Archives

Perspective Adjustment

This post is a part of the five-minute Friday link up. We write for just five minutes on a one-word prompt and see what happens. I cheated a bit this week because I started this post several days ago and didn’t get to finish it then. Today’s prompt is “adjust.”

Being socially distant used to be something that was frowned upon, wasn’t it? Parents worried about their children’s mental health if they spent too much time alone. Now, suddenly, kids are being encouraged to be online with their friends, spending lots of time in front of a screen, interacting at least, and learning virtually.

It’s a whole new world, and I gotta say, not one I’m particularly fond of. I’m not sleeping well, but not because I’m worried about getting sick. And not because I think that God is in heaven wringing His hands saying “Oh, my! Oh, my!” It’s just the thoughts that come rushing in every time my mind is conscious.

IMG_2758

But here’s a small but powerful practice I’ve been using lately to calm my mind and bring my focus back to where it should be: I’m turning my “what if’s” into “even if’s.”

Here’s an example: about 2 weeks ago I was diagnosed with melanoma. Nobody wants to hear the word “cancer,” so of course my mind went to worst-case scenarios. What if it’s traveled beyond this one spot? What if it’s gotten into my lymph system?

Those thoughts can be crazy makers, especially when I didn’t even know anything beyond the diagnosis. And so I turned those “what if’s” into “even if’s.” Even if it is worst-case, God is still good. He still sees me. He still loves me. He will not leave me alone. He will work all things together for my good. (It wasn’t, by the way, worst-case. This week the tumor was removed from my right arm and the doctor thinks that’s all that will be necessary. And I’ll have a really great scar for my efforts.

IMG_2750

Another example: what if my son, who works at a restaurant as a server, loses his job because of this Covid-19 pandemic? He just moved into an apartment with his 2-year-old son. What will happen to them? (And yes, he is out of work temporarily, and getting about 1/3 pay from his company’s emergency fund, which is at least something, but he’s currently applying to grocery and hardware stores that are still hiring.) Because of God’s grace to us, we are able financially to help him during this time. Maybe this will be the push he needs to start walking with Jesus again.

We don’t any of us have guarantees about tomorrow. We’re doing what we can today to try to “flatten the curve” in the U.S., and we are living with a lot of uncertainty, but God is always certain. He never changes. He is still sovereign and he can be trusted to walk with us through this.

Recently, that aforementioned 2-year-old grandson took my iPhone 11 and started taking pictures around the yard (included in this post are some of his shots.). His usual MO is to hold down the button and so take 100s of shots of whatever the camera is pointing at. But this photo shoot was different. He purposely pointed and then pressed the button for just one shot.

purple

We have some pretty purple flowers on a line of bushes around our pool enclosure, and Zayne went right up to one of those, putting the phone almost right on top of the petal to take a picture. Of course, all he got was a screen full of purple. I told him to pull it back a little and so he did. The resultant photo was a beautiful image of the full flower and even some of the wood walkway near it.

Perspective. That’s what he needed to see the beauty and not just a purple blob. It’s what we all need in this trying time. Pull back and see what God is doing in the world. Yes, there are some things that are really terrible, but we can be assured that this will not last forever, because forever is way longer than this.

IMG_2738

 

 

FMF button

 

 

No Experience Necessary

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a one-word prompt, without heavy editing, and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “experience.”

I have a college-aged son who is looking to graduate in December. He is currently looking for internships for the summer, but is running across a lot of positions where he has to have previous experience. Well, when you’re a college student looking for work in a national or state park, experience is hard to come by. (If you have any connections, hit me up!)

 

IMG_0674

It can be discouraging when you’re looking for a job, but when you’re talking about a relationship with Jesus, it’s a really good thing.

He doesn’t ask us to be religious. He doesn’t expect us to have our act together (whew!) He wants us to come as we are.

“Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Yep, that would be the kind of experience we all have, wouldn’t it?

There’s a song playing on Christian radio these days called “Church (Take Me Back)” by Bryan Fowler, Michael Cochrane and Micah Kuiper. The words are very poignant when you’re talking about someone who has wandered away and just wants to get back to the faith that is in their bones. A place they can call home. A place where they are known.

“It’s not a trophy for the winners
It’s a shelter for the sinners
And it’s right where I belong.”

They just want to go to church.

church in flowers

That’s how it should be with all of us. Church is not supposed to be a haven for the righteous. It’s supposed to be a hospital for the wounded.

Can we just get back to that? Can we be welcoming of everyone who walks in the doors? Because they’re not looking for a place where they have to be perfect; they’re looking for a place where they can be accepted. People just need to heal. Let’s give them that chance.

FMF button

Well Check Your Heart

This post is part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a one-word prompt without heavy editing and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “well.”

All parents know the drill. Every few months of a new baby’s life, they go to the pediatrician for a “well check.” This would be as opposed to a “sick visit.” At our pediatrician’s office, and I’m guessing at most similar offices, there are two separate waiting rooms for the well and the sick.

6-19-03_1

As a parent, I was always grateful for that. I wish there was such a thing at an adult doctor’s office!

But I digress.

At these well checks, height and weight would be recorded, lungs and heart listened to, eyes, ears, nose and throat checked. The doctor just wanted to make sure that everything was progressing as it should in our babies.

102_0206

When our second was 4 months old, the doctor noted at his well check that he wasn’t gaining enough weight. That led to the dreaded “failure to thrive” diagnosis. He was thriving as far as we could see, doing all that he was supposed to be doing, but we had to do all this testing to rule out anything bad. Turns out—and his doctor figured this the whole time—my milk just didn’t have enough calories.

So we supplemented with formula and he was fine. So when the same thing happened at our youngest’s 4-month appointment, we didn’t have to go through the tests. We just started giving her rice cereal.

I was thankful for their doctor, and I was thankful for those well checks. It was always good to know that, for the most part, everything was going just fine.

Have you well-checked your heart lately? Listened to it? Checked its pulse? Determined that it’s staying soft?

20120722-083057.jpgPsalm 139:23 & 24 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”

That’s a very good place to start.

 

FMF button

Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for 5 minutes on a one-word prompt without heavy editing and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “practice.”

Everyone has heard the saying, “practice makes perfect.” Well, I’m here to tell you, that’s a lie.

IMG_3734

Let’s say you are learning to play the piano. You have a piece of sheet music in front of you, but you have never actually heard the piece before. So you do your best, practicing and practicing to memorize the music.

Then a music teacher comes along and asks you to play the piece you’ve been working on. So you pull out that music you’ve been practicing and, lo and behold, you find out you’ve been playing parts of it incorrectly the whole time!

So did all your practice make that piece perfect? No. So, I am thinking the saying needs to be “perfect practice makes perfect.” You really need to know that what you’re practicing is the right thing.

My sister in law and her husband just divorced after more than 30 years of marriage. One of their main problems was that neither of them knew how to communicate. She would point out things that he was doing wrong; he would acknowledge that and work to change his ways. After awhile, he would think, Huh, I must be doing OK because she hasn’t said anything. Meanwhile, she’s seeing him slide back into old habits and think, He’s just doing things the way he always did them, so he must not care! Why even bother saying anything?

IMG_6215

The problem was that he had been practicing imperfectly. And he didn’t have anyone around to show him where he was going wrong. If you take two broken people who spent too many years playing the piece the wrong way, and only one of them wants to put the work into learning the music correctly, well, giving up is inevitable.

Coaching—in music, in sports, in life, in marriage—is essential.

FMF button

Get Moving

This post is a part of my 10-Minute Tuesday series. I write for just 10 minutes, without heavy editing, on a prompt that a friend has provided. Today’s prompt is “moving.”

I haven’t moved very often in my 57 years of life. When I was a tiny baby, my family moved from Sunnyvale, Calif., to Cupertino, Calif. Then we moved when I was 7 to Oakland, Calif. I moved away to college for 2 years, then I moved back home, then I moved to an apartment in San Bernardino, Calif. when I started my first job with Campus Crusade for Christ.

front

The house in Oakland, Calif., that I consider the home I grew up in. We lived in that house from 1968 until my mom passed away in 2007. The house was sold later that year.

In San Bernardino, after the apartment, I lived in a house with 3 other women, then a house with 2 other women while I was engaged, and then my husband and I moved into our first little apartment.

Then came the big move across the country to Orlando, Fla. We lived in an apartment first, then built a house, then moved into the house we currently live in. We’ve been here for 19 years almost exactly.

So 57 years, 11 residences, including my college apartment.

IMG_3923

Friends helped load the moving truck for my husband’s sister and her family as they relocated from Texas to Orlando.

To me, moving means going somewhere. It means not staying in the same place. When we say a movie or a photograph or a speech “moved us,” it should mean not just that it made us feel something, but that it changed something deep inside us. It took us from one place of being to another.

If we were moved, we should not be in the same place we formerly were.

If the picture of a starving child, orphaned by the ravages of war, moves us, we should not stay where we are. We should do something about it.

7-09-03.4_1

This sweet hummingbird enjoys a treat outside my younger sister’s home in Crested Butte, Colo.

Moving is not always easy. It’s not always comfortable. Often, things get lost in transit. Or broken. When we first moved into our apartment in Orlando, we found that it wasn’t what was promised to us. All our earthly possessions were on a truck headed our way, but we had to have the apartment complex move us to a different unit because the one we were given was not right. New checks had to be ordered with our new apartment number; the moving company needed to be contacted to bring our stuff to the right door. We spent a  few sleepless nights on the floor of the wrong place until things could be made right. Our cat was not a fan of all this upheaval.

But where we ended up was better than where we started. Moving across the country from my entire family made me sad. In the ensuing years that distance would be made more difficult by my mom’s bouts with cancer and eventual death and my dad’s sudden death 16 months previous to mom’s. But we weren’t supposed to stay where we were.

Even when we live in the same house, we’re not supposed to stay where we are.

Strong Willed Or Resolute?

This post is a part of my 10-Minute Tuesday series. I take a one-word prompt that a friend has supplied and write for 10 minutes without any heavy editing and see what comes out of my head. Today’s word is “strong-willed.”

IMG_3124

When people hear the term “strong willed,” they probably jump to the idea of a strong-willed child. Oh, you know how hard they can be! They are stubborn, obstinate, tantrum throwers when they don’t get their way. There has to be special books written about how to parent them.

Nobody has ever seen a book called Parenting the Compliant Child. We think that would be easy.

But what if we started looking at being strong willed in its positive form? What if instead of being obstinate, these people were considered resolute?

I think about Jesus who resolutely set His face toward the cross. I would say His will was very strong.

Trouble is, I know with kids who are considered strong willed, their will is usually against whatever it is their parents want them to do. I didn’t have a strong-willed child, so I don’t have any parenting advice, but I wonder if a mindset change could make a difference.

Can a 3-year-old be reasoned with?

“You sure seem to have your mind made up about what you want to have for lunch. It’s too bad we’re not having that today. I wonder what we can do about that?”

IMG_4458

Makes me chuckle to imagine it.

I know the struggle is real, you parents of strong-willed children out there. So I would just like to offer hope. It won’t come immediately, in fact, it may take them into their 20s to figure it out, but your resolute child could be one who has great perseverance. Once they’ve made up their mind, they go after that thing with gusto.

Think about Jesus. When he was 12 he was left behind in Jerusalem because he was sitting in the temple teaching the men there. Teaching! At 12 years old. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49).

He knew what He needed to do, and He did it. Now, granted, He was the perfect Son of God, but what lessons can be learned from His life about being resolute?

Huge differences with our kids, I know that. But I think it’s not just a sin nature that is at play. Guiding a child to submitting their will to that of their parents is an arduous process. Parents have no easy task figuring out how to mold their child without crushing them.

IMG_8537

I don’t envy them the task.

But a compliant child also needs to be molded. They need to know that they have a mind of their own and that God has a plan for them. Every whim of someone else doesn’t need to be followed. It’s not a bad thing to question directives in the right manner and at the right time.

Does that make sense? We don’t want our compliant children to become doormats that others use to get what they want. And I think as parents we need to be careful to make sure our kids have a voice. Can compliance become apathy? Can these children become people pleasers?

I’m not a psychologist, so these are just rambling thoughts. But I do wonder.

I’d love to hear what you think.

I See You

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up where we write for 5 minutes on a one-word without heavy editing and see what happens. Read all of today’s post here.

Like any typical American parents, we were armed with our video camera (this was in the days before cell phones with cameras) and waiting expectantly for our sweet tow-headed 4-year-old boy to appear on the stage for his end-of-year performance for Mom’s Day Out.

When he came out with his classmates, dressed in his green collared shirt and cute khaki pants, I looked through the viewfinder of the camera to make sure I could get him in focus before things began.

 

What I noticed as I watched him through that lens was that he was looking all around the crowded church sanctuary, searching for us. I could read his little lips saying, “Where ARE they?” as his gaze grew concerned. David and I waved our arms and halfway stood trying to get his attention, but the lights were too bright on the stage, and there were too many bodies in the auditorium.

MDO program

He couldn’t see us.

Once the music started, he was happy singing along and doing the hand motions as he’d been taught, and I recorded him and clapped when it was done. But my heart was a little sad. I so wanted him to know that we were watching him. That we were there. That we cared.

Now, 18 years later, that little 4-year-old is 22 and searching for who he is. During a crisis time just a few months ago, I wrote him a letter reminding him of that night all those years ago and asking him, “Do you see us now? Do you know that we see you, that we’re here for you, that we love you?”

fullsizeoutput_1e0

Hagar gave God the name El Roi in Genesis 16:13, “She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’”

 

 

FMF button