Monday, June 28, 2010

Fix It!

All this week I will be in Guatemala serving on a Mission Team for Caroline's Promise, an adoption and orphan care organization. My friend, Lisa Holbrook, is the Director of Caroline's Promise and she recently told me that she often has a hard time recruiting men for these teams. Since many of these trips involve construction projects, there is a real need for guys…after all, they’re the ones with the upper body strength!

She asked one of her male friends why he has never gone on one of her trips. He said that he really struggled with the thought of going, because he could not “fix” the problems he was certain to encounter at these children’s homes. In other words, he might be able to go and help with construction or painting or other odd jobs, but when he left, these children would still be orphans living in poverty.

I get that. I think that we all, men in particular, feel the need to finish what we start. It is tough to visit orphans, look into their eyes and see Jesus, and then leave them knowing that their situation has not really changed, knowing that you haven’t fixed their problems. But, that’s our own logic, not God’s.

Think about the story of the Good Samaritan. Imagine if the Samaritan saw the guy who had been beaten up on the side of the road and thought to himself, “Yeeesh…he’s in really bad shape. There’s nothing I can do for that guy, so I’m just gonna keep on walking." Fortunately, that is not how the story ends. The Good Samaritan earned a place in God's Holy Bible because he saw someone who was hurting and he decided to do something, even though he could not provide a permanent solution to this man's problem.

God tells us that pure and undefiled religion is to "look after orphans and widows in their distress" (James 1:27). In Deuteronomy 15:11, He tells us that there will always be poor people in the land. God tells us to serve them and give to them, but He never commands us to solve their problems…or, anyone’s for that matter. However, it is often in the midst of those situations that we cannot “fix” that our service is needed the most.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lavish Them With Love

My dad was pretty typical of the men of his generation. He was not very open about his feelings and emotions. That included the way he communicated with me. He didn’t seem to have much trouble telling me when he not pleased with something I did, but he rarely if ever told me that he was proud of something I had done. I knew he loved me, but somewhere in the back of my mind I always questioned if he liked me.

At my father’s funeral I was shocked as co-worker after co-worker shared with me that my Dad regularly talked about me at his workplace. They said he was so proud of me and loved to tell people about his daughter who worked on the radio. I really had no idea that he felt that way. But, shock turned to sadness as I contemplated the fact that he had never been and never would be able to say those things to me directly.

I’m not angry with my Dad. I understand why he was that way, his dad was even more distant from him. I believe that my father was doing the best he could with what he had. But, I still grieve the relationship that we could have had.

Dads, please don’t let this be your story. There is an ever-growing body of evidence that shows that a close relationship with ones father is a predictor of future success in life. And, I’ve spoken to many people, women in particular, who did not have a close relationship with their father and now struggle to understand their relationship with their heavenly father.

A great example of a father expressing love for his child is given in the bible when Jesus is baptized by John in the Jordan River. When Jesus emerges from the water his Heavenly Father announces from heaven, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."

It may sound cliché…but time is fleeting. Don’t assume that your kids know you love them and are proud of them. Take time to lavish love and praise on your children every day…starting today.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fatherly Wisdom

I recently asked some friends to tell me about the best advice their father had ever given them. Here are some nuggets of fatherly wisdom that were shared…

-When it comes to choosing a wife, you’ll know you’ve found the right one when you are better together than either of you could ever be apart.

-Never say anything you don't mean in a fight

-“There is only one way to do something…do it the RIGHT way.”

-Be true to yourself and deliver the package that you sell.

-Don't ever make fun of anyone! Instead build them up!!

-In the small decisions, consider all the factors and details. In the big decisions, follow your heart.

-Always tell the truth, even when it’s painful.

- If someone bigger than you tries to harm you pick up the closest thing you can and knock them in the head

True, a wealth of wisdom can be found in a father’s words. Our Heavenly Father is also an excellent source of advice. He delivers it to us through the scriptures. I know many people who think that the Bible is just an ancient text that is irrelevant to life today. But nothing could be further from the truth. Here are just a few timeless pieces of advice from the book of Proverbs.

-Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.

- Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men.

-Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.

-A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult

-All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.

-Before his downfall a man's heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.

These verses all remind me of the kinds of things a parent says to their child. And, there’s a good reason for that! The Bible is an open letter from our Father, God, to us, his children. Within it we will find the answers we need to help us with whatever we are facing.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Waiting Game

One of my family’s favorite things to do in the summertime is spend time at the pool. We all love those leisurely afternoons, playing and enjoying each other and the sunshine. There is one thing about pool days that we don’t enjoy, however. And, that is the frustrating task of covering 3 impatient kids and their equally impatient parents in sunscreen.

I usually try to get everyone slathered up before we ever leave the house, but sometimes I forget and have to do it when we get to the pool. This creates a major problem! First of all there’s the inevitable argument about who gets lotioned-up first. After all, the kids are excited and anxious to get in the pool and now they have to wait for me to cover each of them and then another 15 minutes to let the sunscreen sink in before they jump in. In those 15 minutes I hear the question, “Mom, is it time yet?” or “How Much Longer” at least 100 times. I know it feels like torture to them, and I wish as much as they do that they could just jump it right away. But, it’s for their own good. I don’t want them to have to endure the painful sunburn that they will undoubtedly suffer if we don’t give the sunscreen time to set. Someday, they’ll understand.

Have you been praying for something and get the feeling that God is putting you off? Are you frustrated that he keeps making you wait when you want it NOW? Remember that God loves you deeply and he wants what is best for you. He also sees the consequences of answering your prayer before the time is right. If he is making you wait, I can assure you that it is for your own good. When we wait on the Lord with faith and patience we are rewarded in many ways. Listen to this verse form Isaiah 40:31-But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.

So, be encouraged today, knowing that your patience will be rewarded. Just like my kids, waiting for that reward is often necessary to prevent us from getting burned.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Putting the Thrill in "Thrill Ride"

/08One or twice a summer, my family heads to Carowinds in Charlotte for a stomach churning day filled with roller coasters, log flumes, wave pools and water slides. On one of these trips a few years ago, my son Andrew had grown tall enough to enjoy the parks most thrilling rides. As soon as we got to Carowinds, he and my husband headed straight for a coaster called Top Gun, the parks tallest and fastest ride.

It was about 2.5 seconds into the ride when my husband had the panic attack. It wasn’t because the ride scared him…but when he looked over at our young son (who was grinning ear to ear by the way), Alton began to wonder if Andrew was really big enough for the ride. Was he actually secured in his harness? Could he fall out? By the time the ride was over, my poor husband could barely breathe. He was so weak in the knees that he had to sit down for a few minutes just to compose himself. Not from excitement but from pure and utter fear.

Andrew, on the other hand was ready to do it again. And, once he realized that he and his son were safe and that he could trust the harness system on the ride, Alton was ready to take on Top Gun again as well. From that point on they have turned into roller coaster junkies…the bigger, higher and faster, the better.

When we put our trust in Jesus, we have to examine how much of our life we have actually entrusted Him with. If we approach our walk with Jesus with the same apprehension that Alton felt on that first ride with Andrew, our life will be consumed by fear and worry. However, we can learn to trust that Jesus is in control and that my family and I are completely safe in his care.

In Matthew 11:29, Jesus offers this invitation, “Place my yoke over your shoulders, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble. Then you will find rest for yourselves.”
Like a roller coaster, life can be crazy, filled with ups, downs and moments of anticipation, acceleration and exhilleration. Place His yoke, His “safety harness” over your shoulders so you can rest and enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Heavenly Hilton

From heaven even the most miserable life will look like one bad night at an inconvenient hotel -- Teresa of Avila
Do you enjoy staying at a hotel? I do. But, ev en lodging at a really nice hotel for a lengthy stay can get old. Eventually, you need something you don’t have or you long for a home cooked meal and even the perk of daily maid service is no longer enough to keep you from wanting to go home.

Our lives are a bit like hotel rooms. Maybe, right now, you are living in the Ritz Carlton. Your room is luxurious and beautiful, all your needs are being met, and the 900 thread count sheets are fab-u-lous! On the other hand, our life today might feel a bit more like an El-Cheapo Motel. Like you’re stuck in a grungy, smelly room where nothing works right and the manager is no where to be found to deal with your complaints. And, what just crawled across the floor?

Either way, whether you feel like you are at the Ritz or in the Pits, it’s a good idea to remember that this life is not really your home. Listen to what Jesus said in John 14:2-3 In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

So, if you’re struggling with life today, try to remember that this life is just temporary lodging. You have a permanent residence in waiting for you in heaven that is so marvelous your human mind cannot even begin to imagine it.