Untie the Knots

What is it with girls and their jewelry?  I love it, and now, my daughter is getting addicted too.  She is very sporty, as I was in my younger days, but is still drawn to the bling of a nice necklace, earrings or bracelet.  Lately I just bought her a cross that lays sideways on her chest and she proudly wears it everywhere she goes.  Unfortunately, she has to take it off at gymnastics, and then, of course, I stashed it into my jacket pocket for its safe keeping.

The other day I arrived home from my run and as I slid my hand into my jacket pocket, there was her necklace.  This poor thing, just got bounced up and down in my pocket for 30 minutes, and when I pulled it out of my pocket, it was no longer a necklace, but a ball of silver chain linked into many knots.

Isn’t that the way life goes?  We start off with all these wonderful intentions, this remarkable gem.  We are fresh and full of life, and then life happens.  We might make a poor choice, and things start to unravel before our eyes.  We then try to fix it, only somehow we seem to make it worse and then years later, we can’t even recognize what something once was.

Let’s use marriage for an example.  Think about how excited you were when you and your spouse started out.  I remember, I was incredibly in love and thought I had the most amazing man in my life.  Everything we did seem to click and I was beyond happy.  We did lots of little things to show each other how we cared for one another and how each of us were thinking about each other endlessly.  It was magical!

Time goes by and life starts to knot the chain of marriage up.  We booked our lives too thin, we had children and priorities changed.  I remember thinking I could never love anything as much as my husband, until my first born child came along.  Then I found a new kind of love, a motherly love.  Sadly, I started to mess up my priorities.  I started putting my child’s needs in front of my husbands.  This had to be a huge shock to him, because for three years prior to the birth of our son, my life revolved around his happiness.

Looking back I can name many instances, and events that just kept knotting up our marriage.  We were both guilty of adding knots.  One thing at a time just added another knot.  Instead of 30 minutes of bouncing in a pocket, this marriage necklace now had 16 years of knots—and suddenly, I couldn’t believe that we were where we were.

I took my daughter’s necklace and patiently unwound each knot, pulling the necklace in different directions and unloosening different kinks, and eventually, it was as good as new.  The same can happen in life.  You have to take the time to investigate what needs to change.  With my marriage, my first change was making my husband my number one priority again, because without him, WE are nothing.  I don’t have a marriage without him, I am just a single parent with two children, and that is not the way I set out in this life.  I want our marriage to be a happy union of mother, father, husband, wife, and friendship.

The devil wants to knot up any relationship and kill it.  Anything that is good and true, he wants to kill, and we are stupid enough to let it happen.  1 Peter 5:8 tells us “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”  Please, don’t let the devil devour your marriage!  Be vigilant and work at fixing the knots!

We aren’t big at fixing things now-a-days.  If it is broke, or knotted up like this necklace, we usually throw it out and get ourselves a new one.  Marriages are no different.  Sure, we hurt one another.  Sure we do stupid stuff to each other.  We are only human.  Try and remember the way you felt about your spouse before the knots infested your relationship—before the devil got at it.  Do you remember how incredibly important this person was to you?  That person is still there, you just have to try and pick out the knots that time has made, and you will find an even more amazing person, who has been through many of life great moments with you.  Your connections are still there, even deeper actually.  It just takes some time to take out the knots.

Pick away at the knots and changes that you need to make and watch the amazing relationship come back to life.  If you need help, look in the Bible, and transform it to what God created marriage to be.  You might be pleasantly surprise to see what the relationship is really meant to be like, and don’t let the devil try and ruin your relationship, or anything you love, ever again!

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Osgood-Schlatter Scars

Osgood-Schlatter Disease—hard to pronounce, eh?  Have you ever heard of it?  My husband had it when he was younger and he grew very fast.  This is very prominent in young adolescent boys.  As his bones grew rapidly, his large tendon on the front of his knee couldn’t keep up with his bone.  It is a painful disease and usually eliminates sports for most patients for about a year due to the pain.  My husband still has two large bumps in the front of his knees as a reminder of this painful time of his fast growth spurt.

My son is now in early stages of his growth spurt, and having a kinesiology background I’ve been promoting him to stretch now, so that when he does take his spurt he will not witness the pain that his father had to experience.

Each night, my daughter quickly volunteers to put him through the yoga stretches that I have my gymnasts trained to do each night.  As I watch him stretch, I find myself chuckling because compared to my gymnasts, he is extremely rigid and tight.  It’s actually quite comical to watch.  I’m not accustomed to watching unbendable people, plus the moans, groans and terrifying screeches of pain add to the entertainment.

In attempts to not have our child go through the same pain that his father had to burden with this disease, I think about how most parents want more for their children than they had and do not want them to suffer the pain they experienced through their own life trials.  Are you like that?  Maybe you want your child to go to university, because you never had the chance.  Are you protective of your child and dating because of what you experience in your youth?  I’m sure we all do it.  Overcompensate in an area to make up for what we experienced in our trials that we don’t want our children to experience.

In all honesty, just like I am trying to make my son more flexible to prevent his future pain, we all have to learn to be more flexible with life.  We have to realize that learning how to bend we actually become stronger.  You think I’m crazy!  Think about it!  Being more flexible in anything is beneficial.  I know that my flexible gymnasts definitely reap their benefits, as I am sure is true in most sports.  I was taught in kinesiology that the more range of motion around a joint the less likely it is to be subject to injury.

The same holds true for life.  If you are rigid with the way you see things, life gets harder.  When people won’t conform to what you want, you get stressed out.  Sometimes we feel that our way is the only way and we don’t want to bend out of our way of thinking.  Instead of bending ourselves, we try to bend others into seeing things our way.  Doing what we want, living how we want—I guess it’s called “having control issues” maybe?

How many wives have tried to change their husbands?  Be honest ladies!  I know I have!  Did it work for me?  Nope—but you have to know my husband.  Now that we’ve been together 16 years, looking back I am glad he didn’t let me change who he is.  Who wants to rob someone of their personality?

I will admit my attempts to try to change him lead to a road of bitterness, heartache and stress, but whose fault was that?  My own.  I knew who he was when I married him, and loved him for who he was then.  I have learned over time that by bending myself for my husband, he has also learned to bend for me.  We are both learning to be flexible and bend for each other.

The same holds true with my children, and parenting.  I’m learning to bend with the personality of my child.  I don’t want to rob my children of who they are either.  I’m here to teach them right from wrong, and raise them to be productive members of society one day, but I want them to be who they are, not who I want them to be.

Ephesians 2:10 explains, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  God prepared all of us beforehand, he doesn’t want you trying to change things—not that you could if you wanted to, only God has the power to change people.

You have to give me an “A” for effort in trying to override the power of the Great Divine, but at the time I was young and uneducated in the purpose of marriage in God’s eyes.  I’m still learning to be flexible myself.  Just like my tight, basketball; volleyball; soccer; golf; baseball playing boy who is hitting his prime growth period, I’m growing in my walk with God.

My husband still has bumps on his knees to show a time in his life when his tendons weren’t flexible enough for the growth his body was taking.  Be smart and be flexible in your growth, before you have scars in your life too.  Stop resisting what is going to happen anyway, because life is out of your control.  Relax and let your spirituality grow, and learn to be all that you have been created to be!  It’s quite a ride!

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Faithful Fertilizer

This year we are very fortunate to have such an early spring!  It’s invigorating having the dirty snow disappear and see little green sprouts of spring flowers pushing their noses through the winter kill.  So invigorating that I started to clean my front flower bed!

It’s amazingly uplifting when you dig all the dead leaves out of your flower beds and clean up the garbage the remains after the winter’s chill devours their beauty.  These flowers that once stood bright and beautiful in all their glory and are now brown, lifeless compost that is smothering the new growth that lays invisible under the soil.  Yet, through that dingy overlay, some vibrant green peeks out through, even though they are swallowed by the dead flowers of what once was.  It’s such a miracle if you think about it!

Did you ever feel like this?  Like you once had something beautiful in your world, but now it is covered up by the lifeless compost and is smother the beauty of what once was.  Maybe it is your marriage, or your disappointment in a child or parent.  Could it be that a friendship that once was a huge part of your life has come to an end?  Did you lose a love one, and your world feels lifeless without this person?  Are you trying to fight an addiction of some sort and your life is falling apart at the seams but you just can’t seem to get it together?  Are you fighting depression or anxiety issues and it’s consuming your world?

Whatever your struggle or trial is right now, look at it like my flower bed.  Sure, it looks dead to the naked eye.  Sure you might think that the nasty frost of winter has killed the magnificence of what once was incredibly beautiful and made your life complete.  All this dead, dingy overlay is smothering the elegance of once existed and now you are lost in a pile of brown, crinkled leaves.

Trust me.  Even if you might not see the vibrant green that is growing beneath the soil, there really is new life under there.  It might feel like you can’t remove all the gunk that smothers you and your emotional well-being at the moment, but your life will turn around and sprout out the most incredible blossoms you have ever seen.

First, however, you do have to start picking away at cleaning out your flower bed.  You have to start to peel the dehydrated, mutilated remains off of the soil and give it some air and sunlight.  Just like your life.  Remove the negativity, and focus on the things that make you happy—give yourself some air and bask in the things that make you radiate.

Remove the old dried out mulch, and add a bit of fertilizer to your soil.  If it is your marriage you are struggling with, start thinking back to the days you were head over heels about your chosen one.  Start fertilizing your marriage with prayer and the Bible has some great teaching on what marriage was originally for.  If it’s depression you are struggling with, fertilize your life with exercise and try meditating on God’s word because he has a purpose for your life, and if you read his word, he will talk to you and comfort you.   Whatever your struggle come up with a fertilizing plan, and spend some time in prayer and in God’s word.

Don’t forget to replace the mulch to make your flower bed, and that might mean making changes in your life that you are uncomfortable with.  Maybe you have to remove the negative people in your life.  Maybe you have to develop a new friend circle to stay away from drugs or alcohol.  Whatever the changes you need to make, trust your instincts.  Once you fill your flowerbed with new mulch it will add that finishing touch to your flower bed and make it that much more complete.

In Isaiah 43:18-19 it teaches us, “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Eventually, once you let God clean out your flowerbed of life, he will make a way for your life to be all you imagined it to be.  Add some fertilizer, and new mulch, and the flowers you’ve been praying for will start popping their invisible heads up everywhere, craving more sunlight so they can start to photosynthesize and bless you with all that belongs to you.  Just like your life—you will notice little changes, and growths in your world and soon you will realize that it was just a season that you had to go through to grow and become the person that you were meant to be.

Once time progresses, you will be in full blossom and more vibrant and beautiful than ever.  You will then understand why you had to experience that horrible wrath of winter.  Now life couldn’t be any better!  Once you add God’s word as your fertilizer, replace the old mulch with new and let his light energize your photosynthesis, you will blossom into the divine being that he has designed you to be!  I promise!

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Greek Gymnastics God

Everyone knows my passion for gymnastics, and it is a sport that you have to be passionate about to truly understand it.  It definitely has a terminology all of its own, and is different than the more popular sports like basketball, hockey, baseball and such.

I know my daughter will run in the house after a successful practice and announce with pride, “Dad! Dad!  I did my backhand back layout step-out on the high beam today!”  He will congratulate her with open arms and play along like he knows what she is talking about, and then I come to his rescue and show him a video.  If it wasn’t for the daily video explanation, he wouldn’t have a clue of the skill she is performing because the terminology is like Greek to him.

Some days she will come home from her four hour practice and he’ll ask her how practice was and if she stuck her triple sow-cow, knowing that it isn’t a gymnastics skill, but it is a word that he is familiar with from figure skating.

Much the same happens to me when I go and watch my son play basketball.  I have no idea what “block-out” means.  He will be running up the court with the ball yelling out different code words that his coach has trained him to say to set up certain plays, but it is all just gibberish to me.

Isn’t that the same with our society today and religion?  For some reason it has people uncomfortable.  There are so many people now-a-days that don’t believe in God, or that are uneducated in his word.  We also have the extremist that take every word in the bible as truth, and might not understand the symbolism that is deeper than the actual words.  Honestly, nobody is going to rip out their eyes, as the bible recommends, but this is much like some of the more complicated sports.

First of all, you have those that hate sports and don’t understand them, or the benefits of sports.  Much the same as those who don’t understand God, and don’t believe that there is life after death, that we all came from evolution.  Those scientific minded people who think they have all the proof they need on how the earth was made, and what has happened to get us to where we are today.  They are so closed minded that they don’t see that maybe there is value to be learned from the Bible, realizing there is deep underlying meaning to God’s word and that there really is life after death.

Then there are some that enjoy sports but don’t quite understand the depth of them, because they are only familiar with the more popular sports.  We find this in gymnastics all the time, because gymnastics runs based on skill level and not age level, it is difficult for parents to understand.  We place gymnasts in their categories based on their skill ability and not their age.  Sure, age makes a difference, because like any sport a year of development can increase the level of ability, but we could have a 10 year old and a 14 year old with the same skill level, however that 10 year old probably is the athlete with the most gymnastics ability.  Just like in our spirituality, we might read the bible, but not totally understand it, or don’t understand its true potential.  Maybe we read the bible, but don’t stop and listen to what it is telling us.  We have to take the time and meditate on the words we read, because the meaning is much deeper than the words.

Another thing is that with gymnastics, parents don’t usually understand the progression of the sport.  They don’t understand that one skill has to be taught before a child can successfully perform another skill, and each harder skill requires more strength and flexibility to achieve it.  Skills are linked together and progress as the gymnasts strengthens and becomes spatial aware of where they are.  The same goes with God’s word.  We have to progress on our spiritual journey and nothing other people do or say can speed up this journey for another person.  The person has to learn through what God puts in their path, and the trials they are faced within their own life experiences.  I know if someone told me three years ago that I’d be writing a spiritual blog every day, I would think they are crazy, but due to different situations in my life that I’ve been through, my spiritual growth happened.  I progressed and transformed over the last year and a half spiritually.  Looking back to what my daily routine was a year and a half ago, to what it is now, there is a tremendous difference.  I see things differently now, and the Bible really speaks to me and comes alive, but when I started reading the Bible daily, this wasn’t the case.

In 2 Peter 3:18, it is said, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.”  We are all growing in our spiritual growth, just like my daughter is growing her sporting career of gymnastics.  She falls many times in the run of a night, but learns from every fall, and she has coaches there to tell her what she is doing wrong.  Just like in life, we will have our falls and trial, but the Bible is there to pick us up and coach us to our spiritual maturity.

As I’m venturing on my spiritual journey I’m understanding that we are all spiritual, even those who say they don’t believe, but everyone has to grow in their own time.  Just like explaining gymnastics to the parents of my gymnasts I coach, it is like Greek, and very hard to understand.  But, please trust me!  If you pay attention to the terminology, and the progressions, strengthen yourself in faith and trust in your coach, we can all become champions of God!

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Hair Loss Over Love Loss

My parents are very fortunate, they get to travel to Florida and spend our chilly winter months basking in the Florida sun!  They’ve been doing this since my father retired and are loving every minute of it!  Who wouldn’t, right?  Well, I know person who doesn’t love it-me!  I hate it!  My parents are such a huge part of my day-to-day life that this has been a complete adjustment period for me—a season in my life that I had to experience.

The first year they went, it was horrible.  My children were devastated, because they are such a vast part of their lives.  My son wouldn’t eat, because he was used to my mother cooking him up his favorite dishes, and nothing that I cooked would compare to Mimi’s.  They cried for them night and day, and it would stress me out that they missed them so much.

I myself had a major adjustment period as well, so much that I was losing big patches of my hair.  My life was so stressed without them in it, I was that overwhelmed that I was losing hair.  Crazy you might think that I was that dependent on my parents, but they did so much for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a lazy person, but I am scheduled to the max.  Being a teacher we do 12 months of work in a 10 month period, I coached gymnastics which is equivalent to another part time job and trying to be a wife and a mom on top of all that was near impossible.  Thus, I relied on my mom very heavily.

She is amazing to me.  She drops in during the day, and tidies up my home.  Some days she starts supper, or is at my home when I get home from work with a hot supper read for me to eat and run again.  Laundry, just magically gets done when my mom is home, and the dishwasher comes alive and empties itself.  Not to mention, just the baked goods that miraculously appear in my cupboards, and the fresh rolls and bread that is there to accompany our meals.  It’s incredible.  There is no magical housework fairy, or no invisible baker, it’s ALL my mom.

In the beginning, when they would travel down south, it was a huge slap in my face—like I lost my parents.  I could talk to them on the phone, but they weren’t involved in my life anymore.  Their smiling faces weren’t there to watch my kids at their sporting events, they weren’t there to take my son to the orthodontist, they weren’t available to have sleepovers when my children missed them and wanted some special alone time with them.  It was like our world came to an end.  It was a definite adjustment for all of us.  HUGE!

Since this is their fifth winter going down, honestly, the pain is nowhere as intense.  We’ve learn to adjust to life without them.  The kids are older now and are great help with cleaning the house, and have replaced my magical cleaning fairy.  I have learned to organize and plan suppers better, so that there is always a hot meal to come home to.  I use every available minute to work my life as efficiently as possible.  I have to or I wouldn’t be able to juggle it all.

They Facetime us now, and usually, we don’t have time to talk.  We are either at gymnastics, or basketball, or I’m out for a run, because every minute of my day is scheduled.  They are coming home in a few days after being away for 3 months and don’t get me wrong, I’m very relieved that they are here to enjoy their grandchildren with me, but I am no longer losing hair over them not being around.

We all have to go through hard times.  Maybe you are going through a separation or divorce, maybe you’ve really lost a loved one (my deepest sympathies! 😦 ), maybe you’ve lost a job or can’t find work and are struggling financially.  Whatever it is that is making you lose your hair, take it from someone who has been there!  You adjust, and you learn to move forward with a “new” normal.  It’s not fun, and it may take you years, but if you turn to our Divine Creator the transition will go much smoother.

Matthew 9:22 encourages me, “But Jesus turning and seeing her said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” At once the woman was made well.”  In order to get through my tough time with no parents, I chose to turn to God, and build my relationship with him.  I’ve learned to turn to my father in heaven for all those things that I was turning to my mother for, and believe it or not, he was there right by my side for the three months she was gone, and ever since.  He filled the gap, and even more if you can image that!  Life without my mom is sad, and lonely, but it’s not as lonely when I have God by my side!  I’ve found my true father that completes me.  If I’m feeling down, I found a trick that is easier than picking up the phone.  I read the Bible, and being fulfilled and reassured by God’s word helps me through sad or stressful times.

Are you going through a tough time in your life?  Wake up a little early and start your morning in God’s word.  He talks to all his children, you just have to sit patiently and listen!  His word ensures us he will never let us down!

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Evil Torturous Sibling

Today, I had the joy of taking my 12 and 14 year old grocery shopping. You would think that was an easy task, but not today. For some reason these two children decided they were going to be children—more like toddlers. It all started as soon as we got in the truck after school and continued on our laps around the grocery store and didn’t finish until we entered the house. All I could think was, why do I subject myself to this torture, and why are they acting so juvenile? Then, flashbacks from my own days of torturing my brother kept creeping up in my brain. Was I this horrible? Was I this obnoxious? I think maybe I was worse!

My children were actually playing the Echo Game–yes, that’s right at 12 and 14 they were playing that silly game! Do you remember the Echo Game? Someone says something and the other repeats it. Everyone has played it once in their lives I’m sure. Admittedly so or not, we’ve all went there. Well, as I listened to my darling adolescence subject themselves to this mental torture, I remember playing the game and making my brother say bad things about himself, I had to chuckle under my breath.  Good times.

Then it was the time for, “Can we get a treat?” After my sigh and the long hum and hah, the battle began. What battle you may wonder? The battle of who was going to get the best treat, and the all favorite, “If she gets that, then I get two treats.” My kids are competitive by nature and I’m sure along the way, my husband and I nurtured it too, so when it comes to treats, they price shop and know how to get the most for their treat.  They are also strong at making sure the other doesn’t get any more money spent on them than their counter part. Flashbacks to my brother and doing the exact same stunt, only I was much more vocal about the competition, but sadly, my brother didn’t have a competitive bone in his body, so that was never as pleasing to me as it is to my two children.

Next it was wheel the groceries out and put them into the truck. Somehow, it ended up only my son and me loading the groceries from the cart to my truck. I was wondering what happened to my daughter and I could see her all perched pretty in the front seat of the truck, scared she might have to sit in the back seat if she didn’t claim squatters rights as soon as possible. I would have clawed my brother’s eyes out to get the front seat, and eventually the easy-going natured child that he was he wouldn’t even bother fighting with me and just resign himself to sitting in the back.  Honestly, I was a monster!

As I drove home and listened to the second game of Echo for the day, my mind drifted back to my childhood memories of my horrible torture that I instilled daily on my sweet, kindhearted brother who I ate for breakfast and spit out at lunch. How could I treat such an incredible person so poorly? Proverbs 11:21, reminds us, “Evil people will surely be punished, but the children of the godly will go free.” I was so evil to my brother, and deserved to be punished for the torture I put him through. Thank goodness it was sibling rivalry, or at least it was on my part. He was the oldest and I was the youngest trying to win my way to the top of the family.

How many of us are guilty of this? Treating some people very poorly, even though it might be the people that we love the most, like I did with my remarkable brother. Why do we do this? Why is it that we are nicest to the strangers at work or the acquaintances at the grocery store? We shower them with smiles and our sunshiny moods, then we come home and take out our daily frustrations on the people we love? Why do we save our troubles for our husband to hear about after his hard day at work? Or do you trudge around the house grumbling about things under your breath? Wondering why people can’t hang up their jackets, or leave their dirty clothes lying on the floor.

Stop it! Change now! Our family is who we should be treating with the most respect and love! Stop treating them with an evil spirit, no matter what pent up frustration or anger you have inside of you from your day. Be thankful you have coats to hang up, be grateful that you have clothes to dirty and be appreciative of the amazing brother, father, husband, children, grandparents, etc. you have in your life!

Instead of treating the strangers that we meet, or the acquaintances at work with this angelic facade lets change it up and save the energy and love for those that we love the most. Shower these people with the love they deserve and let the little things slide. Someday, those little things, might make or break you, and trust me that is when you will see the big picture.

Just like I did today, reflecting back on the way I treated my incredible big brother. It’s not just my brother I’ve treated poorly in my life, I have a long list and hopefully those people will understand how much they mean to me and how I had my priorities backwards. For all those loved ones I’ve hurt in the past, please forgive me!

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Will or Fill, That is the Question

I know probably sound like a broken record, but, my good great goodness I love teaching kindergarten physical education classes! I couldn’t teach five year olds all day, that takes a special kind of person, but to have their amazing little personalities for my 30 minutes a day, just completes my days.

I had to chuckle this one day as I sat back and listened to the adorable little munchkins while I was on early morning duty. I was strolling around the playground and then I ran into one of my little gym cuties. I stopped to have a little say to them, and then another boy came along. It was such a funny event that happened next.  It might be one of those, “had-to-be-there” times, but I will try and explain it the best of my ability!

These boys were both named Will, but they were in different classes, so they didn’t know each other as well as their classmates. One Will comes running up to the other Will and says, “Hi Fill!” Having a bit of a speech problem, but nothing that is too alarming, just a boy struggling with the W sound. The other Will responds with much disgust, “My name is not Fill, it’s Fill!” At that instant, I knew I was sticking around to hear where this conversation was going!

The other Will looked at him in bewilderment and tried to redeem himself, “That’s what I said! I said, Hi Fill!” and didn’t the other Will rebuked saying, “But my name is not Fill, it’s Fill!” He honestly couldn’t tell the difference in his own sound, but was catching the mistake of the “F” sound made by the other Will.

This conversation went on for quite some time. Both of the Wills could hear that the other Will was not saying his name right, and they would try to correct each other, but neither one was saying it right.  It was priceless to watch, and hear, even though it was obviously very frustrating to the Wills!

How many of us are guilty of doing this ourselves? We look at other people’s marriages, and disapprove what other woman put up with, yet we put up with the same issues in our own home, and maybe even worse. Or how many of us look at other people’s spending habits and criticize other people for what they choose to do with their money, yet we squander away our own in different ways too. Have you ever criticized other people’s parenting techniques? What about judging others for the way they choose to live, maybe it is choosing to like the same sex, or choosing a different religion than you.

Whatever the differences are, we are all the same. We all sin, yet we see the sin in others before we see the sin in ourselves. Just like these two Wills. They couldn’t hear themselves pronouncing their own names wrong, but they sure could hear the other Will saying their name wrong. It’s easy to pick the faults of others out, but if we would focus on our own faults and fix ourselves, instead of worrying about what others are doing wrong, we would be in such a better place.  John 8:7 reminds us, “And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.””  We can’t be throwing stones at sinners, when we are merely a sinner ourselves.

Next time you want to talk to your buddy about how someone you know is doing something wrong in their lives, stop yourself, don’t throw that stone!  See if you are pronouncing your own name wrong, before you let that stone fly. Are you doing the same mistake, only in a different way? Chances are–you are! Try turning to the Lord and asking him to point out the areas in your life that you need to fix and channel your energy in that direction. Who cares how other people are pronouncing their own names, get your own pronunciation down pat, and then continue to develop your own speech. See where that takes you!

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Faithful Friend

I have the most wonderful friends! I have one incredible friend who’s been in my life for 32 years now! We met in the summer before starting grade 5, and we are still best of friends. Miraculously really! Why, you may ask? If you were to see us together, you would think we are so much alike! We are both about five foot nothing, tiny frames, brown hair, fun-loving, sporty…honestly, we are two little rays of sun-shines!

These traits describe our outwards appearances, but inside we are very different! I’m a very trusting, forgiving and naïve, yet very confident person. She, on the other hand, is guarded, can be a bit blaming by times, very sophisticated and knowledgeable, yet, at the same time is self-doubting. Really, we couldn’t be more different on the inside.

How did our relationship last over the test of time? I guess we worked well together. When I needed a reality alert, she was there to give it to me. When she needed some self-confidence, I was there to show her how terrific she really was! When we were in an argument over something silly…you know what teenagers can be like…I was usually the one who let the situation go and crawl back to her with an apology…I knew she never would.

That is how life goes with any relationship, but my relationship with her was different. It’s a give and take relationship…but we always had this inexplicable connection. Something that was greater than anything else I experienced…I just trusted her with my secrets, my weaknesses…my life!

Over these 32 years, we have been through an incredible amount of memories together. Our first crushes, our first broken hearts, our prom, graduation, university, death of loved ones, weddings, babies, marriage problems, children’s troubles and triumphs, and the list continues to grow. As time passes our trust in one another continues to grow and strengthen, and trust with my friend is something that has to be earned. I also know that if I ever broke her trust, I probably would never get it back. That is just the kind of person she is and I value that about her.

As I study Exodus, something jumped off the pages at me! Exodus 17:12, “When Moses’ arms grew tired, Aaron and Hur brought a stone for him to sit on, while they stood beside him and held up his arms, holding them steady until the sun went down.” My bestie is just like Aaron and Hur…she is there for me when I tire, when I am about to give up…ready to hold me up while I finish my battle.

We worked together as a team for 32 years and counting…she knows what I need and I know what she needs. We might be opposite in many ways, but when you put us together we are an amazing team, just like Aaron and Moses, and God!

I also found it incredible that in this chapter Moses didn’t wait for God’s instructions on how to defeat the Amalekites, he just knew that if held up his staff over them God would be there to help him out. Months may pass, and I might not talk to my friend, but I know that as soon as I need her, she is there for me!

Do you have a friend like mine? That is there for you no matter the circumstance? Aren’t they priceless? Did you know that God can be that friend for you as well, only better? God will do the same for us as he did Moses? It’s whether or not you will trust that he will be there for you.

Growing up with my friend, and watching her trust issues, makes me realize that trust doesn’t come easy to everyone like it does to me. How can we trust something that we can’t see, might be even more of a struggle for these kind of individuals, but as it says multiple times in the bible that we have to trust in God and his word. My favorite of these trust verses would have to be, Jeremiah 17:7-8, “But I will bless the person who puts his trust in me. He is like a tree growing near a stream and sending out roots to the water.”
Once we form a solid relationship with God, your trust in him will grow and strengthen and the best part is, you don’t have to earn God’s trust, it is free for the taking! Even if you break his trust, he will forgive you and continue to be your friend. You just have to believe!

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Dishwasher Disputes

My husband and I are huge on the fact that our children help around the house. We don’t call them chores, because that isn’t what they are. They are everyday things that need to get done—reality, not chores. They each have their own individual responsibilities, but they also have some jobs that they share, or take turns at. Emptying the dishwasher, being one of them.

This is an ongoing battle between our two children. As soon as it is announced that the dishwasher needs to be emptied, it is a quick verbal scuffle of, “I emptied it last!” They constantly keep score. It is incredibly painful. I struggle sometimes to stay patient with these darling children, but as I mumbled a prayer of patience under my breath one day, a little voice whispered back to me and it really struck home.

Can you think of what might have been whispered back to me? Any idea? I’ll give you a hint! Think about the way we are with our spouse. Do you ever keep track of who does what? Do you ever throw in your husband’s face what you’ve done over the past day or week, while he reclines in a very comfortable position on the couch? I’m very guilty of doing this! Keeping score of what we do. Making mental notes of what I did while he was curling, or golfing. I even have a beautiful entertainment center as a score that I kept over how much he was spending on a golf membership. I love my entertainment center, but looking back, I was so immature! God bless his soul for putting up with me!

I can imagine this battle in my head is as painful as it is to listen to my children dispute over who did what. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why are we always keeping track of what we do? What we spend? Do we have to justify to ourselves how wonderful we are? Is everything a competition? No. Then why do we do that to each other? All we are doing is adding another bitter ball to our juggling act called marriage.

Marriage is hard enough without keeping score on what we do. I’ve come to realize, that marriage might be 50-50, but woman find it hard to understand men, and men find it hard to understand woman. As hard as it might seem, we have to learn to suck it up and just do things, with a servant’s heart. That is what we are here to do. Be a servant to our family and our Lord. As woman, we have to take a long look at Proverbs 31, and realize, that this is what we should striving to be. Not a tally keeper on all our wonderful deeds. If we are keeping tally, this lady would put anyone to shame!

The Proverb 31 Wife didn’t keep score. There are many great words of wisdom in these verses that still hold strong today. For the topic of keeping score, I would like to look at Proverbs 31:26 says “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness.” Do you know how many times my mouth opened with a count of the score of what I did to what he did? And my tongue was nowhere near the law of kindness.

My husband has a very stressful job. Running his Facebook page for his restaurant is stress enough on me. Human beings are nasty, nasty, nasty—especially those who might have had to wait more than promised for their food. You should see what is written in the heat of their empty stomachs and impatient anger. It makes my blood boil, but he takes it with stride. I admire how he handles these customers and I realize he doesn’t need me harping at him too. He needs my support, not my score keeping antics.

I work hard too, I’m not diminishing what I do, but nobody, including your husband wants to hear about how hard you work, or how much you’ve done. We all have our struggles, and our challenges. We have to remember to hold our tongues and be kind. Hopefully we are more mature than my 11 and 13 year olds who keep mental notches on who emptied the dishwasher last, but there was a time in my life, I have to admit, I did just this.  Now, looking back, I’m ashamed I was that immature!

Use your tongue for showing your husband how much you appreciate what they do for their families. Men need to know they are appreciated, and respected and it doesn’t take much effort to tell them this. Unless you are keeping score, but trust me, it does nothing for a marriage. It might help you lose the best thing that you ever had in your life—an amazing man! If you aren’t appreciating him, trust me, someone, somewhere is…and they are bragging him up too! That is a score you don’t want to lose! Drop what you are doing and tell your husband how much you appreciate them, and all they do for you and their family. Start playing that game right…try to out-do your husband with compliments, and showering each other with attention. Stop the negative score keeping and keep track of something worthwhile! Each other!

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Competition–Good or Bad?

Don’t you love how we are constantly in competition? Constantly being judged? What kind of student we are, what kind of friend we are, what kind of wife we are, what kind of athlete we are…the list is endless. Constant scrutiny. Constant competition. Its non-stop, from the time we are born. Our milestones are marked. When we first crawled, when we first walked…are we delayed in developing. Should there be concern? Exhausting, when you really stop to think about it.

Why? What is with the constant competition? Why is society so stressed out about who is the best at this, or that? It’s a dog eat dog world for sure. I’m a driven person…I might not eat you up, but I loved to win. But my ongoing question, even to myself is, why? Why am I competitive? Why am I constantly on pursuit for perfection? Why do I set so many goals for myself? Why is everything a competition?

As we get older, you would think we’d grow up, but oh…my…Parents are also guilty…actually, I would have to say the worst. Constantly in competition with other parents…whose kid is the best at this, whose kid is the best at that…it’s honestly shameful! We all want what is best for our children, which is our parental instincts, but when parents put other children down, and hope bad things will happen to them, because they don’t like the other kid, or the kid’s parents…really? Take a long look in the mirror people…they are children!

You might question…does this really happen? All the time! How many of us are guilty of boasting, and bragging about our children…I know I have! I love them so much, pride just creeps out…but it is something that is a work in progress. I try now, to just limit my excitement to my immediate family and close friends, but many times it is hard! I know how hard my children work for things, but as I study the word of God, I’m learning that this isn’t what he wants from us.

It says in Phillipians 2:3-4, “Don’t do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves. And look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own.”
Is putting other people’s children down, considering others to be better than yourself? I don’t think so. Is boasting about your life, your child’s life, or what you have, being humble? Do you look down on other people for what they look like, what they come from or what they have? Are you looking after others interests, or just your own?

As I age, and circle the sun daily, I look back and realize how much I have to learn about this amazing world we live in. I do love looking at how far I’ve come. I can’t wait to see what I have learned by the time I’m 80! I love how we evolve as individuals, due to our circumstances that we are faced with. The things life throws at us are meant to help us grow!

I believe competition is good…it helps us analyze ourselves…show us where we need to grow, or what we need to work on…but the competition should be with ourselves, not with others…and definitely not other people’s children.

My children are both also very competitive, but I am setting a goal for myself…I know, I know…there is that word again…but, I think goals are good. My goal is to raise humble children, who when they are successful don’t boast about their accomplishments. I don’t want to squash their competitive nature, but I want to make them more goal oriented instead of competitive. I do believe there is a difference. Goals are something you set for yourself, and have nothing to do with anyone else.

As a parent, I am setting the goal for myself, to support my children in achieving their goals, but I am aware, they might fail once and a while, trying to achieve their goal. This will teach them where they need work. I will be proud when they attain their goals, but also model humbleness so they can see how God wants us to behave. Most importantly, I will promote the other children around them letting them realize that when other children reach their goals, or do well, it is a time to celebrate…NOT to bad mouth them, or think they are undeserving of their accomplishments. We all can’t be amazing at everything…and there is always someone in the world that is better than you…that is what life is all about.

If we don’t achieve our goals, we keep trying, and trying with a happy heart, realizing that maybe we need to readjust our goals…or even our life priorities. Setting goals is a healthy way to be successful, without competing against others!

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