He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Psalm 40:3a

Monday, May 30, 2016

Feeling Completed

       I was talking with my cousin this week as we shared information about our specific families and our extended families, since we hadn’t seen each other in a very long time. Given the different stories we shared, we agreed all families have issues, it doesn’t matter how great they look from the outside.  

       Everyone has problems that need to be solved.  It’s the nature of our world.  Sometimes the issues are created from circumstances beyond our control, other times, problems are created from bad decisions made.

            A friend of mine, who seems to have the “perfect” family shared that while she is blessed with three wonderful children, five grandchildren and a wonderful extended family through her in-laws, she still grieves from time to time.  Her oldest child has a mental illness.  This disease has caused him to make some remarkably bad decisions causing distress for himself, his parents and even occasionally, his siblings. 

            She said, “Just because a person wears a smile on their face, is pleasant and agreeable, doesn’t mean their world is perfect and without heartache.  There are times during the year when our family comes together and Jake isn’t here.  It’s times like this when I just don’t feel complete.”

            Family gatherings for most of us are fun and pleasant.  There are picnics and theme park gatherings, roller skating, baseball games, weddings and any variety of occasions.  Even when things seem right, however, sometimes judgments are made about others and even family members.  Occasionally the judgments are inaccurate, or regrets are shared due to circumstances others were inadvertently involved in.

            The point is, as families and Believers in God, none is exempt from heartache.  It comes in a variety of ways.  Today is Memorial Day and there is loss across the nation felt in many homes from those lost in battle. This causes a unique heartache and pain.  But it might also be, mental illness like my friend, or bad choices which are unlawful, or some other kind of malady that causes pain.  

         It doesn’t matter, what the circumstances, we are still family.  It takes each person within the family unit to complete the circle.  When part of the family is missing for any reason, there is an emptiness; a void that cannot be filled in any way, even when there is a unified effort to pretend all is “well with the world!” 

            As parents we can try to ignore the sadness; act like it doesn’t matter, but we know it does.  It grieves our heart when there is any kind of separation.  All we really want is to gather our loved ones to us once again, make everything bad that’s happened go away and live like we did when our children were small when a kiss and hug would make everything alright again. 

            So I challenge you to take stock of your family; of your personal situation.  Are there conditions you can change that would right a relationship?  Is prayer and forgiveness necessary or needed?  Is there reason to accept an illness or other circumstance beyond your control that would ease tension for yourself and others within your family network?  Our lives are challenging at best and are happier when our hearts are not broken or otherwise grieved.  What can you do to better a relationship this next week?  


Monday, May 23, 2016

Life Giving Water

         My husband was checking out posts on the internet recently and came across an article which kind of surprised him.  It seems Henry Winkler was a good deal older than his character “Fonzie” when he was cast on “Happy Days” back in the ‘70’s.  Many knew Richard Thomas was older than his character “John Boy” on “The Walton’s,” and there were others, like in the movie “Grease” whose characters were a good deal younger than the ages of those portraying them.  Make up artists can do amazing things!
            As we get older, many of us cringe when we look in the mirror.  We want all the “age lines,” gray hairs and those little things that age us, to disappear so we look ten or twenty years younger.
            There are all kinds of creams and formulas that claim to reduce age wrinkles and spots.  They claim a person can look ten to fifteen years younger than they really are.  We are a society bent on stopping the aging process.  I admit there are practices I use to help me look better.  I suspect we all do, as we fight the inevitable, aging process! We all want to keep younger looking, as well as, feeling as if we aren’t encumbered with illness that steals our vitality.
Spas have become the rage of our country.  It seems the health benefits include reducing stress and hormone issues, being a pain reliever, mood enhancer and more, should you allow yourself to treat yourself to this type of relaxation!1 The more wealthy in society even have surgeries in an effort to recapture some of the youthful look.
            The truth is, however, it doesn’t matter what we do to keep the aging process at bay, it will catch up with us and the inevitable will happen.  We will all age and eventually pass from this life.  It’s what happens after this life that really matters.  Depending on our decisions today, we can look forward to “really living” in Paradise or we can know we will be in a place of eternal torment.  What we choose in this life really does determine our eternal destiny.
            It has nothing to do with drinking the best mineral water, eating the most nutritious foods, having the perfect exercise routine or even the least stressed life.  Life is what it is and we each have to deal with our individual circumstances.  So our choice of living our life for Christ is the best “life giving water” available to us.  The “life giving” remedies available in this life only applies to our mortal life.  It has no bearing on our eternal future.  Only Jesus has “water” that sustains throughout all eternity.
            So I challenge you to consider how you view aging and all you are doing to keep the process at bay.  Our lives will never be free of challenges because we are human and we all have daily circumstances that test the strongest and hardiest of us!  The best “Life Giving Water” is the water given through and by Jesus Christ.  It is through Him we can find the kind of refreshment we need, that can be found no where else!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Observing The Boundaries

          I received a phone call yesterday from a friend I haven’t seen in years.  She was near tears as she shared with me the heaviness on her heart.  Her grandchildren, just “of age” are deep into the use of drugs, living lives of darkness.  Her granddaughter is even in the hospital as of this writing due to an overdose.  At the moment there is not even any assurance of her survival.  Her own daughter dabbled in the dark side of life and while she wasn’t oblivious to it, she didn't interfere a great deal.  As she sees the cycle repeating, she’s devastated with what she’s witness to for another generation.

            We are living in a world where children are given more and more freedom.  They are encouraged to test and push their boundaries; to experience “their world.”  This often includes giving in to the vile, dark temptations they encounter, as well.  When boundaries are not in place, our children are easily swayed into trying anything new and different in an effort to fit in.  Even in families where fixed boundaries are enforced, situations occur when young people are pulled into bad environments and then have a heavy price to pay.

Creating boundaries begins early in life.  I admit, I find myself getting really frustrated when small children are left unattended, free to “experience” their surroundings no matter where they are, while mom or dad are oblivious to what their child is doing.  As parents we are responsible for our children while they are in our home and when they are in someone else’s home or other establishment.  Our teaching is what will enable them to become mature, productive adults.

            Our Lord and Creator feels the same about us.  God watches over us every moment of the day.  He guides us if we will listen for his voice.  He teaches, if we are willing to search his Word and stay in communication with Him.  He’s given us boundaries to follow, but we have to choose to obey, much like our own children. 

            When we choose to ignore the guidance of God, there is a price to pay.  Just like my friend’s granddaughter who chose to ignore the consequences of taking drugs and ending up in the hospital, our disobedience can create a situation that leaves our minds, spirits, relationships, and lives in total disarray.  Our learning and understanding of right and wrong will keep our decisions focused on what God wants us to do.

            When we are able to recognize God’s will in our lives on a daily basis and make decisions based on God’s Word, we will find ourselves getting ready for the Kingdom.  We are living in the end times.  The signs are all around.  We need only open our eyes to see. 

            Our children learn by example.  When they ask questions, do you give quick answers to placate and then move on to something else?  Often how we talk to our children is also the way we “talk” to the Lord.  “Hurry up, I’ve got stuff to do!”  This has a great impact on our relationship with them.  It’s vital for our children to know we are listening to their concerns and questions given the world we live in.

So I challenge you to consider how you listen to God’s voice for guidance and His boundaries.  Are your prayers quick and to the point before rushing off to something new?  Or do you spend quiet time to allow God’s “voice” to enter your heart and mind?  Your answer to that question will likely define your relationship with Him.