Our daughter is about to leave for full-time missions. It may sound silly but I smiled as I pulled the stale waffles out of the refrigerator. They are summer memories of three of our adult children in the kitchen eating one of their favourite foods.
We were saving them to toast, but forgot them in the back of the top shelf. Now I fear they may choke the toaster.
As I dump them out of their plastic storage bag, I can hear my daughter downstairs, stuffing her duffle bag full.
What have we gotten rid of in our lives in order to pour into our children, the very best of all He is?
Life is full of object lessons. Life is a series of getting rid of the garbage and filling our souls with nutrients.
“Train up a child in the way he should go…..” Prov. 22:6
Ephesians 4:22 – 24, setting aside the old life and being renewed.
Grant my children godly discernment and wisdom to know not what, but whom to hold onto.
My workweek was experientially rich. I could say “rough”, but I am going to choose the word “rich”. In my line of work debriefing is mandatory. In most cases a debrief means communication between two people in order to process confidential and often challenging information. This communication practice, in my work setting, is to help me process what I’ve heard, and to help me leave the information in God’s capable hands.
This week I didn’t get the chance to debrief so I wrote instead. As I wrote down each experience a new realization came to the forefront of my mind. Sometimes, even when we are able to debrief with someone we are often still left with an unexplainable unsettledness deep inside. Why?
Even when the hearer is listening, a part of the speaker’s heart is never heard. I am not saying those whom I have talked to in the past have not heard me. I am not saying those who have talked to me have not been heard. I am realizing that as mere human beings, we are incapable of doing what only God can do. We cannot hear the heart. We hear sound bites only.
As I watch my adult children growing and learning and developing in their unique vocations I see a similar frustration across the board. We are family. We have genetic commonalities, personality similarities. Our faith heritage contributes to the way we experience this world as well. But despite our kinship, as we come together to share our deepest concerns, there can still be unseen tension. This tension or inner frustration isn’t because we don’t love each other. It exists because we cannot hear one another’s hearts like only God can.
No matter how much we love each other, there is a limit to our hearing and our understanding. I often think of this song lyric “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen, nobody knows but Jesus….”
If I could give my husband anything, if I could give my children anything, if I could give my friends anything – it would be these words:
When no one understands debrief with God – He hears your heart.
Better still, before we look for someone to understand – go to God first.
I have learned that no matter what I face I am never alone. When my parents were going through a divorce and my new husband couldn’t relate to my heartbreak, God could.
When my children left for kindergarten, then graduated, and one has married, no one could get inside of my heart and hold me like God could, and still does.
Now I am facing the third or fourth season of watching our youngest leave for missions, our second born leave for the sixth time for yet another skating tour – a second time in Europe. Our eldest and her husband moved to a different province a year ago this past April, with our two little grandchildren.
Who holds us together when everybody leaves? God does. I constantly turn to God’s Word and read the stories of those who have gone before me, and how God sustained them when they faced change and loneliness. The time I do not have with my family – is time for me to pray for them, and time for me to live a life of example.
Every change, every tearing, all the comings and goings in this world are opportunities for us to watch God’s faithfulness at work.
When it comes to our children leaving the nest, sometimes we can let the tearing overshadow the growth. Rather than focusing on the change, or the empty space, why not focus on the new strengths you see your adult children developing? Why not focus on the new skills they are acquiring? Take a minute and reflect on how you too are growing through it all.
I admire how all of our children are leaders. Each of them have a leadership position of some kind. In some ways I could say their Dad and I have raised strong independent people, but I give the credit to God. There is one thing I want us, and them to never forget…don’t be so independent you forget to depend on God. He will never leave us or forsake us (Deut. 31:6). You would do well to read the entire context of that chapter to see what kind of change Israel was facing.
It is very easy to talk to God about how our lives radically change over the years. Just find a quiet spot and call on his name. Ask him to reveal himself to you. Ask him to speak to you. Tell him how you are doing, and what you need help with. Wait for answers in the stillness of the night, or the quiet of the morning. Don’t look to the world for the wisdom that only God can give. Don’t turn to the right or the left (Deut. 5:32, 28:14), comparing your life with others perhaps? Don’t reach for the first thing that numbs your pain. Focus on His truth. Watch for Him to show up in the most miraculous of ways.
I don’t like climbing mountains, so I was surprised to find I am a mountain climber. The rocks are life’s challenges. The sheer height is fear of failing. The climbing gear is my relationship with Christ, and His Word. And the climb? My continuous choice to overcome.
I was looking for useful tools the other day for a friend who is fighting depression, and came across a podcast by John Piper (his youtube channel is Desiring God). Thanks Julie for suggesting it.
As embarrassing as it is to admit – I can’t remember which bible verse he quoted, but He tells us the best way to overcome depression is to gaze at God. At first I scoffed “oh come on – it can’t be that simple.”
You never want to give people advice that you can’t take yourself, so I pondered John’s words.
I didn’t understand.
“How do I gaze at You?” I asked God.
And then I sat very still and quieted my thoughts and waited. An answer came. You gaze at God by not staring at the world.
I personalized “the world”. What did that represent for me? I had been watching mystery/crime television, when I could have been playing music, or writing, or even resting. The information consumed left me feeling fatigued and restless. Images of struggle and death were the last flashes before I fell asleep. Not something a mountain climber needed to reach the summit.
A light bulb moment, fuel for the fire, energy for the climb! If you find yourself slipping, if you find yourself stuck, if you recognize you are out on a limb going no where – perhaps some reflection is needed on what or whom you’ve been staring at?
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” Matthew 6:22 (NIV)
Guess what? I skipped television tonight and wrote instead, as well as visited with some friends. Our conversation was very focused on….you guessed it, my best friend. tonight I think we’re going to be mountain climbing in my sleep:)
At the risk of sounding psycho, there is a dark force that keeps us from surrendering to that which is good for the soul.
SUMMER CHURCH CAMP for example. So many people excuse themselves from pinching pennies and marking calendars in order for their children to attend camp. I still regret that my husband and I did not make time for family camp! I regret saving my pennies for other less important things.
There is also this frame of mind that creeps in and tells us that summer church camp is maybe just a little too churchy. We don’t want our kids to be too churchy do we?
When I was a child SUMMER CHURCH CAMP saved my life, or should I say that is where the ‘saving’ began? Thank you to my parents for allowing me to go. It was at summer church camp I was introduced to God’s love and truth, and a relationship that would never let me down.
Do you want your children to develop integrity? Do you want your children to understand the importance of friendship? Do you want your child to understand the importance of commitment? Would you like your child to become a leader in the community? Do you want your children’s eyes to be opened to possibilities? Do you want your child to know there is someone who loves them, who will never let them down, who can transform them into a relational and faithful person?
Don’t let your earthly wisdom cloud your brain. Allowing your children to be taught about God is not forcing them to believe, but giving them an opportunity to choose. Allowing your children to be around other people who are seeking God’s goodness, is a positive and real experience. Real people working, and playing, and learning along side other real people in the midst of a myriad of issues, in an adventurous outdoor setting, away from the usual pressures of life.
Choose SUMMER CHURCH CAMP for your children, choose IT for yourself. Choose it for your family, and watch your joy multiply through the years!
1 Cor. 1:18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”
James 3:13 “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom“
Signed: Saved and proud to be churchy, happy, healthy and a leader in my community – Cindy Palin
I can remember the first time I realized that even adults aren’t grown ups.
For a long time I couldn’t understand why people older than myself were treating one another so poorly. Didn’t they know better?
As a child I began to see that one’s past could very well have something to do with present behaviours. That realization helped me to develop a compassion. I began to separate the behaviour from the person, albeit not all the time.
When that exercise fell short I came face to face with my need for divine intervention. I needed someone who could give me strength and wisdom beyond my human capabilities, someone who could help me forgive others for their short-comings, and someone who could help me forgive me for mine. I needed God, and believed He wanted to help.
With God’s help I am growing up more every day. I want to be an adult that my children and grand-children can look up to.
“And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”(Romans 5:5)
The most valuable gift we can give to one another is the gift of listening. But once the period of listening has been realized we have a decision to make. It is always good for the listener to clarify what they’ve heard, but eventually both the listener and the sharer should make goals in order to move forward.
Making goals to move forward in no way means the information shared has not been taken seriously.
Repeating the same information over and over again does not help get your point across, but keeps you stuck in the past.
Making goals to move forward can be scary. Doubts can creep in, fear can put a freeze on moving forward.
Moving forward is absolutely necessary for the healing journey to begin.
*I know from experience that the deepest damage, pain, and trauma is healable.
If you are someone needing to heal from trauma, let that trusted listener help you make some goals so you can begin your healing journey, so you can begin to move forward, one step at a time.
Chances are that person (whom God can lead you to) may have come through the exact same thing. The listener is not going to reveal that right away, because your healing process isn’t about what everyone else has gone through. Your healing process is about you, your very real suffering, how valuable you are, and how possible it is to make strong choices moving forward.
I often imagine myself as one of the first disciples Christ called…drifting into shore in a fishing boat, and finding a stranger waiting there. Hearing him speak my name as if He’s known me my whole life, calling me to follow him and leave everything behind.
How is that different than Christ calling someone to faith today? We don’t get to see him in the flesh, but we can hear him, and we know He is alive and well.
And here’s something even more mind blowing to consider, was Christ not calling us at the same time He called his first disciples? It just took a few more years for our ears to hear him. “Simon/Peter, Andrew, James, John………Cindy” (Matthew 4:18-22). Was He not calling us before the earth was formed (Ephesians 1:4)?
Many times when I face challenges and expect Christianity to be easier, I think of Stephen (another of Christ’s disciples), full of the Spirit, speaking to the crowd with such passion and love. He died that day, stoned to death, but saw Christ, standing at the right hand of God – waiting for Him in the sky (Acts 7).
How is my responsibility any different than Stephen’s? I too want to be ready to speak when the Spirit leads. Should I expect a safer outcome?
What does it mean to be called? What does the Bible say about the chosen children of God? John 1:12, Romans 8:19, Galatians 3:26
These word pictures and questions inspired me to write a song for our Church’s One Hundred and Twenty Fifth Anniversary, June 24th, 2017 at First Baptist in Olds, Alberta.
I could have written something about God’s faithfulness and our church’s longevity, however I thought it prudent to celebrate the privilege of being chosen, the cost of being a follower, and the joy of being an active part of the body of Christ.