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Better the Devil You Know…my Frienemy

Frienemy_Logo2BlackandRed_resized

Urban Dictionary: Frienemy

“A ‘toxic’ person who poses as a friend but subconsciously or consciously wishes you harm.”

Word Spy – Frienemy

 “A friend who acts like an enemy; a fair-weather or untrustworthy friend.”

I had a strange, almost familiar dream last night.  It involved a former co-worker and she was in hot pursuit of me.  She wanted to find out why I had been avoiding her.  She finally caught up with me at a metro station and I succeeded once again in avoiding her, only this time, I noticed she was hurting and  was needing me to comfort her.  She almost reached me….and then I woke up.  I thought about the dream as I was getting ready this morning and I remembered how the Lord has used dreams to get messages to me…some dreams pretty clear and specific, like the time He assured me that the child I was carrying was the one I had been praying for; other dreams have not  been as obvious, but have been symbolic in nature and most often the purpose or message has been revealed or played out.  While I haven’t been actively avoiding this girl, she’s someone I probably wouldn’t pull over to catch her up on the latest.  Knowing what I know, and having experienced her “specialness,” I will  not be surprised to hear when her season of reaping begins or heats up.

“Better the devil you know, than the one you don’t know.”  A little ditty one of my spiritual moms said, I’m sure.  This little ditty reveals my feelings about this girl.  I rather enjoyed her company in the beginning, but my eyes were wide open and my ears were on alert whenever I was around her.  I was familiar with her game. I had been observing her from a distance.  She was the type of person who would attempt to solicit all of your information and offer nothing in return….and everything you said could be and most often was used against you.  She was something else to behold in action:  sneaky and sly, hanging out in doorways and hiding in shadows to listen and watch.   I especially liked the part where she thought I was unaware of her shenanigans….I can play the dumb role really well.   I guess she would fall into the category of a “friend/enemy – a frienemy”).

She was super funny, quick and kinda helpful if you made her feel you really needed her or if by helping you, it made her look good or appear useful, but if you crossed her or slipped in any way, you were toast.  She was the boss’s sidekick and her job was to keep the boss happy…keep the boss laughing which worked for the rest of us (for the most part) because that kept the boss busy and us off of the radar (for the most part:)  She also kept the boss informed.  Her nose got a bit out of joint once she realized that the boss had taken a liking to me and then she turned up the heat against me big time, but I was ever watchful and super vigilant.  I purposed to stay in my lane, happily playing dumb, never taking the boss up on offers to hang out.  I knew that was her spot and I was so not interested in becoming the boss’s lap dog (sorry to be so blunt).  I was exhausted…you can hold your breath for so long, ya know.

That job ended abruptly without a farewell from her (or the boss for that matter).  At the end of the day, I discovered that these two (boss and sidekick) almost acted like a two headed monster, feeding off of one another, plotting and planning and cackling away at all of their conquests; portraying themselves as honorable but being anything but.  You really would have to see this show to believe it and I wonder….

I wonder how many people these two have hurt, run off, brought down, lied to and about; I wonder if there’s any remorse for bad behavior; I wonder if they know how dysfunctional their union is; I wonder if they realize that their nonsense is not a secret.  I especially wonder if they even care.  How can they not care?  I’ve run into the boss and her sidekick together once since my departure at a gathering, and they made a show about greeting me and I went along with it…hated to make them feel as ridiculous as they looked as they chased me down.   I hadn’t given her much thought until she had a starring role in my dream last night.  I asked the Lord to remove any lingering ought I had against her, if any, and then I prayed for her.  As I write this I think that was the purpose of the dream…for me to pray for her since I’ve been on the inside and know the real deal.  Those on the periphery haven’t a clue and I doubt that the ones on the inside currently are praying for anyone, besides themselves…as they duck and dodge the boss and her sidekick.  Every dog has its day and if my dream is as prophetic as the ones in the past, her day is coming soon and for that I am truly sorry.

Let me encourage anyone who is reading this who has sustained any type of emotional injury at the hands of a “frienemy.”  I’m praying that you rise up and move forward, healed and whole and obedient when called to pray for and do good to those whom the enemy has used to hurt you.  Anticipate an opportunity to be a blessing to that one so that the same weapon formed against you which prospered can be turned around and returned to sender…the real enemy in the deal.

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28

Invisible

New York City Tops Nation In Income InequalityNever have I felt more invisible than after I delivered my second child and spent an afternoon at the mall with my gorgeous girlfriend.  (Talk about self sabotage.) Here I am around 4 weeks post delivery with a nursing tent hanging around my neck to conceal the wet marks on my chest looking like bulls eyes, chasing my busy 22 month old, while keeping my newborn shushed….a red hot smoking mess I was.  Here’s the invisible part, because I’m sure everyone and their relatives witnessed my “hotness” as I was chasing my boy, trying not to make the evening news!!!

We walked into a store and my friend watched my kiddies as I shopped.  I was struck and rather hurt at the non responsiveness of the store clerk.  It’s always been super easy for me to strike up a conversation with anyone and if we talk long enough, there are sure to be some chuckles…not this time.  This chick looked right through me and was about business…until my gorge girlfriend appeared with her purchases.  She was completely engaged and helpful.  I noticed and I realized for the first time that my outside was the obstacle to her acquainting herself with my inside.  I thought of that incident this morning as I was exiting the grocery store in a rush since I had gone for milk and ended up shopping for the week.

I saw him before I heard him.  He looked tired and dry.  He had his hand out and no one noticed him.  He was invisible.  As I passed by he asked if I had some change and I told him I might.  He took a seat in the shade and didn’t even look to see whether I was returning.  He, no doubt familiar with rejection, had no expectation that I would return.  I did and I asked him what he would do with the money I had in my hand.  He never looked at my hand, but he did look into my eyes and told me his intentions.  I asked him if I could pray for him and he said yes and bowed his head.  I laid my hands on him and sensed him relax after a few seconds.  As I prayed and spoke the word over him, he rocked back and forth as if I was singing him a lullaby.  That touched me so!  He looked up when I said amen with such appreciation and as I pressed the money into his hands he said “thank you, please continue to pray for me.”  “I will,” I said.

I was once corrected by someone I looked up to as a person who was well versed in the word.  He told me I should never sow my seed in ground where there would be no return…and that included giving to those outside of the faith.  That always checked me and so the one time a down and out friend asked for money, I sat next to her and ministered the word to her before I blessed her financially.  Then I realized, Jesus never expected folks to clean up first  in order to receive forgiveness, healing, etc. so why should I?  They will know we are His disciples, not by our prayers, our gifts, our good works, but by our love.  Love does…it moves…it acts!  I have no idea what Mykel will do with the money I gave him and that is not for me to judge.  I simply asked him so that he could hear himself respond and I pray that, for his own good, he was telling the truth.

Today, it came back to me why I was allowed to experience that sadness on that day.  I was made to experience in a snapshot what many feel for a lifetime.  Would you stop…would you at least stop long enough to extend a hand, say a prayer, acknowledge someone’s existence?  I’m praying today for the invisible; that they experience a healing touch and that they come to the knowledge that He sees…He hears…He moves…and most times it’s through people!

Perfectly Patient…Uh Oh

We recently added another dog to the mix.  Mocha, a chocolate lab, joined our family last Sunday and I could tell already that there are going to be a whole lot of lessons exchanged between us.  Adam the mailman, Bruce the UPS guy, her breeder, friends on Facebook  have all said she’s going to be big….”look at those paws, that head.”  Gulp!!!  She’s sweet and busy and nippy and vocal and stubborn and smart and teachable.  I’m all those things too so I’m up for the challenge.  Today I glanced over at her as she was sleeping and twitching away and as I marveled at how big she was already at 9 weeks, I heard the Lord say, “don’t let the outside fool you, she’s just a baby…be patient.”

That comment resonated in my spirit.   Outward appearances can fool us.  That person who seemingly has it all together, is altogether wrecked and no one seems toIMG_3651 notice and the ones who get close enough to know the deal, don’t want to know the details…be patient.  That daughter, whose outside screams that she’s a woman is still a child becoming a woman, subject to the same disappointments and feelings, but lacking the experience and knowledge to navigate her world…be patient; that church member, newly saved and knowing everything…uh, yeah…still a baby…be patient!  Even though Mocha is pretty big for her age…GULP; even though at 6 months…maybe even at 3 months, she’ll be strong enough to take me down, I can’t be moved (well I can, but not in that way)…I need to remember that she’s still a baby and while I must be firm and unbending where her training is concerned, I must also be patient.

The one thing I have learned about patience is that you don’t ask for it, unless you are prepared for  every devil in hell posing as your boss, your neighbor and your loved one to be unleashed against you to test it and, well, you just have to pass!!  You should also expect to be tested in traffic, at the grocery store…even your appliances and – ahem, your computer will play a role in your testing.  You can’t pass a test unless you’re tested, right?  I’ve been a pretty good student of patience.  I say student because I have witnessed the fruit of it, but can confidently say that I will always be minding that garden.  I’ve been able to clip the lip, but you should see what’s going on in my head…those “murderous thoughts,” (not really murder, maybe just inflicting injury); the toe tapping (yes, in my head); the white knuckling, lip biting, deep breathing, counting…1, 2, 3…you feel me?  James 1:4 says “But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be (people) perfectly and fully developed (with no defects), lacking in nothing.”  So, if I give patience permission to do its thing, I can expect to be perfectly developed, with no defects and lacking nothing and those around me from my puppy to that baby in church will greatly benefit and I will maintain my perfect peace because I’m perfectly patient!.

Lord, perfect my patience…Uh oh!

I just have to say…this the second time I wrote this blog.  The first one…”error message…deleted unretrievable.”  You see what I mean?  OY!!!!

Train Him Up, Watch Him Grow!

He was so happy that dad was coming home in six hours.  If I had any idea that he was counting the hours, I would have told him sooner that daddy is staying over another night.  His face fell when I broke the news and he silently slid into the front seat and stared out the window.  Bummer!  He had given up an opportunity to go to San Diego with his dad and sister to visit Aunt Edna.  There would be a stay at a hotel since dad is there on business, a trip to Sea World and the San Diego County Fair.  A tough trade off since all he gets to do is stay behind for a summer baseball tryout/conditioning camp which is going to eat up most of his summer.  As we drove I told him we’d go out for dinner and a Jamba or ice cream and he was so not enthused…no way I’d be able to compete with Shamu and elephants (and daddy, these days!)

I know he’s not really looking forward to a day in the valley heat…he was wiped yesterday.  This camp will increase the likelihood of him making the team in the fall on a super competitive high school baseball team; however, when it’s all said and done, will he have put in all this hard work and make the fall team?   My boy tends to seek our approval big time.  He loves when we’re happy and is ultra bummed when he knows he’s disappointed us.  I’m careful not to take advantage of that and to redirect him, telling him that there’s only one approval he should be seeking and if he pleases God, I know he’ll make great decisions and then we’ll be pleased.  As we approached the school, I said, “You know son, you don’t have to play baseball for me or dad; you don’t have to take piano, guitar or trumpet lessons for us either.  Our responsibility as parents is to nurture the gifts that the Lord blesses you with by presenting opportunities for you to bloom in those gifts.  If there is no desire on your part, well then it’s fruitless.  If there is a desire, then it’s your responsibility to take advantage of any opportunities presented and work hard to excel.”  His response:  “thanks, Mom.”  I asked him once again, “Do you want to play baseball this summer.”  “Yes!”

I knew the answer before I posed the question.  If he didn’t want to play, no way would he have allowed his dad to pull out of the driveway without him in that car; no way would he have had such an upbeat and pleasant attitude yesterday and again today.  Life is about choices and he’s getting a little taste of what it’s like to forego pleasure for work. I’m praying that his time on the field and in the weight room will be fruitful, filled with great laughs with new friends and opportunities to create awesome memories.  I’m especially praying that he won’t regret his decision to sweat away his summer.

Before he got out of the car, I laid my hands on him and prayed protection over him; I prayed for favor with man and strength to endure; I also prayed that if it’s God’s will, he would make that stinkin’ team!  I watched as my boy walked away carrying his frozen waters and dragging his heavy bag and I sighed!!!

Led by the Spirit Lifer

imageslif•er
n. Informal.
1. a person sentenced to or serving a term of life imprisonment.
2. a person committed to a professional lifetime career in the military.

Lifer…I’ve heard people use that expression as it relates to their careers and I’ve also heard it used at a church where I was once a member.   After reading the above definition, I’m not sure that I much care for that term, actually!!

Recently, my husband commented that he really thought we would be “lifers” at our last church…so did I.  Our family is faithful.  We tend to stick and stay…same doctors, same supermarket, same dog groomer, same hairstylist (for me), you get the picture!  We’re pretty stable and loyal once we find a place to “hang our hat.”  As far as church is concerned, we are super vigilant and purpose to be loyal, not only because it is right and for our own good, but because there are two sets of eyes watching our every move and recording every decision.  We’ve never been the sort to church hop…we don’t even do much church visiting and if we do, our first stop is always our home church.  That’s just how we do it.

Last week my daughter was traipsing down memory lane and asked me how long we attended our previous church and with my response I started wondering if we would ever be lifers at a ministry.  For a split second (and believe me it was just that fast) I wondered if something was wrong with uprooting the family after just a few years…(5 years and two weeks to be exact:).

This past weekend I gained a whole new perspective on that lifer business as we witnessed Pastor Mike welcome a batch of newbies to partner up with him and the church to make a difference in the world, to grow, to share their gifts in what he phrased as “this Jesus movement.”  I love how he phrased that and I especially loved how he prayed over them.  He said something in that prayer that caught my ear…he prayed that for however long they were partnered at this church (whether a few years or many) that they would grow in their knowledge and love for the Lord.  Pastor Mike apparently does not expect these partners to be “lifers;” however, he does pray that during the time at the church, that they grow up and go out strong in order to make a difference wherever they go.

This morning his prayer came to mind again and I sensed the Holy Spirit showing me that I am a lifer only in the sense that I am committed to my marriage for life.  I would imagine if one goes into any situation with a plan for life (other than marriage), they would be excluding the possibility of being led by the Holy Spirit, thereby being limited by their planning.

Tonight when my girl comes home, I will explain this lifer deal to her and her brother so that they would understand the importance of being led by the Spirit of God…not emotions or people, or habit, etc.  I will reiterate that the Holy Spirit’s leading is always followed by peace and order and I will let them know that we will be officially making our new church our home church this summer.

I’m praying that we would hear the voice of the Lord and be led by His Spirit; that our decisions would be in line with His will, plan and purpose; that our intentions would always mirror His heart for those whom He places in our path and that He be glorified always and in every way…in Jesus’ name!!

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.
Psalm 37:23

Daisy, the Bait

Have you ever had something really random happen…something that you know the Lord is behind somehow, yet you’re not sure about the why of it all, so you just go with it?  Yesterday, my kids and I (and Daisy) were in the car waiting for dad.  The windows were rolled down, the radio blaring our favorite song as we were bobbing our heads to the beat.  Daisy was where she always hangs out…perched at the window waiting for whomever has exited the car toIMG_3143 return.  In the process, she always draws attention…always makes friends.  Yesterday was no exception.  Her tail and wiggle alert me to an oncoming fan, whose oooh’s and aaah’s begin steps before she reaches Daisy.  She was a talkative sort, who in the span of 15 minutes spilled out her dog and cat history (complete with pictures), her daughter’s school and work history, her own work history (she was a hair dresser who specialized in curly hair…of course she did since we all have curly hair) and her family’s weekend plans.

During the course of the conversation, which now includes  my husband who has since returned to the car and is patiently waiting for the conversation to wrap up, our new friend fires off some curse words and notices that my husband snickers at her choice words (he always does that when he’s uncomfortable, especially since the kids were present).  (Funny how I never felt the need to check her for her language…her exuberance was quite entertaining.)  Here’s the bizarre part of the story…She excused herself in order to grab a pen from her car so that  she could give me her information and while she was away my daughter asked me if I had ever met this woman before since we appeared to be chatting as though we were friends.  I said no and my daughter replied, “You don’t even know her name.  It’s probably Laura…she looks like a Laura.”  To that, I replied, “No, her name is Barbara.”  Our new friend returned to the car, handed me her card and I was startled as I glanced at it, looked at my daughter and placed it under my thigh.  We were ready to say our goodbyes when my husband photoasked her her name and my family wanted to fall out when she said “Barbara.”  She noticed our reaction and grew serious when I told her I guessed her name.  She asked me how I “did” that and then she told me she was psychic.  (I sort of picked up on a little tug of war in the spirit but I wasn’t gonna go there.)  We spoke for a few more minutes and this time when she was about to curse, she caught herself.  We wrapped up the conversation with her saying she enjoyed meeting us and as she walked away, I said “God bless you,” and her response….”thank you for that.”

Now I have no idea what the point to all of that was…why she lingered as long as she did; why the Holy Spirit revealed her name; why I felt peaceful, somehow knowing that I would see her again, so not feeling pressured to share the Gospel with her…just loving on her and listening.

This morning I prayed for Barbara and then I sent her a text telling her just that.  I prayed for her protection, for her peace and for her salvation.  I asked the Lord to let me know the purpose of that meeting….if He wanted to 🙂 and promised to be open to His leading.  I’m just so stinkin’ curious about the randomness of it all!

Perhaps Daisy and I are evangelists in the making.  🙂

Once Upon a Time…

One of my favorite things about Jesus is that He remained consistent.  The other favorite thing is that He was not a respecter of persons.  Try as I may to convince others that I am His favorite, the fact remains quite clear that He wasn’t given to partiality…He loved everyone the same; wasn’t fazed by titles and never allowed riches to cloud His judgment.   He was busy doing the Father’s bidding…head down, ears open, forging ahead, all the while knowing what was to come and still He poured out to those who would ultimately deny Him and even turn on Him.

This post has been roaming around in my head for some time now and today I remembered the scripture found in John 16:32 (Amplified) “But take notice, the hour is coming, and it has arrived, when you will all be dispersed and scattered, every man to his own home, leaving Me alone.  Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.”

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Notice her crown came right off too. Ha! I found that sucker:)
I AM Arlene the Queen!!!

Once upon a time there was a girl after God’s own heart.  A girl who had witnessed the power of God…who had been blessed mightily, healed miraculously…who in exchange for all that He had done for her, promised to know Him deeper, serve Him gladly and share Him unselfishly and so she set out to do just that…head down, heart open, forging ahead.  It took no time for this girl to be noticed and it seemed that just the “right” people were noticing and soon the wooing began.  She heard of praises from the “it” people targeting her and soon the invitations to draw near began as she kept her head down, heart open and forged ahead.  She became pretty well known in that circle and her reputation was in tact as she kept her head down, heart open and forged ahead.  There were many who reached out for her insight, her prayers; many were the invites and overwhelming were the praises and amazingly she was able to keep her head down and forge ahead.  Unfortunately her heart was a bit too open.

And then one day…poof, the grace had lifted, the favor seemed to be gone and with it all of the invitations and acknowledgements silenced, along with the praises…silenced.  “Friends” and acquaintances scattered; weapons formed against her, stories told…she was even unfriended and blocked by a few.  Her response?  She lifted her head up, she guarded her heart and forged ahead, explained nothing to the “theys” and moved on.

I hear Jesus’ words so clearly….they left me alone, yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.

I will forever be grateful for lessons learned.  I believe that every single occurrence in our lives should leave us well aware, better equipped, stronger and wiser.  I thank God for every bruise, every scar, every war wound sustained in my journey.  I thank God for strength in His word and a deep knowing that nothing can separate me from His love.  Yes, I had fallen from grace, but I landed in a soft place, a better place.

How about you? Have you taken a tumble off of your pedestal…have you fallen from grace?  Have you been betrayed, come against or hurt in any way?  Let me remind you that there are better days ahead, the worst is over, the past is just that….passed!  Don’t you get left behind too!

I’m praying that you not remain in a “pause” position; that you not allow anyone to stop your forward motion; that you run to and not away from the One who knows you the best and loves you the most; that you are able to forgive and release those who have hurt you and place the memory of the hurt where it belongs…in your past and not allow it to keep you enslaved.  I’m praying that you would be strengthened in your inner man and empowered by the Holy Spirit to be wiser, stronger, more anointed; that you live life filled with joy and loud!  Loud for Him!  Head up, heart open, ears in tune to one voice…now, forge ahead!!

There is one other thing I’d like to point out, even though I can’t seem to find it anywhere in the word….

I AM HIS FAVORITE! I AM HIS FAVORITE! I AM HIS FAVORITE!!!

Why “Why” Is So Important – A Lesson in Communication

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Communication (from Latin “communis“, meaning to share) is the activity of conveying information through the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, visuals, signals, writing, or behavior.

We’ll be adding a dog to our family this summer so I’ve been preparing and part of that preparation entails locating a training program for our puppy.  I’m liking the idea of a training program which includes other dogs who are also being trained.  I was referred to a place and so this week I spent two days auditing different classes.

One of the handlers took some time with me to answer questions and explain the process.  She was very helpful.   It was play time at the end of one of the classes…a 628x471time when some of the pups were selected to “fellowship” in the center of the room.  One of the pups was not having it and kept running over to where my husband and I were sitting.  I naturally gave her love each time she came over, at one point comforting her since she was shaking.  The head trainer was a bit exasperated and whispered something to one of the handlers, who then brought out a covered gate and plopped it down in front of us, blocking the pup’s access to us, and unfortunately blocking our view of the proceedings.  The handler said, “don’t feel bad, it’s not you.”  How could I not feel bad?  I got the impression that I had done something wrong, but wasn’t sure what.  What a missed opportunity to communicate and thus teach a prospective client about protocol.

Now, I’m not too touchy, so I wasn’t at all offended or even bothered by the incident, but I did want to know what, if anything I had done wrong and how I could have avoided that barrier.  I got my answer today while watching Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer dude, explain that when you reward a dog while it is in a “state” other than calm or submissive, you are rewarding that behavior, thus giving it the okay to continue in that behavior.  What I should have done was ignore the dog’s request for comfort while it was in a fearful state.  Makes perfect sense why the trainer was irritated with my response to the runaway pup.

Naturally, this explanation got me to thinking about the value of communication and how leaving a question unanswered, assuming that someone knows better, or responding with nonverbal communication can lead to confusion, hurt feelings and missed opportunities for establishing new relationships or building and maintaining strong ones.  Perhaps if we learned to communicate effectively, we would lessen the likelihood of those pesky barriers!!

Being someone all about the “why” of a thing, I can’t get over how the Lord so knows that about me and never misses an opportunity to school me in order to make me better, not bitter!

Who knows, if we do select that puppy training school for our dog this summer, I may be in a position to train the trainer a bit on communicating with humans!  Keep calm and submissive and carry on! 🙂

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Be Humble or Be Humbled!

ImageThrough every season of our lives as parents, the one thing my husband and I have remained consistent with has been our love and loyalty to Jesus…a vow I made to the Lord when I got born again and began believing Him for a child – promising Him that we would raise our child in the Word, by the Word.  At times during this journey, we’ve been accused of being no earthly good due to our heavenly mindedness, and we’ve also been accused of being everything from boring to fanatics, as well as crazy and in need of a crutch.  We’ve never blinked or waivered in our beliefs or in our decision to raise our children in a crazy, crutch infested, fanatic filled glory cloud …hehehe

This morning my husband and I were encouraging one another for the choices we have made as a couple and as parents.  We talked about the sacrifices we’ve made and are making and during that exchange he complimented me on how recently he’s been tuning in to various conversations I have been having with our kids.  I listened as he gave God the glory for his wife and family as he recounted the difficulty a family we know is having with their children.  With all my heart I know he was not comparing our families or the way we have chosen to raise our children; however, my mind went to the story in Luke 18 where Jesus spoke of the two men (a Pharisee and a tax collector) whose prayers were heard in the temple…the Pharisee thanking God that he (the Pharisee) was not like “others”…the robbers, evildoers, adulterers and even the other man in the temple, the tax collector.  He placed himself over these people judging himself by all the good works he commits.  (Sound familiar?) The tax collector (a “sinner” in a category all by himself); on the other hand, prayed and asked God to have mercy on him, a sinner.

I quickly reminded my husband that every good decision we have made has never been our own, but one led by the Spirit of God.  He has been the One who has led the way in our household as we have yielded to Him.  He has been the One giving us parenting tips and tipping us off to situations that have needed our attention.  The times we have tripped or slipped have been times that we have disconnected from our power source.  “Don’t get it twisted,” I said…”apart from Him we can do nothing.”  And here is where I inserted a warning, lest we think ourselves untouchable.

We all have heard of those families who have provided a wonderful, Christian example in their households; who have cared for, provided for, entertained, schooled, trained and equipped their children in such a way that would seemingly point to a bright future, only to have their child lift their leg on all that is good and instead choose their own way.  That’s reality folks.

I am not so out of touch that I do not realize that each time my children leave this house they are bombarded with all of the tantalizing things that this world has to offer them.  I’m not dumb enough to think that they are not influenced by their peers or by media.  I’ve not been blind during the times that they have attempted to pull a fast one, quickly reminding them that I was born at night, but not LAST NIGHT!

Where am I going with this?  Let’s pray for one another, for our children, for our children’s friends.  Let’s remain vigilant, steadfast and wide awake.  Let’s be merciful with one another, for at some point we might need a little mercy! Let’s remember that if not for the grace of God, that one who is suffering could just be one of us.  Let’s not get so comfortable that we find ourselves praying like the Pharisee, thinking that just because we are good little Christians, trouble won’t find us!  Let’s remember to be humble by choice so that we are not humbled by force.

Lord, that Your grace not be lifted; that we remain attached to the Vine, in tune with Your voice, our steps ordered and directed by You.  We pray a hedge of protection around our children and declare that no weapon shall be formed against them that would prosper; that their appetite for that which the world offers decreases while their desire for that which pleases You increases.  We pray that they would be that light that would draw those in darkness to You, Lord.  I pray for Your peace, Your wisdom, discernment and insight into Your ways as we train up this next generation.

If I Ruled the World…

ruled the worldToday as I was shopping for a movie and video games for my son, I was stopped in my tracks by the movie titles and the video games which promote violence, that have become a source of entertainment for our children.  I’m blown away at how dark the titles and content are and I felt myself getting sick to my stomach as I surveyed them.  As I sit typing this, I hear in the background a piece on guns and how this particular store cannot keep their high powered rifles in stock.  I am shocked at how we have become desensitized to human suffering and sickened at the thought that adults are plying our children with this garbage.  It’s incredibly ironic how mindful we are to feed our children organically, strengthening their bodies while we pay to fill their minds with junk, systematically altering who they are and placing them in a position to harm themselves and those around them.   When a kid can pump 11 bullets into a six year old it’s not a stretch to guess that video games have done a number on the desensitizing of our kids.  I was reminded of my son who last summer purchased his first video game only to bring it home, play it for a couple of levels and then eject it and bring it to me saying that he felt it was something that he shouldn’t be exposed to.  It blessed me to know that in all of the “fun” he was having, he noticed the language being used and was turned off enough to give it to me to trash.

And so on my way to my car I once again remembered my childhood.  How the worst thing that could happen to a kid was getting “jumped” by the public school kids who were let out a few minutes after us. I recalled how free we were; how we spent our days “in the street” until it began to get dark outside or until we heard mommy call us in for dinner.  I remember the neighbors being friendly…I remember knowing our neighbors, respecting our neighbors, playing with neighborhood kids and having sleepovers unafraid of lurking relatives, my parents unconcerned that we would be unsupervised and tempted by the internet.  I do recall coming home from a sleepover and telling my mom how I was spooked by my friend’s mom and her friend who got drunk and happy until a fight broke out and my friend’s mom was knocked out when she stumbled and bumped her head on the table.  Ummm…that was the last sleepover at that house.  My mom was doing what moms do….she was protecting me!

It got me to thinking about the world that we live in now and I thought to myself…

If I ruled the world:

  • I would implore husbands and wives to work out their differences instead of exchanging the old for the new, sometimes having a spare on lay-away somewhere!  We are showing our children that it is easy to quit and start over.  There is no value in marriage.  Loyalty is so yesterday.
  • I would bring back something that has become old school…Communication!  We have replaced family time and face to face interaction with Apple and all things electronic and have allowed those “things” to baby sit and occupy the space in our childrens’ lives which we once occupied.  We’ve also fallen into the electronics trance and then wonder why our kids don’t write and speak in full sentences.  k? ttyl! LOL!
  • I would do away with fast food…nothing that is fast is ever that good!  Families would once again meet at the dinner table without their cell phones buzzing.
  • I would insist that parents discipline their children.  I’d let them know that their permissive attitudes are hurting, not helping their kids; that their kids don’t need a friend in you, they need a boundary setter; a rule instituter; someone who loves them enough to value them, teach them compassion, love, generosity, loyalty; show them how to be resilient; tell them the truth…that things will not always go their way, but they are strong enough to endure whatever challenge; that they are not alone in the fight because we will always be their support and God will never leave nor forsake them.  – We don’t discipline our kids because it “hurts their self-esteem.”  I recall standing in front of youth during a time of sharing and making the remark that I am teaching my son how to win and how to lose gracefully.  I teach him how to lose by letting him taste defeat and react in a healthy fashion.  I heard countless objections to my approach…I was accused of “child abuse.”  They were kidding, but their hearts spoke on the matter.

If I ruled the world:

  • I would insist that kids obey those in positions of authority.
  • I would bring back prayer in school.
  • I would teach our children to love and respect themselves and each other.
  • I would influence my neighbors to tear down their fences and open their gates and get to know those around them.  We don’t know our neighbors save the few glimpses we get as we pull our trash cans back in or run into them at the mailbox.  We have no idea what goes on behind their doors nor do we care to find out since our own lives are so out of control.
  • I would reinstate  love and compassion for our fellow man.  We run away from those who are struggling or suffering.  We don’t want to “get involved” because it’s none of our business or it’s their problem.   How sad, when their problem spills out of their homes and into ours!!  That long ago asked question needs to be revived and then implemented….”Am I my brother’s keeper?” — Yes, we would be just that.  We would notice odd behavior.  We would speak up; we would inquire; we would pray; we would check on that neighbor from time to time; we would bring by a meal just because we have extra.

If I ruled the world:

  • I would convince the retailers that violent video games, movies and books laced with filth just won’t sell, putting that media out of work.
  • I would not make available assault weapons to the public…period!

If I ruled the world, everyone would agree and then begin to change…then heal…then effect a change in their families and neighborhoods…and ultimately the world.  If I ruled the world…I would have some great ideas; some healing ideas, but the fact remains that if I ruled the world, there would still be choice because that is how God would want it…and sometimes our choices hurt!

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