Did God Really Say?

Hi Friends,

Happy Friday, almost.  Hope your week and your summer are going swimmingly.

I’ve been thinking this week about way back in the Garden of Eden when Satan asked Eve, “Did God really say?”  The subject of course was whether God had told Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge or they would surely die. But it’s such a conniving question.  Did God really say?  It plants doubt, it plays on prideful inclinations. Underlying “Did God really say?” is a subtle suggestion that God is not really all-wise or all-good, He must not have things figured out or He wouldn’t say x or wouldn’t say y.  Because in our humanness, in our advanced state of civilization, x or y just doesn’t make sense.  Can’t you just hear the modern culture crying out, “Did God really say x, or y or z?”  The blank can be filled in with myriad examples.  The rationalizations range from pitiful to hilarious and bend logic and Scripture with abandon.

But it’s the same old trick, century after century after century.

For me personally too.  Year after year.  It’s the same old questions, “Did God really say that gluttony was wrong?”  Or “Did God really say that the greedy stir up conflict and bring ruin to their households?” (Proverbs 28:25 and Proverbs 29:4).  It matters not what sin I’m currently falling into, there’s a voice telling me, “Are you kidding?  That’s not a big deal!  Look around.  Nothing to worry about.  You are human after all.  You really think God cares about this little thing?”

But if we know the Bible, we know what God really said.  Eve knew what He really said too. That’s why it’s sin.

For the last few years (four or five I think now), I’ve taken a break from social media and blogging for the month of August.  It helps me be more present in the moment, and also helps me realize how prone I am to fill up little moments with mindless tidbits.  And one thing I know God really said was “Be still and know that I am God.”

This year I think July will be a better fit for my social media fast because of how our schedules are shaking out.  So until August I bid you farewell.  May you listen hard for the still small voice of God, know the enemy is constantly prodding you with, “Did God really say,” and may you crack open God’s Word and learn what He really said.

And I’d love it if you’d pray for me, that I’d spend these next 31 days being stiller and getting to know my Lord and Savior more deeply than ever.

With Love,

Kristie

God and Baseball

Hi Friends,

It’s been a while, but isn’t summer just a surprisingly hectic time?  Lots of fun, but truly what liar coined the phrase, “lazy days of summer?”  I’d like to have a word with them. 

This morning Nate and I attended the 8:10 service at church, which strikes me as a pretty ungodly hour on a Sunday but he and I were headed back to his baseball tournament, where he was served another mighty piece of humble pie.  

You may or may not know that baseball is an incredibly mental game. Hitting is mental. Pitching is mental. Even fielding the ball requires mental toughness.  You gotta tell yourself over and over and over again, “I got this. I’m gonna watch the bat crush this ball. I’m going to fire this ball right past him, low in the zone. I’m gonna make this play.  I’m gunning this guy out.”  You choose to believe.  It’s a choice. You reject the negative. You remind yourself of what’s come before: a lot of hard work. You perform well when you have the confidence that you can, that you will. 

Baseball is really a lot like faith.  You can drench yourself in God’s word.  You can pray fervently.  You can be part of life-giving fellowship. You can praise the Name of the Lord God Almighty. You can do His work day in and day out. You can put in the work spiritually but at some level it’s just like baseball: You gotta choose to believe. You have got to remind yourself of His faithfulness. You’ve got to choose to believe His promises.  You have got to remember how He’s delivered you. 

We have choices.  We can believe and obey. Or we can doubt and flounder. 

Two things come to mind that should inform our decision-making. 

The first is a C.S. Lewis quote: “Obedience is the key to all doors; feelings come (or don’t come) and go as God pleases. We can’t produce them at will, and mustn’t try.”  

The second is that fundamental verse from the Gospel of Mark.  A father seeking healing for his son humbly told Jesus, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). 

‭‭May we acknowledge that faith, just like baseball, sometimes requires choosing to believe.  May we choose to trust God’s promises, trust He loves us, and live in that freedom every day. We may not ever bat 1000 this side of heaven, but I bet we hit it out of the park more than we can humanly explain.  

Blessings on your Sunday. I hope it’s restful and lovely and full of faith!  And maybe a little baseball can be thrown in too. 

With Love,

Kristie 

Stop and Drop

Friends,

I’m sure you’ve heard of stop, drop and roll — it was the ubiquitous fire safety mantra for generations, although I’m not sure if it is still being used.  And you may have heard of stop, drop and read.  This is a newer twist and is used for young kids to implement more reading time, and oh by golly a little silencio for mama.  But I am implementing a new manifestation of stop and drop, and it’s not give me 30 (sit-ups, push-ups, et) although that might be a good idea too.  No my new one is this: Stop, Drop and Thank.  When the summer grumpies get the best of someone in your household, make them sit down and write out a few things — 3, 5, 10 — for which they are grateful.  Gratitude is a powerful, perspective-changing force.  The only real guideline is that they must be specific.  My grumpy boy today tried to use “family” as one of his — nope, unacceptable, sweet as it may sound.  Being general doesn’t engender gratitude like being sincerely detailed will.

It’s all biblical anyway, just as Paul said, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18).

Have a great weekend.  I’m starting my list of 5 right now.

Love to YOU,

Kristie

A Bunch of Olafs


Friends, 

We are nine days into summer vacation here in Tennessee and I have to tell you, I’ve had an epiphany: I’m exactly like Frozen’s Olaf and I bet you are too. I think we’re all a bunch of Olafs. 

Olaf dreams of summer.  The idea of it just tickles his sweet little heart.  The problem, of course, is that Olaf is a snowman. Yet naive Olaf winsomely breaks into song at the mere mention of summer. 

A drink in my hand, my snow up against the burning sand, probably getting gorgeously tanned in SUMMER! 

But just like Olaf I have huge misconceptions about summer.  Every dang year I buy into the lie that it’s going to be blissfully relaxing, that my children will laugh themselves silly all the live-long day, that we’ll have time for daytrips galore, that we’ll eat the freshest, healthiest foods, that Will and I will toast fruity drinks while we grill on the back patio.  And how I’ll write, write, write. 

I also disturbingly forget, and I can’t explain how, that just like Olaf I melt in the heat.  At a baseball game last weekend, I contemplated walking to the car with my folding chair pulled firmly to my behind. How I hated revealing to the crowd just how much I was sweating by actually getting up from my chair! 

So nine days in and I’ve realized summer is a hot, busy mess. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it. I love it so much, but I shouldn’t let myself be lulled into thinking it’s something that it’s not.  These are the first words I’ve written, despite grandiose plans and ideas.  I’m pretty sure I’ve heard more bickering than laughter from my boys.  I’ve spent way more time shuttling to sporting events than chilling poolside. We haven’t grilled out once. 

And horror of horrors my boys go back to school in mid-August!  I want to these days — even if I’m sweaty and they’re arguing and I’m getting very little done –to also be full of memories, to be days where they know they have my full attention. 

One of the most important verses in the Bible, especially in the modern era of distraction, has got to be this one: “Teach me to number my days aright that I may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12. 

Lord, please, please help me to number my days aright, this summer and always.  

And Happy Summer to you too, fellow Olafs!!

With Love, 

Kristie 

Jackson Five Friday: My Lap Child 


I’m currently sitting on an airplane with my oldest son, just him and me. It occurs to me that we’ve never done this before — where it’s just us and we each have a ticket, a paid seat. Oh we’ve travelled just the two of us, a lot.  I once counted it up and it was staggering. When this guy was an infant my husband worked a ton, and there was a string of deaths, weddings and births in our family.  We also traveled for pleasure. By the time Nate was born, knocking little Will off as the free “lap” child at 21 months. Dub and I had taken more than 30 flights.  Yes, that strikes me as totally excessive too. 

He was never on a schedule, clearly with that much travel. He learned to sleep anywhere, and was an old pro, packing cars and boardbooks in a tiny red backpack when he was just one.  He was a delight, and so easy.  For the first few months of his life, we flew back and forth to Florida every few weeks, obviously with no knowledge that my brother Craig would die in a plane crash when Baby Dub was just eight months old.  But oh the treasure of the memories made on those crazy frequent trips!  The horror of thinking I could’ve been wedded to nap time or unwilling to nurse my ginormous lap baby wedged between two oversized men on at least one of those flights. 

Life is often complicated. Today it’s not lugging a stroller or a carseat, it’s working out the details of boys in every direction in May, the most insane month of the year.  This morning I went to school with Sam at 7:45 because today is the deadline for his reading goal and he needed to take book quizzes. Then from 8:30 till 10:30 was CultureFest. When Sam finished his presentation, I drove home, threw some random stuff in my suitcase and Dub and I headed for the airport.  My point is this: travel almost always involves stress.  But who cares?  If the point of the travel is to build or maintain relationships, then I say go for it.  Do not wait. Do not say it’s too much. Do not think it’ll get easier.  If you live far from family and friends and can make a visit possible, then for goodness sake, DO IT!!  Attend big events. Go for no reason at all. As much as you can. I promise you won’t regret it. 

Jesus said that we, as the body of believers, will be known by our love for one another. Travel may or may not be required for you to live that out. In the next 48 hours Dub and I get to see many that we love!  May our love be evident and reflect well Jesus’ love for us.

Hope you have a fabulous weekend loving your peeps too. 

Kristie 

Jackson Five Friday: Ingratitude


Hey Friends,

It sure is a beautiful Friday here in Tennessee.  The greenest of greens has reached the top of the mountain, and today it’s nearly cloudless skies and not a hint of humidity.  I just went for a little walk, and snapped the picture above.  I love the light filtering through the trees, which means I live in the right place because the whole drive up and down the mountain is polka dotted — the sun and trees compete for space on the blacktop, creating an ever-changing work of art.

Ahh, but even with the beautiful surroundings, I’m not as full of wonder as I’d like to be.  I have a child who’s general lack of gratitude has me feeling sort of bummed out.  I am not the type of parent who likes to remind my children of all I do for them.  In fact, I pretty much refuse to do that.  I like doing all I do for them.  Actually I love it.  I do not mind spending hours upon hours in the car driving them around for sports.  I honestly don’t.  I’m grateful for their aptitude and opportunities.  I like talking with them in the car.  I think they are interesting and funny and even when they are quiet, I just like being with them.  But sometimes, when there’s an air of entitlement I start to question if I am doing something wrong.  Because honestly being taken for granted is just a pretty crappy state-of-being.  I mean sure they gave me lovely Mother’s Day cards, which totally made my night since my flight from Detroit landed at 10:00pm Sunday night and when I got home everyone was in bed.  Those cards meant the world to me.  But sweeping platitudes aside, do your children live out the gratitude they surely expressed to you just last week?

Mine are sometimes incredible, but other times, like right now, I feel there’s a real disconnect.  I need to pray about how best to engender a grateful spirit and for me I just know it cannot be reminding them of what I do.  I’m just not doing that, and I don’t want Will to either.  But if you have other ideas, I’d love to hear them.

Of course, the lack of gratitude problem is kind of a teapot and kettle situation.  After all, how often am I guilty of ingratitude myself?  Not toward my sons or husband (although I am surely that too sometimes), but toward my Heavenly Father.  I believe every good and perfect gift is from above, and yet I am terribly ungrateful that I wake up healthy and energetic almost every single day.  Just last night I rammed my leg into the corner of a bed so hard I thought I’d chipped the bone or something.  It still hurt when I woke up this morning, but I think I’m fine.  Upon reflection, it’s just a good reminder to be grateful for every little thing, but in the moment, I was downright mad about it.  Just like my sons when something doesn’t go just their way, the inner ingrate starts to take over.  They sometimes cannot look beyond a minor inconvenience to be filled with gratitude over everything else.

Lord, help me to be grateful.  I see so clearly what ingratitude looks like.  It is so ugly.  Help me not to take YOU, my perfectly loving Parent for granted.  May I recognize every gift is from you.

James wrote that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (1:7).  Is that amazing?  I started this blog about the light and the shifting shadows on the road before I looked up this verse.  Now, may this beautiful sight be a reminder that God never changes.  He always loves.  No matter what.  Even if I were the epitome of an ingrate, He will still love me.  And guess what He loves you too.  No.  Matter.  What.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Love,

Kristie

 

Jackson Five Friday: Taking Hiaties

Hi Friends,

You likely have no idea what hiaties are, so let me explain. A few weeks ago Will and I decided that the weekend-only video game policy needed review.  While video games provide many laughs in our home, they are sometimes obsessed over. Sam in particular is prone to video-game addiction.  As we have done many times before we put the gaming system away (Will actually hides it and I truly don’t even know where it is). 

Sam came home from school that Friday as happy and unsuspecting as a lark. His reaction, which was embarrassingly witnessed in full by a friend from out of town, was stupefying.  Oh the begging!  The devastation!  The submission of his life savings!  The case against him having a serious problem was more airtight than the case against OJ. 

Thankfully his detox only took about a day.  That Saturday we went on a hike that he wasn’t overly enthused to go on. Yet once we got there he didn’t want to leave.  One gushing waterfall wasn’t enough. He wanted to hike another mile to see a different one. Amazing how impactful spending time in creation can be, isn’t it? 

Yet the addiction is not completely gone because this week he said, “You know, Mom, it’s not really a hiaty if it’s gone forever.”  Clearly we’ve had greater success in teaching Sam the meaning of “hiatus” than its pronunciation. And I’m pretty much in love with his nuanced analysis. But while I appreciate his observation, it did not result in the PS4 being returned. 

Honestly it only has me thinking all the more about how vital “hiaties” are. The Bible is chock full of warnings about guarding your mind. How are you doing on this?  You filling up only on good things — whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely and commendable?  Paul says if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about those things. (Philippians 4:8). You doing alright on this?  Or might you benefit from a hiaty?

I for one need to review the mindless time I spend online. I’ll sit down to answer one quick email, and next thing you know I’m watching Prince cover Radiohead. I don’t even know how I got there. Or I’ll be meaning to order one little thing on Amazon and next thing I know I’ve scrolled through every Facebook post since 2009. Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, thankfully. But it’s mindless, entirely mindless. The one thing it’s not is harmless.  It’s a downward spiral. It’s not excellent or praiseworthy and I end feeling like a loser, which in turn makes me feel uninspired and unproductive.  There’s a time to unwind and I love keeping up with old and new friends on social media, but I need to stop the mindless scroll. 

Plus there are Christian bloggers I follow or friends link to in that mindless scroll that I sometimes find downright disturbing. You can be funny, you can be caring, you can be charismatic but if you disregard the teaching of the Bible then how is that really helpful?  I want to be spurred on, not dragged down. I need a hiatus from this discouragement. 

Maybe you need a hiatus too?  For some, it might be politics. For others it might be media that fuels obsession with appearance or wealth or the picture-perfect home. I don’t know what it is, but I bet everyone could use a hiaty or two. 

I love these words from Paul, again from Philippians. 

“Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your heats and minds in Christ Jesus.” (4:6-7)

Yes, may God’s peace guard both my heart and mind. And yours too. 

With Love, 

Kristie