Rejoicing In The Rain

“This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”(Psalm 118:24)

What If you wake up tomorrow with your mind already made up to rejoice in the day and be glad in it? How will your attitude tomorrow differ from your attitude today?  I have jumped out of bed with a determination to rejoice ‘no matter what’ before, and I have done a commendable job…right up until the first difficult situation arose.

       To choose to rejoice in the day no matter what happens is a significant decision, because we all know that every day brings both joy and trials. Sometimes joys outweigh trials. However, sometimes the scales are tipped in the opposite direction, and we are faced with multiple moments in which our resolve to rejoice is tested.

When something good happens, we find it easy to rejoice! A dictionary definition of the word “rejoice” is: to feel or show that you are very happy about something. Saying, “Thank You” to God directly for people, protection, and positives He blesses us with is a wonderful example of how to rejoice.

On the flip side, when we come up against a problem, rejoicing is not usually our first instinct.  However, once we have made a decision to rejoice in this day whether the sun shines or not, there are genuine reasons to rejoice in the rain.

First, we can rejoice because we get to see God work! We get to see Him bring beauty from ashes. When we have a problem that needs solving, being thankful that we worship the Ultimate Problem Solver is something to rejoice in!

Also, we can rejoice that we have an opportunity to display God’s grace to others while we face difficult situations.  Arguably, this should be number one on the list of reasons to rejoice when trials come! When we handle difficulties with a joyful spirit, stemming from the fact that we know we have a faithful God who is going to take care of us…even in the midst of a storm, we give others hope. We give them a glimpse of Who Jesus is in our life, and Who He can be in their life!

One more reason to “rejoice in the rain” is that after we have gone through a trial, we may be able to help someone that is facing a similar trial. We can offer them empathy and encouragement. We can offer them concern and comfort.

We can give them a reminder of the overwhelming faithfulness of our Father. Coming alongside someone and encouraging them to draw closer to God is a blessing that is well-worth rejoicing over!

Trials, difficulties, hardships, and rain – all can help us grow, to bring consolation to others, and to rely fully on God. All rain can give us cause to rejoice.

I clearly remember one gloomy day as a preschool assistant, lamenting to the children that it was raining – forcing our playtime to be inside instead of on the playground. A sweet student looked at me and wisely declared, “Rain is good! It makes the crops grow.” Yes…rain is good. And rain does in fact make the crops grow. Five-year-olds just get it sometimes.

This is the day the Lord has made: Let us rejoice, really rejoice, and be glad in it. Rain or shine.

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-10-09-22-am

Leaving the Nest

wedding

Clink on this link to go directly to my latest post (all about  a new parenting chapter in our lives) on Momspuration.com! http://momspuration.com/2016/06/29/leaving-the-nest/

“May we be encouraged that although they may be leaving our nest, they will always and forever be carried on and sheltered by His wings.”

It’s Okay Either Way

I am in the midst of preparing for a graduation open house in honor of our 18-year-old son, Drew. Two long, rectangular tables will be reserved for photos of his childhood and scrapbook pages highlighting his growing-up years and achievements. Our shop will be filled with family, friends, food and photos on May 22nd.

While perusing his baby book, I came across the following prayer that I wrote down when Drew was 4: “Dear Jesus, please help Brady tell me all of his secrets, because I won’t tell anyone. But it’s okay if You don’t make him tell me because You are the Holy One and You’re my favorite guy. In Your holy name, Amen.”

Drew’s style of praying was straightforward, reverent, and unswerving from the very beginning, and hearing him pray aloud recently showed me that is still the case.

In this particular prayer fourteen years ago, a little boy voiced a request in a straightforward manner, addressed God reverently, and displayed a faith that is unswerving…a faith not shaken by God answering a prayer differently than he hoped. A faith that led him to say, “It’s okay if You don’t…”

I asked Brady (his next-oldest brother) if he remembered those secrets that his younger brother found so enticing, but he did not remember what they were or if he revealed them. Wondering what provoked this prayer made me smile. It also made me think. The child-like faith that is expressed in this prayer is the type of faith we are all supposed to strive for. Often children bring honest requests to God, knowing God is in charge and understanding that His way is the best way.  Basically it is: ‘Here is my prayer… please answer it however you see fit, because You are God. It’s okay either way.’

How often do adults pray that way? I’ll start with me. Do I have a straightforward way in relating to God? Yes. Do I address God in a reverent manner? For the most part, but there is room for improvement. How do I do with the unswerving faith component?  Here is where I sometimes fail. Here is where my work begins. My goal is to begin consistently praying something like: “Answer my prayer how you see fit, God, because I know You have my best interests at heart. You love me. You have a plan whether I see it or not. My faith in You is based on who You are, not what You do. It’s okay either way.”

I was searching for cute photos, but I came across a cute prayer that contained a lot of wisdom. The open house tables will be filled with photos of Drew growing up with his brothers and sister, playing sports, playing with cousins and friends, and other important memories. I also plan on finding a special spot to display this sweet prayer. May I learn from my son’s prayer from 14 years ago. I do not know if God answered that prayer with a yes or a no, but I know Drew’s faith was unswerving. It was okay either way.

Image 4-20-16 at 6.58 PM

As it turns out, we really don’t have to forgive everyone…

As it turns out, we really don’t have to forgive everyone.

I have knelt at an altar, placing the names of people at His feet. I have felt anger and betrayal, and if I told you each story, I’m willing to bet you would agree that I’m justified in feeling wronged in at least a few of the situations.

But, I have had to remind myself of something very important: There have been people kneeling at literal and figurative altars placing ME at the feet of Jesus. I’ve wronged people. Sometimes I had the best of intentions, but unfortunately did something to hurt another person. 

And other times? I just got it wrong. No, let me use the real word – I sinned. And therefore sent someone directly to an altar trying to forgive me, or sadly, directly in the opposite direction – where bitterness increases and peace is elusive. That place where we go to not lay people at the feet of Jesus, asking God to give us the ability to forgive them, but instead where we justify our feelings of betrayal and anger. That place where we dwell in a heap of self-destructive self-righteousness.

We are ALL sinners saved by amazing grace. Who are we to keep forgiveness from someone else?

We put others on a mental list entitled, “Not worthy of forgiveness,” while we couldn’t imagine our own names being on it. Do we truly think we are any more worthy of forgiveness than others? I mean, think about it…every sin has the same root: we think our way of doing things or our way of thinking is better than God’s way. The sins themselves have different degrees of how they shake out, how many people are affected, and how the world categorizes them. But, the root? All the same.

And God forgives us all without fail, repeatedly, and with arms wide open. 

So what I am saying is that even the people we would least like to forgive? We have done things equally as ‘unforgivable.’ We cannot say that they don’t deserve our forgiveness if we want to speak the truth. That leaves us with the only option left: we have to forgive them.

Wait! We don’t have to. Continue reading “As it turns out, we really don’t have to forgive everyone…”