Thursday, January 28, 2010

Don't Puff Them Up, Build Them UP!

Encouragement. That is such an important part of a parent's role in training and raising up children. You know, you need to encourage your kids to try to do things they are convinced they can't do on their own - like walking, going potty, talking, reading, obeying. There are so many ways we can encourage our children, sometimes it can be a kind word, a smile, cheering, coaxing, even disciplining is a form of encouragement if done properly and used appropriately.

We all want to make sure that we instill a good dose of confidence in our children so that they will be willing to try to do the hard things. The important thing is to make sure we are building them up to prepare them for their futures, and not just puffing them up by making them think they can do something they are not prepared to do. I Corinthians 8:1 teaches, "Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth." We may fill our children’s heads and make them think they can do something because they have a head knowledge, but if we truly love our kids, we will edify or build them by making sure they understand what they are being taught.

If we love our children we will work at edifying them, and not puffing them up. Knowledge is a good thing but it must be presented so that there is a clear understanding - that means teaching children what they need to know at the right time, when they are mature enough to understand and apply it to their lives. When you love your kids, you want to make sure they understand what you are trying to teach them because when they understand what they are being taught they can build on it. If they simply "know" something without understanding - they will have a false sense of security in that knowledge, and when their puffed up egos deflate they will become insecure.

There is a big difference between being puffed up and being edified. Imagine the difference between a play house constructed with a foundation, framed walls, a roof, and a floor - and compare that with an inflatable building. The inflatable building may go up quicker, but once it is unplugged from the force that is inflating it, or if it gets punctured it will fall flat. A constructed building may require more work to get it built, but it will outlast an oversized balloon! Moms, I know that you love your children - take the time to edify them - and it does take time! Don't puff 'em up - build 'em up; you'll be glad you did, and so will your children.

Have a wonderful day.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

For Glory and for Beauty

I am a Christian. On May 9, 1985 I bowed my head and my heart and personally trusted the Lord as my Saviour! So many things changed about my life on that day - for one I thing I became conscious of the Lord in every part of my life - I thought about Him all the time. I was grateful for my gift of salvation and of the sacrifice that was made for my soul...and I found myself wanting to please Him.

I hadn't been saved too long before I realized that the way I was dressing was probably not especially pleasing to the Lord. Now I know many women get a mental picture that the Lord wants you to look like the old school nuns, but that is not the case at all! I was reminded of that fact again this morning as I was reading my Bible. I was reading from Exodus 28:1-2 which says, "And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons.And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty." I know this is from the Old Testament and refers to the way the priests should dress, but in the New Testament, II Peter 2:9, we learn that as Christians we become priests ourselves! "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:"

Clearly God wants us to dress in such a way that brings Glory to Him, peculiar (not weird), and for beauty. I remember when I was first going to church I invited my then unsaved mother to a ladies event; I was so excited that she was willing to come to something at my new church...what I didn't anticipate was that she was checking things out to see who was influencing her daughter. We hadn't been there too long before my mother very discreetly whispered and said, "I hope that you don't start dressing like some of these ladies!" Ouch!!! No woman wants to be viewed as someone "not to dress like." My mom was referring to a few ladies that had determined that being holy meant being sure that everything is too loose and too long, with "comfortable" shoes - or even to those that feel safe as long as their style matches the 50's! Dressing like the 50's is fun for an activity, but would probably look weird for everyday dress.

Psalm 45:13 teaches us how to dress as daughter's of the King of Kings - "The king’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold." The way we dress is a reflection of what is in our hearts. As we choose our clothing, we are in essence stating who we wish to emulate. This is especially evident in teens, you can always tell who they admire by who they imitate in their dress, actions, and even their choice of slang. You know, there are the gothics, the skaters, those that like Hannah Montana, and so on - you can tell who they like by how they dress. Not too long ago of my granddaughters told her daddy that she wanted her hair cut like the girl on the cartoon Bolt and she is only 4 years old! See, we decide who we like and then we begin to try to look like that person.

Ladies, as Christians let's look like daughters of the King of Kings - as royalty and yes, like priests - they were the first ones that God said should dress for glory and for beauty. Everywhere you go you should be "shewing forth the praises" of God. Remember "He hath made every thing beautiful in his time..." Ecclesiastes 3:11 It is not wrong to strive to dress beautifully, just make sure you remember that with that you should bring glory to God.

Today as your plan what to wear, remember to dress for glory AND for beauty...sorry ladies I don't find a verse particularly telling us to make sure we dress for comfort - but certainly when your clothes actually fit you, they will feel comfortable, and when you know you have done your best to dress for glory and for beauty you will feel much better than if you just throw on whatever and then hope no one sees you. Let the world see all the glory and beauty that the Lord has placed in your heart! Have a wonderful day!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Yuck! Dinner Disasters #3

Today's post will complete my trio of meal mess-ups. The other two posts regarding dinner have not really been my fault - with one of the meals just being not one of my husband's favorites, and the other being spewed upon. This meal mess-up was indeed my fault. I have mentioned how much I enjoy cooking, and that I even like to try to create my own version of recipes after tasting something I like at a restaurant. This dinner disaster was a result of one of those attempts.

I LOVE Chinese food! Hands down it is one of my favorite types of food - a comfort food for me indeed. My husband knows me well enough to know that if I am feeling under the weather I will probably want Wor Won Ton Soup. For many years I lived in San Jose and had a neighbor that has become a life long friend. She introduced me to several recipes of foods I love, and some I had never tasted. One of the foods she introduced me to is Curry, tomato, beef chow mein - its kinda like spicy, Chinese spaghetti - so delicious as long as you get it at the right place. I decided to try to make my own version of this meal - and well, let's just say it didn't quite turn out the way I envisioned. Oh, it looked and smelled good - but, as soon as we tasted guessed it, we both said "yuck!"

I felt so bad, but really it was completely unpalatable - there was no way I could even bring myself to eat it, much less my poor husband! I had tasted it along the way as I was cooking and it tasted pretty good, but I thought it needed just a little more spice; by making what seemed like such a small addition to the recipe it completely ruined the flavor! Once again my wonderful hubby came to the rescue - he took me out to eat (his choice since I messed up).

This experience reminds me of the fact that there are just some things you do not add to - namely and most importantly The Word of God! "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it." Deuteronomy 12:32 God has created us and has given us our Instruction Manual - when we add to God's Word, or if we take away from what He has commanded, we are in essence ceasing from following the Lord and rather choosing another influence. Sometimes a minor addition or omission seems inconsequential, but everything we do has some type of effect and will make a change in the outcome.

As you are reading God's Word, (and I hope that you are doing so daily), realize that He put every commandment there for your good because He loves you and wants things to go well for you. "Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God." Believe me, life tastes much better when we have all and only the right ingredients!

Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Now What?

In yesterday’s blog I mentioned that there had been a few times when dinner just didn’t happen the way I had intended. As I was thinking about my dinner fiascos I remembered one evening in particular. One of the joys that we share when our family is all together is humor – we all like a good laugh – but in truth when my kids are all together they are hilarious. On the evening that I am remembering we were all sitting at the table for dinner. In our home we always had our meals together, sitting at the table with the table set, and the food set on the table “family” style…well, I had just set our supper on the table, when my kids starting “cutting up;” our oldest son had just taken a drink of water when one of his brothers caught him off guard with something funny that he said, and as he laughed he choked on his water and it came spewing out of his mouth (and nose) all over our meal!

As I viewed our ruined dinner I thought, "now what?" and then had a rush of emotions from anger to shock and then I joined the rest of our family and began to laugh – what else could we do? It was “one of those things.” At first everyone was shocked, dropped jaws and all - but in truth it was pretty comical looking – they looked for my reaction as I was the one that had worked so hard to prepare the meal, but it was no one’s fault and there was no point in getting angry – it was far better to appreciate the humor of the situation and laugh together as a family. My husband had compassion on me and took us all out to eat – my choice since my hard work was destroyed.

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones." Proverbs 17:22 I imagine I could have pitched a fit and complained to my kids that their shenanigans destroyed our dinner, cost us extra money, made unnecessary work for me, etc. breaking everyone's spirits; but instead we enjoyed a nice evening together as a family filled with merry hearts and love.

I am thankful that we can laugh together, and I am especially thankful for my husband and his wonderful fun-loving spirit that led the way!

Have a wonderful day!

Friday, January 8, 2010

What is This?

From the time I was a young girl I enjoyed cooking. I remember a few occasions when my meal either didn’t turn out right, or was ruined, or just wasn’t what was expected. I remember as a newlywed bride I prepared a meal for my new husband that had been a favorite in my home as I was growing up. It was an Irish version of macaroni and cheese made with Velveeta – I love it to this day – but it is NOT one of my husband’s favorites.

The recipe for this macaroni and cheese was one of my grandmother’s and since it had bacon and tomatoes, it was served as a casserole or stand alone meal. I grew up with four brothers that had very healthy appetites, and so I always made a 9 x 13 pan and served them a plate full; when I set the plate of what I had typically served my brothers my husband looked at me and asked “what is this?” He quickly informed me that macaroni and cheese was a side dish – not the main meal! I was disappointed but I never served it to him that way again until my children were older and my husband realized that it was a great budget meal for a family of 6. I never realized that perhaps that was why it was served that way in my home – I always considered it a treat!

I never realized that some of the things my parents did when I was growing up was because it was more cost efficient until I was a parent myself and had too much month at the end of the paycheck! Often we don’t realize why people do things because we don’t know their circumstances and since we have never walked in their shoes we can’t understand the steps they are taking.

Children often complain about their parents being too strict because they simply cannot see that their parents are ruling out of necessity or what they believe to be in their best interest. I remember explaining to my children that they could not understand me because they had never been in my position – but that I could clearly understand their situation because I had been their age at one time.

As children of God we can be that same way – we are tempted to complain when circumstances seem difficult, or when it seems that things are not going the way we want or expect, instead of trusting that our God knows the steps that we take, and allows trials in our life for our own good. Just as my husband didn’t like the mac’n cheese as a main dish until he was able to appreciate that it was best for our family, we too may not understand why God wants us to do the things He does, or why He may not want us to do certain things... this I do know – He understands all about us – and He wants what is best for each one of us individually. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are…” Hebrews 4:15

So when we have to face the hard things and become tempted to murmur or complain remember that there is a God in Heaven that understands all about it; He allows things in our lives for our own good that will help us in the long run. “…and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper…” Hebrews 13:5-6

Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

It's a Wonderful Life

It's a Wonderful Life is one of my favorite movies. I know it is old and my kids always thought it seemed depressing...poor George Bailey never got to fulfill his dreams, he was falsely accused of misappropriating funds, his absent minded uncle "lost" their tax money and he was going to be stuck paying for it; his house was a constant "work in progress" with the ever agitating loose finial on the handrail - what a life! I see it from a whole different prospective - he had a wife that loved him, a job that made a difference in his community, and in spite of the fact that he was falsely accused - we see that God knew the truth and made sure that all of his needs were met.

While I know that this was a fictional story- I find it somewhat amazing that a Hollywood production had a few things right.  There are many truths that we should all learn from this timeless film.

1. God, the true Judge knows everything! While we all say we know that God is omniscient (all knowing), omnipotent (all powerful), and omnipresent (everywhere), often we forget that He really does see and know everything that we think, say, and do!

2.  Do not judge others based on appearances - things are not always as they appear. The evidence against George Bailey definitely looked convicting, but he was not guilty at all. "Judge not, that ye be not judged." Matthew 7:1

3. Often those that judge you are guilty of the very things they are judging you for! George's main accuser "old man Potter" was kind of like Satan - he was in fact guilty; he stole the money from Georgie's uncle, he even called the authorities to have George arrested! "And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?" Romans 2:3

4. When you judge someone based on here say, you may very well believe a lie! George's accusers were guilty of believing a lie - when you believe a lie you are being influenced by Satan himself. "...for he is a liar, and the father of it." John 8:44

5. Those that love you will not judge you - they will believe in the one they love. George Bailey's family and friends got behind George and supported him even after he had caused his wife and children to cry because of the pressures he was facing - they still stood behind him. "Charity suffereth long, and is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil" I Corinthians 13:4-5

You know, there is nothing new under the sun - and even in fiction the writers and directors can only pull from things that have happened to write their stories.  In this story I see many lessons that can be learned, actual truths laced in this fictional story.  I believe we would do well to remember these truths. We should keep in mind that all of us are simply trying to live our lives, and Lord willing as Christians, we are trying to fulfill what God has called us to do. We should be concerned about being sure we are right with God, and not with passing judgment on others. We are not called to be judges, we are commanded to be witnesses for the Lord, Jesus Christ. In the story about George Bailey we see the story of a man that was simply trying his best to do what he believed was right, and became discouraged to the point of despair because he was falsely accused - until an angel came to show him that he really did have a wonderful life.

Perhaps today you are discouraged, you may be facing dark times, or perhaps you are even being falsely accused or judged by others that believe something about you that is not true. May I serve as the angel did for George Bailey?  God knows the truth and He is the Judge.  God is not only a Judge - He is a righteous Judge and will be just in all His ways!

Please remember that even in your darkest hours He knows everything about you and has a plan for your life. "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." Jeremiah 29:11.  The expected end that God has for His children is eternal life - a truly happily ever after. 

You have a significant part in the lives of those around you. God wants you to have a wonderful life!

Merry Christmas!