Friday, January 20, 2017

Self-Control: It's Essential

Titus 2:11-14
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

January is often a time to make resolutions, set goals, and diet. In my forties I decided I was tired of being over-weight, so we bought a tread mill and went on a healthy diet. Every day I walked as I watched a show I taped on my VCR (yep-that long ago.) I fixed low-fat meals and stuck to my one treat a day, usually ice cream. In about a year I'd reached my goal weight. The self-control I imposed on myself paid off. I kept the weight off for almost six years. Then due to a change in job and some health issues, I gained weight again.

Since I'm older, the same techniques I used back then won't work now. I'm pretty happy if I just don't gain any weight. But my point is, I set my mind to accomplish my goal. And it worked. Self-control is essential when it comes to living life. I dislike the times I give in to anger, gossip, negativity or many of the other sins on this earth.

In his short text, Titus encourages the men, women, and young people of the church to develop self-control. I can only do that through Jesus who gives me the strength. As I seek to reach my goals (no matter what they are) and stay obedient to God, I keep my eyes on the hope that I have in Jesus. With him all things are possible.

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Few Quotes in Honor of Winnie the Pooh's Birthday!

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

“When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

“Just because an animal is large, it doesn't mean he doesn't want kindness; however big Tigger seems to be, remember that he wants as much kindness as Roo.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Monday, January 16, 2017

When Your Children Follow God's Path

My youngest daughter, Hannah, flew to Guatemala on Saturday with a group from Habitat for Humanity. They've traveled to Central America to build buildings and install smokeless stoves. Many of the people in the area cook over open fires in their homes. That equals an unhealthy environment. The travelers are also exploring a whole new part of our beautiful world.

When Hannah and her sisters were young I prayed for them to find the path God intended for them. I never dreamed Hannah's life would include world travel. But it has. I let go and let God and so did she. For any young mom's reading this, I want to tell you—it's not easy. Sometimes it's downright hard. On Saturday when they were flying I was a bit anxious. When I saw the message "Here safe and sound," my heart filled with relief.

Prayer and journaling are two of the best tools I've found to help me put aside the worry and entrust my children to God. This goes for grandchildren, too. I've learned to push worry aside and pray, pray, pray. That's when God brings me peace.

As a parent, we don't know where the Lord will lead our children. Encouraging them and guiding them is part of our job. Noticing their strengths and interests and giving them opportunity is a must. Letting them go to travel God's path is hard. But oh the joy I've found in each of our children's journeys. I'm proud of all of them and excited to see where the Lord continues to leads.

If you'd like to follow Hannah's adventure, she writes a blog:

Prayers are always appreciated!
I'd love to hear your thoughts, too.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Gentleness: In a World of Frustration

1 Peter 3:15-16
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Photo by Maggie Wickline Jowers

I have to ask myself—am I reactive or proactive? Do I lash out or do I reach out? There are situations that make me angry. When someone is lazy, neglectful, or mean. But even in anger, God requires me to have a gentle spirit. In a world full of mistreatment, abuse, and let me put this gently-mouthiness, it's difficult to not react with louder, angrier words and frustration.

In the verses Peter shared, gentleness and respect go hand-in-hand. I love that. It makes sense. As a follower of Jesus, he wants me to be respectful and gentle, when I share my hope in Jesus. That's not being a pushover, it's being a Christ follower. The world is full of loud angry voices. It's time we show our gentle, caring spirits to the world by loving the difficult, the frustrating, and the unlovely. Jesus loved everyone—shouldn't we? Praise God for Jesus who loves you and me!
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Mom Turned 90: What a Journey!

My mom tells the story of how she traveled on a bus from southern Ohio to Washington state. "People looked out for each other then." Each driver would make sure she rode the correct bus to get where she was going. With courage and a few dollars she made the trip to see Dad, a soldier in World War 2. They were young, married parents living in a world of uncertainty.

This past weekend, that sweet young girl turned ninety-years old. Family gathered around her, sang to her, and ate cake. We celebrated the life of a woman who has seen some crazy changes in her life. By the end of the month she'll have witnessed sixteen different men sworn in as President. I'll never forget coming home from school the day John Kennedy died and mom trying to explain that to me, a first grader.

The year mom was born, Charles Lindberg made the first transatlantic flight. Many years later, she gathered with us in front of the television to watch a man land on the moon. Speaking of TV, Mom saw it change from black and white one or two stations to 100s of cable channels with a remote control.

Then there is the telephone.  Remember the party line? You had to wait for the neighbor to hang up before you could make a call. Now Mom uses a wireless phone, but even bettershe uses her iPad to keep in touch with all of us on Facebook. She wanted to keep up with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And she has a slew of them.

Mom is one of the smartest ladies I know. She reads everything. I attribute my great love of books to my mom. And yes, she's seen that change too. Hello, Kindle!

So over the course of ninety years, my mom has lived through square-shouldered jackets, Peter Pan colors, pill-box hats, bell bottoms, polyester, and spandex. I mention fashion trends because Mom was a seamstress for our family. And she's an artist who paints beauty on canvas. Did I mention she was a business woman, dealing in antiques? 

I can't imagine all that my mom has experienced in her ninety years, but speaking for my family, we're glad to be a part of the journey.  

Monday, January 9, 2017

Zack's Boot

Even though I was born in the middle of summer, I'm a winter child. For as long as I can remember I've loved the cold snowy days that grace southwest Ohio after Christmas.

Those days of wondering, will a snow day be called? Will we get snowed in, or will a the snow dust across the fields like powdered sugar. 

One snow day lives in my memory like it was yesterday. Our family lived in an old, cold farmhouse with a perfect sledding hill in the pasture. Because we lived on a main highway, my girls' friends made it to our house, even though they couldn't get to school. The kids who lived next door walked over. And they had a blast riding sleds down the hill. 

I was in the kitchen making hot chocolate, because that's what we always did, when one of the sledders (can't remember which one) said Zack's boot got stuck in the snow. 

Zack was the youngest of the bunch and quite distressed, probably because his foot was freezing. Like any caring adult would do, I geared up in my warmest coat and gloves and hiked over the hill to see what was going on. 

And there it was, a hole in the snow that had sucked this poor kids boot right off his foot. By the way, he waited in the house for me so his foot could thaw. After I checked out the situation, I thought "No problem, I'll just reach in and pull it out."

I sat on my knees and reached in the hole, filled with ice and snow and located the boot. I grabbed a hold of the edge and tugged. That hole pulled back. It sucked the boot down further. What was going on?

The more I jerked, the deeper it went, as my hands turned to popsicles. I pulled off my gloves and rubbed my hands  together to regain some warmth. Then plunged in again, barehanded and won the tug of war. Finally, his boot was free.

We carried the victorious prize to the house and dried it out best we could. Zack was one happy little guy. He sipped his hot chocolate with a smile.

I miss those days sometimes. The house full of everybody's kids. And I'm thankful we were the home they felt comfortable in. Some of the kids still keep in touch. They've friended me on Facebook so I get to see their adult lives, their children growing up, their professions and ambitions.

The snow brought fun times and great memories. I still love the snow.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Faithfulness: A Lesson from the Dog

2 Thessalonians 3:3
But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.

Several years ago, when Tater was still an exuberant young dog, he caused me to take a trip to the emergency room. I had hooked him up to take him for a walk and before I could follow him out the door, he bolted and ran me straight into the door jam. I met the jam head on, stumbled out the doorway and passed out in the back yard. In a few minutes I came to. My glasses were flung behind me, pain screamed from my broken nose, and my dear dog stood over me wondering what had just happened. Long story short—Tim took me to the emergency room for a few stitches. A few years later, I tripped over this same dog and injured both knees. Eventually leading to knee surgery and replacement. By now you may be wondering why I still love this dog. One simple reason, he's faithful. He loves me more than I understand, and I love him right back. He's a nervous Nelly sometimes and drives me crazy when he jumps and barks when I get home. But he's my dog.

That must be how God looks at me. "She's my child." Otherwise why would he be faithful to me, a messy life-liver who gets sick, makes mistakes, gets scared, acts anxious, and sometimes wants to give up. That's the thing about God, he loves me anyway. He remains faithful and protects me from evil because I sure can't protect myself. He gives me strength when I'm about to let loose of the proverbial knot at the end of the rope. I'm thankful that no matter what happens, God remains faithful. He's the same no matter what. And I know without doubt that I will remain faithful to him. 
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.