Love One Another And Do Your Job!

Agape

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”-Colossians 3:12-13*

The last installment of my love series is about agape love.  Agape is Greek for love.  The essence is goodwill, benevolence, and willful delight in the object of love.** As I see it, this is something which is extremely needed in today’s society.  There is too much hate, bigotry, and rudeness in this country and it saddens and disappoints me.  I am a firm believer change starts at the top, and those who exhibit positive behavior will influence others creating a chain reaction.  How can I affect a needed attitude adjustment to this madness?  I have decided to send an open letter to all my elected officials, who represent me, asking them to do the unbelievable; show agape love to one another and do their jobs which they were elected to perform.

Dear Elected Official,

Greetings from south Louisiana and thank you for taking time to read my letter.  I am compelled to write this because I am so disappointed in the state of our great nation.  I am an independent who believes our federal government has been given way too much power and my religious beliefs have been compromised way too often.  I personally don’t think the federal government should be running mail service for the country or establishing educational standards for our children.  I believe the federal government should protect its citizens from foreign threat, secure our borders, and strengthen our infrastructure.  I share this so you can understand although we may not agree on certain topics, I am willing to listen to your side and ask you give me the same courtesy; find the items we agree on, and reach a compromise which is win/win for both sides.

If I am not mistaken, this is why you were elected as a representative for our area.  One of the actions expected of you, in representing me, is to exhibit this type of positive behavior with the other elected officials.  Have you heard of agape love?  Agape is Greek for love by demonstrating goodwill, benevolence, and willful delight.  All Americans should insist on this type of role modeling from all elected officials.  As I see it, you are a paid employee of the American citizens and if you are not meeting the basic standards of handling debate and compromising for the good of all people, then you need to be voted out.

I have three simple suggestions for you and your cohorts:

  • Find common ground-I would think before any type of legislation is proposed, the committees who introduce it should find out what they can all agree on. I bet you could ask a Democratic or Republican if they want to protect their families, find affordable healthcare for all, and keep the illegal criminals from crossing our borders, they would all say yes!  Start there.  Discuss options on how to come to a proposal.  Where I come from this is called brainstorming.
  • Compromise-Start focusing on the ideas which could work. Discuss and debate in an adult manner.  No need to call names or point fingers if someone does not agree with you.  You should be paid for achieving results and up to this point, I don’t think many of you have earned a salary.  Compromise is about give and take.  Shoot for the stars and settle for the moon.  Your expectation should be to reach a reasonable solution from both sides.  I bet if both sides presented an option together, united in their proposal, and eager to stand behind it, the country would take notice.  An extra bonus might be the media focusing on something positive for a change.
  • Be Civil-The fact I have to even bring this up is embarrassing. Please give less fodder to the media who highlights your vulgar actions, disparaging threats, and disrespecting one another.  You, as an elected official, have a duty in representing the American citizens and should not be name calling, pointing fingers, or belittling other elected officials.  The last time I witnessed this type of immature behavior was when I was in high school.   You have been chosen by the people and should maintain goodwill and benevolence at all times (do unto others) and set the bar for the nation.

I know it might sound like I am lecturing you and in a way I am.  Think about all the young children, teens, and adults who are witnessing the actions of many of the elected officials in the federal government.  Is this the type of behavior we want our children to emulate?  This is probably another area where we can agree on and the answer is no.   I believe you should treat others as you would like to be treated.  Try and get to know someone personally and understand how it is to walk in their shoes.  Perhaps it may change your mind.

I will be praying and watching to see if you will be the one to start a positive trend in our capital.

Sincerely,

Kelsey Remmelts

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24*

* The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

**https://www.gotquestions.org/agape-love.html

 

At The End Of The Day We Are Family

Storge 1

“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him.”-Psalm 127:3*

In keeping with the “love” theme this month, I am exploring the storge love.  Storge is the Greek word which relates to natural, familial love such as the love between a parent and child. This type of love is not mentioned directly in the Bible, but in the new testament the negative form of this word, astorgos,  is used twice. **

I grew up in a typical middle-class family in the sixties and seventies.  My dad was an engineer with a major oil and gas company and mom was a homemaker.  Growing up we spent more time with mom as she volunteered at our school, took us to dance, made our costumes, and toted us around while running errands and shopping.  When it came to discipline, I remember mom yelling at us or sending us to our room, and I don’t remember the “wait till your father gets home” line ever being used.  There was a kind of awed respect or healthy fear in me which knew never to push the envelope too far with mom because she might get dad involved.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I was not beaten or verbally abused as a child.  There was this mysterious aspect to my dad and perhaps it was because he was away more than at home with us.  Perhaps it was his deep voice and when he spoke louder it rumbled through the room.  Or perhaps it was because he was larger than life and could fix any problem. For all of these reasons is why I was certain not to have mom engage dad in any discipline issues.

My father was not overly affectionate with me as I was growing up, but every once in a while, he would hug me or tell me he was proud of something I did.  As we both grew older, dad was more loving in his actions and words which encouraged me to reciprocate.

I would seek his approval for the rest of our lives.  Disappointing dad was far worse than any other form of punishment and there were a few times I accomplished this task.

I decided to get married at age nineteen before finishing college.  Dad said he would no longer pay for my college if we were going to make such a grown-up decision.  Education was everything to my dad and he thought once I stopped going full time, I would never go back.  I had to prove to him I would get my degree.

And I did.  It took me eight years but I did it.  I invited my parents to my graduation where I would walk across the stage.  They both were so proud of me and I could see tears in my dad’s eyes.  I knew the disappointment had been erased from his memory.

When Scott died in 2001, my parents were the first ones to come be with me.  We were all in shock and I asked them to assist me with the funeral arrangements.  I decided to buy dual plots for both Scott and me and my dad was almost panicked by my choice.  “You are so young and you don’t know what the future holds for you, I think buying your burial plot next to Scott’s is not necessary,” he said.  I don’t think he was disappointed as much as profoundly saddened on me making such a final decision.

I was reminded this weekend by my mom of how disappointed she and dad were in Randy and me for not inviting family to our wedding in 2005.  For personal reasons, we decided to keep it an extremely low key and not invite our family members.  We thought we were doing a favor for everyone and sparing them the cost of travel and lodging.  Instead, our family felt left out and was disheartened by our decision. My dad never mentioned this to me.

Through the years my dad became more affectionate and would hug me, tell me he loved me, and sometimes get weepy when our visits came to an end.  It became extremely important to him for the family to get together, take pictures, and make memories.  As we gathered around him in his final hours, he could not verbalize his feelings, but we could feel his love and knew he was proud of all of our achievements and decisions.

This is storge love.

Where parents love their children, regardless of their faults and the disappointments they will bring about.  In my family, there were accolades, achievements, disappointments, and failures.  But at the end of my dad’s life, we knew he had forgotten the negative occurrences and was pleased with our family and how we rally around, lift up, respect and love one another.  I pray this will be my dad’s legacy for the future generations of our family.

* The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

**https://www.gotquestions.org/storge-love.html

Thank You For Being A Friend

Phileo

“Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs”.-1 Corinthians 13:4-5*

Can I be real?  I don’t have a best friend.

Am I alone here?

If I had to label someone my best friend it would be my husband and my family.  Please don’t feel sorry for me because I do have friends.  People I love and I would do anything to help them if they were in need.  I would consider all the individuals my inner circle allies as I love them for their grace, humor, reliance, and support.

This type of love is known as phileo love.  It comes from the Greek word “philia” or “philos” which means friendship and dear.  It also means a friendly feeling toward another.  This type of love refers to brotherly love or close friendship.** I feel this way about my inner circle peeps.

What defines friendship to me is someone who knows the real me (transparency) and still wants to maintain a relationship with me.  I also feel the same way about them.  I have several people in my life which fit this description and consider them my friends.  I truly don’t have one person favored over any of the others.

My friends are forgiving of me when I goof up and I can reciprocate forgiveness if needed.  These same friends can call me out when necessary and I will do the same for them.  The most comforting notion is my friends are dependable when I need them.  I want to deliver the same response to them when they need me.

Another interesting tidbit about my friends is sometimes they are with me in a season for a reason.  There have been people who have entered my life with a bang and after a period of time, they have slowly disappeared like a vapor.  I believe God brought us together for a specific cause and when the resolution was complete, it was time for us to move in our different directions.  I totally accept this truth and am content with the wonderful memories we made and try to keep in touch (kudos for social media!).

It is kind of cool how God made us relational beings and created different type of kinships for us to experience.   I am so thankful for feeling free to have a multitude of friends and not worry or be envious if I am not considered someone’s best friend.  I would hope a pal of mine knows they could rely on me to listen, be a confidant, ask a favor, or ask me to pray for them.  God has helped me broaden my friend base and blessed me with a diverse crowd of people who have opened my eyes to different thoughts, opinions, and cultures.  It gives me the opportunity to learn more about my spiritual gifts and how He uses me to bless others.   As mentioned in 1 Corinthians chapter 13, the scripture talks of the truth about love.  To be patient and kind and to put others feelings and needs before our own.  When we love others we should honor them and not keep score of ways they may have wronged us.  This this is what I want my circle to do for me.  And this my friends, is why I love you.

Blessings

colourful-hearts

*The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

**https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary

Are There Different Types of Love?

Are there different types of love_

Summer is officially here, WOO HOO!  I love the summer but around September I am ready for some cool breezes in our southern Louisiana neck of the woods.  This month I am focusing on the word “love” as part of my Devotion 2018.  What a great word but sometimes I tend to use it rather loosely in describing my feelings about a particular mood, event, or activity.  For example, when I wrote the second sentence, I used the word “love” to show how much I care for summer.  Do I truly LOVE summer?

This month I will explore the different types of love which are referenced in the bible; eros, phileo, storge, and agape *.  In honor of our marriage, thirteen years ago this month, I have decided to start with eros.  Happy Anniversary Randy!

As defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary “Eros is named after the Greek god of erotic love and conceived by Plato as a fundamental creative impulse having a sensual element: erotic love or desire”.**

 “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper as his complement’.”-Genesis 2:18***

Speaking on behalf of my own experiences, I am so thankful for God’s design for this type of love.  I LOVE the fact I can look at my husband, my heart flutters and my cheeks flush because I am physically attracted to him.  God longs for us to experience this level of intimacy in a marriage where we are committed to each other.  There are definitely ups and downs in a marriage, but if we focus on one another’s needs instead of our own, the marriage is enhanced by the unselfish acts of one another.

“Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and one of mind.”-Philippians 2:2***

I have discovered in lifting up my husband EVERY DAY in prayer, asking for the blessings to be given to him, I also receive the blessings.  I want the best for him and as his supportive partner, I lift him and his needs up before mine every chance I get.  Over time I have learned to appreciate his awesome qualities and not dwell on his irritating habits or opinions (Yes, I know, I have habits and opinions indeed!)  This is the man who I will spend the rest of my life with and I want to fall in love with him every day.

When some of those habits and opinions of Randy’s make an appearance, I take it to God in prayer and I ask Him to change ME, not focus on changing Randy.  Change my heart and my view and see it from Randy’s perspective.  Some opinions take more prayer than others but God is working on me to change my viewpoint.

“Be devoted to one another in love.  Honor one another above yourselves”.-Romans 12:10***

An integral part of passion and intimacy in our relationship is the commitment Randy and I have to our marriage.  I am not saying our marriage is perfect, but we believe God brought us together and look to Him in all circumstances in our lives; the good, the bad, and the ugly.  We put God in our marriage to guide us through our union forever until death do us part. We trust in God and we trust each other.

“Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing in value.  She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life”.-Proverbs 31:11-12***   

God designed this type of love for husbands and wives to interact in an experience of the heart, mind, body, and soul with each other.  Yes, there is sex (I hear my children groaning right now) Emojibut this is only a part of the erotic love in a marriage.  The complete recipe calls for the combination of desire, commitment, engagement, communication, and selflessness.  I look forward to celebrating our eros love for years to come, Randy!

“So they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate”.-Matthew 19:6***  

 

*https://www.gotquestions.org/

**The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

***https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Eros

Ready To Rock My Next Mama Moment

Add heading (6)

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”-Proverbs 22:6*

Do you know what I wanted to be when I grew up?  It was not a dancer, a doctor, or a famous musician.  The only dream I can remember from the time I was a little girl was I wanted to be a mama when I was all grown up.

I was twenty-four before I understood the true definition of a mom.  My perspective changed on everything because of the tiny little creature God had given me to love and raise up.  I remember when I was pregnant with my second child, the panic which flooded my mind and heart; could I love another one as much as my firstborn?  I quickly found out the answer was, yes I can.

Throughout my years of rearing my three beautiful children, there have been many lessons learned on both sides of the parent/child relationship.  Some of the lessons I am proud of and would do it again in a heartbeat.  Other lessons knocked me off balance, left me shaken, and robbed me of my stamina to get back up.

But I did.

I slowly rose, dusted myself off, pulled up my big girl panties, and took a deep breath.

And reverted back to what I know best; being an unconditional, relentless, and hard-headed loving mama who would lay down my life for my children.  The privilege of being a mother has taken my heart soaring to the heavens and left it crushed with sorrow.

I know I was not alone in my parental duties.  God, my husband(s), family, and friends also played a key role in raising up the Townsend children.  I am thankful for the extra hands, opinions, and grace which was provided.  But there are certain aspects of this type of relationship only a mother can fulfill, regardless of the age of a child.  And here I stand; waiting to rock my next mama moment.

Below is a piece I wrote back in 2016 as part of a five-minute writing challenge.  Reflecting on what I wrote confirms my dream of being a mother.  I am not perfect, but I certainly have good intentions of caring and loving my children.

You were wanted and loved.  To this day, I can feel the phantom fluttering inside knowing you were growing in me.  When you were born you were perfect and exactly as I imagined.  I was in awe of how little you were and remember touching your soft newborn skin and taking in the sweet aroma which only a baby can truly present.  Because of you, my title and purpose changed in my life.  It was not about me anymore, but about you.  You also changed me physically, which I am proud of the scars, curves, and extra padding which I now bear.  I would move heaven and earth to protect you from evil, threats, and harm.  I would die for you.

I would correct you when you were wrong and praise you when you were right.  I have been your biggest cheerleader and have believed you could do whatever you wanted to pursue.  It broke my heart when I had to let you fall and receive the bumps and bruises life would give you.  But I knew you would bounce back, fiercer, stronger, and wiser.  I am so honored for you to call me mom and blessed for God allowing me to be a part of your life.  I know one of you understands what I have described here and the other two will grasp the concept when they become parents one day.  Continue to put God first in all you do and the rest will fall into place.

Love you with all my heart,

Mom

* The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Linking up with #Grace&Truth

 

Letting Go

Add heading (4)

“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. “-Psalm 127:3-4*

Affection is my word for the month of April and what comes to mind is my love and affection for my children.  I would do anything for my children, but sometimes there is nothing which can be done. I found myself in this position and all I could do is give my daughter to God.

In my younger years when I was asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, my response was to be married and be a momma! It was my dream and I was blessed with my first and only girl, Taryn, in January 1990.  She was a daddy’s girl from the get-go.  Needless to say, when he suddenly died in 2001, it was devastating for all three of my children.  Taryn retreated to a dark and empty abyss and the climb out of the hole was brutal on all of us.

I witnessed behavior issues and did everything I could to “fix” her.  We saw counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and doctors.  She was evaluated for disorders and learning disabilities.  She built this huge wall around her and would not let anyone into her painful world.  As time marched on, there was disobedience, drugs, drinking, and even running away for five weeks.  As her mom, I kept trying to figure out what I had done wrong.  Was it something I said or something I did or did not do?   The guilt and the shame weighed me down and I was drowning in my own grief- again.  This time over my child who I could not reach, heal, or understand.

Thank God for my husband Randy, who reached out to experts, and explored our options to save Taryn from her destructive actions.  We decided to send her to an eight-week wilderness therapy camp.  It is like something you would see on a reality TV; two undercover police escorts came at 4AM and woke her up, handcuffed her, and walked her out to the front door.  I was ordered to stay in my bedroom with the door shut.  I rocked myself back and forth crying out to God to save my little girl.  At this moment I realized, I had to give her up to Him.  His will would be done.

  • Turning over control- My first major hurdle was the realization I could not fix Taryn and God was the one in control. It did not matter how many people we consulted to find an explanation as to why she was acting this way.  Taryn later revealed to us she blamed herself for her father’s death.  She was eleven at the time and her dad had sent her to her room for misbehaving at dinner.  She remembers stomping up the stairs and wishing he would go away.  He left later in the evening to play in a soccer game, where he collapsed on the field and died.  She carried this burden on herself and told no one for six years.
  • Turning over anger- Not all issues were resolved overnight. Even after the therapy program, Taryn continued to slip back into her old habits and wound up pregnant at seventeen.  She gave birth to a baby boy after her eighteenth birthday and gave him up for adoption.  It was the best decision for both her and the baby as she continued to heal and work on herself.  This was a huge disappointment for me and I had to come to a place of forgiveness and letting go of the anger.
  • Turning over pain- Today, Taryn is twenty-eight years old, married with two beautiful daughters (my grandbabies!). She graduated high school and completed her Associate’s degree as a medical assistant.  She works extremely hard for her family and plans on going back to school this year to complete her registered nursing degree.  I burst with pride as she has risen above her anger, hurt, and grief.  I have had to forgive her for all the hateful comments, actions, and pain she has created for herself and our family.  I am so thankful to God for walking with and bringing us through these circumstances and strengthening our bond as a mother and daughter.

I am amazed at how God guided and directed me as a mother.  I know I am not perfect, but am so blessed to call myself the mother of these three beautiful children.  I look forward to seeing how they grow up, parent my grandchildren, and I pray they enjoy and cherish all the moments.  It is said children are a gift from God.  Thank you, Lord, for picking me to be the one and only mother of these three children.  I love you Taryn, Hunter, and Braeden!!!

* The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

A Mother’s Dedication

A Mother's Dedication

In 2004, I watched “The Passion of the Christ*” in the movie theater with some ladies from my church.

Let me set the stage.

I had been widowed for three years and my focus the entire time was my children and their mental and physical well-being.  I was hyper-sensitive emotionally, and as a visual person, allowed the entertainment to paint the picture.   When the movie started, I left the theater in Grapevine, Texas and for the next two and half hours, I was transported to Jerusalem over two thousand years ago.  I could feel the dry, dusty dirt on my body, the heat radiating off the sun and the immense hatred of the crowd who wanted Jesus crucified.  I could hear men screaming and women wailing and watched the merciless beating of Jesus. What caught my eye was watching Mary, mother of Jesus, in the back of the crowd, gazing at her precious son,  and I felt the motherly connection.

I am not sure if it was the timing of this movie or the intensity of the film, but I was extremely moved as a woman and a mother to Mary’s part in the final hours of Jesus on earth.  I have not lost a child nor am I comparing my children to Jesus.  But I can relate to a woman who gave birth to a child, raised him, provided protection, and prayed for him.  I found myself in the theater sobbing and grieving right along with Mary as a Christian and as a mother.

I realize in the movie there were added components to emphasize the drama, but I was curious what if anything was mentioned in the bible about Mary in Jerusalem.  In looking at the four gospels, I found it interesting only one mentions Mary, the mother of Jesus, specifically and it is in the book of John.

In John 19:25-27 it reads, “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciples whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’  From this time on, the disciple took her into his home.”**

Jesus identifies his mother, and the disciple, John, who wrote the gospel.***  There is not an abundant amount of detail around Mary, but it does put her at the cross where Jesus was crucified.  I also know from history women of this time were not considered as prominent as men, so it is a safe assumption they would not be near the crosses but in the background.  I find it fascinating Mary and a few other women, made it to the base of the cross and with His dying breaths, Jesus acknowledged and spoke to her and John.  When her actions defied the norms of the day, Mary demonstrated what a mother would risk in order to be there for her child.

As a mother, I would want to try and deflect any type of pain, sorrow, embarrassment, or failure from my children.  I wish my children at a young age did not have to experience the death of their father.  I wanted to “fix” them with therapy, love, church, and praises.  I could not take the pain from them and they each had to live through the grief, grow into it, and accept it as a part of who they are.  Mary had to stand at a distance and watch her son ridiculed, mocked, beaten, tortured, and eventually hung on a cross to die.  We both could do nothing but be a witness to the pain and suffering of our children.  We as mortal women carry the burden of birthing, nurturing, protecting, loving and fearing for our children.

Easter is about the good news of Jesus and how he died and rose again for each of us.  I celebrate this joyous occasion and understand because of His sacrifice, I have a new everlasting life.  I additionally see Mary in a different light, as a mother, during this Easter season, and have come to appreciate her role in the event which exhibited the dedication, sacrifice, and true love for all mankind.

*The Passion Of The Christ-A Mel Gibson Film-2004-Icon Productions

** The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

***Bible Hub 2016 and Berean.Bible-Benson Commentary John:25-27


Flourishing Today

 

WHO AM I TO JUDGE?

WHO AM I TO JUDGE_

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”-Matthew 7:1-2*

I love live music.

There is something about instruments and artists coming together to create a piece which can move you physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  I have attended numerous concerts, events, and weekend jams and seen performers from Guns & Roses to George Strait to Elton John.  I have witnessed many concerts and the “other” extracurricular activities which accompany the event.

Been there, done that.

Last Friday night, I had the honor to attend a Christian concert with an incredible lineup of TobyMac, Mandisa, Ryan Stevenson, Danny Gokey, Finding Favor, and Aaron Cole called the “Hits Deep” tour in Baton Rouge.   Talk about hip-hop worship!  It warmed my heart to watch families dancing, singing, and praising along to their favorite songs for three and a half hours.  The crowd was diverse in nature but the artists were dedicated to promoting the message of how we are all the same on the inside and should unite as one in Christ.  Satan hates when people gather in the name of Christ and he was scheming at this concert venue, in a subtle way.

As my husband and I were walking to the arena, anticipating the entertainment which was about to unfold, I heard a voice booming through a bullhorn.  Randy asked me, “I wonder what they are protesting about?”  As we approached the doors, we were met by about a dozen people; the men were holding signs stating those who were attending the Hits Deep concert were going to hell for our actions.  One man was yelling into the bullhorn and rattling off scripture.  To the right of the men were a group of women and children, standing in silence.  I walked over to a Baton Rouge police officer and ask if he knew who they were and he said they were from a church in another state.

I was flabbergasted.

This was not another religious faction or proclaimed atheists attacking our beliefs or choice of music, but individuals claiming to be Christ followers, hurling angry words and judgment against thousands who were attending a Christian concert.  Why would they be upset with our choice of entertainment?  I don’t want to get into the reasons why this group felt compelled to picket this particular concert, but I want to point out the nonobvious reason.  The enemy plants seeds of confusion, doubt, and lies and makes us question each other’s motives and decisions for our actions.  Filling our minds with validation for our ability to judge the actions of others and come to the conclusion we are taking a stand, in the name of God.

Wait, how many times have I done this to others?

Conviction enters my soul.

I am not going to judge this group who chose to stand outside the concert last Friday night, dedicated to their beliefs they were delivering a message and serving God.  Perhaps they were, and maybe they weren’t.  I don’t want to fall into Satan’s trap of reviewing my fellow brothers and sisters and rationalizing my conclusions.  I need to focus on my behavior and the message I am portraying to others.  I am dedicated to spreading the peace and love of God and witness to those who want a personal relationship with Jesus.

I know one thing.  It was a blessing to take part in an event where we could forget our differences and focus on one common element:  Our God.  This group missed a wonderful night of praise, worship, and fellowship with a diverse group of Jesus loving concert goers and it was GLORIOUS!   #weare1movement

*The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

 

Linking up with Grace & Truth over at  https://www.embracingtheunexpected.com/

 

A God Thing

Add heading (2)

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.  Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”-Psalm 37:3-4*

In keeping with the theme of “devotion” as my word of 2018, for the month of March, I am writing about the synonym “dedication”.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary has several definitions and the one I chose is “self-sacrificing devotion and loyalty”**.  When I read this I thought of my husband, Randy.

We have consistently referred to our union as a “God thing” and reflecting back over the years, I see why God picked Randy for me.

His dedication.

Here was a man, who had never been married, never had children, dating a widow with three small children and decided I am all in.  It has not been an easy adventure, but it has produced abundant blessings.

Randy has not ever considered our children or grandchildren as stepchildren.  He proudly talks about his sons and daughter in conversations and displays their pictures on his work desk.   He has repeatedly supported the kids in their extracurricular activities; showing up for games, concerts, and awards banquets.  He has counseled and disciplined the children, which was not an easy task, but he persevered and learned from his mistakes.

It would have been so easy for Randy to walk away during the turmoil involving my only daughter.  Lying, stealing, drug use, and eventually running away is what we dealt with in the first years of being married.  But he stood by my side, as we endured the living hell, and developed a game plan to fix our broken child.  Praise God it worked!

Early on, our marriage endured crisis and drama with our daughter, Randy losing a job, moving to another state, and suffering the loss of Randy’s father, sister, and a miscarriage of our only baby.  It was an extremely rough season and we all experienced grief and pressed on with Randy leading the way, following God.

I have witnessed Randy’s dedication to growing his personal relationship with Jesus.  Because he has invested his time in prayer and worship, the people in his life have benefited from his actions.  Randy is quick to volunteer in helping a neighbor, friend, or a stranger in need.  He is involved in Ragan’s Hope, feeding the homeless, mudding out flooded homes, and last August became a Cajun Navy member and assisted in boat rescues during Hurricane Harvey.  Randy views himself as a problem solver and will go to the ends of the earth to find solutions for those who are hurting.

Over the years, Randy’s actions model the self-sacrificing devotion and loyalty he has for others.  I see why God picked Randy to be my partner in life and provide such love and support for our family.   I believe his dedication to his faith, family, and volunteer efforts is based on his personal relationship with Jesus.  I am privileged to witness his growth over the last fifteen years in his spiritual gifts and am thankful to be a part of the journey.   Love you R2!

sunset-hands-love-woman.jpg

*The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

**https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary

A Definitive Moment

A Definitive Moment

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”-Proverbs 3:5-6*

We were on the road by 7:45 am to make the four and half hour trip.  Excitement, nervousness, and an unknown reality filled the car.  My youngest and I were taking a road trip for his first college campus visit.  I was giddy.

My son, Braeden, is a junior in high school and has known exactly what he wants to be when he grows up since the seventh grade.  An architect.  Oh, I admire his decisiveness in knowing where to head in his future.  I did not have the forethought when I was his age.  All I knew was everyone else was going to college, so I guess I should too.  My primary goal was to meet the man of my dreams, get married, and raise a family.  I know, lofty goals, but it was my reality.

Braeden asked me questions about what to expect on a campus visit.  I told him to have some questions in mind to ask, listen to what is presented to him, and take in the surroundings of where he could possibly live for the next four years (five years if he follows the path of bachelor/masters in architectural design).

We arrived in Ruston, Louisiana about an hour early before the scheduled tour.  We walked into the Admissions hall and were greeted by some friendly students who checked us in.  They gave Braeden a welcome bag with all kinds of freebies and told us since we had some time, to walk over to the student center and have some lunch.  So, began our journey.

I have always described Braeden as an old soul.  In so many ways he thinks like an adult, can self-entertain, and looks forward to the goals he has set for himself.  We started walking on the campus and he seemed so natural in the setting.  I could visualize him as a student on this campus.  It was exciting, terrifying, and weepy all in one big breath.  I knew he was ALMOST ready for the next step in life.

We ate lunch and walked around before heading back for our tour.   Our guide was awesome and took us around the campus pointing out various places where classes were held, reciting the traditions on this campus, and sharing his experiences as a student at the university.  I could see Braeden was interested but not sure what he should ask.  I was the one who kept a conversation going with the guide as no one else was speaking up!

Taking the tour flooded me with memories as a freshman at college.  I was clueless as to what to expect when I arrived my first fall semester; not visiting the campus prior to showing up to move in.  I do remember the freedom to come and go as I please, becoming disciplined in achieving good grades without being told and meeting my future husband, Braeden’s dad.  Walking around this particular campus brought back the sweet memories of being young and carefree.

After the campus tour, we had a presentation of the different living choices and met with the admissions personnel.  The last part of the day was for Braeden to meet with a representative from the architectural program and ask questions relative to the curriculum.  We met with the assistant professor of the program and initially I was not impressed.  He was shy and mumbled to himself as we did introductions.  He handed us some paperwork which explained the bachelor’s and master’s program and asked us to follow him.  He took us in a gallery and he stated this was the best way to visually see what Braeden could expect of the program.  As we walked into the gallery, the professor’s demeanor changed and he became quite animated as he showed us projects, designs, plans, budgets, and proposals for each year of the program.  I turned to Braeden and his face had changed as well.  For over half an hour, the two of them engaged in questions, answers, explanations, and experiences.  At one point I could see how much they had in common.  Braeden was in his element, he knew it, and I witnessed it.

What a definitive moment.

After leaving the college and heading back home, Braeden and I reminisced about the day as he made a list of positive and negatives about the experience (there were multiple positives and only one negative).  It was in this moment I knew Braeden would be ready for the transition from high school to college, from teenager to manhood, and from dependence to responsibility.  This was such a grown-up moment for him and me, and I loved every minute of it.  No regrets, but excitement for his future.

This school set a high bar for a great campus visit, and we will be attending a few more before he graduates.  It comforts my heart to know he is pursuing his passion and learning what it will take to achieve his goals.  This mama is going to enjoy the journey of my youngest child who will in a couple of years make us officially empty nesters.   Who would have thought a simple road trip would result in a beautiful blessing for the two of us?

*The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society