Monday, June 27, 2016

First Things First

First Things First. That’s the saying, right?  That’s the recipe for success when we start a project and set out to make the plan – we all have heard someone say, “first things first.”  When we want to organize and set up a new home, we use that same phrase.  Sounds almost redundant really, to say first things first – but, there is a reason; we don’t always want to do the things that are most important first – we want to do what we like to do or want to do first.  It is a lesson to ourselves to remind us that the first things we should do, are the things that are number 1 priority.

The truth is, we always do first things first.  By that I mean that we always do what is first to us first.  If you want to know what is really first in your life – look at your day, what did you choose to do first?  I believe the real test on seeing what is first is found by our choices. 

There are 3 things that motivate or dictate what we do:

1.       Pressing things.  These are the things that we have no control over, but demand our immediate attention – like a crying baby, an over-flowing toilet, an emergency.

2.       Responsibility.  These are the things that we must do as part of our responsibility.  I know that there are irresponsible individuals who ignore their responsibilities and just move on to choice – but this should be the next thing that determines our time and schedule.  We know that we must be at work at a certain time, have our children at school at a specific time, have certain tasks accomplished by an exact time or date…we build our schedule around these things.

3.       Choice.  This is the part of our days, our lives, that shows what is really first.  When we wake up in the morning what do we choose to do first? 

For the Christian we know that the first and great commandment is that we love the Lord with all that is in us. 

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”  Matthew 22:36-40
We also have been instructed to seek God first.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”  Matthew 6:33

The very fact that putting the Lord first is a commandment proves that it is a choice – if it came naturally, we would not need to be told to do it.  You notice that we are not commanded to eat – that comes naturally, when we are hungry – we eat!  When we’re cold, we cover up, when we’re hot, we fan ourselves – caring for and loving ourselves comes naturally. 

Love, while we like to believe it is an emotion, is also a choice.  It is easy to love those with whom we get along, people that we have a lot in common with, people who share our views and values, our sense of humor, our ideals – but what about the unlovely, the grumpy, those uncharitable?  It is not easy to love “those” people, yet, we are commanded to love our neighbours as we love ourselves…that is a tall order!

If indeed we put first things first –it will make a marked difference in every aspect of our lives.  Imagine how life changing it is that Jesus said that on those 2 commandments, Loving God and loving others, hang ALL the law and prophets!  There are well over 600 commandments in the Bible, and yet if we put the law of love first we’ll be keeping all of them!

You may ask how can you choose to love God first, or how can we love people that are so soulfully ugly – the answer is that we must realize what love is – what true love is.

We know that God is love
We know that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son
We know that God commended His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners He died for us
We know that greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends
We also know that the attributes of love are:
Being Patient, Kind
Not envying or boasting
Is not proud
Does not dishonor others
Is not self-seeking or easily angered
Does not keep record of wrongs
Doesn’t delight in evil
Rejoices in truth
Always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres
Love never fails

Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.
16  And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. We love him, because he first loved us.
20  If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
21  And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
1 ¶  Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.
2  By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
3  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” I John 4:15 -5:3

So, first things first? Receive the gift of Salvation purchased for us by the blood of Christ – that is the greatest gift of love ever given, and upon receiving that love we are then capable of giving true love - the love of God that works in us and allows us to love others. 

Will you receive that gift of love that Christ purchased for us when He died on the cross?  Will you choose to love the Lord evidenced by your obedience to Him?

It is my prayer that you understand that this is written with love for you and especially for our Saviour that laid down His life for you and for me so that we could be with Him forever in eternity.

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God…”  1 John 3:1

Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Empty Nest

When birds build their nests, they instinctively know that they will have to build a new nest, or remodel their nest for a place to abide when the birds fly the coupe.  One of the things that many women struggle with is what we call the “empty nest syndrome.”  As an empty nester for over 10 years, I know the syndrome well.  Fortunately, I have learned to build a new nest instead of sorrowing over the fact that my baby nest is empty.

I believe that one of the reasons women do struggle so much is because we, unlike our bird friends, do not prepare or even consider that we will have a need for a different type of nest.  From the minute, our babies are conceived they are in our hearts to stay – nothing separates us from the love that we have for our children.  However, every step in life is a step towards our children leaving the nest. 

  1.        They leave the womb
  2.        They sleep in their own beds
  3.        They begin to crawl and walk
  4.        They go to school, get involved in sports and get jobs
  5.        They learn to drive
  6.         They go to college
  7.        They get married and establish their own homes

Isn’t it amazing that it can be reduced to just 7 simple points?  Of course at first, our children are so completely dependent on us – for everything!  Little by little, they eat on their own, they go potty on their own, they learn to read and think on their own, they spend more and more time away from us – and yet, we are never ready to let them go!

So, how can we fix this?

Well, first of all, no matter how prepared we are we will still miss our “babies” and always fondly remember the cute little munchkins and miss that special time in our lives.  So, just to be clear, this is in no way any kind of lesson on how to “not be sad” when our kids move away…that ain’t gonna happen! But – what I am trying to accomplish is to help other ladies have a fulfilling life so that the emptiness is an accepted and anticipated life with a prepared nest. So, here goes.

1.        Make sure you have a walk with God and ask Him to direct your thoughts, to comfort your heart, and to fill the emptiness you feel
2.       Always, always, always remember that you and your husband were sweethearts before the kids, you married and became one, and when the kids are gone it will be the two of you once again – so keep the romance alive!
3.       Have a ministry that you love and are willing to invest your time and talents to grow
4.       Have a good communicating relationship with your kids
a.       Spend time listening to them without always have to correct their opinions
b.       Support and encourage them in their plans and dreams
c.       Pray, pray, pray for them and let them know you’re praying for them – so get requests from them.  (and I don’t mean that every time they tell you something you don’t like that you respond by saying, “I am praying for you” so that they feel judged more than loved and covered by God’s protection and guidance)
5.       Make plans for things you’d like to do when you have no kids in your home – and as the time approaches, begin to prepare for implementation
6.       Pray and ask God to give you grace for your new life
7.       When the last one leaves, go on a vacation with your hubby to establish your new life without kids

Now, with all of that said, please remember that it is never easy to let your kids go…and the further they go, the harder it is.  The Lord was very gracious to us in allowing us to have all of our married children close to us for the first many years that our kids were married.  Then, in 2008, things changed!  Our youngest son and his family moved from California, and being our nearest neighbor, all the way to North Carolina!  Honestly, the day we took them to the airport and had to say “goodbye” still brings tears to my eyes.  For the first several months, every time I spoke to them on the phone I cried because my heart yearned so deeply to have them near.  In time, the Lord helped me to appreciate the precious time we do spend together, and I am so thankful that He has allowed us to visit them at the very least once a year for 10 days or so.

For the last several years we have lived 90 miles away from our 3 other children families, and my husband has been great at making sure we could visit them very regularly – and so even though they were not living in our neighborhood, or serving together with us in church, we have been able to have our children in our lives in spite of the miles.  Last night we said our very tearful and sad goodbyes as another one of our kids’ families is moving to North Carolina to begin a new chapter as staff members at a very good church there.  In my heart, I am happy for their life choices, but feel so sad that they will be so far away! 

The empty nest is an adjustment because we feel a loss and by definition “empty” is a sad word.

Empty: containing nothing; having none of the usual or appropriate contents; destitute of people or human activity.

So, remember that the first point in helping adjust is to have that walk with God?  I promise you that as you walk closely with your precious Lord, He will keep every promise He has given!

Here are a couple promises that He offers:

“Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.”  Luke 6:21

“As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”  Isaiah 66:13

Have a wonderful day!