Well Done Good and Faithful Servant

Billy Graham went home this morning to be with his Lord and Savior. A hero of the faith. What a long, accomplished, faithful life he led for almost a century. What a gift he has been to our world.

On the way to Bible study this morning my mind wandered to what that meeting in heaven must have been like. I tried to picture Dr. Graham standing before Jesus face to face. Would he weep? Would he collapse to the ground at Jesus feet? Would he dance and sing praises to the Lord? My mind could only wonder.

Billy Graham preached his first sermon when he was around nineteen—nineteen! As the son of a simple dairy farmer in North Carolina, and in the power of the almighty God, he changed the world. According to CNN, in his lifetime, Billy Graham ministered to over 215 million people in more than 185 countries. Stunning.

Almost one hundred years. That is how long this great man walked the earth. Spreading the gospel like a wildfire. So faithful. So obedient. So in love with Jesus. And, I would imagine, so overjoyed that he is finally home.

As I drove home from the post office yesterday, the emergency alert on my phone sounded. I was on the freeway so I couldn’t look at it. I noted that the sky was clear. It couldn’t be the weather. When I came to a stoplight, I glanced at it briefly. “Emergency alert for Westfield and Grand Park,” it read. As the light turned and I put my phone down, my heart started beating faster in my chest. What was happening? I’m sure it’s nothing, I thought. Please, Lord, Jesus, protect Emily and Jessica’s school. The adrenaline was pumping and my mind raced until I got home and saw it was only a test. Thank you Jesus!

The world is a scary place in 2018. My heart breaks for the kids from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and every other student who has been affected by a school shooting. We have failed our children. The enemy now runs right past us, to them. The young and vulnerable. How could we have let this happen—again?

We are shaken.

One might wonder if our nation can continue as it had before? Is it possible? So sad. So tragic. But, as author and speaker Tony Campolo used to say, “It’s Friday . . . . but Sunday’s a-coming!”

With the passing of Billing Graham, our minds turn to the hope we have in the risen Jesus. Once and for all we can look forward to putting all this behind us and going home to be with our precious Savior one day. That glorious day is promised to those who believe.

As I picture Jesus face to face with his Billy, tears fill my eyes. I imagine Jesus’ expression as that of a giddy child on Christmas morning and of a father seeing his son return home all in one. An expression of pure joy and delight emanates from the face of the Son of God as he welcomes his good and faithful servant home. With a warm embrace, this beloved evangelist can finally rest in eternal peace with his Heavenly Father. He is home at last.

I can hardly wait for that glorious day. My soul yearns for home. At forty five. How does one wait ninety nine years to go home? I can’t fathom it.

May I suggest you meditate on the moment when Billy Graham went home. Color a picture of it in your mind. Such a sweet moment it must have been. As your imagination runs wild, set your mind on the things above. And, set your mind on the things to come. Each one of us has that moment to look forward to. The moment we finish the race. What will your moment look like?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2

Thank you, Mr. Graham.

Living in the Tension: The Clumsy Dance of Marriage

It’s Valentine’s Day, a day to reflect on life and love. Through the many ups and downs of life, it’s the love that sticks. It’s the love that sustains. True, selfless love is what makes marriage triumphant.

However, after twenty one years of marriage, the amazing, life changing marital advice I usually give to newlyweds is . . . . get a king sized bed. That’s it.

I recently read a blog post in which the writer was joking about wanting to go into marriage ministry three seconds after she got married. Been there, done that. As wisdom comes with age, the longer you are married, the more you realize how complicated relationships are. I might have once thought, give it twenty or so years, and I’ll have this marriage thing figured out. That just confirms how naive I was.

Marriage is living in the tension of knowing that you can never fully satisfy or complete or validate another human being. It is the knowledge that you will never be the perfect spouse, partner, helper, lover, or leader. Whether you are husband or wife, you will never be enough. And you were never meant to be.

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. John 6:63

God is the satisfier. God is the validator. God is the only perfect leader or helper. And we must live with the tension that we cannot do relationships perfectly.

Marriage is a clumsy dance. It’s learning and growing together in the messy pursuit of relationship. It’s discovering how little our desires and wants matter in the grand scheme of things. It is the tension of knowing no matter how warm and wonderful you make your house, it will never fully be home. Our home is not here.

What we can do is be a part of our spouse’s story of sanctification, the journey toward an eternity with an awesome God. And our spouse can be a part of ours.

What have I learned in twenty one years of marriage?

God must be the center

God must be the center of our lives. He must be our Lord and Master. This is the only hope we have in marriage.

I don’t say this because everything will be better if God is at the center of your marriage, though it might be. I don’t say this to sound religious, or because I like clichés—I don’t. I say this because knowing and being in relationship with the Creator of the universe is what life is all about.

We were created to be partakers of the glory of God—the greatest glory that could ever be imagined. His glory is so magnificent and immense there isn’t room for anything else. And even if there was, it would pale in comparison. Glorifying God is our purpose and privilege in this life.

The longer I have walked with God, the more aware of my inadequacy I have become. To know more of Him is to know less. But, to know Him more is to be filled. My cup overflows.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Psalm 23:5

While it is God’s design that a husband and wife bring each other joy, our main source of joy, validation, and identity should come from God. If God is not first, or we lack a genuine connection with Him, our marriage will likely suffer.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12

Marriage is a call to put oneself down for the “other”

When I first got married, I believed I would never be alone again, and that my husband would fulfill all my needs. Ahh, the naivete of youth.

We assume when we get married we will always be cared for and nurtured, and we will finally be happy. Marriage and a family will fill the emptiness and heal all our wounds, right? Even Hollywood tells us that our soul mate will complete us.

We have been deceived. Marriage is not about us at all. It’s about loving the “other” well.

Marriage is an opportunity to practice selflessness. It is a tool in the battle against pride. It is the great classroom for learning humility and selfless love. Nothing could ever humble us more than our marriages.

Marriage is living in tension and friction

How am I doing in my marriage two decades in? Let’s just say I’m always a work in progress. Christ followers spend their lives working toward something they can never fully achieve. That is the tension. And so it is with marriage.

God tosses us about in the spin cycle of our life, in order to smooth the rough edges through relationships. This has been painfully true in my life.

Let’s just say there are parts of me that I would prefer to just sweep under the rug. Things I would rather stuff deep down in a drawer. However, God is in the business of healing. He has used my marriage to open every drawer, every closet, and every spare room in my soul. Nothing is left untouched. I am laid bare.

With marriage comes friction—the coming together of two, rough-around-the-edges, beings. Friction hurts, but is necessary in the race we are called to run. If there was no friction between us and the road, we wouldn’t get anywhere. Don’t we want to cross that finish line? I do.

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2

As long as marriage is made up of people, in a fallen world, it will involve tension and friction—even in the best of marriages. When we rely on our own wisdom, we fail. The wisdom of marriage is foolishness. We must lean on God. We must trust His Word. Only God can make the clumsy dance of marriage into something beautiful.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Recently, my husband and I had a heart to heart with my fifteen year old daughter. She was upset with me and laid it all out on the table.

She spelled out what I was doing wrong as a parent and as a person and how it bothered her. Why couldn’t I be like other moms? I read between the lines. I could feel my heart begin to crumble. As her disappointments and my shortcomings were laid out in front of me, my soul cowered under the weight. Like a World War II plane that’s been hit and is going down, “mayday, mayday!”

Every parent must come to terms with the fact that they are not a perfect parent.

On the surface there was truth in what she said. I was complaining too much, and being too judgmental. I needed to work on my attitude toward others and the world. I needed to have more love, more compassion, and more acceptance. However, there was a lot she didn’t know. She didn’t see the weight I carried or the emotional battles I fought every day.

My daughters saw what I allowed them to see. They only saw the tip of the iceberg. They didn’t know what my life was like before them. They didn’t know about the missing pieces in my soul from my past. They saw only what came out, unaware of what was kept in.

And then she asked this question, “Why can’t we be a normal family?” And there it was. The final blow. I was between a rock and a hard place.

In the words of Joyce from Stranger Things, “this is not a normal family.” I can relate.

I suffer from depression. I have sheltered my kids from this for most of their lives as most people with depression probably do. What choice does one have?

It is important to let kids, as they become young adults, see the humanness of their parents.

However, the last couple years as my kids have begun to mature into young adulthood, I have started letting them see behind the curtain a little bit. I thought it might prepare them for life. Especially if they are prone to depression. However, what I have shown them is still a small portion of what I carry.

How does a parent with depression raise a teenager and survive? How does a person who is already emotionally fragile take the arrows of a hormonal adolescent?

Our woundedness is laid bare when our kids become teenagers.

They don’t see my brokenness. They don’t see the child that felt lonely and rejected. They don’t understand depression. Not many people do.

My daughter doesn’t know the details of my story. She doesn’t know my pain. And she can’t. She won’t. I won’t put that on her. However, what comes out of me is partially a product of my pain, loss, and childhood issues. It isn’t an excuse. It is an explanation.

She doesn’t know how hard I have to fight, or how high I have to climb everyday just to get to where everyone else starts out.

The tension is letting my teenager get more of a glimpse of the real person behind the mom—the real, flawed person. The tension is knowing that she can only have half of the story. And knowing that she will judge based on her limited understanding.

Let’s face it, being judged hurts. Especially if its coming from your children, your kids in whom you have poured your soul. Those for whom you have sacrificed everything. They know none of this. That is the sacrifice of parenting.

I have to be the grown up. I have no choice but to deal with the pain of my past and deal with the pain of the judgement of my kids at the same time. And do it all without blaming or explaining. Only through God’s strength is this possible. Without Him I would crumble.

 

Putting up the Mirror so We Can Pass on Our faith

The following in an excerpt from Kim’s upcoming book, Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids.


I was twenty seven and clueless when I had my firstborn. I was actually amazed they let me leave the hospital with my daughter, Emily. How could they let ME walk out of here with a baby? Are they crazy?

Through the years, my husband and I fumbled around going this way and that, doing the best that we could as young parents. We were tossed to and fro by well-intentioned advice and made many mistakes.

We were typical American, Christian parents. Purposefully or not, we mirrored things in our parenting that we observed from our parents, the media, the culture, our community, the Internet and our church. All of which seemed like a sufficient group of resources.

But were they sufficient? Did they point us in the right direction?

I can tell you what my husband and I, and the affluent community where we lived, were focusing on in regards to raising our children.

We believed things like . . . . .

  • Our kids’ self esteem is so important, they must never feel bad
  • Education is most important in our kids’ lives
  • We must always say ‘yes’ to our kids to produce a positive environment
  • Kids’ happiness should be the focus of parenting
  • We need to teach our kids to love themselves
  • Our kids should have everything that they want 

You might get lucky and raise a good kid with this set of values. He or she might do well in school and seem well adjusted and happy. Or, he or she may end up entitled, self-centered, or at the very least, worldly.

75% of young adults raised in a Christian home leave the church after they leave the home. Think about that—on average, three out of every four kids attending your youth group won’t be attending any church a few years from now.
~www.crossexamine.org

Though the numbers may vary slightly from one study to the next, they all come to the same conclusion—we are losing our kids.

Is there no manual for parenting? Well, there is and there isn’t. Among the many books on Christian parenting, only one is essential. The Bible is the best parenting book there is, because it was written by the first parent that ever was. It sounds like a cliché, but it is absolutely true. It doesn’t contain every possible question or scenario we might encounter in parenting. But, is it sufficient? You betcha!

Why?

Because the key to being a good parent is primarily determined by who you are, not what you do.

It’s who you are that shapes your kids. In fact, it’s challenging to point to a Sticky Faith factor that is more significant than you.
~ Dr. Kara E. Powell and Dr. Chap Clark, Sticky Faith


If we are to make a dent in the problem of young people leaving the faith, we must be willing to look in the mirror. We, as Christian parents are the first step in the equation of our kids’ faith.

Our character, attitudes, behaviors and lifestyle reflect the status of our faith. Is it alive? Do we live what we believe. Or, is it dead?

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.   James 2:17

Our kids will know if our faith is real, or if it isn’t.

Teenagers Young Team Together Cheerful Concept

I want my kids to leave my house as disciples of Christ . . . . not just Christians.  Disciples not only believe, they are students of Christ and they follow Him. Making disciples starts in our homes with our kids. And we have to parent differently if we are going to raise up a generation of disciples.


Pre-order Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids

I’ve seen it in your eyes. Christian parents have been watching their teens turn away from the faith for decades, and you fear your kids will do the same. It is never too late to tip the scales in favor of your kids developing a personal, passionate, and permanent faith in Jesus Christ.

$12.00

Prayer, the Power Behind the Parent

Recently my kids had a snow day and school was closed, again. Just enough freezing drizzle was coming down to coat the roads with ice. Between school closings and the numerous two-hour delays we have had, the kids have not had a full week of school since the new year. Are my kids ever going to go to school? I wonder each morning as I check my phone.

As I thought about a whole day with my girls at home, I started to get stressed. Not because I have to play with them and entertain them all day like when they were little, but because they are teenagers and want to spend every second on YouTube, Netflix, SnapChat, Instagram, or texting. Our kids’ world is saturated with things that encourage laziness and wasting time.

We have an extra bedroom that I like to call the Kurtz “dump.”  It’s everyone’s favorite place in the house to unload all their trash and unwanted items. Why throw it away when you can just toss it across the hall and close the door? Piles of clothes and shoes, boxes of picture frames, old toys and stuffed animals, miscellaneous furniture, and books and games filled every inch.

Personally, I had better things to do than clean the “dump” today. However, since Bible study was canceled, and the girls were unexpectedly home, this was my chance. I had to make the most of it.

Today’s the day! I thought, as I jumped out of bed. After letting my kids sleep in a little (I am not a monster!), I informed them of my plan. Needless to say, my teenagers didn’t share my enthusiasm.

My oldest daughter proceeded to yell and whine because she wanted to sleep more and already had plans.

“Every other kid gets to do what they want when school is closed. Their parents don’t make them do stuff on snow days, they are all at work!” She wailed.

It brought me back to the days of her terrible twos that lasted until about age ten. My daughter was having a temper tantrum, once again, at seventeen, and I snapped. Oh, did I snap! Yelling ensued. Lord, forgive me.

Both of us eventually calmed down and we all worked on the room.

As I was telling this story to my cousin the next night, she asked, “How did you get her to calm down?” I tried to remember, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was that softened our hearts and diffused the argument.

After thinking about it later that evening, I remembered I had been praying intensely for her. One could say I had been groaning in prayer for her. At almost eighteen, the season of raising this child was coming to a close. Panic had definitely set in.

Had I done enough?
Had I taught her everything she needed to know?
Will she make wise choices?
Will she choose to love and serve the Lord?

It’s definitely crunch time with my oldest. And I have felt it everyday for the last year. I have lived with the guilt of being an imperfect parent. I have seen the holes in our parenting arise as she has become a young adult. We can’t hide them anymore.

However, God gently reminds me that my kids have “free will” just as I do. Many things are out of my hands. They get to choose who they will become, who they will love, and who they will live for. And they might have a bumpy and windy road to the cross, just as I did.

So, how did the explosive fight end that icy morning?

It was prayer and the Holy Spirit that allowed love to enter in. Words of love and compassion started coming out of my mouth. It wasn’t me, though. It was God the Father loving on her through me. Yes, I love her deeply, but in that moment I couldn’t have been loving.

God is so good and honors our prayers in ways we can’t even imagine. He makes us better than we are. And prayer might be the only chance we have of raising teenagers who love the Lord in this crazy world.

We need to be persistent in prayer. We need to trust it’s power. God will honor His promises found in Scripture if we are faithful.

We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:26-27

You may not feel the Holy Spirit when you pray. You may not feel you are getting answers. Through prayer, however, the Spirit of God changes us from the inside. He refines our inner places in ways that we can never imagine or know to pray for.

If you have a teenager, what have you got to lose? Pray for your teenagers. God will bless you as you seek Him and seek to love your teenager/s well. He will give you what you don’t have. He will give you everything you need.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3


Pre-order Kim’s new book, Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids coming out February/March 2018.

Pre-order Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids

I’ve seen it in your eyes. Christian parents have been watching their teens turn away from the faith for decades, and you fear your kids will do the same. It is never too late to tip the scales in favor of your kids developing a personal, passionate, and permanent faith in Jesus Christ.

$12.00

Dancing to the Song of Adolescence

As I watched a morning talk show while doing my workout one particular day, the host’s seventeen-year-old daughter was a guest on the cooking segment. As the young girl walked on the set, her mother’s face and demeanor changed noticeably. Almost instantly, she looked older. Gone was the jovial, confident talk show host that everyone usually saw. I could see the fear in her eyes. I could hear the hesitation in her voice. And I could feel the tension between them. As the familiar dance played out in front of me, it hit me. We all struggle with raising our teenagers.

With my daughters, I often feel like I have to walk on eggshells. While once I was confident, I now experience fear and trepidation. It’s a whole new ballgame with teenagers. And it requires a completely different type of parenting. Regardless of how well you have parented in the past, parenting a teenager can really throw you for a loop.

Teens often don’t know what they think or feel because on an almost daily basis, they are becoming a different person. An adolescent’s values, opinions, and perceptions are fluid and unpredictable.  —John Townsend, Boundaries with Teens

I was caught off guard recently when my daughter informed me that I analyzed things too much and was too involved in my kids’ business. Both she and her sister agreed. “You don’t have to be home everyday when I get home from school, sometimes I don’t want to talk. I want to be able to be quiet without explaining myself. Sometimes I want to be alone,” she said.

So, I told myself to back off and give her some space. However, the next day, she came home and verbally vomited on me for forty-five minutes about every aspect of her day, the drama of her friends, and every thought and feeling she had since she left the house that morning. It’s hard to keep up with her. What does she want from mom today? I often wonder.

At some point in adolescence, teens change into someone different. Something may work one day, and raise hell the next. In response, we, as parents, may feel vulnerable.

When our kids become fourteen or fifteen, we can no longer hide behind the guise of being “the parent.” They start relating to us as people. It is healthy to give them a glimpse of mom and dad as human beings. It is natural and normal to give them a peak behind the curtain. However, it is not unusual for teens to be highly critical of their parents, which can be hard to take.

When our kids entered adolescence, we became vulnerable at a deeper level. We opened up, not only about parenting issues, but about our personal struggles too. —John Townsend, Boundaries with Teens

Anyone who has had teenagers knows they believe they are adults, and therefore, no longer need input from you. They may look like adults, but mentally and emotionally, they are far from it. It boils down to this: they don’t know what they don’t know. And their brains are not fully formed until their mid-twenties. But don’t tell that to your teen! I only made that mistake once.

Biologically, a lot is going on inside the minds and bodies of teenagers. While once their thinking was purely black and white, they are now dipping their toes in the waters of abstract thinking. They can be up and down and all over the place. And often they don’t know why they think or feel the way they do. As parents, we just need to ride the wave.

When parents consistently provide teens with warmth and structure, teens become less extreme, impulsive, and moody. In other words they begin to grow up inside. —John Townsend, Boundaries with Teens

Our goal in most of the interactions with our teens needs to be connection and relationship rather than fixing and correcting. It’s not easy being a teenager. We must listen to them and empathize. Offering empathy and compassion in their mood swings allows them to feel safe.

Parenting teenagers is tricky. It is coming together and moving apart. It is aggressive and firm, yet soft and loving. And playful at times. It is a dance to the song of adolescence.

The common language is always love. Love keeps the connection alive no matter how awkward the relationship with our teens may seem. God will give us the patience and wisdom we need. And God promises to always be with us. We can rest knowing He can make our teenagers into something beautiful.


Pre-order Kim’s new book, Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids coming out February/March 2018.

Pre-order Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids

I’ve seen it in your eyes. Christian parents have been watching their teens turn away from the faith for decades, and you fear your kids will do the same. It is never too late to tip the scales in favor of your kids developing a personal, passionate, and permanent faith in Jesus Christ.

$12.00

Pouring into Our Kids in 2018: Game On

God wasn’t our number one for most of our marriage. If you would have asked my husband and I, we would have said that He was. But He wasn’t. We were very much striving for the American Dream.

We were raising our daughters to be good people because we were good people. Wasn’t that what we were supposed to be doing? Wasn’t that enough?

DSC_0027 sp

We taught them to say please and thank you. We taught them to be nice and polite and do what they’re told. We took them to church on Sundays to learn about God. We taught them the importance of a good education and how to be successful in American culture.

As my kids grew up, I started to think about what I really wanted them to be when they left our house.

Happy? Confident? Intelligent? Driven?

To a certain degree, yes, those things are useful. But, they are secondary values. As I pondered these things I began to question the values on which I had been so focused.

I realized that if I want my kids to have a lasting faith and a heart for God, then I needed to shoot for more than raising our kids to be good people.

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When I found myself with teenagers, my thinking started to shift from the day to day issues with my kids, to the adults they would become. As my mind flashed forward, what I saw gave me pause.

My mind didn’t flash to them as hobos living on the street and begging for food. My mind didn’t flash to my daughters being porn stars or drug addicts. My mind flashed to their faith and character.

Who would they become? Would they continue to follow Christ as young adults?

What greater focus could there be this coming year than the spiritual lives of our kids? I challenge you to commit to being intentional about3D cover passing on a personal faith in Christ to your kids this year. Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids will empower you in this noble endeavor.

We go to church, you may say. Isn’t that enough? According to numerous studies, it isn’t.

Did you know somewhere between 60-75% of our kids leave the church when they leave home?

Did you know 85% of youth from Christian homes who attend public schools do not embrace a Christian worldview? (The Last Christian Generation, Josh McDowell, p.14)

2018 is here, and many of us have made New Year’s Resolutions. Losing weight, exercising, and reading the Bible are all noble goals. However, We have the rest of our lives to improve ourselves. How much time do we have left with our kids?

Do you see your kids wrestling with spiritual issues? Are you a regular part of their journey toward discovering the truth? Have you done everything you could this past year to build up faith in Christ in your children? If not, what better resolution could there be?

It’s a new year and anything is possible. You have a clean slate.

Game on.

Man, I saw a lot of the mistakes that I made early on and I see a lot of the things I’m doing well now, and the difference this book would have made for me 28 years ago…I actually had a hard time putting this one down!  —Jim

In this book, you will learn…

  • why a majority of kids leave the church after they leave home
  • why churched kids’ lifestyles often aren’t consistent with their religion
  • the reality of what kids will encounter in college
  • which things actually cause faith to stick to kids
  • how to encourage your kids to depend on God
  • 3 ways to nurture your kids so they will be open to the gospel
  • 5 questions all teenagers must answer as they move into adulthood
  • 11 mistakes Christian parents make that lead kids away from faith in Christ

Pouring in comes out in the next couple months. Pre-order your copy for just $12 today!

Pre-order Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids

I’ve seen it in your eyes. Christian parents have been watching their teens turn away from the faith for decades, and you fear your kids will do the same. It is never too late to tip the scales in favor of your kids developing a personal, passionate, and permanent faith in Jesus Christ.

$12.00

 

 

 

5 Reasons to be Excited about the New Year

TempThis morning I woke up to find it was negative fifteen degrees! What? In Indiana? I understand if you live in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan—those up there states—it is par for the course. But, Indiana? Brrrrrrr!

I just got back from the grocery store. It’s a deceivingly beautiful day. The sky is blue and the bright, beautiful snow is sparkling in the sunshine. It’s delightful to look at from the inside. However, I had to take my heavy duty gloves off walking back to the car because I bought Starbucks and I couldn’t grip my cup with them on. My hands throbbed all the way home. It’s rough being me.

Anyway, now that I have thawed a little, back to my post.

Happy New Year! If you are anything like me, New Year’s day is a relief. The holidays just about kill me, so I am glad they are over. And now, I can look to the future.

Are you expecting great things in 2018? I am. Want to know why? Even though I’m not an especially optimistic person, I know that God is already holding this coming year in His hands. 2018 belongs to Him. He’s got this.

5 reasons to be excited about the new year:3D cover

  1. Regardless of how short the days seem, they are getting LONGER
  2. Christmas is over
  3. There are 43 days until we have to buy anything for anyone for a “holiday”
  4. This is the year of the Lord’s favor (Isaiah 61:2). God has good things in store for 2018.
  5. Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids comes out in January or February!

I don’t generally make New Year’s Resolutions, but since I know how flawed I am, I always have a list. My list, usually revolves around the theme of more thankfulness. I need to work on having a thankful attitude. I need to work on complaining less. More thankfulness, less complaining.

This is my WIP (Work In Progress) list.

  • more thankfulness
  • less complaining
  • more love
  • less complaining
  • more grace
  • less complaining
  • more joy
  • less complaining

Are you noticing a pattern? I look at it this way: Basically, I need more of Him, and less of me.

He must become greater; I must become less. John 3:30

If I made New Year’s resolutions, this verse would be mine every year. I am so thankful that we have a God that loves the “works in progress.”

For my fellow works in progress, I look forward to our journey together in 2018! I look forward to becoming more like Him together with you. Thank you so much for subscribing to my blog. I so appreciate you.

Blessings.

4 Ways to Resemble the Whos from Whoville Instead of the Grinch

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” sang the Whos from Whoville. Even the happy little tots of this euphoric town belted it out joyfully. It wasn’t about the stuff, the lights, or the decorations. No, their joy was not dependent on what they saw when they woke up Christmas morning. They had joy in their hearts.

I wouldn’t mind living in Whoville this time of year. Where is it? Can anyone tell me? Most of what I see seems to be about the shopping, the stuff, the decorations, and of course, the peppermint mochas.

If you came to my town and took away our Christmas decorations, our trees, and our presents, you probably wouldn’t hear singing on Christmas morning.

Every year as I get older, the month of December seems to get harder. Is it just me? As I look in the mirror, it is Scrooge looking back at me. Or, is it the Grinch? Is my heart two sizes too small?

My Christmas challenge every year is to exude more joy and peace, and less frustration and doom. More of the positive, less of the negative. The more my eyes are opened to the truth of God the more my eyes are opened to the truth of this world. And it is hard not to let the darkness overwhelm me. Baby steps, I tell myself.

If I remember to do four things this holiday season maybe I can still inspire joy despite the darkness inside.

Christmas is loving

Christmas is about loving. Honestly, everyday should be about loving. How well am I loving my neighbors? How well am I loving my parents, siblings, spouse, or kids? How well am I loving the homeless guy on the street? The waitress at the restaurant? The guy at the toll booth on the freeway? The baggers at the grocery store?

Jokingly, I sometimes refer to myself as the grim reaper. I know I have a dark side. However, I can’t be loving and the grim reaper at the same time. They don’t go together. I have to choose one or the other.

So, I will choose love.

Christmas is giving

If you get annoyed with the materialism of Christmas, I feel your pain. A great way to combat the negativity is to give, then give, then give some more. Channel your irritated energy into passionate and wildly generous giving.

I will choose to give.

Christmas is inviting

If I invite someone into my home, as a gesture of goodwill and compassion, my heart and attitude change. I am not talking about Grandma Nibby, or the family I expect to see at Christmas, unless I am trying to reconcile an estranged relationship. I am talking about someone that doesn’t belong.

Invite someone to Christmas that isn’t necessarily your favorite person. Invite someone into your small group of friends that you haven’t wanted to include, but could use some friends. Give someone a chance that isn’t necessarily the most polished candidate.

I will choose to invite.

Christmas is letting go

My daughter is home sick from school. When she isn’t feeling good, she reverts back to her four-year-old self. This morning she was on the couch watching Frozen. “Let it go” echoed around the house.

What can I let go of this year? I can think of a few things. I can let go of anger, let go of judgement, let go of complaining, and do my part in letting go of division and alienation. Why wait until January to let go of the sin that weighs us down?

What are you holding on to?

Do you need to let go of that fight that caused you not to speak to your sibling for the last decade? Or, let go of political views for the holidays for the sake of peace? Or, do you need to let go of being right?

Let’s make a pact to let it go. Whatever your “it” is.

Merry Christmas and bah humbug! It’s a package deal this year.

 

What Have We Become?

After finishing “Stranger Things Season 2,” which was fun, family friendly, and just plain great writing, my husband and I were looking for a new series to watch on Netflix. Gotta love December, when the days are short and the evenings are long.

There has to be something good with all these new shows, we figured. So we gave Amazon’s “Mr. Robot” a try. I enjoyed it until the third episode had a scene that was so disgusting I couldn’t turn it off fast enough. And there it was. I couldn’t “unsee” what I had seen. The image was seared in my brain.

Next.

This time we triedUntitled design (8) “MindHunter” on Netflix. Within the first ten minutes, a man stripped naked and blew his own head off with a shotgun. I squirmed in my seat as the image of the blown off head stuck like chewing gum in my mind. Why is it when we see something gross and disturbing we can’t stop thinking about it?

I tried to keep watching and had to fast forward during a sex scene, which twenty years ago, would have been called porn. It doesn’t shock us anymore, we see it everywhere. The last straw was toward the end when the FBI agents and a cop were describing a crime scene. It was more than just dead bodies—it was sexualized. It was vile. It was over the top.

My older daughter watches “Game of Thrones” with her friends. We don’t have HBO, so I checked it out on IMDb. Here is what the parent guide said:

Nudity and brief sex acts are frequent throughout the entire series. Scenes of topless women, bare buttocks are regular occurrences in almost every episode throughout the entire series. Male and female full frontal nudity while not as common as topless women occurs often. Examples include: implied oral sex, numerous sex scenes within brothels, sex involving multiple people, prostitutes’ bare breasts, people fighting over sex, and people bathing naked.

Awesome.

Sounds like a great thing for my teenager to be watching. Like the rating TV-MA means anything at all. We’ll produce a show that contains porn, slap a TV-MA rating on it, and call ourselves socially responsible. It’s bull! And we all know it.

I can almost hear Satan laughing about some of these shows as if to say, They don’t even know this is from me. They have no idea that I am poisoning their minds. Satan is having his way with us and our kids. We’ve been had.

My youngest daughter, who is fifteen, likes to watch movies in the evenings with us while she is doing homework. She is like sunshine and unicorns, happy and innocent. We love that she hangs out with us. But what we have to do to find movies that we can watch with her is exhausting. And anything we do watch I have to be on guard with the remote in hand, ready to fast forward.

It is exhausting sifting through the garbage.

Hearing of Matt Lauer’s firing from NBC last week was shocking. Sexual misconduct? No way, I thought. I remember watching him on the Today show when I shared a house with four roommates shortly after college. He seemed like the boy next door.

When I heard about the accusations against Bill Cosby for sexual misconduct several years ago, I was heartbroken. He was such a great role model in the 80s and 90s. And now, almost every week we hear about a new sexual harassment case against someone in Hollywood, the government, or on the news.

The thought hit me, Why are we surprised? 

Do we not live in an extremely sexually charged and perverted culture? Are there any sexual ideals or morals that we have not flushed down the toilet? It seems that anything goes these days.

We have so thoroughly screwed up sex in our society that sometimes I feel totally helpless as a parent. Is it possible to raise kids who wait to have sex until marriage? And if they actually do wait, is there any chance of them finding spouses someday that have waited? It’s almost an absurd thought.

I am fed up! I am over it! What our country has been reduced to in the name of sexual prowess is pathetic. Can we not control ourselves? Can we get any farther from God’s design?

But what do we do? Move to Alaska? Build a wall and a moat around our homes and get rid of electricity? Is that the only choice we have?

Lots of questions. Few answers.

The bottom line is, I am outraged. We all should be. We are Sodom and Gomorrah all over again. Have we not evolved past that? It would seem not. We have been reduced to behaving like animals.

Shame on us.