Monday, February 2, 2015

The Gospel According to Sandra: Day After Superbowl

If I were given a trivia on the sport of American football, I would probably fail. You would not know that if you had seen my reactions during the Superbowl game yesterday. I cheered, hollered and hooted with the rest of the group as we watched men run around in tights chasing each other and a ball. I must make a confession, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the game more when the Seattle Seahawks were in possession of the football. If you watched the game, you would understand my disappointment due to the final results of the game. We all saw it. At first, I blamed Russell Wilson, the quarterback, until it dawned on me...
Russell Wilson did not make the decision that cost the Seahawks the Superbowl game. The decision was made by his coach. His coach who has authority over him. Inside I applauded that young man for honoring his coach. Mr. Wilson simply did something that we all have been faced with or will be faced with sometime during our life. To obey those in authority over us, even if the cost is great. I am certain for a brief moment the quarterback questioned the coaches decision in his mind, but without hesitation, he obeyed. He honored the man whom had authority over him.

"Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, 
because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account."
-Hebrews 13:17 (NIV)

By now you are probably saying this is another post about submitting. Well, yes, it is. I am not saying that you have to submit to everyone who has a title and abuses others in the name of that title. However, I am saying that submitting to those in authority over you is not a bad thing. Submitting to proper authority protects you. The situation between this quarterback and his coach is a great example. According to reports I read via the media outlets, the coach has taken blame for the call that resulted in the loss of the Super Bowl game. What a great coach/leader for taking the blame. What a great football player for doing what was asked of him.

Often times when being told to do something that we prefer not to do results in the battle of the wills. The will of our coach, boss, pastor, husband, ect. is meet with resistance when it does not fit in with our will. Let's face it, we all want to have things go our way. When things do not go our way, we know how to make others around us feel uncomforatable. All it takes is a little passive aggressive know how. After a while, we get what we want. Think about it, what husband would not give in to what his wife wants after she has withheld herself for a long period of time. We see it all the time on a sports team when the athlete plays halfheartedly because he/she is upset with the coach. Even within the church we have a tendency to not give as much as we can because we do not like what the pastor is doing.

"Football is a lot like life - it requires perseverance, self-denial, 
hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority."
-Vince Lombardi

As a believer in Jesus Christ, I desire to pattern my life after His. If asked whether trying to live your life the way Jesus did was difficult, I would be the first to raise my hand while saying yes. Especially after I read the passage of Scripture found in Philippians.

"And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself 
by becoming obedient to death even death on a cross."
-Philippians 2:8 (NIV)

One thing for sure, I am filled with joy knowing that I do not have to die a physical death to be obedient. I do, however, need and should die to my selfish ways. By doing that, I will continue pursuing my goal of living in harmony with those around me.

"What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires 
that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but 
you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because 
you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with 
wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."
-James 4:1-3 (NIV)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Set Apart

If you were to ask my teenage daughter to describe me in one sentence, she may tell you something like this:

My mother acts like a seventeen year old trapped in the body of a middle-aged woman who is a grandmother going through changes in a body that gravity has definitely taken a toll on.

Whew! That was a mouthful. So much of that mouthful was full of truth. I could go on and on about the body changes, but I don't want to embarrass my husband, my children, my friends, my leaders or other women who have the same thing(s) going on with their bodies who swore me to secrecy. (Shhh...my lips are sealed.)

However, I must confess, the part about the seventeen year old really got me to thinking. I do have a tendency to "act" like a seventeen year old. After all, I can text faster than a speeding bullet. Just text me and you'll see how fast I will respond. I post selfies on Instagram. In fact, one photo had a semi-ducklip look to it because that's what teenage girls do right? Although the ducklip is not as cute as some would think. I tweet so much that my followers know what I'm doing or thinking at any given moment. I just had the urge to tweet that I am writing a new blogpost, but I didn't.

Am I trying to fit in with a group that is clearly out of my age range?

Why I still have the need fit in even at my age?

On January first of this year, I decided to step away from any and everything for 21 days that distracted me from living. Real living. The life I had once lived not long ago. The life that the older Titus 2 woman in church encouraged me to live. A life that is set apart.

During this time, I had no idea what was happening in the social media world. I was so worried that my Facebook friends would get offended if I missed their birthday. What would happen if I went three weeks without posting a status? I thought for sure the five women who always give me a star next to my tweet would surely unfollow me thinking I had jumped ship. 

They say that social media is not real life. I beg to differ. Yes, we can be anyone we want on social media. I can easily tell you that I wear a size 2 dress. I can even prove it with the help from the latest editing software. For me, social media mirrored my real life.

In real life I strive to make sure my friends are doing well. When I don't hear from someone I would call just to make sure everything was good between us. Being quick to apologize because I did not want to offend anyone. When you offend people, they reject you. Rejection is one of my greatest fears. My greatest fear was keeping me from living a set apart life. 

Living a set apart life requires you to live a different life. I received that revelation on day 8 of 21 days of consecration. Here's the revelation...

"Why are you trying to fit in when I have called you to stand out?"

I knew then that I strayed so far from the life that God had already laid out for me. No, I was partying like a rock star at the nearest nightclub. No, I did not leave my family to go and find myself. No, I did not go to the edge to see how far I could go without falling over. I did, however, started to wonder why I would strive so hard to fit in like a teenage girl in high school.

Being certain that I am not the only one whom God has called to live a life set apart, I want to encourage you to keep living that life. That life that requires you to act in such a manner that others will not understand you. That life that requires you to dress different. That life that requires you to talk different. That life that requires you to come under the mission of your husband and leaders. That life that requires you to be the center of the gossip circle. That life that requires you to sacrificially lay it down. After all, that is what Christ did. We are to emulate Him. He was in the midst of the crowd; at the same time, He set Himself apart. Do not be afraid to live a life set apart.

"So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed." -Luke 5:16

Friday, March 7, 2014

Titus 2: The Older and the Younger Woman

Yesterday, I was saddened while reading an article that came through my newsfeed on Facebook. You may have read it as well. It was about a pregnant mother driving her SUV into the ocean with her three other children inside. Since I can't see your face, I'm not sure what your response was. Deep down inside though, I'm sure you felt sad just as I did.

Many questions flood our minds upon hearing news of this matter.

Did she not have anyone to turn too for help?
How could a mother do such a thing?
Why, oh why, would she have another child?
Did she love her children?
Was she a single mom?

We can sit for hours on end conversing about this mother. Yes, within minutes, we have her whole life figured out as to why she committed this act against herself and the children she was suppose to protect. We are good at that aren't we. However, are we good at reaching out and lending a hand to a mother such as this?

Older woman, if we opened our eyes wide enough and look around, we know this woman. This woman sits in the pew in front of us each Sunday morning. We recognized her in the grocery store as she juggles a cart full of groceries while keeping a toddler from wandering. This same woman walks down our street taking her children to the park hoping to get a minute to just take a deep breath. Since we know her, what have we done to assist her?

Older woman, you and I have a mandate from Scripture that we have repeatedly ignored. I shiver thinking about blaspheming Holy Spirit. That same fear resides in me at the thought of blaspheming the word of God. I implore you, to open your heart and read this passage of Scripture:

"The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, 
not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things, 
that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, 
to love their children, to be obedient to their own husbands, 
that the word of God may not be blasphemed."
~Titus 2:3-5

The reason why I ask that you open your heart as I write this is because I want you to see how we are blaspheming the word of God...

Blaspheme = to speak impiously or irreverently of (God or sacred things); to speak evil of; slander; abuse; irreverent behavior toward anything held sacred.

Older woman, that definition of blaspheme causes me to search the deepest core of my heart. I, for one, don't want to speak evil of those things that God calls sacred. Motherhood is sacred to Him. This passage encourages us to encourage the younger women to love their children. It does not tell us to roll our eyes upon hearing a mother expecting another child. Nor does it tell us to talk to her about the latest birth control method. It tells us to admonish the young women. To remind them to love their children. Whether that is two, four or ten children. Even if she decides to have one, we are to encourage her to love that child.

So older woman, let us rise up and be Titus 2 women. Let us lend a hand to the young mother and not gossip about her behind her back. Let us compliment that mother when we see her doing something positive in the area of motherhood. Let us smile at the mother in the grocery store. That young woman you see in church, hug her. Tell her that she is doing a great job with her children. Every now and then offer to watch the children while she goes to the grocery store alone. For some mothers, that is like a day at Disneyland. 

I don't know how I would have made it, had it not been for the older women in church encouraging me when my children were little. I hope to be an encouragement to younger women. Especially, my own daughters.
Mothers with younger children, reach out for help. Find an older woman to help you along the way. There are some of us who would love to come along side you and just be there. No strings attached, but just to love on you. Remember that whatever you, as a mother are facing today, it will get better tomorrow. Your children will grow up. They grow up fast. The day will come when they will be able to wipe their own noses and bottoms. They will not always spill milk or smear peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They will become teenagers. Do not dread the teen years. You will make it. You will come out alive and so will your children. Then they become young adults and they will rise up and call you blessed.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

...To Love Their Children

Who doesn't love their children? I personally don't know any mother who does not love their children. However, I do know, we as mothers have different ways of showing our children that we love them.

"That they admonish the young women to love their husbands, 
to love their children." ~Titus 2:4

I sat there pondering why would a verse such as this would even appear in the pages of Scriptures. So, of course, I had to search within my own heart to see if there were any areas I needed to work on as a mother. God knows how much I love my children. I really like them as people. They are fun to be around. My days are often willed with laughter when they send me funny text messages. They are not perfect, but as their mother, neither am I. Perhaps that's the problem? I don't know...

I've met mothers who just can not forgive themselves for mistakes they have made training children during their younger years. Most of my children are adults now with the exception of one. I have mom friends who have children around the same age as mine. As mothers we talk about things that are happening with our children. Here's where I think the problem(s) occur when talking about our children. Especially our adult children.

We have the tendency to share too much of our children's personal business.

Hold up! Before you say, "I'm just sharing with my friends." 

Ask yourself this question, "Would my child(ren) want Jane Doe to know that this is going on in their lives?"

I'm not saying we can't share with our friends. I have a few friends that I have heart to heart talks with about some deep personal things that I would not want the world to know. Most of those things are about me. I also share things about my husband and my children. Those things are shared when I'm asking for help while exposing my own flaws as a wife and a mother. Those things are also shared privately.

When we as mothers share things publicly and in a large group settings about our children, is that loving them the way that they would interpret love? We all interpret love differently. To our children, especially our adult children, telling others about their privately struggles and weaknesses could result in hurt feelings and a sense of betrayal. Our intentions are to never hurt our children. That's why we need to take an honest look inward and ask ourselves why are we sharing this or that.

Moms give yourself a break. Don't be too hard on yourself. Don't be too hard on your children either. No I'm not saying to look the other way and nod "yes" to sin. What I am saying, be careful how much we share about our children with others. If you need help processing something that your children are going through, get with one, maybe two people and ask them to pray for you. After they are done praying for you, then ask them to pray with you as you pray for your children. Those are your children. You should be the one bombarding heaven on behalf of your children.

I want to encourage you to love your children like never before. With loving kindness, God drew us to Himself. Let's show our children that kind of love.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Has It Been That Long?

Has it been that long since I last posted a blog? Yes it has. I've been doing life and enjoying it to the fullest. So much has changed since I last blogged. One thing that hasn't changed is love. Especially, love that comes from family.
Autumn season of 2013 was amazing here on the home front. Our youngest son finished his time overseas serving at his first duty. I still can't believe at the young age of 18 he was on a plane to South Korea for a year serving his country. A year! A year without seeing him sitting across the dinner table or cutting slivers of cake until it was all gone. He came back to the states in November. During his time here, he spoiled us! All of us. Now he is stationed far from home, but at least he is in America.
Some things never change. Our sons still want to wrestle Dad when they come home.
Just when we thought things were starting to settle, our daughter in-love went into labor. It was a long labor. That labor of love produced our third grandbaby. I applaud my son's bride. She went through labor and delivery without my son. My son was deployed during the time of his baby's birth. Thanks to technology, he was able to witness the his first child being born. I really appreciate them so much. They are really good about sending videos and photos of the baby.
Photo Courtesy of Port City Photography
Our two other grandbabies are growing up so fast. They are doing wonderful. The oldest, he's so polite and loves taking care of his little brother. The youngest is now wearing glasses. I miss the so much! It's been one year and two months since I've seen them. I'm hoping to see them soon.
Each day, I still hang out at the kitchen table with her...I love homeschooling her. She's so much fun to hang out with. She's getting ready for track season that starts next week. She got a spot on the Girls Varsity Cross Country team. The team went to state and came in fourth place.
In the midst of things, I've managed to lose 30 pounds! I feel great. I've dropped four dress sizes. On Valentine's Day, I revealed myself in a little back dress. I was nervous at first, but it fit. We had a blast at the Sweetheart Banquet.
A long time ago, an older woman gave me some valuable advice. She encouraged me to never let the spark go out of my marriage. So glad I listened. We are more in love today than we were yesterday. In a matter of years, our nest will be empty...Our love for each other will always be full.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

18 Down and Many More to Go

In May of this year I starting thinking about getting healthy. So on June 1, 2013, I started a journey of healthy eating and exercising. I dare not say how much I weighed at the beginning. Not even my husband knows.

On September 24, I went to the doctor and got on the scale. I was so nervous. I'd started exercising and eating more healthier. Since I purposely don't have a scale at home, I really didn't know if I had lost anything. My clothes felt really comfortable though. To my surprise I'd lost 18 pounds! I was so excited that I posted a photo on Facebook while sitting in the exam room waiting for my doctor.

On October 15, my husband took a full body shot of me while we were waiting for our daughter to run her Cross Country meet. I'm not a fan of body shots, but I was happy to see this one.

I'm not sure how much weight I want to lose. I will share more about my journey as time permits. However, I do know that I want to be healthy. Being healthy looks different for each person. I want to encourage you to find a "healthier you" in the midst of serving your family.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Not Withholding Good

Summer is over. I have mixed feelings about it. Mainly because I love my husband's work schedule during the Summer months and I love eating watermelon on a daily basis. Slowly, I'm starting to get back into the swing of a set schedule as I eagerly await for Autumn to officially arrive.

Homeschooling if off to a great start. Our youngest and only child at home has entered her Sophomore year of high school. Where has time gone?...Although being a homeschooler, she's running Cross Country for the local public school that we are zoned for. Their girls Cross Country team is #3 in our state. She had her first invitational meet last Saturday.

As my husband and I were driving up to watch her run, I keep reflecting on something recently I read in Proverbs. Our church has small groups. I purposefully chose to attend the small group with older women. I love to glean from them and from a Biblical stance, I strongly believe in the Titus 2 mandate. So, each week I have the privilege of spending time with a group of older women. Currently we are studying the book of Proverbs. Specifically, the Proverbs 31 woman.
"Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, 
when it is in the power of your hands to do so." 
-Proverbs 3:27

That passage of Scripture stood out to me like a neon blinking off and on. The word "good" got my attention.

As I sat in the passenger seat looking at the beauty of the leaves turning orange with spots of crisp yellow burnt leaves in the midst of tall evergreen trees, I looked at my husband wondering if I'm doing "good" when it comes to him and not withholding anything good. He's so low maintenance. He says he only needs two things. One is a sandwich and you know what number two is.

So I asked myself these questions:
1) Am I doing good by preparing meals that he enjoys and satisfy his hunger?
2) Am I doing good by being the best lover that I can be and fulfilling his sexual needs?

To him, these are good things that he desires to have. For me, the power is in me to do them. After all, Proverbs 31:12 says, "She does him good and not evil all the days of her life."