Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Whose defining our story?

The child and his mom sat in the waiting room. The mother talked to the little one, but he never perked up to listen, in fact he never acknowledged he was being spoken to. The electronic in his hand occupied all of his attention. I wondered if he ever listened to his mother. He was obviously used to his hand held devise. When the child was called to go back, he did not hear his name. He did proceed to scream when his mother removed the devise and gently, strong-armed him into the back room.

Most of us have done it as parents. We use the TV, computer, iPad, or the phone to babysit and entertain children. The scene above set my thoughts wandering. I began to ponder the loss of listening. The art of sitting still and quiet. Maybe it is bigger. Maybe we have lost the discipline of story telling too.

Who will preserve our folklore, our culture, our songs, and on a much bigger level: our Christianity.

As a child myself, we would often travel around to hear story tellers. One of my mother's favorites wrote Alabama ghost stories with "Jeffrey." I would usually have to be forcefully persuaded to go, but once there, I was always captivated by the lady or gent spinning a yarn.

Not too long ago, we visited some friend who took us to the Signal Mountain Opry. After the switchbacks and steep drive up the mountain, we were treated to a "hoe down." It was an old building, that looked a little like a deserted church. It had been preserved, but was not pristine. It fit the entertainment perfectly as a setting for bluegrass. The different groups sang songs and entertained the crowded room that smelled of popcorn. While they played, some of the folks clogged and danced. It was a small time capsule of folklore that has almost been forgotten in the bustle of our day.

When I meet my Papaw (first husband's grandfather) we would sit on the front porch and he would tell stories of fishing while evading the game warden, of skinny-dipping in the stream after a hot day, of traveling and singing in churches, and of pastoring and preaching. His stories were the best and we would drift to his thoughts and be carried away by the tide of his stories for hours. (At least until Granny came to rescue us from our adrift state with her fried chicken and chocolate chip cookies.) My children remember Papaw passing down his stories too and they also remember his drawer filled with cheese puffs, caramel candies, and circus peanuts. Before arthritis made it too painful to play, he would pick up his guitar and play for them singing a gospel song in his deep, resonating, bass voice. He made himself memorable as he passed down his culture and his folklore. He passed along his faith in greater measure than all else.

As I think of parenting now, the generation that is growing up. It convicts me that most children only hear stories from Disney. We take their devolved, politically correct, liberal agenda, happy endings as our folklore. Disney songs have replaced folk songs. Disney has re-written and scrubbed history. Big Corporations of entertainment now dictate the stories that once were passed along by being read aloud or by being told. The needed imagination is replaced by animation. Disney teaches our culture. Disney teaches about the family unit. What does Disney teach about our Christianity? Oh wait, it does NOT! It is antithetical to our Christian heritage and beliefs.

And how often have you heard it said, "The book is so much better than the movie." The telling of the story and the imagination needed to picture it in your own mind. That is a gift that no cinema can duplicate.

Now, this is not about bashing Disney. It is about raising an awareness of a dying legacy. It is a reminder to tell stories to children. Talk to them. Read to them. Engage them. Don't let the iPad be their only entertainment. Turn the TV off and talk. Sing songs of your childhood. Share your family history with them. There has been an article on Facebook documenting the decrease of interest in history and the impact on historical museums. History is more than the facts, it is a chronicle of the events that have brought us to this point. It is our story.

But, in reality it is so much bigger than our stories. We should be passing down our trust and belief in God. Talking to and with the generations that follow us. I think God's word says it so much better than I ever could:

Deuteronomy 6:4-7 says:

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."

These things that God gave to His people. He commanded them to pass down. These were the laws, the ceremonies, the history, the songs of His people. They were told to remember.

Which begs the question of us, do we remember who we are and whose we are? We have to be mindful of the law and history to pass them down to our children.

I hope that this post helps to remind people to remember the God who bought His people with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. And while remembering, to pass along their faith and practice which is built on the Word of God to their children. Build memorials in your life of God's faithfulness and tell of those times when He has answered prayers and moved mightily in your life. Talk to them.

I have seen it happen more times than I like, that as we grow older we grow quieter. Grandparents, please share of God's faithfulness through your life. It is not about entertaining the children, it is about teaching them about God and passing down to them their culture. Disengaging is not an option for Christians. We are to TALK.

Let God, who is the designer of our story, tell it in His words and let us magnify Him in our words.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Resonating Treasure Perks

"I will lie down and sleep, and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety."
Psalm 4:*

"When I am afraid, I will trust in you, in God whose word I praise, in God I trust." 56:3

These two verses I can hear in my head. They resonate with my heart. They teach me to trust and so much more.

"Mom, please call me, I am scared. I need to talk to you," was the message that came to my phone. I called. We talked. I pointed the child back to these verses above. I can say to any of my children, "Do you remember Psalm 4:8 or 56:3," and they will nod to me. They know it. They have grown to love it. They are comforted by it. In this case,  I could sense my grown up child settling down. Trusting. Resting. Remembering.

What a treasure is the Word of God hidden in the heart of His children! "It is more to be desired than gold, yay much fine gold. It is Sweeter than honey and the honeycomb." Psalm 19:10
Through memory work, I have invested my treasure in my children.

After years, my growing kids are still pointed to trust in their Heavenly Father with His words from scripture. We all hid these verses in our hearts as we learned together. (Homeschooling perk!!!!!) They hid God's Word in their hearts and it is continually yielding fruits of direction, wisdom, comfort, peace, joy, and more to them. What an amazing act of kindness on God's part to give us Scripture, and how much more that by His Spirit, He still teaches us, guides us, and shows His love to us in it.

It has never been me, my effort, my few successful attempts at parenting well, or anything I have done. In truth, I have failed much more than I have done good. I have had to ask for forgiveness often for messing up again. I can say wholeheartedly,



I am sure we will face many trials, meltdowns, fears, crisis and sorrows as my family and I sojourn here. After all, I have seven children. Drama often describes our daily lives. However, my prayer is that we will look to God's Word and help each other through it all leaning on the "Almighty Arms."

For my young mom friends, I encourage you, chose the treasure that does not perish to invest into the hearts and minds of your children. Hide God's Word in them. Sing it to them. Talk about it. Write it on the tablets of their hearts. They do not forget it. Help them to own the Word of God in their lives.  Would that we were all like John Bunyan of whom it was said, "If you cut him, he bleeds Bibline, " meaning that he bled Bible. Can you imagine knowing God's word so well?

When the struggles come, draw yourself and family back to God with His own precious words. Let the word of God resonate its treasure in your soul and the souls of your children.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Driving home the other day, my eyes were bothering me. It seemed like things were blurry. Without even thinking, I took off my glasses, wiped them on my shirt (This is not recommended by those who make glasses. You should of course, only use approved clothe to clean glasses.), and replaced them back over my eyes. All of the sudden, I could see. It was simply that my glasses were dirty which caused my sight to be blurry.

This struck me to be in complete agreement with some thoughts that have been marinating in my brain of late. Namely, how we can lose our vision. 

Now, I am not talking about out actual sight, but how we see things around us. Often the muck of the world taints how we see. It effects:

How we think about who we are. What is our purpose? 

Or where do I fit in? 

Why does living have to be so hard and hurt so much? 

Why do people do the things they do that ruin their lives and hurt others? 

I could go on, however I trust you get the picture. We all have a problem with evil and with struggles that hurt us. 

As did the Psalmist who wrote Psalm 73: 

"But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end. Truly you set them in slippery places,  
you make them fall to ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms. When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart. I was brutish and ignorant: I was like a beast toward you. 

Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 

For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God;

 I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works."

Do you need perspective? Take off your proverbial glasses for a moment of cleaning. Look to God who is our portion forever. 

It is not ours to understand, but to trust. It is ours to "walk by faith."

Who else do we have in Heaven but God? Our flesh and our hearts may fail, but God is the strength and portion forever of those who trust in Him. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Coming Around

About thirteen years ago, I walked into the office of the OPC for interviews as a missionary wife to Haiti. I was completely unaware of the recent events (2004) in the church regarding closing the OPC mission in Japan. I was nervous about being interviewed and distracted with trying to make sure my children were behaved. An older lady, who was a missionary to Japan came up to me. We made small talk and then she asked, "Why are you opening a new mission field when they are closing Japan?" As I said, I was completely ignorant of the circumstances and somewhat taken aback as my southern sensibilities were a little hurt. 

Later, I was informed of the debate and distress surrounding the mission in Japan. I cannot find any reason to blame the dear sister for her blunt words to me. My heart goes out to her for the very reasons she was upset. 

However, I cannot but laugh a bit to myself as I consider that today I packed my nineteen year old daughter off to Japan to go participate in the work my sister in the Lord was doing. The humor of the Lord as He directs our days cannot go unappreciated or unnoticed. He has done this work in the heart of my daughter. Since eighth grade she has loved Japan. She has read "The Etiquette Guide to Japan" histories of Japan and Samari Warriors along with trying to teach herself to speak/read/write the language. She has listened to the music and been intrigued with the all things Japanese. My little blonde child will be trying to teach four and five year olds english and about Jesus. I pray that her light shines brightly for Jesus over the next three months. I pray that they will love her for shining Jesus into their lives more than the shine on her beautiful long, golden hair. 

I also wonder, if she will ever truly come back? Will this be the beginning of another missionary to Japan? I cannot answer to what the Lord is doing or will be doing in the future. I can commit her and the mission work in Japan to our Lord who smiles on us with tender mercies and loves with an everlasting love. 

I pray that love would shine brightly in Japan. 

And to my dear Laura: 

"...Do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor... in the sight of God... Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord." Proverbs 3:1-8