To my kids’ future spouses

4-IMG_1346

Hallie was half-engaged to be married at four years old. She had a little friend who was at church every time the doors were open, just like we were. We loved her friend’s parents. We still do. The mom taught Hallie her first Bible verse at the age of three in Cubbies. I’ll never forget hearing her quote that verse. She’d quote it just about anywhere. One time it was in the restroom at our favorite Mexican food place in Marlin. With her little legs hanging over the side of the toilet she recited- “Chust in the Lowod wif all you hawt and lean not on you own undewstanding . Pwovubs 3:5″

When we moved from Chilton a couple of years later, we got a letter from her special friend (written with a little help) reminding her that she was his. I’d be delighted if that worked out.

To my kids’ future spouses:

I love it when things get all worked out. I say that, but I can hardly remember a time when I felt like things were worked out. Sure there are breaths of relief when some struggle has been overcome like Algebra II, appropriate application of eyeliner or the whiny stage. But I reckon God is with us, working all things out little by little, all the days we’re here.unnamed (119)

I bet you’ve heard that there are moms who pray for their kids’ future spouses. Those are wise mamas. I’ve felt terribly guilty in the past because I’d only think to pray for you once or twice a year. I haven’t been diligent, but I’ve prayed for you. For my future daughter in law, I have prayed you will look to God and trust that He alone makes you complete. My prayer for you, future sons in law, is that you will love God more than you love my daughter; that you will be men who will lead my girls in the way of Christ. That prayer is deep-seated. I won’t forget it. God won’t either.

I don’t mention you on a daily basis…yet.  But I’m still praying for you in a sense. Here’s how.

I’m praying for my son. I’m praying that God will be first in his life and that he will learn to give himself time cushion instead of waiting until the last-minute for everything. I pray that his heart grows for Jesus so that he’ll know how to give his heart to you when he learns you’re the one.

Sun's Out

I pray for my girls.

For one, I pray that she will come to understand when strength translates to pure old stubbornness and that she’ll learn to bend when needed. Her strong will comes from me. You’ll probably have figured that out after you’ve been around me a couple of times. I pray that she will do more than just understand the real definition of beauty. I pray that she’ll embody beauty.

For the other one I pray that her need to please people would be replaced with a desire to “be filled with the knowledge of His will…. so that she might walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him. I trust that as she lives to please Him, all the while conscious of grace, she will be pleasing to you.

1-IMG_1234

I pray these things along with a thousand other little prayers; prayers for safety, prayers for illnesses to subside and prayers for each of them to always have at least one good friend. I pray that their heart wouldn’t be broken and that they’d have grace and greater understanding in the overcoming, when their heart does break. I pray for their daily footsteps and for the whole path. I’m just beginning to learn not to let the requests hog my prayer time.  I’m learning to make more room for thanks. And I’m learning to create blank spaces of prayer where I’m simply placing trust in Him.

Thoughts of you are woven into those spaces.

 Here’s what I want you to know

The more I pray, the more I’m coming to understand that

it’s not so much about who I’m praying for

or the things I pray for

as it is about who I’m praying to.

It’s not about the requests; my best thought-out wishes. He knows what I want before a word is on my lips. Even better, he knows what I need. He knows what my son and two daughters need. He knows what you need.

It goes back to those sweet words uttered (Mexican music in the background) in a small bathroom in Marlin ten years ago.  Trust in the Lord.  Those same words stretch forward to today and will meet you any place you find yourself tomorrow. I hope these words will be your truth when you think you have the perfect plan and when you don’t know how to pray.

That’s my prayer.

Trust in the Lord with all (my)heart.

And I’ll lean not on (my) own understanding of what this future blessed union will look like.

We wish for all of life to be tidy, but life is full of tides. Thankful God is in the tides.

I love you even though I (probably) haven’t met you,

Your mom in law

 

Now.  Here’s a less serious wish list of what I hope you’ll be:

Someone who likes me. Jason too. But he’s pretty easy to like. If you like us you’ll come around (with my kid) more often. It would be nice if your parents like us too.  That way we’ll be better at sharing y’all

Someone who likes to laugh.

Someone who shares your kids. Not one of those parents who won’t let them have a sleepover with the grandparents until they’re like four.

A little money wouldn’t hurt.

To my future daughter in law: Someone who likes to shop (but not like a marathon shopper) and invites me occasionally

Someone who can cook. I can’t cook that well. Which means that my kids probably won’t start out knowing how.

Someone who plays board games without much of a fuss (win or lose). It just has to be that way. We’re a bunch of sore losers (besides Jason). It’s too late for us to change.

A few or all of these things would be great, but no worries.

Life has a way of surprising. 

Posted in Home | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A Guest Post: Written by a Recovering Shrew

Taming my Shrew

Written by Jennifer Horner (my baby sister)

When I was growing up I loved to watch old movies (and still do). I loved the simplicity and clean comedy that seemed to be missing from my generation of “mouthiness” and vulgarity.

The comedians like Doris Day, Lucille Ball and Ginger Rogers could make you laugh without your face turning red from shame. I wanted to be like them and other women of the Hollywood golden age.

My desire was and (still is), to have the grace, wit and charm that oozed from their presence on the screen. These movies were down to earth, fun and inspiring. I love everything about them because I don’t have to feel guilty or ashamed if my kids walk in while I watch these movies. These are the kind of films that make me feel good about life…….

And that is what I want my personality to be like!! Good clean humor with a hint of grace and charm.

On my good days I easily live out my dream of being appropriately witty (charm and grace have always eluded me). I am pretty laid back and easy to get along with. I love to make people laugh and smile.

<UGH>…..but there are days I find myself being more like “Kate.”

Who is Kate you ask?

I’ll tell you. Ever heard of “The taming of the Shrew” by William Shakespeare? Well back in 1953 Hollywood made a delightful comedy called “Kiss me Kate” based on Shakespeare’s book. You see Kate was a Shrew, not the cute little animal shrew; but the “scolding, nagging, bad tempered woman” kind of shrew. She is so horrible her father can’t find a man to marry her, despite the huge sum of money he offers. She is mean, nasty and uses her words like daggers to destroy others. In fits of rage she hurls objects at people. Her temper is such that no man will come near her. She’s bad news.

Now you know who Kate is. And if you have met me, you are probably wondering why I compared myself to her. You can ask my sister, I have been known to have had shrewish behavior as a child.

I do my best to refrain from this kind of behavior as an adult, but to be honest we all have an inner shrew inside us that can pop up without notice. Perhaps, our behavior is not as dramatic as Kate, but shrewish just the same.

Our words, like Kate’s, can be daggers to the heart of those around us. Our actions can hurl unkindness to others who annoy us. Our Tempers can flare and instill fear into those who have done us wrong.

Kate may have been terrible, but deep inside she behaved the way she did because she was afraid. Afraid she would never be loved so she scared her would be suitors away before they had a chance to hurt her. True, she was spoiled, which was part of her problem, but the hidden truth was she never felt truly loved.

We, like Kate, do many hurtful things out of fear. I for one have hurt others because of fear. At Levi’s basketball game the other day, I displayed my shrewish behavior. He was just getting over a concussion, and had been released to play in Saturday’s game. He was up against a giant and not a jolly green one either. This kid was big and threw Levi around like a rag doll. At one moment he had him in a choke hold and had shoved him across the court several times.

He didn’t just target my son but the other players too. This kid was going for the gold!! Let’s just say the mother bear came out, while I screamed for the referee to get him off my son. I muttered under my breath “this kid must be the school bully.” My parents didn’t help my inner shrew, because they were hollering for the kid to get ejected from the game.

Our coaches were hollering about the aggressiveness of the player. In fact a whole bunch of people were screaming about the aggressiveness of the whole team.

The refs had to stop the game several times to talk to the coaches about the aggressiveness. The kid finally fouled out; to my relief my, son was now safe.

But the damage had been done. In my fear, I lashed out and hollered like a maniac. That was my kid and I needed him safe, but at the expense of someone else’s feelings. The kid who played so aggressively, had a mother and guess what……she was sitting right behind me. Yelp, I bet my noble attempt to keep my son safe by entertaining my inner shrew, had made that poor mother feel terrible.

After overhearing her say she was his mother and this was his first year to play, I felt terrible. Yes the kid had been aggressive, he was told to be that way, but that didn’t warrant my behavior.

To make matters worse, after the game I asked my son about the kid. Levi knew him and told me he was a friend and he was really a good kid (off the court). I asked Levi how this would affect school. He said “we’re good, we told each other good game”…… that was the end of it.

Ouch, just got humbled by my son. What would have been war for me, because I can’t separate “on the court” and “off the court” relationships, was over as soon as the game ended for my son.

With my words I probably hurt this mother terribly. I allowed my tongue to be a weapon and my behavior to be that of a true shrew. The bible has SO many verses about taming the tongue (MY INNER SHREW).

James 3:5-6Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.

See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.

Proverbs 10:1919 In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.

Your inner shrew may be different, it can be nagging (I admit….guilty, another blog perhaps) rage, your actions or even your temper. We are ALL a little like Kate, and like her, we heap hurt on others.

As much as I love old movies and the way they inspire, that is one film I am NOT striving to model after. However it did have a happy ending, Kate did find love and it was the key to taming her. If I had shown love and mercy to the offender of my child; I would probably not have stuck my size 7 ½ shoe in my mouth.

I guess we can learn even from a shrew!!! Love is the key to taming the ugliness inside us. With God’s love, mercy and never ending patience, He can help us tame the shrew inside us. By showing love and mercy to others, we can follow in His footsteps. And if you’re like me, keeping our tongues under control will help a lot too!!!

 

Written by a recovering Shrew:

Jennifer Horner

About Jennifer: Jennifer is the baby of my family and was my roomie for ten years of our early lives. Speaking of shrewish behavior and throwing things, we have a story about a small rocking chair that flew across the room while in a disagreement when we were supposed to be cleaning one day.  But our stories are different. Sisterly love.  It was good then and even better now.  Love my sister who’s also one of my best friends.  Here are her three cuties.

IMG_2007

IMG_2131

 

Posted in Home | Leave a comment

A Novice Foodie Mission: Tracy’s Seafood Deli

 

FullSizeRender

Fridays are my favorite day of the week; Jason and I are usually both off work. So we have a thing where we try and find a new eating establishment.  Apparently the extent of our sense of adventure includes nothing more than a fork, but I dig it. Jason posted a picture of yesterday’s day’s eating joint. The picture didn’t do the place justice. Here it is in case you missed it.

Tracy's Inside

Nothing says appealing like a hot pink wave wall painted with pale yellow and turquoise geometric shapes and a nice fake potted palm tree/ivy. That’s why we felt obliged to write a quick post about yesterday’s cuisine.

Here’s our shared blog about the experience:

I’ll let you in on how I found out about this joint. I’ve been in physical therapy for three weeks now because it seems when I behave myself  (instead of freaking out under stress) the stress just builds up in my neck and shoulders. It makes me wonder if behaving myself is good for my health. The stress had been so built up that I ended up having daily headaches, half of a hand going numb off and on and the feeling of creepy crawlies all over my head, all the time.

Anyway, Dr. Hunt here in Nederland is fixing me up. He and his ladies are helpful and super friendly. If you have neck or back problems, go see him.

FullSizeRender

That being said, part of my therapy includes doing these gosh-awful exercises for my neck and shoulders, usually three sets of twenty. I have to count for myself so I can’t talk. Others that have been at this a while are pros and can do their exercises and talk at the same time. One guy mentioned last Wednesday that he got the best chicken wings “from the hood” a few nights before. He said the place was named Tracy’s and was on Gulfway. I did my best the rest of my time to count my neck tucks and remember where Jason and I needed to go on our next Heyday Friday.

Yesterday was wet and cold but there was sunshine in my soul. I had my favorite food cooked just the way I like it.  I would say I love oysters, but my great-grandmother always told us not to say we love anything besides people.  She was THE boss and I’m still afraid to not do what she says.  Fellow oyster-likers can see how big and juicy and ‘not ruined by too much crust’ these oysters are (I hate having to peel off superfluous crust).  Fries are usually just a filler in my opinion, but these fries were fresh and well-seasoned. They paired well with the homemade tartar sauce which I normally never eat.

IMG_3662

 

I’ve used more than the reasonable word limit and Jason ordered a couple of things so here’s the low down from Jason on the rest of our experience.

There are so many great eating spots right here in Nederland, that we haven’t ventured out lately.  When Kristi overheard some folks talking about this seafood place in Port Arthur that served up some serious chicken wings, I was immediately interested.  We had a little time on our hands this past Friday and a few dollars burning a hole in our pockets so we ventured into the heart of Port Arthur to check out Tracy’s Seafood Deli.

Where Is It?

Tracy's Map

I’m not far off when I say Tracy’s is in the heart of Port Arthur.  It’s a convenient location to anyone working at the Motiva plant.  I’m sure I’d be there as often as I could if I was nearby at lunchtime every day.

 

What’s It Like?

At some point in the past, Tracy’s was a Burger King.  They have maintained some of the furnishings, but nothing of the menu.  This might be the best repurposing of a fast food place I’ve ever experienced.  Don’t come here expecting napkins and silverware on the table.  This is a place for hungry people to fill their bellies with fried, boiled or grilled seafood goodness.

What We Ate.

I couldn’t just order one thing.  I was hungry for seafood and for their chicken wings.  I checked out the menu online before going in.  I thought the pictures on their website were a little too good to be true.  The first image I was really interested in was a platter of jumbo shrimp that were large enough to live up to their oxymoronic name.  The shrimp I saw on their website could have been saddled and ridden by small children.  I was expecting to be underwhelmed, but I was pleased to find there is still some truth in advertising.  Check out this plate of bad-boys I put down.

IMG_3661

When I saw the price for the chicken wings, I was a little taken aback.  I didn’t scope these out on the web first so I came into Tracy’s expecting the WingStop or Buffalo Wild Wing variety.  6 wings for $10.39 was overcooking my grits, but I didn’t come all this way to turn down a culinary adventure.  When they came out of the fryer, my financial frown was turned upside down.  When you eat wings at Tracy’s, don’t think about wing pieces.  Think about the entire wing, except feathers.  This was simple, tasty goodness.

IMG_3663

I actually had leftovers!  I brought the box home for the kids to enjoy.  They ate everything but the salad. I’m afraid they even ate the bones.

Kristi is an oyster fanatic.  If a place has fried oysters, that’s her first stop on the menu.  She picked up half a dozen with fries.  There are usually pitfalls that we watch out for when ordering fried oysters. The first is over-breading.  When a restaurant  is serving up pre-made, stale-off-the-truck, variety of oysters, it shows up first in the breading.  The breading can drown out the natural oyster goodness.  The next pitfall is the size of the oysters.  We’ve been to places where you had to search through the breading to even find an oyster.  We don’t go in for the tiny ones.  If we can eat an oyster in one bite, it’s No Bueno.  Third, it should not be overcooked.  These delicate sea goodies cease to be good if they are left in the fryer for too long.

I’m glad to report that Tracy’s gets 5 stars on all fronts of their oyster prep.  Their oysters were HUGE.  These were two, or three, bite delights.  They were lightly breaded.  They were not afraid to let their oysters speak for themselves.  The cornbread breading was just enough to make it interesting, but not so much to take away from the oyster experience.  Finally, they were cooked just long enough.  We like them raw, so undercooking should rarely be a problem.  These still contained significant, natural oyster brine oozing out after every bite.

Conclusions

If you have a little time on you hand and a hankering for goo seafood, try out Tracy’s Seafood Deli.

I’m looking forward to trying the Boiled Crawfish, Crab Legs, and Vietnamese Egg Rolls.

Give them a try and let them know what you think.

 

 

Dr. Jason Burden FBC Nederland www.fbcnederland.com

www.pastorburden.com 409.722.0263

Posted in Home | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Reminded about Prayer in the Dark

If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed.  If you look within, you’ll be depressed.  If you look at God, you’ll be at rest. -Corrie ten Boom

We put Rylie’s nightlight away at her request a few weeks ago. She’d wasn’t afraid of the dark when she was teeny and then somehow recently discovered there must be frightening things that lurk in the dark.

I remember being deathly afraid of the dark when I was around her age.  My family lived in a double-wide trailer on what we called “our hill” up a windy dirt road. At night the coyotes would howl loud enough to create an eery serenade.  I worried every night they were going to jump through my bedroom window and feast on my nine-year-old flesh. I remember calling out to my parents, afraid.

prayer
Last night Rylie called out to me from her bedroom which shares a wall with Jason and mine. This time it was for a different reason. She told me:

“The dark isn’t bothering me anymore”

“That’s good,” I answered.

“It’s because I prayed about it,” she shared.

“Well maybe you should pray about your school fears,” I retorted.

“I will.  But I’ll probably have to wait a few days before it works. He made me wait a few days before answering the dark thing and I bet he’ll make me wait a few days on this one too.”

She reminds me of a few things about prayer.

1. We often have to wait.  Thankfully we can lift up a prayer in a breath’s moment.  In that moment God fully hears and understands.  He knows our prayer even before we pray it.

Before a word is on my tongue, you know all about it, LORD Psalm 139:4

Waiting for the answer to our prayer isn’t so easy.  We want our fears and troubles resolved.  The important thing is, we don’t wait unheard and we don’t wait alone.  Instead of waiting for the answer we want to our prayer which sometimes we never feel like we get, we must remember that “God is the answer”. Period.

…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength…they will run and not grow weary. Isaiah 40:31

2.We do good to remember that God does answer prayer.  I’m thankful that Rylie recognizes that. I have such a prayer list for God that I regularly neglect to look back and remember all that He has done. His answers to prayer are always praiseworthy.  Thing is, His goodness has to be remembered in order for me to praise Him for what He has done.

Everyone who is pleased with God’s marvelous deeds will keep them in mind. Psalm 11:2

3. Trust God in prayer. I’ve been convicted in the past of my attempt to be Jason’s Holy Spirit; reminding him of all the things that need to be done.  I lovingly share all that he could do to make things right in the world.  Though I backslide, I officially quit that job.  That hasn’t stopped me from maddeningly reminding God of all the things that need to be fixed. I’m really good at telling him the answer I think he ought to come up with for all the ills.  God knows what is best.  And even though he allows us to pray on our own behalf and the behalf of others, we do best to trust Him with the answer.

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9

Don’t bother to give God intructions; just report for duty. -Corrie ten Boom

Prayer is handing over what we can’t and shouldn’t handle.  It’s trusting and praising the One we know holds all things and each of us in His hands. Thankful for this reminder in the dark.

 

 

 

Posted in Home | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Shoes are made for Walking

I told myself I’d quit writing sappy stuff.  But I just turned forty.  And my son is participating in one of his last High School extracurricular events right now and I’m not there.  My oldest daughter is in her last year of Junior High.  And the youngest won’t quit getting taller.  I’ll have been married to the sweetest guy for twenty years in June. So just let it go this once, will you?  And then again next week if I regress.

My hair used to be longer.  It was wavy and brown and my firstborn couldn’t go to sleep without having his chubby little fingers wrapped around a lock of it. Finding the right lock of hair wasn’t easy either.
As soon as I would start the nightly bedtime routine in the creaky old wooden rocking chair that we’d restored, he’d grab for my hair. He would take a chunk.  First, he would pull it. He might decide that hair didn’t feel right. So he’d let go and grab again in another spot and then he’d pull again waiting for the right feel.

The second step consisted of his little fingers winding about until there was no more winding to be done and my hair was safely locked inside his small fist. Often times after a minute had passed he would decide that lock of hair just wasn’t right either and so he would grab again, and then pull and then wind another bunch of hair around his fingers once again. This was a nightly occurrence.

- a small beautiful misery.

IMG_0083

 

I rocked dutifully while he pulled my hair and looked around the room making sure not to miss a thing even in the dark.  And then he would fall asleep, safe and sound.

The only respite from the nightly hair-pulling came when he noticed a silver charm which  hung on a long necklace that lay close to my heart. My mom had bought me a silver baby shoe charm for my first Christmas as a mom. And so at times, he would instead clutch that.
When Hayden turned nine months old he was ready to stand. He knew there was exploring to be done; flower pots to turn over and cats to toddle after. His first standing moments were with the support of a couch and a little push toy passed down from a cousin. Other times he would stand after having leaned back against the front of my legs while holding my index fingers.  I’d let go and then slowly back away leaving him standing on his own.
I remember distinctly knowing he was ready to walk. I enlisted the aid of my silver necklace to entice him. Standing behind him, I dangled the charm in front of him knowing he would grab after it. And he did.
I pulled the charm up just a little and then moved it just a little farther where he’d have to take one step to grab at it again.  I wanted him to reach for it. Whether or not he knew (I think he did), I was right there behind him even when he could stand unsupported.

That little shoe and I?

We taught him how to walk.

Though part of me wanted to hold his small frame in my arms forever, I allowed him to go and do the thing he was ready to do.

 That’s what moms do.

I watched Hayden last week as he filled out a college application.  We talked about signing up for a dorm room just a few days ago.  His leaving is seven months away.   I also got a letter just the other day reminding me that Hallie needs to make her schedule for High School next year. I’ve asked her for makeup tips several times lately.  And our youngest is flying through chapter books now unassisted. Wish I could take those chapter books and put them on her head and make it all stop.

Not really.  This is what we hope for our children.  We hoped that it would happen slower maybe.

To my kids:

It wasn’t so long ago that I held you in my arms. But in the blink of an eye you were ready to walk.  I won’t deny it made me a little sad, but oh so proud.  You may not have known it but I was proud even those times I watched you fall; especially when I watched you get back up.  I’ll always be behind you rooting you on. And you may not hear me saying it, but I’ll be whispering “Reach for it”

Shoes are made for walking.

Posted in Home | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Are You Religious?

If I were to ask you if you’re a religious person, what would you say?

Really. Stop reading and think about it for a second.

I know my answer six months ago would be different than it was when I was growing up. And it’s different today than it was six months ago.

Stained Glass Smaller

It might be my imagination (I have a strong one), but it seems that religion has become (world-wise) little more than a bad word. Even in Christian circles, an overly religious person is often equated with a zealot, a Pharisee. Can you truly be overly-religious?

Religion is more commonly being seen as “the act of being a belief nut”. Religious folks are said to be fanatical; singly focused on righteous acts. The religion of Christianity has recently been compared (many times I might add) to Muslim extremists.

Scrolling through my Facebook this past week has confirmed my belief that religion is widely becoming tabu.  Even Christians are aligning themselves with this frame of mind. Here are some popular thoughts.

You don’t need religion to have morals.  If you determine right from wrong, then you lack empathy, not religion.-Anonymous

My religion is very simple.  My religion is kindness. -Dalai Lama

Jesus is my Savior, not my religion -Unknown

Religion is the cause of all the problems in the world.  It’s what separates people.  -Gwyneth Paltrow.

I have to admit six months ago had I been asked whether or not I am a religious person, I would have hesitated before answering, especially if the question had asked for a simple yes or no answer.

Why?

By answering yes, I feel that an astoundingly increasing number of people would mark me as a tyrant; an unloving and intolerant.    A “yes” answering person is often viewed as one who goes about (can I say) Heaven-bent on doing the right things so that they might think they’re dandy and God might think they’re dandy along with the less-than-righteous rest of the world. Religion has been redefined as the act of acting.

That kind of religion exists. It’s called empty religion and it’s widely practiced. I’m guilty of it. I’m sure we all are.

But true religion? That exists too.

…..pure and genuine religion

Religion, in its rightful practice, is the belief in, and worship of God.

It’s about our relationship with a loving father who we know always “gets it right”. We know we’re not dandy people, but rather fallen ones in need. We believe this to be true. Out of that belief, we worship. Part of that worship is our obedience to Him; our attempt to do what He says we should do.

Here’s the other thing that bugs me. It’s almost as if we’ve tried to make Jesus the very opposite of religious. Jesus did get all over the religious leaders (We like to use that), but not because they were living worshipfully by faith. They were interested in puffing up themselves instead of God. They were self-righteous. We find their example detestable. I’m glad we do. Their story is a great reminder not to fall into that trap we find ourselves tip-toeing around and sometimes caught in.

Was Jesus religious?

He trusted His Father.

His life was one of constant worship.

I’d say He was.

He participated in Jewish traditional feasts and the Passover. He knew the scripture.

He told us “Don’t think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Matthew 5:17

These things He did,…. these things we do…. are/should be more than mere acts. With the right heart these practices are part of worship. These things are part of our religion.

Are our religious actions always practiced with a proper heart, in the right frame of mind? Certainly not. But that shouldn’t mean that we shy away from organized religion, the public sharing of our faith and all appearance of religion.

We just have to ask continually ask our self these questions.

Is my religion pure and genuine?

Is the world corrupting our view of what is right and good by trying to convince us that religion isn’t what Jesus wants?

We have been told to watch out for such things-

Keep oneself from being polluted by the world

Is my religion all about Jesus?

Should it be about anything else?

If I find times that it’s not, should I give up trying to make my religion all about Him?

I count myself as one who strives to be religious. I want my life (be it popular or the modern crime) to be a life led by faith and heart-felt worship. I’ll mess up a million times; more the reason to trust in the One who died for my Sin…..

more the reason to sing, and pray and tell the world.

That’s my religion.

Posted in Home | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Are you Religious?

If I were to ask you if you’re a religious person, what would you say?

Really. Stop reading and think about it for a second.

I know my answer six months ago would be different than it was when I was growing up. And it’s different today than it was six months ago.

Stained Glass Smaller

 

It might be my imagination (I have a strong one), but it seems that religion has become (world-wise) little more than a bad word. A religious person is often equated with a zealot, a Pharisee.

Religion is more commonly being seen as “the act of being a belief nut”. Religious folks are said to be fanatical; singly focused on righteous acts. The religion of Christianity has recently been compared (many times I might add) to that of Muslim extremists.

Reading commentary and scrolling through my Facebook this past week has confirmed my belief that religion is widely becoming tabu.  Even Christians are aligning themselves with this frame of mind. Here are some popular thoughts.

You don’t need religion to have morals.  If you determine right from wrong, then you lack empathy, not religion.-Anonymous

My religion is very simple.  My religion is kindness. -Dalai Lama

Jesus is my Savior, not my religion -Unknown

Religion is the cause of all the problems in the world.  It’s what separates people.  -Gwyneth Paltrow.

I have to admit six months ago had I been asked whether or not I am a religious person, I would have hesitated before answering, especially if the question had asked for a simple yes or no answer.

Why?

By answering yes, I feel that an astoundingly increasing number of people would mark me as a tyrant; an unloving and intolerant.    A “yes” answering person is often viewed as one who goes about (can I say) Heaven-bent on doing the right things so that they might think they’re dandy and God might think they’re dandy along with the less-than-righteous rest of the world. Religion has been redefined as the act of acting.

That kind of religion exists. It’s called empty religion and it’s widely practiced. I’m guilty of it. I’m sure we all are.

But true religion? That exists too.

…..pure and genuine religion

Religion, in its rightful practice, is the belief in, and worship of God.

It’s about our relationship with a loving father who we know always “gets it right”. We know we’re not dandy people, but rather fallen ones in need. We believe this to be true. Out of that belief, we worship. Part of that worship is our obedience to Him; our attempt to do what He says we should do.

Here’s the other thing that bugs me. It’s almost as if we’ve tried to make Jesus the very opposite of religious. Jesus did get all over the religious leaders (We like to use that), but not because they were living worshipfully by faith. They were interested in puffing up themselves instead of God. They were self-righteous. We find their example detestable. I’m glad we do. Their story is a great reminder not to fall into that trap we find ourselves tip-toeing around and sometimes caught in.

Was Jesus religious?

He trusted His Father.

His life was one of constant worship.

I’d say He was.

He participated in Jewish traditional feasts and the Passover. He knew the scripture. These things He did,…. these things we do…. are more than mere acts. With the right heart these practices are part of worship. These things we do are part of our religion.

Jesus said, “Do not think that I have not come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.” Matthew 5:17

Are our religious actions always practiced with a proper heart, in the right frame of mind? Certainly not. But that shouldn’t mean that we shy away from organized religion, the public sharing of our faith and all appearance of religion.

We just have to ask continually ask our self these questions.

Is my religion pure and genuine?

Is the world corrupting our view of what is right and good by trying to convince us that religion isn’t what Jesus wants?

We have been told to watch out for such things-

Keep oneself from being polluted by the world

Is my religion all about Jesus?

Should it be about anything else?

If I find times that it’s not, should I give up trying to make my religion all about Him?

I count myself as one who strives to be religious. I want my life (be it popular or the modern crime) to be a life led by faith and heart-felt worship. I’ll mess up a million times; more the reason to trust in the One who died for my Sin…..

more the reason to sing, and pray and tell the world.

That’s religion.

 

Posted in Home | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Raising Our Kids in the right kind of Village

tubing

Malia Obama, the sixteen year-old daughter of our president has been in the headlines lately. Some felt she had an attitude on camera back in November during the turkey pardoning. She stood to the side of her father sulkily with her arms crossed. She did. Whether or not you’re a fan of the President, she looked sullen.  And and she was dressed like a teenager going to the mall to hang out with her friends at the prestigious event. I might as well go ahead and say the first thing that seems objectionable. I really don’t care what she wears, in front of the camera or elsewhere. I’ve never been one much for fashion propriety.

And the thing with her having her arms folded, looking bored? It did make her somewhat of a spectacle; just as I know my kids have made of themselves some Sunday mornings, not to mention at the grocery store and restaurants. I know there have been times where they walk into the sanctuary and put their nose to their phone to play a game. Or then there are those times that we have the morning greeting during service and they stay put in their pew; straight-faced and barely acknowledging the people who come to greet them. I would hope that nobody would assume that I haven’t taught them better, because I have. I would further hope that people wouldn’t believe that I allow them to act that way regardless, of the place, time and manner in which I choose to discipline them.

I would think that the Obamas would have had words with Malia had they known that she would give the impression that the turkey pardoning was a less than stimulating activity. If they’re anything like most parents, they probably would have reminded her to smile and be pleasant. And maybe they did. My kids have been guilty of not following my instructions (especially when told to “fix their attitude”). Quite possibly they corrected her afterward. And if the Obamas didn’t care at all that she stood unimpressed with the Thanksgiving tradition? I’m not sure that really matters all that much in the grand scheme of things (being that we’d like him to wisely lead our country) (and for Michelle to plan our kids lunches……..only kidding).

Parenting is tough.

Having your parenting being picked apart publicly is extremely difficult, I can imagine. I know how the small handful of comments I’ve received regarding my parenting have stung. Even constructive criticism is usually made without having the necessary information and without seeing the big picture.

Malia’s more recent appearance on Instagram is a little bit different. A picture of the president’s daughter in a “Pro Era” t-shirt has been circulating (at least in conservative circles).

I didn’t have a clue who or what “Pro Era” is. Upon a little reading I found that Pro Era, also known as Progressive Era, is a Brooklyn based group of hip hop musicians. Their lyrics are downright vile. Every song is crammed with lines touting drugs, violence and sex. They also share the cop-hating sentiment with lyrics as they sing about “slaughtering pigs”

It’s unknown at this point whether or not the Obamas knew about Pro Era or of their daughter’s selfie with the t-shirt. I’m going to guess they didn’t know. They know now. You can only hope that they don’t approve of either the message of “Pro Era” or the fact that their daughter has aligned herself with their message.

I said all of that to say this. My opinion of the president and his wife’s parenting choices matters little. Neither does the opinion of the general public. Luckily, New York Times and the folks at Fox News have little interest in me or my children. However, we all live in our own size and make fishbowl.

Regardless of the liberally given opinions of the public, it is the choices that Jason and I make regarding the upbringing of our children that ARE of the utmost importance.

I can’t help but think:

  1. You can really never pay too much attention to what your kids are doing, what they’re listening to, or who they’re hanging around. I can’t count the times I have looked up the lyrics of certain artists that my kids were listening to, only to be shocked. Before I make my kids sound bad, I know I was guilty of listening to music that spoke of sex and the like as a teen.  Most of the time I was clueless to what the lyrics said, much less what they meant. It’s our responsibility as parents to pay attention.

The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. Proverbs 29:15

2.Talk to your kids. There is one artist two of my kids have been fond of that I have listened to in the past. His songs are always ridiculously catchy and upbeat. A news article brought it to my attention that many of his songs speak of violence toward women. I checked this out and upon reading the words to some of his songs, was embarrassed that I’d ever listened to anything he’d sang. You’d better bet that I talked to both of the kids about it.

3.Be more concerned with what they’re doing in more private circles than what they’re doing in public. My concern for what they’re doing in public is usually formed around what I feel other people will think. The older I get, the less I worry about public appearance. Those who love my family will love us through our mistakes. I can’t be overly concerned by those who would be looking for our failings. On the other hand, what my children do in more intimate circles and the struggles that they privately face is of greater concern. Knowing what they post on Instagram and Twitter is a more accurate picture of who they are and the choices they are making. What they do at their friends house overnight is more important than whether or not they appear to be the perfect kid at HEB or in English class. Appearances can be deceiving.

kids

Taking care of our own families would be enough to keep our time occupied, but we always seem to have time to consider the affairs of others. There’s nothing wrong with Godly concern. But as a spectator of other families and their challenges we need to keep a few things in mind.

Keep in mind that parenting is tough. Being a kid, with all of its pressures, is tough. Small children are going to throw fits. They’re going to get caught running in the sanctuary even when they’ve been told not to. They’re going to be bratty when their parents have taught them better. When they’re older you may see them speeding down Nederland avenue even though their parents care very much about their driving safely. Parents don’t always know what their children are doing. They may smart off to their parents in your presence.  What you witness is only a portion.  We don’t always see or know a parent’s attempts to discipline their children or guide them in a better way.

Before you rush to judgement consider your motives. Do you have a Godly love for the family? If your answer is no, your concern is of no positive consequence. If you do love them, remember to pray for them. Lift them up to God instead of sharing their mishaps with others. Let them know you love them before ever considering helpful advice.

 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1

For there is no friend like a sister in calm or stormy weather; to cheer one on in the tedious way, to fetch one if one goes astray, to lift one if one totters down, to strengthen whilst one stands. -Christina Rossetti

Let’s be a family of sisters and brothers to moms and dads and growing kids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Home | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Feeling Fine: Relieving (not reliving) the Pressures of Life

unnamed (138)

I decided to use one of the emojis on Facebook this morning. You know, the ones that pop up when you click on the “feeling” category while typing a status.  You can choose from a list of emotions that have an accompanying face…(feeling happy-smiley face, feeling frustrated-clenched teeth face).  I chose “-feeling bummed”. I wrote a quick status about this morning being harder to send my kids to school than that first morning in August. I posted it. And then I deleted it. I’m bummed, but more I’m worried.

I still feel a little bummed. But I’m ready to try to express myself a little more fully than a Facebook emoji. Here goes.

Jason left at five this morning to go work out. Not me. I had to get up early and make sure that I started the kids day off right. You know, I got up and prepared a (non-Pinteresty, but made with love) lunch for each of the kids. As per request, I put a note in Rylie’s lunchbox inspiring her to be a world changer. And this morning, like every morning, I planted a kiss on each one’s forehead sealing in wishes for a good day; a day safe from harm.

A couple of the kids were anxious about school today. One even got sick at their stomach. Breaks seem to provide a needed safe haven and rest from the challenges kids face at school. But we’re back at it and as usual, some of us get nervous.   Rylie, our nine-year old reminded me of a few of those challenges in the drive-thru line at McDonalds Sunday night.  She worries about making and keeping friends, pleasing the teacher, and scoring commended on that blasted STAAR test (as if worrying about passing it weren’t enough). Why wasn’t she just excited about her Mighty Kid’s Meal with a boy toy? Returning to school, I could tell, was a heavy thing.

She and I talked about how some grades just end up being rough, and how God’s going to do something cool through it all. So yesterday, with my new Bose speaker (that I got for my fortieth birthday, that I love very much) on full blast, I played Rylie a song in the kitchen. And I got her to dance.

1.Because dancing seems to be an expression of throwing caution to the wind (Not that I know from much personal experience- Don’t try to picture it).

2. Because watching her free herself, though it be in awkward motion, IS FREEING.

Earlier she’d brought up something she’d learned on Netflix about pressure on coal making diamonds.  So we talked about how that’s what’s happening with her this year.  She’s being made into a diamond.  I played a song from Queen that I only knew six words to (which were enough). And we made that her new theme song.

Pressure, pushing down on me

Pressing down on you

And then came the next line of the song..

No man ask for….

What?!

No man asks for it?

Oh, but I do. I ask for it. I practically look for things to worry about; especially with the kids. I’m a self-made hero; looking for an adventure in saving the day, daily.  Sometimes my “saving it” consists of holding my concerns for them in a tight ball as if when I do, a barrier somehow forms around the ball of worry.  I’m ridiculous enough to think this keeps said worry from reaching and affecting my children.

And then, ironically, I’ll be the pro at reminding them of all the things that aren’t important in life; like silly STAAR tests that are no reflection of who they are as a person.  All the while I’m freaking out on the inside about that test; hoping she’ll do well.  I’ve developed a Poker face with the kids.  It’s my “Yeah, no big deal” face that I do my best to make when they tell me something- that on the inside feels life-altering.

Thing is, I know they know.  They know that I put pressure on myself to make all things right in the world.  And if they’re anything like I know children to be, they’re going to emulate the behavior.

I’m raising stressed-out mini me’s; people who believe that the good life is all about the striving, striving, striving….

I’m stewing in those juices as I sit here alone this morning.  The worry, shame and “What do I do?” juices.

Need scripture.

In the day of my trouble {everyday} I call upon you, for you answer me. Psalm 86:7

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27

Pressure is inevitable.  And so we remember.

 A diamond is just a piece of coal that handled stress exceptionally well

There are pressures.  But I do good to remember, God is my handler. He is the handler of me and my kids .. my marriage and this ball on which we live.  And He handles all things well.

Now, if only I could get myself to dance

…..or go work out.

Don't forget to subscribe if you'd like to get these posts by email.  Just type your email in the subscribe box.

 

Posted in Home | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Revolution 2015

unnamed (137)

Ten years ago the new year was crowding in on me. Jason and I stupidly made our way to Times Square around five in the afternoon ready to bring in 2004 in a big way. An hour or so after we got there I found myself hemmed in by the crowd; unable to lift my arm to scratch an itch on my nose.  I couldn’t stand it. By 7:00 Jason and I had made our way back to the hotel with cheese and grapes and bottled soft drinks to enjoy a more unencumbered celebration.

We raised our window (to hear the celebration) and later our Coke bottles; cheers for a new year and new opportunity.

unnamed (135) unnamed (136)

Fast forward ten years and my plans are much like they were in 2004. Though my list of things I want to fix is exhaustive, I plan on bringing in the new year without the world about my shoulders.

Every year I think about what I might resolve to do better or what I ‘ll try NOT to do. But I can’t think of a single resolution I’ve stuck with for more than a week.

It’s not that I don’t have goals for myself; I do. I have goals for myself and for my family.  At the year’s beginning, and every morning really, I wake up resolved to be better.  I develop and execute plans.  Those plans may be small but they’re many in number.

For example I’ve finally willed myself to shop more in the produce aisle. I’ll now pitch a carton of spinach leaves and strawberries in the cart along with a bunch of bananas attempting to eat healthier. I plan in a thousand ways to be more patient.  I try not to creep up on the bumpers of unmoving cars at green lights. I try not to lose my cool when helping my third grader with those wordy math problems that meet us for homework after an already long day. I stock the space underneath the kitchen sink with cleaning products with aspirations of good house cleaning, or at least clean toilets.   I try to engage in conversations with people I don’t know and I try to talk more with God.

I want to DO good.
I want to BE good.

In 2013 I bought a roll of red tape that says “Do not cross”. I placed it at the bottom of the stairs one evening orchestrating a technology-free night for the family. It was great…… It was the only one we ever had.

I want my kids to be good

Reminding them to say “yes ma’am and yes sir”.
-Buying a new shower curtain and shower caddy in hopes to inspire them to keep soggy wash rags out of the tub and dirty clothes off the bathroom floor. I tirelessly teach my kids. I want them to be more thoughtful and outgoing.  Oh that they could study harder, pick up that stray piece of trash by the garbage can, sit up straight in church and smile at strangers.

I want us to be good.

Because good is easy to love.

Good doesn’t get a sideways glance. You know, the kind you feel you get when you forget to check what your daughter was wearing when you left the house….and you realize it’s not appropriate.

Good is the front we wear in hopes to be accepted and admired even when (especially when) there is struggle

And there is struggle-

despite New Year’s resolutions, Herculean effort and heartfelt prayer.

Good, we think, is a pathway to God.

But we are hardly good.  And all this trying year in and year out wears us down.

I want to fly away, far beyond my cage
Where I hear freedom singing
You are telling me again there’s no door to keep me in
I hear freedom singing   -JJ Heller

That’s why I’m looking toward something totally world-rocking this year.

I plan on doing less plotting on self and family improvement. I intend on moping less when good intentions go sour. Less effort will be made to make you think that those “Burdens” really do try, though really we do.

I presume we’re not the only ones.

Truth is, though we desire to be good, we simply are not.

No one is good except God alone. Mark 10:18

Our life ought to be about the goodness of God. It’s the only good there is.

You may call it resolution (this idea of committing to a better way at the year’s beginning). Rylie calls it a revolution.

Revolution

Hers is to make better jokes. I think revolution isn’t such a bad idea.

This year ought to be about revolution for all of us; all of our motion being about Him and around Him. Because He is good. We ought to let our lives revolve around recognizing and praising the small graces of his goodness and around his kindest act of grace; salvation.  We ought to commit our ever-impatient selves and our messy children to displaying God’s goodness as He works through our failings. Our lives ought to revolve around the thought, God is good.

Goodness is not a path to God.
God is a path to goodness.

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life. Psalm 1-3;6

It’s all about Him

Revolution 2015

Posted in Home | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments