Little Things

  Tonight was one of “those” nights when everybody is ill and getting on everybody else’s nerves. I think I actually heard my little one say that her brother was breathing her air. It was more than I could stand. I thought I was going crazy, but just before I told my family that I was moving to Montana to grow Dental Floss Bushes, the Holy Spirit reminded me of something…. Trust that what Scripture says is true…like when it tells me:  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV) Does this verse apply when my children are fighting over stuff that they don’t even care about? Does this apply when everyone gets on my nerves, when my feelings are hurt, or I’m misunderstood? Does it apply when I’m just grumpy? The verse doesn’t say “Pray about the big stuff.” It says to present EVERY situation to God. So, tonight I did. I ordered my two precious bundles of joy to get their bottoms over to the couch “Before I count to three”, threatened to sell them to the circus if they so much as THOUGHT of touching each other, promised to tape the mouth of the next one that spoke a word, and, with both of them staring at me with that “yep, she’s finally lost it” look in their eyes….I prayed. For their benefit, of course. I prayed because they need to know how to ask for forgiveness.  I wanted God to...

Reading Music

    My son has been playing piano since he was four years old. Now at age 12, he is very good at playing solo music. He has an amazing gift of listening to music and finding the keys by hearing. Whenever he plays a song, he memorizes the music first. This can be a good thing because he can play music without having the notes in front of him. But it can be a bad thing because he reads music slowly since he leans so heavily on his hearing. He can’t just sit down with a piece of music and play each note. He has to study each note first, memorize their order and then play the song. This happens a lot with piano players since much of their study is done alone. In order for my son to get better at reading music, he tried out for our local youth symphony. He made the string ensemble, but the maestro understood that although my son plays very well, his music reading is slow. My son will have to work on reading each note as he plays them and develop that skill. At the first rehearsal, my son felt lost. Not only had he never played with other instruments before, he also fell behind in playing the music. He couldn’t read the notes nearly as quickly as the other students playing violin and cello who had learned to play their instruments among the orchestra. My son who excels in solo playing appeared disoriented and slow. Although he has been playing piano for 7 years, his talent did not show...

Don’t give them a second thought

Mesmerized. That’s how I describe my fascination with Joshua, the son of Nun. This man was encouraged time and time again by God to be courageous and without fear. “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” Joshua 1:9. “And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed…” Joshua 8:1. Armed with that kind of courage, Joshua gathered forces to help the people of Gibeon in Joshua 10. The Gibeonites had made a treaty with Israel, and because of that alliance, when the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon joined forces to attack Gibeon,  Gibeon sent word to Joshua for help. Joshua didn’t just send a token group of fighting men. He marched with his entire army to defeat the five kings. “The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.” The Message version takes a little liberty here, but I like the possibilities. “God told him, “Don’t give them a second thought. I’ve put them under your thumb—not one of them will stand up to you.” Joshua was able to take them by surprise because the Lord brought confusion to the enemy. As they were running away from the Israelites the Bible says, “…the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them, and more of them died from the hail than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.” But it’s the next part that is so unbelievable it had to be God. “On the day the Lord gave the...

Stop And Smell The Roses – Taking Time For A Year End Review Of Your Life

  But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15b ESV All the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is coming to a close: the house is a mess, the decorations might still be up, and yet now is the perfect time to stop and smell the roses and make time for a year end review of your life.  As a matter of fact, apart from the major holidays this specific week (between Christmas and the New Year) is my favorite time of the year. Do you want to know why?  Every year I take this week to sit and review what worked, what didn’t work, what needs to be improved and what I hope to do in the next year. It’s not a complicated process, but it is a strategic process that my husband and I do every year. We started doing this about ten years ago and it’s turned into the most thought provoking and productive week for both of us. Chances are you do something like this either mentally or on paper, so why not make a plan and see what you learn in the process. I’m going to share with you what I do, you take it, then tweak it to fit you and your family. Here’s what you need to get ready; paper/giant sticky notes/notepad colored markers/pens/highlighters calendar (last year and the coming year) music (this is very important for me) – I love to listen to “Epic Soundtracks” on Pandora so that I don’t get distracted by the words in the songs. I put those giant sticky notes...

Why It’s Important To Forgive, Even When…We Don’t Want To

I can almost hear the sighs of exasperation. You are probably thinking to yourself, “seriously, she’s going to talk to me today about forgiveness? She has no idea what I am going through, what’s been done, what’s been said or how far off track things have gotten lately.” You know what, you are absolutely right! I don’t know what you are going through or have been through. I don’t know how bad it is gotten in your world lately, nor do I need to because I can tell you this, it has been a doozy of a run in my world too. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure I have stamped my foot (a lot here lately) and cried out to God that this just isn’t “fair”. This is just as hard for me to write as it is for you to read because I have been wrestling with God over this one and here’s what I’ve come up with. but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:15 ESV (underscoring mine) But. I never thought about it that way. But..if you do not, neither will your Father. But…I don’t want to. I still hurt from it. Oh my friend, you have no idea how much this pains me to write, but here it goes…we need to forgive much because we have been forgiven much. There, I said it. This is not to say that you agree with what has happened, but that you are cancelling that debt against you. When we hold on to that anger, resentment,...

The Difference Between “Us” and “Them”

In my high school Persuasion and Control class, the teacher quietly distributed sheets of paper, then instructed us to work on our own to answer the questions on it: Who is “we”? Who is “they”? We (and probably they) use those words often, but what do they mean? There were a few other questions on the assignment, but they all stemmed from these two. After several minutes of personal reflection, we began discussing, and it was one of the most animated, perspective-changing, convicting class times I remember from high school. Our world was small at the time, but it didn’t seem that way. We had groups in high school, as I assume most do, and the open discussions about what we thought about ourselves, what we thought about others, and what we thought about what others thought about us surprised and unsettled us. The internet was just beginning to creep into our daily lives, so we didn’t have access to as many viewpoints as people do now. But I’m not sure that would have mattered. After all, we have access to a lot of information now; we can easily get to know people around the world or around the corner who are very different from us. Yet we still separate ourselves. Separation helps us feel protected, worthy, and justified. It helps us determine our identity, as we often deteriorate others’. “We” still define “us” and “them.” So now, may my Lord’s power be magnified just as You have spoken: The Lord is slow to anger and rich in faithful love, forgiving wrongdoing and rebellion. But He will not leave...

The Struggle is Real (Psalm 103)

  I was sitting in church when I felt my chest cave in…then expand as if no weight had ever sat there. Let me back up for a minute. I struggle with anxiety/worry/fear/you-name-it. I let things bother me that really have no place bothering me—things that haven’t even happened yet and may not happen. I let them bother me to the point where those things are all I can think about and I end up missing the good—and God—in each day. So when I sat in church and heard this sermon, it was conviction and relief all rolled into one. I’ve read Psalm 103 numerous times. Recently, in fact, as I spent a few months reading through the book of Psalms. But never had I read this particular Psalm with such depth (no doubt an indication that I need to do something different in my time with God to dig deeper than I have been). King David wrote this Psalm…to himself. “Bless the Lord, O my soul” (Psalm 103:1a, English Standard Version). See there? “O my soul.” He’s talking to himself. Reminding himself that he needs to bless the Lord—even if he doesn’t feel like it, even if he’s busy, or scared, or exhausted, or has a to-do list a mile long, or his kids won’t stop talking to him during summer vacation and all he wants is a quiet moment with a cup of coffee. This Psalm is his reminder of God’s benefits (verses 3-5), His character (verses 8, 10-13), and His eternal love (verses 17-19). Our pastor put it this way: we need to lead our souls....

You Have Permission

Those three simple words are FILLED with GREAT POWER! You have permission… to go after your dreams! to love! to start over! to quit! to rest! to make new friends! to put yourself out there! to let go! to cry! to laugh! to hurt! to heal! to be brave! to be weak! to be yourself! I have said everyone of these sentences at some point to people that DESPERATELY needed to hear that they “had permission.” So many people live their life waiting… waiting for what? People need reminded that time is short and they “have permission” to change, to regroup, to start over, to try something new. It takes courage to face reality and know that you need to make some changes… it also takes courage to follow through with the changes you know that you need to make!  God wants us to start being encouragers and permission grantors! I know in my own life when I have felt nudges from The Lord about things that seemed “out of the box” and that would require a huge leap of faith I was often met with discouragement. I need people to rally around me and say “GO FOR IT” but instead I have, at times, received some confusing looks, discouraging words, criticism, & skepticism. Don’t get me wrong sometimes as a friend we have to say to each other, “Hey, I think your missing it,” but ONLY when we REALLY feel strongly that if we don’t say something we will just die. Not just anytime we hear something that we deem a little “crazy”. Sometimes “missing it” is part...

Parenting in the Midst of Fear

There is so much going on in the world today that evokes the spirit of fear. Racism and violence fill our streets. Our news is filled with acts of terrorism. Because of social media, everyone now has a platform to share their opinions; the good, bad, and the very ugly. Our children are being exposed to obscene levels of violence and hatred. Parenting is hard. Parenting during this specific time period seems exceedingly hard. Our children are flooded with images of racism, hatred, and terrorism. They also see the christian community take extreme sides and draw lines in the sand stating this is right and this is wrong. Even though both sides of the lines believe to have the right answers. Our children hear and see everything we say and do. How are we representing our faith to them? How are we helping them navigate through all the emotions that are brought to the surface when deep rooted issues like racism and violence are discussed? Our children hear what we say, not just to them but to our spouses, our friends, our families. Do our conversations line up? Do they reflect our values that we have tried to instill in our families? We all have a value system. What we value is what we put a heavy emphasis on. Our children learn our value system through our words but also through our actions! They see everything. They see how you act and react. They see what you support through finances, prayer, and even just simple conversations. They see the gap between what we say we value and the way...

What if We Really Believed?

We talk the talk.  Don’t we? We have the good scriptures memorized. “I can do all things…” “For God so loved the world…” “Lord, if it is your will take this cup…” “Our Father who art…” “Though I walk through the valley of death….” Sunday morning, we will be up bright and early. We will dress in our best. We will press palms and welcome each other with Christian fellowship, drink coffee, sneak a donut, repent, praise, pass the cup, break the bread, nod amen. If the sermon is spot on and the music is just right there may be a tear shed – we vow to be different, better this week. And we will leave filled up, and we will now feast, nap, mow lawns, clip coupons, wash one last load, and start all over Monday morning. Afraid. This is my peg word.  This is how I have lived the better part of 40 years. Afraid. Afraid of death, doom, gloom, vomit, spiders, the IRS, the scale, cancer, Walmart, egg salad, and pain; these things are what haunt me. And although I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death – I still fear much evil.  Although, my Jesus has saved me time and again… I continue to be afraid. If He were here now He would certainly ask, “Are you so dull? How long must I stay with you? Really Jami? You think you will drown – I am IN THE BOAT?!?!” Afraid. This word rocks me to my core. Lately, it is all I hear. “I am afraid of what will happen to our...