Wednesday, August 5, 2015

New seasons, New things, a few changes...

Life can be hard and difficult.  I considered staying here at Beach Gardens.  But the memories, right now are just difficult. The journey I am on, I just don't want to share on this blog.  I don't know how to explain it, but I am in a new season. It is needs its own journal, its own place.  I hope one day to come back... But for everything there is a season, this season I am over here at Faithfully Leaning and Counting.  Consider visiting me sometime and take a peek at what I am learning and doing.  I am still "under construction"  because I have to relearn much.. and it takes time.  I am getting there though.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Forgiveness is immediate, Reconciliation takes time

I love studying God's Word and listening to what others are learning. (Hebrews 10:25) It proves over and over how active and living and applicable the Bible is today for every occasion.  (Acts 4:12)  Most recently, I listened to a lesson on Acts 9:23-31.  The discussion was about Barnabas.  In the journey of repentance and reconciliation it is important to have at least one Barnabas in your life.  Forgiveness is a given.  It is mandated by God.  However, reconciliation is not required.  Reconciliation it dependent on repentance and a process.  Repentance takes time, it means changing behavior and thought patterns.  That takes time and practice.  When serious offences have happened and trust is deeply broken, it takes time for healing to occur and for there to be enough evidence to prove a heart change has occurred.  A Barnabas can be helpful.  God demonstrates through Barnabas how important the role of (a) Barnabas is in the lives of believers.  God understands wounded hearts and mistrust.  So with some scholarly insight and history lessons, we learn 3 years have passed since Jesus revealed himself to Saul on the road to Damascus.  Saul now finds himself back in Jerusalem where he first persecuted the Christians without mercy.  They didn't trust him.  (verse 26-they were afraid of Saul)  So Barnabas spoke on his behalf.  Barnabas was able to "testify" on Saul's behalf.  Which led to these three key points on how to be a Barnabas:
1. Willing to listen to a person's story.  2.  Willing to check out their story (verify facts).  3.  Willing to trust God.
Being a Barnabas isn't easy.  It means giving time.  Time to listen.  Time to research.  Time to observe and see the changes in a life as a result of repentance.  It, also, means being willing to step up and speak on behalf of a person when it might be unpopular.  Done well, though, so much could possibly happen for building up the kingdom of God.  I can't help but remember the scripture that encourages being quick to listen and slow to speak.  In His time God reveals.
Just a huge encouragement to me these past weeks.  As I walk through a difficult season, and I know the things God whispers to my heart.  I know the Scriptures He leads me to.  He took all the pieces and wrapped the up and confirmed I was hearing Him teach my heart, through this person's words.
Forgiveness is required and needs to be immediate.  Reconciliation is a process and takes time.

Friday, April 17, 2015

SleepIQ Technology

Yesterday, I had a few extra minutes and decided to complete my Smiley360 Mission at Sleep Number.   
The only thing that could have made the experience better is if I had been able to actually take a nap.  The beds are super comfy. They picked the perfect pillow for me and once I was at my number, which is 25, I was ready to nap.  The technology was interesting, but the warranty and replacement policy really got me excited.  Since the beds are not the typical foam and spring mattress, the outer layer unzips.  "Pieces" can be replaced as needed.  He gave me a peek inside.  Wow! 
Being a mother, I instantly worried that with all the gizmos and technology put in the bed that it would become very impractical in a home with bouncing children.  The sales person reassured me that the bed could withstand 500 pounds.  So a couple of children jumping on the bed would not be a danger.  Even better. 
I am definitely going to keep Sleep Number in mind for when it is time to replace my bed. 
For now, I am looking forward to blessing my oldest son with the Sleep Number 2" Memory Fiber Curved Support Pillow we will be receiving as a thank you for completing this mission. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Forgiveness, Mercy, Grace and Reconciliation are steps to eternity...

It has taken some time to decide if this is a post I wanted to share.  It is a peek into my heart.  A summary of some life lessons over the last 30 years.  Then, there have been the recent conversations with various kiddos, discussions about what lessons can we learn from each experience, because God can use everything.  In each experience, we can choose to be bitter or better.  Then, the encouraging words from one of the few people I shared this post with, I just want to give them a glimpse of the work God has and is doing in my heart because they see me walking a hard road.  The final bit of encouragement came when discussing those lessons that can be gleaned from each experience with my kiddo(s) and God whispered in my heart that sometimes, they aren't new lessons but "drills."  Much like math drills and fire drills.  The kind that keep your skills sharp and honed. It isn't about learning the lesson so you don't have to learn it again. Our Spiritual skills need to be practiced and honed in such a way, that we develop "spiritual muscle memory".  So our first response/reaction is what Jesus would literally do, extend grace, forgiveness, patience, mercy, understanding, kindness.  So here goes...

In my quiet and prayer time as I wrestled out yet another issue with God, He whispered a memory from my adolescent/teen years. 

It was a season, I loved to read. I read anything I could get my hands on.  I especially liked Reader's Digest and Guidepost.  Fortunately, my mom was willing to renew the subscriptions for me for years.  I have no idea if she ever read them, but I did, cover to cover.  This memory God whispered was of a story of a man who forgave the murderer of his child.  Not only did he forgive the murderer, but he would eventually begin to visit the prison. He developed a relationship with the person who tore his family apart, shared the Gospel and eventually led him to Christ.  When it came to the time for his release, he was there and welcomed him into his new life as a free man and into his home.  The memory God whispered was the silent prayer in my very naïve teen heart...I want to be that kind of Christian.  A noble prayer for a young, un-experienced in life teenager.

But God didn't stop there.  Because before He started down the memory lane with me, He was reminding me of His Word.  You see there was Saul (Paul).  He was despicable.  He persecuted Christians, until God shook things up and got his attention.  Saul (Paul) who eventually led many to Christ, shared the Gospel, suffered for his faithfulness to Jesus.  He became the persecuted and counted it joy.  But there is another story that fits right in the middle of there, maybe not chronologically, but fit it does...the point where there is sinning, recognition and repentance happens.  It is the story of the Prodigal Son.  At the point when he is in the pit of his sin and God reveals to him His love, grace and mercy.  Saul (Paul) returns to his Creator (Father).  A celebration happened, and not every one was happy about it either. 

God started showing me that although the "stories" in His Word don't reveal all that was happening at that given moment, when looked together as a whole and individually, you can get a pretty good grasp of humanity from all different perspectives.  We all sin and are in the muck of it when God grabs the opportunity to get our attention, He offers us the possibility of returning HOME because working for Him is better than eating after the pigs.  He will celebrate and rejoice on our return, while some will grumble.  They might grumble because they fail to see all sin is sin...they may grumble because they have forgotten where they were once before, or maybe they don't want to remember.  Or they may grumble because they are in the season of realizing the importance of making good choices and the consequences of not doing so and their focus is so intense on these new convictions they are unable to step back and see all the different "projects" God has happening.  It is easy to not realize we are all in different stages and the lessons of life do not happen in a particular order.  As a result, sometimes others are unable to rejoice at the time.  But Saul (Paul) and the prodigal son don't allow concern for what others will do or say stop them, they listen to God and trust Him and move forward.  It is so easy to just look at one story and see the "simple" lesson revealed.  You can ask yourself am I the prodigal son?  the brother?  the father?  Am I Saul, the murderer and persecutor?  Or am I the persecuted?  How does this apply to me today?  All very good questions.  But looked at together, you see the same story being repeated from different perspectives, with different words but speaking the same message of forgiveness, mercy, grace and reconciliation.

And I consider the memory of the naïve heart that says, I hope I can be that kind of person if I ever were to find myself in a situation like "that."  Easy to think as a teenager, because that is the season of invincibility and nothing like that will truly happen.  Translated it looks like being a kind, generous, tender hearted and noble person.  To be that kind of person the father was, to have that kind of heart, means a special kind of journey.  One that is not easy.  The story makes it all look so neat and tidy.  It doesn't give a lot of background.  The story fits neatly in just a few pages, and is inspiring.  Faith like that father's is a process.  He has been in the pit with the pigs.  He knows forgiveness.  He knows what it is like to be not forgiven and to be forgiven.  He knows estrangement and reconciliation.  He also knows grief and loss.  He knows anger and the desire for life to not be so hard.  He has wrestled with the letting go and not having control.  He knows the love of His Heavenly Father and to who He belongs.  But he doesn't just know these things, these things were wrestled out with His God.  It isn't a humanly natural thing to embrace the murderer of your child. Not when you are faced with daily reminders of what will never be experienced.  Not even when you fast forward into the future and are faced with the grandchildren you will never have and all your friends are sharing the pictures and stories of theirs, and there is a twinge and longing that dares to surface.  A voice that begs to remind you of what was lost and an inner discipline that chooses to not look at what was lost but at what has been gained.  An inner discipline to choose to have an eternal perspective in the midst of a mortal life.  There was a soul searching, on your knees with God work being done process.  It didn't just happen in the days after the murder.  It was the sum of his life experiences and walk with the Lord from whenever it started.  Forgiveness, mercy, grace and reconciliation are learned through experience.  They are practiced in the little things when we recognize our own guiltiness of doing the same things.  They are stretched and strengthened through the tougher challenges and are only possible because of God and His love for us.  Then when a day comes and you are faced with what many would declare, "you are perfectly in your own right to practice some but not all four of those acts," you realize that in of yourself you can't, but in God you can.  You can release the person, the situation into God's very capable hands because He loves each and every one of His creations.  Each and everyone of His children and they were fearfully and wonderfully and uniquely made. If He could use Saul (Paul), then it isn't for me or you to say He can't use this too.  It isn't easy, but all that practice of turning it over to God is what has been training me/you for this day.  It is possible.  While many may ponder and wonder, a simple truth I learned not so terribly long ago is what I reflect on, His Grace is sufficient for each of us in the measure we need it for each circumstance.  His Grace, His Manna, He provides for each of us according to our need, each and every day.

And then God fast forwards me to the story of the father who made a hard choice.  His son and son's friend were in the sea and there was only one life preserver.  Only one could be saved.  His son, knew Jesus well.  His friend did not.  He made the choice of eternity.  His son, entered eternity with his Savior and the friend, as a result, experienced forgiveness, mercy, grace and reconciliation.

Then He reminds me of the season of nightmares.  The kind that shook this very young, at the time, momma to her knees.  Always the same theme...  Persecution at its worst in my dreams.  Prayers to God to take the dreams away.  Then asking what it is He wants me to know or learn?   In these nightmares, I face a choice.  A choice that demands I deny Christ or my child/children will be killed or tortured in front of me till I submit....the scenario always a little different.  I. Just. Can't. Deny. My. Savior.  and I always wake up at the point where I am looking in their eyes wanting them to understand why.  Why I can't save them.  Why I can't deny my Lord and Savior.  What bothered me the most was the question, do they understand why?  Do they understand I love them with all my heart, but this one thing I can not do for them?  I asked God how could I face such a horrific moment and my children not feel rejected, not cry out in anger and rage and rebellion.  How to prevent them from becoming angry and rejecting HIM themselves and not be bitter from my choice.  Then He whispered this answer: Live your life in such a way that they know.  They know you love them.  They know you love Me.  Teach them, mentor them, raise them up in Me and then you have nothing to worry about because I will take care of the rest.  Raise them up with an eternal perspective.  I work all things for good for those who love Me.  He taught me to focus on forgiveness, mercy, grace and reconciliation.  To look with an eternal perspective, knowing that God works all things together for His Glory... and in the end, that is what happens when we all gather together in eternity, we give Him the Glory. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Think... Another new thing in our house AND it is working in UnexpectedWays!!

I have heard this acronym over the years.  But several months ago, it was revisited in our house. 
Before that even happened, last summer became the summer of "stop and think." 
Kids were doing crazy, reckless things and oopsie daisies were happening and I thought I was going to go bald from pulling my hair out before I ever turned gray!
A kiddo, a dear sweet lady and I visited about this months was like aha light bulbs went off.  Life was good.  Then fast forward and some of my kids hit new stages in personalities, quirks and behaviors.  The kind that can blind side a mother and she has NO. IDEA. HOW. TO. RESPOND.  It is wrong, but how to explain it?  How to teach something different?  Some concepts are big and vague and hard to explain to kids.  Hard for adults to discuss, there is just a knowing. 
So visiting with this dear sweet lady and she remembers "THINK" from our months ago conversation.  HUGE LIGHT BULB moment.  LIFE. HAS. NOT. BEEN. THE. SAME. in a very good way. 
All the kids have been taught it.  When there is an annoyance, we just say "Think."  Sometimes, it is pretty easy to figure out, but other times it takes some thinking. 

Is it True? is pretty clear cut. 

Is it Helpful?  or sometimes Is it Honest?  There is a difference between True and Honest sometimes.

Is it Inspired? but that can be difficult for a kid to grasp the concept of so we added Is it Important? 
One of our issues is correcting a slip of the it really important to address every little slip?  Does it derail the flow of things?  Which leads into...

Is it Necessary?  Maybe it is True, maybe at times it could be Helpful, and Important but is it Necessary?  In our case, sometimes it is a distraction, slows progress down, just don't need to go there right now.

Is it Kind?  How is it making the other person feel?  All those other questions come into play as well...distracting? slowing things down?  preventing things from happening?  Frustrating someone else while doing all the above? In this case, how can we do/say this and be kind?

Loving it !!! 
Only a few eye rolls have happened so far. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Something new we are trying

I have a kiddo that desperately wants to earn money.  I struggle to think on the spot.  I struggle with consistency and memory issues.  For instance, how much was the job worth last time???
I, also, want balance.  There are different beliefs regarding kids and chores and allowances and do we pay them for chores?  Well, I haven't had a clear solution or hint of what to do in 18 years of parenting, that is till this weekend.  
The challenge?  Coming up with a solution that addresses the personality and heart issues and needs of multiple children in the home.  For instance, I have one or more that would be all over getting up in the morning and working for money.  Meanwhile, regular chores and school work wouldn't get done.  

So I finally had a "duh!" Light bulb moment. I posted rules for earning money.  I posted jobs available to be worked for money, and kept the amounts low and affordable for me.  I made sure there were jobs that would need to be done frequently.  I, also, put in a stipulation...An act of kindness stipulation.  For every job done to earn money, an "act of kindness" needed to be completed.  I want them to experience the balance of just doing because it is right and good.  What never fails to amaze me is the "blindness" to things on the floor or odd little tasks that need doing and NOONE. notices. them.  The glazed over zombie looks when I point them out just causes me to shake my head.  In the last few weeks, I have heard, "but you didn't asked me" or "you didn't tell me to" more times than I care to count.  Even once is one time too many considering the age of the culprits.  So I am hoping my plan will encourage initiative and thoughtfulness and a change in attitude.  I, also, left a post-it notepad nearby to jot down job ideas to stick to the posters.  The kids were quick to notice jobs not mentioned, cleaning the car and vacuuming the upstairs.  Post it notes have been added.  I, also, created a note for the Christmas nativity.  It needs to be put away with love and care, so it is stuck to the acts of kindness chart.  What isn't pictured are the cards with their names on them and their "assigned" chores, individual to them.  They each have a couple of jobs to do on a regular basis throughout the week.  I haven't decided how frequently I will swap those out, but for now, I am hoping this works.

A little funny tidbit to add.  My college student walked in while I was hard at work creating my posters.  She got super excited!  Couldn't wait to join in on this new endeavor.  Apparently I got a little distracted and my cent signs were switched to dollar signs... Cleaning the entryways was suddenly worth $75 each and the pantry was worth $50.  She was ready to get busy!   Eye rolling commenced and I quickly burst her bubble.  She made my point!  And I quickly fixed my mistakes.  Amounts may need to be tweaked, but I would rather increase rates and create cheering than decrease and experience mutiny.   

Before I could post this, we also encountered another heart issue.  There was an offense.  A big hurt.  It wasn't the kind of hurt that could be resolved by buying a replacement tangible restitution could be made.  Apologies were made.  Forgiveness given.  But how does one demonstrate regret and love??? I am not all about earning forgiveness and grace, but there are times when a personal effort can go a long way.  Since creating the assigned chores and the charts, an INSpired Idea hit me.  An "act of kindness" which I called an act of "redemption"/"repentance" could be done.  I suggested to the offender that since I had to take the sibling away from the house an act of kindness could be done by completing a chore that would become a hardship later in the day... leaving the house always means less time to do school and chores, especially when there is a desire for "free" time. Translation...less free time.  My kids don't think "free time" spent at doctors' and other appointments is all that much fun!  Go figure?? :)  Before I left I heard the "offender" declaring "I HAVE to do..."  I quickly responded with "No, you don't have to, you get to choose. This is something you get to choose to do to show love and repentance and kindness.  No one says you have to, it is your choice.  I think it is the right thing to do, but it was only a suggestion.  So only do it, because you choose to do it."  Out the door I went.  My heart soared much later, when I discovered the job done and nothing more was said. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Paracord for Antigua

The last couple of months I have struggled. 
I have struggled with this mess...
And this mess...

My 10 year old disappears for hours on end to his room.  It is a strange and unsettling feeling to not have him underfoot, running in and out the door.  A little frustrating when there is math to do or books to be read.
Then there are the nights, I go into peak on him and discover him still awake.  Hard at work creating or researching and learning a new pattern.  
But my through it all my heart swells..

Ever since the missions team visited Awana one night to explain their upcoming trip to Antigua to build a hard court at a church he has been a man with a mission.  Their visit to Awana was to drum up excitement for the missions offering to be collected for a month.  They happened to mention that some of the money would be used to purchase prizes for a carnival night during the mission trip.  My young man dreamed of making para cord bracelets for the team to give away.  A dream he has not let go.  So while I do ask for the occasional clean up and vacuum and insist on lights out, I am very proud of this young man.  He willingly takes breaks to do some math and read when I request him to, but when my requests have been fulfilled he is back to work.  He is a young man with a very big heart, generous and thoughtful.  He even sold some creations as a fundraiser to help pay for all the supplies.  Sometimes, he just couldn't help himself and he would just give away his creations just to love on someone.  Each bracelet has a story.  Each made with love and thought to the color combinations and type of pattern.  Though each child may not know all of this, it is our prayer they will be blessed and feel the love of the Lord

His endeavor has created a bond with his oldest sister as she is going on the trip.  They have brainstormed together.  She has patiently listened as he explained each bracelet to her.  She has encouraged him as he questioned whether each was of high enough quality to give as a gift.  Would the color combination be liked?  Earlier this week she took him shopping to buy more para cord.  Something this Momma has stood back and watched.  I have held myself back, not interfering, because it has been a beautiful thing to watch unfold.  To be honest, sometimes when Momma gets involved she redirects and changes the flow unintentionally.  It is a wondrous thing to provide tools, encouragement and stand back to see what will happen.  

There are only a few hours left, and more will be added....  And I am sure I may have to say lights out at some point tonight, but this is what is flying to Antigua tomorrow.  The attached verse is: 
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  
One of the very first verses children learn in Awana...