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Archive for the ‘Food for Thought’ Category

One Step Closer

The conversation began with a Friday-morning trickle of dissatisfaction and took only moments to swell into a full fledged deluge of frustration. My 10-year old son’s laments went like this…

While we cleaned up after breakfast:
“I wish I didn’t have to go to school.”

After he brushed his teeth:
“School is boring, Mom.”

As we left the house:
“Other kids have lots more breaks from school than I do.”

While we loaded his backpack in the car:
“I wish I was sick so I could stay home. Do you think I might have a fever?”

As we buckled our seatbelts:
“Homeschooled kids have lots more free time.”

Pulling out of the driveway:
“Can I please stay home?”

Leaving our neighborhood:
“Public school kids don’t have as much homework.”

I’ve presented Mason’s comments as a monologue, but you can be sure that I offered pearls of wisdom aplenty in response to his attempts to weasel out of a day of school. I won’t bore you with them here, but I’m sure you’d have been impressed! After about ten attempts to redirect his focus toward gratitude, instill in him a desire to learn and encourage him to maintain perspective, I realized that it was going to take more than pithy rejoinders to help him readjust.

It was time for a story.

I read this morning about the Israelites. You know, they’d been slaves in Egypt for hundreds of years. God heard their cries for help and sent Moses to plead with Pharaoh for their release. Pharaoh wasn’t so keen on losing his highly productive slave force, so he refused again and again until God helped him see the light, and he let the people go.

They were free, and they were really happy about it for a little while. When they saw Pharaoh’s army coming after them, they complained and told Moses about how they longed for the good old days in Egypt! God rolled back the sea, and they walked across on dry land. Once the last Israelite made it to safety, the wall of water crashed down on Pharaoh’s finest, and none survived. The Israelites had quite a party to celebrate.

It only took three days for them to forget. They were thirsty, and the water was bitter, so they grumbled. God made the water sweet, and they were on their way again. In a matter of weeks, they were complaining again because they were hungry. So God sent bread from heaven, and their full stomachs made them happy…for a while.

They traveled further and grew thirsty again. You’d think they would have learned a thing or two about God by now. You’d think they would have realized that He would give them whatever they needed, but no. It was easier to complain than trust. So that’s what they did. I haven’t mentioned it, but with every complaint, they also blamed Moses for their misery. They accused Him of bringing them into the desert to die. They blamed him for their hunger and thirst and told him they would rather be slaves in Egypt with tasty food than free people in the desert who had to depend on God for their next meal. They were out of water again, so they did what came naturally…complaining. God told Moses to strike a nearby rock to turn into a gushing fountain.

At this point, I asked Mason if he remembered where the Israelites were headed when they left Egypt. He confirmed, “The Promised Land.” I also asked if he noticed a pattern in the Israelite’s attitude. “They complained a lot.” With these satisfactory answers.

It was time to capitalize on the teachable moment.

The Israelites were free. Their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and generations before them had lived their whole lives as slaves, and now they were free. Trouble was, they barely noticed because all they could think about was the moment. They forgot they were on their way to the Promised Land.

We’re all on our way to a Promised Land, but getting there means we have to cross the desert. Deserts aren’t easy to get across. We have to face challenges we’d rather not face. We have to do things we don’t feel like doing. We can choose to complain or to trust. We can focus our attention on the obstacle that gets in the way of what we want, or we can believe that it’s all  part of God’s great plan.

We neared the drop-off line in front of the school, and I stole a quick glance at my son’s face. It had been transformed. Where there had been a furrowed brow and discontented eyes minutes before, now there was peace and resolve. Truth had hit its mark, and this ordinary school day had taken us both just one step closer to the Land of Promise.

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Snow is in the forecast for south Texas tomorrow. 80% chance. 1″ accumulation. This is equivalent to the newsmaking blizzards experienced across the midwest this year. Schools will likely close. Many businesses will too. All I can say is Hilarious! I mention such news because it seems odd to see snow in the forecast when I have summer on my mind!

The month of July ends each year with Proverbs 31 Ministry’s conference for women who lead ministry, write and/or speak, and the weekend is appropriately titled, She Speaks. It’s an annual sell out and is one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended…most probably because it is led by some of the finest leaders I know…Lysa TerKeurst, Renee Swope, and Lee Ann Rice.

Registration is now open. I hope you’ll make plans to join us. I have the privilege of leading a few sessions and am planning on sitting in on as many as I can when I’m not teaching. This will be a great time, a life changing time and three days you won’t forget. Check it out…She Speaks, July 30-August 1, Concord, North Carolina.

And, by the way, I’d love for you to meet some of the friends I’m looking forward to see at She Speaks this year…

Wendy Blight
Holly Good
Amy Lively
April Pressley
Mary Ann Ruff
Renee Swope
Lysa TerKeurst
Wendi Westmoreland
Lisa Whittle

If you are attending She Speaks this year, let me know in the comments below, and I will to add you to my “Friends to See” list (and include a link to your blog or site).

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When I was a girl, my Dad served as bodyguard to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. One of the perks was that my sister and I got an occasional ride in the official limousine. Once inside the stretched out car, we were enamored with the latest in 1970’s technology. Automatic door locks and windows. Such luxuries were unheard of in our family’s Dodge Dart. The limo even had a window that could be raised and lowered between the front and back seats.

The highlight of our limousine rides was the enviable avocado green phone mounted to the hump in the back floorboard. The idea of being able to make a phone call from a car was the ultimate enticement to two little girls who knew nothing of such innovations…well unless you count our six foot long living room stereo on which we played our Charley Pride eight-track tapes! Those were the days. How I longed, begged, pleaded and wished to press the avocado colored buttons to make just one phone call to tell someone, anyone that I was doing so while riding in a car.

Phones in cars no longer avocado green or mounted on the hump, and buttons are no longer necessary. Touch screen technology may be the latest greatest, but I still have two favorite technology “buttons.”

You Deserve a Break

The pause button earns a place among my two techie faves because life is busy and being able to press “pause” at will just sounds nice. Pressing “pause” on life is a good idea. The pause button brings peace. It allows me to control the pace. The momentary hiatus affords time for reflection, and whatever I’ve paused picks back up right where I left it. Nothing lost and moments gained. Love it.

My personal “pause” button takes on several forms. A good long conversation…face to face…no texting allowed. A creative outlet. Writing. Reading. Cooking. Taking a walk. Taking a nap. (Gasp)! I’ve found that pressing life’s “pause” button is not easy. Rest is hard work. But so worth it. And so essential that God Himself took a day off. (Gen. 2:2) He must have enjoyed His day of rest because He followed it up by commanding rest for His people, their livestock and even the dirt in their fields. (Ex. 23:12; Lev. 24:4-5)

God’s repeated commands and example of rest is a sure sign that rest doesn’t just happen. We have to press pause, and I like Rick Warren’s advice on how to do so best of all…Divert Daily…Withdraw Weekly…Abandon Annually.

Can I have a Do Over?

Another of my favorite buttons to press on the array of gadgets that fills my home is “Undo.” When I first discovered that I could undo just about anything on my computer, life was forever changed. Technology with forgiveness…what a concept!

Do you know what this realization does for me? It makes me less afraid. Knowing that I can “undo” a slip of the finger or a misplaced click of the mouse enables me to carry on without fearing that I might destroy my work. Only then am I able to really explore and learn and grow.

My mistakes have a reply. Undo. This may very well be the best bit of technology ever invented. It’s also the best spiritual reality as well. God invented the ultimate “undo” by offering forgiveness through Christ’s all encompassing sacrifice on the cross. This changes everything. His death cancels out my errors. His offer of redemption reverses the curse of my failures. Where I’d have inadvertently pressed “delete,” He offers restoration of all that was lost.

Do you know what this realization does for me? It makes me less afraid. Knowing that I can “undo” a slip of the tongue or a misplaced intention enables me to carry on without fearing that I might destroy my life. Only then am I able to really explore and learn and grow. Sound familiar?

My failures and flaws have a reply, and the Bible begins to sound like a computer programmer when explaining the “undo” offered to us.

“…He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.” (Col. 2:14-15)

Eight-track tapes and avocado green car phones are a thing of the past, but the Ancient of Days is as new as Apple’s latest. God offers us the ultimate in progress: pause and undo. There’s not a touch screen, blue ray or HD contraption in all the world that can compare.

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