Be Willing to be Willing

Our church just completed its annual women’s weekend. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t going to go. I made an excuse but the Holy Spirit tugged at my heart and I registered a few days before the event.

Usually I don’t like these kind of events. I’m not big on ladies that look perfect telling me how to get through my struggles. Yes, my head knows every single person has experienced heartache but the enemy works strong in this area of my life.

I’m not crazy about crafts and overall just try to avoid events like this.

I’m so thankful for the prompting! This lady was real. She’s had some struggles and she shared a couple of big ones with us. She was so relatable!

One of the phrases she spoke has stickability.

Be willing to be willing.

Sometimes it’s hard to say yes Lord! Here I am send me. That’s a gigantic step– too big for some of us to take. To big for what God has allowed in our lives. But being willing to be willing opens our heart to the possibility. It’s a small step that God can work with.

Be willing to make the move.

Be willing to take the job.

Be willing to get off the ground when you’ve been gobsmacked by life’s circumstances.

Be willing to _________.

What’s your circumstance? Is it a good thing, or are you in the depths of disappointment or grief? Has He asked you to do something you don’t want to do? Maybe he’s asked you to do something you do want to do or that you’ve long dreamed of doing but you’re terrified.

Be willing to be willing. That’s what he asks you to do. He will be with you as you take the next step.

Faces

Exciting day!

Tickets to the game

Get your nachos!

Cotton Candy!

Beer!

That’ll be $20 bucks!

Win or lose

when you’re home snug in your bed

Big bushy “fro

Dancin’ girl

Ex con beside

Man that won’t speak

with wife so sweet.

Clean up the garbage you left behind.

Sweeping, mopping

Sorting the plastic from the trash

Tired, weary worn they trudge on when others went home

one’s had knee replacement and has a son

one’s been in jail want’s a new start

the man that was quiet talks

one says he’ll miss church

The 10 left took ownership

They opened a part of them that had been closed.

Me?  As husband tells me, tears flow.

Homeschool Sports and Public School

I am posting my reply written to a Missouri home educator that favors allowing home educated athletes to participate in public school extra curricular activities.  The specific bill is Missouri HB 857

First I’ll respond to the specific bill, and then to the general concerns about the issue of utilizing the public school for home education.

HB 857 is overall vague and uses generalities that are subject to interpretation by those in authoritative positions (teachers/coaches, principals superintendents of public schools in the district). For instance, what does “in the same manner” as public school, subject to “relevant policies” what if “same manner” requires that the student must have a health course that teaches sex ed in order to meet the requirements to play football? “Standards of behavior” falls the same, whose standards? Mine as the parent, or a school official? But my biggest concern with this specific bill is, what does “receiving a passing grade” and “maintaining satisfactory progress” mean? Again, by whose standards? Does this vague language mean that if the public school officials don’t feel a parents answer is good enough, they will demand to see records before they will allow a child to participate in said activity? That violates my rights under the current home ed law that states that only the district attorney can investigate homeschooling cases. (211.031).

I realize at the present time, there is a fairly friendly atmosphere in most counties, but that doesn’t mean it will stay that way. 35 years ago children were forcibly removed from their homes and many more parents were reported for educational neglect when they chose to home educate. Those parents fought for their right and by nature our right to home educate, they put their family in danger to do it. They were fearful to let their children leave their home during school hours. This is still a concern for people in some counties.

35 years ago, there was very little in the way of extra curricular activities for home educators. Educational supply companies would not sell textbooks to home schooling families, and a curriculum fair might fill an 8’x12′ room. In the beginning, parents figured out how to make what they wanted happen. They hired homeschool friendly teachers to lead science labs for their kids, they created debate clubs, theater groups, shop classes,etc. For some, private school was not an affordable option and they did not want the public school influence for their children. 35 years later, the homeschool community lacks for little, In fact, I daresay, the home educating community has more to offer than a government school–everything from Latin, and Fencing to pottery classes are specifically targeted to the homeschool community. Those same companies that wouldn’t sell to homeschooling families? They create targeted curriculum for home educators today. Those before us fought for the privilege to keep their kids out of the public school; sadly, I feel situations like this undermine all the work they did and sends a strong message, “we can’t home educate without the public school.” This is simply not true as students and parents have excelled in the home education arena.

If I wanted my kids in the government education system, they would be there. If I wanted sports, shop class, band, choir, etc,within the system, I would dual enroll them (my knowledge is that band, choir and shop class are all elective classes and not extra curricular activities. This is an option that would not endanger the privileges those of us that don’t want help from government school. FFA? Home ed has created a counter to Boy/Girl Scouts so why not FFA? Maybe there already is? I don’t have kids that bend that way, so I haven’t looked. More importantly, If what I wanted wasn’t offered near me, I would figure out a way to make it work without the government school.

Finally, if this bill (or any similar bill) becomes law, I fear that homeschool opportunities will disappear and my only option (or most likely my grandkids only option) would be public school.

It has long been proven that home educated kids most often excel in academics, in recent years we’ve also excelled in sports. Home educated students participating in sports have received scholarships, and go on to careers as professional athletes.

I couldn’t find anything on HSLDA’s website. I am waiting for a call back for further clarification on their position.

What’s Your Answer

A few years ago I heard a young woman speak about the phrase “hurt people, hurt people.”   I’ve thought about that phrase often since hearing it.  I’ve used it when helping my children through difficult situations when they’ve been hurt by others.

Hurt people do hurt people.  More than that, all of us have been hurt and all of us have hurt others.

Its what we do with the hurt that matters.

When hurt people hurt you do you lash out and attack?

Do you act like the Pharisees and put on your holier than thou face?

Do you humbly shake the dust off your feet and walk away, leaving the outcome in the hands of our Heavenly Father?

I’ll tell you, doing the last one is hard! At least for me it is.  I want to lash out and inflict pain on the one that inflicted pain on me.  I hope I’m not alone.  The fact is,  I’ve often lashed out at those who caused the pain and sadly, sometimes at those that had nothing to do with the pain but happened to be in the way.   Humanity doesn’t always allow us to handle circumstances the way we’d like to handle them.   This doesn’t make it right, and this doesn’t excuse the behavior.  I believe this is our humanity getting in the way and a part of the struggle to clothe ourselves with the fruit of the spirit.  Living by the spirit at all times is impossible…if it were possible, there would have been no need for Jesus to suffer and die in our place.

Praise God for the conviction of the Holy Spirit!!!  That soft breath of God that speaks gently and gives us opportunity to repent.  If we fail again?  We repent again and put our trust in Jesus again. We keep trusting the Holy Spirit to work in us, and we trust our Heavenly Father to rightly sort everything out in his time.

Forgiveness isn’t easy.  Isn’t that why Jesus told Peter he must forgive 7×70 (infinitely) when asked  how many times he should forgive a brother that sinned against him in Matthew 18?

21Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Don’t you think that Jesus knew how hard it is for us dumb sheep to break away from our humanness?  Especially when we’ve been hurt?  Jesus knows sanctification doesn’t mean immediate perfection.  He KNOWS we’re gonna continue to fail. He knows we’re gonna continue to sin and disappoint those around us.  He knows forgiveness will be difficult and granting mercy will be nearly impossible.   That’s why he told Peter to forgive his brother as many times as he is asked. Yet that’s not really it either, because forgiveness doesn’t depend on being asked…it depends on a heart attitude of forgiving.

Oh Lord grant all of your children a heart attitude of forgiveness!

So what happens if we don’t forgive?  Jesus continues addressing the issue in the parable that follows Peters question.

A servant was forgiven of a great debt by his master after begging for mercy.  Instead of sharing the mercy, he went to a fellow servant and demanded the small debt he was owed be paid… the servant responds to the pleas of his fellow servant for mercy by having him thrown in prison.  When the master is told, he summons the servant, calls him wicked and has him thrown in prison.  Jesus states that this is what will happen to  those who refuse to forgive.

32Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers,k until he should pay all his debt. 35So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.

This is a dangerous condition, but one that I admit would be easy to slide into, and one that I most certainly have found myself guilty of for a time.

Whoa is me!  When we do this, we put ourselves in the place of God.  We decide that the party that hurt us should be punished, so we hand down what we feel is the appropriate punishment.  We momentarily forget that pronouncing judgment is not our place.  In addition, we are not capable of righteous judgement.

Jesus has already paid our debt.  We stand forgiven, righteous and holy before our Heavenly Father.  When we pronounce judgement we are like the wicked servant that was forgiven of great things but won’t forgive our fellow servant of lesser things.

You say your fellow servant’s sins weren’t lesser?  I disagree.  Every one of is a “chief sinner.” Every one of us should find our sin greater than our fellow brother and sisters sin because our sin alone nailed our Savior to the Cross.

That debt has been paid all the more if the pain has been inflicted by a believer.  That person’s punishment was taken to the Cross.  If we punish them, we are saying that God’s plan wasn’t enough. That puts us in a very dangerous place spiritually.  God made this plan for our good.  Our hearts are deceitful, we are not equipped to rightly judge appropriately.

This doesn’t mean there may not be consequences or discipline.  But punishment is not ours to hand down.

My question, when you look inward and examine yourself, your motives, what do you find?  Do you find a struggle?  Do you find yourself wanting to do the right thing but not always able to do the right thing?  Do you find yourself convicted by the Holy Spirit and repenting of your sin, or your arrogance in believing you have a right to judge those who have sinned against you?  Or do you find yourself standing self righteously before your fellow sinner pronouncing judgment?  If so, you may be harboring unforgiveness and bitterness.

One of the men in our church died this week.  He was the picture of health for his age until his wife found him unresponsive from a stroke.  Three days later his spirit departed his body.  We never know when God will call us home.   I come asking you (and speaking to myself) to examine yourself.  Are you harboring unforgiveness and bitterness?  If the Holy Spirit is tugging on your heart and the answer is yes, I implore you to repent before it’s too late.

Before God allows your heart to be hardened.

Before relationships are destroyed.

Before you stand in front of the Heavenly Father and find as the unforgiving servant found.

I pray that God will use his Holy Spirit to convict us of any bitterness or unforgiveness.  I pray that one day we will all stand as Jim now stands, his body cold but his soul full and free of sin worshiping Jesus before the throne of the Almighty.

Finding Air

I’m glad I found some time to binge watch the last few episodes of “This is Us” recently. I forgot how well the show is written, how the writers lead us down a path then change directions to bring the viewers to a place different than where they thought they were going.

That happened in the last episode.

Beth goes home to see her Mama after she bruises her hip (by the way, I was excited to see Phylicia Rashad playing the part.) Even before Beth walks into her childhood home there’s a glimpse into the atmosphere.

When Beth’s Mama attempts to take over her job search, Beth finds a voice to tell her Mama how suffocated she feels. How after her daddy died, her Mama took something away too quickly that was special to her. Beth tells her Mama that she needs to find her air. She’s been stifled but she wants to feel free again. The next morning a tender moment is shared when mama admits her failing. The final scene of the episode finds Beth in a place that can help her find air.

Like Beth, I realized that I’ve got to find my air.

I’ve been stifled. The air has been sucked out of the room. I’ve balled up and am suffocating. All is not lost. God breaths life, and hope and he can breath that life and hope back into me too.

I can’t hide anymore. I can’t not write because I’m afraid. They say, whoever “they” is, that the way to survive after falling off a horse is to get back on it as soon as possible. Getting back on the blog didn’t happen quickly; it’s been almost a year since I’ve written here (I’ve forced myself to write for Thumbin’ Around Nashville, so it can be printed eventually). The wounds were very deep, they are still extremely painful. But I think I’m well enough to climb back on and take a gentle trot around the corral. I was afraid, very afraid. I’m still afraid. That fear threatens to make me into someone I don’t want to be. That fear comes from the enemy and the enemy is a liar! God did not design us to live in fear; he designed us to live free. I must live free! I can’t go on living without air. I have to breath.

My husband and several others have told me I have a gift. I’m not sure I believe that, but I trust that if many people are telling me, it must have a little truth to it. What I do with that gift is my decision but I also know that if I’m not using my gift, I may be squelching what God wants to do through me.

To live without sleepless nights and tears, I must realize that opinions are like butt holes…everybody has one. In other words, I have to realize that there will be those that don’t like my words. Those people may be vocal about it and I have to be okay with that. I have to realize that my words might be twisted and made into something that they aren’t and I have to be okay with that too. I have to learn to let God deal with what I can’t change. And more than that I have to be okay with letting God do that because being okay with letting God deal with what I can’t change is what will keep me from becoming bitter.

Beth found her voice. Now it’s my turn. I’ve got to get back on the horse. I have to write. I have to know that I might get thrown off again. More than that I have to know that until I am mortally wounded, or until God says no more words, I have to keep getting back on the horse.

Galatians 5:1 says
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

I have been submitting to a yoke of slavery. I have been letting the opinion of others rule what I believe about myself. I have been letting the opinion of others dictate my silence here. I have been letting the opinion of others squelch my God given talent with words. I fear I have been letting the opinion of others give way for a root of bitterness to seep into my heart. But I also know that God is a great big God and he can bring healing to my hurt places.

It’s time to get up, take off the sack cloth, wash my face, eat and write.

Loving Simply and Better

Have I mentioned that we have a new church home?  Not a perfect church home of course but a healthy church home.  A church home where the Gospel is preached, where we are allowed to think for ourselves and allowed to grow in knowledge and wisdom regarding the Bible and our relationship with Jesus Christ.  We’ve heard some great sermons from our pastor and from men that are not our pastor.  This is what a healthy church looks like!  It has been time of refreshment!  Praise God our children are thriving and growing! He protected their souls during their formative years! Shane and I are thriving and growing!  Dear Jesus thank you for our new church home!

Here’s why I bring this up. Being out of where we were makes it easier to love these people from a distance.  Praise God our life is much simpler now that we’re settled in somewhere else.   Now that time has been passed and I realized even more how messed up those souls are, I can love them better.  I can pray for them more compassionately because I’m not being manipulated or attacked any longer.  Anger no longer wells up in me because I’m not watching the wolf lead that flock astray first hand. Sorrow wells up instead for all involved.  I’ve realized that I can love better without the junk in the way. Sometimes in order to live at peace we need to distance ourselves.

 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

In order for me to live at peace, this blog must go.   I won’t take it down yet, I’ll just forget it’s here. (If I can). If I can’t it’ll disappear.  At some point I may feel comfortable coming back to it, but to keep myself from the temptation to sin, I’m at least taking a break.

Since Thanksgiving,  Google Analytics has shown me that some folks who made a promise many years ago didn’t keep it.   Having that information does not help me live at peace with them.  Having this place doesn’t help me live at peace with them.  In fact, since Thanksgiving I’ve written some things that I’ve had to take down because the Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin. The fact is I am too tempted to use my words to lash out.

More than anything I desire to obey God.   I’m tired of the struggle.  It’s not worth it.  It’s not worth the temptation.  It’s not worth the worry.  I’m going to simplify and maybe the same thing that happened with the church situation will be able to happen in this situation. Maybe I’ll be able to love these people better.  Maybe I’ll be able to pray for them better than I can right now.  Maybe God will bring some healing to the wounds and help me be more compassionate towards them.

Five Minute Friday?  That’s gonna go too. Even if I begin writing again, it’s not what I’m looking for any longer.  It doesn’t fit who I am.  I’m not sure it ever has and that’s okay.  It was a place where I could write and for that I am grateful.  I hold no bad feelings.  It’s just time for me to move on and find a different groove.

Will I still write?  Honestly right now I don’t know.  I’ve lost my desire.  I need to rest.  My heart is not in writing right now.   I’m not working on the book about my Uncle.  That makes me sad but it’s just not there.  I pray it returns because I really feel this is a book that should be written.  It’s a great story that I believe many people will enjoy reading.    Not because I’m a great writer but because it’s a great story!

We’ve got a writing community right her in our metro area.  I may need to get more involved there.  I just found out about a new critique group that is planning to meet a couple of times a month.  I like local and face to face.  I already know a couple of the people involved, so it may work well.

I’m a proud Momma.  Sometimes I fear I go over the top because of where my life was when I was my kids age. I was nothing like them.   I watch my kids and I’m just so stinking proud of them.  I’m proud of their integrity and of their faith, of the way they think and interact with their friends.  That was so not where I was when I was 17 or 18 or even in my early 20’s.   I am overwhelmed at what God has done and sometime I’m afraid I go over the top as I watch them in their element.  Every so often I ask one of my sons if I’ve gone too far.  He tells me I’m a little too much sometimes,  but then he says, “Mom, you do you.”

I’m taking his advice.  I’m gonna do me to God’s glory!  Right now, me is not here. Right now me is simplifying my life to remove temptation.  Simplifying my life to be able to love those that are unlovable better.  Right now I’m going to take time to rest, revive and rejuvenate.  I’m trusting that I will find my groove in God’s perfect time.   Right now I’m taking a step to lay down my life.  Jesus laid down his life on a cross for me. I’m trusting God to grow me in this area.  I’m not going to lean on my own understanding in this; God’s got this!

God be with you until we meet again,

Christy

 

Why The Drama?

I know the topic on many of our minds is the most recent school shooting.  It is tragic when anyone dies.  It’s tragic when a child goes on a shooting spree and kills more children.  We want to know why?

The weather report came on the radio the other day.  We were having an extraordinary 60+degree day.   The meteorologist talked about a “massive” cold front coming in.  I was ready to prepare for a blizzard. The “massive” cold front meant we were going from 60’s to 40’s which is pretty normal for our area. Why the drama?

Whenever a child, dog, car, bicycle,or _______ goes missing we go to Facebook.  Forgive me if you’re one of those people that posts every missing everything, it is not my intent to offend you.

When Hillary lost the election, social media blew up with U.G.L.Y.  If you were on the wrong side of it, you got blasted by the “compassionate” people that were devastated.   Why?

Letters and/or texts sent that spew mean, nasty and rude. How does one answer them.  How does one resolve problems if numbers are blocked and communication doesn’t happen. Few seem to actually be able to talk to each other about a problem and resolve it.  It seems they’d rather cause the other person pain.

I love the Olympics.  Like many, my favorite sport has always been ice skating.  But this year, the drama with Tara L. and Johnny W. is just too much for me to handle.  The Olympics isn’t about them–they had their turn.  And while I admire them for their skating ability, their turn is over.  It’s about those skaters on the ice today.  So you know what? I’m not watching anymore.  I’ll get the news the next day and maybe watch the videos later.

Why do we need the drama?

Not only do we need it, we feed the drama.  School shootings are the most recent copycat killer series.  We’re giving these kids exactly what they want.  Days of news coverage, social media blitz’s.  These shooters get their moment of fame.  Yes, it’s in a weird backwards sort of way, but I have to believe that’s part of the why.  We share the missing _____ post in an effort to help. We blast the unknown person in the comments of a  Facebook post because a wreath their sister make them is butt ugly to us…WHY?  Why do we care? Why must we share our opinion and why must we be nasty about that opinion we shared.

Our current culture demands drama. Social media and technology make it possible for us to know more about the world around us than ever before.  Some of it is good, but much of it is downright ugly. Stress isn’t good for our bodies, yet we feel the need to bring it on.  Drama produces stress.  Everyone’s got an opinion and we don’t care who we hurt when we post it.

Maybe you haven’t noticed, but our world is not getting any nicer.  I’ve noticed drivers honking their horns more lately because I’m not rolling before a light turns green.  Drivers that refuse to move to the left lane when cars are entering the highway.   I’ve always gotten passed on our 2 lane highways but lately, I’m getting passed on solid yellow lines!  (I drive the speed limit and others want to go faster).  Few say excuse me, please or thank you anymore.

Self centered focus.  That’s what happens when we become our own gods instead of worshiping the One True God.  When we believe we know what’s right instead of looking to Scripture for what the God who created us tells us is right, we get ugly to those around us.  I’ll be the first to admit my guilt.  No, I’ve never pulled out a gun to shot someone I disagree with, but I’ve used ugly words before when I believe my rights trump someone else’s.  We all do!

When we become so focused on ourselves it can cause us to treat others as if they’re sub human.  The battle between the Spirit and the flesh is strong.  It can lead disturbed children to open fire on classmates, or former classmates, it can cause road rage, it can lead parents to treat their children in ways we never dreamed we could.

Even in our Christian culture, so many churches are more interested in a social gospel than in preaching the Gospel. In an effort to be compassionate we convince ourselves that God would never want us or others to be unhappy, that gives us the freedom to live as we please, to divorce our spouse that we “no longer love” or act out on our sexual desires when we’re not married.  Living as we please, outside of God’s law does not bring happiness.  It brings despair and hopelessness.  It keeps us running for the next thing.  It keeps us sticking our noses in the business of others instead of searching our own hearts.  It leads us to seek the drama in the lives of others so our life doesn’t look so bad.

The Israelite’s did what was right in their own eyes.  When I look around at this world today, I see many that live for what is right in their own eyes, that have little or no regard for the humanity of the world around them.  That make up their own gospel instead of seeking the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The Gospel of man that walked this earth but not only man but also fully God to take their sins upon his perfect, righteous, holy flesh to give eternal life to all who believe.

I was there once.  I “believed.”  It must be true because the little Bible I was given at the Methodist church many years ago says I asked Jesus into my heart at least 4 times as a child.  I believed in God.  I believed that He created the world.  But I had no foundation. I never opened that little Bible to actually read what it said.   I didn’t know what that belief meant.  That is why Gallup polls indicate such a high percentage of “Christians” in America.  Because most people are like I was thinking belief means that there is a God and I don’t need to do anything else.  Those people are like I was, wrong. I continued to live for myself into my mid twenties.   I recognize my former self in so many around me today.  I ran ragged.  Seeking, searching for something. I was full of drama. I was empty.  I didn’t even realize I searched for Jesus.  Until the day He opened my eyes to see and I could do nothing but run to Him!

Friends, you may be where I was.  You may even go to church every week, you may be a pastor, or teacher in your church and not realize the depravity of your sin.  You may be chasing the drama, living for yourself instead of living the Gospel.  If that is you, I pray God will open your eyes.  As one that has been on both sides, seeking and finding, I can attest wholeheartedly that living for Jesus is better than living for the drama.

If I can encourage you, please let me know.  I don’t have all the answers, but I can point you to the One that does!

Christy

 

This post is inspired by the Five Minute Friday word: why.