misc. items at home

Created to Create

misc. items at home

 

Create……

The word conjures up images of fine art and music and accomplishments for which most of us feel rather unqualified.

But what if we used whatever gifts we were given to create whatever it is that we were designed to do?

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

Ephesians 2:10

 I believe that we were all created by a loving, creative God, and given gifts and talents to do many creative things.

“I’m not creative” , you may be saying to yourself.

But I think that we all have very different areas of creativity.

Some are gifted to do obviously creative works in art, music or drama.

But what about creating a beautiful home, or a “lived-in”, but loving home? How about creating a family atmosphere where our children can grow to become who God intended them to be?

What about creating a thriving business, a cure for cancer, an inspiring book, a delicious recipe, a system for organizing?

We can create a place for people to learn, get healthy or become connected.

Don’t forget to think outside the box when it comes to what you can create.

God created you with just the right strengths and talents to do what you were meant to do.

Now get on out there and be creative!

*****

I’m linking up today with some wonderful folks at Five Minute Friday. Please join me over there to view some other ideas about today’s prompt, “create”.

 

looking up at my house with flag

Habits That Build Our House

looking up at my house with flag

Welcome to another edition of “Five Minute Friday“, a post I write in approximately five minutes, with little to no editing to link up with other bloggers on the Heading Home blog. Our host, Kate Motaung, provides us with a one-word prompt each week, about which we are to write our thoughts. It is a good challenge for me to think and pray briefly, then write what I feel led to write, without a lot of second-guessing and correcting. It requires creativity with discipline, which helps me to grow as a person and a blogger.

Because of other responsibilities I have today, I will really try to adhere to the five-minute time-limit. Please check out the link-up page to view a variety of other interesting and thought-provoking posts by other bloggers.

 

Today’s word prompt:

BUILD

 

Today’s theme is “build”. I’d like to start by sharing the first scripture that comes to mind when I think of the word, “build”:

 

“Unless the Lord builds a house,
    the work of the builders is wasted.
Unless the Lord protects a city,
    guarding it with sentries will do no good.
 It is useless for you to work so hard
    from early morning until late at night,
anxiously working for food to eat;
    for God gives rest to his loved ones.”

Psalm 127:1,2 (NLT)

These words let us know that whatever we do, it will not be successful without direction and vision from God. So first and foremost, let’s remember that left to our own devices our plans may fail, but with God all things are possible. I need to be about his business and doing what he has created me to do in order to have a truly fulfilling and purposeful life.

But there is a responsibility on my part to do something practical too, and that’s what I’d like to focus on today.

I’m thinking about habits, and how they can make or break me; how they cause me to have peace and productivity or stress and regret.

My habits are an example to my children and to all those around me in my circle of influence.

I personally feel called to work on my habits and improve on using my time in an intentional way.

We only have one life to live, and despite the challenges and hard parts, it can be wonderful if I follow God’s path for me and find his purpose for my life. Then I need a plan and the discipline to carry it out.

I can be about my own business and either fail miserably or even appear successful, but be building a house that crumbles and falls. Or I can build something meaningful that will last.

When we offer up our lives, our days, and our plans to God, he will be faithful to see us through.

With God’s help, I can truly build a life that leaves a positive mark and makes a difference.

I chose to build a house that will last.

*****

 

 

little mint plant in ceramic pot

Protect

little mint plant in ceramic pot

So many things we must PROTECT.

As I think about the theme, “protect”, I am considering the plants I have been working with these past two years.

I was a teachers’ aide for ten years until a couple of years ago, when circumstances changed and I was no longer needed in my position. At that time, I helped to protect little (and some bigger) lives and souls in a loving Christian school.

Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to work in an indoor microgreens farm, and am currently working in the greenhouses of a “regular” farm.

So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about plants.

Little plants need much protection in order to grow and flourish. They require good, nutritious soil to nourish them, consistent watering to quench their “thirst”, and sun (or light) to help them reach their full potential. We also protect them from insects and animals who would eat them for lunch or a snack. Plants also require physical protection from the extreme temperatures and natural dangers of the weather and environment.

Like plants, we also need protection, and to provide it for those in our care.

I need to discern who and what I am to protect, and do it wholeheartedly.

But we need help.

My first help comes from the Lord, the source of all protection. Secondly, it’s good and healthy to accept and invite the help of others around us with their love and wisdom.

I also need to protect myself, in order to grow and flourish to be all that God wants me to be, and in order to be the protection that others need.

As I accept the protection I need from God and others who love me, I can in turn, reach out in strenth and offer shelter to those around me.

I close with a Psalm that speaks of God’s protection.

Psalm 91

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
    will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
    and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
    He will shelter you with his wings.
    His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
    nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
    though ten thousand are dying around you,
    these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes,
    and see how the wicked are punished.

If you make the Lord your refuge,
    if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
    no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
    to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
    so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
    you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
    I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
    I will be with them in trouble.
    I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
    and give them my salvation.”

(NLT)

*****

I’m linking up with many other bloggers today at Five Minute Friday. Feel free to join me there and read more views and ideas on today’s theme of “protect”.

 

dock on lake in fog near Algonquin Park

Finding True Rest

dock on lake in fog near Algonquin Park

As I sit in front of my computer contemplating the meaning of rest, I realize and have to admit that I really need it. I was so excited to find a new place to link-up and share this morning with a wonderful group of bloggers (hosted by Kate at Heading Home).

I proceeded to spend a little quiet time reflecting while I went out into the beautiful new-summer weather to water my plants and feed my little hummingbirds. Then I came in and attempted to do something technical, and after what seems like way too long, I am feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. I am frustrated that I have so much trouble with technical things, and overwhelmed because my day is quickly going by and I feel behind.

Am I the only one who has days or moments like this?

Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

 – Matthew 11:29 (NLT)

How appropriate to write about the word “rest” today! And I find it even more timely to be given the opportunity and the challenge of writing for five minutes without editing. For this recovering perfectionist, that’s big. And it begins to speak to me of what rest is really all about.

What is true rest, and why is it such a struggle to find it in our modern lives?

I know that for myself, rest is primarily about two things, which are intricately related. It’s about my relationship with God my father, first and foremost, and secondly, it’s about caring for myself.

In order to experience true rest, I need to stop and do just that…..rest.

My first priority is to spend time with the One who knows and loves me, because he created me. I need to take time to listen for his still, small voice and read the Letter he left for me. The Bible is truly the personal road map for my life.

When we spend with Christ, both talking and listening to him, we will find true rest for our souls in his quiet presence.

I also believe that in a practical sense, we also need to give ourselves permission to rest. No; we need to make sure we prioritize rest. Especially as women, we have a natural tendency to take care of everyone and everything, and while this is a God-given gift, it can easily become an overwhelming responsibility.

The need for sleep, quietness and time alone, time with people who love and encourage us, doing something creative, taking care of our health, and sometimes getting away from it all, is something we cannot take too lightly. Even our Creator set the example to take time to rest.

In truly resting, we will find our true selves, our purpose, and the motivation and energy to live a life of purpose that glorifies God.

Lord, help me to trust you and find rest.

*****

I’m linking up today (for the first time), with a wonderful group of bloggers on Five Minute Fridays. Please join me here and see what some others have to say about today’s word of the week.

 


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White Adirondack chairs

An Invitation to Let Your Soul Find Some Breathing Space

White Adirondack chairs

Do you ever feel like life just doesn’t stop?

Are you longing for a moment of peace and quiet, or a little time to yourself?

Would you like a little help allowing your soul to take a breath?

I would like to invite you to join me as I join well-known blogger, author and speaker, Emily Freeman for 7 Days of Still Moments.

I have been reading Emily’s blog now for some time, enjoyed her newest book, Simply Tuesday (and studied it with my women’s small group at church), and watched some of her Periscope videos. Her thoughtful writing is calming and encouraging, and will gently challenge you with her motto of “creating space for your soul to breathe”.

For seven days, Emily is inviting us to listen for a few moments each day as she reads some scripture and her thoughts, designed to encourage us to make a little space to listen to what’s going on inside. You may use this as a morning devotional, as I am, or find time in your busy day to just stop. Or you may find this a good way to quiet your heart before you go to sleep at night.

This morning I listened to the first audio session. It was only about five minutes long, but set the stage to put my whole day in perspective. Emily’s voice is gentle and soothing. She will encourage you to pay attention to your heart. I’m so looking forward to each of the next six days!

I hope you will sign up (it’s free, of course!), and take a few minutes to care for your own soul with me. Just click on this link, scroll down and sign up; you’ll get an email each day with the audio offering to listen to on your own schedule.

I hope and pray that this will be a small encouragement to you and help you pause at some point in your day to care for your soul. Please let me know what you think!

*****

 

 

 

Memorial Day cemetery photo

Remember What it Cost – A Memorial Day Weekend Reflection

1280px-Memorial_Day_at_Arlington_National_Cemetery

What do you have planned for this Memorial Day weekend?

It’s easy and normal to fire up the grill, get together with friends and loved ones, and eat some great food. If we’re lucky (like this year), we may even enjoy some warm summer-like weather and many will head to the beach.

But what is Memorial Day really about?

History.com describes Memorial day as, “the official beginning of summer and America’s most solemn occasion”, a somewhat interesting juxtaposition of celebrations.

According to their website, here’s a brief summary of the history of our Memorial Day celebration:

“Memorial Day, an American holiday observed on the last Monday of May, honors men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, at least, it marks the beginning of summer.”

There is also an informative and contemplative video on the same page, which you may like to view for more details.

So while it’s good and important to spend quality time with friends and family, and healthy to rest and relax, let’s take a little time this weekend to stop and consider the cost of this freedom we enjoy.

Let’s meditate on the price that was paid by the men and women who served and paid with their lives, so that we can enjoy our lives in peace and security.

Let’s remember those whose families are missing loved ones today, so that we can spend the day with those we love.

And let’s thank God for our country, which though imperfect, is still one of the best places on earth to live.

Take in a Memorial Day parade which will help to focus your thoughts on the true meaning of the holiday. Watch one of many video clips which bring honor to those who sacrificed for us. Or just take some quiet time to reflect.

I like this simple cartoon, which really says it all:

While we’re at it, we can be thankful for those who still serve today to help keep our country peaceful. We can pray for the ones who served and returned, but left a piece of themselves in the trenches or on the battlefield.

We can take this one step further (or perhaps I should say, “closer”), and take some time to be thankful to all those around us for all they do to add quality and enjoyment to our days, such as family and close friends. We can show appreciation to those who support and protect us in a myriad of ways, such as our pastors, teachers, doctors & nurses, and all those who wear a uniform that represents any kind of service.

The ultimate sacrifice was made by One who paid the price for my sin and offered his Son for my eternal freedom.

I agree with the sentiment that “freedom isn’t free”.

So as we enjoy this weekend with those we love, let’s take time to stop and remember what it cost.

*****

 

 

 

2016-05-10 Life is Good cabin tee shirt

Life is Good (Why I Choose to Wear Positve Message Tee Shirts)

2016-05-10 Life is Good cabin tee shirt

 

You know, some of us just naturally see the glass as “half empty”.

If left to my own devices, often I tend to notice what’s wrong, give in to worry, or think and speak negativity. I must be a lot of fun to be around, huh?

Many have said they can’t believe I’d ever yell at my kids, say an unkind word, or have a negative outlook, but it’s partly because the introverted part of me helps me keep this “under wraps”. (I actually think I’m one of those ambiverts, but that’s another story.) In public I’m usually on my “best behavior”.

But sometimes my poor, unsuspecting family (and perhaps a close friend or two), see me at my “worst”…..which is not always particularly positive.

Not only is being a “negative” person no fun (for anyone involved), but it goes against everything I believe.

I’m not saying that if you’re a Christian nothing will go wrong….or that you should go around with a phony smile on your face pretending to feel happy (please, don’t do that!).

But we have a hope which should affect our thoughts, attitudes and words.

 

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

Philippians 4:8, NLT

I truly intend to think and speak in ways that are full of love, hope and goodness, but sometimes I need a little help.

Enter my “Life is Good” tee shirts.

Life is Good tees on bed 2016-05-10

Call them, “bumper stickers for people”, if you will. I like the fun and positive messages, even if they’re not theologically “deep”. They’re soft and comfortable (which helps with the positive feelings), and I’ve enjoyed wearing them now for years.

Wearing a shirt with a positive message like this is making a statement, both to myself and to those around me. It seems to express in a simple way the values I’m striving for…..even if I sometimes struggle to keep my attitudes and actions in check.

Life is Good tees (folded)

Now I’m not suggesting that wearing a shirt with a positive message will change your attitude in and of itself.

And there are plenty of more serious methods of dealing with a negative attitude (which sounds like a post for another day).

But a little visual reminder of what I believe and what I intend to be like can go a long way towards helping me to change. What we speak strongly affects our attitude and our actions.

So why not sport a cute shirt with a happy message??? (Or carry a happy, little pink drawstring backpack?)

Life is Good pink bag 2016-05-10

I purpose to think, speak and act in a more positive way. I continue to ask God to help me to see things the way he does, to look for the best in every situation, and to help me to truly believe that my “life is good”.

 

May the words of my mouth
    and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

-Psalm 19:14

*****

Do you ever have trouble seeing the best in things? What helps you to keep a positive outlook on life?

 

lighthouse & cove

I Trust God’s Heart and His Intentions

lighthouse & cove

I’ve always loved music.

I took many years of piano, including one year of piano improvisation in college, and sang in choirs throughout middle school and in college. My mother taught me how to sing harmony at a very young age, which I seemed to pick up right away and have been harmonizing ever since.

My paternal grandparents were all musical; in fact, my dad’s talented blind father wrote and performed a ballad for the bicentennial celebration of their home-town, Niagara-On-The-Lake (initially “Newark” – the original capital of Canada),  with the “Queen Mother” (mother of Queen Elizabeth II) in attendance.

In my married years, I’ve enjoyed singing in our church Easter choirs and especially on our worship team, with my husband playing guitar in the worship team behind me. My sister married a gifted and trained musician-pastor husband as well, and one of our favorite activities on any vacation times together is to write and record a usually less-than-serious, but really quality song.

Have you ever noticed that music can transport you back in time, either to a particular event or to a time in your life?

Recently I received some “older” Christian music CD’s by groups I listened to regularly as a teenager, and listening to them (cranked up rather loudly in my kitchen, I might add, much to the dismay of my modern, earbud-wearing sons), made me feel like a teenager for a few hours. I could remember most of the lyrics and even the order of the songs, even though I hadn’t heard most of them in over twenty years!

All that is to say that music really moves me.

I find some of my most intimate time with God in the midst of an inspiring worship service or listening to a song in the quiet of my home.

A few weeks ago, this particular song landed in my inbox as part of a devotional reading. I listened to it and was immediately drawn into the music and the meaning. It’s called “Hidden” (by United Pursuit), both a song and a band I had never been exposed to before. Listen to it yourself, here.

The lyrics to the song are straight-forward and challenging, and remind me of truth. (Here they are for those of you who, like me, may have some trouble hearing them.)

You know how sometimes, especially in worship music, but in other songs as well, a particular line or phrase really stands out to you? Well, the line that struck me right away is,

“I trust your heart and your intentions.”

Wow.

I’ve been a Christian for a long time, actually as far back as I can remember. So I’ve been “trusting” God for many, many years. I’ve already written some posts related to trust, as it seems to be a basic element of my life, especially during some recent times of transition and challenge . If you are so inclined, you may read those posts here, here, and here.

I mean, it’s easy to trust God when things are going well. Most of my life has been very good, but like all of us, there have been events and seasons (some longer than others), when trust feels fleeting. When there is pain, loss, transition, confusion, stress or disappointment, those are the times then we have to pull out our “trust with a big T”. That’s when the rubber really meets the road.

Trusting God is an ongoing process. Perhaps you are a long-time Christian like me, a brand new Christian, or someone who is just a little curious about this whole “trusting God” thing. I encourage you to keep investigating and learning, no matter where you fall on the spectrum. God has never been afraid of doubts and questions; I think he prefers it to pretense or simply not taking him seriously. Just read your Bible, and you’ll find that doubt and faltering faith are a normal part of being a human, and can actually help us to grow.

The idea of trusting God’s “heart” and “intentions” is really about believing in his character. We’ve all heard it said (so much so, that it has become somewhat of a cliche), that God is love. One of the most familiar and well-loved verses in the Bible is Romans 8:28, which states,

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

It means that even though God may allow us to go through times of difficulty, pain and uncertainty, all these experiences can be used to help us to grow and be strengthened in our lives. Most of all, because of his character, no matter what, GOD IS FAITHFUL!

As I was listening to and looking through the song lyrics, I noticed that there are several statements that the writer makes about his desire and commitment to God, and several “benefits” or promises of God to us as we put our trust in Him.

My desires and commitments to God:

  • I trust him completely
  • I’m “listening intently”
  • I want to love him more deeply
  • I will lean on his grace
  • He is my vision
  • He is my reason for living
  • I will walk in repentance
  • I will give God the honor, glory and reverence he deserves
  • I will seek him first
  • I want to love God more
  • I humble myself (bow) before him

Well, that’s quite a list, and I find it both challenging and motivating. The above list includes many of the desires of my heart as I purpose to know God more.

Benefits and promises of trusting God:

  • He knew (knows) us and the deep places of our hearts
  • He understands our sorrows and holds our hand
  • God leads us to trust him
  • We are hidden in the safety of his love
  • He will guide us through difficult times
  • His goodness to us is unending
  • He is my vision and reason for living
  • He gives us “sweet assurance”
  • God is a friend to us like no other
  • We are overcome by “the beauty of this perfect love”

These words express just some of God’s promises to us and speak of his unchanging character.

If we want to trust God more, we need to know him. We get to know God better by spending time with him.

My YouVersion verse of the day recently was Psalm 27:4:

“The one thing I ask of the Lord
    the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
    delighting in the Lord’s perfections
    and meditating in his Temple.”

I think this captures the essence of getting to know him more. As we spend time with God in prayer, reflection and reading his Word (the Bible), we will come to trust him. We will be able to sing with the song writer, “Now I am hidden – in the safety of your love. I trust your heart and your intentions.”

*****

Good music helps my soul to flourish. I’m looking forward to listening to more of Hidden Pursuit’s inspiring music. If you have been touched by this song, perhaps you will be interested in purchasing it here, or getting this Hidden Pursuit CD for yourself.

There are also options to purchase in MP3 format or individual songs. I hope you have enjoy this song as much as I have, and find encouragement in the music and the words of simple truth.

What is your experience with music? Do you find that inspiring songs can help to lift your spirits and motivate you to grow in a positive way?

*************************

I’ll be sharing “I Trust God’s Heart and His Intentions” with some wonderful bloggers at the following locations. Feel free to visit their sites:

 

3-D Lessons for Life –
Missional Woman –
Missional Women
There is no condemnation...Romans 8:1-2

There is NO Condemnation!

There is no condemnation...Romans 8:1-2

Don’t you just love this verse???

This morning I opened up the email to my verse-of-the-day from the Bible App, and read Romans 8:1-2:

 

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”

 

This is, in my opinion, one of the most meaningful and powerful verses in the Bible. I think it’s one verse that I can never just read and go by, without it sinking in deep. Maybe that’s because I need this reminder pretty much DAILYgrey-blue sky with moon

Somehow, even though I know God and believe what he says in my head, my heart needs a constant reminder that if I am in Christ, THERE IS NO CONDEMNATION !!!

 

Not some…..

Not just a little…..

Not sometimes…..

 

There is NO condemnation!

blue sky with puffy white clouds and tree tops

No condemnation from others…..

No condemnation from myself…..

No condemnation from a perfect God, who created me and the whole universe, but still loves me…..

There is NO CONDEMNATION!

I don’t know about you, but I can’t hear this enough.

blue sky, could, treetops

There is no condemnation for not spending enough time praying or reading my Bible.

There is no condemnation for not speaking to and treating my family in the best possible way at all times.

There is no condemnation when I lose my cool completely.

There is no condemnation because I missed a day of exercise, I’m a little behind on my blogging schedule, and my home is not perfectly cleaned and in order.

There is no condemnation if I spent the day in yoga pants or went out without my make-up.

There is no condemnation if I haven’t found a job yet, or because I don’t love the one I have.

There is no condemnation because I don’t use my time perfectly, am not in perfect physical shape, and sometimes run late.

There is no condemnation because I spent too much money, there are things we haven’t fixed around the house, and my yard needs work.

There is no condemnation for not making healthy eating choices all the time.

There is no condemnation for the piles that clutter my surroundings and my mind, and for the list of responsibilities I have not gotten around to yet.

dark sky with peach-colored clouds and branches

There is no condemnation for the duties I put off out of fear, laziness or feeling overwhelmed.

There is no condemnation for the myriad of criticisms that I feel from others, put upon myself, or falsely believe to be true, but they are in fact lies.

There is no condemnation for the areas in my life that are not OK, but I either haven’t dealt with them yet, or I am in the midst of the long, hard process of changing.

There is no condemnation for the feelings I experience as a normal part of being an imperfect human living in an imperfect world.

There is no condemnation for the raw emotions I feel so strongly when life has hit me hard, I’m grieving a loss, my hormones are out of whack, or I don’t understand the path God is allowing me to travel.

blue sky, bare treetops with evergreen

Do you believe it yet???

 

I am not suggesting that everything we do, say or feel is OK at all times. I am not saying that we should not strive to better ourselves, repent from real sins (no matter how “big” or “little they may seem), and ask God to help us to be more like him. Where there is actual sin in my life, I am to ask for forgiveness and STOP it.

I will continue to learn more and make positive changes, plans and goals, moving intentionally towards a better way of living.

What I AM suggesting…..no, PROCLAIMING…..is that we DON’T HAVE TO LIVE UNDER THE WEIGHT OF CONDEMNATION !!!

sunny tree branches with red buds

God loves us, he offers forgiveness, direction, courage and help. And sometimes we need to enlist the guidance and assistance of others.

But God clearly tells us that there is no condemnation!

forest trees with curvy trunks

Take a look again at the end of the verse:

And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”

There is no freedom in the feeling of condemnation.

Whether it comes from others, ourselves, or straight from the father of lies himself (Satan), it’s definitely NOT from God.

gray sky and treetops with pink

His life-giving Holy Spirit has given us power to leave the past behind and live in freedom. We can only flourish in this life when we simply surrender to God, open our hands, and humbly accept his gift to us…..of freedom.

green tufts of grass with snow

*****

Is feeling condemnation a struggle for you, too? Where do your feelings of condemnation most often come from? Do you believe what God is telling us in this verse?

 

 

 

 

sandbox in garden

A Few Thoughts On Politics (Lessons From the Sandbox)

sandbox in garden

I’ve never been much for politics.

In fact, my family members reading this title probably immediately clicked to my blog to see what on earth I had to share on this topic.

As a child, I wasn’t naturally interested in news or politics. When I got a little older, once in awhile my parents would actually ask me to sit and watch the news, because they thought it was something important about which I should have some understanding.

As much as I agree with them, I still don’t think I got much out of those sittings, and I still don’t relish watching the news. I try to read about important happenings in the most minimal way possible to stay somewhat informed, then move on with my day.

As for politics, it’s a similar scenario. I only voted exactly one time in Canada, before being away at school for three years near Rochester, NY. I then married and moved all the way to Massachusetts, the home of my husband, where I have lived ever since. Now I confess that I don’t fully understand the details of either US or Canadian governments. Someday I hope to at least become literate on this topic.

So I may not be an expert in politics, but I do know some things about life.

boy in sandbox

Isn’t there a book called,  All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten ? Although I doubt I agree with many of the author’s personal beliefs, I’ve always been intrigued by a truth in this title. When it comes down to it, many of life’s most important lessons are pretty basic.

In fact, this post reminds me of the kinds of interactions with children that I dealt with almost daily in my years as a teacher’s aide.

So why is it “acceptable” in politics for grown men (and women), to revert to behavior hardly appropriate for a young child? I’ve never understood nor appreciated this fact.

I’m not talking about everyone. There are many politicians who possess the desirable qualities of integrity, kindness and uprightness, and whose words and actions are admirable.

But so often I am disappointed (sometimes downright disgusted), by the way in which people talk and act when it comes to their political views. And Christians are unfortunately not exempt.

 

So I present some thoughts that we probably all learned in our formative years in the sandbox, which I believe apply to our politics as well:

 

1. Name-calling is not cool.

We all know that the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me”, is pretty far from the truth. Names, unkind titles, and derogatory comments do hurt and they can negatively affect both the speaker, the listener, and the one of which the words are being spoken.

If we wouldn’t speak to someone face to face in the same way we talk about them in conversations and on social media (or driving in our car), then we probably shouldn’t be speaking at all. And often our comments are not motivated by speaking the truth in love, but rather an emotional reaction to something we don’t like.

“But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.” – Matthew 5:22 (NLT)

boy crying in sandbox

2. Putting others down doesn’t make you look any better.

It is human nature to feel that if we put others down, we will look better. But it really isn’t true. Instead, we are often disclosing our own insecurities and the sinful attitudes of our heart.

Speaking of “the sandbox”, Jesus himself once wrote in the sand in response to the accusations of the crowd when a woman was caught in adultery. He reminded the onlookers that they were no better (or less sinful), than she.

Even if we disagree, we can still do it in a civilized manner.

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” – Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)

girl playing in sandbox

3. The “Golden Rule” Still Applies

All of the “elementary” teachings that many of us learned in church or school as a child are just as relevant in our grown lives.

I often think about and speak of this in our own family. It seems that “the basics” of Christianity are often the most difficult to live out in our daily, “real” lives.

Even if you are not a believer, I’m sure you want your life to be based on good principles and your words and actions reflective of a mature, kind person.

children playing in sandbox

4. Above all else, PRAY! 

This isn’t necessarily learned “in the sandbox”, but children do seem much more apt and willing to pray. They are not bound by complicated reasoning and years of emotional baggage.

The Bible teaches us most of all to pray for our leaders.

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior…” – 1 Timothy 2:1-3 (NLT)

tractor and sieve in sandbox

I like the boldness of The Message version of Luke 6:27-38:

27-30 “To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, gift wrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.

31-34 “Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.

35-36 “I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.

37-38 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”

There is certainly a time to speak what is true, but I think the manner in which we deliver it will disclose our real intent. Also, it is responsible and right to research and check the facts about a politician’s values and character, as well as what they intend to accomplish in office.

Then we should pray and vote accordingly.

So let us think before we speak, examine ourselves before we judge, and treat others the way we wish to be treated, and above all else, pray for our leaders. Let’s behave not like disobedient children, but as wise and mature individuals, living lives of honor to God.

prove it by living an honorable life

*****