Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Not Another Fairy Tale...

I want to tell y'all a story. If I had to title it I would call it…The Little Boy Who Struggled to Read and the Mama Who Almost Despaired.

As you know, we homeschool and I am currently in my 20th year. I had successfully taught 4 children to read proficiently and was pretty confident in my abilities. Then along came #5 who struggled from Day 1 to even remember the alphabet and I suddenly found myself feeling like an unsuccessful newbie. What began when he was 4 would prove to be a long, frustrating, discouraging journey with not many glimpses of hope that we would ever have victory in this area.

My friend who homeschooled all of her children helped tutor him, but the struggle was still very real. There were numerous times, in order to preserve our relationship, that I would put it away and purpose in my heart to wait till both of us were a little more mentally and emotionally prepared. As each new year rolled around I would pull the reading books out with hopeful anticipation, only to find those hopes quickly buried amid a sea of still unrecognizable words. 

How could a boy who was so smart (he is a grade ahead in math and could probably do his sister's math if he had to) have such a difficult time remembering even the 5 simple vowel sounds that he had been attempting to remember starting so many years before? What was I missing? How many different reading curriculums would we try before something clicked?

Fast forward to this school year. A year that again found me cautiously hopeful that my sweet boy, who feared being called on in small group because of his inability to read, would finally find himself able to decode the maze of jumbled letters. We started out a little slow, but there were definite signs of improvement. Then one day, all on his own, he brought me his Bible and started to read. It wasn't a fluid movement from word-to-word, but there he was…haltingly stringing word after word and verse after verse together until he had navigated a whole passage all on his own. 

To say that there was great rejoicing would be an understatement!! The resulting celebration seemed to give my boy a bolstered confidence and he began to get excited about this whole new world that was opening up before him. He requested and received a new youth Bible and a devotional he could do on his own. We found him in various places in the house, head bowed and eyes focused while he gained momentum as well as skill. 

That was a few weeks ago and he has improved in leaps and bounds. He offers to help read our lessons now, whether they be science, history or a word problem in math. He brought his Bible to me today and started reading in 1 John 2 and before he was done he had read the first 17 verses with only the need for help with a couple of fairly difficult words. Then his brother came home and he read the rest of the chapter to him. It did my heart such good to look at my big boy and my little boy, huddled together on the couch reading His words to us. 

I wish I could say that this story wasn't fraught with many tears, angry words and insecurities on both our parts. I guess that's what keeps it from being a fairy tale. Fairy tales rarely paint a realistic picture of life, though. What I do know is that this story was filled with lots of love and second chances…for both of us. So head up weary Mama and listen to my who have your own seemingly insurmountable mountain you've been circling for a long time... 

It will get better!!!

We've all probably heard, many times over, that life is a marathon and not a sprint. There's so much truth in that, but it's hard to remember it on those days when a padded cell seems like our best option. Don't despair, though!! God knew what He was doing when He gave us these babies to raise. Trust me when I tell you that those days that seem to crawl along at a snail's pace pass really, really quickly when you string them all together!! 

So let the little boy who struggled to read and the Mama who almost despaired encourage you with this…

What you're doing really matters!!!!

Galations 6:9 ~ "So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up."

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Why Not?

(Note: This is a repost from 2013, but something I have been thinking about lately. I decided it might bear repeating!)

I sometimes wonder about the random thoughts that rumble around in my brain, but here goes one of them...

It seems within the church that people have a mindset that church folk should be above reproach and that we should never be hurt by others within the church. I think this must be the mindset anyway because I have encountered many people who were shocked that someone didn't meet their expectations or that someone had hurt their feelings. It was almost a, "How dare they treat me like that?", way of thinking.

The question I have been pondering this morning is actually, "Why not? Why shouldn't I expect to be hurt by church people?" The reality is that they are just people...infallible, human, sometimes self-protecting, jacked up (to quote my husband), apt to make mistakes kind of people. I should never expect perfection in someone else when I can't live up to that standard myself.

I do realize there is the odd person who is just way out there and is totally self-consumed. They give little thought for others and trample people wherever they go. People like this, in my experience, are rare, though. Most of us really do want to honour the Lord, but we will make mistakes.

One of my favourite quotes is, "Expectations are premeditated resentments of the heart." The first time I heard it it stopped me in my tracks. Let's break it down...

Expectations ~ the act or state of looking forward to or anticipating something

Premeditated ~ characterized by fully conscious willful intent and a measure of forethought and planning

Resentments ~ a feeling of indignant displeasure or persistent ill will at something regarded as a wrong, insult or injury

So if we put it all together now it looks something like this...

When I look forward to or anticipate that someone is going to willfully and with a measure of forethought and planning do something that I do not like or agree with then I am going to feel indignant displeasure or persistent ill will toward what I see as an insult or wrong committed against me. 


You know what's crazy about all this? Often times the offender has no clue and is rather oblivious to the fact that anything has even happened. The only indication is a cold shoulder or hearing that we have taken our toys and gone to another playground. And we wonder why people look at the church and want no part of it!!!

When are we going to grow up and realize it's not all about us? When are we going to extend grace as an overflow of the overwhelming grace that has been extended to us through a Savior? When are we going to learn to give others the benefit of the doubt or at least have the decency to talk to them and hear their heart? Instead, in this day of social media insanity, we de-friend or block someone on FB and think, "Good riddance!"Instead of practicing the act of forgiveness, we make people pay by dirtying their reputation and seeing how many people we can take to the new playground with us. People are dying and going to hell and we are spending all our time trying to find as many people as we can to be sympathetic to our cause which is essentially...ourselves.

What would happen if we grew up? What would happen if we realized the Body is just that...a living organism made up of many parts with different roles and giftings. What would happen if we viewed other churches as partners instead of the competition? When a friend of ours was killed (a year ago yesterday, in fact), our church went and ministered to the body of believers which our friend had been a part of. We fixed food and fed family members, we parked cars and prayed for the grieving. One of the men from the funeral home stopped my husband and asked him if our 2 churches had a "partnership" because he had never seen anything quite like what he had seen that day. 

Isn't that a crazy question? Isn't the fact that it had to be asked even crazier? Why does that have to be so unusual? Why don't we see ourselves as a huge body of believers who minister to each other anywhere and everywhere instead of our own little entities, as if we are the only ones who have figured out how to get it right? You know what I know? I know if we ever have a crisis in our church family that this church will be by our side. 

Let's keep our eye on the goal and not allow the enemy to trip us up as we near the finish line. Let's extend grace and forgiveness and actually live out what we are called to do. Let's quit trying to insulate ourselves and protect ourselves so we can't possibly be wounded by anyone. Let's get out there and remember that Jesus CHOSE Judas as a disciple even though He knew how it would all end up!!  Let's be intentional and inclusive and let's just learn to grow up and quit acting like 3yo children instead of people maturing because of the work of Christ going on inside us.

Lord, may we be a pleasing fragrance to You as we go about our days. May we learn to look to You and obey You instead of looking to our own self-interests and needs. Please help us view the Body as as an inclusive fellowship, not an exclusive club,  full of people who are "for" us and aren't "against" us. Lord, would we talk to You and listen to You and then be willing to do whatever it is You show us out of a heart of love and devotion to You! Amen!

P.S. I do want to add that this is in no way an area in which I think I have "arrived"!!! I am "preaching" to myself more than anything because choosing not to be offended is a discipline I still have to work at every single day!!!