Sister to Sister: Mama’s K.I.S.S. #42– Dropping Opportunities

Fiestas_Patrias_Parade,_South_Park,_Seattle,_2015_-_090_-_child_picking_up_candy_(21574028625)-1As you know, if you’ve been reading, for quite some time, I’ve occasionally been presenting installments called “Mama’s K.I.S.S.” This is number 40 of a list of one hundred ways we train our kids to have servant hearts. K.I.S.S. is an acronym for “Kids In Service Suggestions”.

There are so many of these “dropping opportunities” if moms just look around. It helps to start this one way before your kids are big enough to participate. It’s just courtesy, kindness and deference to others and it will come naturally to teach this to your children if you begin practicing this on your own before it’s time to teach them. Just watch for people, especially older people who drop something. Sometimes she knocks items off of a  grocery shelf. Sometimes she inadvertently leaves a coin purse unzipped and coins roll all over the parking lot as she unlocks her car. Sometimes it’s someone younger and her baby drops a sippy cup or a pacifier from the stroller or grocery cart. A grocery list, a walking cane, a pencil, a kleenex, a pair of sunglasses…even a communion cup from a shaky hand—someone is always dropping something and dropping times are stopping times for moms who want to put service in the hearts of their kids. When your kids get big enough, make it a contest to see who can calmly and safely be first to pick up a dropped item for someone while you are out today. Kids who smile and speak (without a reminder) to the person who dropped the item as it’s returned get an extra point. If the returned “stuff” requires “catching and/or gathering” from the ground, that’s another point.

I know. This is common sense. But common sense about courtesy is becoming less and less common as we incorporate our families into an ever busier and isolated world. This is a simple way to help us preserve the vestiges of courtesy in the places where they are precious to Christian families; most especially our homes. 

Finally, all of you, have… a tender heart, and a humble mind. (I Peter 3:8)

Looking Backward at Upward

13040922_10153452694836384_6312331184777460742_oDuring the last week, I’ve left my purse in a cart (or as my northern friends make fun of me for saying, I left it in a “buggy”) at Walmart, my father’s walker on his patio as I got him in the car during a near-monsoon, a traffic stop having been unable to produce evidence of insurance, the men’s room quickly when I realized I was in the wrong restroom and, quite obviously, my mind in some undisclosed location. It hasn’t been a pretty week, especially in view of the fact that I’ve been spending it trying to give my nonagenarian father short term memory tips, like coconut oil and making lists. It’s been the blind leading the blind. 

Maybe I could blame it on the fact that I can get pretty distracted from what I am doing by angry mothers and/or grandmothers…I mean when they become pretty irate (in their writing) with me because they think I should not try and discourage our sweet young girls from…say, going to dances, as I did in last Monday’s blog post. 

But also during the past week, I’ve been in deep conversation with a lovely young lady who is facing persecution in a university class because she calmly stands, but still stands with Romans one and other passages from the Word about homosexuality.  I’ve hosted in our home another university student who has, unlike her non-Christian parents, made the decision that she is serious about spiritual things and is planning to pursue a degree in Bible and devote her life to the spread of the gospel in whatever venue she can find. I’ve spoken with two sweet teens who, through the tears that the pain of an unfaithful loved one causes, have recommitted to doing whatever it takes to try and lovingly lead a sibling back to the Way. I spoke with some teen girls who traveled fourteen hours this weekend to be at a spiritually-building youth event. They did this while it was prom-weekend in their hometown. Here is a statement from one of those precious hearts: “They (the lessons heard at the youth event) have really impacted my life and I really needed to hear what (was said). I was ashamed of who I am (a Christian) at school, but now, tomorrow I will boldly go to school and not be ashamed to stand out.” I spoke with a millennial who is in a deep study of worship with a young man who is defending the use of instruments in our music in worship. I discussed with excited teens in Ohio the possibility of their hosting a purity event for teens in their area of the state. I’m working with a young millennial who, because she wants to be the best wife she can be, has humbly made tough decisions to be submissive in areas that have previously been very challenging for her. 

What I’m trying to say is this: My paragraph about young people who want to do the right thing is much longer than my paragraph about old people who want to discourage sweet millennials and the kids of Generation Z from staying out of the path of worldliness and relativism. While I realize that the world doesn’t turn around the lengths of my paragraphs and my own personal experiences, I find great comfort in seeing that the teens and twenty-somethings of many churches today are out-seeking, out-praying and out-teaching those who should be their mentors. It portends a stronger church in the next twenty years and it gives me a peace to know that these young people will be mentoring my grandchildren, who are babies now. I’m humbled and challenged by the faith I routinely see in God’s younger generation!

I needed the event that I attended this weekend. It was Upward and it was produced by and for teens in the church. The kids who hosted it are found online here: http://www.tomorrowschurchtoday.com. The site about the event itself is here: http://www.upwardteens.com. The take-homes of encouragement and zeal were not just for teens. This girls’ speaker was maybe the most blessed person there (and that’s saying a lot, because there were some pretty happy people there). The singing alone was phenomenal. If you want to really embolden and inspire some teens to serve out of conviction and not convenience, you should look into this program, for them, for next year. 

I’m really glad for great young people. After all, there are two millennials who will be choosing a nursing home soon for this distracted (…a kind way to put it) old woman. Kids, If you can’t find my insurance cards when that day comes, check the service desk at Walmart. They’ve been there more than once.

Today! Women of Scandal

Cindy-Book-Mockup-Women-of-Scandal-Now-1040x400-1

Women of Scandal pre-release happens today. I don’t think it will be in the bookstores for a couple of days, but it is available today here: http://thecolleyhouse.org/store#!/Women-of-Scandal/p/65464960/category=3290197

I never thought I’d write a book with the word “scandal” in the title. That seems rather…well, scandalous. But this is the fourth book in the Crown of Creation series. It’s a quartet (for now) of study books that finds practical applications for women of God today in the lives of Old Testament women. The series began with Eve and is chronologically working its way through the Word. But these women of First Samuel and Second Samuel took this writer by surprise. The first chapter of this new book is about a woman who went into labor and died in childbirth upon hearing that her blasphemous husband had been slain in battle. The next chapter is about a woman whose husband tried to kill their son. Next came a group of singing woman, whose lyrics were so incendiary that they incited jealousy in the palace, which ultimately led to attempted murder. Chapter four was about a father who offered the hand of his daughter in marriage as  part of a twisted plot to have a rival killed. This was followed by a woman who sneaked her husband out the window to save his life and then placed an image under the covers in her bed. In the same chapter, you’ll find a man walking and weeping for forty-five miles in pursuit of his wife who is leaving him for her first and long-lost love. Women of Scandal was a title that just floated to the top in some extremely polluted literary waters. 

It’s one of the great blessings of my life to get to write about the Bible. It helps me sharpen my focus on heaven. But I cannot ever really take myself very seriously as a writer. After all, I’m just making some simple comments about the Book of Books—the one written by the finger of God. The very subject matter of my books (not to mention my own inadequacies) makes those books pale in comparison. My prayer is that Scandal will be something from which women of God today can read and learn; not something in which we will be involved. Scandal, after all, is the opposite of His peace that surpasses our understanding (Philippians 4:7).  

The first three copies will be complimentary and will go to Scarlet Mobley, to the library of the Maple Hill Church, and to Susan Brehm. All of these ladies participated in the Digging Deep podcast earlier this week. So if the three of you will email me at byhcontest@gmail.com with your street addresses, your copies will be on their way!

May Women of Scandal be a small tool for His glory. May His people be tethered to His Will and scandal-free till He comes to claim His own. Blessings on your Bible study. It’s the most important reading of this lifetime!

 

From the Archives: The Appropriate Dress…REALLY?!

 clarisse-prom-dress-2838-40

I was speaking recently at a seminar in another state, when a mom came up to me and began a conversation. In the middle of our talk, she mentioned that she had attended a purity seminar at a church with her teenage daughter in which a part of the program was about  “choosing appropriate dresses to wear to the dances.”

Well, now I’ve heard it all. I have spoken in many places about the absurdity of parents promoting the dimming of the lights in a gymnasium and the playing of seductive music while encouraging 15-year-olds (whose hormones are running their lives) to move their bodies to said music while touching those of the opposite sex. Many times during my forthright discussion of this modern-day phenomenon in most public high schools, I have seen looks of surprise—even disgust– in the rolling eyes of some young girls. But this was a first. I have never heard of adults planning a purity day in which we help girls decide what’s appropriate to wear to such a worldly event. Really??

Help me with this if you can. Help me to understand the reasoning behind accepting the sin and then helping them plan how to dress as they participate in it. I know I’m old-fashioned, but it is not the Bible that has changed in the past fifty years, since that time when Christians took it for granted that dancing promotes lust. It’s the culture.

Again: Here is a portion of Thayer’s definition of  “lasciviousness.” Remember as per Galatians 5:19-21, it is a work of the flesh. It is one of the items in a list of things we cannot do if we want to inherit the kingdom of heaven. So read Thayer and weep for the state of many women who are going to reap grave consequences for the encouragement of this sin:

“indecent bodily movements; unchaste handling between males and females”

Let’s not pick the right outfit to travel the path of temptation. That’s kind of like when your grandmother wanted you to wear nice underwear in case you were in a wreck! (Only, in this scenario, the spiritual wreck is much more likely.) Let’s eliminate the spiritually damaging activity and then we won’t have to worry about what to wear.  Let’s flee fornication (I Cor. 6:18). Let’s determine to abstain from the appearance of evil (I Thess. 5:22).

Sister to Sister: Dear Sweet Baby G2…

Dear Sweet Baby G2, 

You are a girl! My first grand-daughter! If I have another grand-daughter someday, I will not love you more, but I will always love you first. As we stood there for what seemed like about a forever in front of that tarp waiting for your brother to come out from behind with pink or blue cotton candy, I thought a bit about the historic moments in our family. Wasn’t it just yesterday that your Uncle Caleb danced around that hospital hallway looking through that nursery glass at your mother. That was a historic moment. 1391807_10151633143906384_1011208804_nThat little seven o’clock  pause in the party while we waited for the news about your gender was surely one of those moments, too. The color of cotton candy would tell us much about, not just the colors of clothes or the kinds of games we would play, but whether we would teach you to submit or to lead and whether you would be a provider or a gentle nurturer. That moment held the key to whether your dad would take you on your first hunt or your first date. It was a big moment.13002601_900378543529_1447357954307643429_o

I’m glad that in this year of your birth, when so much about gender is so mixed up by our liberal culture, that you have parents who draw sharp distinctions between the genders. You will be blessed to learn to cook and sew and take care of babies. You will be encouraged to be a keeper at home by your mom, who is one of the best keepers I know. You will grow up beside your brother, Ezra, who will learn first to protect you and later, to transfer his guardianship to his own family. He will learn to defend your honor and to show tender affection to his mother, while preparing to lead his own bride and, ultimately, the bride of Christ. He will get the sharpest picture of all of this from your dad.13002506_900365614439_5034103055690569568_o You’re blessed to get to be Ezra’s sister. He patted his mother’s tummy and said “baby” earlier this week, but he doesn’t have a clue about what you are about to do to his little world. That dynamic will be fun to watch!

I can’t wait to braid your hair, tie your ribbons, sew your dresses and read Cinderella and Goldilocks to you. I’m already getting out the tiny, now vintage, dresses your mother wore and washing the pink blankets. I’ve bought you a couple of things to wear, including a girly Alabama Crimson Tide  outfit and a pair of pantaloons with a “G” on the bottom. You are making for fun times on ebay and in the consignment stores. Your papa said “Oh dear. This girl thing means you are going to double your shopping addiction.”  He is one smart mathematician, your papa (and he was a very good sport playing “chubby baby” with pink marshmallows at your gender party!)13064624_900366308049_8267571567100253079_o But I will try to be good. After all, I have to show you how to be a smart and frugal shopper! 

As I’m thinking about you now, cocooned in that safe, dark place, I praise the One who is forming you there. He told Jeremiah that  he knew the plans He had for him before He even formed Jeremiah in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5). Is it not possible that he already has a plan for you…just like he did prior to birth for Jacob, for Moses, for Samuel, for Samson, David, Jeremiah, and John the Baptist? He’s already given you a soul that will live on and on…and on. You will always be younger than I, but you will never outlive me. Our continuum has a starting point, but no ending point.   We are both on a journey that has no end. Your life has begun inside a temple of the Holy Spirit. May your life grow to be a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to our holy God. 

I do not know how many of your years I will get to see. I hope I can watch you learn to walk and talk and read and write. I hope I can go to my mailbox one day and read a letter from you. I hope I can take you fishing and shopping and kite-flying. I want to skip rope and play house and watch Pollyanna and Bedknobs and Broomsticks with you. (Oh, and I Love Lucy, too.) I want to laugh and dance and make teacakes and living room tents with you. I want to push you in my big antique carriage and pull you in that little red wagon. I want to play games and run relays with you. (We like games in our family!)I want to watch you find wonderful trinkets in your Christmas stocking and in your Easter basket. I want to pick flowers and sing with you and Ezra while papa plays the guitar. I hope we get to do all these things and lots more. 12990953_900409955579_6704588746815333140_n

But there is just one thing I really, really HAVE to do with you. See, if I had to choose between doing all these things I’ve dreamed about and sitting around the throne with you, I wouldn’t even have to think about it. I’d choose heaven.You are a princess already and what I want most for you, little girl, is that seat around your Father’s throne. I pray every day that you make it safely into this world. But my most fervent prayer for you is about making it safely to that other world. It will, in this century in which you will live out your days, not always be easy to be a princess in His kingdom. Your world is pretty hostile to princesses in your Father’s kingdom. But it will be worth it. The “way” may be straiter and more narrow as you travel than it is for those who went on ahead of you. The devil is currently busy adding obstacles and constricting that way. But you stay the course. Your papa and I will be waiting.

P.S. Here’s the pink cotton candy: https://www.facebook.com/hannah.giselbach/videos/900363004669/

13029706_900365774119_340688875204722129_o-1

The Extraterrestrial…Really.

NASA-Apollo8-Dec24-EarthriseYesterday, I spent the morning with a group of about 100 of God’s women focused intently on the subject of prayer. I don’t know about the other ladies, but I was deeply affected. We read Harry Potter and watch Star Wars and clamor after tales that allow our minds to venture outside this box that we inhabit…the box of space and time. But we rarely appreciate the fact that there is one extra-terrestrial tale that’s not just a tale. It’s about a real place, with a real Ruler who has power and sovereignty over this universe and all that’s in it. And we are already part of that extraterrestrial world…involved enough that the Sovereign has already given the supreme sacrifice to bring us into His presence. And we can communicate with that Sovereign power; even influence His will, if we submit to His terms. It’s the most amazing concept we can ponder while still bound to this earth by gravity. And it’s real. It’s evidence-backed faith that takes us there. It’s the most authenticated book in history that reveals this other world to us. 

Today I had a chance to pray with a sister as she dropped me off at the airport. We prayed about our future ventures, especially about the venture we are both trying to accomplish, along with our families to the throne of God for eternity. Have you ever thought about the magnitude of that blessing?…I mean the sweet privilege of going in prayer, with a sister, to the throne of the Father you share…the Father who is the King of the universe?

In a few moments, I have a scheduled phone call with another sister in Christ. We will talk about the struggles and pain in her life and we will both be going before our Father’s throne with these particular sorrows. We both have the assurance that there’s somebody else, though not physically related, who shares the bond of the blood of Jesus, and who cares deeply about what’s going on in the spiritual journey of the other.

Over the weekend I promised to speak to some event directors about an internship for a young Christian sister and to recommend another sister for a scholarship. Those are small pleas to administrators for little positions and rewards. But as I left the room of sisters tonight to make the trip back to Huntsville, they promised to make requests for me to the supreme Administrator of all good gifts (James 1:17). We cannot do anything more important for each other than to plead each others’ causes before that Administrator!

Blood sisters share DNA that makes them have physical similarities because they were born of the same parents. Spiritual sisters share spiritual traits that make them alike in more important ways. They share traits that they will still be sharing in a million years, while those physical genetic tendencies will have lost all traceability. Physical kinship is tied to the genes. Spiritual kinship is tied to Jesus. The former is merely the handiwork of the latter. And yet the latter took on human DNA—had physical kin—so that I could be his spiritual kin and so that I could share that kinship with you.  He did this so that I could come boldly before the throne of grace for you and so that you could do it for me (Hebrews 4:14-16). 

I know that you already knew all of this. So did I. But meditating on it makes me love God more. It makes me appreciate the forever family more deeply. It makes me long for a time when that family will be inseparable.