There Is A Time

clockAccording to Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, there is a time for every activity under Heaven. A time to be born, to die, to plant, to harvest, to kill, to heal, to tear down, to build up, to cry, to laugh, to grieve, to dance, to scatter stones, to gather stones, to embrace, to turn away, to search, to quit searching, to keep, to throw away, to tear, to mend, to be quiet, to speak, to love, to hate, for war and for peace.

So, when do you know?

When do you know when it’s time to walk away from a relationship that has yielded nothing healthy or stay and fight til the death? When do you know when it’s time to keep things that seem to have no use or hold onto them for a rainy day? When do you know if you should be saying something wise to someone or let them figure it out on their own? I mean, after all, experience is a great teacher, right?

I don’t have a simple answer for you. I’ve seen all of these things come to pass in my own life. Even though, if I’m being honest, I don’t really know what scattering and gathering stones are. Don’t judge.

But I would like to offer you a suggestion as to how you might know when the time is for each of these seasons.

John 15:5 says, “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” 

And there’s your answer.

We must stay connected to Christ, our Vine. Every day. Not just during our one-hour service at church on the weekend. Not just during our mealtime prayer every night. It has to be throughout the day. Continually being in His presence. Drawing strength from him because we are weak. Reading the Bible daily because they are His very words. Listening to podcasts from trusted, Godly pastors and speakers. Monitoring our outside influences. Feeding our spirits so that our flesh will starve.

I don’t always get this right. Nor will you. But, I do desire it and strive for it. And the best thing about it is God knows our heart and knows our desire. I believe He honors that.

Here’s what I’ve seen in my own life: When I spend time in God’s Word, I know Him. And because I know Him, I know His voice. And because I know His voice, I know when He speaks to my heart. And that’s when I know how to gauge the “times” in my own life.

Praying this helps you.

Integrity In Noah’s Eyes

 

keep-calm-and-have-integrity-3As a mother, I’ve learned that some of the sweetest times with my boys are at bedtime.  They always wanted me to lay down with them and either sing or tell them stories, followed up by a prayer that brings them comfort before they doze off.

And I did.  The nights are rare that I didn’t spend 10-15 minutes going back and forth between their rooms because they needed to give me just one more kiss and a hug.  I wouldn’t have missed those moments for the world.  Or for all the tea in China, you understand.

One particular night, my oldest son, Noah, and I were talking. He was about 10 years old at the time.  It’s times like these that I get a glimpse into his heart and mind.  I hear about his joys, his sorrows, his struggles, his fears.  I use these quiet moments to teach him different character qualities that I’d love to see developed in his life.  He opens his heart to me because he trusts me.  Here is how our conversation went many years ago:

Me:  Do you know what integrity means?
Noah:  Um, like who you are inside?
Me:  Yeah, but also who you are when no one is watching.
Noah:  Oh.
Me:  You have integrity if you do the same things in private that you do in public.  Like, if you are only picking up trash somewhere so that someone will notice but you don’t do it when no one’s around.  Make sense?
Noah:  So, it’s when you are yourself.  All the time.
Me:  Pretty much.  You know how sometimes I am really nice to you when other people are around and then maybe I am grouchy to you when they are not?
Noah:  Yeah, like when you yell sometimes when no one is around but then give me hugs when friends are over?
Me:  (taking a big gulp) Yeah.  Like that.  I hate that I do that and I want you to know that the reason I do that is because I want people to think I’m a great mom.  And I’ve been wrong.  What I really want is for YOU to think I’m a great mom.  And I’m sorry.  I will be working on this.
Noah:  You are a great mom.  You’re the best mom.  Can we go swimming tomorrow?

We moms and dads are all tired at bedtime.  I’m up early in the mornings so when 9:00 rolls around, I’m a goner.  But, for the sakes of your kiddos, get in all the time you can.  Because one day you won’t be tucking them in anymore. Because they’ll be 15 and just a few weeks away from getting their learner’s permit.

And you’ll miss it.

I just know it.

God Is Good

 

tarzan-iconHe stood on the dining room chair and started hollering as if he was Tarzan.  With clenched fists, he was beating on his chest in an off-beat fashion and was probably expecting the animals to bow down to him as the newly crowned King of the Jungle.

And there it was.  His little heart pushing against his chest wall to where any onlooker could see.  Although I could not see his heart, I saw the effects of its job…pumping blood to all parts of his little 4 year old body, nicely nestled underneath his rib cage.  Gently reaching over, I placed my hand on his chest to feel the vibration.

It’s the little things that make me stand in awe of our God.  Just the sheer ingenuity that God came up with when he invented the organs that are vital to our survival blows me away.  Not only that, but how they work together for the common good of the body without anyone having to tell them.  They just know.

Take a woman’s body, for example.  The moment that the egg is fertilized and creates new life, her body adjusts.  Hormones start rising, the pelvis starts broadening and the breasts start their 9-month process of preparing the sustenance that the child will need upon his/her arrival into this world.

We can’t forget what our bodies do when an infection has chosen to make it’s home within us.  The white blood cells immediately team up to invade and conquer the unwelcome guests.  Not only that, but the 98.6° temperature that is considered normal begins to rise in order to kill the infection.

I’m far from a medical expert, and quite frankly, barely even passed chemistry.  But I do know that my God is a brilliant Creator.

He knows exactly how many steps you’ll take today.  He knows why your heart is heavy.  He is aware of the decision you are facing about your future.  He is with you when you are alone.  He is celebrating when your first child is born.  He is holding you when you’ve lost someone dear to you.

God is with you.

No Pain, No Gain

painShe was 35 years old when she became a widow.  The daunting task of raising four children under the age of eight was hard enough, but now she’d face it alone.  And while she grieved her loss and definitely had days where she didn’t want to go on, she did not stay there.  She took that pain that God allowed to enter her path and turned it around for the glory of God.

And many have been blessed.

Doing a monthly breast exam, she found a lump that she’d never felt before.  It couldn’t be, this 26-year old woman thought to herself.  But after further tests, her suspicions were proven.  But a double mastectomy and months of emotional and physical pain brought her freedom from cancer.  Instead of letting that loss make bitterness well up inside, she’s chosen the path that few will choose and is walking through life with others who have found themselves on a similar journey.

And many have been blessed.

A homeschooling mom of four found out that her husband had chosen to have a life with someone else.  She made attempts for a while to stay in the marriage and make it work.  His continued rendezvous’ eventually ended their marriage.  Now she is remarried to an amazing man and is living the life she hoped she would.  She and her children give God glory for restoring their lives.

And many have been blessed.

Most of us have gone through something in our lives that made us want to throw in the towel.  There was something we barely made it through that brought us to a place of despair. We may have even wished that we’d go to sleep one night and wake up in the presence of Jesus.

Cuz going through hard stuff is hard.  It just is.  There is nothing pleasant about walking through a valley that is dark, lonely and appearing to be never ending.  And while it’s excruciating to suffer, the results of the pain can be beautiful.  I’m a firm believer that we all want growth to occur in our lives.  We just don’t always want to go through the pain to get there.

No pain, no gain, y’all.

So, I have just one question to ask you…

What are you doing with your pain?

Her Name Is Nancy

IMG_0583But I call her Mom. Or Momma. And sometimes Mother when I can’t believe something she has done something that I can’t believe she has done.

She just turned ______ years old this past Sunday. If I told you her digits you would be surprised and she would be mad at me for telling you. I can even hear her saying, “Cindy!”

So I am not going to tell you. Because.

I’ve learned a lot from my mom over the years. God has used who she is in my life in so many ways. I have character qualities that came directly from her influence. I also have a love of sports because of her and my dad.

And food.

Our family loves food. But this isn’t about food or sports. This is about what I’ve learned from my mom.

Loyalty. This woman defines loyalty. (She still watches the Dallas Cowboys every Sunday, which that in and of itself should get her a prize. You hear that Jerry Jones? Give the woman some free tickets on the 50-yd line, okay? She might be the only one cheering that day.) She has supported my two brothers and me continuously. Even when we did things she wasn’t sure of. She is incredibly loyal.

Commitment. She knows how to stay committed. She celebrated 3o years of marriage with my dad before he passed away. She was the rock of our family and held everything together. She has known Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior for most of her life. And you will find her singing in the choir at her church almost every Sunday during the year. The woman knows how to honor commitment.

Work Ethic. What would you say if I told you that my mom still works full-time for our family business? If I’m lyin’, I’m dyin’. It’s true. The woman knows how to work. And work well. She taught school for 34 years and has since been working in our business full-time for 19 years. She. Will. Not. Stop. She is not someone who has to hire someone to do things for her. She’s never had a house cleaner and until just a few years ago, she mowed her own yard. Yep, she’s every woman.

There is much more that I’ve learned from her. Pages and pages worth. But, I’d like to hear what you’ve learned from your parents…mom or dad.

Go.

(Oh, and thanks mom. Thanks for pouring into my life. Most importantly, I know Jesus because you took me to church.)

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