You Never Let Go

[For maximum effect click You Never Let Go and then continue to read]

 Thursday started out with promise and anticipation. I was excited that we were going to get school done in the morning and head to Kansas City to visit family and see the Bodies Revealed Exhibit. I was excited about there only being two days of school left. It’s funny how tender and fragile your self esteem is and how that can affect the rest of you.

First, I had to get two tote bags ready to deliver. They had been flawed in tiny ways. I had fixed the flaws satisfactorily for me, but would the customer be happy with the changes I made. I was dreading dropping them off because I didn’t want there to be any disappointment. I wanted to just redo them, but there wasn’t time, and when you run a small business you try to make every penny count. Strike One.

Then, Reagan had to write about her school year for her spelling assignment today. This is what she wrote:

I don’t reely like home skool beekos my mommy is olwase made at me. I drest up reely pretty today and it is a pretty day otside to. but I am going to get in trodl beekos my mom sed if I don’t finish my pagese wen she gets ote of the showere I will by in trabl.

No, I’m not teaching her Old English. It looks like I’m failing at teaching spelling and at teaching about staying on topic. And at being a good homeschooling teacher in general. And at being a mother. I started crying before she even finished reading it to me. Strike Two.

I drove to Kansas City with a headache that lasted the whole day. While at the Bodies exhibit I managed to lose a check I had written to my stepmother to cover the cost of the tickets. How did it fall out of my back pocket? How freaked would Du be when he found out? How much financial info could they get? Could our bank cancel the check without it costing a fortune? Strike Three.

I did have a good day despite these things. It helps to get my mind on other things. And Ashlyn behaved the whole day, which was a special blessing from God in itself. I needed some perspective though.

On the way home this David Crowder Band song came on. “You Never Let Go“. Oh my soul, no matter what happens in my life God has a firm grip on me. No matter how far I might stray or for how ever long, He never lets go of me. It’s hard to fathom…the God of the universe cares so much about me that He never lets go of me. What peace that brings. It makes these trivial problems disappear. It makes the monumental catastrophes bearable. I don’t have to go through anything on my own strength. I can’t go through anything on my own strength. But with God firmly holding onto me I can bear anything. It’s when I remember that He never lets go, and when I remember that I must let go, that things get better.

My problems today were trivial. If I had needed to redo the bags then I’d just redo them! This customer is a good one and a good friend at that…what was I so worried about? She ended up loving them and showing them to a neighbor. And kids are notorious for living in the present. No, Reagan doesn’t generally hate homeschool. It’s just lately she’s been a little distracted and so I’ve had to lay on the pressure a little bit more. Most of the time we enjoy school. In her of-the-moment mind though she doesn’t immediately think on those times. And the check. If I’d have had to cancel it then I’d have had to cancel it, big deal. I learned that things aren’t really safe tucked in your back pocket. (I retrieved the check though. I went to the lost and found in the remote chance that someone found it and actually turned it in. They did).

Lamentations 3:19-25

I remember my affliction and my wandering,

the bitterness and the gall.

I well remember them,

and my soul is downcast within me.

Yet this I call to mind

and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord‘s great love we are not consumed,

for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;

therefore I will wait for him.”

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,

to the one who seeks him;…

 

Oh God, You never let go.

 

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Train Up A Child… (Should we teach our children to fake drink?)

I read the blog, Teens Today With Vanessa VanPetten. The topics she writes on are pretty interesting and as a parent you can’t stay too informed.

Today her post was Teaching Your Teen How To Drink. Obviously that title is meant to draw your attention. And maybe shock you for a second or two. She proceeds to give you pointers on how to teach your kids to pretend they’re drinking so they really don’t have to when they’re at a party…where there’s drinking, obviously. Please read it so you will know what I’m talking about. Also read the comment that I left and the response from Vanessa…and my response back. LOL

As a Christian parent I was shocked that she was giving this advice. One of our jobs as parents, whether Christian or not, is to teach our children morals, integrity and to do what’s right. My mantra is: it all comes back to the family. You must set up a strong family relationship while they’re young so they’ll still listen to you when they get older. I have to believe that will happen. It’s a biblical promise. Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it” How old is old? Does this mean when they are teenagers? It’s child-dependent, I’m sure.

As wrong as this advice immediately felt to me I could see both sides of the argument. I mean, if your kids are going to these parties you might as well equip them with tools to help them make it through alive. Right? If you trust your teen to do the right thing during these situations then you should help them through it. Right? It still just feels wrong. This is assuming it is ok for your kids to be hanging around this behavior. It’s also implying that you somewhat condone the behavior or at least accept that it’s going to happen no matter what.

But shouldn’t we be teaching our children that this behavior is wrong and that they shouldn’t want to be around it? Proverbs 23:20 says, “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat.” If we’re teaching our children to love God, to try to be more like Him, and to try to live like Him then we’ll also be teaching them to desire what God desires, to want what He wants and to live the way He would have us live. Do you honestly think God wants our children at drinking parties?

On the other hand, the Bible also says we are to be salt and light to the world (Matthew 5:13-16). And Paul says that he was made all things to all men that he might save some (1 Corinthians 9:22). So are we to train up our children to be the salt and light at a party so they might save some of their friends or at least be a good influence on them? Not really. You will have to judge for yourself how strong your child is. For most kids it’s much easier to be influenced badly than to be the one influencing for good. I wouldn’t want to allow my child to be in a situation they weren’t mature enough to handle. Vanessa, in her article, is basically telling us to teach our kids that it’s ok not be a good influence, just don’t be influenced badly. She wants our kids to hide the fact that they’re not drinking. So basically, to hide the good influence that they could be.

Let’s think about the lying aspect of the situation. “Thou shalt not lie.” It’s one of the big ten. We are to teach our children to have integrity. The definition of integrity, according to dictionary.com is “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.” If we are teaching our kids how to pretend to drink we’re teaching them how to lie around their friends. We’re teaching our children that it’s ok to pretend to be someone they’re not. What, in any way, is good about this?

Deu 6:4-9  

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

 

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

 

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.

 

Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

  

Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.

  

Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

This is how we should be teaching and talking to our children. Talking to them about God and His ways constantly, in whatever situation we’re in. Not teaching them how to be compromisers.

The reason I struggle with this at all is because I have two children who are still very young. I don’t have teenagers. I’ve still got years to teach them Godly morals, biblical principles and integrity. I pray that they will never want to be in this kind of situation. But I don’t know that will happen. Will I need to use this tactic if all my training isn’t coming to fruition yet? I believe the Bible, so I believe that if I train them up correctly they will end up following my teaching. However they may not decide to follow that path while they are teenagers. All I can do is do my best to be a Godly example to them right now; be a mother who they look up to and who they want to emulate; be an influence for good, no, for the best, not for mediocrity. And pray like mad everyday.

What do you think? Are we leading our children to be mediocre at best if we teach them it’s ok to lie around their friends just to be liked? Is God pleased with this type of parenting? What are parents to do if they didn’t begin training their children while the children were young?

 

Polygamists in Texas

I just had to comment on the weirdness of this. A story is always more poignant when you know someone in it, or you’ve been to where it’s happening.

400+ Kids Taken From Polygamist Compound

An AP News Story published on 07 April 2008

This story hits me on two different levels.

One:

God did not call us to seclude ourselves. We are to be a lamp on a hill drawing others to ourselves. We are specifically commanded to go and make disciples of all nations…This cannot be done either in a monastery or a compound. This is not what Christianity is about.

Two:

I’ve lived in San Angelo and even attended ASU for a semester. I’ve been to Fort Concho where the girls (actually over 400 children and around 150 mothers) are being “housed” right now. I can’t imagine having to call Fort Concho a home (but Lord, it’s a beginning). This cult (It is a cult. They hold people captive: women and girls and boys; refusing to give them a glimpse of the outside world. Refusing to give them a chance to exercise their free will that God gave all of us and wants us to use. That is a cult) wasn’t in the San Angelo area when I lived there. There is so much open land out there though. Who knows what all is going on out there.

It is very hard for me right now to pray for grace for these perverts and not call for God’s immediate vengeance. Vengeance is His, but we aren’t to pray for it for our enemies. I do have a hard time with that. Join me in praying for the peace, comfort and mental well-being of all the victims here and for the grace of God to fall on the instigators; enough for them to feel shameful and truly repent.

More on Beth Moore’s New Study

All the video sessions with Beth Moore have been good. How could they not be–she’s got such an enthusiasm that you’re bound to catch a little of it.

There are those lessons though that just resonate.

  • Sometimes they’re on a spiritual level where you feel like you just got a shot of God caffeine.
  • Sometimes they’re on a practical level where you feel convicted to live a certain part of your life differently.
  • Sometimes they’re on an intellectual level where you learn something new and profound about God, the Bible, Christ, what have you; and you’re just amazed at how…perfect God is.

 Tonight’s Video Lesson got to me on an intellectual level and was right up my alley. We’re going through the Psalms of Ascent and learning what they meant to the Israelites back in the day–and how we can apply meaning to our daily lives. There were three yearly feasts that the Israelites had to travel back to Jerusalem for. They would sing these psalms as they were traveling back. There’s joy, sorrow, hope, love, fear, condemnation, everything. They were honest with God and expected Him to be right there with them through it all.

And He was. And they celebrated. Tonight we learned about the third feast, the Feast of Tabernacles. There was so much detail put into each aspect of the Feast, and it was all dictated by God. It all had so much meaning. God coursed through the Feast and it ended with them proclaiming, shouting, begging, celebrating for the Messiah to come. All the symbology struck a deep chord with the Israelites. And they did this every year.

Fast forward to New Testament times. Each time the Israelites heard certain words and certain phrases, they knew exactly the reference that was being made, whether it was during feast time or not. They would be reminded of certain traditions of the Feast and would act out other traditions if appropriate. I’m not going to steal Beth’s thunder by going into all of it. But God’s timing and humor and wit and awesomeness is on exhibit all through the Bible. Yet, we’re so far removed from those original cultural meanings we don’t usually get it. Beth brings some of that out in this session.

And you end up wanting to rejoice right there with the Israelites. Hosanna!

Losing my religion

I read a short article today that notes that people are changing their faith almost as quickly as they’re changing their underwear (my words, not the article’s). My guess is like everything else in our lives we’re also expecting quick fixes with our religions.

We expect our food to be fast; dramas in people’s lives crescendo and resolve themselves in 30 minutes or an hour; we expect a war to be fought and resolved within the time constraints of a movie. Our patience levels are at an all time low. It’s no surprise then that people are looking for that quick high with a higher power. And then when they don’t find it within the boundaries of one faith they go looking somewhere else. If I may borrow and reformulate from JFK: it’s not what can my faith do for me? But rather, what do I need to do for my faith.

I have to be careful not to be critical of the searching process. It is wonderful and essential that we search to find something to be meaningful to us. But, it’s a more serious issue than what most people believe it to be or at least what most people end up acting like. There are eternal consequences.

I think today people are looking for peace; a way to feel “connected” to something beyond themselves; maybe a way to feel “connected” within themselves. People are missing the point and it has to do with the immediacy that our culture is teaching us. The first purpose of religion and faith is not about the here and now. It’s to know what is going to happen to you when you die…when you no longer exist as a living human. Once you determine what’s going to happen to you when you die, then you begin to address the applications (and implications) of religion and faith in your present life.

I’m going to posit some questions to you:

  • what do you believe happens to humans when we die?
  • if your answer was anything other than “we cease to exist” then: what criteria must you meet on earth right now in order to get you there?
  • if you believe that this is what happens, then what about all the other beliefs? They can’t all be right. SO: what is the ultimate truth?* Is it really yours?
  • instead of asking what can your faith do for you ask what do I need to be doing because of my faith?

Think on these things.

 *Ultimate truth is a whole other topic itself, so let’s save that one for another post.