Thursday, April 3, 2014

To See or Not to See the Noah Movie: That is the Question

This is an interesting year in the film industry. I have heard it referred to as "the year of religious-themed movies." 

I am not the kind of person who goes out to see movies every week for reasons that you could easily guess. One of those reasons is the fact that I am particular about my film choices. I usually listen to what other Christian people have to say - even checking the opinion of Focus on the Family on their media review site pluggedin.com.

As a believer, I agree with the idea of "voting at the box office" to encourage the making of more family-friendly films (though I rarely am able to actually do this). But I also believe in the very opposite - to vote at the box office by NOT attending those films which are in opposition to everything connected with Christ. I rarely have trouble differentiating between the two and making a decision.

But the movie Noah has me stumped.

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I am well aware of the controversy surrounding this film.

One day as I listened to the Christian radio station, I heard a group of people discussing this movie. One of them said that the movie's producer had visited a pastor's convention and had shared how he felt that the movie would be true to the Biblical story. This pastor was not opposed to seeing it, nor was he inclined to discourage his congregation from watching. A woman mentioned how she had seen Jesus Christ Superstar as a young, unsaved woman and that movie, strange depiction of the Saviour though it was, opened the way in her heart to find the real Saviour.

It reminded me that God really can use anything to bring people to Him.

IN THE SAME DAY, I heard Ray Comfort discussing the reasons why Christians should NOT be inclined to see the movie.

Normally, this would not affect me, since we rarely attend movies, but the Noah movie showed up on the list of possible things for our church youth to attend, so I began to wonder whether I should allow my children to see it.

Some of the points of contention over this movie have been the obvious omission of God from the entire story (!) and the fact that the purpose of the flood has been changed from the judgment of said righteous God on the wickedness and depravity of humanity, to a resulting consequence of mismanagement of the environment.

My typical reaction would be to steer clear, but there has been one nagging thought in the back of my mind.

One of the objections to this movie had to do with the fact that this is the way in which many people (especially Christians) get their theology so muddled!

We have become such a lazy society, so concerned with what people think of us, so enamored with ease and comfort, that we have allowed our theology to be shaped and formed by popular culture rather than truth. We do not put any effort into finding the truth, living in truth or defending the truth!

My husband and I are committed to teaching our children HOW to "be in the world, but not of it." I am more terrified of the alternative since I have seen so many families shelter their children from the world so entirely throughout their childhood, that when they do go out into this big, scary world, they are either completely unprepared, or they easily succumb to temptation and go full-tilt into a life of evil.

So this is what I have decided to do. We will "vote at the box-office" by NOT seeing the movie when it is out in theaters, but I WILL allow my children to see it later on television - with one caveat:

That they first seek out the truth.

My Mom always told me that when bankers teach their tellers about counterfeit currency, they do not show them all of the known versions of the counterfeit, they show them the real thing. They are expected to familiarize themselves completely with legitimate currency - - how it feels, how it looks, how it smells...  so that when something illegitimate passes through their hands, they can tell the difference.
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Think about how differently you view a movie made from a book you have read. If the producers stay very close to the original story and seem to depict it accurately, you are delighted (like the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice). But if they take too many creative liberties or veer off from the story line (like the Disney/Walden version of Prince Caspian), your stomach tightens and you find yourself correcting the movie. Out loud. To the dismay of everyone else in the room. (Am I the only one who does this?)

That is the reaction that I want my children to have. I want them to be so familiar with the truth that they can spot a lie a mile away.

How will I go about doing this?

By handing them The Book, then going back to middle school English class and asking the pertinent questions:

Who?
What?
Why?
When?
Where?
How?

I want them to know who so that they will spot the fact that God (a KEY player) has been omitted.

I want them to know why so they will not think that all of this "global warming" is going to produce a similar event - they will know that the great flood was a judgment of God on the wickedness of mankind.

I want them to know how so that they will see that, in His mercy and grace, God made a way of salvation for anyone who would believe and enter into that ark - just as He did for you and me through Jesus Christ who said, "I am the door, if anyone enters by ME, he will be saved." John 10:9

Maybe you, your children, or someone else that you know is planning to see the movie. If so, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the true facts of the story so that you will be prepared. It could be an excellent teachable moment, an interesting Bible study, or it could simply equip you to have an informed conversation with a co-worker or friend.

For a printable "cheat sheet" of these questions and answers, click here.

...And if you like to see a movies in the theaters, "vote at the box-office" with movies like Son of God and  God is not Dead.



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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Teenagers


No matter how old I get, I will NEVER be old enough to be the mother of teenagers.

It's not that I have a problem with my age. It's just that I never quite feel like my age has afforded me the wisdom needed in dealing with them.

Tuesday, my 5 year old decided to pull one over on me. We have allowed our small children what my husband refers to as "mental health days" - days in which they are not sick, but for whatever reason they need to stay home with mom. All of our children have required these days in their early school careers, but this one decided to abuse the privilege.

She used one of these days on Friday and went to school late on Monday after a doctor's appointment. On Tuesday morning I struggled to wake her. Wondering if she might be coming down with something, I allowed her to continue sleeping. As soon as the other children left, she got up and began to play.
"Get dressed so I can take you to school." I said.
"I have a headache." was her matter of fact reply.
"If you are too sick to go to school, you are too sick to play." I quickly informed her, and I sent her back to bed. She lay in her bed listening to Patch the Pirate CDs for a couple of hours until she could not sit there any longer and started begging to go to school.

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Her teacher laughed when I told her.
"Sometimes I ask God why he gave me this very strong willed child at the end of my family when I am old and tired." I added.
"You're not old!" She announced in surprise (she is about the same age I am).
"No. But I will be when she is a teenager!"


We attend a country church that is really more the size of a city church because the need is so great in this rural area. We have two young, energetic youth pastors who plan a plethora of activities that range from entertaining to thought provoking in order to cover the tastes and interests of the 100 - 200 youth that attend.

As you can probably guess, my teenagers want to do EVERYTHING.

In addition to the youth events at church, I am inundated with papers that come home from school encouraging them to be involved in sports, plays, music and many other activities.

 As you can probably guess, my kids want to do EVERYTHING.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to do everything!

Because we have so many children, we work very hard to be an "equal-opportunity" household - which means, for example,  that sometimes we have to reign in little miss wants-to-try-anything so that little miss happy-to-stay-at-home can do the one and only thing she has asked to do. My husband and I evaluate all of the possibilities, and narrow it down to what is practical for us because, not only are we committed to fairness, but we also are determined not to run ourselves and our children ragged trying to do everything.

Oh. And did I mention that most of these things cost money?

We are very blessed to have a good income in an area where the slogan is "half the pay for a look at the bay," but sometimes I think that my kids are so blessed that they begin to expect all of the blessings afforded to them, rather than to see each and every one as a blessing and be thankful for them.

This week we have a youth group event that happens to be one of the things that did not make its way onto the family calendar.

My husband has encouraged me to join the youth ministry since I enjoy being involved in ministry although half of the time I wonder if I am in the right place because I have no idea what to say - I was never a teenager myself.

Of course I was.

I just mean that my mom was diagnosed with cancer when I was 13. Understanding the brevity of the situation, I took on some of the adult responsibilities in the home. Over the course of a year or two, she became well and tried to give me back my childhood but by then I was too "sophisticated," and had decided that teenage antics were beneath me.

At any rate, I was there this Wednesday when I was approached by my one of my children, followed by both of our youth pastors asking if they could help to make arrangements for this child to attend the event. I felt like a deer in the headlights, though there was nothing particularly intimidating about these smiling young men.


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I fumbled for my "opt-out pass," with which my husband has authorized me to use his authority to not make an immediate decision when I am feeling pressured to do so, and said, "I need to talk to my husband first." which was an acceptable answer to the men, but my teen took as an invitation to keep prodding.

Soon the program started and my teenager joined the group. I was still shaken, and went to the quiet room and called my husband. I recounted the situation as he tried to calm me down, offering to explain the decision to the youth pastors if I was too flustered to do so. (While I would not go so far as to say that I avoid confrontation at all costs, I certainly do try to avoid it, and, though this was far removed from a truly confrontational moment, I felt just as intimidated by it).

I went back into the sanctuary and sat alone where I could pray about how to handle it and calm myself down. One of my best friends is also involved in the ministry and, seeing me alone, came over to talk to me. "Why can't teenagers take NO for an answer!?!" I agonized as I explained the situation.

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I have had the kids corner me with their friends nearby, hoping that the pressure of looking like a bad guy to their friends would entice me to give them what they wanted, but this was pitching for the big leagues. I HATED looking like a mean old mom in front of those youth pastors, but after this little bit of manipulation, I HAD to stick with the NO, even though it would have been much easier to cave.

 ~ ~ ~
 
This morning I realized that a chore that should have been done yesterday had been overlooked and asked the responsible child to complete the task before leaving for school. The response was neither cheerful, nor immediate. A few minutes later, I asked again and received a lovely retort to the effect of, "So you wait until Dad leaves, and THEN tell me!"


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"I asked you BEFORE he left. But what does Dad have to do with it?" I answered, only to discover that they had planned to pitch an overly dramatic fit in the hopes that their father, who cannot stand to start the day off with chaos and drama, would intervene. Faced with the option to calmly and quietly finish the task or take on additional responsibilities, the task was promptly completed.

  ~ ~ ~


As I made the beds this morning, a blog post I read on Wednesday came to mind. The author talks about having to say no to her teenagers because she is looking forward into their lives and making decisions not only for their immediate self, but also for their ultimate self - the person they will become. I was thinking about it Wednesday night when I realized that it was crucial to reinforce the "No," rather than to allow my child to use intimidation to pressure me.

Suddenly it occurred to me that it is not really age that gives wisdom. It is experience acquired with age, and the ability to learn along the way. I have all of these other children to teach me how to handle difficult moments and learn how to strengthen my resolve so that when my delightful little miss strong-willed is a teenager, I will have the wisdom to know how to parent her.

Maybe God knew what he was doing after all...

P.S. It occurred to me that this story could be misunderstood as a complaint. It is not. My strong willed five-year-old is completely delightful, the chore was completed promptly, and my child was vying for more time at CHURCH! I just know the temptation that we bloggers often have to portray ourselves in a better light than what is true. Our children are not perfect. Our parenting skills are not better than those of everyone else. We are all in the fray together. I just wanted to show how true this really is.


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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Day I Stopped Writing

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Last Sunday I bumped into the wife of one of our pastors in the restroom at church. Even though we are in different stages of life, we had become close a couple of years ago while attending a small group for those interested in writing. We are definitely what Anne of Green Gables would call "kindred spirits."
 
 
She began sharing her current writing pursuits with me and asked about my writing - not surprising since she has been one of my most vocal encouragers in my attempt to use words to point those in the World Wide Web to Christ.




"You always have one friend who believes you are more than you are. Be listening for those people who resonate with the voice of the Spirit of God inside your soul."
Erwin McManus

I told her that I had stopped writing. "After 2 years, I only have 38 followers," I said. "I feel like no one is listening. I spend a great deal of time on each post and since my time is so limited anyway, I just stopped."

I tend to be that way. If I am telling my husband or my kids something and they are looking at something else, or just seem to be oblivious to the fact that I am speaking to them, I just stop talking. My husband usually has to give me a prompt to let me know that he was listening and wants me to finish the thought.

I have been feeling convicted lately that I should still be writing. The fact of the matter is, the only reason I started in the first place was that I felt God was calling me to it.

Not feeling heard is not a good enough reason to disobey.

I was feeling tired and lazy today so I just wanted to pick up a book and sit on the couch as soon as I put the kids down for their nap, but there were lunch dishes to be cleared. Midday Connection was on the Christian radio station, and though I usually make a point of listening, I did not think that the topic of reclaiming our creative essence was going to be particularly relevant to me.

I was wrong.

After finishing the dishes, I found some laundry to fold as I continued listening, and allowed my relaxing to wait a little longer. As the host interviewed the guest - a man who is both a fashion designer and a pastor - I found his words piercing my heart. He explained that sometimes we think that if God calls us to something, it should come easily. Even if we have a talent and a calling,  we give up on things because they are hard. I believe that I audibly gasped when he said:

"We are actually pursuing fame, not greatness...
We want to be known rather than to be worth knowing."
Erwin McManus

I had not thought of myself as pursuing fame, but I focused on the fact that I am known by so few and stopped writing, rather than simply being content to stay focused on excellence in my research and writing and be worth knowing.

"If you do anything well, eventually God will use it as a way to expand your influence so that you can begin to tell the story of Jesus."
Erwin McManus

I had my priorities all wrong and started listening to contrary "voices" - voices of discouragement, voices that say I am not up to the call of God, voices that say I have nothing to contribute...Voices that my Aunt says even published writers hear.

I have decided to get back to obedience - even though it is hard to stay focused with life whirling around me, even though I often question whether I have anything worth saying, even when it feels so unnerving on occasion to bare my soul and let the readers see a glimpse of the wickedness still lurking there as God continues to work on me...

It is not my job to count readers. It is MY job to obey. And that means continuing to carefully research and write about whatever God places on my heart.

And leave the counting to Him.



Midday Connection March 11 Erwin McManus

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Monday, January 13, 2014

What I want my children to know about Phinehas and Phil

 There is little doubt that most of you have heard of the controversy surrounding the hit TV show Duck Dynasty and the comments made by the family patriarch Phil Robertson concerning homosexuality and sin.

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If I were honest, I'd have to admit that it has set off an array of conflicting thoughts and emotions in my own mind. On one hand, I agree with a blog post I linked onto Facebook last week written by one of my favorite bloggers in which the author states "You can mean something — but if you say it mean, no one can hear your meaning."

She goes on to explain the importance of weighing our words carefully - - Because words have power. Of surrounding everything we say with love so that we do not become a " noisy gong or a clanging cymbal." (1 Corinthians 13:1)

Absolutely.

I just did not feel comfortable lumping the words of this godly man in with those of a woman who has a history of careless (and mean) words. Once I had the opportunity to read the entire interview, I did not see a lack of love in his words. Coarse? Perhaps. Mean? No.

As Christians, we should "Let [our] speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that [we] may know how [we] ought to answer each one." (Colossians 4:6)

As I mulled over the idea of "salty words," I kept hearing my husband's assertion that no one who is familiar with this straight-talking man's manner could be surprised at his frank choice of words. He always says it plainly.

No matter what the topic.

Some of us Christian folks live in a bubble, surrounded by other Christian folks and we are blithely unaware that the general population speaks with a (shocking) level of vulgarity in their everyday speech! In fact, the controversial interview (which can be read in its entirety here) is littered with just such language.

I am convinced that it is our responsibility as Christians to live to the highest standard in our personal lives and to do it in such a way that our words and testimonies are relevant and compelling to those around us. Sometimes, that may mean saying something in a way that it is strong enough to crack through the shell of a hardened heart.

 Not even Jesus was always "nice" in the way that He had to say things. He cut right to the chase.

As odd as it may seem, Phil Roberson came to mind again yesterday morning as we came upon Numbers chapter 25 in our daily reading. Israel had been wandering in the wilderness for nearly 40 years, waiting for the death of each and every one of those who had initially failed to trust God and enter the promised land.

They weren't trouble causers, yet, they seemed to attract it. When they were repeatedly attacked, they fought back. And won.

Soon, all of the nations around them were nervous.  The kings of Moab and Midian, realizing that they had no chance of winning in a head-on battle, attempted a more devious approach. They hired a spiritist/medium to put a curse on the nation of Israel - but God would not allow it.

Every time this man opened his mouth, he ended up BLESSING them instead! (You can read about it in Numbers 22-24).

Finally, understanding that they could not beat them in battle or procure a curse, they began to see a place in which the men of Israel were weak.

Women.

Scripture says that they began to indulge in sexually immorality. Soon they were fully involved in the sensual practices of idolatry. The men who belonged to God, were now bowing to idols.

To indulge (v) means to yield to an inclination, to satisfy or gratify feelings or desires. To allow oneself to follow one's will.

They decided that saying "No" to themselves was less pleasant than saying "yes" to what felt good at the time. That God's "thou shalt not commit adultery" was too restricting, and Baal of Peor's freedom to act on feelings of lust was more desirable.

They swallowed the enemy's lie hook, line and sinker.

...And incited the wrath of Almighty God.
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God demanded that the sin be brought out into the open and dealt a definitive blow.
Death. To anyone who had participated.
Not only was Moses instructed to expose the sin and put these men to death, but a plague upon the people was occurring as well. (In one source I read that it was a venereal disease of some sort.)

In a show of bold-faced defiance against God and the whole community, Zimri, the son of a Simeonite clan leader, takes Cozbi, the daughter of a Midianite tribal leader, and promenades her "before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping," thumbing his nose at the seriousness of the situation, and brings her into his tent.

THIS was too much.

"When Phinehas son of Eleazer, son of Aaron the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear through both of them - through the Israelite and into the woman's body.

Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped." (Numbers 25:6-8)

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 I have heard that that was a rather remarkable feat - spearing two people at once. It would require a great deal of force. Probably equal to that of a man filled with righteous anger.

Everyone else just sat there crying.
Phinehas did something incredibly bold.

Some may have been too worried about their own situation to notice what was going on with someone else.

A few may have worried about the repercussions of killing the daughter of a Midianite leader.

Perhaps others thought that it was not their place to say or do anything - after all, who am I to judge!

Then... "The Lord said to Moses, 'Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites; for he was as zealous as I am for My honor among them,  so that in My zeal I did not put an end to them. Therefore tell him I am making My covenant of peace with him. He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites.'" (Numbers 25:10-13)


 I can see the similarities between Phinehas and Phil.

We are currently living in a time in which sin is lived out blatantly and openly - not just homosexuality as Phil mentions primarily, but every kind of sin. Those of us who still want to live for God are being told that we must keep our opinions to ourselves, not to judge, to be tolerant of the choices and beliefs of others by not imposing our choices and beliefs on them...

And we cower.

We fold our hands in our laps and wait for the return of Christ. "It is a sign of the end times." we say - just as Christians for hundreds of years have said - as we sit down and watch our world go to hell in a hand basket.  Yet He has delayed His coming. He continues to extend His grace. A few more days, a few more years, a few more generations. The opportunity for more lost souls to find salvation. Additional time to reveal Himself in miraculous ways. Another chance to show Himself mighty in the lives of those who trust and obey Him... 
 
But our watching and waiting has become weakness and waning.

Instead of responding with a bold approach to sin, we weep.

We "indulge" in personal sin - no matter what type it is - and make ourselves unable to address sin in the lives of others. (After all, who am I to judge?)

We forget the power of Almighty God and bend under social pressure.

We see our faith as "private" and refuse to share with others the one and only thing that can save their soul.

But not Phil Robertson.

He addresses it head on. And because he is zealous for God's honor, God has blessed him and his family.

“So you and your woman: Are y’all Bible people?”
Not really, I’m sorry to say.
“If you simply put your faith in Jesus coming down in flesh, through a human being, God becoming flesh living on the earth, dying on the cross for the sins of the world, being buried, and being raised from the dead—yours and mine and everybody else’s problems will be solved. And the next time we see you, we will say: ‘You are now a brother. Our brother.’ So then we look at you totally different then. See what I’m saying?”
I think so?
We hop back in the ATV and plow toward the sunset, back to the Robertson home. There will be no family dinner tonight. No cameras in the house. No rowdy squirrel-hunting stories from back in the day. There will be only the realest version of Phil Robertson, hosting a private Bible study with a woman who, according to him, “has been on cocaine for years and is making her decision to repent. I’m going to point her in the right direction.”
It’s the direction he would like to point everyone: back to the woods. Back to the pioneer spirit. Back to God. “Why don’t we go back to the old days?” he asked me at one point. But now, I’m afraid, I must get out of the ATV and go back to where I belong, back to the godless part of America that Phil is determined to save. 
 (Excerpt from Phil Robertson/Drew Magery interview.)


Praise God for men like Phil Robertson!

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Walk on Water? I can't Get Out of the Boat!

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.

As I sang these words in the Sunday worship service, my heart cried out in agreement. I DO want my trust to be without boundaries, my faith to be strong enough to walk on water - yet as soon as I said it, I cringed.

I thought of the scripture from which this song is inspired:

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.
Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified.
“It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” He said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.
“You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.
Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Matthew 14:22-33
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I know full well the place in which this kind of faith and trust develops.

In PAIN.

I am reminded of what I read in a book not long ago. That sometimes when we are in the darkest place we have ever been, and feel that God is no where in sight, we've simply been hidden in the cleft of a rock while God passes by, because no one can look on His full glory and live. (Exodus 33:17-23)

I remember.

I can look back and see God hovering full over me in the months of leanness after three different layoffs, or the year following the stillbirth of our baby. He was there in the pain and the struggle. I knew it.

Truth be told, I still don't like pain - even if it means seeing God.

I guess that what I want is to have TRUST
...but with the borders of comfort - - like knowing that there will be enough money to cover the bills and buy groceries.

I want to have FAITH
...but not have to step out of the boat into a deep, stormy sea with waves crashing over my head and use it.

I don't want the sea billows to roll. I want it to be well with my circumstances - not just well with my soul.

But I also want to see God.

It has always bothered me that Jesus seems to rebuke Peter for having such small faith, yet Peter was the only one who had faith enough to step out of the boat - the others did not even attempt it. I thought of the time when the disciples could not cast out a demon and asked him why.

So Jesus said to them, "Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20
 
It sounded to me like all they needed was just a teeny tiny amount of faith. Peter had a teeny tiny amount of faith to step out of the boat - but he needed just a little bit more to stay afloat.
 
He learned that lesson. These are the moments in which that kind of faith is built, strengthened, increased...
 
When a teeny tiny amount of faith is required - and used - and proven, it then grows into bigger faith.

We need to see His presence in the little things in order to trust Him in the bigger things. The disciples had already begun to suspect that something was different about Jesus. They had just watched him feed 5000 people with a child's lunch box. But it took this storm. This walking on water. For them to say, "Truly You are the Son of God!"
 
Sometimes that is all we need, too.
 

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"Let go, Mom!"

Tiny Boy stood perched on the top rung of a ladder that led down into 10-15 foot deep water.


 We had walked out to the end of a pier which is little more that a long pile of huge rocks with a giant's vegetable can - sans the wrapper, and now filled with giant size rocks - at the end. The older children were jumping from the pier into the newly dredged channel below. Only a week earlier we had been able to walk all the way around the end of the pier in knee deep water.



 Now Tiny Boy wanted to climb down into the water with everyone else. My heart skipped several beats as he neared the edge, swung his legs around and started to descend. I held onto his puddle jumper life jacket the whole time. He tried to lower himself to the next rung but could not. I was still clinging so tightly to him and he could go no further.

"Let go, Mom." he said.

I let go, but in my heart I was screaming, "I can't!"

He climbed up and down the ladder several more times as I watched, my heart needing a pacemaker the whole time.

I have always found it difficult to let go of my children. I am that mother who cries every time I send a tiny child off to school. (Number five starts this fall. She is ready. Mom is NOT ready.) In the past two years, both sets of grandparents have taken the older kids on vacations to fun places like Disney World and the Grand Canyon. I have let them go, but prayed for their safe return the whole time.

I know what you are thinking.

Yes. I am the mother who wrote about putting the lives of my children into God's hands and accepting the days allotted to them. Yet, KNOWING that I have placed their lives in God's hands and DOING the work of letting go, often feels very contradictory.

"...Unless the LORD guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain."
Psalm 127:1 

As I read this familiar passage of scripture yesterday morning, I felt the Lord reminding me that God is the protector of my children, and all of the worrying in the world will accomplish nothing.

So, my husband said the other day, "When are you going to schedule the driving test so Josiah can get his driver's license?"

"Never." I wanted to say, "Because then he will think that he should be allowed to drive WITHOUT one of us in the car!"

But instead I said, "I will do it this week."

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Picture Perfect

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"She really has a perfect life." I thought to myself as I looked at Facebook pictures of an old friend whom I haven't seen in twenty years.

Smiling children. Smiling husband and wife. Smiling friends.
Church involvement. Exciting vacations. Good humor.

Then I caught myself and had to chuckle. "Of course she's not going to post video footage of a fight she had with her husband the night before!" I said out loud. I wouldn't either!

Most people don't want to post everything...

Moments we are ashamed of: "You should take that face the next time you go to church." my husband said. (I was scowling.) CLICK

Moments too private to share like tears over the death of a loved one or some other deep grief. CLICK

Moments of fear. CLICK

Moments of embarrassment: "No, that wasn't the recipe I wanted." I stunned the young woman as I turned on my heel to hunt down the person with the right recipe. (What could ever have possessed me to say that!) CLICK

Moments of parenting concerns. CLICK

On Father's Day I posted pictures of all of my children kayaking on a beautiful lake at a beautiful beach. Even the little ones tried it - and they did pretty well, too!

  
  
 
Smiling children. Smiling parents. Good times.

A few moments after this...


In an attempt to keep her in shallow waters (per Mom's instruction) an older sibling turned and pushed her kayak closer to shore.

My beautiful child shrieked at the top of her lungs for the entire park to hear, then attempted to HIT the older sibling with the PADDLE!

CLICK

I am shaking with laughter now, but at the time I was mortified!

Why do we only post the good?

I think that there are several reasons - some better than others.

1. We want to appear like we have it all together. This is one reason that people are so disillusioned with Christianity - we think that what people want is perfection, but what they really want is genuineness. They can see through all of the pretense and hypocrisy, and there is nothing endearing about it. Our Savior was tired, angry, frustrated, broken hearted, cried real tears, and knew the value of forgiveness - - and people were drawn to Him, not repelled by this show of emotion.
Why should we be any more "perfect" than HE?

2. We want to preserve the GOOD memories more than the BAD ones. Scripture tells us to intentionally think good thoughts:

 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, "Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Matthew 9:4

To entertain means to give admittance or reception to. To allow into or hold in your mind; consider; harbor; cherish.  The American College Dictionary.

Whichever type of thoughts that we choose to harbor and cherish in our minds, will be reproduced over and over again in our lives. I have seen this in many forms. Annoyance breeds discontent. Discontentment breeds complaining. Complaining produces disunity. Disunity leads to the break down of relationships...

So we choose to be positive!

3. We want to protect our loved ones so we refrain from posting their ugly or embarrassing moments. This is respectful. It is loving. It is the right thing to do. Posting things that embarrass our loved ones would cause a loss of trust and a rift in the relationship. It does nothing to improve our own appearance of goodness by making others look bad.

4. We fear vulnerability. Sometimes it is as simple as wondering what people would think of us if they really knew that we yell at our kids, or fight on Sunday mornings - then plaster on smiles before we walk through the doors, or if our house is really messy, or we gave the kids the same lunch two days in a row... We fear that people would pull away from us if they really knew.

That might be true. But to be honest with you - I find comfort in knowing that other people are just the same! I get too discouraged when I feel that I am a pitiful lump surrounded by perfect people.

One day I told my husband that the ladies at church with whom I most identify and wish to be friends are the ministry ladies and pastor's wives. "But they probably wouldn't want to be friends with me. I don't really fit into their category." I said. My husband was shocked. "What makes you think that they are more holy than you!?!" he asked. "I bet they are insecure about the same things as you are."

 It is this fear that has held me back from pursuing relationships - and from plastering my insecurities on Facebook.

5. We need to preserve our safety and the safety of our loved ones. Sometimes it is not necessarily bad to post something - it is simply unwise. For example: you should not post the address of your garage sale if you have posted pictures of your kids.

We should be careful not to post things that could be used against us, or could bring harm to our loved ones. In some cases, it is best to be cryptic rather than explicit. Or simply don't post about some things at all.

I guess it all comes down to this:

Nobody is perfect!
 ...and nobody really has a charmed life.

Things are not always what they appear.
...so don't get caught up in the "greener grass" comparisons.

Everyone else feels like a pitiful lump on occasion, too.
 ...so it's OK to be transparent and share some of your insecurities.

And finally,

Genuineness is more godly than a pretense of perfection.

Happy Posting!




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