.” Sometimes we make these things the main event. Sometimes we get caught up in the actions and forget who we are serving.

I think it’s easy to fall into this trap of being distracted by doing things for God and His kingdom. 

We see this list of things we should do: go to church on Sunday, volunteer, donate, give, and be a good person. 

Go to church on Sundays. I can do that.

Donate to that church food drive, mission support, clothing drive, or whatever else may come. Can and will do. 

Volunteer at church. Hey, I can do that too!

But then we get comfortable… Comfortable serving in our spots. Comfortable singing certain songs during different seasons in the church. Comfortable doing just enough to get by. 

Before we know it, we’ve lost sight of the natural beauty that’s part of being a member of the church.

So now on Sundays, you put  on some nice clothes, smile, and do your part. Then we do our best throughout the week to be a good person.

But here’s a harsh reality- being a good person will not get you into Heaven. The only way into Heaven is through Jesus. 

We have to commit to those not so easy things too…

So what’s not so easy?

Maintaining a relationship with Jesus. Regularly reading your Bible. Spending time in prayer.  Seeking God’s will. And obeying that will. Personal growth- it takes time and effort.

Going to church, donating, volunteering, and the like are very good things. But they are meant to be from an overflow of your heart. Not the main event. 

Sometimes, doing church stuff becomes a distraction rather than a natural beauty.

Sometimes serving and going to church seem more like an obligation than a joy. 

I heard a pastor once say, “Church should be the dessert to the rest of your week, not the main course.” 

When I first heard this six years ago, this was eye opening. I have seven days in a week. Seven days for personal reading, reflecting, prayer, and time with God. I go to church once a week. I should be getting solid food all week. Sunday should be the icing on the cake. 

Let me ask you a hard question. Is church your dessert or main course? How is your relationship with God between Sundays?

If your answer is not one you want to admit, rest assured that’s ok. God still is persuing a realtionship with you! Start where you are. Ask the Holy Spirit to come along side of you and lead you. 

But please, make the effort to get solid food all week long. Don’t let “being a good person” be distractions from the beauty in what God is doing all around you. 

When you arrive at church on Sunday, your service, your donations, your worship, all of it, should be an overflow from your whole week. 

Don’t allow yourself to be distracted from the main event- Jesus! Come and worship just as you are! Allow all your actions to be an overflow of your heart. 

 

God, you are good! The whole earth is full of your majesty. The mountains and seas proclaim your goodness!  Thank you for your goodness. Thank you for loving me, leading me, and teaching me. Lord, please forgive me for the times I allow myself to be distracted. Guard my heart. Protect my mind. Let everything I say and do point to you. Thank you for blessing me! Help me to never forget and avoid the traps of distraction. In Jesus name, I pray. 

“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.”

Proverbs 21:2

New Dog-New Life

Our family has recently added a new member. He has brown hair, four legs, and a tail. We call our new puppy Samson.

Samson is a ten-month old American Bulldog (mix). He’s a good pup and learning our way of life rather quickly.

But there are some things, you can tell, he just hasn’t been taught. Like how to walk on a leash. Or not bark at every animal in the backyard.

Sometimes I wonder how his old life must have been. Was he in his kennel most of the day?

Where did that scar come from? Why does he insist on eating out of the trash can and knocking it over? Did they actually feed him while they ate? (Because he seems to think we should.) Was he happy?

But none of that really matters now. He has a new life. A new home. A new family.

His name has been changed. The old is gone and the new is here.

new life new dog

You know why the old life doesn’t matter? Because we will teach him how to behave. How to NOT beg for food. How to walk on a leash. We will correct him when he barks at random things.

We will teach him, and he will learn.

Think about it, this is us with God.

Just like Samson, I had a life before I really began walking with God. I learned habits of the world. I lived for myself and did not learn any differently.

Then, when I was at my lowest, I looked up and embraced the love of my Heavenly Father. I got a new life with God.

My life began to change. (And sometimes while I was kicking a screaming, telling God I don’t want to.)

I didn’t know how to walk with God. But He already knew that. I didn’t know how to trust anyone but myself.

He knew He would have to teach me.

Teach me to learn more about Him by reading my Bible.

Teach me to recognize His prompting by putting people in my path to teach me.

Teach me how to let go.

Convict me. Change me. Teach me. Lead me. Show me the way.

Once I accepted the free gift of His son and began walking with Christ, I could not stay the same. I now have the Holy Spirit, that is a LIFE CHANGER!

Much like my dog cannot keep eating out of the trash can, I cannot keep going back to my bad habits that lead me away from Christ.

My husband and I will teach and mold our dog; but each one of us gets God, himself- in the form of the Holy Spirit, to mold us.

The Holy Spirit will lead us, guide us, convict us, change us, and put people and things in our paths to help our will align with God’s will.

It is our job to be teachable. Be moldable. Recognize that we are the clay, and He is the potter.

He is the tree; we are the branches. Apart from Him we can do nothing.

Once we start walking with Christ, our lives cannot be the same. God hates sin. Slowly he will start pruning you, revealing your sin, and helping you overcome it.

Be teachable. Be moldable. Live your new life in peace with God by your side.

 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

2 Corinthians 5:17

Thoughts for My Daughter

While cleaning out the basement, I came across an old photo of my siblings and me. (I was like five-years-old.) I awed over it. Then my oldest came over and looked at it. “Mom, that looks like my sister!” He exclaimed.

I’ve always thought my daughter slightly resembled my sister. But most of my kids look like their daddy, and I just know I’m in there somewhere. So, I asked him, “Which one looks like her?”  He pointed to the five-year-old me.

“I guess she does look a little bit like me, huh?” I responded. He immediately rushed upstairs to tell his sister the news.

My daughter, she was proud to look like her momma! She suddenly started pointing out all the ways she is like me.

It honestly was quite sweet that my little girl wants to be like her momma and is proud to look like her.

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But my dear daughter, I want so much more for you.

I am a flawed human. I have daily struggles I hope you never know about. I have insecurities that I hope never enter your mind. I pray that you can resemble the good qualities I have, but that those not-so-great realities do not hinder you.

While I love that you want to be like your momma. I want you to set that bar even higher. Don’t be like me. Be better than me. Be the best you that you can be. The world doesn’t need another Renee. The world needs more people to share the love of Jesus. Be like Jesus.

Watch everyone around you- your dad, your siblings, your grandparents, your Sunday school teacher, our friends. See how they strive to imitate Christ. Watch how they love; how they love you and those around them. Help those in need. Share kind words. Be open about your shortcomings. Pray continually. Learn. Grow. Walk in the Spirit. Be obedient to the Spirit.

The world is full of sin and pain. Don’t overlook that. It’s a reality. I pray you learn to discern the truth from the enemy’s schemes early in life. I pray that you learn to have a real and meaningful relationship with God at a young age!

Let your light shine!  I love that you are not afraid to be you. You see a beam; you must walk across it (no matter how high). In a room full of people that you don’t know, you volunteer to lead prayer. When someone needs help, you stop to help. When you are unhappy, you’re not afraid to voice that too.

You are an absolutely beautiful child of God! Keep growing towards Him!

No Show

It’s six in the morning. I’m working. And I am sitting in my classroom waiting on a student to show up to class.

As many of you know I teach for VIPKID. It’s honestly the best job for me. I teach kids in China, from home, during hours my kids are asleep. I have a little classroom set up in my basement with a bunch of props and teaching goodies. I get my “teacher fix” while being able to stay home with my kids. Honestly, the hardest part of the job is waking up.

But here I am “working” and literally quite bored. I am 10 minutes into a class that the student is not showing up for.

I see my props laying off to the side and wonder if I should just put them away. I wonder if I should just set up for the next class.

Is she really not going to show? Or is she just running really late? Did she forget?  Is she having problems with her internet connection?

All of these thoughts have run through my head and left. At least it’s better than trial classes. When I have a trial class, I know it’s a 50/50 chance the child will not show up for the class.

I wonder… what does God think when we don’t show up for our time with him?

no show

Personally, I like to schedule alone time with God in the mornings. Before I started this job, I woke up, read my Bible, prayed, mediated, reflected, and just enjoyed time with God.

Then I started this job and it threw a monkey wrench in my God time. There was no way I could commit to waking up at 3:30 in the morning.

I had to realize that while spending time with God first thing in the morning is awesome, it doesn’t have to be the very first thing. As my friend Krystal said in her vlog- “There’s nothing more holy about those hours.”

What was important was that I still planned time with Him. 

Let me just say- I love my husband very much, but if I never spent any time with him, our relationship would suffer.  Some days are just so busy that we don’t see each other most of the day. But when we do see each other, we make it meaningful. We put down our phones, games, work, and whatever else we are doing and talk.

Some days this time is in the morning before he goes to work. Some days this is in the evenings when he gets home from work. Some days it’s a phone call because we know it’s just not going to line up. But we make an effort. We communicate. We don’t let a day go by that we do not show each other we love each other.

Our relationship with God is no different. If you want your relationship to thrive, you must invest. You must show your love by showing up when you commit to showing up. Some days are a little more hectic than others, find time. We, as humans, have a time management problem. But guess what- God always shows up. We need to do the same.

I already know what you are thinking- I just don’t have the time. But you do. You have 24 hours in a day. You just choose to use your time differently. Put down that game on your phone. Limit your time scrolling through social media. Turn off that rerun on the television. There is something that you do throughout the day that is a waste of time- and I guarantee you know what it is.

Most Christians I know struggle with finding time to spend with God. But we fail to recognize that all the time we have is His time. He is just waiting for you to see that. 

I want to encourage you- you are not alone. Our culture says stay busy. (It’s a tactic of our enemy.) But God says, “Be still and know that I am God.”

There is nothing wrong with having work, hobbies, friends, family, and things that occupy your time. But make sure they are not the priority of your time.

Anything that takes away from your relationship with God is a god.

So make an appointment with God. EVERYDAY!

And keep it!

 

Forgotten Love

Last week I had the privilege of watching my last 3rd grade class graduate 8th grade. This class has a very special place in my heart. As the ceremony continued and the speakers spoke of each child, I was reminded just how much I loved them. Memories from five years ago began flooding my mind as I imagined those kids, five year younger, sitting in their desks asking a million questions.

I honestly forgot how much I loved those kids!

For one school year, I poured into them. I taught them the 3rd grade curriculum- reading, grammar, writing, how to multiply, and so on… But it was so much more than that. I helped them with their problems. I helped them communicate issues. I was there to give a hug and smile when I knew they had a bad morning. I stayed up late at night wondering how to reach them. I called them “my kids,” and I loved them just like one of my own.

Then they went to fourth grade, and I chose to stay at home with my kids. Life went on. I am part of a chapter of their lives, just like they are part of a chapter of mine.

But I am so glad I was reminded just how much I love them!

forgotten love

I know this may sound a little silly- but how great is it that our God does not forget how much He loves us! He’s not just there for a season. He’s here for an eternity!

He formed us in our mother’s womb. He knows the number of hairs on your head. He knows the plans He has for you. But because He loves you so much, He will not force them on you. He lets you choose.

The love of our Heavenly Father blows my mind sometimes. I love my kids… But I have a really hard time watching them make a mistake…Like it’s so hard to not correct them… So hard to hold my tongue, and let them just figure it out on their own.

I can only imagine how God must feel as He watches as we wonder.

But oh, the joy He must feel when we make the choice to align our will with His will! Luke 15:10 tells us, “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

God’s love is beyond words… especially when I compare it to my human understanding of love.

God’s love is unwavering, unconditional, forever and always. The good shepherd. The good Father. Always there- now and forever.

We, too, are called to love. But NOT to love like the rest of the world. The rest of the world sees love a self-fulfilling. The rest of the world chases love like a game. The rest of the world needs relationships to define their purpose.
But what the rest of the world needs is God’s love. You don’t have to chase it; just accept it.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (1 John 4: 7-12)

We are on a journey in faith. A journey to grow in love and understanding of our heavenly Father’s love. A journey to share that love with all who have ears. It is quite the journey. But it is full of a never-ending, never-giving up, always and forever love.

I know I do not alway deserve that love. Praise God this is a gift freely given with no strings attached. Love from a Father who simply wants you to love Him back.

Thank you, God, for always loving me! Even when I do not deserve it. Thank you for teaching me the true meaning of the word love. Unconditional. Always. Forever. Help me to share that love with all around me.

“Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.”

Psalm 136:26

Freezer-Burned

Recently, someone who loves us very much cleaned out their freezer and gave us a bunch of food. So, I decided to make some of those goodies as a side with dinner tonight… only to find out that they were… well… freezer burned.

The sides I thought would go well with our dinner…went really well with the trash can. I had to call on backup of the canned goods and cottage cheese.

I’m not upset about it, but it really got my wheels turning.

They meant well.

They thought they were helping.

But really, it caused me to stumble in my meal planning process.

Has this ever happened to you- well meaning people actually cause you to stumble. Maybe you’re in a situation where you confide in someone and they give you some not so great advice? Maybe they even try to show they are right by adding some misinterpret scripture…Or maybe you’re not seeking advice, but someone insist that you are wrong and here’s their proof…  a quote from a random place in the Bible.

They may have had good intentions, but who’s will were they seeking?

freezer burned

I’ve been that well-intentioned friend. The one who gave the not so great advice with a little piece of scripture attached.

I can remember having a friend admit to me that she was suffering from depression. I told her, “I’ve been there. God helped me beat my mental battles. You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.” I meant well. I did. But was I really representing God or was I representing myself?

I told her that God did it for me. I quoted a good scripture. TO MY HURTING FRIEND.That wasn’t what my friend needed. She didn’t need me to quote scripture to her. She needed to know that she wasn’t alone, I understand, and I am here for her. But more importantly that God is there for her. God sees her. He knows her hurt, and He wants her to lean into Him. Cast your burden on the Lord because He cares for you. (That would have been much more appropriate and effective.)

I gave her freezer-burned food. I gave her something that seemed like a good idea, but really wasn’t consumable.

I’ve also been on the other end of that.

Not too terribly long ago I made a very difficult decision. One that I really wish I would not have been forced to make. People who thought they knew the situation were trying to give me advice to get me to change my mind. But their advice was based on their will. They even quoted scripture at me to convince me their way was the right way, implying the choices I made were against God’s will. The worst part about that was that they misquoted scripture. They never read the context that it was written. So, instead of helping, they actually created more problems.

I know they meant well, but really, they stirred up a lot of emotions in me. Had I not already been leaning into God with all I had, I would have had some real problems with God since they were quoting scripture out of context and implying that my convictions were wrong. The decision I made; I purposely did not tell them details behind. One-because it was none of their business. But more importantly, I needed to be respectful of all parties involved by not creating drama and spreading gossip.  Though God gave me peace over the situation, I ended up hurt and confused by well-intentioned people using the Bible as a stone instead of for what it is- love.

These people were serving me freezer burnt meals. They were trying to offer me scripture, but really, they were manipulating scripture to fit their will.

Please do not misunderstand me. Scripture is a powerful tool to use to help a friend in need. It is useful for teaching, rebuking, and correcting.

But it has to be the correct scripture, in context, and led by the Holy Spirit.

Any time you are doing something for your will and claiming it to be God’s, you are misrepresenting Christianity.

If you have to do a google search on Bible plus the topic you are looking for, make sure to read the entire section that the quote comes from. A quote taken out of context can wreak havoc on another’s faith.

So when you see a hurting friend, make sure to serve them good solid food. Pray for guidance. Recognize their needs. If God puts a scripture on your heart, share it. A friend loves at all times. Be sure to be sharing your love and God’s love.

 

“A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.”

Proverbs 17:17