Posted in Being a Mom, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Uncategorized, Womanhood

Sparrow Parenting

TODAY’S FORECAST: Lucky

Let’s be honest here, there are times when our parents annoy us and for those of us who are already parents that we in turn annoy our children. Our parents may say or do something that we don’t agree with and then we attribute it to their eccentricities, their age, their issues, their shortcomings. The thing is, sometimes it takes a little perspective to understand why parents do the things that they do. If we as children spent as much time getting to know our parents as we do in questioning why they do the things they do (or did the things they did) we might be able to see them in a whole new light. I’m sure that as parents, we are hoping our children will award us the same opportunity in our future relationships, right?

I was trying to consider what I would comment on in my blog around the commandment that says Honor your father and mother, when I came across this video. Talk about perspective. Go ahead and watch.

Wow. It make you think, doesn’t it? Especially for those of us with aging parents who may need us to repeat some information from time to time. Put yourself in both the young man’s and the father’s shoes. Think about how you currently treat your parents and how you will want to be treated as a parent by your own children in future years.

Consider the following questions in reflection today. I had to think long and hard about them myself. Then, if you have children of your own, think about your children going through the same list pertaining to you. Are there areas that you would like them to answer differently then they would right now? Do you have opportunities to model how that should look with your own parents, in-laws, step-parents?

1.) Do I honor and obey my parents?

2.) Do I respect my brothers and sisters in order to make life easier for my parents?

3.) Do I respect others with lawful authority?

4.) Have I talked back or answered a question in a way that is demoralizing or detrimental to the relationship with my parents?

5.) Do I fail to help at home or to spend time with my family?

6.) Do I blame my parents for my own shortcomings?

7.) Do I bad-mouth my parents, in-laws, siblings, step-parents in front of my own children, other family members or friends?

8.) Have I been impatient or unkind to my parents?

9.) Do I reach out to my parents to offer my help, my love, my company without them having to ask?

10.) Have I asked God to help me forgive my parents for any bad decisions, abuse, alcoholism or abandonment I might have suffered from by their hand during my childhood?

We never know the love of our parents for us until we have become parents.
— Henry Ward Beecher

Posted in Being a Mom, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Uncategorized

“Pastor Rap” Falls Short

TODAY’S FORECAST: Saddened

So today, I want to continue my discussion of the Ten Commandments; but before I do, I have to thank a fellow blogger, Hannah, who nominated me for the Liebster Award. The Liebster Award is an award granted to up-and-coming bloggers with fewer than 200 followers who deserve some recognition and support to keep on blogging. I thought this was extremely thoughtful and just the sort of encouragement I need to remember that people are being encouraged by what I write. So thank you Hannah for the recognition. Readers, please check out Hannah’s blog, Pocketful of Motherhood at the following link http://pocketfulofmotherhood.wordpress.com/. You won’t be sorry you did. Hannah’s blog has great crafts and recipes and stories of motherhood, family and faith. 🙂

Okay, so now that I’ve had the opportunity to express my gratitude to Hannah, I wanted to talk about the next commandment on my list which is:

Remember the sabbath and to keep it holy.

Back in the time of Moses, the Jewish sabbath or Shabbat was considered a day of rest with two primary purposes, one to recognize the day that God rested during creation and two, to show gratitude and respect for God’s deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt. There were very specific rules which applied to how and when sabbath was to be observed, some of which still are practiced in Judaism today. As Christians, the sabbath, more commonly known as the “Lord’s Day,” was preserved as a day of rest. Traditionally it was a day for families to spend quality time together in worship and then at home with each other in the absence of labor.

This is where we’re at today. On September 15, 2013, many Christian churches are participating in an event called National Back to Church Sunday.  It has been no secret that church attendance in all denominations has been declining for several years. The intent of National Back to Church Sunday is to bring people back to the church through a national outreach program. If you go to the website http://backtochurch.com/ you can check out some of the details for yourself. One of the things that immediately caught my attention on the site was the outreach video they are encouraging participating churches to use entitled “Pastor’s Rap”. You can view the video below.

I guess while I personally agree with the fact that we need to get people back to church and provide them with resources to form lasting relationships with Jesus, I don’t know if I agree at all that this is the way to go about it. This video does nothing to promote the Gospel, but instead gives me the impression that we are luring people in with promises of entertainment, refreshment, comfort and no judgements. Nowhere in the video did I hear Jesus’ name even mentioned. You all remember Him, right? The central figure of our beliefs as Christians, the Savior of the world? You would think that maybe He might get a shout-out here, but alas, no. Perhaps it’s because there is no good rhyming word for “Jesus?” I can’t think of any good reason for Christ’s name to be overlooked so blatantly in a video trying to draw believers back to His church. And what’s with all the push for grabbing a beverage at the coffee counter? Maybe I’m just getting old, but nowhere do I remember God saying to Moses, “Tell the people to commit to a weekly sabbath and oh by the way, there will be coffee!” Shoot, even baptism has been reduced to a notion of a mere dip in the water here. Why don’t we just bring out the fruity drinks with umbrellas in them too and call it a pool party?!

No, when God commanded Moses to share this commandment with His people, I imagine it had something to do with them showing Him a little respect and giving them some time to check in and reflect on how they were faring as individuals in their faith. It was time set aside in praise and thanksgiving for all He had given them, not some self-serving free-for-all. Don’t get me wrong. I fully realize that society has changed just a tad bit from the days of Moses. As the mom of two young children, I can appreciate the need for relevancy and bringing Christ’s love to the people on their level. What I can’t do is a message that eliminates Him altogether. What good does it do for us to increase the number of people coming through the church doors if they don’t care about knowing Jesus?

To me, remembering the sabbath and keeping it holy means recognizing who and what it is about and committing the time to reflect on both. We may have lost site of the concepts of “Sunday dinner” and “out for a Sunday drive,” but if we lose Jesus, we’re just lost — period. No amount of singing, dancing or coffee is going to come with a redemption guarantee without Jesus in the mix. You can bet yo’ life on it!

Posted in Faith, Inspiration, Uncategorized, Womanhood

Cuss Control, a Real .Com

TODAY’S FORECAST: Surprised

Well, apparently some of us are just a wee bit passionate on this subject of the Ten Commandments because I received some very ardent emails about exactly which commandments I am planning to cover in my blog,”the Catholic version, the Jewish version or the Protestant version?” I grew up Catholic and now am practicing as a non-denominational Christian, so the ones I’m familiar with are what I’ve committed to memory from my Catholic days. Suffice it to say though, that I’m taking all of my information from Exodus Chapter 20, so the subtle differences in arrangement should be pretty negligible for most of you. When we get to the commandment about keeping the Lord’s day holy, I will be maintaining a Christian perspective on the definition of “sabbath,” so well, there you have it. Hopefully I’ve cleared up any lingering questions about that, but if not, you know where to find me. 🙂

So today’s second commandment is this:

You should not take the name of the Lord Your God in vain.

There is quite a lot of debate about what this commandment meant back in the time of Moses and of Jesus, let alone in our world today. Different religions again claim multiple interpretations, so I’m going to share the interpretation that rings truest to me personally which is the Hillbilly version that says, “Watch yer mouth.” 🙂 Okay, all kidding aside, I honestly think this commandment is meant to command respect for God and His name. I think it means that we should not use His name or any combination of His name in anger, surprise or otherwise. I also think it means that we should mind our swearing, especially if sailors are blushing at our commentary.

Did you know that there is actually a website that addresses the “evils” of swearing? On its home page it actually addresses a whole page of reasons not to swear, and I was surprised to find that none of the reasons cited were even religious. They even have tips to help break your swearing habit. Don’t believe me, check it out! http://www.cusscontrol.com/swearing.html

Anyway, I guess when it comes to this commandment, I believe while it is not completely outdated that it is open to some personal interpretation. I guess my rule of thumb is that if God was standing in front of you, would you be throwing F-bombs His way?

Here’s some things to consider. Reflect on them and pray for God’s guidance, that’s all I can recommend. 🙂

1.) Did I curse or swear?

2.) Did I use God’s name abusively, lightly, carelessly, by blasphemy?

3.) Have I used foul language or jokes?

4.) In conversation, have I passively listened to jokes demeaning to the Church or God’s authority?

God bless and easy breathing all. Have a good weekend!!!

Posted in Being a Mom, Dealing with Trials, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Uncategorized

What Is Central?

TODAY’S FORECAST: Reflective

For those of you who may have not seen my last post, let me do a quick recap. I was discussing the wonders of GPS for people like me who are directionally challenged. 🙂 I also decided that in the next few blog posts that I was going to recount the Ten Commandments as a relevant “spiritual” GPS in our lives. So today is commandment 1:

I am the Lord Your God, you shall have no other gods before Me.

During the time of the Israelites’ expedition from Egypt to the “Promised Land,” there were many nations that worshiped cultural gods. Even as Moses came down from Mt. Sinai he witnessed his own people worshiping a golden calf. During Moses’ absence, the people had demanded of Aaron that they have an idol to worship and offer sacrifice to that would go before them on their journey because they didn’t know what happened to Moses. Not unlike many of us, they were a people easily distracted.

Obviously, while there are other religions that exist today; in most, people are not melting down jewelry to erect false idols. It would seem then that this commandment is totally outdated and irrelevant to current times, but I disagree. Really, this commandment is about what is central in our lives. A pastor and good friend of mine, Joe Coffey, often talks about how humans are made to have a center. We can’t function without something being central in lives. It is at the core of our being, the very heart of who we are and everything that we do is a reflection of this center. This core may be different things for different people. Where we get into trouble is in the fact that we were designed to want to fill that central need and often it is not God that we choose to fill it with. Anything we decide to put before God becomes a god that we place before Him in our lives. It may be our jobs, our popularity, our addictions, our inability to trust, anything that becomes central to how we operate. Putting anything other than God in that spot, makes us inherently disobedient to this commandment. It’s easy to say that as Christians we don’t worship “other gods”, but is that really true? Take some time to reflect on these items:

1. Do I neglect to love God, to make Him first in my life?

2. Do I forget to thank and praise Him for the good things He has given me in my life from the smallest to the greatest?

3. Do I relinquish my need for control and trust His will for my life? Do I consult God with the decisions I make?

4. Do I take time to pray? Are my prayers hurried and careless or do I sincerely carve out time to develop my relationship with Him everyday?

5. Have I doubted or denied my faith because I was embarrassed or fearful?

6. Do I make a god out of my work, my possessions, or my image in the eyes of others so that these rule my life instead of God?

7. Am I angry toward God because of illness or misfortune? Do I blame Him for the trials in my life?

8. Do my addictions rule my life instead of God? Drugs/Alcohol, Pornography, Gambling, Work, Promiscuity, Shopping, Hoarding, Gluttony?

9. Do I make God the center of our family with regular prayer and sharing of His Word? Do I model my faith for my children?

10. Do I give credit to God for my talents? Our successes?

I don’t know about you, but I had to gulp on more than a few. We need to remember that this commandment is key for putting us one step closer on our road to heaven. It is a “hinge,” if you will, to all the other commandments that will easily fall into place if only we could keep God at the center of lives.

Lord, we desperately want to develop a relationship with You, but we can’t begin to understand the extent of Your sacrifice when we can’t keep our eyes, hearts and minds fixed on You. Help us not only to commit the acts in reflection of our relationship with You but give us the continued desire to have You be central in our lives. Show us that harmony can exist if we keep our course set with Yours. We ask this in Your name. Amen.

Posted in Faith, Inspiration, Uncategorized

GPS of Faith

TODAY’S FORECAST: Comforted

I’ll admit it, I am incredibly directionally challenged. I don’t mean I can’t follow directions if they’re given to me; no, that works out just fine. It’s driving somewhere with directions, leaving to go home and not knowing how to do the reverse directions in my head. It’s having a near panic attack in downtown areas when they’re doing construction on a particular street on my usual route and I have to go around the block to get to my destination. It’s knowing the general area of my favorite stores but not remembering whether our favorite family pizza place comes before or after those stores if I have to give someone directions. Ask me if it’s east or west on the highway and I haven’t a clue. I can tell you that you’ll pass this car dealership or that restaurant, but as to the direction, I’ll honestly have no idea. If someone asks me for directions, I usually hand the phone to Bob. You get the point, I have no internal compass whatsoever.

When I got my iPhone, I discovered the complete joy of having a GPS. For someone like me who can get lost going around the block, it is so incredibly comforting to know that I can call out for help to Siri and she will give me turn-by-turn directions to wherever I need to go. No matter how many times I ask her for the same directions, she willingly calls them out to me as if it’s the very first time I’ve asked. Of course there is the issue of whether she will understand me or not. I mean doesn’t everyone have a destination on Fart Avenue? Umm no, Siri, I said “Farr” not “Fart,” case and point. 🙂

It occurred to me today that it would be great if we had a GPS for when we got lost in our spiritual lives as well. I mean, how cool would it be if we could all get iPhones and ask Siri for turn-by-turn directions to heaven? (Those of you with iPhones, don’t bother trying it. I already did. She’ll lead you to heaven alright, Hubcap Heaven and Wheels, All Dogs Heaven, Hot Dog Heaven, Hog Heaven, take your pick. :-)) All joking aside, we actually do have a spiritual GPS that God gave us. It’s called the Ten Commandments. God gave the commandments to Moses when he was leading the Israelites to the promised land. As Christians, sometimes I think that we think these rules are outdated and not applicable to our time; but I don’t agree with that. Over each of the next several subsequent blog posts, I’m going to review a particular commandment or commandments, share some of my personal thoughts and provide a reflection that may help to remind us all that these rules are just as applicable today as they were in the time of Moses. As we wrap up these final days of Lent, let us all set our navigational beacons pointed toward Jesus and the sacrifice He made for us so that we one day might find our way to the promised land. And no, I wasn’t talking about Hot Dog Heaven for those of you who were wondering. 😉

 

 

 

 

Posted in Being a Mom, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Uncategorized, Womanhood

God Didn’t Give Us Children To…

TODAY’S FORECAST: Learning

Today, in honor of my kids, Meghan and Jake, I wanted to write a post to complete this phrase, “God didn’t give us children to…” As a parent, in this busy, chaotic world, it is sometimes very difficult to step back out of the day-to-day and realize the blessing God has given us through our kids. Especially when they are trying our patience or going down a path that we don’t agree with, it can be difficult to appreciate the guardianship we possess as parents. I confess that I am not a patient person. Sometimes my kids have to bear the brunt of that impatience. I also struggle with the issue of control, so sometimes I have to pray that God will give me the wisdom to step back and know when I should guide and help and when I should let them do it for themselves. My children are two of the best things I have ever done in my life. I pray today and always that I can appreciate what a gift they are and help them to be aware of their own self-worth, especially in the eyes of our Savior.

God Didn’t Give Us Children To…

  • criticize their every thought, emotion, feeling and action.
  • fulfill our own life’s goals that we dreamed about but didn’t get to fulfill in our youth.
  • be dishonest with them.
  • abuse them physically, verbally, emotionally or sexually.
  • feel jealous of their accomplishments.
  • stifle their unique talents.
  • set unrealistic expectations of what they can or should achieve.
  • model  an unhealthy body image. (For example, saying “I’m fat, not addressing personal health issues, etc.)
  • vent about our spouses or loved ones.
  • punish us.
  • spoil “rotten.”
  • apply a “what works with one will work with all” philosophy
  • teach or reward ignorance, prejudice or injustice
  • control, but rather to foster independence with appropriate levels of guidance from you, teachers, leaders, coaches, and God.
  • let others raise your children for you (neighbors, friends, teachers, etc.).
  • practice inconsistency.
  • give inaccurate or negative feedback to them.
  • take out your frustration and anger regarding your marriage, health, job, finances, etc. on them.
  • “tune out”
  • ignore the tough questions they ask.

Oh, God, make me a better parent.

Help me to understand my children, to listen patiently to what they have to say and to answer all their questions kindly. Keep me from interrupting them, talking back to them and contradicting them. Make me as courteous to them as I would have them be to me. Give me the courage to confess my sins against my children and to ask of them forgiveness, when I know that I have done them wrong.

May I not vainly hurt the feelings of my children. Forbid that I should laugh at their mistakes or resort to shame and ridicule as punishment. Let me not tempt a child to lie and steal. So guide me hour by hour that I may demonstrate by all I say and do that honesty produces happiness.

Reduce, I pray, the meanness in me. May I cease to nag; and when I am out of sorts, help me, Oh Lord, to hold my tongue.

Blind me to the little errors of my children and help me to see the good things that they do. Give me a ready word for honest praise.

Help me to treat my children as those of their own age, but let me not exact of them the judgments and conventions of adults. Allow me not to rob them of the opportunity to wait upon themselves, to think, to choose, and to make decisions.

Forbid that I should ever punish them for my selfish satisfaction. May I grant them all of their wishes that are reasonable and have the courage always to withhold a privilege which I know will do them harm.

Make me so fair and just, so considerate and companionable to my children that they will have a genuine esteem for me. Fit me to be loved and imitated by my children.

With all thy gifts, Oh God, do give me calm and poise and self control.

* * *

“Oh God Make Me a Better Parent” Prayer By Garry Cleveland Myers, P.H.D. Co-Founder Highlights for Children

Copyright Highlights for Children  http://www.highlights.com/a-parents-prayer

 

Posted in Faith, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Blind As I Am

TODAY’S FORECAST: Blind

Yesterday as we were listening to a local Christian radio station in the car, my kids started singing one of Brandon Heath’s songs called “Jesus in Disguise.” In the chorus of that song, Brandon Heath sings:

Open my eyes as wide as I can, wide as I can

Open my eyes blind as I am, blind as I am

It started me thinking about the blind man in the Gospel of John that Jesus heals. In chapter 9, verses 39-41, after the healing, Jesus speaks to the Pharisees about spiritual blindness.

Jesus said,[a] “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”

41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

In this chapter the Pharisees were not only confronted with evidence that Jesus was real, but they actually spoke to him. They taught and preached about God and alleged they knew how the people could be redeemed, but when confronted with the truth, they refused to believe it. It’s similar to an addict who can’t get clean. When an addict is confronted in an intervention by his family and friends, he is provided with truth from them; likewise he is presented with evidence of his addiction but still, he refuses to accept it.

Jesus wants and needs our eyes, hearts and minds to be open to His truth. He wants us to rid ourselves of our “spiritual blinders” and come to Him ready to make Him the center of our lives. If we don’t, then are we any better than the Pharisees who were blinded by ambition, power and position? We have to ask Jesus to help us to identify our own spiritual blinders and to help us to remove them from our lives. No doubt we will fail, but in failing we know we are trying and in trying we are keeping Him as the central focus. That is the place where we can begin to form a real relationship with Him. One where compassion, mercy and grace can do their best work.

So what are these spiritual blinders? I believe that they are anything that prevents us from keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. It could be food, addiction, money, control, guilt, anger, self-image, trust, attitudes, prejudices, habits, anything that causes us to turn away from being a committed follower of Christ and believing in the fulfilment of His promises.

Lord, today I come to you asking for Your forgiveness and mercy for my blindness. “Open my eyes wide as I can, blind as I am.” Remove anything that is a spiritual blinder in my life. Help me to see You and Your love clearly and to be able to reflect my belief in You in all that I say, think and do. Help me not to do as the Pharisees did in ignoring Your truth. I ask all this in Your precious name. Amen.

Watch the video of Brandon Heath’s “Jesus in Disguise” by clicking on the video below.