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Loose Your Grip: Take 2

 

handI wrote last week about a storm the Apostle Paul weathered in the book of Acts, chapter 27.  There was so much to learn in that story…I wrote my guts out over it for three days.  But then, I had to go in and trim and cut so that I would have your attention!  This is a one page blog, not a chapter in a book, I get it.

 

As I read and studied that passage, I kept asking the question “what is the most important point of this story”.  I couldn’t come up with just one point.

 

As for me, I keep pondering those men cutting those anchors and leaving them in the sea.

 

 
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”
2 Timothy 3:16

 

I love movies that take place on the ocean.  There’s something about the power of water that intrigues me.  Big wooden ships that creak and sway, flags flying in the wind, waves higher than the vessel itself.  Men shouting over the noise of the ocean and wind.  Put that stuff on the big screen and hand me a Kit Kat and I’ll buy a ticket!

 

This week at church, our Pastor said to fill in this blank, “if mama ain’t _________, ain’t nobody happy”.

 

“Happy”?  No.

 

Secure.

 

Let that sink in.  I think it’s true.  I’m speaking from experience.

 

We all like to feel secure, especially women.  But, imagine being on a giant ship with nearly 250 other passengers, battling wind, rain and waves, when everyone is hungry and hopeless and the decision is made…cut the anchors.  Cut.  The.  Anchors.

 

SAY WHAT?

 

This passage in the Bible is a true story and I believe we can learn something here.

 

Where does our hope lie?  In whom or what do we trust?

 

It’s nice to see our income add up and be enough to equal our outgo, but it usually doesn’t work that way.

 

It’s nice to go to our jobs and know without a doubt that we’ll work there until we retire, but it doesn’t always work that way.

 

It’s nice to build a life with someone and count on them to stay with you until death comes, but it doesn’t always work that way.

 

It’s nice to have a plan for a particular college education with the perfect job to follow, but it doesn’t always work that way.

 

That money, those jobs, those people, that college, those anchors…we can touch and see those.

 

In reality, they’re not reliable.

 

They’re temporary.

 

They bring a false sense of security.

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;”

Proverbs 3:5

 

If my finances crash do I trust Him with my needs?

If my job ends, do I trust Him with my retirement years?

If my spouse walks, do I trust Him to make it right and stick with me?

If my plans take a turn out of my control, do I trust that it was no surprise to Him?

If the anchors I’ve tethered myself to are cut loose, will I live in a state of constant suspense like the men on that ship had been in, or will I relax, lie on my back and allow the Holy Spirit to keep me afloat?  Will I surrender to what He is allowing to take place in my life instead of my own plans?

 

The Holy Spirit is invisible.  He’s like the wind.  You know He’s there and you can see the effects of his presence, but He can’t be seen with our eyes.

” Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Hebrews 11:1

 

If we call ourselves “Christians”, “believers”, “born again”…whatever term you choose, are we living a life that expresses our complete dependence on Him?  No matter what?

 

It’s a choice and it takes knowing God to begin leaning into Him.  That’s why spending time in the Bible is important.  As we grow closer to Him and learn his character, we will trust more quickly…with our whole heart…with our actions.

 

Security.  Trust.  Faith.  The only anchor that these can be tied to from now through eternity is unseen.

 

When our tangible anchors are cut, whether by our own doing or not, there is no need to fret.  For those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ, there is an anchor which will never cut us lose.  An anchor which is firm and secure.  An anchor which transcends our  limitations here on earth.

 

 

“Do not be anxious about anything…”

 

 

If you are eternally tied to this anchor, live a life filled with hope and assurance in the unseen.

 

If you are not tied to this anchor, ask someone about Him who is.

 

Blessings,

Kellie

 

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Loosen Your Grip

handWater is powerful, especially when it comes in the form of a storm.

Lightning.  Thunder.  Wind.  Is it just me, or does it seem that the worst storms come at night?  Those tornado warnings or threats of wind damage rear their heads when we can’t see what’s coming.  Adding to the anxieties of the darkness, if the power cuts out and there is little access to news broadcasts, we have a decision to make.  Do we take cover, flee or just shrug our shoulders and go back to bed.

 

Lightning…thunder…wind…darkness…these are things that are out of our control.

 

Sometimes things come along in our lives that create fear and a feeling of helplessness.  Maybe it’s an illness.  An unexpected loss of a loved one.  A job loss.  A financial need that you have no idea how to take care of.  A sick child.  An adult child who is going through their own struggles.  A relationship that’s on the rocks. etc. etc. etc.

 

There is a story in the Bible about a storm that raged for weeks.  A man named Paul was on board a ship in that storm and the story of that experience is told in the book of Acts, Chapter 27.

 

While these men are out to sea, they begin to be slowed down by some winds that have set in.  The sailing had already become dangerous and then a northeaster wind came and swooped down on them.  They had to give way to it.  The ship was out of their control and they were forced to go wherever these winds pushed them.

 

Survival Mode

 

After two days of hanging on for dear life, they threw ropes into the sea and wrapped them around the ship to try and hold it together.  They threw cargo overboard to lighten their load.

 

On the third day, they threw their tackle over, giving up their ability to fish.  They saw no sun or stars for days in that storm.  For.  Days.

 

After fourteen nights had passed, they were still weathering this storm.  They were exhausted.  They had lost hope.  The scriptures say that they were in such a state of “constant suspense” that they had not eaten in all of those days.

 

Constant Suspense

 

Have you ever been so pushed around by your circumstances that you felt like you were in a state of constant suspense?  Your muscles are tight.  Your stomach is in a knot.  You couldn’t eat if you tried.  Headaches.  Anxiety.  All of this together with a feeling of helplessness.  You’ve tried to hold it together the best you could , like these men stringing rope around their ship, you pull in tight whatever you can control.

 

But rope frays.  It’s support can only be temporary.

 

What are we to do when the storms of life come?  When they’re out of our control, and it’s dark, and we can’t see, and we’re scared and feeling helpless…what are we to do?

 

Letting Go

 

The men on that ship tried to hold things together the best that they could.  At the same time, they let things go.  Things that could hinder.  Their cargo.  Their grain.  Towards the end of their journey, they even cut all four of their anchors loose!

 

There is freedom when we loosen our grip on our stuff.  Sometimes God can’t take from us what may be holding us in our storm if we are holding on too tightly.  He’s a gentleman, He won’t always pry our little fingers off of whatever we have in our hand.  Our children, our finances, our marriages, our jobs, our health…Let’s take a deep breath and loosen our grip a little today.  Let’s offer up whatever it is that has us in constant suspense and everything else that could be keeping us there.

 

What can you let go of when you’re in a storm?  What could be weighing you down and causing you to suffer longer?  An item you’ve gone in debt over that keeps your finances strained?  A friend who feeds you negativity every time you talk?  A job that you hate?  Even something that’s usually meant for good, like those anchors…what might you need to cut temporarily to ease the voyage through your storm?

 

 

“…Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.”

Isaiah 43:1-2

Keep Up Your Strength

 

After two weeks of weathering the storm, Paul urged everyone on board to eat something.  To build back their strength.

 

Women are especially bad at this.  When we are busy trying to take care of everyone else around us, we often neglect our own health.  Don’t do it.  Keep up your strength.  Eat healthy, maintain your exercise routine and continue to make time for yourself.  You need the strength to weather the storm.

 

Once they ate, they tossed the remainder of the food overboard, cut the anchors, untied the ropes and drifted to land.

 

drift

verb

:  to become driven or carried along (as by a current of water, wind, or air) <a     balloon drifting in the wind>b

:  to move or float smoothly and effortlessly

 

A land where they were welcomed with fire for warmth and food for nourishment.  They were extended the hand of hospitality.  There was rest.  There was relief.  The storm had ended.

 

Let’s hold together what we can and let go of what we can’t.  Even if it doesn’t make sense in our mind, like those men cutting those anchors, let’s let go of anything holding us back from fully trusting what God’s word says.

 

Once the storm has passed, we will find rest and relief.  I believe that same rest and relief can come in the midst of our storm too if we stay close to God.

 

Let’s hold tight to Him, let go of any dead weight, take care of ourselves.

 

He will be with us.

 

The waters will not take us over.

 

We will not be burned in the fire.

 

The flames will not set us ablaze.

 

 

 

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Hopping Fences

 

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My daughter is a wanderer. She sings, draws, paints and is a gifted photographer.  She practically lives out of her car, much like a gypsy.  She hops fences.  If the best angle for the photo she wants to take is on the other side of the fence, there is no question where she is going.  She’s a bit of a risk taker.  I’m more of a rule follower.

 

It takes all kinds to run the world. To raise children.  To teach.  To be a friend.  To lead.  Don’t get hung up on whether you are more of a wanderer or a rule follower.  Embrace who you are, who God made you to be.  You may be a little bit of both.  I think Jesus was.

 

A Fence With Purpose

 

When Jesus walked the earth, He didn’t always follow the rules. He was a bit of a fence jumper, but, only if it had purpose.  Only if it was at the direction of His Father.  Only if it would ultimately point others to their need of God.

 

In Jesus’ day, the Sabbath (day of rest), was honored very differently than many of us do today.  There were ceremonial laws in place to be kept and the church leaders made it their business to watch and see who might break these.  One of which, was not to do any work.

 

But what is the definition of work? In those days, it was argued that work could be picking up your child, putting in your false teeth, lifting a large cup of water to your mouth.

 

Helping others out in a time of need…that was also considered work.

 

I imagine that those rules created quite an obstacle for someone with a big heart…a moral dilemma…a barrier…a wall…a stumbling block…a fence.

 

But Jesus jumped the fence.

 

There are several accounts in the New Testament that tell us that Jesus healed on the Sabbath. He healed in spite of the rules.  He healed knowing full well that the religious leaders would see.  He knew the risks.  He healed because he is compassionate.  He healed because it was the right thing to do.

 

10 “On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.”

                                                            Luke 13:10-13

 

 

Jesus Went Against the Grain

 

Where am I going with this? Jesus broke the rules because He knew the big picture.  He knew that when He went against the grain, the man made grain, the reward far outweighed the risks.  It was more important for Him to follow his Father’s directions than to worry about what others may think.

 

Healing on the Sabbath is just one example of Jesus doing things His own way.

 

But for today…

Do you have your eye on a fence?

 

Is there something in your life that you are contemplating right now?  I’m not talking about breaking the laws of your local government, I’m speaking of taking a risk on something that is burning inside of you.

 

Is it something that is out of the “norm” for your family and friends?  Are you afraid that people will “talk” or be critical of what you’re doing?  That you’ll be laughed at.  Are you afraid you’ll fail?

 

Maybe it’s a God given calling that you’ve pushed aside.  Perhaps it’s a different job or hobby or the pursuit of a relationship with someone who is usually overlooked.  Maybe it’s taking an unpopular stance in your parenting, or committing yourself to that volunteer position you’ve had your eye on at church or in your community.

 

Maybe you have a relationship with Christ, but you haven’t told anyone yet.  You’re stuck.  You’re on the fence.  You’re a straddler.   You’re allowing your fear of failure or your fear of what others may think of you to keep you where you are.

 

Perhaps you’re putting off to tomorrow what you need to do today.  I’ve been guilty of this.  I’ve got my eye on a few fences myself right now.

 

Do you want to know the man made consequence of Jesus healing on the Sabbath?  The church leaders began plotting his death when they witnessed his work.  His murder.  I don’t know what your fence looks like, but I doubt that it will cost you your life to jump it.

 

Take time and pray about that fence. Make sure that the Lord is summoning you towards it before you go.  You should know that you know that it is a call to climb that will bring your relationship with Christ a little deeper, make it a little sweeter, and bring glory to Him…before you go.

 

You may get a few splinters.  You may exercise some muscles you haven’t in a while.  You may get tired.  You may get talked about.  You may lose some friends.  But God will give you the strength you need to get over it.  Your wounds will heal.  You’ll become stronger.  You’ll make new friends.

 

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9

 

You’ll never know what’s waiting on the other side unless you move.

 

So…lace up your boots.

 

Pull back your hair.

 

Block out all the haters.

 

Get moving!

Where’s the Parenting Manual?

Screenshot_2016-02-03-23-11-03~2

“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.”

Psalm 127:3

We have one child out the door and the last one still living at home but mostly independent.  We are beginning to taste the joys, and sometimes the sorrow (speaking for myself, not my husband) of a quiet home.

Like most parents, I am no expert.  Most of the lessons I’ve learned were actually acquired because I did it wrong the first time (sometimes the 2nd, 3rd, 4th…you get my drift).

We will always be parents and the demands will always be there, they just change. And the pressure releases.  And the house gets quiet.  And there are more date nights.  And it’s hard to watch your children make the occasional unwise choice.  And I’m still learning to bite my tongue.  And it’s a beautiful thing to see them make wise choices.  And build their own self confidence.

Stating again that I’m not an expert (just ask my kids), I became a parent 22+ years ago, and here are a few things I learned along the way.

  1.  Marriage comes first. If you are married, your children are watching how well you love each other. Your children are watching when you think they aren’t. They are smart. They will learn your weaknesses and plot and scheme at times to drive a wedge between you and your spouse. Do not let this happen! You chose each other before that child came along. You will only raise your kids for about a third of the time that you are doing life with your spouse. Don’t let them interrupt your conversations. Go on dates and tell them where you are going and why. You get the drift.

         If you are a single parent…this applies to you too. God is a husband to the husbandless.  Keep your relationship with Him first priority.

  1. Relationship over rules. It took some time to learn this one (maybe I’m slow). We had a strong-willed child who really, really needed immovable boundaries. A child who could be very argumentative, who exhausted us. There were days that frankly, we just wanted to isolate him, or ourselves, from one another. We had to make the conscience choice not to (unless it was for his personal safety lol…just kidding…not really). Even as an adolescent teen, he was still a child and it was our job to keep teaching him and shaping him into a man. It was important to keep conversation flowing with both of our children whether they liked us or not (that still applies today). Sometimes, even if they were deserving of discipline or correction, we would explain what the word grace meant, load them in the car, and go out for an ice cream. I don’t regret any of those times!

Grace

noun \ˈgrās\

 a :   approval, favor <stayed in his good graces>

b archaic :   mercy, pardon

c :   a special favor

d :   disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency

e :   a temporary exemption :   reprieve

 

  1. Practice self-control. Especially when they are young and it seems that the only way to get their attention or get them to behave as you wish is to raise your voice or shock them with an unexpected yank of the arm.  Be self-controlled! They need to see that they can trust you in the big picture. They’ve got to know that you know what you’re doing (even if some days you feel as if you don’t!). Take a breath. Count to 10. Whatever you need to do. Just hold it together!

 

“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.”

 Proverbs 25:24. 

  1. Start letting go early. Our goal as parents should be to prepare them to be well adjusted adults that won’t just survive adulthood, but thrive! The younger that you can start giving them a little responsibility, the more opportunities there will be to build their self-confidence. If we do everything for them, they can’t take credit for anything. If we allow them opportunities to make choices, then they get a chance to revel in the good feelings that come with owning their decisions and be proud of themselves.
  2. Do it God’s way. He created family.  It was His idea and He wouldn’t give us a task and not teach us how to do it.  God’s word is an instruction book on life, a treasure chest filled with wisdom on how we should treat people. Your children are small people. Over the years if when my husband and I have disagreed over how to handle a situation with our children, we’ve been able to turn to this book and learn what to do, and we don’t argue about it. It’s our common ground. These precious ones are God’s children that have been put on loan to us. Surround yourself with other believers and watch, ask questions, learn. We did that. We did it deliberately. Be deliberate in this.

 

If I could take all of these lessons that I learned and put them under one giant umbrella…it would be to mind my own business.  It is so easy to look around at other families and begin comparing one parent’s style of parenting with ours and compare one child’s rate of maturation or social skills or whatever it may be, and either a.  point out their flaws or b. point out my flaws.  STOP!  We answer to one.  THE One.

 

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”

Colossians 3:23

Parenting is one of the most important privileges on the planet and we were hand-picked to raise our little ones. Hand.  Picked.

There are different challenges that lie ahead in their young adult years.  Our kids will still need us, but we are no longer responsible for their actions.  It’s different…and I’ve still got a lot left to learn…and we are still surrounding ourselves with people whom we can trust and glean wisdom from.

If you are still raising your children, I am praying for you. Hang in there!

Fellow empty nesters…what am I leaving out? What advice would you give to other young parents?

Blessings,

Kellie