Don’t. Even. Start.

By listening to the story of yet another beautiful friend, I am reminded of how utterly devastating, discouraging and degrading pornography can be to a family. What may present itself as idle entertainment or harmless release is actually one of the most insidious and destructive activities available in today’s society.

Gentlemen…ladies…I beg you: Don’t. Even. Start. And, if you’ve already begun to feel its pull, get help. Immediately. Swallow your pride, disconnect your internet. Lay your cards on the table and get help. Set yourself up to succeed by finding some accountability (other than your spouse). Nothing truly good will come of pornography; I guarantee it.

You are worth more. And so is your family.

 

Sick Days

Today is the first day in twenty-three days that no one in my family has run a fever or exhibited some new symptom of illness.

Hallelujah!

We are not normally a sick group, but February has been hard on us.  Lingering colds, influenza, stomach yuck.  It’s been a long month.  Due to influenza, my son ran a 102-103 degree fever for seven days.  As soon as the fevers went away, his viral-related asthma kicked in.  For days, he was not able to talk without an ensuing coughing fit.  This morning, for the first time in over a week, I heard him laugh his true, unfaltering laugh.  The cough eventually followed, but there was enough of a delay that he was able to finish his laugh.  I am so thankful.

Over the past few weeks, those of us who are feeling okay have divided up the chores of those who are not.  This has been a fluid thing–one in which we all rotate doing what must be done and try to overlook what can be ignored.  Every day, after the animals have been fed and the breakfast things have been put away, we disinfect the house.  We wash blankets and hand towels and sheets that have lined the couches.  We sanitize light switches and doorknobs and handles and faucets.  I don’t know that it has helped, but I need to do something.

We have canceled plans, mandated rest, drank water, popped pills, choked down apple cider vinegar, smeared vapor rub, mandated more rest, administered essential oils, guzzled vats of bone broth, taken mega-milligrams of Vitamin C and mandated more rest.

We have watched documentaries on a variety of animals, Nellie Bly and The Dust Bowl.  We have listened to most of the Chronicles of Narnia on CD.  We have watched musicals, westerns, fairy tales, action films and episodes of Little House on the Prairie.  We have watched more television in these four weeks than we have in the past six months.

Oh, wait.  One of my children just came and showed me a developing rash.

So much for no new symptoms.

As much of a hassle as this month has been for me, and as disappointing at it has been for us to miss out on so many highly-anticipated engagements, I am thankful.  I am thankful that this has been one cruddy, inconvenient month and not a series of life-threatening crises.  I’m thankful that these illnesses are light and momentary–that we have the modern conveniences to make them bearable–even moderately pleasant.  I am thankful for hot running water and fresh citrus fruits and indoor laundry facilities and television and easy, inexpensive access to fever-reducing medications.

One time, just before my son turned four, we noticed a squishy spot on his skull.  It was a delayed result from a fall he’d had a couple of days earlier.  After a long day of tests, scans and waiting at a local hospital, we were told to take him to a well-known children’s hospital about an hour away.  We were able to drive him ourselves, and we arrived at about 11:30 that night.  The staff was ready for us, so we followed the nurse through the darkened waiting room to get to the exam room.  As worried as I was about my now-sleeping son, I was overcome with gratitude that night.  As we quietly walked past child after chronically ill child, a lump formed in my throat.  These little ones with their bald heads, wheelchairs, IVs and oxygen tanks were regulars.  I could see it in the lines on their parents’ faces and in the resignation in the children’s eyes.  My son, with his one-time head injury was the doctor’s priority when these little ones were fighting for their lives on a day-by-day basis.  For some strange reason, I felt guilty about that.  To be honest, I sometimes still do.

Life is truly a matter of perspective.  Sometimes, I let the fatigue and frustration creep in and steal my optimism and start to eat away at my joy.  Sometimes, I feel like giving up and just giving in to whatever mood is on the horizon.  Then I remember to give thanks.  Oftentimes, gratitude makes the difference between joy and despair in our lives.

Our feelings will almost always follow our focus. 

Enough

008Do you ever feel like you are just not enough?  Not interesting enough or attractive enough?  Maybe not liked enough or capable enough or maybe you feel like you aren’t even fill-in-the-blank enough?

Bottom line is…you feel like you aren’t worth enough.

Enough for what?  For his attention or her approval?  Their respect or that promotion?  Her appreciation?  His time?  Their stamp of approval on your very existence?

Let me share with you a little secret:  They don’t get to decide.

You do.

You get to decide whether you want to buy the lie or cash in on the Truth.  No other opinion should matter.  This is what you have been promised.  The sacrifice has already been made.  The verdict is in.  Look it up if you don’t believe me.

God says you are…

…His child and co-heir in eternity (Romans 8:16).

…His masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10).

…His dwelling place (Psalm 46:4).

…a new creation (II Corinthians 5:17).

…blessed with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3).

…an overcomer (Revelation 12:10-11).

…the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).

…more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37).

…chosen and precious (I Peter 2:4).

…royal and holy (I Peter 2:4).

…full of treasure (II Corinthians 4:7).

…free (II Corinthians 3:17).

…His (II Corinthians 1:21-22).

It’s time to make a choice.  Wallow in the lies or bask in His Truth.  Cower like a captive or fly in His freedom.

You are enough.

 

Focus

It has been a long time since the candidate who held my vote has taken up residence in the White House.  2017 will be no exception.

However, I will continue to respect the office of the Commander-in-Chief.  I will continue to require my children to speak of him with courtesy.  I will continue to pray for him and for his family.  I will ask God to give our new President-Elect wisdom, a spirit of humility and the courage to do what is right.  I will also pray God’s protection over his family–from within and without–as they continue to live under the harsh scrutiny of a very outspoken people.

I give thanks, again, that out of the hundreds of other points on the globe, I was born here–in the land of the free and in the home of the brave.  A place in which most of us can easily afford the luxury of not fighting for our survival.

Let me not lose sight of the fact, Lord, that the world still turns at your command.  You are the King of kings and Lord of lords.  Thank You for being my one true certainty in these uncertain times.  I choose to continue to focus on You.

reflectivecreek

 

More Like Marta

Some time ago, I wrote about how we rescued Marta from the bottom of the pecking order among our egg-laying flock.  She lived in the woods for a while, making occasional appearances, while she recovered both physically and emotionally from the trauma her feathered “friends” inflicted.  She has now taken up residence in our barn, and she remains a gentle and friendly bird.

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We have discovered that Marta is at least partially blind.  She responds to audible cues much better than visible.  As a matter of fact, we occasionally startle her when we’re working in the barn.  The other day, after helping my son, Isaac, settle his turkeys into their winter home, Marta was under foot during the process.  I moved her to the other side of the gate so she didn’t get stepped on.  I then turn around, and she’s nose-to-beak with our tortoise-shell cat, Patches.  Just calmly checking each other out.  Marta has allowed both of our adult dogs and one of our puppies the same privilege of up-close-and-personal examination.

On our little farm, we don’t typically encourage freeloading.  This was a certain unnamed party’s concern once Marta moved into the barn.  I pleaded her case, though, and she was given a reprieve.  The icing on the cake is that my oldest daughter discovered where she is laying her eggs.  Good girl, Marta.

I have occasionally wondered if Marta harbors any ill will toward her former coopmates.  They were awfully hard on her–irrationally so.  She doesn’t seem to hold any grudges as she pecks and scratches along the outside border of their confines.  She might appear to gloat a little bit from time to time, but that certainly seems forgivable under the circumstances.

If only more of us were like Marta–willing to leave the flock behind when what they do threatens to destroy us.  Willing to carve out an existence on our own, independently forging our own way.  Willing to give back out of gratitude when we can and staying calm even when the circumstances are a little bit scary.  Willing to not let bitterness change us into something ugly and unforgiving.  Willing to take the high road.

Waiting for Jesus

II Peter 3 talks about the return of Christ, the day when He comes to take those who love Him to heaven. I have looked forward to that day since I put my trust in Him when I was just a kid! I sometimes want to get complacent in my faith, to just sit back, hold and wait for Him. But I’ve got stuff He wants me to do in the waiting.

“So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him.” (v. 14)

I don’t want to meet Jesus with excuses on the tip of my tongue. I want to be at peace with my Lord.

Reconciliation

I don’t know if anyone else struggles with this, but our family has occasional disagreements…constantly.  It really wears on me more than it does my husband, but I think it’s because I’m with the kids kind of all of the time.  Plus, I tend to take my children’s attitudes personally–like they’re a reflection of my parenting or something.  Which they can be, I guess, but I need to not be so emotionally involved in pretty much everything.
I’m working on it.
I understand that moodiness and argumentativeness are normal among teenagers–and among people in general.  I truly do get that.  However, I am also a firm believer in the fact that just because something is normal does not mean it’s acceptable.  So, there is this dance that I attempt to perform as a mother of older children.  It’s called the yes-I-get-that-you-feel-this-way-and-it’s-totally-normal-but-it-is-not-okay-for-you-to-say-and-do-whatever-you-feel-like-saying-and-doing-and-please-know-that-I-am-holding-myself-to-the-same-standard-or-you-would-be-at-the-end-of-the-driveway-with-a-Free-to-Good-Home-sign-around-your-neck dance.  It’s a tough step to master because the tune is always changing.  Plus, the music is just so loud.
I have been trying to communicate to my kids that there is freedom in treating others the way we would like to be treated and that Jesus should be the standard for our behavior and that we are only responsible for our own actions…but I don’t think they’re buying it.  And, to be honest, that whole concept is a hard sell for me on some days even though I have experienced its truth time after time.  I surely am a slow learner on some days.  (Lord, pleeeease help my kids learn Your truths more quickly than their mother did!)
Anyway, I ran across a quote from Rick Warren this morning that I have printed out and hung in our dining room.  He beautifully articulates the importance of right priorities.
“Emphasize reconciliation, not resolution.  It is unrealistic to expect everyone to agree about everything.  Reconciliation focuses on the relationship, while resolution focuses on the problem.  When we focus on reconciliation, the problem loses significance and often become irrelevant.”
I wish we lived in a world in which we saw every person as greater than any one of their opinions, preferences, personality traits or beliefs.  But we don’t.  We have begun to treat people as irrelevant while deeming certain issues as the most important thing.  This is a tragedy.
Lord, please help me to model the importance of loving Your people both inside and outside the walls of my home.  And, may my children come to understand the significance of right priorities in a way that proclaims Your Truth and shines Your Light even in the darkest of situations.