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Timeless truth in a changing world

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Encouragement

Sand on the Seashore

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Last week we went to the beach for a couple days. The kids had a wonderful time splashing in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, jumping into the waves, finding seashells, and of course, playing in the sand. They dug holes, made sandcastles, and even had “sandball” fights. They had a blast. But afterward, the sand was everywhere. Despite my best efforts to rinse our bathing suits, shake out our towels, and beat the sand out of the floor mats of the van, we still managed to escape with a fair amount of sand. It was as if a fine layer of sand had settled over everything. When I washed our towels and bathing suits at home, there was so much sand on the bottom of the washing machine afterward that it took two damp paper towels to collect it all. It’s still all over the floor of the van. It’s probably in our suitcases too, so that when we open them next time we go on a trip it’ll be there to remind us of the beach. It’s like we just can’t get rid of this stuff.

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The “Lazy” Days of Summer

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Whoever coined the phrase “lazy days of summer” obviously didn’t have a summer like mine. I could make my own version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Between five kids home from school, four summer reading programs, three weddings, two sets of houseguests, and a cross-country vacation just before school starts again, there’s nothing lazy about this summer. This past week was a real doozy. I played for a wedding last weekend, and the rest of the weekend was devoted to an out-of-town baseball All-Stars tournament. Monday ushered in VBS week, for which I led music. Friday was the final day of VBS, plus the closing program, as well as my daughter’s birthday. To say it was a crazy week is sort of an understatement. On Saturday, when we all finally had nothing going on for once, my three-year-old, who never naps, was so exhausted he just fell asleep on the couch. Clearly the busy pace had caught up to him at last. He needed rest.

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Life in the Royal Household

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Americans in general are fascinated with the Bristish monarchy. Everywhere I turn, magazines and tabloids have the latest scoop about the royal wedding, who’s fighting with whom, and how the new generation is changing the way things have been done for centuries. I can’t imagine how Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, puts up with the constant paparazzi and being so much in the public eye all the time. Every decision is scrutinized, from what she wears to a wedding to how she and her husband plan to raise their children. She has to be ready at every moment to be photographed, even upon leaving the hospital with a newborn. Very little in her life is truly private. She’s being watched all the time. It must be exhausting. Frankly, I’m glad I’m not royalty.

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Life is Hard and Then You Die

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Life is hard and then you die.

While the exact origin of the quote may be debatable, it’s a sentiment that resonates with many people. When I was a kid, I wanted so badly to be an adult. In my mind, I’d really be free then. Free to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I could stay up as late as I wanted, eat chocolate whenever I wanted, buy whatever I wanted. I’d get married and have kids and be a perfect mother and a perfect wife with a perfect husband, and we’d all live happily ever after. Basically, I’d have it made. But then I became an adult and realized that adulthood wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. I discovered that I’m not a perfect wife or mom, and neither are my husband or kids perfect. As a child, I never considered things like financial struggles, job loss, relationship difficulties, sickness, or the challenges of parenting. Despite my high hopes for adulthood, my adult self knows something my younger self did not: life is hard.

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I’m Just a Mom

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Being a mother can be a thankless job. Much of what you do goes unnoticed unless it doesn’t get done. Your kids will rarely, if ever, thank you. Quite the opposite, actually. From a toddler throwing a tantrum to a teenager slamming a door in your face, your kids may well give you the distinct impression that you’re ruining their lives. A mother’s daily tasks are repetitive and mundane. Oh, we try to glamorize motherhood. We’ve invented clever terms like “domestic engineer” and “household manager” to describe the mother’s role in the home. But at the end of the day, the truth is that every domestic engineer is just a mom.

(Click here to continue reading the original 5-13-18 post on the website Raising Godly Children.)

 

Where is God, Anyhow?

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It was a confounding problem. It was dinnertime, there were over 5000 hungry people, and they were in a desolate location with little to no food immediately available. So the disciples naturally urged Jesus to send everyone away to fend for themselves. They looked to Him to make things right, and He did. But not at all in the way they were expecting. He told them calmly, “You give them something to eat.” Um, Jesus? All we have here is five loaves and two fish. That won’t even feed the 13 of us. Still, Jesus meant what He said. He directed everyone to sit down on the grass, blessed the food, and had the disciples distribute it to everyone there. Incredibly, everyone was fed, and there were 12 baskets of leftovers. Way to go, Jesus! And clearly, yes, He deserves all the glory for the miracle. But there’s something we’re missing if we stop there—the role the disciples played.

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Everything that Hinders

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I’m going through something of a mid-life crisis right now. Oh, don’t worry—I’m not running off to buy a cherry-red convertible. I wouldn’t be able to fit all my kids in it anyhow. Nor am I scheduling a facelift quite yet. It’s more of what you might call a time of reflection. Not long ago I attended the funeral of a woman who was twice my age. That was sobering. What if half of my life is already over? Am I living to my fullest potential? Then I thought about my kids. One of them only has four years left at home. Am I teaching him the skills he needs to be a responsible adult? Have I instilled strong morals? a strong work ethic? Have I equipped him to be a faithful witness to a world hostile to the Christian faith? Have I been a faithful witness? Has my life been fruitful and productive? Or have I been selfish with my time?

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When Doubts Assail

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What were the disciples thinking? After all they’d seen Jesus do, after all His miracles, after all His teaching, did they still not get it? He’d spoken openly to them about His death and resurrection, so why were they surprised when His body wasn’t in the tomb? They should have been waiting in anticipation at the tomb on Sunday morning, not locked away in hiding. In fact, the ones who remembered Jesus’ promise of resurrection were His enemies—the chief priests and Pharisees. They went to Pilate and told him that Jesus had foretold His resurrection. Their motives were completely wrong, mind you. They pleaded with Pilate to post a guard so no one could come steal the body. But the fact remains that they, rather than the disciples, were the ones who remembered Jesus’ promise. In that sense, the unbelievers put the believers to shame. Yet now Jesus had risen, and that changed everything.

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Wrestling with God

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Have you ever wrestled with God? Jacob did. Literally. He wrestled with God all night long the night before he met Esau again after years away. In the morning, the man (God) touched Jacob’s hip socket and put it out of joint, showing how powerful He really was. He could easily have disabled Jacob from the beginning, yet He chose to engage the patriarch in a familiar and personal way. We see that God’s ultimate purpose of struggling with Jacob was not to defeat him, but to bless him. Now, I doubt you’ve wrestled with God quite like that, but perhaps you’ve wrestled with Him in a different way—in prayer.

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