I know. I know. Some of you might disagree with me (I almost disagree with myself). But, these were the words Jesus spoke to my heart the other day.

I was headed to church early to serve as a greeter at the South Doors. I love to welcome faces I recognize, new-to-me faces, young faces, old faces. I’m a people person. I’m also a morning person. I was looking forward to getting up and walking out the door before any of my people were even awake.

I’m also a planner. The night before I prepped some food for me to take to church to eat after greeting duties were over. That food prep included two strips of heavenly bacon.

Bacon. Bacon. Where’s the bacon? I smell bacon! Bacon, bacon, bacon…

I think we all have a little inner Beggin Strips dog in us. If you don’t, I’m sorry.

So, there I was. First one up (per usual). Being the first one up has its advantages. Peace and quiet top that list for me. Most nights I lay my head on my pillow and think, We should move out to the plains, set up some tents, and charge an entrance fee. 

We’re an absolute circus. *eye roll*

Being the first one up also has its disadvantages. I open all shades, curtains, (and windows, as needed). I reset the thermostat. I start laundry. I straighten up from the night before, which often includes cleaning a messed-up kitchen.

I start the coffee.

I had grumbled to my husband about this on Saturday. Graciously, he listened. And on Sunday morning, he got up with me (he’s not a morning person, so I know this was no easy feat). He announced he was making coffee for me. It made me smile. He was trying.

I got ready for church. I was running a few minutes behind (also per usual). I whisked downstairs, grabbed my made-for-me-by-my-husband coffee, then opened the fridge to grab my already prepped, to-go breakfast. My banana and my banana bread were there.

I was frantically searching. “Where’s my bacon?”

I whipped my head around in time to see the guilty look on my husband’s face. “Umm…I thought that was mbacon.”

I eye-rolled and sighed big time. “Are you kidding me????? You are totally THAT employee. The one who eats everyone else’s food.”

I don’t think I was mad. Just absolutely irritated!!!!!! I didn’t even raise my voice (much), but I remember the frustration I felt in my heart as I turned away from him, and pointedly said, “I’m going to have to start putting my name on my food!”

And, with that…I walked out the door, on my way to kindly, lovingly greet my church-going family.

Since it was a quiet car-ride (hallelujah!), I had some time to process and pray. My praying started off as grumbling — Lord, it would have been easier for me if I had just gotten up alone, and taken care of myself this morning. 

*Note: for time’s sake, I’ve left out a few details (B pouring himself coffee in the last clean to-go cup as I came down to do the same, me being in a hurry and him being in my way, stuff like that). The stolen bacon was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

My grumbling continued — I could have come downstairs, gotten my coffee, used that to-go cup, gotten out the door on time, AND…

I WOULD HAVE HAD BACON!

Now that I think about it, it’s embarrassing how stuck on that bacon I was.

In that moment the Lord did His usual — gently, firmly reminded me of His Word.

What are you constantly reminding your kids to do?

Love Jesus. Love others.

Why do you remind them to do these two things?

Because that’s what you call us to do.

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” ~Matthew 22:34-40 NASB

I realized in that moment that I had missed an opportunity to love others. I was so caught up in my time, my needs, my bacon, that I’d neglected to love my husband.

*sigh*

Relationships are more important than bacon. 

It’s hard to admit that THIS is less valuable than relationships. 😉

The Lord simply responded, Yes.

It took a few minutes (it’s bacon, people), but I *finally* called my husband to apologize.

May we be a people who recognize the importance of living in relationship. May we be a people who do two things well…

Love Jesus. Love others.

 

 

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Reading time: 4 min

As I spend some time in the book of Jeremiah this morning, I’m reminded of the work the Lord does in my life and in the lives of my children.

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand…” ~Jeremiah 18:1-6

If we are His people, then we are also like clay in His hands. He is constantly molding, shaping, re-forming His own. He does this for (to) me. He does this for (to) my children.

As Mom of six, there are things I want to protect my children from, pains I want to take away, trouble I want them to avoid, betrayal I want them never to feel, sickness I want to heal, sins I want them never to struggle with.

want my children to be clay in my hands.

But, there is only ONE Potter, and I am clay in His hands, so I cannot possibly be potter, let alone the Potter. Clay is molded. Clay does not do the molding.

What do I do with this realization when it comes to parenting?

I let go of the “best” I want for my kids. I trust in the work the Potter is doing. I surrender my will and my ways, believing that the things, the pains, the trouble, the betrayal, the sickness, the sins are all a part of the shaping the Lord is accomplishing.

And I pray. Pray that my children will be mold-able; pray that they will be soft to the things of the Lord; pray that they will seek and pursue and listen to His Word; pray that He will be faithful to draw their hearts to Him; pray that He will strengthen them to say NO to the things of the flesh, and say YES to the things of the spirit; pray that He will continue to chase after each one of my kids.

I am marred. My children are marred. But just as He is re-forming me, He is re-forming them.

Friends, our Lord does beautiful work. He is shaping our children as seems best to Him. May we trust the shaping He’s doing. After all, there’s truly nothing better than His best.

 

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Reading time: 2 min

My husband and I recently returned from Costa Rica where we spent 9 days with 20 students and several other leaders building homes, and participating in ministry through soccer. It was an amazing trip. One that most of us will not soon forget.

The Lord used us to come alongside Casa Vida, a local church, and Mercy Home Ministries. He used us to build two homes, including one for a family who lost everything (except their Bible — that’s a whole other story!) when their home burned to the ground. He used us in outfitting local teams with matching jerseys they would not otherwise have been able to afford. He used us in providing socks, cleats, soccer balls, and goalie gloves for the kids (and some adults) of Tamarindo and surrounding areas.

The Bible that survived the fire

I am astounded that the God of the Universe and everything in it would use us to join in the work He is doing. Jesus doesn’t need us, but He graciously invites us to be His hands and feet to a broken, fallen, desperate world.

We spent mornings in the Word, and evenings debriefing about the day and what we were feeling. As I listened to some of the ways the Lord was moving in these high school hearts (and the hearts of their leaders), I was encouraged. I was also PROUD. And, therein lies a danger. It’s so easy for us to get caught up in the “good” that we’re doing. It’s so easy for us to pat ourselves on the back feeling puffed up with pride about traveling to a poorer-than-the-USA part of the world and showering them with our gifts. It’s also easy for us as parents to watch our kids go on short term missions trips and feel that same pride about how they’re serving.

There’s also another danger in short term missions. The danger of leaving home, serving for a week or two, and feeling like I’ve done my duty for the year. I’ve served. Now I can go back to my life and the way things were, putting service on the back-burner.

BUT…

Serving does NOT just happen in Costa Rica.

Jesus does NOT just use us in Costa Rica.

Serving begins at home.

Jesus uses us in our families, in our neighborhoods, in our churches, in our schools. He uses us to be His hands and feet with those closest to us, then working outward.

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. ~Galatians 5:13

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. ~Romans 12:9-11

Fellow parenting companions, we must learn to lay down our agendas in order to serve those nearest and dearest to us. We must rely on His help in order to do this. We must also teach the next generation to do the same. The natural inclination of our hearts is to self-serve, so let’s be intentional today. Look for one way (or more) to serve in your home, then in your neighborhood, church, or kids’ school. As you do this, encourage your children to look for one way (or more) to serve in your home, then in your neighborhood, church, or school.

May it be said of us that we live lives of service.

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Reading time: 2 min