Thursday, April 2, 2009

Storms of Life

We've had some very volatile weather lately. It seems that just as we get comfortable enjoying a nice, warm sunny day, darkness looms from the east and before we know it, we're grabbing umbrellas and running for cover. Wait. Did I just describe the weather or was that life in general? I don't know where you live, but in most areas of this earth, the climate very much resembles real life. Real life is a series of beautiful days marred by days of darkness and despair. While we soon know this to be true, if we begin to look at life as one natural disaster after another, we would stay in a continual state of despair. Likewise, we must realize that warm, sunny days are never here to stay and to believe that would surely bring a life of unfulfilled expectations. Not counting disasters that happen out of our control, humans have a way of bringing storms of hard times on themselves as well. Our family has endured some storms in the last few years, some of a natural disaster state, like the deaths of both of the patriarchs and some of the man-made variety, like the divorce of my son and his wife. With both events, our hearts grieved and, for a time, we thought life would not go back to "sunny" again. But, it did. We held on to our faith in God and we looked to our family and friends for support and, in time, we came to a place where the sun shines and we can smile again. The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 1:3 "All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too." What a great testimony to looking to God and friends to help us through hard times. If you are going through some difficult days, don't do it alone. Please tell someone that you love and trust. Ask God to put someone in your life to hold your hand. Then, give all of it to God.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Water Park Fun

This was a fun weekend. I went with all ten grand kids and their moms to an indoor water park in Dallas, Texas. We were only gone for two days, but it was plenty of time to slip and slide our way into water park history. Yes, we did it all. I even did it all! Even the dreaded tornado ride! Actually, I was more leery of the cold water than I was the ride, but to my surprise the water and air temperature in the park was perfect. Not hot or cold--just right, like the baby bears porridge in the familiar children's tale.
I would be misleading you if I said the entire trip was perfect. No way! We had our share of fights to push the elevator button, what TV show to watch, and, of course, who would sit by who. You know, you've been there. But, here's the bottom line. Any vacation is just like life itself. There are great moments; those are the times when the video cameras run and the shining moments are captured. And there are moments when the cameras are turned off and everyone is in tears.
God never promised us a "no tears" day until the day we walk through the heavenly gates. He did promise us days when the water is warm and everything is good. He also promised us days when we are challenged to lean on Him to make it through. I love how Thessalonians 1:9 (The Message) says this to us, "So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you'll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you're already doing this, just keep on doing it."
Truly, life is full of ups and downs, like a slide at the water park, but we can help each other through the down times with words of love and encouragement. Think of someone today who needs your words of hope.

Hugs and blessings,


Monday, February 2, 2009

God's Love

Saturday I came home to discover my grand kids washing their dog in my ice chest. Poor thing. After all, it is wintertime and even in the south, it's too cold to run the water hose and wash a dog. Sadly, this creature was in desperate need of attention, so he wasn't complaining one bit. As you can see in the photo, he's a white longed-hair dog that winter is not kind to. He becomes a collection of everything sticky and muddy and was also in desperate need of a trip to the doggie beauty shop. In fact, according to many folks on our street, it bordered animal cruelty to NOT take him in. Finally, my son-in-law gave in and took him for some much needed grooming.
Like most of us after a trip to the beauty shop, he returned a new man. His hair was short, he smelled good, and he walked with a strut. Hence the kids were now proud to play with this clean-smelling, clean-shaven pet instead of shunning him like Sunday's left-overs. In reality, nothing really changed about the dog except his outside appearance. He was still the lovable dog he always was, who longed for a pat on the head every now and then.
What had changed was how we looked at him. Aren't you glad you serve a God who loves you in spite of the way you look? If the winter months haven't so kind to you either, God doesn't care. And I'm not really talking about the dry skin or the fly-away hair that winter brings. I'm talking about some behaviors that you might have put on that aren't too flattering on you right now. The good news is God sees past the mistakes you've made and right to your heart. God knows all of your hurts and hang-ups and loves you anyway. My grand kids waited for the dog to get clean before they were willing to clean him themselves. But God doesn't do that to us, He loves us just as we are. He continually cleans us with the blood of Jesus Christ.
I love how Romans 8:31 reads in The Message, "Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We're sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I'm absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us."
Wow! How's that for some comforting words. While a dog might find himself in poor favor with the family, there is absolutely nothing you can do to drive God's love away from you.
Just dwell on that today and you'll have a better day!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Last weekend I played in a tennis tournament in Mobile, Alabama. This particular tournament had players of all ages. I would say they ranged from early twenties to early seventies. It was so fun to see young men and women talking to seniors about their game. All barriers were broken as they shared a common goal--to improve their game and win!
One of the ladies on my team, who has played much longer than I, gave me some great advice. When a ball is questionable, meaning is it in or out, both sides of the net can get a little uptight. Trust me, I have seen some huffing and puffing on the court that rivals any two year old. But this tennis mentor told me to just make the call confidently and don't doubt your call. Then, she said, get in position for the next point.
It reminded me of another mentor in my life, my mom. She taught me that as a parent I needed to be confident in the decisions I make with my children. She said that children need a confident mother who isn't afraid to make decisions and then stand by those decisions. Over time I found that her advice was right on target. My children, and your children, will fare much better in our world, which is unsteady at best, if they have a mom who displays confidence. Confidence breeds security and children want and need to feel secure. Children thrive better when any routine is followed, such as bedtimes, after school lessons, etc. A confident mom is just another form of a routine. Knowing what mom will or will not do or allow in a situation helps kids feel loved and protected.
I'm not saying they will agree with all of your decisions, that would be way too much to ask for. I'm not even saying all your decisions will be the right ones. I'm just saying that right or wrong, your children will have a better chance of growing up confident and secure themselves if you project those qualities to them through your actions. So, the next time you're standing on the line, not sure whether to call the ball in or out---just confidently make the call and get ready for the next point!

Hugs, Chrys

PS. We came in second in our division! Hip, hip, hooray!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I'm back! I've been away for a few weeks while we updated my website. So, I'm excited to be back with you and look forward to blogging often. My newest book, Motivationals for Mom, is now on the shelves. I hope you get a chance to look for it. I wrote the book because I know that being a mom is a hard job and YOU and I need all the encouragement we can get. Just this week at my mentoring group we discussed how hard it is for us to watch as our older children make decisions not in agreement with the plan we had for their lives. And I don't mean like what they wear to school. I mean choices that are clearly not in their best interest, like not even going to school or becoming rude and disrepectful to you. I wanted everyone in the group to realize that our job as a parent is to make sure our children are able to make informed decisions, even if they don't make the right one. You cannot guarantee right decisions, but you can guarantee informed ones. If you want your children to be aware of the pitfalls in life, you have to tell them what those pitfalls are and teach them a better way. If they choose the wrong path, you have the assurance that you taught them, but they chose differently and hopefully, they will one day turn back to a better way. After all, Proverbs does tell us, "Point your kids in the right direction--when they're old they won't be lost." Sometimes I have to grab a grandchild and point him or her in right direction as we're heading through the mall or at church. Let's all commit to pointing our kids in the right direction. Have a blessed day! Hugs, Chrys

Friday, November 7, 2008

My daughter, Ashley was shopping with her son, Maddox. He was three at that time so she held him close to her as they made their way through the busy parking lot. They carefully navigated around the myriad of loose shopping carts, frantic moms trying to contain multiple kids, and the many wild-eyed drivers competing for the closest parking space.
To Ashley’s surprise, Maddox said, “Mom, you have to be careful.”
“You’re right, Maddox, you have to be careful.” she repeated his words, paying more attention to the task at hand than Maddox’s comment.
“No, mom! YOU have to be careful,” Maddox said, determined to get his point across. Finally hearing what he was saying Ashley replied, “Why don’t you have to be careful?”
“Because you’re holding me,” was Maddox’s simple answer.
You see, Maddox felt safe in the arms of his mother. He didn’t have to worry or be careful; that job was being taken care of for him by someone he trusted because he knew she loved him. Do you remember that feeling? I do. I remember late at night, when I was in bed, feeling safe and secure because my Daddy’s room was just two doors away. And my Daddy loved me and would protect me.
Unfortunately, as we grow older, the worry and stresses of life become familiar waves that crash over us; the least of them a runaway buggy in the busy parking lot. It’s in those times and everyday that we still need a father’s loving arms to protect us and make us feel safe. Over and over in Psalms, David sings of a father’s love and protection we all can access. Psalms 59:16 says, “I will sing of your strength in the morning. I will sing of your love: for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.”
Moms, you have a huge responsibility keeping your children safe from runaway buggies and so much more. You wake up everyday with a list of worries so long it makes you want to pull the covers back over your head. But, don’t. Wake up to a new day. Sing of God’s love for you and know that He is the proud papa who is ready and willing to wrap you up in His arms and hold you close to His heart as you cross the busy parking lots of life.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I remember my mom saying to one of us six kids when we were young and obviously unhappy about something, “Get a smile on your face.” When I became a mom I also said those words. Perhaps you have said them as well or something similar. I also remember my dad saying “Straighten up!” to any child who seemed sullen for no reason. Again, as a mom, I’ve said those words. Both admonitions are attempts to get children to have a better attitude. But, of all the things my parents said to me to convince me to behave in a better way, it was the things they didn’t say that influenced me the most. It was how they acted in times of adversity. I’m sure you have heard the challenge to act your way into a better way of thinking. Many, many times I witnessed my parents receive bad news or encounter unpleasant circumstances and still approach the situation with a positive spirit and a God-honoring attitude. Life is like a roller coaster ride. As soon as your stomach is back in place and the ride is fun, the next dip occurs. How can we possibly be asked to keep a good attitude when life is so uncertain? And what does a good attitude mean anyway? An attitude is a term that refers to our likes and dislikes for a person, behavior, or event. Attitudes can be positive, negative or neutral. In children, the attitude in itself doesn’t appear to be the problem; it’s the behavior the attitude invokes that causes the problem. Your child may not like green beans and that’s fine, but he can’t throw them against the wall (at least, I hope he doesn’t do that!) But, here’s what should occur as we mature. God doesn’t just want our behavior to change; He wants our heart to change as well. It isn’t good enough to just “act right” God wants us to “think right.” Peter plainly tells usin I Peter 4 that Jesus went through everything we could ever go through. I know it’s hard to imagine Jesus going through the trials us moms go through. First of all, he never sat up and worried about a sick child. Wait, what about Lazarus? But, did he never have to worry about putting food on the table when money is short? Oh yeah, he did feed 5000 of his closest friends with nothing more than a few fish and bread. But he never faced the challenges of dealing with his kids’ different personalities. No, but he did have twelve very unique personalities chosen to follow him and lead others to him. Life is not easy, but with a few attitude adjustments, life will not only be more enjoyable, you will be able to show others how God can work in your life. Give yourself an attitude check. Yell at the top of your lungs, “Attitude check!” and then answer yourself with a loud, “I feel great, oh, I feel so great!” And mean it!

Hugs, Chrys

Thought for the Day
Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.
W.W. Ziege