Think Before You Judge

Going anywhere with three boys aged between two and five years old is rarely simple or quick. In fact, some days if I’m not in the frame of mind to handle the challenge we simply stay home.

This morning, with no advanced warning, I ask the boys to get their shoes on. They eagerly obliged, which is normally their reaction. I had some errands to run, so not feeling up to the task was not an option.

At Walmart – as I routinely stroll with two carts through the store, pushing one and pulling the other behind – several people made comments. One remarked, “You won’t see men doing that!” Though I’m sure there have been plenty of fathers who have trudged through a store with an engine-caboose-cart-train hauling three boys. Another sought me out to comment that he just “had no words.” “I have so much respect for you.” Another woman commented, as I turned the corner with ease, “You are super-mom.” And she quickly added, “They are so well-behaved.” “Why do you think they are in the cart?” I replied with a sly smile.

It would seem easy to take these comments conceitedly, but I know the truth lurking behind our facade as we seem to perfectly and smoothly stroll through Walmart. No, they were taken as encouragement for this struggling mom. Most days I struggle. I struggle in the home; I struggle taking the boys out. This is not a plea for pity and it’s not because there aren’t any good moments or that I regret having them so closely aged (though God had more to do with that than us). But it is a continual struggle to keep a good attitude and patiently guide them, whether we’re in the boundaries of our home or out amongst the public eye.

I just pulled all three boys out of the carts right inside the exit and ask them to wait as I put the carts back. I turned around to grab the two hands which were beside me as my two-year-old took off out the door, running across the pedestrian walk. I yelled “Stop!” A horn honked. I immediately was upset. He did not have to slam his brakes; he had plenty of time to stop. I called out, “Why are you honking? You are supposed to stop for people crossing.” Continue reading “Think Before You Judge”

Blessings Abound

Are you willing to say, Lord, do what You will with my life?

We really have no choice anyhow, but there’s much less agony in our souls if we just submit to God’s will. It may even be a life of more blessing than despair.

But you may ask, have you seen the way of our world? Have you seen the wickedness in the hearts of the people around us? Have you seen the evil in my own heart?

Yes. But despite the grim future of our fallen world, despite the sin in our own hearts, look at it this way: life is completely full and overflowing of blessings. More blessings than blows. You may argue, but unfortunately, we have a keen awareness for spotting the negative. Everything – I mean everything – is a blessing if only we have the right mindset.

We have our futures all mapped out.  We all have preconceived expectations, risky or perhaps even legitimate goals, concrete plans, the perfectly suitable spouse, a retirement full of financial freedom and time for traveling, a direct path to success, wild and amazing accomplishments, initials before or after our names which publicly note our achievements and define our worth, and even daily hopes and desires.

But God holds our life’s blueprint.

What happens when our expectations aren’t met, our plans crumble, obstacles flood our path or tragedy and hardship invades our perfectly, beautiful life? See, the blessing isn’t necessarily in each circumstance or occasion as they quickly pass by and time forces them to fade.  When we set our hope and satisfaction in our temporary enjoyments and happiness, we are let down as soon as the emotional high subsides. Sorrow and agony seeks us as our expectations and hopes are dashed, but peace and joy is given by God even through the direst hardships. Instead, the true blessings are in our mind and heart. These blessings are received through a godly perspective, our spiritual growth, a heart that serves others and lastly, but most importantly, Christ as our single heart’s desire. These will last throughout our lifetime and will bring eternal reward.

Philippians 4:4 says Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. It does not say rejoice in the accomplishment of our goals or our met expectations nor the happiness borne of a blissful circumstance, but simply rejoice in the LORD. For our hope is in Him Who is faithful and steadfast and our rejoicing is always; despite the easy or difficult situations or even the daily hub-bub of our day.

If we allow our minds to see God through those raw times and even in the little routine things of life, we see the beautiful blessings hiding all through the shadows. God loves us beyond the here and now, beyond the tragedy, beyond the joy, beyond our failures, beyond our plans and desires. His love spanned from the before and into the forever. And so is His plan for each of our lives and it’s far better than we could ever imagine.

Psalm 139:16
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Proverbs 19:21
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

I appreciate the words to Laura Story’s song:

(I did not include all the words.)

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe
What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise
Proverbs 27:1
Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.

I don’t know what my future may hold, but I know Who holds the future. –Ralph Abernathy