buildingbodies4christ

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Archive for the tag “Family Time”

There’s a Difference

I have been told that I am different. My tastes are unique. After being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease eleven years ago, I eat differently than most people. The first Easter after my change to a healthier lifestyle was the first time I experienced the reality that I was totally different. My Mom was still alive and well at that point. The family was together as was the tradition for holidays. As usual, Mom fixed everyone’s favorite food, except I couldn’t eat any of it.

Mom forgot that I could no longer eat like the rest of the family. I had to have a different menu. Not because I wanted to be different, but because I had chosen to treat my disease with a food-based approach and not a medical prescription approach. My Mom didn’t get it. My family didn’t get it. And on that Easter Sunday, I had to come to terms with hard reality of being different.

I don’t think many people really like to be different, especially young people. We like our friends to be similar to us. Even our church life has the same mentality. We want to be like our neighbors – nice car, nice house, perfect lifestyle with perfect kids. And sometimes that comes with a hefty price tag. We go into debt to finance our desires. I heard Dave Ramsey say recently on a show that we need to be different. Normal is to be in debt. Different is to have a healthy bank account without the burden of debt. The Bible tells us debt is our master; we are a servant to it (Proverbs 22:7). Possessions possess us.

We all need a hard reality check. Jesus didn’t come to burden us but to free us from our burdens. No matter what we struggle with – health issues, debt, unhealthy habits, etc. – Jesus is the answer. How you say? If we are followers of Jesus, we should have a different mentality. We should have a different focus. Pastor Tony Evans has a teaching series on eternal focus. We should be living in the light of eternity. Possessions shouldn’t possess us – sell it. Move into something that is affordable. Free up the bank account so that it allows for Kingdom purpose – to help those in need at a moment’s notice.

Living a healthy lifestyle has changed me in more ways than just my eating habits. It has freed me from the burden of feeling sick and tired all the time. I have the freedom with a clear mind and satisfied heart. Living well is a choice. It may have a steep learning curve, but it’s worth it to be different. Finding the right people to encourage us along the way is important. We don’t all have to be alike. It’s healthy to have a diverse friendship base. They can teach us many things. However, there always has to be a true foundation of belief in Jesus so that no one can move us from Jesus’ rock of truth.

Jesus promised us the gift of the Holy Spirit when we receive His gift of salvation. The Holy Spirit is our guide to living a different life. The Spirit will give us a check in our spending habits, in our eating habits and in choosing a different path. However, we have to be sensitive to His promptings. If we continue to ignore the promptings, we will no longer feel His leading away from the things that will entangle us in an unhealthy life. There’s a difference in the way we live when the Spirit is in control. It’s not easy living differently, but it’s very rewarding when the Spirit gives us a nudge in the right direction. There’s always a blessing when we do the right thing.

As followers of Jesus, the world cannot give us what we desire. When we look to worldly things, we leave God out of the equation. When God is in the picture, everything is seen in a different light. I had a conversation last week with a fellow at the gym about marriage. He said marriage was overrated. I said, God has to be in the marriage too in order for it to be a good marriage. God has to be in the middle of our lives in order for it to be a good life. We have to live differently. It’s the only way to live a truly joyful, peaceful life. Jesus is the answer. Choose to be different!

For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News. 2 Timothy 1:9-10 (NLT)

Squeal of Delight

Well Christmas is over. Memories were made. And sweet memories were shared as we gathered together and remembered ages long past. My brother-in-law captures the family news worthy events from the year in his “Twas the Night before Christmas” poem, which is always one of amusement for all except the one who made it into the poem. He had a lot of material this past year to work with.

At a recent gathering, I observed some children enjoying Christmas festivities. One two-year old squealed with delight as she opened a gift to find a new baby doll. A three-year old opened a little golf club set; although no squealing, an exclamation of complete joy was the reaction. A one-year old actually enjoyed the wrapping paper more than the gifts.

As I continued to observe the children, I noticed the three-year old press the limits of obedience. We all know when we do wrong, but we all test the limits to see what we can get away with. Sometimes the obedience is no big deal. As the child tested obedience with a sip from a forbidden drink, often do we find ourselves in the same circumstances? We know there are things we shouldn’t do, but just a little bit won’t hurt us. The child kept coming back for more until the drink was all gone. No one stopped him, even though he was told not to drink from it; he kept going back for more.

Temptation is just hard to avoid if it’s really something we want. Even as adults, we find ourselves doing the same thing. Just a little won’t hurt – I’m not hurting anyone. But even when we know we’re doing wrong, we still do it. We rationalize our disobedience. I do it quite often. I do the thing I know I shouldn’t do, but I am just drawn to it.

There are consequences to our disobedience. We think we’re getting away with something, but God’s eyes are always on us. He does not watch us to “catch” us in the act of disobedience. His eyes are on us because He delights in us. He loves us and wants the best for us. But He cannot allow us to “get away with” something that will eventually harm us. Boundaries are there for our protection – even when it feels like we are being denied from something we really want. Our desires take us in the wrong direction when our desires are not surrendered to God. I think this can be said of us personally and nationally. As a nation, we have been gaining the things we have desired as a nation; and it’s taking us in the wrong direction.

Over the last few years, I have become a reader of history. It will be interesting to see how 2016 will be recorded in the history books. I don’t think we have had a good year nationally. I must say we have struggled throughout the years from many different directions. Trump talks about “becoming great again” and I don’t know when we were all that great to begin with. Yes, we have had significant blessings, but that was all God. That had nothing to do with our greatness but His. He has blessed us more than we deserve. We deserve His wrath, but He chooses to delight us with His blessings instead.

I would rather squeal in delight than find myself in an awful hurt because of my disobedience. God would much rather give us the delight of our hearts, if we our hearts are properly aligned with His. It’s our choice. As we begin a new year ahead, we have some choices to make. It’s time to acknowledge our behavior; acknowledge our disobedience and come back to God’s delightful ways. The best is yet to come. Only time will tell which we have chosen for ourselves. Let’s make this a great year ahead!

Trust in the Lord and do good.

Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desires. Psalm 37:4-5 (NLT)

Sharing Spaces

Last week, my family went on our annual pilgrimage to the beach. We have been doing this for the last twenty-four years. It’s become a special time for me and my family. Each year, the adults considered dropping the trip as my nephews got older, but they would have nothing of it. As we have added members to the family through marriage, the new members have had to learn to adjust to these family dynamics. The transitions have been smooth – since the boys have all chosen well! Now, their children are beginning to experience this annual trip as well. We rent one house with enough beds to accommodate all of us, but the sleeping arrangements can be a bit of a challenge with spouses sharing space with in-laws. As older adults have aged, this too has led to some sleeping arrangement difficulties (especially for those of us who are light sleepers).

We have all had to learn how to live together (even if it’s just for one week) in harmony. During the first years, my Mom had a few difficulties dealing with “boy” issues; like unmade beds with clothes on the floor. Mom was used to having “girl” issues since she raised three girls. I had a few moments too with having stubborn teenagers who wouldn’t listen to my instructions (aka orders) to get out of bed or clean the house before departure. Can you say control issues? But those were just bumps in the road. We have had many memories that are seared into each of our hearts that we will never forget.

One of the last times with my Mom remains priceless to each of us. We used to play games a couple of times during the week. One of those times, my Mom won every hand. And each hand she won, we began to wonder how she was doing it. It seemed we would all get distracted by the conversation or something going on outside; except Mom. After awhile, we began to comment that Mom was cheating. By the time the card game was finished, we were all laughing so hard tears were rolling down our cheeks. One of my nephews spoke about that memory this past week. This family week is now bittersweet since she is no longer with us enjoying these precious memories.

Transitions between events can be quite challenging. Loss, either through divorce, death or even family members moving to another part of the world can be difficult when we want the dynamics to stay the same. It never does. Change is inevitable. Each year is different. The house may stay the same; the family members may stay the same, but we are all growing and changing every year (at least I hope so!). Thankfully we aren’t who we once were and we are still in process of becoming who we’re going to be. Living in close spaces with family members brings constant struggles; each wanting to do things their own way (loading the dishwasher for example – not that there is a right or wrong way). Different isn’t bad – it’s just different. My little nephew learned this phrase when he took his missionary training last year.

Meshing families into a functioning harmonious space is challenging. But those harmonious spaces are always under girded with love. We can forgive slights when we know that love is present. The challenge is to love even when hurt; to walk away and forgive the words that cut deeply; to offer grace even when it would be easier to lash back. Close knit families have their own struggles to deal with. I am always reminded that when actions or words are misinterpreted, God knows our hearts. He knows our actions associated with the overflow of our hearts. We have to give the benefit of the doubt to keep the peace. I cannot judge what someone else is dealing with. When we are sharing space with someone else, we have to give them the space in grace. We are responsible for our own actions and reactions. A few sharp words will not change the harmonious nature of our family because we love one another. If we make the trip next year, I know the dynamics will change again. I cherish the way it was and look forward to the way God will make the transitions for next year.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

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