Thursday, October 28, 2010

Welcome to Jr. High

I am one of the lucky few in the world. I actually get to spend at least 8 hours of every day smack dab in the middle of Jr. High. I can almost hear you gasp in amazement. I know, you are jealous. You wish YOU could spend each day knee deep in drama, hormones, pimple cream and books. It's almost like living in a green house of emotions! Nothing is ever minor. It's just one big life crisis after another. It's just so - Jr. High!

Truthfully, I don't think I've ever met anyone who would willingly go back to their life during the Jr. High years. Just the mention of the words are enough to make grown men shudder and seemingly confident women break out is a cold sweat! It's almost as if when they escaped that time period they were set free! The one thing they knew was that they NEVER wanted to go back.

I recently asked my students what were the toughest parts of being in Jr. High and the answers ranged from pressure from parents to pressure from friends. They deal with mean girls/guys and tests and tough teachers and fickle friends. They are tired and excited and bored and frightened....sometimes all in the same day. In addition, the expectations of those around them seem to, at times, overwhelm these young teenagers. I think every day must be one constant battle of learning who they are and what they can and cannot do. They feel more grown up than they are and yet at times lapse back into being just a kid. They try to wrap their minds around lessons in math, language, history, computers and science all while juggling moods that can be far more frightening than the Tower of Terror roller coaster ride. Oh, and just to make things more interesting,  they are surrounded by hundreds of others dealing with the very same things. Oh yeah, Jr. High is one wonderful/rough place to be.

So often I want to tell my students to just hang in there. Jr. High is NOT the real world. It will be over soon! Yes, they may be dealing with difficult people, even difficult teachers, but it won't last forever. Before they realize it, it will be over and they will move on. The things that seem so huge today won't even be a blip on the radar of their lives in a few years.

And then I heard it. That nudging voice of the Lord inside me saying "That's what I've been trying to tell you." I am still stunned when I think of the simplicity of those words because right then it hit's all just "Jr. High."

The things I am dealing with, which may be tough, are still really just a stage of life. They will pass far more quickly than I realize and I'll move on. My goal is heaven...that's what's really real. Everything else is just Jr. High,.Once we reach heaven, we'll be able to look back and see just how Jr. High it really was. We'll see things we wished we'd known then that we know now. We'll see places where we were doing better than we thought, and we'll see things we wish we could have changed. We'll realize we were surrounded by others who were going through their own Jr. High. Mostly, we'll look back and realize - we don't want to ever go back!

Life is definitely much better now than it was in Jr. High....and that gives me hope. If my life now, even with all it's trials, is that much better than Jr. High; then how much more wonderful must heaven be?

For me, this has been such an eye opener. Almost every day, I find myself laughing and saying, "It's all just Jr. High." Graduation day is going to be something else!

1 Corinthians 13:12 (Amplified Bible)

For now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection [of reality as in a riddle or enigma], but then [when perfection comes] we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part (imperfectly), but then I shall know and understand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood [by God].

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Be forewarned...this one won't be a funny blog.

This has been a difficult week. A friend, a sister in Christ, was reported missing at the beginning of the week and found two days later - dead. While the local news broadcast that the body had been found, very little else was reported - which of course left room for more questions and rumors to abound. Was it suicide? Was it murder? What had happened? How?

Some felt asking the questions was wrong. They urged to offer the family privacy, which is completely understood. However, the questions continued to brew....People weren't trying to be nosey; they were scared. In addition to dealing with the death of someone known throughout the community, there was a subtle fear linked to the unknown questions of "how." Mingled with their grief was a new element - fear.

People began to look over their shoulders as they walked into the local Walmart. Returning home after dark was no longer just an ordinary event. Going for a walk in the neighborhood somehow didn't seem as casual anymore. I, personally, even considered getting a tazer for protection of me and my family. I started going into full "mama bear mode", ready to protect my babies from some unknown killer.

Then slowly, it became evident that the unthinkable had happened. My friend had taken her own life. For whatever reason, she decided that she could no longer take part in this life here on earth, and she left. Why? I don't know.

After a week of worry, I realized there was no stranger who abducted my friend and carried her away from her family and friends. There was no burglary gone wrong. There was no crime. There was no murderer for us to hunt down and bring to justice. There was ..... nothing. While my thoughts about my friend's death made me sure there must have been a murderer that took her life, the facts said she took it herself.

Then today, a thought hit me. Maybe I was right the first time...there was a murderer, a murderer as old as time who has shown his work throughout the ages. He comes to steal, kill and destroy. (John 10:10) He fires darts toward our minds in hopes they will somehow find a chink in our armor and fester into torture no man can imagine. Then, just like any other predator, he lies to us and swears us to secrecy...telling us it's our fault we feel this way, our fault that we are broken and fighting a battle inside, our fault we aren't perfect. Just like the predators we hear about on tv, this one come in darkest hours to further torment us and pull us deeper and deeper into his captivity. And his greatest weapon - silence. He convinces us that we dare not share our thoughts with anyone. He makes very sure he keeps us "alone". This killer doesn't come in the shape of a human, but he is a killer all the same.

I wish I had known my friend was hurting, wish I had known the battle she was fighting...wish I could have helped her before she was killed. We say soft words like "she took her life", but the truth is, she was murdered...murdered by the one who would love to kill us all. Why do I think the fight is any less real when the enemy is spiritual - a being without flesh and bone? Why am I not just as ready to hunt him down in his hiding places and reveal him for the monster he is? I know that one day he will stand before the Judge and face his judgement, but in the meantime I want to make sure he doesn't find a way to kill again. I'm pretty sure buying that tazer won't protect me or my family against this enemy, but I know where to find a weapon that will....I plan on using the same sword Jesus used - the Word of God.

Wish I had some funny words to share with this blog, but there are none. Instead, I think I'll go and sharpen my sword. Oh, and one more thing....I'm going to make sure I have someone who can fight along side me...and I can fight along side them. This is not a battle I want to face alone.

Ecclesiastes 4:10 (Contemporary English Version)

If you fall, your friend can help you up. But if you fall without having a friend nearby, you are really in trouble.

Ephesians 6:12-17 (Contemporary English Version)

12We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world. 13So put on all the armor that God gives. Then when that evil day [a] comes, you will be able to defend yourself. And when the battle is over, you will still be standing firm. 14Be ready! Let the truth be like a belt around your waist, and let God's justice protect you like armor. 15Your desire to tell the good news about peace should be like shoes on your feet. 16Let your faith be like a shield, and you will be able to stop all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Let God's saving power be like a helmet, and for a sword use God's message that comes from the Spirit.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I know best....I think

Ever have those times when you just wish someone would listen to you? I mean, I know best - right? I'm sure my opinion on how to do things is the best, that's why I chose it to be my opinion! If I didn't think it was best, I'd choose something else! But still no one listens - especially not my kids.
As a parent, I find myself constantly trying to tell my kids what to do. It's not that I want to boss them, I just can see things they can't see and don't want them to make some of the foolish mistakes others (including myself) have made. If they would just LISTEN, life would be SO much simpler. But they don't, at least not always. I've got to tell you, it's more than a little frustrating! I know best! I think.....
All this got me to thinking about how God deals with us. There is no question that God knows best....He knows the past, the present and the future all at the same time. He knows what our actions will bring - yet He allows us to make wrong choices all the same. Let that sink in a minute. He knows what our choices will bring, good or bad, and yet He allows us to choose all the same. He tells us the guidelines, then lets us make our own decisions. He also allows us to deal with the consequences of those decisions - good or bad. In the process, we either learn to love His direction more or get mad at Him for allowing us to make our own choices.
As a parent, I struggle with this. I want to not only tell me kids what is best, but help them out when they make wrong choices. Makes me wonder if I know what I'm doing after all. I want to save them from themselves....and in doing so I'm afraid, perhaps, I'm keeping them from really growing up at all.
There is a second part to this "allowing them to make mistakes" that is even harder - the loving them no matter what part. When they break my heart because of wrong choices, can I still love them? When they embarrass me because of their behavior, can I still love them? If they do things that bring shame to the family name, can I still embrace them in love yet never make an excuse for their behavior?
God allows us the freedom to make our own choices and loves us even when those choices break His heart. He loves us so much, He is willing to delay judgement in order that we might finally "get it" and start listening once again to Him. He loves us enough to let us make mistakes and even suffer from our own foolishness so that we can learn.
Those of us who have messed up pretty badly can recognize true love. True love holds us even when we push away. True love weeps with us over our mistakes and foolish choices, but allows us to learn in the midst of them all the same. True love is angered when we are harmed by the choices of others, but loves the "others" as much as He loves us. True love rejoices with us when we are set free and find the path we were meant to walk in this journey called life. True love knows best, and yet allows us to choose anyway.
I know best....but I don't know all. I have no idea of the wonderful things my Lord has planned for my child or those around me. All I know is that it is a plan far greater than I could ever dream of or imagine....and somehow God is using everything to work out that plan in our lives, if we will only let Him.
 Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
2 Peter 3:8-9 (Message translation) "Don't overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn't late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn't want anyone lost. He's giving everyone space and time to change."
James 1:22-25"Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don't act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action."
Let us never forget this: Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

That's what truly knowing best and loving us all the same really means.