Picture Day

The windshield wipers squeaked and scraped across the windshield. Misting gray skies muted brilliant colors of the changing season. Wet blacktop swished in traffic, and dreariness attempted frame the day before it had barely begun. Slumped over, choppy breaths evidence of watery eyes, my passenger clutched a cuddly elephant. School picture day meant we would eventually frame 2020 and place it on the fireplace mantel. 

“What’s the matter?” I asked her. She simply shrugged and could not say. The cumulative effect of this year’s anxieties have worn her to the core. She feels beyond my reach, at times, a helpless feeling for a mom. This has been a year full of infinitely more things I cannot explain to her, definitively. Her eyes waver back and forth to me and we both wonder what tomorrow will bring and how we can possibly brace for what it will be like. I want so badly to tell her when this will all be over, that tomorrow won’t be worse, and we’ll all get through it …together. 

Under normal circumstances, parenthood illustrates our daily need for God. The author of Hebrews wrote, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he said down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”(Hebrews 1:3 NIV) The Greek Word for exact defines the instrument used for engraving or carving. 

Numbers, facts, and circumstances change daily in our lives. The author of Hebrews assures us exactly where Jesus is. Our Savior sits at the right hand of the Father. 

Unchanging truth comes from God alone. He knows the number of our days. Nothing changes it. God is the only One who can peer beyond what we see and experience in the present moment. His Truth, alone, is trustworthy and dependable. He is good, and makes good of all things. 

God is personal. Reframe the truth as such. His greatest expression of love for me was Jesus, who came to earth and died on the cross to save me from my sins …and through salvation in the Him the Holy Spirit lives in me and my soul lives eternally with Him. When our lives are built upon this Rock of truth and our faith is rooted in God’s love, we wade through the really hard things with Him.  

Why, then, is it still so hard for God’s Truth to make it past the lump in my throat today? I know Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, fighting for me. Why do I feel so powerless, my prayers seemingly ignored? Because the truth about the world we live in can be pretty grim.

The world’s unfairness isn’t just a fleeting feeling, it’s a magnified fact of life on this sin-soaked earth. There is real evil in the world, intended upon stealing, killing, and destroying us. Our enemy lies. When we feel we are surrounded by unfairness and evil, lies and manipulation …it’s because we are! It’s really hard, and it can make us feel hopeless and helpless to stop it or make things right. Especially when our kids are hurting and there’s nothing we can do to fix or ease the pain. 

Perspective is our rescue. Knowing what is true allows us to see through a different perspective. One of wisdom, peace, hope and love. Jesus is the way we keep moving …because when we can stand anymore …He carries us. 

Letting go is the hardest task in parenting. We ache to see our kids go through pain we wish we could prevent and steer them around. Imagine how God feels about us, when we are in pain, mistreated, hurt, manipulated, and taken advantage of? We have limited power on this earth to set things right, but He is limitless. God, though we don’t understand His purposes or His timing, is in control. We may be manipulated by media, but God is in control. We may be taken advantage of by corrupt leaders, but God is in control. We may not get answers to our prayers in the way and timing we want …but He does hear us …and He will answer. 

The reality of my 2020 is- I don’t know what time I’ll pick my daughter up from school today. But, no matter if it’s normal pick up time and I have her favorite snack and cuddly source of comfort waiting for her in the passenger seat, or a hug and spirit that will share in her heartache and tears, we will turn on the wipers …drive through the cold misty rain …and go home together. And I’m thankful for that …for together.

“Let Us Not Become Weary in Doing Good” -How to Fight for Good in a Sin-Weary World

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9 (NIV) 
“Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” – Galatians 6:9 (KJV)

Distressed heartaches are akin to sun-soaked patches and chilled traces of worry on our foreheads. The nightly news is abounding in negativity and dire worldly straits, despite modern advances in mobility and connectivity in many nations. Paul encourages us in Galatians 9, “Let us not become (or grow) weary in doing good” (NIV) 

Weary wraps around everything from strained muscles to over-extended relationships. Messy boundaries and misplaced shame wearies our souls. Parents can surely relate to the physical and mental strains of weariness. But the Bible is talking specifically about a different kind of weary– an enduring state that goes beyond what we can humanly bear or endure. 

It is the breaking point at which we cannot see how to move another step, or take another breath. dictionary.com defines weary as: 

1. physically or mentally exhausted by hard work, exertion, strain, etc.; fatigued; tired: weary eyes; a weary brain.

2. characterized by or causing fatigue: a weary journey.

3. impatient or dissatisfied with something (often followed by of)

When doing good in a weary world seems impossible, following Christ empowers us to love each other in spite of the chaos. Here are ten shifts for perspective that can revitalize us to keep going and teach us how to not grow weary as we do good:

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How All My Stuff Distracted Me From a Full, Joyful Life (and What I Did to Break Free)

Jesus came so that we might have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10) Paul wrote that joy has nothing to do with ‘stuff.’ (Philippians 4:11) His own circumstances were often dire …shipwrecks, jail, abuse, and torment. To sustain a joyful countenance amidst that kind of suffering requires Holy Spirit power.

Modern-day lives are overwhelmed with images. Our days are posted, compared and sized up as we scroll through our social media channels. We all have vices that keep us from living in the full and abundant freedom and sustained joy that Christ died to give us. The journey to break free of the strangling grip of our stuff starts by clinging to God’s Truth, and leaning on Christ alone.

I recently realized the connection between having too much stuff and feelings of overwhelm, frustration and a lack of joy. Here’s what I’ve done to cut back on the stuff and put my focus back on what matters most.

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A Prayer for God’s Help in Times of Trouble

“May your God, who you serve continually, rescue you!” – Daniel 6:16

The Story of Daniel: The Power of Prayer and Faith in Times of Great Trouble

If anyone needed help in time of trouble, it was Daniel. This verse finds him sentenced to a pit of lions for praying to and worshiping God (Daniel 6:13-18). The administrators set to serve under the current reign of King Darius were bent on removing Daniel from his seat. Daniel had found favor with King Nebuchadnezzar and King Belshazzar prior to King Darius’ reign through his interpretation of dreams and godly wisdom.

So, they convinced the king to “issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or man during the next thrifty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into the lions den” (Daniel 6:7). The king, not realizing that the “royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed …”(6:7) did not include Daniel, agreed.

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How to Create Lasting Memories With Your Kids – 5 Simple Ideas

“For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100: 5

Intentionally marking moments with our children creates a living legacy of the many Scriptures reminding us to daily refocus on God’s goodness. Let’s resolve to live each day, not mindlessly ignoring the challenging world we face, but teaching our children to thrive in it. For Christ has already overcome the world. (John 16:16) The Father’s love will never falter based upon any missteps we make or misfortune we endure. Practice putting these five elements into play with your children this week, and watch the ball of joy roll through your house, and your life.

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