Monday, August 25, 2014

Letting 'Em Leave!

It's that time of year when first-day-of-school pictures pop up all over Facebook, and lots of mom's and dad's take their babies away to college, and leave them there. Every first day of school is just a milestone toward that final event. Once they "leave" home, it's never quite the same. Oh, they'll return (mine did), but they'll change (mine did). They came home adults: more independent, more confident, more capable, not just book-smart but life-wise... They came home, no longer just my child, but my friends. They came home more in love with Jesus, because they each had learned to lean into Him more quickly, and their faith solidified.

This is a good thing; it really is. Bay & I had raised them for that day they would leave. We knew the day would come, because it came for us. Personally, I thought I had prepared myself mentally for that day. I didn't want them to just fly from the nest; I wanted them to soar...and soar they did (far away). It would have been unnatural for them to want to stay at home for the rest of their lives (although the same town would have been nice). Now, I realize that in today's world, things have changed. Kids stay home longer, for multiple reasons, once they finish college. However, the end result is that they will go out on their own one day, and our nests will be empty. Yet, when my nest emptied, I wasn't as prepared as I thought. Oh, I sure enjoyed less laundry, less grocery-bill, the extra time with my honey, a cleaner house, and time to do more ministry; but gone was the chatter, the spontaneous drop-in friends who always arrived around dinner-time, the long chats together in the hot tub, the once-a-week family night when we all shared what Jesus was doing in our lives, the hectic rush to activities, and continual laughter. It seemed strangely quiet at my house. I MISSED THEM; and, there was a void that caused an ache-in-my-soul that never seemed to go away. I never really mentioned it to them. They never really noticed (an ache-in-the-soul isn't very obvious), so they never apologized for leaving...

As they each left home, I clung to a passage of Scripture that the pastor preached the day we left our first child standing outside her dorm, sobbing, as we drove off leaving her almost 9 hours behind us (keep in mind, I also cried the 9 hours home, only to call her the minute we walked in the door to find she was cheerfully bonding with her roommates, just as she should). Here are the words from the verses:

Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, and from your relatives, and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you; and I will...bless you...and you shall be a blessing..." Genesis 12:1-2.

This is what I remember from that message:
1) God calls our children to leave home.
2) He calls them to leave, so they can receive a blessing. They can't receive it if they don't leave.
3) That blessing includes their calling to glorify him, by living out their purpose - the "why" of their life (they will be a blessing!).

Over the next eight years, as we watched all three leave home, go off to college, and start new lives, I repeated the following mantra:  By letting them leave, I allow them to receive. By letting them leave, I allow them to receive. By letting them leave, I allow them to receive. You get the was all about putting on the right "perspectacles."

I wish that life wasn't so hard. Each child has had their share of tough-spots. Hurts. Messiness. Shame. Pain. Difficulties. As a mom, I want to do what I always did when they were little: clean up the mess, wipe away the tears, fix the difficult. Nope - can't do that anymore, not really. From afar, I hurt when they hurt, pray hard, and rejoice with them when they rejoice. I'm just not always THERE...and, yes, I still miss them. Yet, by letting them leave, I allowed them to receive all the Lord had for them through the difficulty, through the pain. They keep on leaning into Him. I see them being blessed by Him...more importantly, though, I see them living out the why-of-their-lives. I see them blessing others! Nothing brings me greater joy!

P.S. A few weeks back, Bay and I were speaking in Montana. One quiet Sunday afternoon, I received a call from one of my girls. Sometimes they call with no real reason. This time, this one had a reason in mind. It's not long until her first leaves home. Two years will go fast. Already, she's trying to prepare herself for That Day. The purpose of her call, though? To apologize for leaving me. (Smile) There was something VERY cathartic about that! (Again, smile!)

Monday, August 18, 2014


Perspectacles.  I found that word this week, and I wished I'd been creative enough to have made it up for myself. Instead, another mother coined it, wrote it in her blog (a great read, by the way - you can find it here), and I decided to immediately adopt it. I've been mulling it over for days... When debriefing or mentoring others, I frequently talk about perspective. How you and I see things is often colored by our experiences. We look at the world through the eye glasses, or magnifying glass, of our pain, our past, or the people in our life (and any combination of the three). Perspective is just perspective, until the facts are in, the truth is told, and everything is laid bare. Until then, we have to work hard to keep our "perspectacles" on and simply see things for what they are. An example I've often used looks like this:

What do you see? I've never taken an official survey, but I've asked hundreds of people. Here are the approximate, by my estimation, of what others have said:
80% see a tree trunk with a hole in it
15% see a person with their hands raised in praise
The other 5% have seen everything from a fallopian tube with an egg coming through it, to a martini glass with an olive in it, and a tree with a hole that holds a chipmunk's nest with baby chipmunks...
No matter what your "story," here's the truth - this is just a circle and two curved lines. Those are the facts, until we are given more of the details (period).

We all need just the facts, a way to look at life, when the wheel is spinning off the axis of our lives. So, we all need to put on our newly acquired "perspectacles" (you can design them any way you want them to look, and I'd love to hear you describe yours to me), and rest on some unchanging truths. Here are some I turn to often:

God loves me and he rejoices over me. (Probably the greatest truth in the entire Bible!)

For God so loved (Peg), that He gave His only begotten Son... (John 3:16)

The Lord your God is in your midst, He is a victorious warrior.  He will rejoice over you with joy, He will renew you in His love; He will dance over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).

God has a plan for my life.

'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).'

That plan is to conform me more and more to the image of His Son!

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29)

He will do whatever it takes to see that happen, so everything that occurs in my life is for my good and His Glory!

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

Because of these facts, I will give thanks in EVERYTHING, no matter how I feel (feelings are instructors meant to teach us what is going on inside, not dictators to rule our lives). everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

So, join me in grabbing your "perspectacles,"and start looking at life through a new lens, responding with gratitude and joy. God's got your life in his very capable and loving hands!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Unfinished Faith

Unfinished. That seems to be the word of the week. I can hardly keep up with myself. As I sit here this morning, I'm staring at a To Do List, not of things new, but of things unfinished. Unfinished books. Unfinished blogs. Unfinished sewing projects. Unfinished dishes in the sink. Unfinished house chores. Unfinished accounts needing to be balanced so I know how much money we don't have. Unfinished filing. Unfinished emails in the draft folder. Unfinished beds that I started changing that haven't been made. For goodness sake, I am even staring at an unfinished cup of coffee! Everything I seemed to have started over the last few days, still remains "unfinished." So, as I even try to finish the To Do List, I have to wonder about my faith. Is it, also, incomplete? Unfinished? As I began my quiet time this morning, this was the question I asked The Lord. I think I may have even whispered under my breath, "If so, Lord, help my unbelief!" At least that was a biblical prayer, and one that seemed to bless Jesus as he observed the differences between the Pharisee and the Sinner in the temple.

I don't want anything left unfinished. I hate loose ends. I struggle when things are left hanging. So, having a tendency toward OCD, as in don't-leave-your-drinking-glass-sitting-around-empty-not-even-for-one-second-or-I'll-put-it-in-the-dishwasher-OCD, I want to know NOW what I can do to "fix" an unfinished faith. Again, I took that question to The Lord. Believe it or not, I think he responded, though not exactly as I expected.

Here was his answer from a man whose faith was truly "unfinished" at the time Jesus ascended into heaven:
Simon those who have obtained a faith with equal standing as ours by the righteousness of God our Savior, Jesus Christ...(2 Peter 1:1)

Do you see his answer? It came in seven words "a faith with equal standing as ours." Equal standing? Having the same value? The same honor? When balanced on a set of scales, my faith measures the same as those who walked with Jesus? Can't be! Peter may have started out with an unfinished faith, but by the time he wrote this letter, he was close to his martyrdom, and he knew it. His was, by this time, a faith that was strong and sure. His was a faith that chose to die on a cross upside down because he wasn't worthy of dying the same way his Savior died. Maybe it's my Episcopalian upbringing, but somehow thinking I have faith that stands equal to this feels a bit like heresy. We're talking Saint Peter here!  Then I remember...Scripture calls me a saint! Yep, Saint Peg!  This girl, right here.

I wish I had a copy of the picture God gave me as I was working in my garden earlier (trying to finish the weeding I had begun). On one of my rose bushes was a gorgeous red rose. Open. Full. Begging to be picked and brought into my house to grace the table in a vase (albeit, a  cheap vase...totally undeserving of this breathtaking beauty). Next to it was a bud. Tightly closed. About to burst open like it's sister, but not quite ready. Unfinished.  However, I know what's going to happen. It's going to rain a little later today. Then the sun is going to come out. After I spent the time weeding, I used a little Miracle Grow. That combination is going to finish the process of blooming. Tomorrow I'll probably have another red rose to grace my table. I can already predict; I see the finished product!  In. My mind, it is finished!

That's exactly how The Lord sees my faith. In his eyes, it is finished. He already anticipates the blossoming of my faith. He already sees me gracing his table in the banquet hall. I stand in him complete in faith. Peter and I, we are standing level because of the cross; and, The Lord is already saying to me (about my faith), "Rest assured, it was finished at Calvary by the righteousness of God..."

So until I've fully blossomed, and sit in a vase of pure crystal on my Lord's table, I just do what rose buds do: abide in the soil, soak up the nutrients, live under the care of my Father. In due time, I will see what he sees...the faith-finished.

Monday, August 4, 2014

I Am Pro-Choice!

If you didn't read last week's blog, could you just zip back and do that now?  While I applied it to my struggle with the "p" word (procrastination), the message really is about being pro-choice. No, not concerning abortion, but concerning life, in general. Sometimes, we just have to make a choice regarding our attitude about life. We can give situations, people, or trials permission to defeat us, or we can choose to battle them and live life upside up: victorious, positive, and grateful. Choice is a powerful tool in our arsenal against the enemy of our souls. I am pro-choice.

This past week, I was struck by the following verse from Peter's mouth to our souls:

"And, after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his external glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you (1 Peter 5:10)."

Not all suffering (Gk word, pascho, meaning "to experience a sensation of sadness, sorrow, or deep passion towards something) ends in heaven, but all suffering ends in an "eternal glory." All suffering as Jesus' brother, James, tells us will end in its perfect result. Peter gives us the specifics of that perfect result. Look closely at the four purposes of our suffering (I just love word studies!):

Restore - to repair, to completely and thoroughly mend, to render sound, to heal, to equip us to do his good will (see Hebrews 13:21), to make into what ought to be...

Confirm - to set fast, to turn resolutely in a certain direction, to render constant one's mind.

Strengthen - to give bodily vigor, to make strong one's soul...

Establish - to lay a solid foundation, to settle, or make stable...

When we refuse to be pro-choice, we don't allow God to do his perfect work in us through our struggles. God can't do his blessed work of grace in us. Oh what a gift he wants to give... He waits for our submission; we balk. He leans in towards us; we push away. He opens his hand to pour out blessing; we shake our fists. He remains lovingly open; we want to box him into our way of doing things. His desire is for us to lose control; we fight to stay in control.

Pro-choice.  When I fight it, I will always live with regret of time wasted. Time that could have been spent being

Yep, I want to be pro-choice!