Building Foundations

Amos building

I have had the blessing of having our twin grandsons – aged 4  – the past few days at our house. I got some Lincoln Logs down from the attic yesterday and we have been building cabins for each of the boys and for various Little People.

I like to build. I like to have all the pieces fit and the roof stay on even when “people” are going in and out. I also like the various shades of these old Lincoln Logs to match.

I know, that is way over the top! The boys could care less about the log color – but I did find out they care about the roof color!

We used all the longer log sections and ended up with four buildings and a “stable” for the horses.  There were bunches of singlets left. You know – those log pieces with just one slot. These are important for building windows and doors, but our Lincoln Logs are parts of three yard sale sets and there are LOTS of singlets.

One of the boys tried to build these little logs into towers – but the most he could stack that would stay up independently were three. There was not enough of a foundation to hold any more logs.

Tyler building

Relationships are like building with Lincoln Logs. You need a good foundation to have a secure structure –  a structure that will withstand the pressure of use.

The time to start building the secure foundation in a relationship begins with the birth of a child.

Some parents and grandparents think that they will have plenty of time to build that relationship when the child is older and ready to;

  • really communicate
  • spend time doing the things the adult enjoys
  • is able to take care of their own physical needs

in other words – ceases being a child!

That will be TOO LATE.

Children will build the foundation of meaningful relationships with others if the parents don’t take the time to do so. I have heard many adults lament the fact that their children or grandchildren never want to spend time with them as teenagers or young adults.

Did those adults spend time building the foundation of a good relationship early on when the child was young?

Children will go through times of rebellion.

It is natural for children to pull away from the adults in their lives as they grow older. Yet if there is a strong foundation  – a bridge of respect will allow the child and the parent or grandparent to bear the weight of that challenge to the relationship.

I heard this Scripture shared yesterday as a key to building respectful relationships with our children.

1 Thessalonians 2:10-12 (NIV)

10 You are witnesses, and so is God,  of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

Those three words from verse 12 hold a key to building a secure foundation in our relationships with our children and grandchildren.

  • encouraging
  • comforting
  • and urging them to live lives worthy of God

Notice it does not say –

  • nagging
  • criticizing
  • listing the child’s mistakes

May we all take the time and effort needed – with God’s grace – to build those strong foundations based on the LOVE and GRACE that our Heavenly Father has so lavishly shared with us!

 

 

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Whiter Than Snow!!!

our deck this morning, 7:30 am

our deck this morning, 7:30 am

“I’ll believe it when I see it!”

I said this yesterday when it was 50 degrees outside and the weather forecast said we would get 1-3 inches. Well, I see it and I believe it. I measured 6 inches with a yard stick an hour ago and it is still coming down.

I love snow. I love the quiet whiteness. I love the definition that the snow gives to the trees as it clings to branches. I love to sled.

Snow is SO white.

Websters Dictionary defines “white” as “free from color, color of new snow.” There you have it – white as snow. In looking at the snow falling just now, it made me think of the verses in Psalms 51.

6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Make me hear joy and gladness,
That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
9 Hide Your face from my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.

The world around us is covered in a blanket of purest white, all the mud and mess is covered and everything looks pure and new.

God wants to create that fresh newness in each of us!

He wants to cover our mess (sin) with the washing power of His Word. Ephesians 5:26  to make her (the Church) holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.

God also says in verse 12 – He wants to restore to us the JOY of our salvation.

What a wonderful promise! My hope is that the snow around us reminds us of God’s faithfulness and His desire to:

  • cleanse us white as snow
  • restore the joy of our salvation

Now let’s go sled!

Potential – Unlimited!

Hawkins - 1st day of school - 2024

Several of my friends and I have grandchildren who have started kindergarten this year. As a former kindergarten teacher myself, I have been very interested in how their initiation into formal education has begun.

It is revealing to see how different children view this common experience. Some responses to my “casual” questioning have been –

  • I like PE the best.
  • I like recess the best.
  • My teacher is nice because she gives me books.
  • I’m the tallest.
  • I’m the teacher’s best helper.
  • ____ can’t speak English so I am helping him.
  • We are learning letters, but I already know them.
  • I like math the best.
  • My teacher is nice.
  • I like library time best.

The overwhelming response has been positive and I am so thankful. After all, at least 12 more years of schooling looms ahead for these kindergarteners!

The most important issue is that each child has potential – potential in the Kingdom of God.

Luke 9:47-49 (NIV)

47 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. 48 Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”

 We easily declare that all children have potential. The potential will not necessarily result in “success” by the standards of our current culture. Too often today success is measured by popularity, wealth and material possessions, or notoriety in athletics or entertainment.

Jesus valued children because they demonstrated unconditional love, faith, and trust. Each child has potential to experience God’s unconditional love – most often through their parents.

To help our children reach their God-given potential, God has placed them in our families to nurture and care for. We must demonstrate to them and for them our faith and trust in God and His word.  We have no idea what lies ahead for our children. We do know that without a doubt there will be trials and difficult times ahead. Our children will suffer hurts and rejection.

Yet, God is faithful.

Our great potential is that we can become the children of God.

John 1:11-13 (NLT)

11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

God’s plan from the beginning was to bring us into relationship with himself. As parents we have the responsibility and privilege to share this highest of potentials with our children.

May God empower us to fulfill this challenge.

Not a Spectator

me chicago1

I am a spectator when it comes to sports.

I have never been on a sports team in my life. One of my first “dates” with my husband was watching him play on a softball team.

I sat in the stands – he played.

We have four children, all of whom played sports in high school and college – some more than others.

Last weekend we watched two grandchildren play on their respective basketball teams.

I have watched a LOT of ball games in my life and with grandchildren rapidly growing up, I can safely assume there will be many more games in the future. I enjoy watching games if I know the people playing. I am not an individual who will watch ANY sport or ANY team. I need some connection to make it interesting for me.

I remember when our children were in high school and I used to talk to people at ball games. Once someone said – “Gayle, you just come to these games to socialize.” I replied,”This IS my social life.”

There are advantages to being a spectator:

  • you don’t get sweaty
  • you don’t get hurt (unless a stray ball, bat, puck, etc. leaves the field of play)
  • you don’t get called for fouls, get red cards, or ejected (well, unless you behave VERY badly)
  • you don’t get yelled at by the coach
  • you don’t get vilified by your teammates for messing up
  • you can wear your own clothes

Yet, there are other benefits of sports that spectators never receive:

  • no exercise
  • no glory
  • no camaraderie with teammates
  • no sense of accomplishment for a game well-played
  • no stories of personal athletic feats
  • no cool uniforms/warm ups

I don’t want to be a spectator when it comes to being a part of the Body of Christ.

In fact, God does not want any  spectators when it comes to being a Christian. It is very plain in the Bible that God has called us into His family to participate with Him in building the Body of Christ.

I Corinthians 12: 12-20 says –

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

I want to participate fully in all that God has called me to do. God does not hold try outs – no one is cut from the team and we all get “playing time.” No one warms the bench in the Body of Christ.

The one prerequisite is to be willing.

God promises that He will equip us to play the position He calls us to. The only problem comes when we try to play someone else’s position. (Just like on a sports team – if you are the receiver – don’t play center!)

Verses 27 -28 go on to say –

 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.

There are other lists of responsibilities in the body of Christ – but SPECTATOR is never listed.

As the BIG GAME is played this weekend, and the VAST majority of us are spectators, remember – this is NOT our role as Christians. As we watch the players in the game, let it remind us that we have a part to play in something much more significant.

 

 

No New Year Resolutions.

Nana and Minions

I’ve been thinking lately about getting older. You have heard the phrase – “you are only as old as you feel”.

Not true.

When I got two Minion DVD’s for Christmas from grandsons, which by the way are really funny, I feel like one of the kids. Yet – I am still 63.

The reality is that I have been 63 for a week now and I ain’t no spring chicken.

  • I am the oldest (in age) faculty member at Smoky Mountain High School.
  • We opened presents starting with the oldest first – which was ME.
  • I got a senior discount when we went to see the Hobbit on Saturday night.
  • I fall asleep when I sit down and start to read in the evenings…and afternoon.
  • I was the last one up the hill on our family hike, but I enjoyed every minute.

The flip side of this aging coin is that I was also one of the younger individuals around when we visited my parents at their retirement community the week before Christmas. My father is 90 and my mother is 86, so 63 was inconsequential. It is a blessing to see these neighbors of my parents and hear about the activities they are involved in. My father has taught 7 people how to turn wooden bowls this year and both parents traveled to Brazil in September to promote an English language system with which my mother volunteers.

This thinking about age has led me to ask the question – “What next, Lord?”

It seems as though the previous stages of my life where relatively clearly laid out.

  • I went to school 13 years and graduated from high school.
  • I went to college and got a degree and teaching certification.
  • I got a job teaching.
  • I got married.
  • I had children.
  • I was able to stay home with our young children.
  • The children grew and I went to work part-time.
  • Our children became college age and I went to work full-time.
  • My active mothering role has ended – the children obtained jobs, some got married, some have their own children.

What next, Lord?

The above list leaves out the essential dynamic of the purpose of all those things I have done in my 63 years… I desire to live my life to bring glory to God.

In thinking about a New Year’s resolution, I realized that I did not need to think of something do to challenge myself to “improve”, “overcome something”, or “transform” my life.

I need to be faithful in the things that God has already given me to do.

Titus 2: 3-5 –

“3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”

Those of us who are older women  have a clear mandate. I am so thankful for the faithful, godly women that have taught me over the years including my grandmothers, my mother, Sally Fesperman, Sue Makinson, Elizabeth Elliot and others.

May we all be faithful to be an example to the younger women God brings into our lives in 2015. God Bless you!

 

Easter Outfits

Adahlyn and Miriam

When I was little, one of the few times I received new clothes was right before Easter. (the other time was right before school started) Now sometimes these clothes were not brand new – just new to me, but I still was excited to get dressed up in special clothes.

It gave me a feeling of something special happening. It wasn’t just about the clothes – it was the fact that a celebration was going to happen and I was dressed for it!

Clothes do not make a celebration, but they do reflect an attitude.

I called one of our daughters Saturday and heard over the phone as she told her daughter, “No, put on PLAY clothes to play outside. Those are your good clothes for school.”

We wear certain clothes for working in the garden, and other clothes to a wedding. (I did both on Saturday and I did not wear the same to each event, thankfully.)

The following verses give glory to God our Father for what he has done for us, His children.

Isaiah 61:1-4

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
3 To all who mourn in Israel,
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

What a beautiful picture of what God plans for us, His children! We will be like great oaks, planted for his glory.

Verse 10 of the same chapter talks about how God clothes us –

10 I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God!
For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation
and draped me in a robe of righteousness.
I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit
or a bride with her jewels.

How can we communicate to our children that Easter is not about dressing up? God knows if what we wear is simply to get attention, show off, or make a statement that I don’t “need” to dress up. Each of us should search our own hearts and dress in such a way that will honor the Lord, doing the same for our young children.

There is something so much more important than what I wear –

AM I CLOTHED IN HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS?

That is what Easter is all about, Jesus dying to pay the debt for my sin, and raising to new life again so that I might have life!

Hallelujah!

Whatever we choose to wear on Easter, may we all be clothed in salvation wearing the robe of his righteousness.

Always Busy

CSC_2131

“When we go to Nana and Pop’s – Pop will take us to the barn, Pop will give us a ride in the cart, we will play with Pop in the tree house… and Nana – well Nana is always busy.”

Our daughter was describing her son’s excitement about the planned visit to our home. She was telling me about all the things her boys planned to do with Pop. Her words were not intended to hurt me…

but they did.

“Nana is always busy.”

Our grandson is right. When our grandchildren come, I am always so excited to see them. I hug them, give a few words of greeting, and then I often head for the kitchen to either start or put the finishing touches on the next meal.

Someone has to do it….right?

Yet in thinking about our grandson’s assessment of Nana’s involvement in his life, I realized that I am always busy. I am an active person. When we don’t have company I am generally working on an art project (or several) or sewing something by hand. I love to make things by hand! When I watch a movie or TV I am usually making something as I watch. I do handwork in the car when traveling.

I also enjoy working in our yard pulling weeds, trimming plants, deadheading blooms, or just generally maintaining our flower beds.

It occured to me that my “busyness” was more of a habit than a necessity.

Yes, meals must be made and bathrooms cleaned, but I don’t need to do other things when our children and grandchildren come to visit. I need to focus more on THEM.

Our grandchildren LOVE playing with Pop because he gives them his undivided attention – well mostly.
(he has been known to fix something or other at the barn when he takes them down there or pull a weed or two from the garden) Pop does most of what they ask so they enjoy being with him and it is certainly mutual.

It is not an issue of competiton for the attention of our grandchildren. We currently have 11 grandchildren so there are plenty of opportunities to spread the love around. I enjoy the fact that these grandchildren love being with their “Pop”. The issue is that I was hurt by the honest assessment of our grandson because it pointed out to me what I was missing.

Our grandchildren will remember playing with Pop….and they will remember Nana being busy.

Jesus addressed this issue of “busyness” with two sisters, Mary and Martha. In Luke 10:38-41 it says –

38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what He taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to You that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

The Amplified Bible says – “40 But Martha [overly occupied and too busy] was distracted with much serving”. Does that sound like me? YES!

Jesus says to Martha – there is only one thing worth being concerned about – Mary has discovered it. Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus – spending time with Him.

Jesus indicates here that He is not all that impressed with our “busyness” – the stuff we are supposedly doing for Him. He wants us to fellowship with Him – to sit at His feet.

As God’s children we MUST choose that ONE THING – being with Jesus.

I am making a committment to be more intentional about the time I spend with our grandchildren. I want to focus on THEM – and not just be busy.

God wants relationship with me – He is not impressed with what I “do” for Him. He wants me to sit at His feet.

Our grandchildren want our time – more than a clean house, weeded flower beds or homemade cookies.

Well – maybe not the cookies……