The Splinter

One of my children recently had a splinter in his foot. Now this child is extremely sensitive to touch and pretty much all sensory inputs. He showed me the splinter. I pushed the skin slightly around it and he started crying, “Owwey Owww.”

I took a look at him and said, “Son, I’m not cutting your arm off. Do you want the splinter out, or do you want it to stay in there and keep hurting?”

He thought about it for a minute. Then he asked, “If you don’t get it out, when will it come out?”

“Well, not anytime soon. You can either let me get it out now, and it will stop hurting. Or you can leave it alone and let it keep bothering you. But if you want me to get it out, it’s gonna hurt for a minute.”

I honestly thought he was going to tell me to leave it alone, so I didn’t give him a choice. I grabbed his foot, endured the tears, and pulled the splinter out in about 30 seconds.

Once it was out, he said, “Thanks mom. It doesn’t hurt anymore.”

Imagine that. Once the splinter was out, the pain was gone. But the immediate pain of removing the splinter actually had my son considering leaving it alone.

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Come on. I know we can all relate to this. We all have that guilty pleasure, secret sin, that we know is hurting us but can’t let go of.

For some of us, it’s gossip. We get sucked into that real-life soap opera and crave the details. (more on this in a little bit…)

Maybe it’s lust. Watching those romantic comedy movies has you secretly wishing your significant other was more romantic, funnier, or better looking, so every time you are alone or bored, Netflix has you sucked into another movie.

For others, it’s food. We know that those sugary treats are no good for us, but hey no one is watching. A donut for lunch is just fine for now.

I do not know your personal struggle, but I know you have one. The Holy Spirit has slowly shown me areas in my life that need pruning. If you have been following my blog, you may recall some post about my struggle with gossip and drama. Let me just say, this is an area I continually need reeled back in on.

First, I was convicted to turn off the television. Then I was convicted to redirect conversations that do not honor those who were not present. But the next step was a hard one. I had to distance myself from people who would not respect my boundaries around drama.

“Bad company corrupts good character.” Wait God… there’s no way you were talking about them… what will people think when I distance myself from them?

Oh man! You can see my next conviction in that statement- why are you trying to please man rather than God? Whose approval do you really seek, Renee?

Obedience is rarely easy. God’s word is not something that is popular. Many people want the Bible to be a buffet that you can pick and choose from. But it’s not. It’s one big love story between God and His creation. We cannot just choose the parts of the story we want to hear.

Let me be honest, it was painful to put up those boundaries. It was even more painful to stand firm in my convictions. I literally tore myself up inside. I knew what people would think. I kept trying to convince myself that these people needed me to point them to God… But all they were doing was stealing my joy, keeping me on guard, and continually disrespecting my boundaries. Sadly, that showed me I had remove the part of my body that caused me to stumble. God gave me peace over the situation. And once I distanced myself from the company that kept dragging me back into my sin, the struggle with this particular sin lessened.

It’s no different than an alcoholic choosing to no longer go to a bar or hang out with his partying friends. If you are going to grow, you must remove the weeds that are choking your growth.

Removing things or people who are bad influences is hard. But the peace that comes from being free to walk with God is unexplainable. If you are feeling the Spirit prompting you to remove a splinter, do it. But know it won’t be easy. You will have to lean into God. You will most definitely need to ask for prayers and support from your Christian friends. It will hurt. But, if it is from the Holy Spirit, you will be better for it.

“If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to depart into hell. “

Matthew 5:29-30

Breaking Down those Boxes

“Mom, the recycling trash can is already full!” my son told me after bringing the trash cans around after Trash Pick Up.

“What? The trash truck just came this morning!”

“We had some boxes to put in there. Now it’s overfilling,” he explained.

Well, we went outside to the trash can, and I realized that this overflowing trash can would make it the rest of the week with no problems at all. “Boys, we have to break down the boxes.”

I showed them to pull the tape off and fold the box back up into a flat shape. In no time at all our recycling trash can’s lid closed with some room still left on top.

This so clearly reminds me of my schedule. Overflowing. Full. I couldn’t squeeze another thing in there if I wanted to.

But when I start to break down the boxes, I see that not so much energy is needed in some spots. If I can just rearrange the boxes that are broken down, I will have more than enough room.

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Growing up, my life was full of boxes. We were constantly on-the-go. This sport. That sport. This activity. That activity. Volunteer here. If there was an unplanned day we had to go “do something.” Shopping, movies, bowling, arcade (yes, I’m that old), out to eat, Six Flags, the Zoo… it didn’t matter what- we just had to “do something.”

This mentality was great when I started dating my husband. I mean that’s the whole point of dating, to go out on dates- right? But once we got married and life started, the urgency to be on-the-go was still there. But the reality was not. Let me just say this in an off-topic rant- American dating culture does not prepare you for marriage… suddenly instead of going out to eat, your eating at home. Instead of “doing something” every time you see each other, you sit together in a room doing two separate hobbies. Yes, we still went out on dates, but not every day… not every time we saw each other…

Ok back to the topic- I had to learn the art of only saying yes to meaningful. And yes, I was saying no to myself. Prior to this, I said yes to every opportunity I could. I busied my schedule. I was constantly on-the-go. When I did have some time, I was looking for the next thing to do.

Emotionally I was drained. I was beat. I was snippy with my husband and kids. I was putting all this energy into things that didn’t matter and taking it out on my family. I was convicted that the people who mean the most to me should also get the most of me.
God slowly stirred my heart and showed me that less is sometimes more. If you go out and “do something” every day, those outings are no longer meaningful; they’re expected. Additionally, I didn’t have the time, money or energy to do that any longer. Instead of being on-the-go, stay put and make the most of your time where you are. Doing this, instantly broke down the majority of those boxes.

I will say, I do still tend to feel the urgency to go do something. But I have learned, that doesn’t mean make a trip to Six Flags, the Zoo, or some other attraction; it means spend some time with the people you love on purpose. Go push your kids on the swing. Pull out a deck of cards. Start a crafty project.

You know, when the boys and I were breaking down those boxes, our other trash can lid was also open receiving the trash that was mistakenly put in the recycling bin. My schedule is no different. There are things on my schedule that are not necessary. There are other things that I fill my time with that are really just a waste of time… like games on my phone… mindlessly scrolling through Facebook or Instagram.

Before I know it, those mindless games, scrolling through newsfeeds, and such have filled my day.

Sadly, I’ve known this was going on, but it still took a hard conviction to do something about it. After this, I started thinking about the fact that my kids are only allowed 30 minutes of tablet time, and 30-60 minutes of educational television. We made this decision because we want our kids to experience life, not be consumed by electronics. Why should my time be any different?

Something that has taken me a long time to fully understand is that this life is not mine but God’s. My time is only mine because God has given it to me. It is my job to steward that time appropriately. We can’t get back the day once we close our eyes at night. Therefore, I need to make the most out of days. I need to be sure that I am doing my part in pointing everyone who comes in contact with me to the love of Jesus Christ.

One of the things that I hear from fellow Christians more frequently than not, is that they just don’t have time to focus on things that help us to grow closer to God. I get it, reading our bible takes time, prayer takes time, serving in our church takes time. The truth is if we were to really access our daily lives and get rid of meaningless activities, we would likely find plenty of time to develop our personal relationship with God.

So, if this post has spoken to you- awesome! Please know, you are not alone. I am still breaking down boxes and sorting out the trash that I allow to consume my time. However, I know with the Holy Spirit’s help we can both use our time to glorify God in all that we do! Be blessed my friend!

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:15-16

Embrace Change

Well, I think it’s officially fall in Missouri! One day it was over 70 degrees, then a cold front came through, and now it’s 40. The cool crisp temperatures have been anticipated, but when they finally arrived it shocked us all.

This morning my kids wanted to go outside after breakfast. One of my children came to the door in shorts and a T-shirt. “Honey, you need pants to go outside. It’s a little chilly out there.”

She reluctantly went to change. Seconds later, the older children were asking for hats and gloves. Within a few minutes, my child who was dressed for summer suddenly looked as if it had snowed outside. She was bundled in her winter coat, hat, gloves, and a scarf. Though I thought it may be overkill, I let them go outside dressed for the snow.

While I know my child still needs to learn the appropriate clothing to wear for the weather, I realize that change, even when expected, takes some time to adjust.

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Now I will admit, I have struggled with change. Especially when it came to my Walk with Christ.

I grew up in a very traditional church. I held onto those traditions, without fully understanding the reasons behind those traditions. They were habits, not time set aside to grow closer to God.

Attending a different type of church felt all kinds of wrong. I was used to a certain order. I was used to certain songs. I knew exactly what to say and do and when to do it. It was comfortable.

However, these new churches we were attending, were not. First off, they gave us coffee when we entered and offered a time to talk to each other before service started. I was used to just blending in, coming and going without having to talk to a bunch of people.

They usually started service off with a band or a group of people jamming out and worshiping Jesus. I was used to traditional songs at set times throughout the service.

Then the pastor would give a sermon. These sermons were usually very good, biblical, and practical. However, it didn’t feel like Church. It felt like Bible study.

Finally, there would be some sort of closing, usually with a song. That was exactly what I was used to.  However, sometimes we would have communion in the middle of service, sometimes we wouldn’t. Sometimes they would take tithes and offering at the beginning, sometimes at the end.  Sometimes there would be a Baptism in the middle of service. Sometimes they would ask us to get up and find a group of people to pray with. It was unpredictable.

In my old church I knew what to expect. I knew what to do. Yes, maybe most of the time I was just going through the motions, but I didn’t have to experience that unknown. Nine times out of ten I couldn’t even tell you what songs we sang or what the message was about, but I was there.

I struggled with the change at first. See all my family and friends still attended the traditional Churches. I felt like I was doing something wrong. In fact, for almost a year I didn’t tell any of those people that we were no longer attending that type of service.

As I started seeing a growth in my walk and understanding what it meant to Walk with Christ, I slowly let my guard down. I began to share that we were now attending a non-denominational Church. I began to share the changes that were happening in my life. Surprisingly, no one really cared that I no longer attended the traditional Church.  They only cared that I was going to Church.

I slowly began to recognize the Holy Spirit and His prompting in my life. I became more and more open with my faith and much more willing to share my faith.  Though I knew a change was needed and anticipated that change, it was still uncomfortable. It still took me some time to adjust and share. But as I look back, each change, no matter how long it took me to adjust, has completely impacted my Walk with Christ.

Please know, I am in no way telling you to stop going to a traditional church. Each person is on their own spiritual journey. For some people, they can grow closer to God through traditions. My stumbling block was not the Church or the traditions, but the way I approached Church. I had the problem of just going through the motions that needed a radical change. I needed to step out of my comfort zone and trust God to lead me.

Something I have learned is that God does not call us to be comfortable. I have heard many people say that they believe God wants us to be happy (implying that we should just overlook our sin that makes us happy). But that’s not really true. God doesn’t call us to be happy, but He calls us to be holy. The process of becoming holy, being like Christ, is a life-long journey full of uncomfortable moments and changes.

By embracing a radical change, I found myself experiencing God in a way I never knew was possible. Each day I am growing in relationship with Him, learning more of what it means to be His child, and striving share this with others.

Change may not feel good in the moment, even if you are anticipating it.  But God is faithful.

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6