In His Time

Lately I've had a string of days where nothing has come easily. Actually I think I'm going on more like a month. Having five kids, 3 of which are special needs, our calendar is literally jam packed with appointments, therapy, games, school functions, church stuff, with times in between to eat, sleep, and bathe if we're lucky. I would say 2-3 days of each week is literally back to back items that are all super time-dependent.

Soooo, what better time for God to teach me to slow down and smell the roses right?!

For those who may not know, I'm a RN by vocation, a flight nurse more specifically (or at least I was until this whole writing, speaking, momming thing started a couple years ago), so my life as a whole has been defined by high-speed, high-energy, high-adrenaline. Its not overstating the matter to say that much of my adult life was consumed by life or death split second decisions.

Time matters, seconds count, plans going smoothly is paramount- and my A-to-B personality thrives within that structure.

Yet God has been teaching me more. Not that any of those kinds of things are bad, that kind of mindset can be super helpful and effective in fact... but He's been dragging my feet, usurping my plans, and downright challenging my patience literally non-stop lately.

You know that t-shirt that says, "You're testing the Jesus in me!" ? What happens when it's God doing that testing?

These last thirty days have been exhausting and trying to say the least. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, has gone easily. Nothing's gone according to plan. Everything on my schedule has had to be moved, sometimes multiple times. Much of what we do is dependent on other stuff or people doing what they need to; so one thing fails or is delayed and before you know it, the whole house of dominoes has fallen and you find yourself vaguely looking around for the hidden cameras wondering which "Totally Hidden" reality show you've inadvertently found yourself in.

Welcome to my life. Anybody relate?

Any yet God has been good time me and given me so much inexplicable patience. I've taken more deep breaths, given more smiles, rearranged more appointments, given more grace and mercy to people (and myself!) than I ever have in my life. I've been forced to slow down and smell the proverbial roses. After all, unlike my previous jobs, <almost> none of this stuff is life and death.

I admit it's been a total mind-set change for me. And I'm loving the aroma of seeing Him work in me through those undeserved smiles. The scent of His grace and mercy working in and through and towards me. It's been astoundingly peaceful despite what on paper looks life a mess.

More times than I can tell I've found myself humming the words to an old Psalty the Psalmbook song (totally dating myself here!)

In His time, In HIs time,
He makes all things beautiful
In his time

Lord please show me everyday
As you're teaching me your way
That you do just what you say
In your time

In Your time, in Your time
You make all things beautiful
In Your time

Lord my life to You I bring
May each song I have to sing
Be to You a lovely thing

In Your time.

I've been keenly aware in the last few years of my life that I have this sub-conscious timeline in my head of what I should be doing, where I should be going, what goals I should be meeting, etc. etc. etc. Yet His time is so very different from mine! And more poignantly, He will take care of HIS goals for me in HIS time... not mine.

Not mine.

Whether it be a mundane doctor's appointment that's a no-go or getting my first multi-book publishing contact (insert wink wink and lots of prayers here!) I can rest in knowing He is in control and He does, indeed make all His plans, all His people, all His creation- beautiful in His time.

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD . “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." NLT

When Ringpops Stand Between Heaven and Hell

I Was Teaching A <Rather> Competitive Class Of 4th Thru 6th Graders In Our Wednesday Night Church Program a few years back. When I Was Met Head-On With The Very Real Phenomenon Of This Current 'Everybody Wins' Culture. We Had Been Playing What Amounted To An Elementary Version Of The $10,000 Pyramid (An Oldie But A Goodie) With 2 Teams; And, As All Competitions Tend To Have... There Was A Winning Team And A Losing Team. You Know? Like Has Been For Thousands Of Years... WINNERS And LOSERS.

Before We Started I Had Promised The Class That The Winning Team Would Get Ring Pops When The Game Was Over. Obviously With Such A Prize On The Line This Was Serious Business. Holy Moly These Kids Were Ruthless! In An Attempt To Enable The Teams The Ability To Give Grace, There Were Multiple Instances Where The Answer To The Question Was Not <Quite> Right But Was Pretty Close- In These Circumstances I Made The Team Unanimously Decided Whether To Bestow A Point To The Other Team Or Not.

In One Instance Team 1 Decided To Give Team 2 The Point.

Later Team 1 Lost.

And Just A Bit Of Chaos Ensued. The Vast Majority Of The Team 1 Members Were Mad They Lost, And Even More Furious That They Had Given That Extra Point To The Opposing Team... A Point, That In The End Caused Them To Lose. I Had Every. Single. Teammate. Come Up To Me Within The Next 20 Mins And Ask For A Ring Pop Too. Down to the last member, they all fully expected a prize.

"Can't We All Just Have A Ring Pop?"

It Became Somewhat Comical (and alarming!) chorus Of 'Broken Hearts' That Followed Me Around.

Because I'm Mean, I Told Every Single One Of Them "No." No, Children, You CAN'T All Have A Ring Pop. The Rules Were Set At The Beginning, You Knew What They Were, You Played The Game, You Lost. You Don't Get A Ring Pop. They Were Scandalized That I Would Deny Them The Prize (And I'm Not Entirely Sure There Aren't A Couple Still Mad At Me...)

But, As I Stated, I'm Mean. I Laid Out The Rules And I Kept My Promise In Upholding Them.

As A Mom Of Four young kids I Am Increasingly Alarmed By Our Culture Of 'Everybody Wins', 'Everybody Gets A Prize', 'Participation Awards For Everyone!' I see the culture, even within the Christian community becoming more and more willing to bend rules (or in some cases break them altogether)- however macro or micro. But more than anything, I Fear That We Are Setting Our Kids, Our Teams, All The Next Generations For Absolute Spiritual Failure. ETERNAL FAILURE PEOPLE! I'm Talking HELL Here....

This Is Not Simply that We're Raising Generations Of Soft People, Or That They're Weak, Or That No One Has A Back-Bone Or Knows The Meaning Of Hard Work. I do not necessarily think that and it’s missing the point. No, This Is MUCH Deeper And The Root Of WHY We Can't Allow This Culture Of Prizes To Continue.

Because The Cold, Hard Truth Is That from an eternal perspective God Doesn't Give Out Participation Awards, He Doesn't Give Second Place, He's Not Planning On Changing The Rules Of Heaven And Hell.

We Either Play By The Rules He's Set And Go To Heaven Or We Go To Hell.

It's That Simple.

We Can't “All Get A Ring Pop” If We're On The Losing Team.

I Know It Sounds Harsh, It's Sounds Judgmental, I'm Sure I'll Get Some Flack For Writing About This. But Scripture Is Clear Dear Ones! There Are Rules, A Way To 'Win' And A Way To 'Lose'. There Is No In-Between. There Is Heaven And There Is Hell.

Romans 3:23 ...For All Have Sinned And Fallen Short Of The Glory Of God.

Romans 6:23 ...For The Wages Of Sin Is Death, But The Gift Of God Is Eternal Life.

The most confounding thing about this for many of these youths, and honestly much of the modern-day church in general is that God set it up like this because He loves us. His perfect love is also perfectly just- and regardless of how we like to define ‘love’, His particular brand of love (the only one that matters) will win out in the end. And it will most definitely have eternal consequences for everyone.

The rather alarming theology that is sweeping the American church of “Love Wins” and “everybody will get to heaven in the end” (of which this idea of “everyone gets a ringpop” supports in practice if not in theology) belies a basic and fundamental misunderstanding of the very nature of God. His perfect love IS perfect because it is also completely just. His love needs be absolute in it’s adherence to rules, to the guidelines He’s set in place, to the very Scriptures He’s put before us. To change such rules would contradict Himself with Himself- which of course is not gonna happen. Real love doesn’t have no boundaries, real love doesn’t bend or break rules, real love disciplines for the sake of the greater (i.e. eternal) lesson, real love sacrifices pleasure for integrity, being liked for being Biblical.

Romans 5:8 But God Demonstrates His Own Love For Us In This, While We Were Still Sinners, Christ Died For Us. 

Romans 10:9-10 If You Declare With Your Mouth, “Jesus Is Lord,” And Believe In Your Heart That God Raised Him From The Dead, You Will Be Saved. For It Is With Your Heart That You Believe And Are Justified, And It Is With Your Mouth That You Profess Your Faith And Are Saved.

Romans 10:13 ...For Everyone Who Calls On The Name Of The Lord Will Be Saved.

For those who may bemoan the seeming unfairness of this all, please take a look again at those verses. You See What The Bible Is Doing Here? It's Laying Out The Rules Of The 'Game' The Rules Of Our Eternal Life. It Tells Us How To Win. The Really Nice Thing Here Is That EVERYONE Can Be On The Winning Team. It's Simply A CHOICE To Be On It!

But Stay With Me Here, I Want To Speak To Why It's So Dangerous If Our Children And These Generations Of 'Everybody's A Winner' Don't Get A Clear Message From Us. Be Perpetuating This Fallacy, We Encourage The Idea That People Will Eventually Get The Reward, Even Just For Showing Up Or For Simply Participating in The Game; That At The Very Least There's A Door Prize At The End. That's Simply Not True When Eternal Consequences Are At Stake.

God Doesn't Give Participation Points at the doorsteps of heaven- at least not where spending eternity is concerned. Sitting In Church, Doing Good Deeds, Volunteering To Worthy Causes, Living A 'Good' Life, Giving That Extra Point To The Other Team To Be Nice- They Don't Count Towards Getting Into Heaven. They Just Don't.

Showing Up Doesn't Count.

Participation Doesn't Count.

Not everyone will be getting their eternal ringpops.

Matthew 7:13-14 Enter Through The Narrow Gate. For Wide Is The Gate And Broad Is The Road That Leads To Destruction, And Many Enter Through It. But Small Is The Gate And Narrow The Road That Leads To Life, And Only A Few Find It.

We Have To Show Our Children That Playing By The Rules And Making The Decision To Choose The Right Team (Eternally) Is Of Utmost Importance, That Losing Will Have Some Fallout, That Not Everyone Can Be A Winner All The Time Necessarily. These Lessons Can Have Eternal Ramifications! We Have To Exemplify And Model That There Are Consequences To Losing (We Can Only Hope It's As Minor As Losing Out On A Ring Pop!) (And Also Keep In Mind That On This Side Of Heaven There Are Some GREAT Lessons To Be Learned In The Face Of Loss!) There Are Times When We Don't Get The Prize- No Matter How Hard We Worked For It Or Practiced Or Played. There Is Always Fallout From Losing- Whether We Choose To Acknowledge It Or Not.

There Will Be A Time When God Will Judge Us And Either See Christ, His Son, In Us Or Not. He's Made It Easy, He's Told Us Which Side To Choose, He's Laid Out The Rules Crystal-Clearly, There's (Thankfully) No Practice-Makes-Perfect Involved. It's Simply A Gift And There's NO Losing On God's Side!

And THAT, Dear Ones, Is The Ultimate Win. The Ultimate Prize. The Ultimate Ring-Pop!

BUT We Had To Have Played By The Rules And Picked The Winning Side.

So Parents, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Friends, And Neighbors- Don't Give Out The Ring Pops To Everyone. Let Your Children Fail And Feel The Consequences (No Matter How Light Or Harsh) Because In The End, Their Eternities Will Be Molded By Letting Them Feel And See The Results Of The Games They Play- The Winning And The Losing. Each Has It's Own Lesson To Learn; And Those Lesson Will Follow Them Into Eternity.

And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:5-11 NIV

This is a timely reblog from several years ago. Read the original one here!

Going Number Two

I'm excited to feature another writer today. My sister Alicia Costello has graciously written a wonderful blog for us to enjoy. Please check out her brand-new website too! ~B

My son is 4 years old and 2 months, and this kid is not. potty. trained.

Trust me, it’s not for lack of trying. He took to going number one in the potty fairly well. He goes to the potty every single time to go number one. It’s just, um, number two. He won’t go. No matter how long he is sat on the potty, he won’t do it. The second he gets that Pull-Up back on, he goes. We’ve tried everything. And it’s not only that he won’t go in the potty, but his face is one of no remorse. He’s resolved. He does not care about what we’ve asked him to do. Heck, after changing 4 Pull-Ups today before 2pm, he’s walking around my house literally butt naked because I just don’t have the mental capacity today to change another Pull-Up.

http://

via GIPHY

I’m sure any mom who has potty trained can sympathize. Unless your children are robots, and in that case where do I buy robot children??!!

My husband once said, “I never understood before I had kids why it seemed like every preacher’s story was about their kids. Now I get it. Everything they do preaches to you.”

And God’s never one to waste an opportunity so of course he’s been talking to me through it.

My child has one job: to poop in the potty. We have had many, many talks about this. I have told him he can’t go to big-boy classes at school or church until he poops in the potty. He understands poop goes in the potty. I feel like God has told me, you have one job. You are to go and preach my gospel. Use the tools I’ve given you.

http://

via GIPHY

And like God, I’ve given my child tools. Pull-ups. Access to the potty. And God’s given us tools, although they’re different. He’s given some an extra measure of encouragement, or some a teaching gift, or some a hospitality gift. God’s given me everything I need to do the job he’s asked me to do. And with my kid, I’ve given him everything he needs to do what I asked him to do successfully. And he still won’t do it. In fact, he takes my tools I’ve given him and just poops all over them, which is the opposite of why he has them. And I don’t know if you’re honest enough with yourself to point to a time in your life where you, even you, have taken the tools God has given us to do the exact opposite of what he wants us to do with them. I know I’ve done that more times than I care to remember.

As a mom, the second my kid actually poops in that potty, I will be so relieved and elated, I won’t even care about the years he spent being disobedient. I will just be so happy he’s being obedient now. I’ll just let that preach itself.

http://

via GIPHY

But for now, I’m stuck changing Pull-Up after Pull-up. I get frustrated until I literally take the Pull-Ups away. He couldn’t even go in his pants if he tried. He has no pants. Even the act of taking the Pull-Up away preaches to me on some deeper level. Like, it reminds me of the parable of the talent where Jesus says about the unfruitful servant “even what he has will be taken away from him.” (Matt 25:29)

But, thankfully, unlike me, God is so, so patient. Even if it takes us years, God continues to give us unmerited second chance after unmerited second or third or forth or seventy-ninth chance.

http://

via GIPHY

The Bible says very explicitly that God’s mercies are new every morning. So, consider today a great place to start. Apologize to him, and begin using those tools God gave you to do to accomplish the goals he’s set up just for you. Don’t be afraid of how many days you’ve spent being disobedient, just worry about your obedience today.

Take these next few sentences as your challenge:

I’ve given you the goal. I’ve given you the tools. I can’t move you on to the next season until you start being obedient in this season. I’m ready to go if you are. I’ll be beside you on this journey. I see the way. You don’t have to have it all figured out. Your job is just to trust me and obey. And if you follow me, we’ll go on an adventure together.

Q&A With the Author ~ The World Sees Normal

I was honored to participate in a fantastic author Q&A with my good friend and fellow blogger Amber Blackburn. If you'd like to read more about the inception, motivation, and story behind writing Helicopter Mom, this is the post for you!

Check it out here!