Five Minute Friday: Join

It’s Friday and it’s time for my five minutes- today’s word is Join.

 

Join as in joinery? Join a club? Join the conversation? Join in? Joined at the hip? Join me? What God hath joined? 

Just what does join mean and where does it fit? Tell me, I want to know. 

The fitting together, so they don’t fall apart, two or more items to make one new item. A group? A class? A team? A life? A marriage.

Ahh, that one! 

Yes, I am joined so that we are no longer two but one. One shared life, one family, one Hope, one Faith, One aging together {well that part is new}. 

Not sure how we will handle the joining of two different schedules into one eventually, but it will certainly be interesting! Explosive? maybe? But never dull! We two, who have had different schedules from almost day one of our joined life together. First college schedules, then work schedules, then kid team schedules, then more work schedules, and now one retired and one working schedule. 

I have learned that being joined does not necessarily mean we both go in the same direction together at the same time, but as we age and merge in to the one schedule we have agreed that there are things we want to do together before we can’t:

go to every major league baseball park and watch a game

go to every state capital

go to every ocean in the world (well, maybe)

step foot on every continent (except Antarctica- that is too cold even for me)

Drive the entire remaining Route 66 road 

take a train across Canada 

Go to every Hard Rock Cafe (that one may have to be amended- it ain’t the old Hard Rock anymore- This was decided a long time ago when we learned that exactly one year before we were married the first one opened in London- so exactly 11 days after we met for the first time!) yes- i keep those dates locked up tight in my heart!

Have a month long vacation on the beach one summer with the entire family coming and going!

 Yeah, we know that we may not accomplish all of these dreams, but that’s ok, because we are joined we will do whatever – together. 

Being joined – is good! 

Ding.

“Two are better than one,  because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Not What I Expected

The following quote comes from a prayer in a book of puritan prayers and devotions that Chuck Swindoll referenced a few months back. The prayer struck me at the time and I wrote it down, read it and have come back to it from time to time. These last five lines speak for that puritan, and I think, all of us.

“Lord, it is my chief design to bring my heart back to thee.
Convince me that I cannot be my own god, or make myself happy,
nor my own Christ to restore my joy,
nor my own Spirit to teach, guide, and rule me. . . .
Then take me to the cross and leave me there.”

The writer was unknown. But the cry of the heart is familiar. We –I – struggle with the whole “who’s in charge here, really?” on a daily basis. My wants, My needs, My life, My time, My things… I could go on but why bother? Truth is at one time in life, my expectations for what it would be like were scripted out in my mind like a finely tuned screenplay for a movie. MY Life. And, truth is, it hasn’t gone exactly as scripted. Surprise! Not.

We puny humans trod, trudge, march, skip, run, along this road called life, going merrily on our way until we suddenly realize the road has changed. At times it’s for better; at times it’s for worse. When it gets better, we smile, we laugh, we pat ourselves on the back, glad to be alive. When it all goes horribly pear-shaped and unrecognizable as our life, we cry out to God, we wail, we gnash the teeth, we ask “Why?”, “How long?”, “What did I do to deserve this?”, “Why am I being punished?” Finally after railing about for a while we get down to the nitty-gritty with Him and ask “Please take this away, far away?”, and then the promises begin, the bargaining commences and we grovel.

If we truly believe He is God, and He is in control of our entire lives-yes, I know it’s a hard concept to swallow at times knowing we are not in control of what is happening; we fall to our knees and we still ask some of those same questions. Only, we add a few more; “Please forgive me?”, “Tell me what to do?”,  “Help me to understand?”, and then we listen to His reply. The reply which may be long in coming (to our thinking), may change the way we think and perceive our situation, and may change our point of view entirely. He knows what is happening. He knows that even the no good, horrible, entirely rotten, sad mess is there to galvanize our faith; to bind us close to Him and to show us how to be loved by Him. We still weep; we still ask questions; we still hurt. But He is God.

He loves us, He provides everything we need, He gives good gifts, He prunes so we can be more fruitful and be healthier in spirit, He prepares us for the battles ahead, He spares us from evil, He surrounds us with His angels, and they fight for us because that’s their job. Yet, we sometimes can’t see the forest for the trees.

He created us for His good pleasure.  His pleasure. He made us for Him. He sees all of our lives from beginning to end. We can see His work in all things- if we but look.  The wrong, the bad, the ugly messes in this world are committed by us, His Creation. But, His will is always done. Understanding the prayer of the puritan helped me realize that his cry, his plea is also mine. Convince me. Then take me to the Cross and Leave. Me. There.

Teach me, purify me, do whatever it takes to get me to the foot of the Cross. Whenever I get to that point where my desperation for Him and His Presence consumes my every breath, my every thought, my every action, motive, attitude and my gratitude, then I will abide in the shadow of the Cross.

There- in the center of His Will.

Not mine.

I’m not there yet.

My life has not gone as I expected it.

But then, I didn’t write the script of my life. He did. And, I am living out that script; looking forward to arriving at the foot of His Cross and staying there instead of coming and going like a fool who can’t make up his mind what he really wants.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51:12

Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: Job 13:15a

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:17-18

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. Psalm 51:17

 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire —may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1Peter 1:3-9 

God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2: 13b-14

 

Chicken Breasts in Lemon Cream Sauce

Thought I’d share this one. Tweaked it a bit from a recipe I found .

After the chicken cooked in the pan, removed them; slipped the mushrooms in and sautéed them (if you don’t have mushrooms- skip this step); then added the seasonings, wine, peel and juice.  I used less cream (a lot less) only a generous splash, cooked it down to where the volume was about half, tweaked to taste with seasonings/cream; then poured over the chicken breasts resting on a bed of pasta then sprinkled with the cheese and drizzled(lightly-too much sets the teeth on edge) lemon juice on the top. This is not a heavy sauce like Alfredo, a generous couple of  large spoons ladled over are sufficient.

CHICKEN in LEMON CREAM SAUCE

1/4 c. butter

4 whole chicken breast, split, skinned and boned

1 c. sliced mushrooms

2 tbsp. dry white wine-may use up to ½ cup depending on volume of sauce desired

1/2 tsp. grated lemon peel

juice of ½ lemon- try Meyer lemon for a nice flavor

1/4 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. white pepper

 generous splash of heavy cream

 grated Parmesan cheese to garnish

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat; add chicken. Cook, covered, turning after about 5 minutes, until chicken is brown and tender. Remove chicken to serving dish. Add mushrooms to the skillet, brown(just skip if not adding mushrooms). Discard excess butter from skillet. Add wine, lemon peel and lemon juice to skillet; cook and stir over medium heat 1 minute to deglaze pan.

Stir in salt and white pepper.

 Gradually pour in cream, stirring constantly, until hot; do not boil! Plate chicken over pasta if desired, otherwise I’d suggest serving with grilled asparagus (recipe to follow); sprinkle with

cheese and drizzle a bit of lemon juice on top.

Five Minute Friday: Stretch

this week’s challenge from the Gypsy Mama is:

Stretch

We use this word so frequently; it’s peppered into our conversations, slipped in really, under the door and has permeated everything.

We stretch our muscles, we stretch our brains, we stretch out a recipe, we make the checkbook stretch (we have been known to see it snap back and hit us in the face occasionally), we stretch our time, we stretch our clothes (sometimes when they weren’t made to stretch) because we stretched out our dessert!

That tells me this about us- if we are always stretching something then it may be an indicator that we don’t believe we have enough or will have enough. Funny, I never thought about it this way before now. Puts a whole new perspective on this verse, doesn’t it?

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

I suppose I could take each individual way we use the word and say that there are times it’s beneficial; which it is, sometimes. But in our economy we often focus on the lack that it indicates. If we could only stretch our faith to include that verse every time we find ourselves at the stretching point- He will supply everything that we need- physical, mental, emotional, spiritual- for me that means Enough.

Ding.

 

Five Minute Friday: Connect

It’s 5-minute Frday again and today’s subject: Connect.

How do I connect the dots of my life to make sense of it and come out with a reasonable picture? And what would the picture be? A cloud, a  river, a mountain, a forest, an ocean, a flower, a veg? Me? Whatever the picture, at this point only God knows the whole of it. His plan for me is to connect, and each “dot” along the way brings that picture closer to completion.

The way He has given me to connect is the written word. Although tone and inflection may be lost at times; I think the true meaning comes through. In this way, I connect with others. They connect with me, and friendships are made.

When I no longer connect with another, the mark of that connection is left on my heart. There are quite a few deep scars there if you look closely, but there are quite a few gardens of ongoing friendship as well. I tend them as best I can with the words He has given me and fertilize them with His Word to help them grow.

I like to think of myself as a connector; a bridge between Him and them. As they connect their own dots, I have become a “dot” in their picture.

As iron sharpens iron; so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

Ding.

What to do with Children who aren’t Children Anymore?

The recent post on Kate Megill’s blog: Building Friendships with Adult Children brought up some very good points:  http://teachingwhatisgood.com/friendships-adult-children/

 

Made me think hard. That’s good! 

Here’s my 2-cents worth:

 

We never stop being parents.

 

Ok, that’s out of the way.

True confession time: I am the parent of adult children. Three beautiful, wonderful, frustrating, loving, drive me crazy, adult, married children who all have children of their own. But am I their friend? Good Question.

 

I will be the first to tell you that I am a faulty parent- so will my kids. By that I mean when they were young it was “whose fault is this?”; “it’s your fault…”; and well, I’ll spare you the rest.

I am also a why parent: “Why in the world would you do that?”; why in the world do you want to do that?”  Yup, that has come from me, too.

I also became the what parent: “what were you thinking?” “You want to do what?” followed closely by: “you did what?” and “What was I thinking?”

So, you get the picture… not pretty, not perfect and definitely pretty dumb at times. It’s hard not to parent like you were parented especially if you didn’t have stellar examples. But, I love my grown up kids with every breath of my being.

 

Parenting is beautiful, awe-inspiring, rewarding, punishing, aching, heartbreaking, instructive, back breaking, -that’s two for breaking- here’s another one- will-breaking, painful, joyful, work and a whole host of other things. And that, my friends, is just on our side as parents.

 

Whether you are the parent who prays with them, does daily devotionals with them, puts notes in their lunches that you make (forgive me moms- I made my kids do their own lunches from day one), or wakes them up with a praise song every morning.  Or whether you don’t or didn’t; whatever you do FOR them, WITH them, or TO them- it’s from your perspective and from and for your heart. I’m not talking about selfish love here. I admit, the things we do as moms in regards to our kiddos generally make us feel better about being a mom.  

 

I say this because I think they see it all from a completely different perspective. In the back of their minds- we will always be there (faulty reasoning but it’s there nonetheless) When they are little we are the best-est mom in the world; when they are school aged it’s I can do it myself now, mom; when they are teens we are the worst mom in the world; when they become parents we become the go-to mom; when they have become experienced parents themselves we become the been-there-done-that, mom or we are back to the I can do it myself now, mom.  Sensing a little negativity here on my part? Actually, no. Just realistic.  And glad they have made it this far!

 

There are always at least two people in a conversation. No matter how you have raised your children, their perspective can be in complete agreement with yours, polar opposite of yours or somewhere in between.  I found this out when my children became teenagers.  Conversations on every known subject of the universe we had, still do. Conversations that had satisfactory endings with all in accord. Conversations where they stomped off pouting.  Conversations that deteriorated into shouting matches (ashamed).  And, the proverbial conversation that ended in slammed doors- theirs or mine. (not my shining moment). As adults, the conversations with them sometimes end with agreeing to disagree with mutual respect.

 

I love my children; but I can never love them with the love that God has for them. They know that.

I care for my children; but I can never take care of them the way that God has and will continue to do.

I weep when they do something out of character; but my heart hurts very little compared to the way that His hurts for them.

I could and would die for them if needed; but my death can never accomplish what Jesus did on the cross for them and me. 

I can be a friend; but I will never be the comforter that the Holy Spirit is.

 

As parents of adult children: we listen, give advice when asked, revel in their accomplishments with them, ache when they ache, love our grandchildren as much as they love them as parents (they are after all a genetic extension of ourselves), admire their parenting skills (where did they learn THAT?), rejoice when they grace us with their presence and help when they ask for help.  And some of us wonder in amazement, how did they get there?

 

And now, for something completely different (but related):

 

Some of us have been given great gifts and opportunities in a child who is “difficult.” Life does not go as we scripted in our heads. Nor, does any day pass with ease. More like less pain than the day before-that’s a good day-… Some of those children we do not understand at all. We feel like God made a mistake in bringing us this child, at times. We do not know what to do with them, every thing seems wrong. Just saying “Good Morning” can be the middle of a minefield.

We do remind ourselves that we love them and that life is what is difficult, not the child. We respect them for who they are; we don’t apologize for them being “difficult.” More seems to become the litany every morning. As they reach adulthood, we trust God more. We pray even more for this one. We cry more. Sometimes, it’s I can’t take any more. We let go. And, if God wills it, they return like the prodigal. If not, we hold them in our hearts anyway.

Here’s the little I’ve learned along the way:

·      Tell them you love them every time you are with them, end a phone conversation with them, write them an email, whatever. Tell them. Everytime. And mean it!

·      Communicate with them frequently, not just text or email. They need to hear your voice as much as you need to hear theirs.

·      Only bring up the good, funny, dumb, silly and slightly embarrassing moments. Never the moments where you were ashamed to be their parent. Those moments are for them to bring to you. Or not.

·      Teach them total dependence on God and total independence from you as they grow up. Umbilical cords were designed to be cut. This means teaching them about everyday things they need to know and Who to go to for healing broken hearts.

·      Teach them what good looks like so they can recognize evil when they encounter it. This means The Word. Get it into their hearts when they are young.

·      Remind them when they are children and adolescents that you are accountable before the Lord for them until they are adults. And that’s why you are the meanest mom in the world. What they do then is between them and God.

·      Hold them accountable for their actions. My children still tell me the one thing that stuck with them was that I told them that I prayed they would be caught and held accountable when they did something or said something wrong.

·      Tell them over and over: they are not yours. That God created them in His image, for His purpose and that He has a plan for them. That He saw fit to make you their parents and that they belong to Him and have done so since before they were born. And believe it yourself.

·      Don’t hold onto them a minute longer than necessary. If it’s difficult letting go; go ahead, cry your heart out and express it to the King of the Universe – He knows all about that. Yeah, I did that, too. It hurt. Still does.

·      Accept that their choices in life are not yours to make. Trust God. He is working out HIS plan for them-not yours. They were created for Him not you, hard to admit, but true. Trust Him.

·      Let them know your prayer needs and they will let you know theirs.

·      And, finally where I started: love them, really love them and let them know that you love them every chance you get. Even if you don’t like them very much some days.

·      One more: do not forget the importance of touch. For you and them. Greet them with a hug and say good-bye with a hug. Hug them like you mean it, not like you are hugging someone because you feel like it’s expected for the occasion. You know what I’m talking about.

·      Last one, I promise: pray for them like you’ve never prayed for anything else in the world. They are up against it in so many more ways than we were as their parents. They are fighting battles every day for their minds and hearts and the minds and hearts of their children.

I don’t offer any guarantee. Those don’t exist in humanity. But God does offer the guarantee of eternity. 

O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old—what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. Psalm 78:1-7 

Train up a child in the way that he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17 

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off —for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:38-39

Black Box Warning:

There may still be some hiccups along this part of the path of parenthood. Take those to the cross and nail them there and just to be sure, super glue them, too! Active parenting is for a season, but you never stop being a parent. Just love them. No strings- just love.

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