One and Only

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“MOM!”

“Nana is right here, Adella”

“MOM!”

Our granddaughter, Adella, had fallen. Her mom had stayed at the house to get the bike trailer attached so they could go on a bike ride together. We had started to the park with her brothers so they could play soccer.

When Adella fell, all she wanted was her mother.

Nana would NOT do.

I tried everything in a grandmother’s bag of tricks –

  • distraction “oh, look at that amazing crack in the sidewalk”
  • empathy “I want my Mom, too, when I am hurt”
  • humor “let’s cut off the leg that hurts”

And when all else fails,

  • bribery “I will buy you a milkshake”

Nothing worked.

When an injured child wants their mother, mother is the one and only person that will do.

As Christians we should be that way with our Heavenly Father.

God should be our “one and only”.

Yet in our culture, think of who and what we go to for “help”-

  • the media “google that”
  • friends “rant on Facebook”
  • move to a new location “I am out of here”
  • alcohol, drugs “self medication”
  • distractions “partying, media, devices”

God wants us to come to Him. In fact, He wants us to come to Him FIRST!

John 6:66-69 says the following in the Amplified translation –

66 As a result of this many of His disciples abandoned Him, and no longer walked with Him. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve [disciples], “You do not want to leave too, do you?” 68 Simon Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You [alone] have the words of eternal life [you are our only hope]. 69 We have believed and confidently trusted, and [even more] we have come to know [by personal observation and experience] that You are the Holy One of God [the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

God is our one and only hope. In our troubled times, and we all have them, as parents, grandparents, yes, and as nations, we must go to God for help.

I love the way Peter, in verse 68 says “You alone have the words of eternal life, you are our only hope.”

Just as our children and grandchildren want their mothers, we must go to God as our source of help, comfort, and life.

God is our one and only hope.

 

 

 

Brokenhearted

 Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times

How do I respond to the horrific, senseless violence that is sweeping the world?

Is it getting worse, or do I just hear about it more frequently because of the 24/7 media coverage that sends an unending stream of information and images from throughout the world?

How do I help my children and grandchildren process these events without causing them to live crippled by fear?

  • the killing of police officers in Dallas
  • the shooting of unarmed black youth in several US cities
  • the massacre of 41 innocent civilians in Turkey
  • the gunning down of 49 people in a night club in Orlando
  • 14 are shot dead in San Bernardino, California

and yet more personal …

  • the senseless murder of a dear young mother’s husband in Atlanta

This lovely young woman, a long time friend of our family, has been working tirelessly to eradicate human trafficking as an Assistant to the Attorney General of Georgia. She is now faced with raising her precious little girl without the loving support of a father.

I must respond with genuine concern and compassion to all those involved.

Jesus did that.

Right before he was crucified, on the Mount of Olives, Roman soldiers (the despised oppressors of the Jews in Jerusalem) approached Jesus to arrest him. Peter responded with violence – cutting off the ear of the High Priest’s servant.

Mark 22:51 – But Jesus said, “No more of this.” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

NO MORE OF THIS!

Our response to the violence and suffering around us must be an example to our children and grandchildren.

No more of this. We are brokenhearted.

If we  – for one moment – we think “maybe they deserved this” we are WRONG!

We MUST respond with compassion. If we do not feel compassion for the those shot and their suffering loved ones, regardless of the situation, we must repent.

Psalm 34:18-19 (NLT)

18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

19 The righteous person faces many troubles,
but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.

Our children and grandchildren will form their understanding of suffering from the way they hear and see us respond.

  • if we express fear – they will fear
  • if we express hatred – they will learn to hate
  • if we seek revenge – they will seek revenge
  • if we express compassion – they will learn compassion
  • if we trust God for justice – they will learn to trust God

I heard an inspiring message Sunday from Rev. Reggie Screen of Atlanta. This Godly black man challenged us to have compassionate hearts in light of the violence all around us. He challenged us to be like Jesus. Reggie encouraged us that as things are darkest – the light of Jesus shines brightest.

We must be brokenhearted like Jesus.

We must have compassion.

We must love others and demonstrate that love at every opportunity.

We must seek justice and love mercy.

Oh, God, heal our land….

 

 

 

I Don’t Know

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Have you ever been irritated by a person who “knows it all”? Or more precisely, someone who ACTS like they know it all?

(truth be told, NO ONE knows it all)

This is very common with parenting advice…

  • “Well, when I was potty training….”
  • “My child never…”
  • “My child always…”

BEWARE OF THOSE WHO USE “ALWAYS” and “NEVER”!

It is rare for life to be so absolute, isn’t it?

These statements sometimes come from a parent of an only child – a  compliant only child. Where is the control group? Where are the variables of gender and birth order?

The reality of parenting is that we don’t have all the answers.

I heard a preacher say recently “it isn’t about having all the answers… it is about knowing who to go to for the answers.”

I remember Elizabeth Elliot challenging young women at a conference in 1990 – “I don’t know what you are facing in your life today…but I know the One who does.”

Jesus

Prayer is an amazing practice that opens our hearts and minds to receive God’s wisdom. Does this mean that when I pray I will receive an audible response telling me what to do?

rarely….

Yet I do believe that God will respond to our requests for wisdom. I have experienced this myself many times. God promises to do so in His Word.

James 1:5 (ESV)

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

This promise applies to us as parents. James goes on to say in this same letter –

James 3:17 (ESV)

17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

How encouraging!

This is not the kind of wisdom that makes one feel dumb, ignorant, or inexperienced. It is …

  • pure
  • gentle
  • open to reason
  • full of mercy
  • impartial
  • sincere

That list embodies JUST the kind of wisdom I need when I don’t know the answer.

This wisdom may come from a thought given by the Holy Spirit. It may come from a friend who is unaware you even have a concern. The wisdom may be from something you read or hear on the radio. It may be in a song. God will use various means to answer our prayers for wisdom. His wisdom.

It is the kind of wisdom young mothers should seek.

It is the kind of wisdom grandmothers should share.

Gentle, not judgemental.

Open to reason, not hard and fast.

Full of mercy…knowing that God has shown mercy to me more times than I can count.

May we seek Jesus so we can receive His wisdom.

I may not know – but I know the One who does.

 

 

I Don’t Know….

Caleb

I don’t know all the answers.

I know that doesn’t surprise those of you that know me. I am a life long learner and I love to ask questions.

(much to the annoyance of my husband, our son, and I am sure, my three sons-in-law)

They don’t like it when I ask questions during ball games. How else am I going to learn the intricacies of the game? I just want to know why the football coach threw down his clipboard or why the baseball umpire ejected the coach. Ok, so I am more interested in the personal interactions of the coaches, players, and officials than the game itself, but I am watching.

We all learn by asking questions. Children go though stages when they ask many more questions than at other times. We get weary of answering, but that is how we as humans learn.

We are much more likely to remember information that we inquired about than if we are just fed facts. Our brains are “wired” to process immense amounts of information, yet MEMORY is tied to connecting information according to usefulness. Our brains are amazing at sorting.

That is why it is SO IMPORTANT to answer our children’s questions. If they ask a question – they want an answer. If we don’t answer their questions, they will begin to find others who will. Those may not be the people who will give our children good or correct answers. Peers are a ready source of information – some positive, some questionable, and some down right negative.

Be the adult who answers questions.

But what about when we don’t know?

Some possible responses are:

  • Be honest. I am highly suspect of anyone who knows it all – even if they do listen to NPR.
  • “I don’t know, but I will help you find out.” This allows our children to see where we look for answers ourselves.
  • “Let’s call and ask…..” Let your child see that there are others you recognize as an expert in a certain area.
  • “I don’t know for sure, and people I respect think differently about this.” (questions about heaven, Jesus’ return, etc.)
  • Google it. (be careful – do this together with your child)

God knows that we don’t know it all. If fact, James gives us advice about what to do in James 1:5-6

5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.

We are encouraged to ask God, and ask with faith that He will answer. Yet, sometimes we know that God waits to respond or chooses to keep silent in certain areas for our good. We do this as parents or grandparents, don’t we. We don’t tell our small children that we are taking them to Tweetsie next week because they will find it difficult to wait, or to do what they need to do today.

God also tells us that we don’t know everything, nor will we until we meet God face to face.

1 Corinthians 13:11 (NLT)

11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

What a wonderful promise!!! God is so awesome and His plans for us are beyond our human comprehension.

One day we will know it all – with perfect clarity. We can share that with our children and grandchildren.

I will never forget  – because it was one of those moments seared in my memory – Elizabeth Elliot speaking to 10,000 college students at Urbana in 1973 sharing the following –

I don’t know … but I know the One who does.”

 

We Are Suffering

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26 If one part [of the Body of Christ] suffers, every part suffers with it;”            I Cor. 12:2

Families are suffering in Charleston, South Carolina – they are our brothers and sisters in Christ – therefore we are suffering.

I couldn’t help think of the children of the pastor whose father is now no longer with them. It is Father’s Day, a tragic reminder of all they have lost. Others murdered were also fathers.

They were at church praying, just where many thousands of Christians throughout our country are on Wednesday night – praying. It hurt so much to think of this evil act being carried out in a place where God is worshipped and His love is shared.

I was reading yesterday in a journal my Grandmother Barker, my father’s mother kept. After a tragedy occurred during Woodrow Wilson’s presidency, Grandma quoted him as asking that these verses be read to him.  II Corinthians 4: 6-9 (NKJV)

6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed;

   we are perplexed, but not in despair;  

persecuted, but not forsaken;

   struck down, but not destroyed;

I have heard many of the family members and friends of those murdered speak of forgiveness in this time of horrific pain and loss. What a testimony of God’s amazing grace!

As the Body of Christ we MUST step up our efforts to battle the forces of evil that foster hatred.

It starts in our homes as we express acceptance and love for all people, especially those who may be different from us. Hatred is a learned attitude. When our homes are places of love and acceptance – our children will learn to treat others with respect.

Sing this simple, yet profound chorus with your children and talk about what it means –

” Jesus loves the little children

ALL the children of the world

Red, brown, yellow, black, and white

They are precious in His sight

Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

Hatred can not exist in our hearts if God’s love is present. Now is the time to plant those seeds of love and respect in the hearts of our children and grandchildren.

We must keep those suffering in Charleston in our prayers.

We are all suffering – but love wins in the end.

 

 

Why? – again.

"Why is Jackson Simmons so tall?"

“Why is Jackson Simmons so tall?”

We had visitors this weekend – the Hardy boys. There was a recurring theme throughout the visit.

“Why?”

I looked back in the archives and found this post from April, 2012.

“Why?”

At that time, the oldest Hardy boy was 3 – now the youngest is almost 3, and the twins are 4. When they were questioning their mother about directions she had given them – like “it’s time to get ready for bed” or “eat the rest of your beans before you get more grapes” she kept reminding them that she was their mother – they needed to obey.

Even thought their mother is very attentive to their questions about why things work, or why animals do certain things, or why it is important to be careful around other people’s dogs, etc. – she wants the boys to obey her even when they don’t understand “why?”.

Their mother wants them to TRUST her because she loves them and has their best interest at heart. She is asking them to obey for their own good.

Isn’t that what God requires of us? We don’t always understand what God is allowing to happen in our lives. We want to ask “why?” and perhaps we do ask “why?” – but we may not get an answer.

Just like an earthly parent – God wants us to TRUST Him because He loves us and has our best interest at heart. God is asking us to obey for our own good.

The earlier post went on to say –

“The 3-year-old is in that stage of asking “Why?” in response to all requests, comments, and random statements. At first, it is engaging to answer the “whys” of life. “Why?” do we wear socks with shoes? To prevent blisters. “Why?” is it nap time? This question has various answers – it is time, you are tired, mom is tired, or any other response deemed appropriate at the time. “Why?” when told to stay in his bed, because there is not room in the crib with your twin brothers.

After answering hundreds of questions, Nana does get tired of thinking about the answers to the meaning of life and all it involves. Yet, as a teacher, I know that these questions and answers are important and will form the basis of our grandson’s world view. Recent research in brain development shows that at around three years old there is a great growth in synapses in the brain, and that if they are not used during this formative time, those synapses are pruned. Just as a gardener prunes off useless branches, God has fashioned our brain to do likewise.

God does not always answer us right away. God is not governed by our time-table or our sense of “needing to know”. In fact, He says in I Corinthians 13: 8-13

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

God lets us know that while we are part of this human experience, we will not understand everything. (see italicized above) We do have the hope of coming into full knowledge when we are face to face with God.

What an awesome expectation!

So, until then, I will continue answering some of my grandchildren’s questions. I will also endeavor to share with them that sometimes there is no answer for “why?”. We must learn to TRUST with patience and love…..for the greatest of these is love.

I Don’t Know All the Answers

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“Why?”

Because God is God and I am not.

That is why I don’t know all the answers:
* It is not because I am not smart enough (which is true, by the way)
* It is not because I have not read the right kind of books (which is also true. I read all the time but “The Belly Button Book” only answers belly button questions)
* It is not because I have not faced the situations you face. (again, true, but inconsequential)

God is God and I am not.

I have two very dear friends who are facing circumstances that are beyond my understanding. In both of these families there is great suffering. The suffering is not the result of their sin, but SIN resulting from the FALL.

These are folks who love God and seek to serve Him whole heartedly.

They have been praying, friends have been praying, whole churches have been praying, people literally around the world are praying.

The suffering continues.

Why?

I don’t know all the answers.

I remember sitting on the floor in a large room at the University of Illinois – Urbana in 1973. I was seated on the floor because the room was full of college students like me. We were waiting to hear Elizabeth Elliot speak. Mrs. Elliot had lost her husband when he was murdered, after they had been married less than two years, by tribal people they were trying to reach with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When I heard her speak that day, her second husband had recently died of cancer.

Why? I wondered.

As Elizabeth Elliot spoke, a calm assurance emanated from her person. I have never forgotten what she said. “Many of you are facing grievous situations now in your families, your schools, even with your friends. Some of you are broken hearted and feel that God has abandoned you. I don’t know all the answers to your questions…. but I know the One who does.”

What a powerful truth! God has the answer.

1 Corinthians 13:12-13 (NLT)

12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

I have found the three words listed in verse 13 to be the key to my unanswered questions.

1) faith – I have faith that God is God and He is good. Terrible things happen, but God is GOOD and He can use those very circumstances FOR my good. I still don’t understand, but I trust God.
2) hope – when it is darkest, hope is the anchor that keeps me from drifting off into darkness. My hope is based on God’s faithfulness to me as His child.
3) love – God loves me and He has promised to carry me through all that I face in life. God’s love never fails.

Verse 12 says –
“All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” Someday when I am in God’s presence, I will know why.

I don’t know all the answers…..but I know the One who does.