Sunday, April 16, 2017

Open wide...

This is one of my tulips. It doesn't look like what I always thought tulips are supposed to look like. Oh, it did at first. Perfect little pink blossom waving on a slender green stalk...but now it looks quite different. It is older, and the bloom is nearing its end, drooping a little...and I think it's looking a lot more like me.

When I was younger, I was concerned about how I looked to God. I wanted to be perfect, but in doing so, I was closed up pretty tight. Like those early blooms, I was protecting my heart, keeping it closed off from others so I couldn't be hurt. Keeping it closed off, even from God.

Now I'm a bit older. Hurts have already come and gone. No need to worry about appearance anymore...I'm pretty much open to the world as old and getting older by the minute. I am no longer perfect - as if I ever was. Only now, I've accepted my imperfections and I'm finally standing with arms and heart open wide. 

I recognize that time is not on my side. How is it said? "None of us are getting out of here alive." So I might as well spread out my wings and fly...or my petals and just be.

It's Easter, my friends. No matter if you have a new outfit for the day or if you're dressed in hand-me-down jeans, we can open wide and let God in. Receive what He has done for you. Live with arms and heart open wide.

Happy Easter.

John 10:10b (MSG)
I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.

Friday, April 14, 2017


Today is Good Friday. As a kid, I never could wrap my mind around how the day Jesus died on the cross could be called "good." I'm not sure I could do it as an adult either. How could anything "good" be found in that day?

Last week in Kids' Church, I taught the lesson on Palm Sunday and Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. As He entered the city, the people called out "Hosanna" which means "save us." I've taught this story many times but this time, it hit me that Jesus was there for Passover - and He had come as the sacrificial lamb. Somehow it struck me like never before. Just as He was born in a stable like the sacrificial lambs were born, He was going to the Passover as the lamb of God...a sacrifice on this day that would mark how God made a way for the Children of Israel to be spared death just before the Exodus. 

Once again, I started pondering something I've heard so many times - Jesus, who knew no sin, hung on the cross. He was not guilty... Then somewhere, I heard a shocking statement. Jesus was guilty - not with his own guilt, but with ours. Just as the lamb that was sacrificed "took on" the sins of the people, Jesus took on our sins that day. But how do you explain that to children? 

That's where the other part of our lesson came in. I wish I had thought of it, but I found it on another site. You can find the original lesson it comes from at this site: Helping kids understand Good Friday  Basically, I had my son, Levi, stand before the group to represent Jesus. In his words, "I don't look like Jesus," but he certainly looked more like Him that anyone else in the room. The lesson suggested this person wear a robe, but we couldn't find one that fit my son, so a really big red shirt would fit the bill. As it turned out, that red shirt was much more effective than any robe would have been.

As my son stood in the front of the room, the children noticed that his shirt had no spots, nothing. It was just red, like the blood of Jesus. Then they each took scraps of black construction paper and wrote one of their "sins" on it, something they had done wrong whether big or small. They came up and taped those black blotches to his shirt; before long it was covered! He then took the shirt and turned it wrong side out. The red completely covered all the sin. Like the thief on the cross that recognized Jesus for who He was, all those who gave their sin to Jesus had them covered by the blood of the lamb.

You know, I've done this lesson before and we put our sins on the cross, but this is the first time I've ever done it where I put them on a person that represented Jesus. Maybe it meant so much more to me because we used my own son as a prop...I'm certain if it had been left up to me, I'd never have allowed my son to carry all those sins of others to the cross. But there he stood, representing Jesus - covered with the "sins" of others. 

This made me look at things in a whole new light. When Jesus stumbled as He carried that cross up the hill, was it because it was so heavy, or because the sins that were now placed on Him were so heavy that the weight of them made it nearly impossible to walk? The one who was spotless was literally carrying what I had done all the way to the altar and then acted as the sacrifice that would cover them all.

I have heard the story of Jesus on the cross in so many ways, but for some reason, seeing those black blotches on that red shirt made me see things in a new light. Jesus was guilty when He hung on the cross - but the guilt was mine. He had taken it on so that I didn't have to. 

Only God could take the horror of that day and turn it into something "good." If He can do that on that day, surely He can take whatever comes my way and turn it to good, too. 

Thankful Good Friday and Easter, my friends. Like the thief on the cross that believed, our debt has been paid, and we are guilty no more.

Romans 8:28
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those called according to His purpose.

Isaiah 53:12 (emphasis mine)
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Hebrews 9:28
so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

1 Peter 2:24-25 (Message) (emphasis mine)
This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step.
He never did one thing wrong,
Not once said anything amiss.
They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you’re named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The color for Palm Sunday

I love it when I get to teach in Children's Church and I get one of those "I get it" moments. I'm not talking about the KIDS getting it - I'm talking about myself! 

The last time this happened, I was teaching around Christmas and it hit me why Jesus was born in a stable...that's where all sacrifices were born. (Mind blown!) Well, today was another one of those "mind blown" days.

We use a curriculum in Kids' Church, but I often find a little something extra to add. Today's lesson featured the color red as a part of the lesson. Of course, the major point is that it stood for the blood of Jesus, but since it was Palm Sunday, I was having a bit of trouble wrapping my mind around it. After all, shouldn't the color for the day be green? Palms....Green....makes sense, right?

Today's passage came from Luke 23 and focused on the two thieves on the crosses beside Jesus, but I couldn't get my mind off the fact that it's Palm Sunday! So, I decided to go back and look at the part where Jesus entered Jerusalem, Luke 22. That's when the lesson took a turn.

Earlier this week, one of my students asked why Easter is in March some years and in April on others. I mentioned that it had to do with Passover and discovered that many of my students had no idea what I meant. 

Just a quick refresher for anyone that has gotten a bit rusty on their Old Testament Bible accounts - Passover has to do with the account in Exodus when Moses went to Pharoah and told him that God said to let His people go. Pharoah, of course, was more than a bit stubborn and it took 7 plagues before he relented and released the Israelites to go into the Promised Land. The last plague was the worst - the first born in every household died, except for those who had followed God's directive to sacrifice a lamb and paint the blood of the sacrifice over the doors. The Israelites slept that final night as captives undisturbed. The angel of death "passed over" their dwellings. 

Exodus 12:12-14
“On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.
“This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance. "
So Easter is based on Passover. Why? Well, when Jesus entered into Jerusalem on what we now refer to as "Palm Sunday" it was because He was there to celebrate Passover.
According to a message by John Piper, "Our English word "hosanna" comes from a Greek word "hosanna" which comes from a Hebrew phrase hoshiya na.
And that Hebrew phrase is found one solitary place in the whole Old Testament, Psalm 118:25, where it means, "Save, please!" It is a cry to God for help." 
Let that sink in for a moment. Passover...which commemorated when God had heard the cries of His people and saved them with the blood of a lamb painted over the openings of their home so that the angel of death would pass over. Once again the people cried out to God for help...and Jesus came.
Palm Sunday - when the Passover "lamb" came into the city to be sacrificed so that all who believed in the power of the blood of that sacrifice would be saved. 
Just like that Sunday when I realized that Jesus was born where sacrifices were born, today I realized anew that when He rode into Jerusalem, He came as a sacrifice. 
So maybe the color for Palm Sunday is red after all. (Mind blown!)
Tomorrow I'll try to write about that thief and the rest of today's Kids' Church lesson.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017


Today is my 58th birthday and like most days, I woke up with a word/random thought on my mind. The word today was "comfortable".

I love being comfortable. I wear comfy clothes, eat comfort foods, have friends I'm really comfortable around...I'm pretty sure I would never make it on a make-over show because they would never be able to tear my comfortable shoes from me! In fact, if you look up 'comfortable' in the dictionary, you might find my picture. One benefit of getting older is that I'm finally "comfortable" in my own skin, despite its wrinkly appearance. Yep, comfortable is a pretty positive word.

But lately I've started seeing the word in a not so positive light. You see, as I get older, I find that once I get "comfortable," I don't want to move. I just don't want to put forth the effort. I just got "comfortable." In fact lately, I find that when I sit in my favorite chair after a long day at work and get comfortable I fall asleep! While it's still light outside!

It's not that I can't move - I just don't want to!

It's as if I'm becoming like one of those characters on Pirates of the Caribbean who slowly melds into the ship and becomes a part of the background...powerless to move. It takes REAL effort to pull away and stand. I don't think I've ever thought of getting older that way before...but those who cease to make the effort to move seem to simply sink into their chairs and fade into the background till they are unable to do anything else.

They simply get OLD! (That's such an ugly word.)

That's the thing about getting comfortable. It's so...comfortable! You don't want to do anything that takes you out of that "comfort zone"! And as I get older, I find that it seems to be harder and harder to get moving again once I get "comfortable."

I want to find ways to push myself to break out of the comfort zone. The working mission trip to Guatemala was one attempt to get out of my comfort zone and do something that didn't necessarily come naturally. I have to say, that was one of the best choices I've made in a while. I got out of my comfort zone and discovered I kind of LIKE being uncomfortable! What started as a challenge actually turned into something that fanned the flames inside me to DO something! My muscles hurt and I was tired and I felt ALIVE!

It is easy as we get older to feel like our time has passed. We look forward to retirement when we can finally just SIT...but maybe we've been looking at things all wrong. Maybe instead of retirement, it's supposed to be a time of re-fire-ment. Instead of striving to be comfortable, maybe we should be stretching ourselves to try new things, learn new things, take a chance and believe God for dreams we thought were long gone.

Yes, comfortable can be a good thing but sometimes we need to push ourselves out of our comfort zone. Maybe it's time to look at birthdays as another reminder that we're not finished yet. This is not the time to get "comfortable" in this world...after all, it's not our home.

Psalm 63:4New International Version (NIV)

 I will praise you as long as I live,
    and in your name I will lift up my hands.

1 Peter 2:11The Message (MSG)

Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

A dry and thirsty land...

Last week, I had the opportunity to go with a team to Guatemala on a working mission trip. This was my first time on a construction trip and anyone who knows me might wonder what use I might be on such an endeavor. To be honest - I was wondering that as well. Still, I signed up and thanks to so many friends who believed in me (thank you! I'm not sure I believed in me that much!) I was able to fly to a country I've only heard about to try to share the good news of Christ. This is a recount of a part of what I learned. (It may be a bit long - sorry in advance for that!)

The flight to Guatemala was uneventful. As we met in the airport with people from two other churches, all of whom had had little or no sleep the night before, we all stumbled onto the flight into our adventure. I stood and looked at the behemoths of men that stood around me and wondered what in the world I was doing going on a construction mission trip. These guys were huge with muscles that bulged in their t-shirts so that even in their sleepy state, they were impressive. Watching them squeeze themselves into the middle seat of the airplane was actually a bit painful. They smiled and laughed and acted as though it was a privilege to be squashed into an area that made even me feel a bit confined. I was impressed already.

When we got to Guatemala, I was having a great time looking at all the sights and sounds. This was my first trip to Guatemala and my first time to travel on a mission trip with my daughter. I had to work hard to not treat her like "my child," and remember that she is an adult quite capable of doing this without me. (Best part of my trip was watching her minister to those around her and grow in the process! But that's for another blog.) The people I was meeting were so kind to this "little old lady" and I was excited to be there!

We boarded the bus, all of us - a very tiny bus - and they tied our luggage on top and we began our journey to the small town we where we were going to stay. Well, after we ate lunch, that is. Even the adventure to the restaurant was exciting with luggage falling off the top into oncoming traffic as we made our way up the steep roads of the city. We salvaged the suitcase thanks to a passing water truck and continued on our way. Already, the theme of water was weaving itself into my story.

We were warned weeks before the trip that we should not, under any circumstances, drink the water while we were there. Even in the restaurant, we asked for bottled water. We could not rinse our toothbrushes with water. Over and over, they reminded us - the water from the faucet here was NOT safe to drink. Even the locals don't drink it!

Once we got back onto the bus to make our way around the mountain for the 5-hour journey to the small town we'd be staying, I was fascinated by the scenery we passed. Beautiful flowering trees, buildings in bright colors next to shacks and graffiti, and all surrounded by block walls and barbed wire. I was beginning to wonder what I'd gotten myself into!

As we rode away from Guatemala City, the scenery changed - to brown. Everything was brown! Now, I realized it is the dry season there, but even in the driest winter in Mississippi, you still see lots of green! The only green I seemed to see was the occasional tree and a house or two that sported a bright mint green paint contrasting with the landscape surrounding it. The phrase, "a dry and thirsty land" kept rolling around in my head. My heart hurt as I watched even the animals trying to graze on land that was parched and hard.

We finally made it to our hotel, and unfolded our legs after our long journey. By now, we were becoming friends with those we had not known previously. The missionary greeted us with open arms and we began to learn more about our "mission" on this trip. Not only would we be working with a feeding program for children and the elderly nearby, our primary goal was to work on a partially constructed house for a family. The whole story of this family could take a while, but in a nutshell, we were to work on putting up a roof and get the home livable. Great! I had no idea what I would be able to do next to those standing around me, but I was ready, willing, and able! Okay - maybe not able, but definitely ready and willing!

The next morning we arose early, ate breakfast and after church, we made our way to the worksite. We walked about a mile to get there and I was having a great time saying "Hola!" to everyone we passed. Those who spoke Spanish quickly taught me how to say "Buenas Dias" as well. Then we got to the work site. I'm not sure what I expected, but looking at that partially constructed building made me wonder once again why I was there. 

Our foreman - "Captain Cook!" as we called  him on this trip, met with the foreman from the country that had been hired to help us since he knew the codes and regulations of the country and we awaited our first instructions. It was already getting warm and again I was struck by just how brown everything was. We were reminded to drink water often and then given our first task. Move a pile of dirt out of the road. Okay...I could do that. I, along with others, started shoveling while "Cook!" assessed the situation and figured out how to get all 20+ of us working in an area not much bigger than my classroom. We finished moving the pile and then reported to find out our next task. 

We were going to dig a trench. What? I thought we'd be building, but it wasn't yet time for that. No worries. I knew how to work a shovel. Well, I thought I did. It soon became very evident that simply shovels would have no effect on this hard dry ground. Here's where the guys with all the muscles really came in handy! Using pick-axes, they broke through the hard "fallow" ground that had not been touched in so long and then we could shovel up that which was broken and haul it to another area. I say the guys - but honestly, every woman with us also used those pick-axes with great skill...all but me. I tried, but it was obvious to me that while I had the heart, I simply did not have the strength to do much damage with that pick-ax, except maybe to myself. So I stuck with my shovel. I had found a short one that enabled me to crawl down into the trench and get the broken ground out of the way so that the "real work" could be done. And I wasn't the only one - others grabbed shovels and as fast as they could break the ground, we were ready to get it moving. We worked till dark that first day and the trench was only about half finished. Oh, and they had us move that original pile of dirt again to a different place. Gotta love construction.

The next day, we showed up bright and early to resume our task only to discover we'd have to continue the trench down the road about another 50 yards - through concrete. I watched in amazement as each of the guys (and girls including our amazing interpreters) broke through that concrete (and a water line or two!) so that we could lay the pipes for water to the home. Then we resumed work on that trench in the front yard. It took twice as long to dig! I'd love to say that once we finally completed the trench our digging was done, but it wasn't! We had to level out the front yard so that water would not run into the house during rainy season. (They assured me they do get rain there, but I was still skeptical.) We literally dug and broke up hard ground every single day we were there. Some worked on laying block, but most of us dug out hard ground. And the people on the street watched...some by peaking out their doors, some by standing in their windows, and a few children stood down the dusty road and chanted out "gringos" and made up some sort of song. Evidently, a bunch of Americans coming and working from early morning to late afternoon each day digging up hard ground was good entertainment! 

During all this, I wondered what use I was. I worked as hard as I could, but I knew my strength was nothing compared to those around me. They always let me work, but I knew they could have done it much better and faster. Still, we all laughed and encouraged each other, and I smiled and waved at the passersby with Hola, or Buenas Dias, the only Spanish I knew. Some would go to the feeding center each day, and I went as well, but I knew my "place" was somehow at the building site.

We managed to lay the lines for water and sewage to the home, level out the ground, level the floors within the home in preparation for concrete, begin the kitchen add-on (it was not a part of the original structure), and get the roof on the home. The people on the street went from peeping from their doors to watching from their windows, to sitting on the side areas watching, to joining us in the work. One lady who passed by daily started talking to me - I had to get the interpreter to figure out what she was saying. She wanted to know if I was tired. "Si!" Funny - she asked me that every time she passed. I guess I looked pretty silly out there with all those athletes! 

By the day it came for us to leave, we had a crowd! We prayed over the home where we'd worked so hard, over the home of one of the workers (which was little more than a shack itself), and over the people on that street. I'm not exaggerating when I say they were crying as we prayed for them. One lady asked me was I sad to leave, and with tears in my eyes, I had to say "Si." They spoke over and over again about the unity and love they had seen among us. They had never seen a group work that way before. They could tell we cared for each other and them. Keep in mind, some of us had never even met before that week! The missionary was wonderful at letting the people know, it wasn't because we were Americans that they saw this - it was because we are children of God. 

The final morning, it was my turn to share the devotion before we packed onto that tiny bus for the 5 hour trip back to Guatemala City. I knew I had to keep it brief, but one thought had been burning in my heart for days. 

When we arrived, all I could see was a dry and thirsty land. We had dug and dug and dug into that fallow ground, breaking it up for the first time in a very, very long time. (There weren't even any grubs or worms in that ground! People from Mississippi can't imagine that!) We had broken up that hard ground and moved it out of the way. It was good earth, but hardened over time and circumstances. That's where the lesson came. We were only there for a week, doing manual labor - but we had done something that would allow others to come in and finish the work. We had broken through not just physical hard ground, but spiritual as well. Those who watched us are now more willing to listen to the missionary and the Good news. The hard soil is prepared for what is to come. 

As for me, I'm not sure I did much good to the team as far as moving earth, but I know God allowed me to be a part of breaking up that fallow ground spiritually...and all who helped send me there have a part in that, too. We were there only a week, but perhaps now the planting and watering and weeding that follows us won't be quite as hard as before. Short term mission trips sometimes get a bad rap. Yes, it cost us quite a bit to make this journey and perhaps someone from the town could have done the same thing to the ground if we had instead simply sent them the money...but I'm not sure that just moving dirt was what we were there for. We were there to break up the fallow ground. Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of this and for allowing me to share it with you.

I know this blog was long...but I hope you can see how God can use even that which you think you're not very good at to make a difference long after you are gone. We can each break up the fallow ground and help bring water to a dry and thirsty land, both on the mission field and right here at home. Grab a shovel, my friends. We've got work to do!

A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.
 O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1 (NASB)

"Sow for yourselves righteousness,
reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground;
for it is time to seek the Lord,
until he comes
and showers righteousness on you." (Hosea 10:12)

Saturday, March 4, 2017

the problem with kids these days...

This is a repost from a few years back. Let me start by saying, there's nothing wrong with kids these days. I am surrounded by stunning examples of great teenagers every day in my job...and some that are still trying to find their way. What's the matter with kids these days? Nothing. They are just following our lead.

The other day I heard a friend ask, "What is it with the kids these days?" It was the typical conversation that happens after a rough day with students. We often see them make poor choices, but some days just make you shake your head. Often, that 'head-shake' is a result of students who just seem unwilling to give the extra effort needed to excel. Good enough is good enough for them. They do not seem to demonstrate something called "integrity" in their lives.

Let me give an example. Recently, we were having a fund raiser at school to raise money for a charity. Friendly competition was going on in all the classes and my class set a goal of what they wanted to raise. I told them if they met their goal, I'd bring doughnuts for the class. I allowed them to set the goal and while I reminded them each day, it was up to them. (I planned to give to make up any money they needed to make the goal if they didn't quite make it, but I didn't tell them this.)

The final day arrived and we were a little over $15 short. Then one student said something that definitely did not sit well with this teacher...."Can't you just lower the bar as to what we needed to raise?" A chorus of "yeah, we did pretty good - can't you just reward us anyway?" was heard. I stopped right there. No, I could not. I could not in good conscious reward for a goal not met. I loved them too much for that. Now, before you think I'm an awful teacher, I did bring doughnuts another day, making sure they understood it wasn't a reward for reaching their goal but simply because I wanted to bring them. It was grace, not something earned.

This story illustrated something I see in my own children, and in my own life. There is something that is often missing in my life - integrity. The dictionary defines integrity as "adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty." In other words - do I live what I say I believe or do I want credit for just good enough?

My conversation with another teacher made me ask, What is going on with 'kids these days?' The next day, I stumbled upon a verse that answered my question and made it clear. Proverbs 20:7 - "The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them." If I want my children to be blessed, I have to walk in integrity. Psalm 119:1 says "Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord." Does my life demonstrate joy? If not, maybe the problem is that I am not walking in integrity. If I want my children joyful and blessed, it starts with me!

Have we, as a people, forgotten how important integrity is? Do I hold others to a standard I do not hold for myself? Do feel it is okay for me to yell at someone in traffic but not okay for my child to yell at their brother or sister? Do I feel it is okay for me to tell a little lie and yet expect my children to be honest with me? Do I cut down my boss or co-workers and yet expect my children to speak with respect toward their teachers and speak kindly toward others at school?

Do I make excuses for my children and yet expect them to try their best to succeed? Do I demonstrate a life of integrity?

I guess it all boils down to this; the question isn't really what is the problem with kids these days. The question is 'What is wrong with us?' because whether we realize it or not - our children are watching and following in the steps we leave.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Not mine...

Today I was hit by one of those random thoughts: My children are not mine. This may seem like a "duh" moment to many, especially those that know my children are adopted, but this time it means a little more to me than it did before.

Anyone who knows me knows that I delight in my kids. I beam with pride when I watch my sweet girl making her way in life. I can be heard far above the roar of the crowd at a football game shouting, "That's MY tiny baby boy!" Still, with that being said, my kids are not mine. Truthfully, they never have been. This applies whether I had given birth to them or not. I just got the amazing privilege of watching these children grow, helping keep the wildlife from eating away at the fruit of their lives and occasionally pull a few weeds from their garden. I get to work and watch and enjoy some of the fruits, but they belong to God, not me.

This is a difficult lesson for ANY parent to grasp. We can get so involved in our kid's lives, loving them and supporting them, that we think what THEY do is actually what WE do...but it's not. This isn't about trying to relive your life through your kids, but more about the way we blame ourselves or feel like we've done something wrong when they make discouraging choices. They are their own unique person, not an extension of us.

I have struggled with this for years and have given my children back to God over and over. It's not that I kept taking them back, but more like I just learned a little more each time on how to let them go. I think we all wish it was a one-time process, but I think God knows we couldn't handle that. He allows us to think that these precious little ones are "MINE!" when they never really belonged to us at all.

It's not just that our children are not an extension of us. We are not an extension of our parents either. Have great parents? That's awesome! They probably did a great job pointing you to who you truly are. Have not so great parents? Not a problem. They don't determine the purpose God has for you. And make no mistake, whether you know it or not, He has a purpose for you. It may not be what you or your parents imagined it would be, but there is definitely a purpose. It is HIS purpose.

Recently I heard a young person say she didn't "feel" loved by God and those around her. I reminded her that whether she felt it or not did not change the fact that she is, indeed, loved. Just because we cannot always see the sun does not mean it has ceased to exist. We simply have moved to a place where we cannot feel it. Like the earth orbits, there will be times when we do not "feel" that sun, but it is still there and soon we will "feel" it again. We can't depend on feelings.

And we can't depend on our feelings when it comes to our children either. There is a knowing that no matter how much we love our children, God loves them more. They are not ours in the first place. He has a unique purpose for them...and for us. That purpose doesn't go away when our "parenting" duties evolve into simply standing on the sidelines as they fulfill their purpose. (Although, I admit that I probably will still be shouting at the top of my lungs, "That's MY tiny baby!" They need to get used to that because I will do that as long as I live. It's not about claiming ownership, it's about rejoicing in what I've seen God do in their lives. That's what you do when someone you love succeeds!) Our purpose was decided while we were still in the womb, not when we carried them, or in my case, when their birth mother carried them.

And with this comes a freedom to love them even more.

This week, my oldest has chosen to go on the same mission trip I have been planning to go on. It will be our first overseas mission trip together. I am so looking forward to this, not because she's mine, but because I will get to watch her from the sidelines as she fulfills her purpose and I get to fulfill mine at the same time. She is her own person and will do things in her own unique way. 

Not mine...I've got to say, I never imagined it would feel so wonderful to let them go and watch them grow. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some growing of my own left to do.

Jeremiah 29:11New International Version (NIV)

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.

Psalm 139:14-16The Message (MSG)

13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.