Through it all, “you are loved” ( my daughter’s reflections)

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For those who have been readers of this blog, you’ll know that I am very much in to taking time to evaluate. Getting off the fast-paced highway of life and pausing at a “rest area” to reflect is a habit in my life that has proved incredibly helpful.  Sometimes, I can feel myself ready to burst from overloading on too much thinking of micro issues going on in my life that cause me stress.  However, its amazing to me how taking some time to allow a bigger perspective of my life to come upon me that I not only sense the stresses of life get swept out of my mind, but thoughts of gratefulness seem to replace the worries.

I would encourage you if its been awhile, to take some time and rest and reflect.  Maybe for some, you will be helped if I encourage you to do a “Sabbath” kind of thing and do no work, but just rest, reflect, and enjoy your life.

I write these thoughts after reading an e-mail from my 28-year old daughter.  Knowing where her life has been to these thoughts expressed by this precious  woman I hope will encourage you.

Blessings.

God is so good! Not just some of the time, all the time. He is so faithful and all-knowing.

I am so glad I serve a God who says in Psalms 37:23, “the Lord directs the steps of the godly.  He delights in every detail of their lives.”

How amazing to serve a God that delights in every detail of our lives !!   I often think about this and agree with the psalmist when he says, “When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4).

It is crazy that an all-powerful, all-knowing God cares so much for me! In fact it says in Psalms 139:16, that “all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day” .

Knowing this how could I not want to commit everything I am and everything I do to the Lord. I know a struggle I often find myself dealing with is patience . I always seem to have a sense of urgency in anything I am dreaming about or doing . God has been growing me in this area and helping me learn to trust in His perfect timing , Isaiah 60:22, ” when the time is right, I the Lord will make it happen”. 

I am really encouraged by the story in Matthew chapter 20, when James and John’s mother requested that Jesus save the seats on his right and left in Heaven for her sons . In Matthew 20:27, Jesus, in such a loving way, said to her, “you don’t know what you are asking “.  He didn’t embarrass her or make her feel pushed to the side.  He knows what the future holds.

How many times in my life has Jesus said to me ever so gently, “you don’t know what you are asking me my daughter”, “you don’t know what I have planned for you, something even better than this request, something that will further my kingdom more”.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, ” for I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future ” I can tell you of many of my prayers that I am so glad the Lord told me “no”. I am so glad, God is like a father who protects his children from not eating candy every time they want it  because he knows it is not good for them.  In a similar way, my God protects me.

I never imagined that I would be married, or have my own children. I assumed and dreamed of being a world traveler; an adventurer with lots of money from all my hard work running events. I thought maybe one day I’d have the spot light on me and maybe be the cool aunt who lives on the beach, however, my God had different plans.

I am married to an amazing man who loves the Lord, who supports me in any crazy idea I have and values when the Spirit places something on my heart. I’m a mother of two small children, a girl and boy . I am a nanny and stay at home mom. And even though all those things are not what I dreamed of, God knew better. He knew that I would delight in being a wife and having a partner who balances me. He knew that I would love being a mother and getting to play and teach my kids about the Lord, and take them outside and run around and be creative with them. He knew that I would enjoy being a nanny and get to work out of my home . I feel so unbelievably blessed. God knew this would be my life, He knew before I had even lived a day on this earth. I can’t imagine wanting anything more than what He has given me. I can’t wait to see what He has next for me and my family . I can look forward to my future with faith, as it says in Romans 8:28, ” and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

                            – Sara Ball-

Learning so much from a dad teaching his daughter to ride a bike…

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I love this excerpt from Dave Harvey’s excellent book, “When Sinners Say “I Do””.  The context of it is for husbands and wives, but I think this illustration is so excellent because it applies to all of us.  Too often, I want to take credit for my successes (maybe you do too), all the while totally missing the fact that God is the real reason behind my victories.  The Bible says, “what does a man have that he has not received? (..1 cor. 4:7.. nasb) “, but its interesting (actually kind of disturbing) how quick I am to want to pat myself on the back, as well as point out my accomplishments to others, so they too will tell me what a great job I’ve done.   I think you could call these unfortunate moments of mine as  “glory stealing”  (actually taking credit something that doesn’t belong to me).

“when my daughter was about four years old, she decided she was ready  to ride her bike without training wheels.   My wife and I  celebrated that big moment  and took her to a big, empty parking lot. We pulled the bike  out of the van, took off the training wheels, and placed my daughter on the seat. She was giggling with delight. “I’m ready,” she exclaimed. I gave her a little launch and began to instruct, “”you’ve got to pedal, go ahead!” but all the while  I kept my hands on the back of the seat.  We started going faster, until I was running  to keep up.  The  whole time she’s yelling, “Look at me! Look at me! I’m riding my bike!” never really getting it that Dad was holding her up.

That’s you and me. We roll along thinking, we’re the reason our marriage is making progress. We can live  completely oblivious  to the Father behind us, one divine hand on the seat and the another on the handlebars.  Marriage provides us the opportunity  to remind one another  of the real power behind our progress and direction. Does your spouse ever become captivated  with his or her own pedaling? That’s why God gave us each other.”

Are you the parent of a Teenager? If so, then…

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(My apologies for the type-o’s on the last send)

 

For those of us who are parents, we understand what a tough job it is to parent well, especially as our children enter or are already in their teenage years.

Considering the perfect storm of changing hormones, media indulgence, peer pressures, and a growing desire for independence–it can be tough, really tough.

As I was reading Dr. Henry Cloud’s excellent book, “The Power of the Other”, I came across this excellent talk he had with his two teenage daughters–it is worth the read:

“Girls, you’re becoming teenagers. It is an exciting time. One of the reasons is that you will be getting more and more independence. That means that you get to do a lot more stuff on your own, and you’re going to want the freedom to do those things. So I want you to understand something.

My deepest desire is to give you as much freedom as you want. I have no plans to control you on some short leash. In fact, I want the opposite . I want you to be in control of yourself and have as much freedom as you can. So here is how it works. It’s a formula. The amount of freedom that you will have will be equal to the amount of responsibility that you take when you have it, and that responsibility should be measured in love. The choices you make , that you will be responsible for, are to be loving. They must be good for others and for yourself. Your choices should not hurt anyone in any way- you or anyone else. That is your guide to responsibility.

If you are not responsible with the freedom that I give you, if you do things that are not good for yourself or others, things that are not loving, then your freedom will be limited to that same degree. It is totally up to you how much freedom you will get in the teen years. Show me that you can be responsible with it, and you will get it. That will make my life and yours a lot of fun! ”

 

Is that awesome or what!

Are you a parent of a Teenager? If yes, benefit from this advice…

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For those of us who are parents, we understand what a tough job it is to parent well, especially as our children enter or are already in their teenage years.

Considering the perfect storm of changing hormones, media indulgence, peer pressures, and a growing desire for independence–it can be tough, really tough.

As I was reading Dr. Henry Cloud’s excellent book, “The Power of the Other”,  I came across this excellent talk he had with his two teenage daughters–it is worth the read:

“Girls, you’re becoming  teenagers. It is an exciting time. One of the reasons is that you will  be getting more and more independence.   That means that you get to do a lot more stuff on your own, and you’re going to want the freedom  to do those things.  So I want you to understand something.

My deepest desire  is to give you as much  freedom as you want. I have no plans to control you on some short leash.  In fact,  I want the opposite . I want you to be  in control of yourself and have as much freedom as you can.   So here is how it works.  It’s a formula.  The amount of freedom that you will have will be equal to the amount of responsibility  that you take  when you have it,  and that responsibility  should be measured in love.   The choices you make , that you will be responsible for, are to be loving.   They must be good for others and for yourself. Your choices should not hurt anyone in any way- you or anyone else. That is your guide to responsibility.

If you are not responsible with the freedom that I give you, if you do things  that are not good  for yourself or  others, things that are not loving, then your freedom  will be limited to that  same degree. It is totally up to you how much freedom  you will get in the teen years.  Show me that you can be responsible with it, and you will get it. That will make my life and yours a lot of fun! ”

 

Is that awesome advice or what!

 

Both you, and your marriage will benefit from…

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There are some books that are just mind-blowers.  You know,  it’s that kind of book you finish and think to yourself, “boy, if I could just apply a tenth of what I just read”.

Paul David Tripp’s book, “What did you expect?” is that kind of book.  It is a must read, I think for all married couples, and for those considering marriage.

Here is one powerful nugget from the book:

“Love is daily admitting to yourself, your spouse, and God that you are not able to love this way (a selfless, self-sacrificing, other person first kind of way). without Gods protecting, providing, forgiving, rescuing, and delivering grace. After reading this chapter, there are two things you should be left with. First, you should be confronted with the fact. that love is fundamentally deeper. and more active. than some warm, romantic feeling of affection toward someone to whom you are attracted.  It is not some generalized. response of happpiness.  when you are with this particular person.  No,love is a specific.  commitment. of the heart to a specific. person that caused you to give yourself to a specific lifestyle of care that requires you to be willing to make sacrifices that have that person’s good in view. Love is never general, and it never remains fin the realm of feelings.

You see,God’s call to love confronts us with our weakness and inability. It makes us face how cold and fickle our hearts actually are.  It helps us to see how week are resolve is. It call us to humbly admit  how unwilling and impatient we are. Being faced with our weakness is one of God’s goals in marriage. This. comprehensive , lifelong relationship is a tool in the hands of God to expose the delusions of wisdom, righteousness, and strength to mobilize us to seek help.  And there is help, wonderful, sufficient Help for all who seek it.

As John begins that long. discussion of love that we have already. considered in this passage, he says these words, ” God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him (1 John 4:9)”

 

Yeah, you will like this book and your marriage will benefit from your doing so.

Aaagggghhh! I can’t believe this…

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I don’t know about you, but in these troubling days, I have come close on several occasions, after listening to the news in the car, just wanting to yell. I so often have a feeling that our world is spinning out of control. I can’t believe what he said. I can’t believe this new report on what she did. I can’t believe this football player did this and that now others are increasingly following his example. I can’t believe another police officer has been shot. I can’t believe another innocent child in Chicago has been shot. I can’t believe that this train station was just bombed. On and on it goes.
Should I be concerned about these things – definitely!

What I believe God is clearly showing me is that I need to keep things in perspective.
Should I be praying for my leaders? yes.
Should I be praying for the prosperity in my land and for peace? Yes

BUT, what I too often am losing sight of is that this earthly existence where I am now living is not where my home, that is, my eternal home will be.  I have a citizenship, in reality in another place.  This time on earth is a like a vapor. It is here and then gone.

My concern and for other Christians as well is that we can too easily make it a priority to be all-in emotionally and mentally to all that is going on in the world that we are basically being distracted by what is of first importance, our relationship with God and leading others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

I wonder what most of us spend more time doing: listening to radio talk shows, or reading in the Word and being involved in ministry?

In Matthew 14, the disciples saw Jesus walking on water and Peter blurts out, “Lord if it is you, bid me to come to you”. Jesus says, “come” and Peter gets out of the boat, walking on water, as he is intently gazing at Jesus.
However, Peter soon recognizes what is actually happening. He also gets distracted by the winds and waves around him and fear begins to overwhelm him and taking his eyes off Jesus, he begins to sink.

That story describes pretty well what I am going through. I find myself too easily distracted by all that is going on in our world. As my eyes and ears get so dialed in to the crazy stuff going on in our world, I find my heart turning away from the Lord.

Christian, be sober-minded that the more the Prince of darkness can get us focusing on the temporal things of this life, the more he gets us distracted from being about our business of maintaining our personal walk with God and looking to boldly be reaching out to others with an eternal-life affecting message of salvation.

Look for more to come on this theme as I can’t think of any message more important for the church to be focused on than this.