24/7 News Organizations… I’m Tired of Your Crap…

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news_logosI am a news junkie.  If it wasn’t for news, MLB, and college football I probably wouldn’t even watch TV.  I love politics.  I love debate.  I love sharing ideas.  I love hearing yours and having the chance to agree or disagree.  But, y’all, I am tired…  I am so tired of the 24/7 news cycle.

Remember when the news came on at 6:00pm?  Remember when you sat (willingly or unwillingly) in front of TV at that hour, each day, to get a fill of what was going on in the world?

Now we are bombarded with news every second of every day.  Don’t get me wrong, I love being able to turn on the TV at 2pm and find out what’s happening, but I never hear anything different.  The same thing is on the morning shows, the midday shows, and the evening shows.  They show the same interviews and talk about the same subjects.

It has also become quite clear that each news organization only covers what they want you to know… that fits into the narrative of what they believe.  I know some of my friends don’t like Fox News, but it’s my favorite.  I do lean right, but am open to your discussions.  I think Fox News actually tries to cover both sides, which is more than I can say for other channels.

The disappointing part is that even though I am a news junkie with a love of politics, I am just about done.  I am so tired of discussing the election (to be held in NOVEMBER) in July (and earlier).  They tell me who’s ahead today… every day.  How do they know this?  No one asked me.  And, I distinctly remember all of the pollsters predicting a Romney win last election… WRONG.  So, I’m tired of hearing your made up crap every second to fill a 24 hour news day when noting really newsworthy is happening.  You have to fill it with crap because there’s nothing else to talk about!

It is becoming clearer everyday that we don’t need fuel to the fire every day.  We need Jesus.  I don’t care if you are Republican or Democrat.  I care of you are saved or not saved.  I don’t care who wins the election because ultimately God is in control.  As long as we keep our eyes fixed on Him and do His will, everything else will fall into place.  But, instead we argue about who lied, who spreads hate, who is the victim, who is the suppressor… anything… we just argue about anything.

If we spent more time thinking of others more than ourselves… more time loving instead of hating… listening instead of arguing… spreading the Gospel instead of pushing a candidate… where would we be?  What would the country look like?

I challenge you… I implore you… turn it off… open your heart… open your Bible.

“At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.  Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”  Matthew 24:10-13

 

Comfort Food with a Stranger…

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cracker-barrelLast night my husband, oldest son, and I went to dinner at Cracker Barrel.  The youngest is at camp for the week.  When we were about to turn in to the parking lot, a teenager walked across the street right in front of us.  Not close enough to hit him, but close enough that I had to slow way down not to hit him.  He kind of smiled, acknowledging that he cut it a little too close.

We parked and went in the restaurant.  We were seated… right next to the same kid.  My mom brain started thinking… this kid is a teenager, he walked here, he’s eating alone.  Just noticing the facts.  We were three people at a table for four, right next to him.  I’d like to say that I was overly kind and invited him to sit with us, but I didn’t.  Usually, I am the one that doesn’t like for people to be alone, but it never occurred to me to invite him to our table.

Funny thing, he asked us if he could sit with us.  He explained that he was by himself and didn’t want to eat alone.  Of course, I immediately said “yes!”  Then, internally wondered why I hadn’t asked him to begin with. Again, it never occurred to me to do so.  And, my husband might have looked at me strange if I had.  I was also amazed at the courage and boldness that this kid had to ask strangers if he could eat with them.  He was young high school age.  When I was his age, I would’ve died before going somewhere alone to eat and if that didn’t kill me, asking someone if I could join them surely would have!  I was never brave.

This young man was full of conversation.  Turns out he was at gymnastics practice right across the street.  He was between classes and was hungry.  I asked where he lived and he said the same community area where we live.  Naturally, I asked if he attended church.  After his “no,” I invited him to ours.  He and my son talked about school and kids they both knew.  It was delightful and weird.  The weird part being that we weren’t really close to where we both live, didn’t know each other, but here we were sharing a meal, and having good conversation.

I realized a few things last night…

  • Most people don’t like to be alone.  Even if they say they do, we are made to fellowship with others.
  • You may come from totally different circumstances, but food brings people together.  It won’t kill you to have a meal with a stranger.
  • I may seek out someone alone and ask them to join us.  They might say no, but at least I gave the opportunity.  They might say yes, and we might meet someone totally awesome.
  • Even when you choose to go to dinner with your family instead of going to church on a Wednesday night, God will still use you.

“Keep on loving each other as brothers.  Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”  Hebrews 13:1-2

From a Choir Member’s Perspective…

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ChoirThere are so many articles and commentaries out there about how worship pastor’s should be aware of the needs of his congregation.  Music should not be too loud, should be in a key that is comfortable for everyone to sing, should mix styles to accommodate everyone’s preferences.  Man, I would hate to be in charge of all that… because you definitely can not please everyone all of the time.  Imagine the pressure!

So, I just want to give you the perspective of a choir member.  We always hear about the needs of the congregation. I want you to hear our side… offer a different perspective for you to ponder.

We practice.  We stay late… we arrive early… really early!  We practice together and most of us practice on our own during the week.  We (hopefully speaking for most choirs) have leaders that encourage us not just to sing the song, but to experience the words behind them.  Feel them.  “Worthy is the lamb who was slain holy, holy is He…”  “The mountains shake before him, the demons run and flee, at the mention of the name King of Majesty…”  (I could go on, but hopefully, you get the point.)

We work hard to make the songs sound nice awesome.  So, that not only you would enjoy them, but most important, God would enjoy them.  I personally don’t want God looking down at me singing and think “wow, she must not think too much of me.”  I want God to hear us singing and say “WOW… MORE PLEASE!”

I know that you get distracted because someone is swaying, clapping, or moving too much… the guitar is too electric… the drums are too loud… the song isn’t a traditional hymn… the lights are too colorful… the people are wearing jeans… whatever.

But, let me tell you what distracts us.  YOU.  I am trying to give God all I have and I look out into the congregation and see… YOU.  You are scowling, you are making weird faces, you are not singing, you have your arms crossed, you are not participating, you are miserable.  I tell you, we, as a choir, don’t get it.  How can we pour ourselves out to our Creator and get that kind of response?  We try not to look at you, but are drawn like driving by a train wreck.  We are just trying to figure out how it is happening.  We try to re-focus… close our eyes as not to see you (which probably irritates you as well)… because ultimately we are singing for God, not you.  But, it would be nice if you pretended to enjoy it or at least not detest it.

I know that you may not like the instruments or the song choice, but you know what?  God gave us all gifts and wants us to use them all for His glory.  Some have the ability to preach, to teach, to sing, but also to play the guitar, the drums, and even the trumpet.  We should ALL use our gifts… not just the ones that you prefer.

There is comfort in this story.  YOU are the minority.  For every scowl we see, there are way more souls in total happiness.  They have pleasant faces, arms up, singing, clapping, totally participating.  It is awesome.

I get that we can’t please everyone all the time, but I wish that we could please you at least once.  If we can’t, what in the world are you going to do when you get to Heaven and everyone is singing, clapping, swaying, playing?  Maybe use us as practice for when you get there.  Maybe step outside yourself for a moment and consider how someone else sees you… most of all God.

“Praise the Lord.  Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of his faithful people.” Psalm 149:1

Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp.” Psalm 149:3

Wedding Shower Etiquette…

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WeddingWedding season is upon us!  In fact, I will be attending one tomorrow.  They are alwaysusually… well, hopefully, a sweet reminder to us married folks of our own special day.  In this generation of “me,” well… “you,”  I want to share some wedding shower etiquette.  I think that as time has gone by, somebody forgot to teach certain things.  So… here we go.  They are numbered… not in any particular order except for number one.  Number one is the most important… seriously!

  1.  DO NOT EVER invite someone to your wedding shower that you are not planning on inviting to your wedding.  This may or may not have happened to me in the past (it did).  What this says to the person is “I don’t think enough of you to invite you to our special day and pay for you to eat at our reception… but, I want you to use your free time and your money to buy me stuff anyway.”  TACKY… just plain tacky.
  2. Always send a paper invitation.  I understand that you young people have grown up in the age of technology, but we old people are the ones buying you the good gifts.  We need the courtesy of a paper invitation in the mail.
  3. You may have invited a guest to your shower at the request of your parents or soon-to-be in-laws.  You may not know the person very well.  Heck, you may not even like her/him.  Get over it.  If the person showed up, that means that they care about you… or at least the parents enough to buy you a gift and show up.  This means, that even though it may be awkward, you will need to speak to the person… maybe even take a picture with them.  Be kind.
  4. Games… I get it, there will always be games at showers.  It you have a shower with just your young, unmarried or recently married friends, by all means play “Wedding Bingo” or “Don’t say Wedding” or “Hide the Ring in a Cupcake.”  However, if you are having a multi-generational, even co-ed, shower… may I suggest… “Tips for Life from Old People.”  You will get suggestions like how to make your husband stop snoring, best earplugs to buy, always answer “no, you are beautiful” when your wife asks if the dress makes her look fat, make sure to share “the biscuits” at least once a week.  These are important life lessons that us old people are happy to share.  More so than watching you make wedding dresses out of toilet paper!
  5. Make sure there is food… and cake.  That’s why I go… for cake… preferably chocolate cake.
  6. Make sure that you acknowledge and thank… publicly, at your shower… your host(s).  They went through a lot of planning, money, and trouble to make this event special for you.  Let them and everyone else know that you are thankful.
  7. This isn’t about the shower, but your wedding… do not spend extravagantly on you wedding.  Make it nice, but not expensive.  Weddings are usually thirty minutes.  Receptions can be done without breaking the bank.  Save you money for your honeymoon or a down payment on a house.  Be smart!
  8. ALWAYS… ALWAYS send thank you cards.  There is no excuse under the sun for neglecting this task.  Well, maybe if you are in a coma or something, but that’s about it.  If someone has used their time, which I personally don’t have a lot extra, to shop, wrap, and attend… I need a card.  I need to know that you appreciate my effort.  I know that writing cards can be cumbersome, but it is necessary.  You may not think so… but the ones that bought your gifts do.  And, do not wait until you are back from your honey moon to send cards.  Although, better late than never, but you should have a card out within two weeks of your shower.  I know you are busy, but make the effort.

I think that’s about it.  Those are the important ones anyway.  It will give you a leg up on your friends. I hope that you have a fantastic shower… wedding… and married life.  Most important marriage tip… live for Christ.

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant that yourselves.” Philippians 2:3

 

Are Feelings Affecting Your Ministry?…

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FeelingsLet me start off by saying that this post is me being very transparent.  I know that I am not the first or the last to have these issues, and just want to open a door of discussion.

Are your feelings getting in the way of your ministry? Currently, mine are.  The key is that I am aware of it and trying, with God’s help, to get a handle on them.

Our church is growing.  We are growing in people and we are growing in buildings.  With growth comes change.  I am open to change, in fact, sometimes I seek it.  I like keeping things new and fresh.  I know that some people really don’t like change.  I can’t say I get it, but I understand that everyone is different.

Anyway, our church is growing… and buddy, Satan is really not happy about it.  He is attacking.  He is fierce.  He has done things as big as delaying the opening to the new building and as small as making the microphones not work right before service on Sunday.

While attacking things, he also attacks people… good people… Christian people.  He attacks our minds.  He puts doubt, insecurities, and fear in place of confidence, self-worth, and strength.  He creeps in… it’s hard to get him out.  I have been dealing with feelings of “maybe I’m not needed anymore”… “people who I thought are my friends, really don’t like me”… “where do I fit in now?”… “why does that person get picked, what about me?”  And, there you go… what about me?!  Is it about me? No… well, hopefully, your answer is no!

I have friends dealing with their own demons.. Satan attacks us where we are, he is very personal about it.  What might work against me, may not be what works against you, but guaranteed he knows how to get in your mind.  It is powerful… and painful.

Logically, I know that my feelings are not true.  It doesn’t make them less real.  It’s like when you have a bad dream and wake up mad at someone.  That person didn’t really do anything, but you still feel the pain.  The feelings are real, but not true.

The awesome ending to the story, is that God wins.  I have the book and have read the ending, we win.  Satan loses… every time.  Knowing that, we have the power to tell Satan to “GET OUT OF OUR MINDS”… “LEAVE US ALONE!”

I will continue to serve God and my church to the best of my God-given ability.  I will love with my whole heart, I will give with my whole being.  I am battling some pretty powerful feelings, but I will come out victorious because God is on my side.  It’s ok to have bad feelings.  It’s just not ok to give in to them.  You are a child of God or Satan wouldn’t be trying so hard.

“Do not give the devil a chance.” Ephesians 4:27

“So obey God.  Stand up to the devil.  He will run away from you.” James 4:7

“So stand firm.  Put on the belt of truth around your waist.  Put the armor of godliness on your chest.  Wear on your feet what will prepare you to tell the good news of peace.  Also, pick up the shield of faith.  With it you can put out all of the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Put on the helmet of salvation.  And take the sword of the Holy Spirit.  The sword of God’s word.” Ephesians 6:14-17

Still Growing…

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Spiritual GrowthAs the year comes to a close, I have been reflecting.  This year has been filled with some really good things and some disappointing things.  This has been another year of spiritual growth (I pray every year is a year of spiritual growth).  This year’s growth seems to be a little more painful than years past.

The past few years I have made it my goal to give… to give financially, to give my time, but most importantly to give my heart.  I want every person that I come in contact with, to feel… to know, that I care about them.  I do not succeed all the time… sometimes, my day gets the better of me, but I hope for the most part that I show love.

The problem with trying to give your heart, is that people tend to step on it sometimes.  I think that’s why this world is filled with cynical, hardened people who are totally self-involved.  Love hurts.  I take that back.  Love does not hurt… love never fails… it is people who don’t love that hurt.

This year has been filled with some amazing things that I was honored to be a part of… it was also laced with some pretty hurtful things from some unexpected people.  My growth has come in knowing that as long as I continue to try my best to love, I will be ok.  People can sting me a bit, and I will be quite honest, it hurts.  It may surprise you, but I do have feelings.  But, you know what? Love wins… love always wins!

So, when you have people in your life that are petty, mean, and selfish… love them… even if they hurt your heart in the process… love them.  You may have to love them from a distance, but love them just the same.  Without love, we are nothing.

“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:2

High Cholesterol…

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High CholesterolRecently, I took my oldest son to the doctor for his school shots and physical.  The doctor suggested that he have a cholesterol test… just because.  Both of my boys are healthy… rarely sick… don’t miss school… very active… involved in sports… normal weight.

We did not expect the phone call saying that his cholesterol was high… at 12 years old.  The doctor seemed a little dumbfounded as well since his weight was normal and he is considered active.  Normal range is total cholesterol <170 and LDL (bad cholesterol) <110.  He had total of 228 and LDL 149.  High!

Since then, every grocery store trip has me on high alert.  I’ve done a lot of research and changed his diet a little.  What I found shocked me… maybe you are more food conscience and already knew all this… or never would consider feeding your child certain things, but I didn’t know and did feed them those things.

Most of us are aware of the nutrition summary on food packages.  I, however, was unaware that this summary also contained cholesterol information.  When I started checking, I was shocked… and saddened… at the numbers on some of the “convenience foods” that my boys eat.  By “convenience foods,” I mean the things I feed them on nights when I don’t feel like cooking.  For example, spaghetti o’s, bagel bites, Campbell’s chicken noodle soup, and lunchables.  This isn’t an all-inclusive list of the bad foods that I gave my kids when I was lazy… but it gives you an idea.

Since the test, we have cut out all of the above… we added more fresh fruit… went from whole milk to 2% milk… and I’ve started looking before buying everything. Cholesterol even varies among flavors of the same product.  Don’t assume… always check.  While you are at it, check the websites of the restaurants that you go to for their nutrition information.  That will shock you even more!

I share this because I know that I’m not the only mom that feeds her children crap… because it’s easy.  We have to pay more attention.  I know that some of you are unhealthy yourselves.  Maybe you aren’t willing to make a change for yourself… just because you are comfortable… just because… well, frankly, just because you choose not to.  But, these are our kids… we owe it to them.  We have to provide healthy things for them… we have to regulate how much and what they eat… we have to make sure that they exercise… we have to!

Changing diet does work.  He had another test two weeks after the first. He went from 228/149 to 197/125.  This is still considered borderline, but we’ve only just implemented the changes.  I think we are well on the way to having this under control.  I am thankful for finding out now so we could change our habits.  Just thought maybe you’d like to know, too. 🙂

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.” 1 Corinthians 6:19