My children love to build with blocks and Legos. They have become quite good at stacking them higher and higher and are always so proud of their creations. However, when … Continue reading Building and Rebuilding
Freedom Comes From Discipline
Freedom and discipline sound contradictory, right? We all want freedom- especially as teenagers. The idea of freedom becomes an idol even though we have not yet learned a very important fact:
“Absolute freedom is absolute nonsense! We gain freedom in anything through commitment, discipline, and fixed habit.” – Richard Foster
I’ve been re-reading “Blessed Are The Misfits” by Brant Hansen now that I have a paper copy and can underline things.
This time around, chapter fourteen made me think more than the ones before it.
At first, I defensively thought that Brant must be wrong saying that freedom is found by struggling, by discipline. It ruffled my feathers because I am not one naturally inclined to be disciplined, though part of me longs for it. Freedom comes from a lack of rules, right?
I began to think of examples of how this could be and one immediately came to mind: piano.
I am naturally musical, which is both good and bad. It’s good because I’ve been successful at any instrument I have attempted; it’s bad because I never stuck with any of them (seven and counting) long enough to be excellent (except for vocals). I would get to a certain level and get bored, so I would quit.
I learned really early in life that I didn’t have to practice (or study) very much to fool my piano teacher. She would praise me and say that she could tell I had worked hard, but I hadn’t. I was only eight years old at the time. I convinced myself that my natural ability was enough and that I could be lazy. This discovery carried over to school because I realized my natural intelligence allowed me to not work as hard as others and still get good grades. We are all inclined to laziness (read Proverbs!), and mine manifested itself through music and school.
How is this related?
Because I didn’t give my all to practicing and continuing to play piano, I am restricted to the notes on a page and am unable to improvise. I am confined by my limited ability despite my desire to play more difficult pieces.
Discipline brings freedom. As Brant said, “We find freedom by losing it (page 135).”
“Anyone who does only what comes naturally, who abandons the struggle, will wind up being less than what he or she could have been. And, like Jesus said, anyone who loses his life for His sake…will find it.”
– Brant Hansen (pg. 136)
Piano is just one of the examples in my life of how I could have found freedom had I applied discipline and embraced the struggle. If I had stuck with it and worked hard, where would I be today?
I could list so many more examples of laziness and lack of discipline in my past.
However, I want to stop the growth of that list in my future by embracing and implementing more discipline in my life and by surrendering myself and my natural tendencies to the power of discipline (and to Jesus) when necessary.
“No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.”
Hebrews 12:11 NLT
True freedom in this life comes from surrendering your life to Jesus. It comes from living the way He told us to live, and not the way our hearts think we should go. I know it sounds like a contradiction, but it’s the truth. Jesus said so. 😉
Now it’s your turn: In which areas does this resonate for you? What can you do to make a change today?< em>(Also, you really should pick up “Blessed Are The Misfits” as soon as possible. It’s so worth the read (and re-read)).
We’re NOT Entitled to an Easy Life…
A couple of weeks ago I listened to a sermon by Pastor Chris Brown of North Coast Church in California. Chris was our campus pastor for three of my four … Continue reading We’re NOT Entitled to an Easy Life…
Tori’s Baby Dedication
We had always intended to do a formal dedication of Tori at our church, but it became quickly forgotten in the midst of all that has happened in the past eight … Continue reading Tori’s Baby Dedication
The Consequences of Resentment
Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning. (2 John 1:6 NLT)
We are told as Christians to do two things: love God and love others. By focusing on those two things we will end up obeying the law of God and the law of man without even realizing it most of the time.
There are many things that can hinder us from fulfilling this command, many things that can negatively affect our perspective and perception of others without us realizing it.
In photography, the lens is how you see the world. The quality and integrity of the lens is crucial. Everything depends on the lens, even the quality of the final image.
If your lens is cracked, smudged, or otherwise compromised, your image will be unclear or even indistinguishable from the view/reality you saw with your eyes; your perspective will not translate into a beautiful finished image like you had planned. It will be distorted. You will be disappointed, possibly angry, and unfulfilled. There was nothing wrong with the subject you were attempting to photograph, but the lens made it appear to be flawed.
Similarly, forming a first impression of someone happens automatically. You meet someone, and based on the first few minutes of your interaction you form an opinion. Those first few moments do not provide insight into a person’s context, character, or true self. You merely catch a glimpse instead of knowing and understanding them fully.
Once an impression is formed, overcoming that perspective can be difficult no matter what experience may prove to be the truth.
I mention these things because I have been pondering what the Bible has to say about bitterness, anger, resentment, and how those things affect our perception of people and circumstances.
When we hold grudges and harbor bitterness, anything the “guilty” person says or does will be viewed through a cracked lens. The perspective will be skewed, and the relationship may be further damaged because we aren’t seeing things clearly.
Perhaps this is why Jesus told us to resolve our issues with people directly and promptly (Matthew 18); to get rid of all anger and bitterness (Ephesians 4:31) ; to get rid of the plank in our eyes before judging the splinter in the eyes of another (Matthew 7:3-5); with these things in our heart, our lens is cracked and we cannot perceive the actions and words of people correctly and therefore cannot love them as we are commanded.
When we are bitter, angry, or resentful we cannot love God and others the way He desires and commands us to do. We cannot fulfill our mission.
Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. (John 13:35)
Resentment prevents you from seeing situations clearly and in proper context. Resentment is a dangerous thing.
Many times in my life I have seen the aftermath of built-up resentment that is never resolved biblically. It has split churches, destroyed friendships, and created friction in families.
Someone can do something or say something to you with great intentions, but because you are harboring unspoken resentment and bitterness you will read between the lines in order to justify your feelings. We’ve all done it!
Rather than going to the person as soon as the alleged offense occurs to find out their true intent and to clear up misunderstandings, you choose to remain silent and allow bitterness to eat away at your heart, all while pretending that everything is fine on the outside.
Pride is a dangerous companion to resentment.
This is a human flaw that we all deal with at some point in our lives, and that’s exactly why Jesus spoke about this issue in Matthew 18:
“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.
But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses.
If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.”
There are so many verses that tell us to not be bitter or resentful, but to love; here are a few:
Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. (Ephesians 4:3 NLT)
And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight. (2 Peter 3:14 NLT)
This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. (1 John 3:11 NLT)
But we don’t need to write to you about the importance of loving each other, for God himself has taught you to love one another. (1 Thessalonians 4:9 NLT)
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)
Don’t let bitterness, resentment, anger, or irritation destroy you. Don’t let them destroy relationships or communities. The enemy LOVES when Christians do this! Don’t let him have the satisfaction.
Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back. (Proverbs 29:11 NLT)
And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. (1 John 3:23 NLT)
I strive to take the following steps whenever I am in situations where I am hurt, and I do my best to not assume anything about the person. These have helped me tremendously and I hope they are useful to you as well:
- Consider the context: What is the person going through? If you don’t know, then offer grace and understanding instead of becoming angry immediately. Ask questions instead of assuming.
- Remember that no one is perfect, including yourself. Offer grace.
- Think about the true cause of the offense: why is it bothering you? Was your pride hurt?
- Always assume the best about the people you love and not the worst.
- Communicate! In person is the BEST way to do this, but if the other party won’t consent to doing so, make your written communication clear and your emotions known, remembering that words are powerful. Text leaves so much to the imagination and it can often make issues far worse than they were at the beginning. Talk about things immediately, don’t blindside someone years later.
- If the person matters to you, make the effort to humbly make things right. Put aside your pride.
- Don’t allow misunderstandings and misperceptions destroy relationships. Life is too short and too precious to allow bitterness and resentment to steal our joy.
We are here on earth to love one another, to encourage, to build-up, to lead others to Christ. Resentment prevents us from fully loving God and others, and it lets the enemy win.
Choose love, choose joy, choose humility. It’s worth it.
Intense love does not measure, it just gives.
– Mother Teresa
I always knew that motherhood would be a selfless endeavor. From the very beginning, your body, your time, your thoughts, everything revolves around, and belongs to, your children. Before I became a mother I had an idea about what it looked like to be selfless and I knew I could handle it with the Lord’s help. After all, a mother’s love is one of the strongest forces on earth, and I was ready for the challenges.
I had no idea just how “selfless” my life would become when Tori became sick.
By the way, I don’t write this (or any other post) to invite pity or sympathy, or even accolades. Rather, I continually strive to be transparent during this journey in hopes that someone will be encouraged or challenged by how the Lord is speaking to our hearts and working in our lives.
Here’s my reality and a glimpse into my daily life with a terminally-ill child.
I haven’t had more than 5 full nights of sleep (defined as 5 straight hours) since Tori was born. To say that I am exhausted is an understatement.
When she was healthy, the sleep deprivation was bearable because she was such a joy, such a delight. I didn’t mind nursing her every two or three hours because she was always so happy, so content. Watching her learn and grow filled my heart with enough energy to endure the sleepless nights (and days). Her smile and laughter would fill my heart with a palpable joy and my heart would overflow with love. That was my reward and it filled me up like nothing (except the Lord) ever has.
When she was healthy, I was still able to do things for myself (like shower and eat a good lunch) because she was content to play with her toys on her own and would nap without being held for 20-30 minutes at a time. I could still take care of our home and do things for myself like shop, read, eat meals, etc.
My view of what selflessness means changed drastically in January 2015.
“For even the Son of Man (Jesus) came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:45
My days are a blur, much like the lives of those with healthy babies, but there is no tangible “reward” for my selfless service anymore.
My days now revolve around medication and feeding schedules, appointments with specialists and Early Intervention (which is a WONDERFUL program and I am so thankful that our tax dollars go to pay for this), and keeping Tori comfortable, which usually means rocking her in our recliner most of the day.
If I am lucky (or if someone comes over to hold Tori), I can take a five minute shower while Tori stares at her light-up giraffe on her changing table (it has rails and she doesn’t roll, so she is completely safe).
Eating doesn’t always happen – at least not healthy eating.
I rarely leave the house because Tori doesn’t like being in the car and we aren’t sure if she is in pain while in the car seat. Thankfully, I just discovered that our local grocery store will deliver groceries for a nominal fee (and the first 60 days are free). What an amazing blessing this service will be.
Doing simple things for myself usually doesn’t happen at all these days. As much as I want to work on her Project Life album, read my Bible (not on my phone), or even CLEAN MY HOUSE (yes, I actually long to do normal things like that now), they just don’t happen until Brennan is home for the evening, if at all. And even then, I struggle between wanting to clean my house/do things for myself, and wanting to spend time as a family doing other things.
I don’t think about how little I am doing for myself very often, and when I do, it is then that I am overwhelmed by the energy my life currently requires. I went from such an easygoing, low maintenance life (even with a baby) to a life that is so high maintenance that it is overwhelming at times.
I don’t like this, I don’t want this, and I keep praying it’s all a nightmare.
Yet, I don’t think about how hard it is as I am living it – I just do it.
Though my priorities have shifted drastically in the past three months, I know that I have to find a balance because I need to take care of myself while also caring for Tori. Now that her G-Tube surgery is complete and her appointments outside the home are slowing down, I am hoping to have more time to figure out how to accomplish these things.
Through all of this, I am continually learning to praise the Lord in the midst of these difficult and unwanted circumstances because I know that He is using them to refine me and to make me more like Jesus.
Does this mean I like what is happening? No.
Does this mean that I am a perfect Christian mother and entirely unselfish? Ha. Definitely not.
But, I trust that He is redeeming this terrible situation in ways we can’t even imagine. I trust that I will be a more loving and selfless person because of all that we are going through.
It’s a moment by moment process of surrendering my own desires for what is best for Tori. It isn’t easy, I’m not perfect at it, but thankfully we serve a God who showed us what selflessness looks like when He sent His son, Jesus, to our world two thousand years ago, and that same God is just as full of love, grace and mercy today as He was then.
2 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
6 Though he was God,[a]
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges[b];
he took the humble position of a slave[c]
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,[d]
8 he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
and gave him the name above all other names,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
I live my life with my “hands empty, eyes up” and I “do the next thing” (both of those quotes were topics that were discussed at the “Night to Breathe” event and I will be writing more about them in the future). I surrender my exhaustion and my fear to the Lord and He sustains me. Most days, I have no idea how I got through it all, and that is a huge testament to God’s constant presence in our lives.
I don’t know what the future holds for our little family, and I am overwhelmed when I think about what may be coming our way. So I choose to live moment by moment, day by day, and I do whatever I can to serve my daughter as selflessly as I can, knowing that she is suffering more than I can begin to imagine, and knowing that Jesus Himself lived a completely selfless life to redeem us and be our perfect example. It truly is the least that I can do.
The Start Experiment: Choosing Destruction Over God’s Perfect Plan
In my “One Year Bible” the Old Testament passage today was from 2 Chronicles 25. It has been fascinating reading about all of the past kings of Israel and Judah and how they followed (or didn’t follow) God’s leading. In today’s passage, the king was following God but encountered fear when presented with a message from the Lord that required significant sacrifice.
For context, at this time, the nation of Israel was not following the Lord but the nation of Judah was. King Amaziah of Judah was building up his army so that he would be prepared when battle arose (which it often did). He surveyed his available troops and found that he didn’t have quite as many as he wanted to have; so, he hired men from Israel to join his troops and paid them 7,500 pounds of silver in exchange. That’s quite an investment.
After this, the Lord sent a messenger to King Amaziah to warn him to not bring in troops from Israel and said that if he added those troops he would surely fail in battle, no matter how well he fought. Essentially, the Lord said to not have anything to do with Israel because He knew what was best in the long run for King Amaziah and Judah.
v.8 If you let them go with your troops into battle, you will be defeated by the enemy no matter how well you fight. God will overthrow you, for he has the power to help you or to trip you up.
This brings us to the verse that struck me this morning:
v.9 Amaziah asked the man of God, “But what about all that silver I paid to hire the army of Israel?”
The man of God replied, “The Lord is able to give you much more than this!”
Let’s sum this up. Amaziah hears from the Lord that if he continues with his plan he will be destroyed by the Lord Himself. His first thought is about the money that he invested and what he will lose if he follows what the Lord is telling him to do, not on the fact that the Lord is saving his life and the lives of his troops from certain destruction! God knew the hearts of the people of Israel and knew that it would be worse for them to infiltrate the army of Judah and spread their influence than to just destroy them all. So he has two choices: be destroyed and waste your investment, or be saved and waste your investment.
From our perspective this seems so ridiculous. We look at Amaziah and think, “What a moron! Be grateful!” But, if we think about this in simpler terms, we realize that we all do this. We convince ourselves that we “need” whatever our temptation may be and we don’t want to give it up because the sacrifice seems to be too great.
For King Amaziah, it was manpower and money. For me, it is sugar. I love ice cream. I love chocolate. I have a sweet tooth that is genetic. When faced with facts like a family history of diabetes, being overweight, knowledge that the longer I wait to reform my lifestyle the harder it will be, it seems like it should be as simple as deciding not to drink alcohol was (due to family history of alcoholism)…but it isn’t.
If I take the verses above and put them into my context, here’s how they would read:
If you keep allowing sugar and unhealthy eating be part of your life, you will be defeated by your desires no matter how well you fight.
Lesa asked the man of God, “But what about all that I am going to miss out on? I will be giving up so much!”
The man of God replied, “The Lord is able to give you much more than this!”
In the moment, when presented with ice cream on a hot day, or chocolate everywhere I go in Hershey, it is so hard to remember the greater gift that lies ahead if I will just submit to a healthy lifestyle: weight loss and self-confidence, a longer life (in theory) because of my body being healthier, being a better example to our future children about what is really important in life, and most importantly, honoring God with the body He has given to me and keeping it holy and set-apart… Instead, all I can think about is what I am giving up in the moment. When that is my focus, it is easy to cave into the justifications like “You only live once!” or “Just this once, it won’t happen again” and eat that ice cream instead of exercising self-control.
Giving up refined sugar is hard. It is everywhere. But that can’t be an excuse for me to give in to temptation. There ARE ways to avoid it, even though it feels like I’m making a huge sacrifice. Fear tries to tell me that this is just too uncomfortable, that it isn’t worth it, that I can wait until tomorrow to start this…but the Voice of Truth says that the God I serve is greater than any of these things that my brain (and the world) tells me are desirable and worthy of my attention.
The New Testament passage today was from Romans 12, and this passage fit perfectly with the one above:
v.2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s Will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Bottom line: Don’t be afraid to give up something that will cause destruction in the end just because of what you have invested in it, or because of how uncomfortable it will be in the moment to let it go. God is greater than anything you are struggling with and He can give us FAR better things in exchange if we will just follow Him!
New Perspective…Part One.
So, something occurred to me in the past twenty-four hours that just might be an answer to a long-standing prayer of mine. Maybe. It’s at least getting me closer to understanding the “why” of my jobs, past and present. I have split this into two blog posts because it’s far too much for one post.
First, some background:
In 2001, I was ready to take on the world. I wanted to be the governor of California someday, with every intention of being my friend’s vice-president in 2028 (we even had a website!). High-profile aspiration is an understatement.
That’s how I saw myself: working in politics to change our country for the better, and everyone would know my name and how awesome I was. I wanted to feel important, to feel admired, to feel respected because of my capabilities, talents, and brilliance. In one word: pride.
Over the next few years I interned with Newt Gingrich in Washington, D.C. (2003), I worked on (and ran) several campaigns, attended the 2005 Presidential Inauguration (and a ball) and was even on ABC for thirty-seconds. I attended campaign training at President Reagan’s ranch in Santa Barbara and was pictured in TIME Magazine with the rest of the training group. I was on my way…or so I thought.
Fast-forward to 2007: Two years past graduation and I was still living in Southern California (not my plan). I kept trying to get back to D.C. but doors just would not open. Instead, I was working for a financial company fixing tax returns all day long–completely low-profile–along with doing youth ministry at my church (nearly full-time for a while). I eventually became content (but not fully happy) in the tax job and even tried to move into management, to no avail. Even though my bosses said I was the perfect candidate for management, I continued to be passed over for promotions, and it didn’t make sense to any of us. But, it was a good job so I remained there.
In December 2007, I felt God urging me to pray for discomfort. My faith had grown stagnant and I was desperate for a change. He brought to my attention all of the accounts in the Bible of people who grew tremendously through trials and discomfort (and never through times of prosperity or easy living)…
…so I did it. I began praying for the next year that God would make me uncomfortable in order for me to become more like Jesus. God definitely delivered. 2008 was one of the toughest years of my life thus far, and I never DREAMED of what God would call me to do/lead me through. From the spiritual struggles to the physical (pneumonia), He used that year to the fullest to mold and shape me. I knew it would be a challenging year (I could probably write a book), but I never dreamed of the growth and transformation that would take place by surrendering to God’s plan and letting go of my own.
The biggest change was my move to Pennsylvania. I had been contemplating this for many years but kept trying to do things my way and nothing ever worked out. I visited PA in October 2007 and during that trip I realized that I didn’t want to live in Southern California anymore, at all. The realization even brought me to tears one day.
I began praying that God would allow me to move to PA, and I prayed for six months before I felt an answer from the Lord. He said that I could stay or go, and that He would use me wherever I was. That was a huge lesson in itself, realizing that sometimes God allows us to make decisions and that sometimes there is no “right” answer.
I moved to Harrisburg, PA on July 31, 2008 knowing only two people in the city, having no job, and having very little money. I chose Harrisburg because of it being the center of Pennsylvania politics. I worked through a temp agency for awhile until obtaining a job with a lobbying firm–which I thought was PERFECT! This was it–my door into the political arena!
Boy, was I wrong. Looking back, I firmly believe that God allowed me to have that position for a year to show me that He did NOT want me in politics. It was a terrible year–the job was a terrible fit and I was so miserable in that role. I saw a side of politics that I had never seen before and I was completely disillusioned. I was let go on 09/09/09 and the joy that I felt was indescribable! Most people aren’t happy after being fired (or, in my case, “forced to quit”), but I felt all the heaviness that had weighed on my heart disappear and I felt so free.
From there, I was unemployed for a year, and that year was an incredible gift to me. I watched as God provided faithfully for me and I was able to pay my rent until April 2010, when I moved in with Brennan’s aunt and uncle until our wedding. I was able to focus on church planting and mission trips, and I was so joy-filled through it all. I got engaged during this time, so this also allowed me to focus on wedding plans/marriage. God’s provision was constant, and though it was a humbling year, I learned to accept help from others and to not be proud.
I worked for a temp agency as much as possible (talk about humbling), and in June 2010 I began working part-time for a consulting firm (huge blessing). In September 2010 I obtained a second part-time job (my current role) and was finally working full-time again. I learned more during that year of unemployment than I thought possible! It was a humbling and faith-filled year.
That brings me to today…I have been in my current role for two and a half years. I have never been recognized or thanked for my work by my supervisor. I do work that a high school student could do. I have never had a raise (and I don’t make much to begin with). I do not use my very expensive, hard-earned bachelor’s degree. I go most days completely unnoticed by my co-workers (and have NEVER been asked to join them for lunch when they go out). My gifts and talents go by the wayside as I watch the clock day by day, waiting for 3:00pm to arrive so that I can do things that actually matter. I feel completely unappreciated and overlooked. I have applied for and even interviewed for MANY jobs during this time period, but God has not opened any other doors. So I have remained here, despite how miserable I tend to be here.
Even my role as a relief houseparent at MHS is largely a “thankless” job (from the students themselves, not from the supervisors or the houseparents…students aren’t going to thank you for disciplining them, haha). Don’t get me wrong–I LOVE it, and it’s highly rewarding to help these students make decisions and learn lessons! My point is that they don’t care about the fact that I’m intelligent, a great musician/vocalist; they don’t really care that I am a good photographer, or that I was once in TIME Magazine. They just want to be fed (they are middle school boys, after all 🙂 ), entertained, and kept safe. Above all, they want to be loved.
So why has God been allowing me to go through these things? I think I’ve determined His reasons…
To be continued…
New Perspective…Part Two.
(See part one here…)
Yesterday, as I was talking with a dear friend about her potential job opportunities (very prestigious and impressive jobs for which she is perfectly suited), all of the above-mentioned things started to run through my head. As I listened to her speak, I realized that I, too, long to be admired for what I can do–for my God-given gifts and abilities, for what I worked so hard to accomplish in college/post-college. I long to be known as someone who “did something” with her life, whatever that even means. I, too, tend to put my value and self-worth in my career, in how people view me, and what I’ve done, which explains so much about why I have felt so miserable in recent jobs. That hasn’t changed since 2001.
But you know what has changed? In the past year, my desire to be a mother (a stay-at-home one, at that) has increased exponentially (considering that I never saw myself doing that, it wasn’t hard for it to increase drastically). I have come to realize that raising children to love Jesus and to be productive members of society is the greatest possible career that I could ever have. What a stark contrast to how I felt even one year ago.
And last night, it became very clear that God has used the circumstances of the past few years to prepare me for being a mom (No, this is not a pregnancy announcement 🙂 ). From what I hear, being a mother is often a “thankless” job as you continuously and often sacrificially serve your children. Someday, they might recognize the amazing job you did to prepare them for life and to take care of them, but humans are naturally born selfish. They aren’t going to say “thanks, mom, for changing my diaper so that I don’t get diaper rash” or “thanks, mom, for staying up all night with me when I was sick”…that’s just how it goes. They don’t care how accomplished you are and they certainly aren’t going to marvel over your talents. Being a mother is going to require humility, sacrifice, unconditional love, and lots of grace…and I know now that I am much better equipped for motherhood because of the circumstances of the past few years.
Much of the past twelve years makes so much sense now. I was in desperate need of humility, and God brought circumstances into my life to teach me how to be humble. I wish I had been a faster learner! Haha. Not that I’m completely humble–definitely not. But, given where I was in 2001, I have come a long way and my perspective has completely changed. I was so unaware of the grip that pride was holding on my life!
I now view the word “rewarding” completely differently. It no longer means being recognized and praised–it means offering recognition and praise expecting nothing in return, all for the benefit of others.
So, now I have something new to embrace, and something hard with which to grapple. God doesn’t want me to be “famous”–He wants me to make disciples, including my own future children.
I need to remind myself constantly that it doesn’t matter what the world thinks of me, and it doesn’t matter if they notice how “awesome” I might happen to be…
What matters is that I live my life according to the Gospel, and that I share it with others at every opportunity.
What matters is that I find ways to use my God-given gifts and talents to further the Kingdom of God, especially within my own household, without doing it selfishly or for recognition.
What matters are the eternal things, not the temporal.
What matters is that my value and self-worth come from God alone and not from anything that I have done or will do.
Guest Post: “From Gangs to God”
From Gangs to God
|By Sheri Rose Shepherd
Bestselling Author and Bible Life Coach
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|I once heard a pastor say, “If you are struggling to respect your husband, find the strength to respect him as your brother in the Lord.” That comment really woke me up as I realized that none of us really deserves honor or respect except the Lord. Honor and respect are powerful tools to rebuild a broken society, but how do we show respect and honor to those who act disrespectfully and do dishonorable things? What can we do to cultivate honor and respect between men and women again, and how can we influence our children to live in a way that is honorable to God and respectful of people?Yes, our men may have done many things that certainly do not deserve to be honored. But they are God’s children just like we are, and they are imperfect just like we are. We women are not responsible for their dishonorable actions, but one way we can each help rebuild our broken men is to treat them like the men they want to become.
Years ago my husband and I owned a Christian production company, which produced talent showcases for aspiring models, actors, and singers. But more important than exposing these potential stars to Hollywood was the ministry time that took place during the week of rehearsals and workshops, as we would share God’s love and plan of salvation for their lives.
During one particular showcase in Seattle, a group of gang members hung around outside the room where we were holding the auditions. They made fun of each of the participants as he or she walked out of the audition. It was obvious they were there to cause trouble. I struggled with fear and anger as I prayed for protection over the young adults walking out to their cars. Then something happened as I made eye contact with one of the boys through the glass doors I was standing behind. My heart began to break with compassion, and my faith overpowered my frustration. I thought, Maybe these boys have never seen men and women honor and respect one another. Maybe they just need someone to treat them like they were made for more.
God grabbed hold of my mother’s heart, and I began to look at these boys through different eyes. I realized I didn’t know their pasts, their parents, or their present circumstances, but I did know they were truly loved by God, no matter how disrespectfully they were behaving.
I took a step of faith and invited these boys to spend a week taking acting workshops at no charge. Their first response was, “Why would anyone do something for us?” However they couldn’t resist the offer.
Each day when they would walk into the room for their workshop, I would stand to my feet, walk over to greet them at the door, and treat them like guests of honor. The first day I took them around and introduced them to each of our staff members. The next day I decided to make lunch for them. Although I did not like the way they acted or the words that were coming out of their mouths, I decided I would make every effort to use whatever influence I had as a woman to inspire them to live honorable lives. To my surprise the power of prayer, honor, and respect paid off as I witnessed these boys begin to transform. Not only did they begin to act differently, but I learned a valuable lesson that week: honor is not something someone has to earn. It is an attitude I need to learn to give to all those God has created.
For more teaching videos from Sheri Rose, go to www.biblelifecoaching.com.
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