Lovely Lilacs

I’m so excited that summer has finally arrived.  It just makes my heart flutter with everything it entails.  From the sounds of the birds happily chirping in the background of life, to the sound of the crashing waves on a beach.  It is all a true marvel in their own sense.

I love waking up every morning and looking out the window to my backyard.  We are surrounded by trees, and this one particular window stares directly at these two lilac bushes.  I love the smell of lilacs, but I also love the beautiful purple color that they display against the greenery background.

I planted these lilac bushes the year after I built the house, and they were both the same size when I bought them.  I planted them side by side in the back of my lawn only about 4 feet apart, as the instructions directed.  I put just as much fertilizer in each when I initially planted them.  I watered them both the same in the first few years until I knew they were stable in their new environment.  I treated them both the same.

Somehow, over their years of growing and thriving in my backyard, one plant grew very quickly and produced beautiful flowers in about 8 years, but the other plant hasn’t shed a blossom until this year.  Thirteen years it took this particular plant to demonstrate its beauty.  It is still much smaller than the other lilac bush, probably by about two feet in height and a foot in diameter, but it is now producing just as gorgeous flowers as the other plant.

As I stare at these plants and enjoy the beauty that they add to my backyard, it got my mind thinking about how this is very similar to people.  Some people blossom fast and demonstrate their many God-given talents right away in life.  They find their nitch and are successful in these things.

On the other hand, it might take others a lifetime trying to find their purpose in this world.  They might try their hand at many things that they think they should do, only to get discouraged and not have the success of others around them.  These people have to realize that we are all made equally and their time to blossom with eventually come and they too, will be just as beautiful as all the other lilac bushes around.

It is written in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.”

We are all given different gifts, but we all have the potential to blossom as much as the other bushes in the garden, we just have to be patient and wait until we are ready to show our beauty to the world.  Just like the lilac bushes in my backyard, we all grow at our own pace, and we all will blossom when we are ready to blossom.  Be patient in your life and stay faithful to God.  He will make you into everything he has created you to be!

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Wisdom or Wind?

Mmmm!  Don’t you love that new car smell?  I love it!  It’s a familiar smell that just makes people want to buy a car just due to the euphoric aroma it sets off in your brain.  It’s a powerful weapon that car dealerships use, I am sure.

My husband just bought a new truck, and it is a pleasure to drive in it.  Not just for the smell, but also for the other great things that come with a new vehicle.  There are many new and exciting differences from the old vehicle that you’ve grown so accustomed to driving for many years.  The changes are refreshing and exhilarating, and it makes the driving experience that much more enjoyable.

Why is this?  Why do we love the excitement of something new?  Why can’t we just enjoy and be thankful for what we already have?  We’ve been in our house for 14 years now, and I love my house, but I find myself talking about downsizing when my children are grown.  When I first built the house, I didn’t think it was big enough.  How crazy was I 14 years ago?  Too small?  That was all my ego talking.

The same goes for anytime you want the newest and latest thing that your mind obsesses on.  Like the newest and latest smart phone.  The hype that accompanies the launch of these new devises is really phenomenal.  All the advertisements these companies do make anyone think they really must have this new phone, or they are total losers.  I hear this line from my children every time.  Their phones are never good enough once the latest release comes out.

It’s human nature to want to have it all because this is the ego inside of us making us selfish and desiring the biggest and the best.  The flashy and the bold.  We are all guilty of it, but we have to learn to be thankful for what we have.  Embrace the blessings that are in front of our eyes.  We have to realize that everything gets old eventually.  Your house, your job, your phone, your clothes, your car and the list can go on and on.  We all want the new and exciting, but who wouldn’t?

In Ecclesiastics 6:9, King Solomon explains, “Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the appetite: this also is vanity and a striving after wind.”  Ecclesiastics is a great chapter of the Bible to read.  It’s all about the teaching us to stop chasing after worldly possessions, but instead focus our efforts on learning the wisdom of God, because everything here on earth is really just like chasing the wind.

Our generation is very guilty of doing this.  If something breaks, we don’t even try to fix it, we just throw it out and buy a new one.  I find this especially true with people’s marriages.  Every couple goes through a rough patch, or a hard time.  This gives them a way to escape and move onto a new and exciting partner, but eventually these people will become old too and the process just keeps repeating.  Instead of throwing away your marriage, work on fixing it.  Put some energy and elbow grease into it.  Treat your partner the way you did when you first got together.  Put them above everyone else and watch how it will transform.  We all have a wandering appetite, even when it comes to romance, but this is our egos kicking in again.  Kick the egos out and kick your appetite towards your significant other instead of yourself.

It’s natural to get bored with things eventually and want to get a new job, or new homes, even new relationships.  But eventually the new wears off and you can continue to seek the next new and exhilarating or thrilling thing, or you can be thankful for the blessings right in front of you.  Which one are you going to choose?  Are you going to spend your life chasing the wind, or are you going to realize that the wind can never be caught and just enjoy what you have right in front of you?

Wisdom or wind?  Which one will it be?

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Sunscreen

Summer kissed skin!  It’s just so flattering compared to our pasty winter look.  I love seeing my children with their bronzed skin tones and blonder hair.  It’s a sure sign of summer, and also, to stock up on sunscreen to smother their bodies to protect them from the powerful UVA and UVB rays that are so harmful to their young skin.

I remember when I was younger, we would lather on the baby oil, then lay on a tinfoil like blanket and literally bake our bodies in the sun.  Some people even would get up on the roof top just to get closer to the sun and surround themselves with black singles to make it even hotter.  Little did we know at the time the danger of the sun, or the effects of the sun on our skin and eyes.

When my children we really young, we would wake up and before their feet hit the floor I would plaster their little bodies with sunscreen.  Head to toe.  I wanted to keep them safe in every way I could.  I was trying to keep their baby skin as baby-soft as I could possibly manage.

This one way that I protected my babies skin from the harmful rays of the sun, but I also am teaching them to protect their teeth by brushing morning and night. We have to  instill in our children the importance of taking care of the parts of their bodies that are precious and that we can’t replace.

The same is true for teaching our children to protect their heart, minds and souls through the sweet and protective word of God.  Before we go to bed at night we read the Bible, we do a devotion and we discuss what it has taught us and how we can use it in our daily life.  It’s amazing that most days, we can always apply the word of God to something that is bothering us in the world we live in.

I wake them up by reading them a devotion off of an app that I have, and we start our day in prayer.  It’s not long.  It doesn’t take much time, but I arm them with the word of God for their days that face them.  Just like I did with the sunscreen.  Just like I made sure they brushed their teeth before they leave the house.   Instead of protecting them with sunscreen and fluoride, I am now protecting them with the strongest protectant on the market—the word of God.

Honoring him in prayer first thing in the morning, gets your day off to a great start.  It reminds you to carry with you a good heart and mind to face your daily struggles.  I myself, start my day off with 40 minutes of prayer, his word and meditation and I am to the point now that I can’t imagine my day without this time.  It would be like me missing a day talking to my mother and father.  God is now part of my daily routine, and I am also producing it as part of my children’s daily routine too.

It is explained quite simply in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,”  You are doing your children a favor if you teach them the gospel and make a routine out of it.

Just like applying sunscreen to your skin to prevent skin cancer, or just like brushing your teeth to prevent cavities, try and work prayer into your daily routine.  Your skin and teeth are just part of who you are while you are here on earth, but your soul you carry with you for an eternity and is the most precious part of your body to protect!

Try figuring out a way that you can start protecting your soul for eternity and work time into your daily life for the wisdom of God’s word.  Watch the difference it makes in your life and the way you think about the world around you.  It is amazing what this time in your day can do for you, and your children.  Give it a try, and I promise, you won’t be let down!

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Baseball Field Bathroom

School has come to a close for the summer, and next year I might not have the pleasure of teaching kindergarten physical education, but my last class with them, they didn’t let me down.  Entertainment at its finest!  Five year olds say the silliest things!

During my last class with these munchkins, one of them came over to me to inform me that they had baseball after school and we very excited delivering the news of her after school activities.  Of course, out of courtesy I responded, “You sound like you really love baseball!” and her answer was precious.

With such excitement in her eyes, she looked at me with the most adorable face and said, “Yes, I love it!  I get to pee in the woods there!”

Instantly, I tried my hardest not to burst out laughing and in attempts to cover my reaction, I made the suggestion that it must be also fun hitting the bat with the ball, running the bases and playing catch.  Her reaction to this was also entertaining.  She told me that they don’t use those things at baseball.  I have no idea where this child is playing baseball, but I might want to inform my husband who is the President of our minor baseball associating that this five year old is having a rather bizarre perception of baseball.

Has this ever happened to you?  Has your perception of something been totally off what your intentions were or what it should be, like this little five year old’s?  Or have you ever been totally misunderstood?  Maybe you try and give your husband a compliment, but he takes it the wrong way.  Or could it be that you were making a joke to someone who loves to joke with you, but when you dish it, they can’t take it?  Perhaps you try to be nice to your co-workers but no matter how hard you try they just keep seeing things not the way you intended them to take it.

This can be frustrating.  Just like this five year old’s perception on the game of baseball, even though she was very excited to go use the bathroom in the woods this particular night.  Maybe this is what she did on her first night at baseball.  Could it be that the baseball field is near a river or stream and the sound makes her need to use the bathroom?  Perhaps she drank lots of water when she was there, and needed to relieve herself.  Whatever it is I will never know.

The same thing happens with us.  Sometimes you will just never understand why people perceive you the way they do.  Reality is, you are not going to make everyone happy all of the time.  Not everyone is going to enjoy your company.  Some people just have a reason not to like certain people for different reasons, and sometimes these reasons aren’t reasons due to you, usually they are reasons that these people are dealing with themselves.

I love the lesson in 2 Timothy 2:23-26 as it says, “Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”

Not everyone is going to understand you, or your intentions or be totally confused of what you really stand for.  Don’t let yourself get worked up over it.  Just realize we all have different opinions, likes, dislikes, and views on the world around us.  We have to just sometimes avoid the situation, and avoid the conflict—go in the woods and pee, if need be.

These five year olds have taught me so much in the run of a year.  I can’t wait to see what they teach me next year!

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Darth Vader Dreams

Another day, another story about my cuties that I teach in kindergarten!  I know it is getting old, but to me these little creatures never get old, instead they totally make my days!  I love how they  interact in my class.  When I introduce new games to them, they always teach me something.  They are the best!

As we are nearing the end of the school year, I am able to teach them more advanced games.  This one day I decided I was going to teach them “Star Wars”.  This is when one person is in the middle of the gym, and he is the “Darth Vader” or the bad guy, the “it” person.  The rest of the kids are on a line at the far end of the gym and they get to choose to be a Star Wars character.  Darth Vader calls out a character’s name and if you chose to be that character you have to try and run to the other end of the gym without being tagged by Darth Vader.  If you do, they have to go to the side lines, which I call the hospital, do five jumping jacks and get back into the game.

The kids loved this new game and they were having so much fun with it.  As I was standing in the middle of the gym with them, I started to notice something that each and every one of them did.  Since this wasn’t the regular tag game that they were used to playing where everyone was running away from you, instead the students were running at you, they didn’t play the same way.  Instead of attacking the line of people that were charging forward they would make a loop out and then get behind the person they were trying to tag.

This wasn’t a very useful method of attack.  They’d get close to tagging one person, then would get distracted by another person who seemed closer and change their focus to that other person, then another person would come along and again, they would focus on that person even though they were so close to tagging the person that they were chasing.  They got very distracted.

Each time the kids went back and forth across the gym, this was happening.  Darth Vader would be so close to tagging someone, but would give up and try someone else that seemed in their perception, closer, or easier.

Think about your life—was there a goal that you always wanted to accomplish but gave up on it, because it seemed too hard?  How many of us have made this same mistake?  We have a dream or a goal, and we start of strong pursuing it, and then we get distracted by things.  We find it hard chasing our initial dream so we shift our focus to something that is easier, or something that seems closer to our reach.  Maybe someone told us that we could never reach our dream for some reason or another.

I wasn’t a very strong student.  I was focused on my gymnastics dream, but I did always want to be a teacher.  My guidance counselor told me I wouldn’t have the marks to get into Education.  They recommended that I looked down another path because this was out of my reach.  I could have chosen to believe my guidance counselor, but thankful, my life as a gymnast taught me to never give up.

I decided when I was pregnant for my second child to go back and fulfill my dream and do my Education degree and I am extremely happy that I chose to not let one person’s opinion keep me from my destiny, otherwise, I wouldn’t have these five year olds teaching me all these life lessons that they do on a daily basis.

Ephesians 3:20 tells us, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,”  We can do more than we ask or think if we turn to our Creator and ask for his help reaching these dreams.  We all have the power within us to make this possible.

How many of us have a dream planted in our hearts but don’t have faith in ourselves that our dream will come true?  How many of us have a dream but think it’s too much work to reach it?  How many of us listen to others, like my guidance counselor, and let them talk us out of our dreams.  Just like my little cuties trying to tag their classmates, but give up just as they were almost close enough to tag them.  If you have a dream, don’t give up!  Keep strong in prayer and if it is God’s will, it will be done!

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Flexible Faith

I find myself relating gymnastics to spirituality many times in my writing.  I strike again!  But this is what I am engulfed in, along with my job and family, and I believe the things that surround us is to teach us and grow us into the people we are meant to be.  The other day during warm-up my mind went wondering.

My gymnasts all have a “spot” on the floor where they go to have lots of space to stretch out.  We have our regular routine of stretching and many of the warm-up stretches are based off of basic yoga stretches.  Some of my gymnasts are super flexible, but others are super tight and then you have your average flexible girls.

I always tell the girls that struggle with flexibility that they have to work on their stretching at home, because in all honestly it is dangerous to be that tight and be a gymnast.  It is an injury waiting to happen.  My gymnasts that are super flexible usually are the ones that need to gain more strength.  Being super flexible without the strength to control this flexibility also poses a danger to my athlete.

Being of average flexibility is really where I want my gymnasts, and being averagely flexible as a gymnast in all actuality to the regular world is still very flexible.  Having just the right flexibility to strength ratio is important in this sport, but it is also very important in life too.

There are fundamentalist in this world that are very inflexible in their beliefs, especially when it comes to the Bible, and God.  Whatever they feel is true, is the truth and there is no convincing them otherwise.  The Bible is the word and interpretation is not open for discussion.  They were taught this way, and this is the right way, and their minds are close to any further discussion on this.  They believe what they believe and if you don’t believe what they believe, well, you are going to Hell.  There is no room in heaven for people that have flexibility.  In my opinion, I like to be open-minded to new things.

I’m studying Revelations right now and I read a great thing about the twelve different gates to the new heaven that is referred to in Revelations 21:21, “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.”  This thing I read was explaining that this was Jesus talking in parables, which he always did and it really refers to the three gates on each side of the four sides of the “new Jerusalem.”  These gates are all really an opening for all the different beliefs in the world to get to heaven.  They were saying that God is all the same God, and your religion matters not, as long as you have love and wisdom in your soul.

I love this idea!  I think it is great to open our minds to the fact that maybe some where all these religions of the world will finally get along and enjoy one another without judgment and prejudice.  Wouldn’t that be wonderful?  You have to be flexible in your thinking to let your heart and mind open to such a perspective though.

Again, you don’t want to be too flexible and believe everything you hear, read or watch, but it is nice to think that at least you could hear, read or watch these things and take from it what you feel is beneficial to you in this journey on earth.  As Christians we always have the historic book of the Bible to refer to, and as much as we all wear prejudice glasses from being born into Christianity and the religion that we were born into, I think if we just take off these glasses and continue to stretch our minds, we might benefit our abilities somehow, someway.

In the end, just like I tell my gymnasts, you have to have a perfect balance of flexibility to strength.  This is parallel to our walk in faith, you have a perfect balance of love and wisdom, but with wisdom comes an open-mind to think beyond what you were taught by your parents, or by your church, or by your friends.  You have to dig in and find wisdom for yourself.  The world is huge, and there is so much information out there.  Explore!  Explore!  Then, explore some more.  It’s incredible what you might learn and realize that being that inflexible person is dangerous and you too might be injuring yourself!

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Baseball Pant Mishap

The other day, I have to admit, I lost my marbles at my sweet son.  Why?  Well, he is in that lovely adolescent stage, with the simple teen-age brain that is reformatting and I just couldn’t believe that he was reacting the way he was.  It was all over baseball pants.  I know, I know!  It sounds juvenile of me to get upset over baseball pants, but it is what it is, and it just seems to be a constant battle in my house to get these simple, white baseball pants clean.

It all started on a Sunday morning, when he was getting ready for his game.  His uniform is all white so you know whoever decided on this color scheme obviously is not a female, nor do they do the laundry in the home.  Since a baseball field is full of grass and dirt, and famous for its hotdogs and hamburgers drowned in Ketchup, you can imagine what a challenge it is to keep this uniform white.

We are trying to have our son be responsible for his own uniform, but that is not working out quite the way we had envisioned.  Somehow his white ball pants, all six pairs of them, end up in his hamper and not in the pile that I ask him to form in the laundry room so that I can soak them when I know that he is getting low.

Sunday morning while he was getting ready, I was in my prayer room doing my meditation, and when I come out, I find him sitting on the couch with old dirty baseball pants on.  I couldn’t believe my eyes, and instantly questioned why he would have dirty pants on.  How disgusting!

Immediately his response was that there were none clean.  This is when my marbles went flying!  How could he be so irresponsible?  How could he not follow my instructions to form a pile in the laundry room?  This of course made my blood boil, and as hard as I was trying to stay calm, I just couldn’t.

When I asked him where all the rest of his dirty pants were he responded with that lovely adolescent, “da-no,” that is more of a mumble than an answer.  This made my blood pressure elevated even more than it already was.  He supposedly looked for seven minutes, but this pair was all he could find.

Now, I will admit, my son is no Sherlock Holmes and wouldn’t find his nose unless it was permanently attached to his face, but guess where every pair was?  Yep!  In his hamper.  Did he look very hard?  No.  Did he follow my instructions to always have nice white baseball pants?  Not a chance!

How many of us are exactly like this with our faith?  We know what is right and wrong, but don’t always make the right choice.  We stog our baseball pants in our hamper, even though we know the right choice would be to put them in the laundry room.  It is more work to put the ball pants in the laundry room, so we choose to take the easy way out.  We all know that there are great instructions for our life inside this amazing book called the Bible, but how many of us take the time to read it.

Do you think God loses his marbles at us when we make the wrong decisions about our life?  Absolutely not.  He is patiently waiting for our still adolescent brains to finally transform to the brain he knew we could have and for the day that we can’t wait to dive into his word and become all that he has created us to be.  He’s waiting for us to realize that selfishness is not the kind of heart he wants us to have.  He’s waiting for us to let go of our egos and become selfless children of God.

1 John 3:1-2 ensures us, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”

As hard as I prayed that day to be patient and understanding and have a heart like God, I just couldn’t.  I need cooperation from my children.  God wants us to cooperate too, but he is waiting for us to be what he has made us to be. He is patient and he is waiting for you to form the relationship with him like you would want your son or daughter to have with you. Don’t keep him waiting any longer.  Spend time with him and watch where he takes you!

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