“But It’s Not Like Last Time!”: Finding Joy in Unmet Expectations and Change

Remember this?

Her face was red and wet with tears. Her fists were clenched and she was shaking her head spastically making her blonde hair flail around her head. She continued to whine and complain, but I could barely understand her words through her deep sobs. She was having a full-fledged meltdown.

Baggage was to blame.

No, not figurative baggage, as in difficult life circumstances that travel with us from our pasts into our future, I mean baggage, as in, our suitcases.

My 9-year-old daughter, Kenzie, was sitting in the one back row seat of our van that we had not folded down so as to have more room for our luggage. The van was still snuggly parked in our garage, and we were testing out the seating arrangements for our twenty-hour drive to Florida. This would be our second year taking a Spring Break vacation as a family of five. There was a lot of stuff shoved into our minivan: golf clubs, suitcases, beach chairs, snacks. Kenzie was surrounded by all of it in this trial run of making sure we could get everything in the van, including the kids.

Kenzie wasn’t crying because she was crowded or uncomfortable, she was crying because the suitcases were not close enough to her.

Sob. “Last year when I sat here the suitcases were right up against me!” Sob. “That was one of my favorite parts of the drive.” Sob. “I want it to be just like last year!” Wail.

There are moments in parenthood where you lose your cool. There are also moments when you’re overjoyed with your child. Then there are moments like this one when you’re just plain confused.

“So you’re telling me that you’re throwing a fit right now because the golf clubs are closer to you than the suitcases?” I said with a bit of a growl in voice.

Sob. “Yes! I want the suitcases to be closer to me so it’s just like last year!”

And thus began year two’s vacation where we frequently heard the phrase, “but last year we ___________ (fill in the blank).

My kids are huge fans of tradition. They savor life and enjoy each season and activity that comes with it. Each fall, they want to make a trip to the same apple orchard. Each Christmas, they want to hang the garland on the banister just like we did the year before. They love each tradition and have big hopes, expectations, and emotions involved in each one.

Speaking of apple orchards… the apple has not fallen very far from the tree. I wish I could say my husband was the tradition-lover who has thus modeled big feelings toward repeating expectations, but he ain’t that tree, folks.

I’m going to have to take the blame on this one. This baggage comes with me.

I love tradition, and I have a lot of hopes riding on expectations. And for many reasons, I’m going to say that’s a fine way to live. We tradition-lovers are also big on noticing and appreciating things, and we are often full of gratitude. If I do say so myself, we can be really lovely people to be around when traditions and plans go as scheduled.

But hitching our hopes to tradition and expectations can sometimes lead to a bumpy ride when plans come unhinged.

Over the years, I’ve had to learn how to recalibrate when it comes to traditions and expectations. Just as an infant is trained to self-soothe when she cries in her crib and no one comes to pick her up immediately, I’ve learned to self-soothe when expectations turn into disappointments. I’ve come to understand that joy can still be found in the changes, even if joy seems to be wearing a disguise.

Our first year in Florida, we went to a beach on a beautiful intercostal waterway where we found about a dozen whole sand dollars. It was amazing, and the kids loved these fragile sea treasures. But on our second trip, when we returned to the same beach, the wind was strong and the choppy water churned in a way that made it impossible to find any sand dollars. The kids were super disappointed.

But, as we walked along a different beach, we found some really cool shark teeth, a treasure we hadn’t found the year before. I capitalized on this and starting saying a five-word phrase each time one of the kids, or myself, would let disappointment creep in over a failed expectation or change.

Sand dollars and shark teeth.

Guys! Think about it! Both are treasures! So we didn’t find sand dollars this year, kids. But, we found shark teeth! How cool is that? It doesn’t have to be just like last time to be good.

“But last year ate at that one restaurant that had the popcorn shrimp!”

Sand dollars and shark teeth.

“But last year we made those apple pies!”

Sand dollars and shark teeth.

“But it’s our tradition to have cinnamon rolls every Christmas morning!”

Sand dollars and shark teeth.

And this doesn’t just help my kids deal with changes and unmet expectations. It helps me!

When my second book launched and it didn’t go the same as the first book had, I repeated “sand dollars and shark teeth” in my mind often. It was a mantra to remind myself that it didn’t have to be just like last time to be successful or good.

When my child’s schoolteacher didn’t run their classroom the same way my older child’s classroom was operated when they were in that same grade, I had to recalibrate. Wait, I thought I knew what to expect and how this was going to work! But it’s okay. Sand dollars and shark teeth.

When holiday plans changed last minute due to illnesses or activities beyond my control my gut reaction was, “this won’t be as good as last year.” But maybe it was. We made new memories! Sand dollars and shark teeth.

I’m going to be honest, Kenzie’s meltdown over not sitting close enough to the suitcases was a little over the top for me. I did not initially understand her response and I got pretty upset with her.

But after a week of finding zero sand dollars and realizing that unmet expectations and change were the reason for her tears, I understood a little more. I didn’t let her off the hook for behaving like she did, but I file the realization away in my mind.

“But, it’s not like last time!” can be baggage that travels with each of us. I get it. I’m a frequent flier in this club. But just because it’s different, changed, or not what we expected doesn’t mean it can’t still be good.

Sand dollars and shark teeth.

Tuck that phrase away in your baggage.

Outside the Ministry Zone – When God Leads You Down a Desert Road

Outside the ministry zoneHave you ever learned something new only to then read your own journal or notes and realize it isn’t actually the first time you’ve learned that very thing? You’ve learned this before, you just forgot!

Yeah, me too.

It happened to me again this week. I was doing my “homework” for BSF (Bible Study Fellowship). In this study, we go through one book of the Bible each year, chapter-by-chapter, verse-by-verse. I’ve been in BSF for about 9 years, and I enjoy the learning. The group discussions are so interesting. The lectures are illuminating. I even like the homework. (There’s almost never math involved, so that really helps!)

This week, we learned about Acts chapters 8 and 9. I read about Philip, who is a believer, and disciple of Jesus, going to Samaria and preaching and doing miraculous signs. Things go well. There’s a response. People hear and believe what he tells them about Jesus. The leaders of the early church, Peter and John, come and affirm his ministry there by praying for the Holy Spirit to come to these new converts.

Ministry is happening here.

And then I read further. Right after this ministry-rich time in Samaria, God asks Philip to

“Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” Acts 8:26

Philip obeys. He travels down the desert road.

Wow, I thought, he’s going away from the perceived “ministry” spot, and going by himself on a desert road where there’s no ministry opportunities in sight.

And then I read what I’d written in ink in the margin of my Bible.

“Away from where the ‘ministry’ is happening.”

Oh. I’ve learned this before. Okay. Good thinking, Christy. Good thought.

Apparently, I need a refresher. I need to learn this anew. In this particular season of my life, this idea means something different to me than it must have years ago when I wrote with a pen in my Bible’s margin.

Let me be clear. God’s Word doesn’t change. It was true last time I read it too. And, I am not to take verses out of context, or make them mean only what I want them to mean. But, God’s Word is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12) and it teaches me and impacts me in fresh ways as I apply it to different seasons and experiences in my life.

Such is the case with this passage.

This week, I was struck by the fact that Philip could have thought that his ministry opportunity for the day, or the week, was complete. Check that off the scroll, buddy! Good work.

But it turns out a man, an Ethiopian guy, was on this desert road, sitting in a chariot reading the Old Testament book of Isaiah, and needing someone to help him understand it.

The man was not in the perceived, “ministry zone,” but away from everyone else. He was in the desert. On the side of the road. Not waiting for Triple A, but waiting for someone to help him find The Way.

And Philip was God’s chosen instrument that day. God partnered with him to help this Ethiopian understand who Jesus is.

For me, in the season of life I’m in right now, I sometimes get into a rut of thinking that ministry is a “regularly scheduled program.” My husband is in full-time ministry. He has official ministry duties. I write and speak about faith and hope. Ministry does happen in these zones.

But, who is out the ministry zone waiting for me to help them know Jesus?

Is it the woman cutting my hair in the salon?

Is mom in line behind me at Starbucks?

Is it my own child who wants me to take time to listen and help them understand something they’ve been wondering through in their faith?

Philip was so obedient to travel down the desert road with no ministry plan or programming in place. He just climbed up into this guy’s chariot and started right where the Ethiopian was reading and told him about Jesus from there.

I like that.

What empty seat can I slide into? What searching heart can I help? Am I listening to God’s leading and allowing myself to partner with Him where He calls me?

I hope I can put this thought into practice. That’s what really helps me learn something for good – putting it into action.

Writing it in my margin was a good start. This time, I’m looking for the chariot on the side of the road.

Listen closely.

“I learned something really cool today in biology,” my freshman son stated as he began to search the pantry for an afterschool snack.

His words caught my attention. This was better than the grunts and shrugs that often follow my “How was your day?”

“What did you learn?” I asked as low-key as possible.

“Did you know that humans have a faster reaction time to sound than we do to sight because our eardrums are 3 centimeters closer to our brains than our optic nerves?”kisspng-tape-measures-ruler-adhesive-tape-measurement-clip-measurement-tape-5b1665d7538f80.2881284015281945193423I thought about this for a moment and felt my eyes and ears in an attempt to measure how this was possible. Then I decided to take his word for it. He went on to explain how it was tested and proved, and I enjoyed the science lesson, glad I wouldn’t have a test.

Later in the evening, I began to doubt this fact as I watched this same boy, stretched out on the couch watching a baseball game, reach his arms behind his head and accidentally knock over a glass of water on the end table behind him.

Tink. Tink. Tink.

The sound of the glass hitting the table was easily audible. Yet, my son’s reaction time was almost nonexistent. He propped himself up on an elbow and glanced apathetically at the water that was running across the end table toward my husband’s phone and various papers.

“What are you doing?” my husband said. “Go get a towel! Quick!”

Of course, it may not have been the best timing, but I was happy to add, “You heard that spill before you saw it so you should have had a quicker reaction time, son.”

He rolled his eyes at me on his way to the kitchen. Science does sometimes come in handy.

But here’s my point.

Perhaps technically, we should react faster to sound than to sight, but we still have to make a choice to do so. We have to not only hear the sound, but listen.

Listening requires action, whether it be in the form of a nod, or a response, or a thought you file away in your mind for later. We can hear something, but not truly listen, and sometimes, that can be detrimental to those around us.

Listen. It can make all the difference. Three centimeters at a time.

 


This post is part of the Five Minute Friday community where bloggers are challenged to write for 5 minutes based on a one-word prompt. This week’s word: LISTEN

How I define success. (Now THAT’S a great name!)

I held my phone in my hand and glanced down to see her message waiting for me. I sensed her desire for a solid answer she could grasp onto as well.

“I hate feeling like I’m running in the dark with this thing. Like what’s good, what’s not so good?”

She was wanting a definition for success for a particular project. I get it.

I want that too.

Success is such a slippery little noun. Hard to define. Hard to pin down.

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I’ve actually been thinking about it a lot this week, even before her message arrived in my inbox. Abraham brought it up. Well, not directly, but by reading about him as I studied for a class I was teaching.

I had just finished studying about the Tower of Babel in the Old Testament. Weird story. Basically, to summarize, a group of people “wanted to make a name for themselves,” (Genesis 11:4)  and so they tried to build a tower to Heaven. There are other indicators in the story that they were being disobedient to God’s commands, and so because of all this, they are punished. Their languages are mixed up and they can’t understand each other or work together.

“Simeon, hand me that brick, will ya?”

“Sprechen Sie Deutsch?”

“No Comprendo.”

Anyhow, their desire to build a name for themselves, without God, led them to confusion and disappointment.

I kept reading in Genesis. God enters into a deal with Abraham (then called Abram) and basically tells Abram that if he obeys and worships God, making known that God’s name is great and worthy to be followed, then God will make Abram’s name great in the eyes of men. There’s the same “making the name great” thing again. But this time, it’s approved by God. But the route to get there is different. 

The people of Babel wanted to make their own name great, without God, and it led to failure.

Abram wanted to make God’s name great, and it led to success.

Abram’s desire to make God’s name great even led him to his God-given purpose.

So here’s what I gather from all of these tower-building, deal-making, success-defining thoughts.

“I hate feeling like I’m running in the dark with this thing. Like what’s good, what’s not so good?”

What’s good: Obeying God and making His name great

What’s not so good: Making your own name great without God

The rest is just a pile of bricks.


This essay was written as part of the Five Minute Friday challenge where bloggers are asked to write for 5 minutes based on a one-word prompt. This week’s word: SUCCESS

 

False start much?

“How many false starts does each runner get in a track meet?” my son asked as his thumbs already moved on his phone’s keyboard looking for the answer.

“I think it’s just one.” I responded, proud of my ability to recall something from the recesses of my mind.

Yep. One false start. After that, the runner is disqualified from the race.

Think about it. She has stretched and warmed up, and now is bent over in the starting blocks anticipating the starting gun.

And she flinches. One foot jerks forward and she takes a few fumbling steps forward. Though prepared, she failed to start correctly.kisspng-the-female-runner-computer-icons-woman-clip-art-5af19606097623.4464946415257820220388

One more chance. Now she is extra careful to wait until she hears the gun. She’s more timid, careful.

I’ve thought about this when it comes to myself in the daily “rat race.” Thank goodness I’m not on the track team. Not only am I relieved I don’t have to wear short shorts and, heaven forbid, actually run, I’m relieved I’m no longer held to the one false start rule.

Because I’d be kicked off the team by now!

I’ve had false starts in many areas of my life. To name a few:

  • my desire to eat healthier
  • cook more nutritious meals for my family
  • read my Bible more faithfully
  • spend more time with friends
  • go on more dates with husband
  • spend more uninterrupted time with my children
  • read more books
  • exercise daily
  • and more.

But good news! I’m still in the race.

And so are you.

Didn’t get it right the first time? A little jumpy, are we? It’s okay. Take a deep breath. Brew another cup of coffee. Chug another protein shake or finish off your kid’s macaroni. Then, get back in the starting blocks and give it another try.

One false start doesn’t disqualify you. It just sets you up for the next attempt. 

The challenge is staying in the race.


This post is part of the Five Minute Friday writing community where writers are given the challenge of writing for 5 minutes based on a one-word prompt. This week’s word: CHALLENGE

 

Our Marriage Needs a Prefix.

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Last night I told my husband that I miss him. He nodded in agreement as he sat beside me.

We are together a lot, but our moments of non-distracted, non-exhausted, non-sick, non-stressed, non-necessary, non-rushed, non-interrupted communication are slim. We’d like to add those little nons into our relationship, but they’re elusive little prefixes.

We strive to have non-distracted conversations, but texts, and emails, and demands keep breaking our concentration. Not to mention our kids.

We desire to talk about non-necessary topics, but there are fires to be put out before we can intentionally try to fan into flame our love for one another.

We want to give each other our non-exhausted selves. But, we can’t seem to find them.

We need the nons in our marriage.

But adding that prefix takes work.

And it should. Life moves forward after the wedding day and so should our relationship. It should grow and blossom instead of wilting. But it takes effort to remember to care for it in the midst of dizzying schedules and bursting calendars.

The daily, “What time should I plan dinner?” and,  “Did you remember we have that thing tomorrow evening? Did you find a sitter?” questions cause us to put a finger in the leaking dam and leave us in a bind the next time we hear, “Babe, can you give me a hand here?”

The days of long uninterrupted dinners and fun filled dates are taken over by quick, “How was your day?” volleys and conversations squeezed in while sitting in the bleachers.

You have to make an effort to add those nons. But how? What does that look like?

I think it takes many different forms.

Some days you make your kids gag as you kiss in the kitchen. Other days you put a movie in for them and you finish that difficult conversation that’s been driving a wedge between you. Some days you splurge on a nice dinner for two after they’re all in bed, and you tuck your phones away in another room too. Some days you go out to a movie neither of you really care to see just so that you can sit beside each other and hold hands.

And some days you simply acknowledge to each other that you miss the nons. Both of you do. That you’re striving to find them and you believe in each other and miss each other in the meantime. That the effort to find the nons is a small price to pay for the love of your life. You’re a team in this daily work.

Marriage. It sometimes needs a prefix.

And together, we’re going to work to add it.

Non-stop.


 

This post has been re-shared from its original publish date of September 21, 2016

Book Excerpt – “Letting Go and Moving Forward,” From – If Only It Were a Piece of Cake

Letting Go and Moving Forward

With school starting, parents dropping their sons and daughters off at college, young people beginning their first jobs, and empty nest transitions of no more preschoolers in the nest during the day, or kids living under the parents’ roof at all anymore, there’s a lot of LETTING GO and MOVING FORWARD happening this time of year.

Here is an excerpt from my book, If Only It Were a Piece of Cake, that deals with that very topic!

An excerpt from chapter eight, “Letting Go and Moving Forward”


There’s a difference between moving on, and moving forward. Not to brag or anything, but I’m in the company of Albert Einstein with this thought (this sentence may be the only time I’m mentioned with Einstein. Savor it.)

He said,

“It is the same with people as it is with riding a bike. Only when moving can one comfortably maintain one’s balance.”

Moving forward indicates you’ve already been somewhere, and by moving, you’re continuing the journey. It doesn’t mean the past is forgotten, but that you’re now moving forward from it.

Moving on sounds a bit more like you’re leaving the past behind. You’ve finished the delivery, you’ve made the stop, you’ve completed the task. Now you move on and forget. This is fine if you’re a pizza delivery person, but as a general rule, we can’t just expect to move on to the next stop in life and forget everything else.

We cannot deny that the past happened. We should not deny the good or the bad. The past, the stages and seasons we loved and lived, are always going to be a part of us! The stages and seasons we loathed are too. That’s okay. We shouldn’t move on from them, but move forward in spite of them, through them, with them.

I often call to mind 1 Corinthians 4:16-18 in times of change and letting go. It reads,

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Yes, this passage is about dealing with hardships, but also about change and letting go. You see, as we live, we are “wasting away.” Each day we are moving closer to the end of this earthly life. But inwardly, those of us who are in Christ are being “renewed day by day.”

This renewal is a process. It’s preparing us for eternity and shaping us to be more like Christ on this Earth. We can’t always detect the process or see the change, but it’s happening. Our bicycle wheels are barely spinning, but it’s enough to keep us upright.

Being renewed each day by Jesus requires letting go of what we were yesterday. Not denying it happened, but moving forward anyway.

A sweet little girl, a friend of our daughters, was learning to water ski last summer. I sat in the boat with my girls and our friends, who were driving and shouting out instructions to the little girl. My husband was in the water trying to help her get her skis on and learn how to hold the rope.

And she did it! She got up on the skis and took a long ride around the lake. In fact, a very long ride. I realized we had not clearly explained that she only needed to let go of the rope when she’d finished. Simply let go. But we didn’t make this clear to her, and so, she never did. She skied on and on. After awhile, her little body bent forward at the hips and she looked exhausted.

“You can let go!” her aunt yelled from the boat.

“Do you want to let go of the rope?” my girls yelled as they made a motion with their own hands of dropping the handle.

She wasn’t understanding, and so she skied on, looking as if she were about to break in half.

Her uncle, the boat driver, wasn’t sure if he should stop the boat because we weren’t positive if she wanted to be done, and getting up again would be hard work. So she just kept on going.

Finally, we looped back around to our shoreline and stopped. She fell slowly into the water, still not letting go of the rope until she was forced to by the plunge.

“My back hurts! I’m so tired!” she said.

We all laughed. She could have stopped long ago if she would have just let go of the rope.

I get it, girl!

Sometimes I want to move forward into a new season, and I know it will be exciting once I get there, but I just don’t want to let go of the rope. I’m comfortable where I am. I’m not sure how the transition will feel. I like the way things are going now. Even if my back hurts and I’m tired of the fight, I’d rather hold on and be safe then let go into the unknown.

It’s not just about the unknown. Sometimes it’s about the sadness I feel that a particular stage is ending. I’ve loved it so much, whether it be having preschoolers at home, or working outside the home, or watching my children compete in a sport that they have now finished, that I don’t want to face the sadness by letting go of the rope.

But facing the sadness offers the chance for joy in remembering, and anticipation of what’s ahead. Just as looking grief in the eyes helps bring healing, admitting the sadness of leaving a season of life helps us to move forward with it. When we face the sadness, we also acknowledge the goodness of that particular season, and then hopefully that turns into gratitude that it happened!

As Dr. Seuss says,

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

I say, if you want to cry too, that’s okay. Cry, laugh, remember, grieve, and then move forward. And if you need to cry, laugh, remember, grieve, and move forward again later this afternoon, that’s okay. This isn’t a one-time deal. You may have to let go of the rope multiple times. You may not realize you’ve grabbed hold of it once again.

Letting go is a process. It’s a healthy and natural process at that.

As I said in the Chronological Change chapter, Genesis 1 shows us that God created the seasons and time on the fourth day of creation. (Genesis 1:14) They were part of the original creation, before the fall, when sin entered the world. A part of the original design. So, this tells me that even if sin and death never entered this world, seasons and time still would have existed. Now, they would have been different in the sense that they would not have led to death, as time does for us now, but they would have still been part of creation. Seasons still would have been a beautiful framework by which to live, and this encourages me.

We see cycles in life when one season begins, and another one ends. When the leaves fall off the trees, they yield to winter. When the snow melts and the flower bloom, winter yields to spring. And so forth. If we’re still holding on and trying to live in the fall, we’re going to miss every other season.

Letting go is part of living.

I always remind myself that the alternative to letting go and moving forward is holding on and stagnating. Stagnant is never a positive word, is it? Nobody desires to drink from a stagnant pond that is holding on to its growths. Instead, we want to drink from a babbling stream that is moving, and fresh, and purified. Jesus didn’t call Himself  “Stagnant Water,” but “Living Water.” (John 7:38) Stagnating and holding on to the past doesn’t seem appealing anymore, does it?

So how do we let go of the rope?

We process the journey, remember the moments, grieve the loss, move forward. Process, remember, grieve, move forward.

Opening our grip and releasing the rope frees our hands to grab the present in front of us. 

When we’re free to move forward and live in the present, we’re ready to open the front door and usher in life, with all of its opportunities.

We shouldn’t put it off any longer.


For more, you can find If Only It Were a Piece of Cake on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1091280215/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i1

 

What the Bible Taught Me About Writing

I’ve written two books. I blog. Occasionally, I summarize my thoughts into 280 characters and tweet them to everybody and nobody. I post updates on Facebook and “The Gram” (as I heard a cool twenty-something call it). I’ve even written a children’s Bible curriculum.

No, this isn’t my resume.

The point I’m trying to make is, in my forty-one years of existence (see why I rely on cool twenty-somethings now?), I’ve written about a variety of topics.

I’ve told emotional stories with my words, such as sharing about my mother’s death, my son’s cancer journey, and our struggle with miscarriages. I’ve used my words to teach children how the Bible fits together, and the fact that Moses lived after Abraham, and before David. I’ve written about the time my middle school son wore the same pair of socks for seven straight basketball games and how I almost died from the odor on the drive home. I offer a wide-range of topics.

And that’s just me.

When I scroll through my newsfeed, or browse the library shelves, I see articles and books on every topic known to man.

What could possibly be left to write? (I know that sentence could be improved grammatically, as in, ‘What could remain about which to write?’ but this is my essay, and I happen to like the ‘left to write’ thing.)

So when I sit down to work on my next book, or to pound out a blog post, I sometimes get discouraged. What could I possibly write about that hasn’t already been written? What wisdom, humor, information, or idea do I possess that has not already been released into cyberspace? Won’t my voice just be drowned out by the millions of others who have already sung this chorus and verse?

These doubts slow my creative process, and often bring it to a place where I sit and sulk with my friend, Low Self-Esteem.

Why tell my story? 

Why add my voice? 

Why write my words? 

And then one day, while I was doing my hair in front of my bathroom mirror, I looked at myself, and I thought, What about the Bible?

There are 66 books in the Bible, written by about 40 different authors. And, many of those authors write about topics in their books that are the same, or very similar, to the topics in other Bible books! They are humming the same tune. That’s quite the choir!

For example, take the guys in the Old Testament called “The Prophets.” There are 17 Prophecy books in our Bibles. Five of these are Major Prophets, and 12 are Minor. By the way, we call them “Major” and “Minor” because of the length of the books, not because Isaiah and Jeremiah had a weight problem. Just FYI.

Anyway, these 17 Prophecy books were written by 17 different men (actually, to be technical, 16, because Jeremiah wrote Lamentations. He’s always making things difficult), but these books all basically have the same message.

“Turn back to God or you will be punished.”

I’m summarizing, but that’s the main topic of each. Most of these men are even writing to the same audience; the divided nation of Israel. (Jonah, however, was called to Nineveh, and is an exception. If you remember him from Sunday School, you always knew there was something fishy about him!)

So, these 17 authors are all adding their voices, out of obedience to God, because they were called to share the message He gave them. Even though they aren’t the only ones sharing it.

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And then there’s the New Testament.

As I always tell my 5th grade students in my Bible class, the closer we get to Jesus in the Bible, the more information we have written. So in the account of creation, we only get about two chapters in Genesis, but by the time we get to the New Testament, we have four whole books dedicated to one man’s life. Jesus.

Four books. Four different authors. Four different versions. Four different voices.

But they all put their own flavor to it. And that’s what makes them so special.

Matthew was a Jew, and really connected with the Jewish reader. The Jews knew the Old Testament writings, and therefore Matthew shows them in his book how Jesus is the Messiah that fulfills the prophecies they’ve read so many times.

Mark wrote to a Roman audience. He tells of the same wonderful Jesus, but is writing to people who aren’t as familiar with the Old Testament prophecies, so he doesn’t explain how Jesus fulfills those. Rather, he tells of Jesus’ many miracles, and points them to the true God – who is greater than their many gods.

Luke was a physician, so one of my favorites little tidbits about him, is that in the story of Peter chopping off a guy’s ear when they came to arrest Jesus, (Peter was a not a subtle dude), is that Luke is the only writer that mentions that Jesus puts the ear back on! You can read about it in Luke 22:51. Of course a doctor would take note of such a “surgery!”

And John, he wrote to the world! He’s the one who wrote John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John has gotten the most post-Bible era press for this verse with the invention of the football end zone.

So basically, if God designed the Bible to be a collection of voices, and styles, and flavors, and audiences, and personalities, then having a sea of voices sharing about the same topic must not be so bad after all.

I guess it’s time I stop second-guessing the messages and stories I feel led to share, and get to work.

Sharing my words, even if I’m not the first (or the best) to write about the topic, is an act of obedience to the loving God who is able to use them for His glory!

 

Assault with a deadly pair of socks.

 

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I’m not sure if it’s a blessing, or a curse. Maybe it’s both.

I’ll just come straight out and say it. I have an unusually good sense of smell.

I hate to brag. But, yes. I’ve got a good sniffer.

Case in point, I have called the city gas company on several occasions alerting them of a specific address or intersection where I smell a potential gas leak. Do you know how many of those times I have later seen a crew repairing said gas leaks in the exact spot that I’ve reported? Every single time. I’m not saying the city should hire me as a “gas sniffing unit” just yet, but they might want to keep the idea in the back of their minds.

Anyway, this sense of smell can come in handy, but it can also lead to suffering. Suffering in the form of extreme awareness of foul odors.

And let me tell you, I have I met some foul odors in my day. But just this past weekend, I experienced a new level of one particularly rancid odor.

And it wasn’t it a gas leak.

It was my son’s socks.

Granted, the poor kid has been hearing complaints from me for years about his socks. They’ve never smelled like roses. In fact, roses are probably now offended that I even dared make the comparison. Please forgive me.

Anyway, one time, in a hotel room, our family decided to put Karson’s socks and shoes in the hallway overnight because none of us could stand the odor with them in the room. We figured if anyone dare steal them, then bless their hearts. And noses. We’d buy new ones. But, his socks and shoes were there in the hallway the next morning, and my son’s pride remained in tact. Karson owns up to it. He’s just thirteen, but he’s a true man when it comes to owning his stinky feet. He’s not ashamed.

So, this past weekend, my husband and I “divided and conquered” with the kids. I took two of the kids to Michigan for my son’s basketball team to play in a tournament, and my husband stayed home to coach our third child’s game. We all had fun. It was a wonderful weekend of friends and basketball, and my son’s team got to play in seven basketball games over the course of two days. And bonus, they won them all! What great memories!

But here’s the problem. Minutes after getting into our van to drive the two hours home Sunday evening, I smelled trouble. I did not even have to turn around to verify my suspicion. Karson had taken his shoes off.

And I was about to pass out.

And then I find out why it’s this bad. This whole new level of awful. This “my eyes are burning” odor that is now assaulting me from the back seat.

He wore the same socks for all seven basketball games.

Yeah. You heard me. All seven basketball games. Same pair of socks. No washing machine. No spray deodorizer. No “airing them out outside.”

No comprendo. 

So… the conversation went like this.

“Karson. Something has to happen right now with your socks. I can not make it the rest of the way home in this condition. This situation is not going to work.”

Deep breath. Hold it. 

Exhale.

I continue. “I don’t care if you like those socks or that they’re Under Armor socks. Do we need to pull over and throw them away?”

“Hmm.” Karson thinks. Karson shrugs. Karson barely notices the odor and doesn’t understand why wearing socks seven games in a row without washing them is bad.

I exhale and reload. 

“Okay,” I add. “I have an idea. Why don’t we find a bag and you can put your socks in it and wrap them up SUPER tight to try and stifle the odor.”

Karson thinks. Karson shrugs. Karson slowly wraps the socks of death in a trash bag that we miraculously found in the van.

And we made it home.

Who knows, we may have passed several gas leaks on our way and I was not able to sniff them out and call them in because of the sock situation.  I guess I may never know.

But this I do know.

Seventh grade boys aren’t always going to smell great. Or even acceptable.

And they don’t care.

But, if you can hold your breath for awhile, and remember how much you love them, stink and all, you’re in for a great ride!

 

 

Temporary Regret.

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Regret. She was feeling it.

Karly had wanted to go to the butterfly exhibit at the local Botanical Gardens. The colors and delicate flapping wings had put smiles on all of our faces. We read the informational packets and tried to identify the different types of the beautiful creatures. How fun.

And then a butterfly landed on Karly’s head.

She wasn’t thrilled. Let’s just say that.

I get it. She inherited the “freak out when an animal touches you” gene from her mother. You might remember my tale of fish touching my legs in the lake where I was swimming (how DARE they!) that I wrote about here. https://christycabe.com/2012/08/13/do-as-i-say-not-as-i-swim/ Need I say more?

So, Karly’s reaction to the creature on her head spoke clearly to me. I read her nonverbal clues and knew exactly how she felt. And I did what any mom would do.

I took a picture.

I’m happy to report that Karly did survive the “landing” and she now looks back at the day with fondness.

Her regret was only temporary.

I get that too. I have moments of temporary regret. But, looking back, the regret dissolved. It fades into something else. Gratitude. I feel thankfulness for the moments I pressed on and through the temporary regret in order to get to the goodness on the other side.

The temporary regret that accompanied my pounding heart and shaking knees as I stood in front of 700 college students at my alma mater and chose to share my vulnerable story in their chapel service turned into gratitude that maybe I encouraged one heart that was needing hope.

The temporary regret of my aching back muscles from hours spent on bleachers watching my children compete dissolves into gratitude for the friendships and the lessons gained on the court.

The temporary regret of sleepless nights and swollen ankles during the late weeks of pregnancy led to a gratitude I can barley contain now that I have those babies who have grown into young people I adore.

The temporary regret of burning muscles and screaming lungs as I excercise turns to health and happy endorphins.

The temporary regret of choosing not to watch that television show and instead having a face to face conversation with my husband leads to a real life romance that beats any that would play out on the screen.

Temporary regret. I get it. I’ve felt it. I don’t love it.

But I do love the beauty it produces in its aftermath.

The delicate and fleeting moments of temporary regret are soon gone, like the butterfly wings that fly away and leave behind something beautiful.

 


This post is part of the Five Minute Friday community where bloggers are encouraged to write for about 5 minutes about a topic based on a one-word prompt. This week’s word: REGRET