Grace Michaelson

Hijacked!

Sep
14

I have been busy lately working on a manuscript that I hope I can turn into a book, either by self-publishing or by going the route of finding a agent/publisher.  In recent days, I’ve come to the realization that my book has wondered away from a central theme.

Isn’t that what life is like?  Sometimes everything looks like it’s going right along when all of a sudden you look around you and realize you’ve lost all sight of your path.  Sometimes, like my book, it’s just in one small area, but sometimes you wake up and realize your whole life has been highjacked by life.

When I was young, my most favorite book of all was Tower of Geburah, by John White.  It is a classic allegory about three siblings who learn through their adventures to follow Gaal– the book’s savior and Jesus-figure.  There’s one part of this book that relates to my conversation with you today.  There’s a point in the book where Lisa is following a path that ultimately will lead her to Gaal.  She’s not aware of this fact, only that it appears that the blue lit path is the good path and the other corridors she passes are tantalizing temptations, but lit by other colors.  At one point she falls to the temptation of the smell of freshly baked bread.  She follows down the path only to come to the realization that it’s a trap and she is now lost from the blue tunnel.  She calls out to Gaal and is lead back to where she started.  Yet, the path back to where she started seems to her to be longer than the path was to get herself lost in the first place.

Here’s my point:  It is so easy to find ourselves down a path we didn’t want or shouldn’t have followed.  Oh, I’m yelling at my kids more often again.  Oh, I’m not reading my Bible regularly.  Oh, I’m finding myself in the habit of being late for work.  Oh, there is a bout of illness that doesn’t seem to leave the home.  Death seems to happen often in my life right now, the grief is unbearable.  I’m not just talking about temptation, obviously.  I’m talking about anything that can hijack your life and turn your focus away from the path God has for you.  It’s not a sin to be in grief or to struggle with illness, as long as your eyes are squarely on the King of Kings.

The path back to the state of being you were intended for by the King of Kings can sometimes take longer than it took for your life to get hijacked in the first place.  Be patient with yourself.  Be released from the should’s, would’s, and could of’s.  As you refocus your attention on God, your path will slowly become clear again and you’ll find yourself back on track.  It takes time, and it takes being kind to yourself.  Jumping all over yourself because you got hijacked in the first place will only prolong the journey.

I’m back to step 2 with my book.  I call it step 2 because we will never find ourselves back at step 1 again.  God has already done so much, and He will use this experience you’re in to take you farther.  It may be that you’re lead back to step 2, or you may be lead back to step 10. When I was a child, I used to play Red Light, Green Light with my friends.  I did not like it when the person playing the traffic light would see me move.  That would mean I’d be sent all the way back to start.  I want you to be encouraged by the fact that you’re not playing Red Light, Green light.. Your path is moving forward.  Be kind to yourself.  Focus on Jesus.  Confess where you need to and then forget (1 John 1:9).  Follow the Lord to where you need to be.  God Bless.

 

When Tragedy Strikes

May
02

Things have been rough in my home, I’m not going to lie.  Rather than go into details about why they have been so tough, I’d rather talk about the things my precious Lord is teaching me.

The first thing is that there is never anything that you’re immune to.  Just because you’re a Christian or some other reason doesn’t make you safe.  Life is full of vulnerability, and it’s self-evident in the things we struggle with everyday.  Before you say or think the words, “That will never happen to me.” Take a moment to ask the Lord to be the Author and Finisher of your life.  He will decide what can or can’t happen to you.

There is a saying: “Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you do criticize him, you’ll be a mile away and have his shoes.” ~Steve Martin.

I know that Steve Martin isn’t necessarily a “great” in the eyes of many people, but this quote has stuck to me ever since I read it.  Empathy is so important because, no matter how much we want to believe it is so, we are not omniscient.  There will always be a variable we don’t see or don’t understand that changes the whole dynamic of what someone else is dealing with.  Also, as I said above, anything can happen to you, too.  Before you judge, remember that fact.  Anything can happen in this sinful world.

I also want to say that sometimes things happen because you’re doing everything right.  You’re reading your Bible, your praying, your living by faith, and yet crap still happens.  I would say it’s important to acknowledge that we have a great enemy who doesn’t like it when we do these things.  He wants to leave us compromised, judgmental, and un-useful in our present state to the Lord.  That is why it’s so important to persevere in prayer, reading God’s Word, and faith.  Put on that full armor of God. (Ephesians 6:10) Persevere.  Send the devil to the Lord each time he attacks.  Christ has already won the victory and he promises to us a life of victory, too.

Lastly, I have learned that ultimately it’s not the things that happen to us in this life that make us who we should be.  God may use these things to strengthen His Identity in us, but we aren’t what we experience.  We can separate the things that happen to us, the labels the world puts on us, and the actions of other people, from our true identity.  Our true identity is what Christ went to the cross to preserve.  Child of God, bride of Christ, loved, righteous, precious to God are just a few words that describe what Christ preserved on the cross.  That is who you really are, not your experiences or anything else.  Praise and thanksgiving be given to God.

 

When Christianity Becomes the Problem

Apr
20

As you have seen on my blog many times, I am a strong follower of the Christian God.  I believe He created me, loves me, sent His Son to die for me, and lives to have personal relationships with us.  Why He does all this blows my mind when I consider how unimportant I am in the grand scheme of the world we live in.  However, He does and I am continually amazed.

Having said that, I don’t know how to feel about the American Christian Church.  I think we’re airing our crap in a way that is breaking God’s heart.  Even “our crap” is not in line with Scripture:

“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5

John 8:3-11, “As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.  “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”  They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman.  Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”  “No, Lord,” she said.  And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Mark 2:17, “When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

Unfortunately, the American Church has become a group of Pharisees that feel like they can pass judgement on other people’s issues and not worry about their own sin.  Why do I say that?  I say that because of the many people I have met who have been pushed away from the church because we choose strict adherence to a set of rules we have created, not God.  Where is love?  Where is grace?  Where is truth tempered with the knowledge that we’ve all made a mess of our lives, so who are we to pass judgement?

You may be saying to me as you read, well you’re passing judgement.  Your passing judgement on the Christian Church.  No I’m not.  The truth is I know that I’ve done this very same thing more times that I want to admit.  I’ve passed judgement on other’s personal problems, I have gossiped, I have slandered.  It all breaks my heart.  Who am I? who is the Christian Church? Why do we feel the need to categorize sin? Why must we ostracize the very people God has sent us to go into the world and bring into the church?  We’re giving God, our God, a very bad name.

So what is the answer?  Because I know that truth is important and it needs to be spoken.  Sometimes truth does not feel good to say.  Just like this blog post is so difficult for me to write.  I think we need to go back to where are identity is supposed to be.  Is our identity Judge, Jury, and Executioner?  Or is our identity to be Jesus’ Disciples.  As Jesus Disciples, what is the path to take?  What did Jesus do?  He walked with sinners.  He talked to sinners.  Mary Magdalene was a prostitute.  The women at the well was an adulterer, James and John had tempers, Peter had a big mouth.  Did Jesus show any signs of passing judgement or putting on a holier than thou attitude because we haven’t sinned “as bad” as the rest.

What about God the Father?  What does he do?  He puts a prostitute, a foreigner, an adulterer into the lineage of Jesus.  What?! How can this be?  He was and is showing us by example that His Grace trumps.  Does that mean we only show mercy and never speak truth?  No.  However, when truth must be spoken, it must be spoken in grace and love.  You can speak truth if you really know the person.  You can’t speak the truth if your walk with God isn’t in the right path.  You can speak truth if your heart is to help the person.  You can’t speak the truth if in your heart all you want to do is rub their nose in the dirt.

I know that the basic truth is that most Christians mean well.  They’re not out to be brutes or Pharisees.  The mistakes we make come out of a heart that wants to please God.  However, it is still a truth that meaning well is not good enough.  We have to do our best to also do well.  The way we do well is balance our lives like God has done, in-between grace and truth.  It is hard.  However, it is the right thing to do.

In closing I’m going to share again a favorite quote of mine.  Theadore Roosevelt said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Are you joining us in the arena?  Or are you just a critic?

Obsessions? Or gods?

Apr
17

I’ve been thinking a lot about obsessions lately.  For instance, my son has autism, and because of that he obsessives over topics all the time.  What if we start obsessing over things, though, and don’t have an excuse like autism?  I think obsessions are a fact of being part of this world.  Sometimes people struggle more than others, putting them into a class that has a label, like “Autism Spectrum Disorder”, but sometimes we’re just normal and have strong interests we think about all the time.

I’m not trying to belittle illnesses that have obsessions.  My daughter struggles with OCD.  Many people like to claim this for themselves because they’re anal or a perfectionist.  However, true OCD is a fear that is beyond anyone’s true understanding unless you have it.  Your obsessions become things you fear.  Then there’s the son with obsessions because of his ASD.  I’m not trying to belittle that, either. Believe me, I’ve been at that place where I have heard about everything there is to know about one of my son’s obsessions and he’s still talking!

What I’m thinking about are the little things in life that grab our attention until our focus is off of what it should be– such as God, mindfulness, and others.  For example, I have been dealing with asthma.  Unfortunately, this time it came with chest pain.  By the third day of chest pain, that was all I could think of.  Praying, being in the moment (mindfulness), and other people were the last thing I was thinking of.  I’m disappointed in myself for this.  If I continually allow things to distract me from what is important, I’m no use at all.

So, can obsessions become little gods in our lives that take our focus off the important?  I believe so.  I think the Bible even talks about this:

Luke 16:1-13, “Jesus told this story to his disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a manager handling his affairs. One day a report came that the manager was wasting his employer’s money. So the employer called him in and said, ‘What’s this I hear about you? Get your report in order, because you are going to be fired.’

“The manager thought to himself, ‘Now what? My boss has fired me. I don’t have the strength to dig ditches, and I’m too proud to beg. Ah, I know how to ensure that I’ll have plenty of friends who will give me a home when I am fired.’

“So he invited each person who owed money to his employer to come and discuss the situation. He asked the first one, ‘How much do you owe him?’ The man replied, ‘I owe him 800 gallons of olive oil.’ So the manager told him, ‘Take the bill and quickly change it to 400 gallons.’

“‘And how much do you owe my employer?’ he asked the next man. ‘I owe him 1,000 bushels of wheat,’ was the reply. ‘Here,’ the manager said, ‘take the bill and change it to 800 bushels.’

“The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd. And it is true that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with the world around them than are the children of the light. Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

This passage is predominately talking about serving God instead of serving money.  However, it says:

Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.

So could that mean God is telling us our focus should not be on our worldly resources, dare I say struggles?  Our focus needs to be on others and on God.

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

Could we exchange “money” for something we think about all the time and that replaces those things most important.  Anyway, this is what I’ve been thinking about lately.  What would you say?

 

Identity

Mar
25

I did a little cleaning on my site. I decided I have spent too much of my life obsessing over medical stuff – especially when it pertains to me. I took on an identity that was not the identity my God had for me. It consisted of all my post-cancer fears, all my medical labels, times of good interchanges with medical professionals – and bad ones.

Recently I read a book that has nothing to do with medicine, but I took away from it this quote:  “Every person in one way or another needs to exchange a false identity he or she has created for an identity in the risen Christ. Saying we’re a disciple and a [fill in the blank] creates a big problem. At the level of our fundamental identity, we are a disciple only.” Caleb Koltenbach

What this author has discovered, and what I’m discovering is that my identity is in the Lord and what he’s making me into. I am not mentally ill and a Disciple of Christ. I’m not any of my illnesses. I am separate from anything the world would like to label me. My identity is in Christ – His Disciple. That’s the only thing I am.

After beginning to realize this, I find myself asking why I’m hanging on to these false identities. I realized there is a new road to experience that is free from those false identity’s shackles. So I’m trying to mindfully refocus on who Christ made me to be.

I’m not talking about something like multiple personalities. There will always be me, just Kari.  Inside me there is not living Carmon, Karly, or Doug.  I am Kari and my personality will always be that. What I am talking about is identity, not personality.  Identity is what you, the personality, chooses to identity as – through action, culture, and beliefs.

I choose to identify as Christ’s Disciple and weed out any false identity  wanting to displace who that is and is becoming in me.  What’s your identity?

 

Crossroads

Feb
22

Today I want to talk about those moments in your life where life takes you to a fork in the road.  I specifically want to talk about the forks in the road that leave you broken hearted either way you go.  The kind where you beg God for a third option, a less painful option, but realize as your praying for this third option, God is saying, “Not this time.”

So what do we do in this situation?  I think that as we touch on these forks in our roads we also need to talk about God’s presence during these times.  I have known some of these forks before, and the truth is, sometimes I do feel God’s presence more keen, but there are times that I don’t.  It is hardest to make the right choice when your feelings don’t feel God, but I’ve come to believe strongly that these forks in our road are the times God tucks us into His Heart more than any other time.  When we don’t actually feel Him, it is in those times that the shield of faith is oh so important.

Now I want to talk about the decision.  Which way to go?  Prayer in the situation is fundamentally important.  It is through contact with God that we begin to see which road, no matter how painful it might be, is the right one to take.  If we abandon prayer and seek to make these crossroad decisions with logic or with emotion, we will invariably make the wrong choice.

Looking back at my many crossroads, I see a few things that have become extremely clear to me.  One we’ve already talked about:  God never leaves us.  Another is the wisdom God hands out freely to those who ask for it.  The final one is that God does not push you in any one direction.  You have to make the choice and take the first step yourself.  God did not make us to be robots.  He has given us free choice.  While one way is the right way and one way is the wrong way, God will not make you decide the correct one.  He always gives us a choice.

On the same subject, though, is another fundamental truth.  After and while you make your choice, no matter if it’s good or bad, our God does not leave.  Sure, if we make the bad choice it will be extremely painful in the end.  The glorious truth is that he holds us when we make the right choice and he puts limits around the consequences if we make the wrong choice.  One of those limits is that He does not abandon us.

There’s no such thing as “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”  He does do that in this crossroad scenario.  However, this is the real truth right here:  God can handle anything.  Truth:  “God won’t give you more than He can handle.” So, my Dear Sister and my Dear Brother, lean on our great God and take a step into your road.  God is there.

Smart Phones & Children

Feb
20

Lately my feed on Facebook has been bombarded by articles stating that children should not be allowed “Smart” phones.  While I agree that some of the concerns mentioned in these articles are possibly true, today I’m going to spell out why I allow my children to have Smart Phones.

I actually was probably the first parent in Middle School to start having my children carry Apple Smart Phones.  I am very comfortable with my decision and, in fact, will upgrade my children’s phones usually when I upgrade.  (i.e. They get my old phone.)

My biggest concern regarding the articles I’ve read about not allowing your child a smart phone is that they completely and utterly ignore parent involvement.  If my child had the same privilege on his or her phone, then, of course, it would be a very bad thing.  However, the fact that you might just possibly be a good parent makes it less dangerous.  Here is why:

  1.  My children do not have free access to their Smart Phones.  This is because, as their parents, I have chosen to say to them, “I pay for this, therefore you use it my way.”  Instead of banning kids completely from smart phones because you don’t actually want to parent them is ridiculous.
  2. At least on the Apple Phones, and I’m assuming the other phones have this, too, there are settings and safe checks to keep your child from getting his or herself into danger with their smart phone.  For instance, when my children want to download something to their phone, their phone automatically requests me to approve or deny their request.  Over the years, I will ease up on the control I have over their phones, because eventually I want them choosing these right choices themselves and not relying completely on me for their moral convictions.
  3. There’s this wonderful app on Apple Phones called “Find my iPhone.”  When activated, I am allowed to track my children’s movements when they are not with me.  I can also “ding” their phone if they are refusing to call me or pick up their phone when I need to get ahold of them.  Many, many times this has saved me from worrying about my children because I know 1.) They will always bring their phone with them in this day and age,  2.)because I act like a parent and require them to let me know where they are going, I know when they’re not where they are supposed to be when I track their phone, and 3.)I am not afraid of embarrassing my child in front of all their friends by dinging their phone (a very loud an obnoxious ding that the whole world can here) if they’re not responding.
  4. What about porn, and the like, you say?  Again, being the parent you’re supposed to be covers this option, as well.  Yes, the “easier” rode of parenting means I just forbid my child from anything that would be potentially dangerous to them.  However, if we do that, we might as well just place them in a box, hammer it shut, and don’t let them out until they turn 18.  What does that kind of protection do?  It causes the child not to learn from any mistakes they make while they are under your control and can train them in the way they should go.  Immature adults is what you get from it.  People who have no idea how to make responsible choices, have no idea how to combat the temptations of the “real world”, and lastly, children who will rush out and do everything you told them not to do because they have no moral compass of their own and no idea what is right and what is wrong.  Does this mean I give them access to porn, and evil that they can’t handle?  Of course not.  All smart phones have apps that allow you to block porn and evil.  However, the truth is, whether you give them a “smart” phone or a “dumb” phone, if your child wants to get a hold of these things, they will.  All “dumb” phones are equipped with internet access now.  There really is no such thing, as a “dumb” phone as we understand it.  So be a parent and teach your child what’s right and what’s wrong so that they will make choices that make you proud.
  5. I want to emphasize what my husband and I have done to safe guard our children from predators.  In a day and age where human trafficking is all over the news, it is hugely important that we keep our kids safe from these types of predators.  So, the rules of our house are simple:  1.) You don’t go anywhere you haven’t told us your going, 2.) You are home before city curfew for minors, 3.) Michael and I don’t go to sleep until all our children are home and safe, 4.) We have a secret password that we tell anyone we send to pick up our children.  Over and over again I remind my children not to go anywhere with a stranger unless they have my password.  5.)Finally, we’re not afraid to embarrass our children.  Again, we track their phone, if they’re not where they’re supposed to be their phone gets “beeped” until they respond.  No normal child will leave their house without their phone.  Once we had one of our children turn off the tracking feature.  He was grounded from all his activities for a very long time.  I sense a theme in this post, do you?  Be a parent.
  6. As far as social interference that a “Smart Phone” may bring:  My children have time limits on when they can and cannot use their phone.  Not at the dinner table.  Not during family time.  Not after bed time.  These are simple rules that teach your child that it’s more important to give their family and friends face time, rather than spend their whole lives in the virtual world.  Another thing: my children don’t get on Social Media without “friending” or “following” me so that I have access to their feed.  I also have wonderful people in my children’s lives who I know will “tell on” them if they block me from viewing something.  It does “take a village” to protect your child in social media.
  7. I’m not afraid to ask for my children’s phones and look through their texts if I feel they’re not being wise with who they text.  I don’t think this needs more explanation– except that this rule applies whether you give your child a “smart phone” or a “dumb phone”.
  8. Final thing:  Take the phone away if it becomes a problem.  We have no qualms from removing temptation from our children until they show they can be responsible.  The line goes like this:  “You can have a smart phone until I feel it’s unsafe or unwise for you to have one.”  If you’re the parent you should be, then your children will realize that you mean business.

As you can see, I do not believe it’s the “smart phone” industry that is dangerous.  The danger lies in permissive and unwise parents who are unwilling to put up protective boundaries for their children.  In every part of our parenting, whether it’s phones or computers, or just whether your child is going to wear designer clothes on your dime, it’s your responsibility to keep your child safe.  Sure, the easy way is to ban them from everything that may hurt them, but that doesn’t teach anything.  It makes you a bad parent.

“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” Proverbs 22:6

President-Elect Trump is Now President. Deal With It.

Jan
20

Today, as I sit here typing up my post for all of you, President-Elect Trump is going to be sworn into his office at noon in Washington.  For the first time in my life I am afraid for the President-Elect before he ever hits his office, and I find myself grieving over this situation.

First of all, I’m going to be frank with you.  I didn’t want Trump.  I didn’t vote for Trump.  Yet, here he is our President-Elect and by the time this post is finally finished, I will hopefully be calling him my President.  I say hopefully because I’m not entirely sure that some crazy thing is going to happen to try to thwart that at the inauguration.  Perhaps I’m a little paranoid, but the hype Hollywood, the media, and the protestors have whipped into flame throughout our country could very well have confused a mind or two that are less-than-stable.  That is my fear.

So, as I sit here typing this, I do feel a since of anxiety for the President-Elect.  I hope the Secret Service does their job.  I hope I’m wrong about any conspiracies or mentally-confused people.  I hope protestors will finally realize that we need peace, not turmoil.  I hope the media will stop derailing President Trump’s Presidency before it ever begins.  I hope the famous in Hollywood would finally wake up and realize people listen to them and they need to set an example for peace.  I hope, I hope, I hope.

It is time to accept.  It is time for peace to reign.  It is time to realize that no matter how much we want to run to our “safe zones” every time we hear Trump’s name, or jump and scream and throw a temper-tantrum, President Trump is just that—the President of the United States.  He will sit, Lord willing, in the oval office come tomorrow and he deserves the respect and honor that office affords him.

You may not respect the man, but as citizen’s of the great United States of America, you should respect the Office he represents.  It doesn’t matter if it was, or was not, the man you chose.  It doesn’t matter if he isn’t the man you wanted, but forgot to vote against. It really never mattered that he didn’t win the popular vote.  It matters not if you’re a journalist who leans to the left or right.  Neither does it matter, if you’re a college student wrapped in a blanket and hugging a teddy bear in your safe zone and can’t cope.  President Trump deserves our respect now.  It is time to cease and desist.

If I had my way, the President-Elect coming into office would have been someone else.  However, my way didn’t happen.  I’m dealing with it like a grown-up.  I’m choosing to wish President Trump good luck today, and my sincere prayers for his safety and for good choices these next four years.  That is what grown-ups do.  That is what true Americans do.  Are you American?

Finally, I want to end this post with a challenge specifically to Christian’s.  You may not call yourself Christian, so this part is not for you.  Christians, it is our duty to set an example of peace for our country.  Set an example that the rest of America can follow.

It says right in the Bible in 1 Peter 2:13-17, “For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right.  It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Respect everyone, and love the family of believers.  Fear God, and respect the king.

Good Luck, President Trump.  My prayers are with you.

New Years, Healthy Choices or Resolutions

Dec
30

Last year I wrote a “feel good” piece that ended up being published in Argus Leader.  My point of that article was the insanity brought on by creating resolutions that you know you’re going to break.  I implored you to take a look at your beautiful page called 2016 and come up with truths to put on it that are healthy and strong, instead of weak resolutions that you’ll want to scribble away or tear off your year after you fail.  How did you do?

Already my Facebook feed is filling up with posts about people getting excited about their new year, the plans they have, and the resolutions they are making.  I’m just as tempted as the rest of you.  Last night I was having a particularly discouraging night, so I poured out in my journal a bucket list of things I would love to see change in the new year.  The thing is, I know better than to turn those wishes into resolutions because I know how disappointing it is to put my heart and soul into a resolution only to fail to make it come into being.

We can’t force changes into our lives, they have to happen naturally.  Even if you don’t believe in God like I do, you have to believe in the practicality of the fact that your life is impacted by the people who surround you.  If they don’t choose to change with you, then you’re life isn’t going to change easily.  That leaves an interesting dynamic and choice right there.  Do I choose contentment in the life I have now, or do I let change happen by moving on from relationships that keep me stagnate?  Either choice may be a right one for you.

Resolutions simply don’t allow for healthy choices, in fact, they stunt your ability to make these natural choices.  Resolutions cause sharp disappointments which bring choices up abruptly and stunt the ability for life to move forward.  An “I can’t” attitude can move in, and instead of freedom to make good choices, you can be beset by fear that you will only make a bad choice again.  After all the resolution was a bad choice, right?  Why should you even allow the possibility of that disappointment in the first place?

I’m writing about broken resolutions and their ability to stunt choices before it can make any real changes in your life.  I don’t know how you believe, or who you live and work with, but I know you can think about it and avoid those resolutions.  Let change happen naturally.  Have a wonderfully Happy New Year.

“God With Us”

Dec
26

Christmas is over. Time to pack away my tree for another year and put away the nativity scene. It’s on to celebration of New Years now and the many foolish resolutions we make — and also intend to break — for the next year.  It’s tradition, right?

Instead of being in such a rush, why don’t we get out our universal remotes and press pause and then rewind. Let’s go back to the days after Christmas for a little family who spent their first night in Bethlehem.

Joseph is looking for a more permanent place for them to stay. Not an inn. A house. They have family here, but the scandal Joseph and Mary had become in Nazareth was not as wide spread. Perhaps Mary could go to the well without being spat on and people would begin to use Joseph’s carpentry again.  They were hopeful.  They simply wanted to live quiet lives.

It didn’t help that the shepherds pointed them out all over town, however Mary chose to believe God had a plan. She treasured both the rumors and even the moment with Anna and Simeon at Jesus’ dedication and doesn’t swerve in her resolve to trust God.

However, I can’t imagine the reservation that must be their as she saw people’s eyes following them out of the temple. Will the ridiculing start again? Will the shepherds, good intentions and all, get them ostracized? Is this really how God intended things to be for his son?

Have you been in a moment where you felt God leading you in a direction and that direction lead to many people looking at you differently that before?  Or maybe you’ve never been comfortable around others, and you would love to know that Someone has noticed you.

I’m here to tell you that, as much as we want to believe that the nativity scene is as beautiful as the scene on our tables, for the people who lived it it was pretty messy. “God With Us” they ended up experiencing was not how they imagined things would happen. Yet they chose to obey. They “showed up” and God turned their obedience into “God With Us” — the salvation of the world.

Now the question for you today is, what challenges are you going to show up for today and allow God to turn from “messy” into “God With You?”