How About A Do-Over

We have several friends who are currently serving as foster parents. It is amazing how they are investing their lives in the lives of these children and teenagers. It is temporary investment for permanent life-change.

Recently, I was talking with one of my foster-dad friends, and he was telling me about one of the kids they are caring for having a total attitude meltdown. Whether you are in favor of physical disciplining of children or not, you cannot discipline that way with foster kids for a lot of serious reasons. So he told me about how they handle correction in their family now…

When one of the kids displays a bad attitude or a wrong action, they address the issue by stating what was wrong. Then they do something powerful… They ask the child if he/she would like a do-over. If the child accepts the do-over and makes things right, they reinforce that right attitude and action with encouragement.

As my friend told me about an actual instance when this had been applied, I couldn’t help but blurt out how that is exactly how God treats us when we display our own bad attitudes or wrong actions. He’s not waiting to strike us down with a plague or fire from Heaven. He lovingly, patiently points out where we were wrong and then asks us if we would like a do-over. He’s the God of second chances… and third chances… and hundredth chances. But He doesn’t stop there. When we finally get our attitudes and actions right, He lovingly reinforces our right choice with encouragement.

Sure, you were wrong, but you don’t have to stay wrong. Take the do-over today. You don’t have to live in guilt and shame today. God is not waiting to take you out back to the woodshed and give you the whippin’ of your life. He stands ready instead to give you a do-over and a dose of encouragement. And isn’t that what we really need?

To all my foster parent friends, thank you for the amazing example of God’s love and grace you are to me! Keep up the great work. You are making a difference for eternity.

Daddddyyyy!

An amazing thing happens when you become a parent… Your ears become tuned to the voice of your children. I can be caught up in woodworking or mowing or writing this blog, and when my boys holler, “Dadddddyyyy,” I come running. Or we might be standing around talking after church when I hear one of them call me by that term of endearment. I can pick their voice out of all the other kids running around. And if one of them is ever hurt or scared and hollers for me, you’ve never seen me so quick or determined to get to them.

Now, I’m not bragging on myself today. I’m simply sharing what any parent worth their salt knows in their heart, that call of their child stirs something in them that motivates them to act.

What’s funny is that I have no problem understanding that when it comes to my kids needing their Daddy, but sometimes I forget that God… my Heavenly Daddy… is an even better Daddy than me. All I need to do is holler for Him… call out that term of endearment… and I suddenly have His fullest of attention.

I love that Jesus called out, “Daddy,” from the garden of Gethsemane when He was facing the darkest time of His life and His greatest challenge laid ahead of Him in the next 24 hours. He’s my hero… my life example… and if He cried, “Daddy,” then I can, too.

I love that Paul writes in Romans 8:15 that because God has adopted us and made us His children, we now call Him, “Daddy.” And he writes in Galatians 4:6 that because we are His children, God prompts us to call out “Daddy” to Him.

You may think God’s busy doing something else today… that He is not paying attention to you… that He doesn’t know where you’re at or what’s going on in your life. You may feel like He can’t or won’t stop what He’s doing just for you. But I promise that if you will call out to Him today with a heartfelt, “Daddddyyy,” He WILL come running to you, ready to help you, ready to scoop you up in His arms and give you the strength you need to face whatever it is you need to face.

Trust this Daddy today… He’s listening… He loves you… He cares what is going on… and He’s ready to fix what’s wrong. Just try Him out.

Figuring It All Out

When our boys… who are now nine & seven… know we are going on vacation, they try to figure out all the details of the trip. They want to know how long it will take to get there… when we will leave… which route we are taking… if we are going to stop at places we have stopped before… where and what we will eat… where we will stay… who will sleep where… how many times they will get to do the things they want to do… what kind of clothes they will need… what will happen if the weather messes up our plans… how they will pay for souvenirs… when we will leave to come home… etc… etc… etc.

They want to figure it all out. Sometimes we tell them that we have all of the details taken care of… or will have them taken care of in time for the trip to be successful. And yet this doesn’t always satisfy them. They still want to figure it all out. Even though we try to assure them that we know what we’re doing and that we will take care of all the details, they still want to go over everything with us. They want all the details. We just want them to relax, look forward to the trip, enjoy the journey and have fun.

Funny thing is… as amazing and smart and resourceful as our boys are… I don’t think they could plan out our vacation. They might be able to Google a few things if we got them started, but they don’t know how to route travel… book a place to stay… buy enough food for meals or find out which restaurants will be nearby… secure tickets for activities… fill the vehicle with fuel… or any of the other myriad details it takes to pull off a vacation trip. They would do better to let us handle the details, and accept things as they come.

It is so crystal clear to me as an earthly dad that I will work out the details in a way that is best and that will bless my kids, and yet I sometimes treat my Heavenly Father the same way my boys treat me. I expect Him to give me all the details before I even get to the point in life when I would need to know them. I try to figure it all out instead of trusting Him fully. I keep asking Him about the same details over and over, even as He reassures me that He has it all under control.

Interestingly, Jesus spoke to this very issue when He said that we don’t need to worry about tomorrow… that our Heavenly Father knows what we need… that He cares about flowers and birds, so He will definitely take care of all the details in our lives. In fact, Jesus said that we can’t add an inch to our height or a moment to our lives by trying to figure it all out on our own.

My encouragement to you… and my reminder to myself… today is simply this… relax, look forward to those good things God has in store for you, enjoy the journey and have fun. Let’s quit trying to figure out how God is going to get us from where we are to where need to be… you know, where He says we need to be and not just where we think we need to be. He’s got this! It’s going to be great! And all our trying figure it out isn’t going to help a lick. Let’s stop estimating, calculating and speculating… and let’s just let God take care of ALL the details. If we will, it will make the trip a lot more enjoyable.

There… that’s better. Now, take a deep breath, relax and enjoy today!

Not Perfect, But Awesome

I love it when our boys teach us incredibly deep truths in the simplest of statements! Last night, it was Austin.

Teeth had been brushed, boys were in their PJ’s, and we were about to tuck them into bed, read their Bibles to them, and pray before they went to sleep. I told Austin that he was awesome. He encouraged me back by telling me that I was also awesome. It made me think of a famous brand breakfast sandwich commercial in which the main character portraying the sun says, “You’re all awesome! Now let’s orbit,” and so I said that line. Austin replies lightning-quick, “We’re all awesome, but we’re not always perfect.”

Mic drop moment for the six year-old. He could have been retweeted hundreds of times if he had been speaking at a conference and said that. Come to think of it… nah, I won’t steal his line for that… maybe just for this blog. We told him that he was right in what he said, and we wrapped up the night in usual fashion.

I couldn’t get away from that truth, though. “We are all awesome, but we aren’t always perfect.” The Apostle Paul said it this way in Romans 3:23, “… we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” But then over in chapter 8 of the same book, he reminds us that nothing can separate us from God’s love.

It’s staggering to me to try to grasp that God always sees me as awesome because I’ve accepted the grace and forgiveness Jesus provided for me at the cross. Even though God and I both know I’m not perfect all the time, He still sees me as awesome.

And we all have things that make us awesome, even though we don’t get everything right every moment of every day. Blew that presentation? Still awesome. Ruined that friendship? Still awesome. Made a poor decision. Let God think about it… yep, still awesome! Caused an accident? Spoke too harshly to the kids? Burned the beans? Caught the mower on fire? Forgot your parents’ anniversary? Still awesome.

So, does this mean that we can just be reckless and do whatever we want with no consequences? No! It simply means that God chooses to love us and see us in the light of Jesus… as the finished products we will one day be… awesome… even though each day finds us less than perfect.

So tomorrow, get up, look in the mirror, and remind yourself that, if you belong to God, then He sees you as awesome. Then go out there and do the best you can do to live right and honor Him. And at the end of the day, when you stand in front of that mirror one more time before you hit the hay… and you reflect on all the times you didn’t hit the mark… remind yourself again that He still sees you as awesome, even if you aren’t perfect… because one day, you’ll be standing before Him instead of that mirror of yours… and He will lift your chin, look you in the eye, and say, “See? I told you that you are awesome!”

Together Is Better

In Monday’s post (click here if you missed it), I mentioned that part of our enjoying the snow miracle was making snowmen. The snow was perfect for packing together and rolling around into ball shapes to set on top of each other. As a windy day previously had dropped a bazillion more leaves on our property, our snowmen were a terrific blend of fall and winter, but to us they were beautiful and amazing.

Later on snow day, I had to get out to run some errands, and by the time I made my return trip to the house, almost all the snow everywhere had melted. The sun had begun to shine brightly, and there was no more snow in the trees. There was barely any to be found on the ground.

Yet, there stood our two snowmen.

We went on about our day, and they stood guard overnight. I took the picture above the next day. It struck me that all the other snow had long since melted away, yet the snowmen remained. That’s because the snow they had been made from all stuck together.

There’s value in sticking together. Like our snowmen, though difficult times may leave you not looking like much, you will still be there in the end when all those who decided to go it alone are no longer anywhere to be found.

King Solomon said that, “Two are better than one… and there are even better.” He understood what made our snowmen survive… together matters.

So, today… especially during this Christmas season, stick together. Whether it is with your military band of brothers… your fellow nursing home patients… your co-workers… your PTA or neighborhood watch… or your church… stick together. Overlook offenses. Put up with idiosyncrasies. Laugh at humorless jokes. And love a lot. Stick together. You’ll be better off than all those alone folks.

And by all means, stick together as a family. Stay married. Stay engaged in your kids’ lives. Help an aging parent with some task that isn’t as easy as it used to be. Work together on a project. Laugh a lot. And love a lot. Stick together.

I wish I had waited another day or two to take the picture… because those snowmen were still there… together… worse for the wear, but still there. When all we had were memories and pictures of all the other “alone” snow, there stood… or laid… our “together” snowmen. And I smiled even more as I realized how good together really is.

Snow Faith

Last week’s snow here in the Deep South was more than just a fun day off from school for our son Alex. It was an answer to his prayer based on his faith.

Alex had told me at the beginning of the week that it was going to snow. He started off telling me that it was going to snow Monday or Tuesday. Then he began to tell us specific times that he believed it was going to snow. He was so sure it was going to snow that he would go to the window at those times and look outside for snow.

One morning in the middle of the week, he came in the living room where I was doing my devotions, and he expressed that he couldn’t understand why it had not snowed yet. He said something along the lines of, “I put it in my prayer journal, so I know it’s going to happen. I thought it would have snowed already.” I tried to figure out how to discuss the deep theological ramifications of God’s sovereignty with him, but opted to say that sometimes God says, “Not yet,” because He knows what is best for us and has a better plan. Then, before he could get too dejected… I didn’t want him to lose that powerful faith… I added that I would pray along with him and believe for it to snow before the end of the year.

Now, you have to understand, we’ve lived in this area for a little over thirteen years, and it has only snowed four or five times total. Two of those were in the same week. And only once before had it snowed in December. The conditions just aren’t right for it usually.

Alex was not to be deterred, though. One day he said something about it snowing, and with my best stab at having his intense level of faith, I told him we should check the weather to see if it had changed in our favor. His reply caught me off-guard as he reminded me that I had told him meteorologists are not in control of the weather… they’re just making educated guesses based on trends from the past. I had told him God was in control of the weather. So he told me not to tell him what the weather report said because that doesn’t stop God from being able to make it snow. Well, I couldn’t argue with that. He was right.

Thursday night, I did check the weather and saw a chance for possible flurries at 3am Friday. I told Alex, and once again we all prayed for snow that night as we put the boys to bed.

Friday morning, Angela and Alex came into the bedroom and woke me up. I knew it had to be big if they were up before me and felt it important enough to rouse me from my slumber. Then it hit me… Snow! I hopped up and looked out the window. Sure enough, it had snowed that morning and there was a small accumulation across our property.

We all quickly dressed, and headed out to throw snowballs, make snowmen, and of course make the obligatory snow angels. We laughed, we played, we took pictures and shot video. And that day, we thanked God for answering prayers based on the faith of a nine year-old who just wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.

Alex was absolutely convinced that God would come through for him with snow. He prayed for it. He believed it was going to happen. He ignored the circumstances. He put his trust in the One with all power. And God responded to that faith.

So, for others, that snow was fun. But for us, that snow was faith becoming reality! If you enjoyed the snow last week, you can thank Alex. He believed when others didn’t.

I want to be like Alex when I grow up. I want to be that giant of faith. I want to trust God unswervingly. And if you’ve got something you need God to do for you, let me encourage you today to apply a little Alex-type faith to it!

No Quit In You

As you know if you’ve followed the blog at all recently, I am a fan of the TV reality show Small Town, Big Mayor.  One of the guy’s on the show… “Get Down Brown”… recently said this about someone, and it totally connected with me… “This guy ain’t got no quit!”

Now, I don’t care if it is grammatically poor wording.  I love the sentiment behind it.  He spotted someone who had the attitude that they were not going to give up… regardless.

I want to live like that.  I want people to be able to say about me that I “ain’t got no quit” in me.  No matter how challenging… I want to keep doing good… having a right attitude… loving others… serving others… pleasing God… being a terrific husband… raising my sons to be men after God’s own heart.  No quit!

Let me ask you… If “Get Down Brown” met you, could he say that you “ain’t got no quit?”  I hope so, because Scripture points out that if we won’t quit, we will eventually accomplish what we’re working toward.  It will pay off.

So, let’s commit to not quit.  Unless it’s bad habits. Definitely quit those. But as for all the good we’re working toward, no quit!

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