This girl turns two in just a couple of weeks. She is starting to learn to deal with emotions, and the power of a look. She already has the pouty face and fake cry down to an art. I am pretty sure there might be an Oscar in her future somewhere.

She has started this new thing that when she gets mad at you, or you tell her no, she stomps her little foot, dramatically throws her arms at her side, looks you straight in the eyes and says, “you promised”. Sometimes for more effect she dramatically throws herself on the ground. I am not positive that “you promised” is what she says, but if you listen close to the video it sure sounds like it. Her Mom says she thinks that is what she is saying, but she has no idea where she got it.

Now as Mimi it is all I can do not to laugh when she does it. Because she has the actions down to an art and has perfected it. As I watched her do it the other day I thought. I must look like that to God sometimes. Maybe Bella and I not only share a deep love for macaroni and cheese, and books, and ice cream, but we might have the dramatic “you promised” in common also.

I don’t think Bella has any idea what the words you promised mean. Maybe I don’t either. Because, I think sometimes when things don’t go exactly as I planned, I stomp my foot, throw my hands at my side, look straight at God and say, (at least in my head), you promised. My actions say I am doing all the things I am suppose to be doing, didn’t you promise things would go my way?

But just like Bells, maybe I don’t understand what God really promised, or maybe sometimes I just forget. God never promised things would go my way. He did promise in 1 John 1:9, that if I confess my sins he is faithful to forgive. He did promise in Psalm 103:12, that as far as the east is from the west, is how far he removed our transgressions from us. He did promise in Ephesians 3:18, that his love is wide, long, high, and deep. He also promises me in Deuteronomy 31:6, that He will never leave me, nor forsake me.

The Bible is full of promises from God, but none of those promises say, “Janet if you do your best, and always try your hardest things will always go your way and be in your favor.” Just like in Bella’s case, stomping my foot, and telling God he promised something he didn’t, isn’t going to change those times when things don’t go my way.

Thankful for the reminder that just like I love Bella, and won’t always give her her way (Not always). I do promise to love her, no matter how she might act or react. Thankful God loves me, and keeps his promises no matter how I might act or react.

Authority YES or NO

Sunday morning after church, I was following Bella all around the worship center. We are in the middle of a big renovation, so things are kind of in a mess right now, and she was having a ball running in and out of doorways with no doors.

As I followed her around, so many people called her name as she ran past. Most people there know her. They followed her adoption story, and prayed for her before they knew her. So many helped with a gigantic yard sale as a fund raiser for her parents. She’s kind of like a mascot for answered prayers.

It’s a blessing to see that, to know she has that support even at her age. That’s what church should be, a place of support, for all of us. I remember my kids running around Park Church in St Louis, sharing in the same type of support. My kids like the Lunn and Shaw kids grew up there. They spent lots of hours at that building not just during church.

They learned a lot of life lessons, one big lesson they learned was respect for people in authority. My kids knew that Sunday School teachers, Children’s Church leaders, youth leaders, people in authority, had the right to tell them if they were doing wrong. They knew as parents we were going to probably be behind the person in authority.

In fact, even to this day, I think Chris may still feel a little guilty if he wears a hat in church, or if he were to run through the worship center. Why? Because Lou Richardson taught him and Adam those things were not respectful in God’s house. Did I tell Lou that wasn’t his place to correct my child? NO WAY. In fact, I was probably relieved that someone else was getting on to him instead of me.

When we take the side of our kids over that of authority, what are we teaching them? When we tell a teacher, or youth pastor, or police officer, or soccer coach that they are wrong and our child is right what message does that send? It isn’t wrong to listen to our child’s side of the story, but to always take their side probably is. If your child has an issue with all his teachers, and all his coaches, and then has issues with police and employers, maybe you need to look at the common denominator in each of the situations.

Our kids need to learn to respect authority, even if they don’t always agree with it. Do I always agree with speed limit laws? No. But when I get stopped, I respect the officer who is enforcing it. That’s part of being an adult, learning to respect authority figures in our lives. Things won’t always go our way. They shouldn’t always go our way, we are not always right, and we are not always the voice of authority in all situations. We have to teach our kids that, if we want them to function in society. We need to practice it, by respecting the other people who are authority figures in our children’s lives.

Sorry (actually really not), if I offended anyone or stepped on anyone’s toes. You can ask, what authority do you have to write this post? I raised two adults, that respect authority, and are functioning members of society. Thank you to all those people, who were authority figures in their lives, who helped them become adults I am super proud of.

All or Nothing

This is my son Chris, with my grandson Milo. Chris is a very all or nothing guy. I give him a hard time about it. I am always telling him its about moderation. He says he can’t do moderation, it’s either all in or nothing, go big or go home, sink or float.

That is usually frustrating for me. I appreciate his will power but I want him to give himself a break. I realized today why it is so frustrating for me, because he gets it from me.

Have you ever noticed that the things about your kids that drive you crazy are usually because it’s a character defect in yourself? You don’t want to see it in yourself, so you certainly don’t want to find it in your child. No matter how old they are.

I am an all or nothing person. That can be good on some levels, but it usually doesn’t show up as a good character trait in me. When I start something I am gung ho, all on board, ready to go. If I am going to exercise, I am going ot exercise every day, and instead of just walking I need to add weights, and sit ups, and planking, and on and on and on. I go to such extremes that my mind set becomes, if I can’t walk five miles today then walking two won’t do any good. If I am trying to watch what I eat, then I cut out everything that is enjoyable to me. My mind set becomes I ate one small piece of candy today I have blown the whole day, I might as well eat as much as I want. I don’t have an hour to sit down and read my bible, what good is ten minutes going to make?

It also means that I usually burn myself out after about two weeks. Instead of starting out slow and building a new habit, that I can develope as a life change, I start out fast and burn myself out, and give up.

Moderation, practice what I preach to Chris. Set a goal for walking, a realistic goal, not five miles, seven days a week. If I slip up and eat a candy bar, get back on track as soon as possible, don’t destroy what I have done the rest of the day. Don’t waste the ten minutes I have, pick up my Bible, how many verses can I read in ten minutes? There may be one verse that my mind meditates on all day.

Are you an all or nothing person? Cut yourself some slack. Celebrate the victories, and move on from the setbacks, crush the unrealistic expectations, enjoy life.

God gives us things to enjoy (1 Tim 6:17), but all those things must be used in moderation (Phil 4:5).

God don’t let Chris and I pass this trait down to Milo. Let us both be good examples of moderation in our lives.

Thanks to my family for being fair game to my blogs!

Did I See You At Walmart?

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Saturday morning as I was running errands I made a stop at Sam’s and Walmart. At both places I ran into two or three people I knew. I stopped for just a short time and said a few words. I probably spent less than a minute with each person I saw that I knew.

As I was leaving Walmart I ran into a man I knew and just briefly said Hi. As I got in my car I thought about that. I thought about the rush I was in to get to the next task on my list. I thought about how many people I maybe didn’t even see, that I knew, because I was checking my list and in such a hurry.

I thought about how frustrated I get sometimes when Brett is shopping with me. He will stop and speak to everyone we know and not just hello, how are you. He takes time to ask questions and then listen for the answers. I am usually already two aisles over.

I know we have different gifts and different personalities. Brett’s gift is servanthood and he is a laid back guy. Mine is organization and I am a type a with a capital “A”. But I can’t use that as an excuse.

I thought about Jesus and how he was here on earth. Jesus was a servant, he washed the disciples feet to show them that. He was also into details, because he made sure everything was set and in place for that last supper. He knew how to be laid back and slow down and he knew how to get things done.

Where do I fall short on this? Jesus knew how to see people. He took the time to look at them, and truly see them. He saw the women at the well and knew what her need was. The woman with the blood issue, he didn’t have to see her to know her need. Zachaus the wee little man he knew his need. Martha he knew her need. The demon possessed boy, the blind, the leper, the lame, he knew all their needs.

It’s the same need that people all around us have today. The need for Jesus. How do we show that? By slowing down. By looking people in the eye. By seeing people as people, not just someone in our way. By taking time to stop, and talk to, and listen to the people we know. By giving someone a hug we haven’t seen for awhile. By smiling at that person we pass in the aisle, the one we don’t know. By saying excuse me. By letting the person go down the aisle before me instead of flying around the corner with my cart. Simple by being kind, courteous, and putting others ahead of ourselves.

It’s the same need today as it was in Jesus day. JESUS. I just have to choose if I am going to show them Jesus or Janet. Janet they don’t need, Jesus they do.

Prayer Can Be Confusing

This afternoon Redemption will celebrate the life of William Kinley. In the past twelve months Redemption has grieved and celebrated the lifes of four of our family members, all to the terrible “C” word. Georgia Roach, Stacey Cobb, Mike Edwards, and now William, all people who loved the Lord. These were not people who just showed up on Sunday morning. These were people who served, who were active, who were making a difference. People who were sharing their faith, and the love of Jesus with others.

It’s kind of like pulling your best player from the game, when you are down by one point in the last few seconds. You wonder what is the coach doing? That isn’t the way I would coach, but thankfully I am not the coach.

We as a church prayed for healing in the lives of all four of these people. We prayed for God to remove cancer from their bodies and make them whole and well again, but God didn’t do that. There are some who would say, God answered your prayers. They are whole and healed in heaven.

I don’t feel that way. They are healed and whole again. But, that was not my prayer. My prayer was that God would heal their physical body here on earth. That they would have many more years with their families, many more days, and laughs, and hugs, many more years of serving the Lord here on earth.

We could question and say but, Matthew 18:19, says “ Again, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.” With these four people there were many asking for healing, many on earth who agreed they should be healed. So, why were they not?

1 John 5:14-15 “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”

Because, we pray selfishly, when we pray for healing for someone we are praying for us. We are praying for that person to stay here with us. Who would choose this world over heaven? Who would choose to be here with us if they could be in the presence of Jesus? We pray for our will, our desire not his. Which is the normal thing do to in this situation.

So, do I feel like God didn’t answer all of our prayers for these four people? No, I feel like we were praying the wrong prayer. James 4:3 says, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” It isn’t wrong to pray for healing, I believe God tells us to ask, and to keep asking but we have to pray for healing that is in God’s will.

I even struggle with that, because I feel like if I pray for healing then I am stepping out and asking God for a miracle. I am asking and believing he will do it. I feel like if I add, if it’s your will, on to it then I am adding insurance. As if to say, oh he didn’t heal, it wasn’t my lack of faith, it just wasn’t his will.

It can all be confusing if I over think it, which I tend to do. But I believe John 14:13-14, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything, in my name, I will do it.”

I believe God answered our prayers with these four amazing people. We prayed in his name, it wasn’t his will that they be healed here on earth, we selfishly wanted to keep them, but the Father was glorfied in the life and death of each of these four precious people. And my life is better for having known each of them. Georgia, Stacey, Mike, and William you are missed by many.

The Father’s Arms Are Open Wide

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Saturday morning I woke up with the words from the following song on my mind, “Oh come to the alter, the Father’s arms are open wide. Forgiveness is bought with the blood of Jesus Christ.” The worship band played that Thursday night at CR, and the words had been on my heart for two days.

As I lay in bed I thought about those words, “come to the alter, the Fathers’s arms are open wide.” My mind always creates instant pictures. I thought of God and I imagined an old man, in flowing white robes with light radiating all around him, sitting on a throne. Then I thought of Jesus and I pictured someone in lowly robes, with long flowing brown hair, warm eyes, and children climbing on his lap.

I know these are not accurate images, no one knows what God looks like. My mind only imagines pictures I have seen, created by others. But those are what I see when I hear the words. I see those two images at the alter of our church, because when I think of the alter, I think of the church alter.

Then I thought about times I have come to the alter. Have I come as a child into a Father’s open arms? No, I usually come as someone dragging a burden. Whether it be the burden of sin, or a burdened heart, with a need for someone else or myself. I usually come downcast, rejected, or broken.

But this song says, the Father’s arms are open wide, with forgiveness. What if I came to the alter, not about what I was bringing, but what I would walk away with. I bring my burdens to the alter and I walk away with forgiveness and peace. That should make me excitedly run to the alter. To those open arms.

For a few years now the desire of my heart has revolved around the following picture. A little girl running to her Father, with outstretched arms and jumping into his arms. I watch Bella run to her Daddy, her Poppy, and her Papa. She runs to them holds up her little arms and says please. Knowing they will gladly pick her up. Knowing they are a safe, loving place.

I want to run to God with unleashed, uninhibited, excited expectations and throw myself in his arms. What about you?

Who Is Your Flock?

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1 Peter 5:2-3, “Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you, watch over it willingly,……..lead them by your own good example.” Peter is talking to the elders of the church in these verses, but they can apply to everyone.

Everyone has a flock. God has given each of us people whom we watch over. You might be a Sunday School teacher, you might lead a small group, you might teach school, you might be a team leader at work, you might pastor a church, you might run a business. In life there are people God has entrusted to you.

One of the most important flocks God gives us is our children. As parents God entrusts our kids to us. We are to watch over them. Watch over them, what exactly does that mean? For Chris and KC as parents of a new born, it means watching Milo constantly, attending to every need he has. God has entrusted them to feed, bathe, dress, change and meet every need in his life right now.

For Brittany and Will, as parents of an almost two year old, watching over Bella means something different. They are still responsbile for providing food for Bella but she can now feed herself. They just have to watch and make sure she eats and doesn’t choke. Watching over Bella means starting to set up boundries for her. Making sure she is safe, yet allowing her to make choices and small freedoms.

As our children get older the watching becomes more about observing them and not doing for them. About allowing them to do things for themselves, and not doing it for them. There are times when just doing it is easier. Easier for us, than easier for them. When my kids were growing up, they were responsible for chores and had to help with housework. However, I really never made them do laundry. It was easier for my OCD to do it myself. I liked things folded a certain way and hung up a certain way so I liked doing it myself. Looking back that probably wasn’t the best parenting choice. They did not learn by me doing it, and that wasn’t a good example.

If you don’t want to be doing your child’s homework in high school, then watch them do it in grade school, don’t do it for them. If you don’t want to be calling in to work for your 30 year old son when he is sick, then don’t start making all his calls in his teens.

Your children are your flock, watch over them in appropriate levels based on their age, lead by a good example. It doesn’t work to just say, “do as I say and not as I do.” They are going to mimic everything you do. Bella repeats every thing you say now, and copies every action, that will continue for many years to come.

God entrusts a lot of people into our lives. But none watch our lives more closely, or more regularly than our kids. So, watch your kids, observe your kids, don’t enable them, and lead by good examples.