Tears to Joy

Tears to Joy: June 2013

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Feeling discouraged?

Discouragement. We all have those times in our lives. Our kids do the opposite of what we'd like. We get a failing grade. We are passed over for a job. Sometimes life just doesn't go the way we had hoped.

During those times, God wants us to trust in his sovereignty. The Bible tells us that his ways are not our ways (boy, do I know that is true!). It also tells us that God is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). If we truly believe this, then we won't wallow in self-pity, but we will trust that God knows what he is doing.

My grandmother has a plaque in her office that says, "God not only knows where you are going, but he knows what it takes to get you there." None of us are there yet. We are all works in progress. May we remain moldable in the potter's hands and give him complete control over our lives.

I've learned that if I will make a list of all the things I am thankful for during times of discouragement, my focus often shifts from whatever ails me, to one of gratitude. Perhaps this is why I love the Psalms...the authors often start out venting their frustrations, but eventually end in praising God because their focus shifts.

May our eyes stay on the One who never changes. May we cling to him and trust him during times of uncertainty. May our hearts be filled with thanksgiving -- even when our flesh feels otherwise.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My Paul, my mentor

This week in class, there has been a lot of talk about the value of mentoring. It has caused me to pause and reflect on my own life. My campus minister always encouraged us that we should have someone pouring into us, and that we should always be shepherding someone else. I've tried to take that to heart over the years. In seminary, I was required to find a mentor, and to give them permission to speak truth into my heart. The Lord led me to Judy Sanders -- little did I know the vital role she would play in my spiritual walk.

Judy taught me so much about love -- unconditional love. She challenged me to remain faithful to the truth even when it was difficult. She encouraged me to cling to what I knew was true, even when my feelings caused me to doubt. She has been a role model to me and has taught me to balance grace and truth, and to practice forgiveness.

Over the years, I've been privileged to mentor several young women, many of whom now teach me. There is so much value in following the Titus model of women investing in other women. I want to take this opportunity to thank Judy and other women who have invested in my life.  If you don't have someone with whom you can be "brutally honest and unashamedly real," then I encourage you to pray and ask the Lord to provide somebody.

If you have had a mentor that made a tremendous impact in your life, consider honoring them by commenting and sharing how you are a life that is changed due to their faithfulness.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Pray for those at risk: A response the double suicides in NYC

My heart grew heavy as I read about the double suicide of the radio hosts in New York City last night. So many people were shocked – especially because the woman was a former psychotherapist. We tend to think that certain “types” of people are immune to suicidal ideation – counselors, ministers, teachers – but the truth is, there are times when we are all tempted to lose hope.

Someone I care deeply about is in a rotten situation that can seem pretty hopeless at times. I search for the words to say to bring encouragement, but all I could tell him was “I’ll pray for you.” Even though I meant that with all my heart, the words seemed inadequate to addresshise pain.

This morning I was listening to a sermon by Francis Chan on Luke 22.  What really caught my attention were verses 31-32.  Jesus is basically telling Peter, Satan wants to tear you up, chew you up and spit you out. This is Jesus talking to Peter – the King of Kings. He could have said, “Don’t worry, I’ll protect you,” or “Don’t worry, I won’t let him,” but he didn’t. Jesus responded saying, “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.”

I couldn’t help but wonder if that is what is happening in my friend’s life. Is Satan trying to sift him and destroy his faith?  Yes, God could change his circumstances, but instead He is allowing him to be sifted to strengthen his faith.

If you are going through a difficult time, these words may not change how you feel, but I want you to rest assured that God has not forgotten you. He has not forsaken you. Those are lies the enemy wants you to believe so that he can destroy your faith. Without our faith, there is no hope. You have to cling to what you know is true about God even when you don’t feel God’s presence.

I remember thinking God had forgotten me as I struggled to come to grips with Michael’s bipolar disorder. I’d cry out to God and he was so silent during many of those years. I wondered if he was listening. It’s easy to trust God when we see evidence of his goodness and grace all around us – anybody can do that. It takes incredible faith to trust him when all around you seems bleak.

If prayer was Jesus’ response to Peter’s sifting, perhaps it is right that it should be our response as well. If you or someone you know is going through a “dark night of the soul,” take time to be still and call on the name of the Lord.

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

To Give or Not to Give a Cell Phone - That is the Question

Thanks to everyone who weighed in on the cell phone dilemma. My internet has been down for a week, so I apologize for taking so long to respond. While we haven’t made any definitive decisions yet, many of you gave convincing arguments on both sides. I was impressed to see that many parents have created cell phone contracts with their kids prior to giving them a phone. If you want to see samples of these, you can click here and here. If we decide to let Jorjanne have a phone, there will definitely be a contract required!

In the meantime, we are taking this opportunity to teach Jorjanne about responsibility. With a cell phone comes the responsibility to use it appropriately. She recently saw some of the pitfalls of social media firsthand as many of her friends were attacked on Instagram. We had a long discussion, and I think she understands that we aren’t trying to limit her, but to protect her from potential hurts that could come from having her own phone.

Having a phone in and of itself is not bad. The scary thing to me is that she can be totally respectful and responsible and still be bullied by others via texts or social media. I cannot protect her from all the evils out there, nor would I want to do so. She needs to experience some freedom while she is at home under our supervision and protection, but how much and when is debatable.  All that said, the verdict is still out. Today we are not buying her a cell phone, but we may change our mind once cheerleading practices begin and her time away from us increases.