Posted by: S. L. Doss | December 31, 2016

I Need a Name Change

I’m a worker. Always have been. I don’t like to stand around. At potlucks at church, I’m washing dishes or cleaning tables. I’m adding to my task list by the hour. If you need something done, you could usually ask me and I will do it. I’ll fit it into my calendar somehow.

Even in my “relaxing” time, I’m doing something: crocheting, knitting, sketching, coloring, etc. My hands generally do not stay still. And let’s not talk about my brain! It never rests. I’m constantly grinding numbers for our budget, running over my to-do list, mulling the homeschool blog post I just read…you get the picture. Even in my sleep, my brain doesn’t shut off.

I have many, many irons in the fire, yet I have a hard time saying no. It’s my nature. In fact, my primary love language is acts of service.

Now, there’s really nothing wrong with wanting to help people, until that helpfulness consumes you, until you are so busy helping that you are overwhelmed.

I came to the realization the other day that I have a Martha spirit when I should be a Mary. In the Bible Jesus had friends in Bethany named Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. When he was in the area, Jesus would spend time with them. Martha was the doer.  She was always making supper, keeping the house clean and taking care of everything. Mary, on the other hand, spent much of that time sitting at Jesus’s feet and spending time with him. Martha would get angry at Mary because Mary would not help her with the supper preparation and Martha felt very overwhelmed. I have found myself in this place just recently. I have lots of responsibilities at church, such as Sunday school teacher, drama leader, helping with the overhead projector, and many other things. I also help my husband behind the scenes with his food blog. I work full time. And if that wasn’t enough, I research and prepare homeschool lessons for our son. I am a Martha.

I found myself getting frustrated with everyone around me and making critical remarks about a post that my pastor had put on Facebook the other day from prayer-meeting. In that post, he showed a picture of a man kneeling on the floor with head bowed low and in deep prayer and worship. Pastor wrote that this is how we all should approach the throne of God. What he meant is that we must all humbly approach God in worship and admiration and seek his face and be completely yielded to him. But in my overwhelmed, busy, Martha heart I was irritated because Pastor praised someone who was simply praying and has never praised me for all the hard work I’ve been doing.

How prideful!

How self-centered!

What self-righteousness and selfishness had overcome my spirit! I grumbled and spouted jealous words, enough that my husband had to tell me that I needed to check myself and analyze my spirit. Through prayer and self-evaluation, I realized that I had gotten so busy “doing” that I forgot how to just “be”. I forgot how to just bask in God’s presence and seek the peace that passes all understanding, how to find rest in the chaotic world around me.

When Martha complained to Jesus about Mary not helping, Jesus told her that Mary found the better way and pretty much told Martha that she was getting too encumbered with life. I realized that all my doing had made me dissatisfied with a lot of things around me. I didn’t find joy in prayer meeting because I thought about all the things that I needed to get done. I stayed up late watching TV or working on other things and then I’d be very tired in the morning so I wouldn’t pray and read the Bible like I should. I didn’t worship with abandon at church because I had disconnected myself from the spirit of God and had become more worried about what people think of me than spending time with my Lord. I realized that I needed to change my name from Martha to Mary and learn how to let the busyness go and just be satisfied in the presence of the Lord.

Will it be easy? No, it will go against my very nature. But, the Bible says that when we are born again we become a new creature. The old man passes away and we become new. So if I truly yield myself to God and allow him to make me new, he will change my old nature into what he desires me to be. I just have to be willing and obedient and he will do the rest. Otherwise, if I were to have to do it all on my own , then I would simply be feeding my Martha nature and adding even more to my massive to-do list. I would in essence be defeating the purpose!

So, I’m going to spend some time at the feet of Jesus this next year and let him change my name. I want 2017 to be the year that I become a Mary.

Posted by: S. L. Doss | September 2, 2016

Glow-in-the-Dark

My son had a toy a few years ago, probably from a cereal box, that was a fish or whale that would open up to reveal a skeleton inside. It was really cool, because the shell was transparent enough to see the skeleton, and the “bones” were glow-in-the-dark, giving an eerie, ghost-like effect at night.

The most important thing to know about glow-in-the-dark items is that they have to “charge up” to work. They have to be exposed to light for a certain period of time, or they will not glow in the dark. The size of the object and the material it’s made of determine the amount of time of exposure. The length of exposure can also determine how long or how strong the item will glow. Sometimes it even matters whether you expose the item to natural instead of artificial light. Regardless, they must soak up that light in order to work.

My son didn’t realize this, however, and was very disappointed when the skeleton didn’t glow that evening. He had put it in a drawer for safekeeping; he found out quickly that hiding it away defeated its purpose.

We are the same way. If we are Christians, we are the light of the world. The light we shine is not our own, however; we are a reflection of Christ’s light. We in essence have to “soak up” His light so that we can shine in the darkness, so we can “glow in the dark.”

We must spend time in the Light in order to charge up. We must dwell in His presence and draw close to Him. If we go without prayer, or Bible reading, or worship, or fellowship with Him, then we are basically hiding ourselves in a drawer. We are cutting ourselves off from the Source of the light, and we’ll not be able to glow in the gross darkness of this sinful world. Instead, the darkness will overtake us. We will defeat our purpose.

Just like the skeleton that is exposed to only a few minutes of light glows for only seconds, we cannot glow very long without long exposure to Christ. This doesn’t mean that we must read our Bible 24 hours each day, or walk around with our hands in the air, worshipping Him all day long. This means we must spend regular, dedicated time with Him. Daily Bible reading. Daily prayer. Faithful church attendance. A worshipful heart. A mind stayed on Jesus. All these will ensure that we stay “charged up” and able to shine bright enough in the dark that not only are we able to walk our path safely, but able to even light up someone else’s path, too.

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” – John 8:12

Posted by: S. L. Doss | August 6, 2016

End of the Year Review

Well, we’ve finally made it to the end of the school year and have our first year of homeschool under our belt. Boy, was it a crazy year, full of changes, challenges, defeats and victories! Through it all, though, I learned a lot. I mean, A LOT!

End of Year Review

Here’s some of what I’ve learned:

I learned that I wasn’t as prepared as I thought.

When we began considering homeschool, I started researching curriculum, programs, and methods. I read lots of blogs about ways to homeschool, as well as quite a few that were all about how to start homeschooling. I made tons of notes, and revised plans I don’t know how many times. Finally, we settled on a program that we thought would be easy to follow, thorough…you know, perfect.

I learned that there is no perfect curriculum.

We were just a few weeks into the “perfect” program/curriculum when we realized it wasn’t working. It was too computer-intensive, whereas our son preferred projects and sprawling on the floor while working. Even though it was a full curriculum and very well-thought out and put together, it didn’t fit his learning style. So I cut some of the subjects from his daily plan, and incorporated some external projects and unit studies to help cut down the computer time. This still wasn’t perfect. It still didn’t fit with his learning style.

I learned that my son and I do not learn the same way.

We limped along a few months, wondering if we’d made a mistake, until I finally was able to research learning styles. Boy, was that an eye-opener! I am a visual learner. I’ve known this subconsciously all my life. I don’t grasp things unless I can see them. So, if you try to tell me how to get somewhere, I’ll get lost, but if I can see it on a map or read turn-by-turn directions, I’m a lot better. And don’t try to describe a picture or anything very complicated; I can’t picture it in my mind very well until I see a sketch or the real thing. My son, on the other hand, learns best by doing and hearing (kinesthetic/auditory). Reading is torture to him. He reads well, sure, but he doesn’t like to. He’d much prefer an audio book or the movie. And don’t make him sit at the desk rewriting spelling words or completing workbook pages! Let him move magnet letters around or actually build a seismograph instead of just read about it. So the curriculum which was perfect for my learning style was agony for his.

I learned that it’s hard to think outside of your own learning style.

We decided after half the year struggling with the program we were using to completely scrap it and I’d create the lessons from scratch. I found myself putting too much visual elements into them, though. You know, the workbook pages for math; the picture diagrams and paragraphs of reading for science; the hours of writing in language arts (ok, maybe not hours, but my son thought so!). “Oh, this is cool!” – put it in. “Wow! I love this!” – put it in. Oops! I wasn’t teaching me, I was teaching my son. Chop, chop, chop some more, add projects, add audio, add video games. Too much reading? Add a movie. Whew!

I learned that it’s hard to plan on the fly.

With the changes in the curriculum we made the first year, I found myself running 90 miles per hour trying to get lesson plans created so that we didn’t have too much downtime. This would have been hard anyway if I had been a stay-at-home mom; it was even more difficult since I worked full-time. Lunch hours were spent researching and planning, and then I’d post the next few days’ lessons on the weekend. It was stop-start-stop-start pretty much the whole year. You know, like a new driver that hasn’t learned which pedals do what, and your car is jerking down the road? Yeah, can we say “homeschooling whiplash”? My eyes still hurt remembering all the research I did last year!

I learned that I had a passion for education, especially homeschooling.

I enjoyed the research. No, not enjoyed. I loved, Loved, LOVED the research. Reading hundreds of blog entries (see my first “I learned” above), looking at thousands of Pinterest pins for ideas, creating lesson plans…all of that thrilled my soul. I’d always enjoyed writing; in fact, I have a B.A. in creative writing, but I’ve not yet been successful in completing a novel. I’d get busy with life, or get distracted with something else (crafting, anyone?) and the story would wither by the wayside. But with the lesson planning from our first year, and beginning a more methodical process of planning for the second year, I found myself struggling the opposite way: spending too much time on it and not enough time on life. All I thought about was homeschooling. I wanted to plan the classes. I spent hours (yes, HOURS) on Pinterest. I wanted to encourage others to consider homeschooling. I even dreamed of being a consultant someday.  I carried pounds of notes (yes, my purse weighed a couple pounds extra during that time) and filled two notebooks with ideas. I over-planned and had to constantly review and cut. Even now, although my son is only in 4th grade, I’m already beginning the prep on his high school schedule. Yeah, I love it!

It was a crazy year. I appreciate the lessons I’ve learned, and will take them into the future, hopefully making planning easier and less chaotic with every year under my belt. I’m glad, though, that we reached the end of the year; but happy that we are not yet at the end of our homeschool journey!

Posted by: S. L. Doss | March 4, 2016

Crazy, part 2

Where did I leave off? Oh, yes, we were very busy parents with a home business trying to get off the ground and just starting 2 ministries and homeschooling our son.

Isn’t that pretty crazy? Why in the world would I take on so much? Well, part of it is because we felt it was God’s will and calling on our lives, partly because we wanted something better for our son, and just because…well, yeah, we’re crazy!

I told you that this wasn’t all…

We started homeschooling in July because Alex was so excited he didn’t want to wait until the regular school year started. So we began the curriculum. After a few weeks, we found that he was getting restless. Now, I’ve read a lot of posts about the first year of homeschooling, and how there’s so much “de-schooling” that goes on, that I expected hiccups. But we were seeing that Alex was getting bored. Not because the lessons were too easy, but because everything was on the computer. He’s the active, hands-on type, and sitting in a computer chair for hours to do his work was not good for him. So I began reworking the plans to add some off-computer activity.

I spent hours on Pinterest (love it!). I spent hours rewriting lessons to make them hands-on. I spent hours….well, you get the idea. The year is not over yet, and we’ve reworked the curriculum three times. Three times! We’ve also reworked the schedule, going from a normal 5-day school year to 4 days per week all year around (with time off spread throughout the year instead of all summer). We’ve had to cut lessons from the original curriculum because he had mastered the skill and didn’t need the weeks of “review” and “practice,” which then caused me to scramble to find something to fill the void. Needless to say, I’m creating the lessons a week at a time sometimes, just to barely keep ahead. Next year will be better….now that we have an idea of what works….I hope!

Before the school year started, my husband and I sat down and had a serious heart-to-heart about our web design business. We had been trying to get it off the ground since 2008. Of course, part of the problem was the lack of financial means to advertise…we really did find out it takes money to make money. Another part of the problem was that it really wasn’t something he was interested in, and the only reason he pursued it was because it was seemingly the only viable option to work from home and make decent money (which we did not). So, after nursing this business along far longer than we should have, we decided to close shop. The deciding factor was that my husband discovered a joy in blogging about food. He is an excellent cook, and the primary cook of the home, and he realized that he could share his passion with others….and after almost a year, he has over 600 followers on his blog! So now he posts 3 times a week, on top of preaching, teaching Sunday School every three weeks, running the overhead, being the primary teacher for our son….

Yeah, we’re crazy. But before I close this post, I want to share something awesome I’ve discovered through all of this….I love compiling and writing curriculum. I’ve always loved to write, and in fact, have a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing. But I’ve yet to complete a story (time is the biggest factor). I’m having so much fun creating the curriculum and finding ideas and putting it all together…it’s like I found my niche, my purpose, my heartbeat. So, I’m going to add this adventure to all the other subjects I write about here. And, maybe I can help someone else along in their homeschooling adventure, too….Life may be crazy right now, more than usual, but I’m also finding myself crazy happy!

Posted by: S. L. Doss | March 1, 2016

Can Anyone Say, “Are You Crazy?!”

The tagline to this blog says everything about this post…I’m reflecting on life, trying to find peace in the midst of the chaos. Why? Well, because I think I’ve gone and lost my mind.

About a year ago, my husband and I began to seriously consider homeschooling our son. He had always been a quick learner, and was testing above his age and grade level, and we found ourselves fighting tears because he was so bored in school. Since my husband is a stay-at-home dad with (at that time) his own web design business, we thought it would be very possible to homeschool without too much disruption to our lives. Crazy thought #1. So we kicked around the idea.

At the same time, we elected a new pastor at our church after the former pastor passed away. He had great ideas to grow the church, and this was an opportunity for me to finally begin the drama team I’d always wanted to start. How hard would that be, getting a group together once in a while and practice a sign language or pantomime song to “perform” for the church? Little did I know that Pastor was wanting a very active drama team…but I took it on, because I was passionate about sign/drama and felt it was God’s leading….Crazy thought #2.

So here we were, starting a new ministry, and kicking around the idea of homeschooling. The normal chaos of life just grew. But wait, there’s more!

My husband has always had a passion for outreach, and when an opportunity to take on the position of outreach director came open, he jumped at the chance after a lot of prayer. And I became his right-hand-man….Crazy thought #3.

Homeschooling….where did I leave off with that? Oh, yes, we were considering it. Nope, we jumped right in. After our son finished the 2nd grade, I wrote the letters pulling him from the district and declaring our intention to homeschool beginning the 3rd grade. Alex was excited. No, I should say he was EXCITED!!!!!!!! We studied curriculum and other plans, and finally found a curriculum program that would be perfect. It was free and already “created,” so I wouldn’t have to do anything but make up a daily checklist. Phew! That would be easy….Crazy thought #4.

So, here we were:

Me working full time, trying to be a good wife and mother, trying to keep up with my blog (obviously not very well if you look over the post dates!), a Sunday School teacher, helping with the overhead at church;

My husband trying to get a web design business going, being a stay-at-home dad and a lay preacher at church, along with running the overhead and sound booth (not at the same time…hence why I help on the overhead!);

Starting 2 ministries at about the same time;

Starting to homeschool;

But that isn’t all….

 

Posted by: S. L. Doss | August 9, 2015

God is Like Pooh Bear

When our son was very small, we started teaching him about God. We told him about heaven, about how God is a spirit, and though we can’t see Him, He’s always with us.

We found, though, that Alex had trouble with these concepts. It was hard for him to comprehend an invisible God; after all, a game of peek-a-boo was more like exist-not exist to him. If I was out of sight, I ceased to be. Leaving for work was traumatic because I was there, and now I’m gone…time was a foreign language to him.

So, how did I relate God’s omnipresence to my three-year-old? Well, I told him that God is like Pooh Bear.

PoohBearMy husband and I bought this little stuffed Winnie the Pooh toy just before Alex was born, and Alex has cherished the animal ever since. When I would leave for work, I’d take Pooh Bear and snuggle him, “filling his love tank” so that if Alex missed me during the day, he could soak up my love when he needed to.

He took Pooh Bear everywhere: to church, to the store, to the gas station; he would’ve even taken Pooh Bear to preschool if we’d let him! Pooh Bear was his best friend, his comfort, his security, his playmate. How many times would I overhear Alex talking to Pooh Bear as if Pooh Bear was talking back?

God is like Pooh Bear. He’s our best friend, our comfort, our security. He even wants to be our playmate, sharing in every joy we experience. And we can talk to Him as if He was talking back, because He does!

Alex is a bit older now and doesn’t need to have Pooh Bear by his side 24/7. But he still needs him at night, and we still do the love tank sometimes. But Alex is old enough to understand more abstract concepts, and realizes that God is still real, God is still always there, and Alex can’t forget Him at the store or leave Him at church and need mommy to go traipsing around searching for Him. Alex also knows that even though he can’t hug God like he does Pooh Bear, he instead holds God in his heart.

Maybe we need to be more childlike and let God be like Pooh Bear for us, too.

“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17

Posted by: S. L. Doss | August 1, 2015

Principles to Live By #11

DON’T QUIT

This journey has been a long one, with a very convoluted path that took a huge detour for a few months, but now we’ve reached the end. We have looked at 10 principles over the past 2 years that will dictate the outcome of our lives and will help us succeed if we apply them:

#1 – Put God first.
#2 – Don’t worry about what others are doing or not doing.
#3 – Cast down imaginations.
#4 – Keep your mind and heart pure by thinking and meditating on good things.
#5 – Make things right today.
#6 – Realize you won’t be tempted more than you can bear.
#7 – Understand all things work together for good.
#8 – You have to believe that God is not keeping you from good.
#9 – Whatever you do, give it your very best.
#10 – Read the Word often.

The very last principle is really not the last principle at all. Don’t quit. Keep applying these principles every day. If you falter, don’t quit. Don’t give up and say it’s impossible. With God, nothing is impossible. He cares for you and me. He helps us, regardless whether anyone else around us cares. If we think on good things, we keep a positive attitude and outlook, and our lives are better. If we forgive, we are forgiven and not tormented by the poison that doesn’t hurt the other person, only ourselves. If we trust God, we know he will make everything work out according to his will, which will be far better than what we could come up with on our own. Just give this your best. And don’t quit.

“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;” — II Timothy 3:14

Posted by: S. L. Doss | July 25, 2015

Principles to Live By #10

My journey on this road of life principles is almost over; I just have 2 more to share with all of you. #10 is:

READ THE WORD OFTEN

I am an avid reader. I often say that I was born with a book in my hand, because I don’t ever remember a time when I did not have something to read nearby. It didn’t matter too much what I read, either, as long as it wasn’t horror (because I get nightmares too easily!) or “nasty” books (if you know what I mean). Suspense kept me on the edge of my seat and my heart pounding, romance (especially Christian romance) gave me the warm fuzzies, mysteries made me wonder, and sci-fi/fantasy filled my head with visions of space and fantastical characters.

I could escape from the mundane world and plunge into the creation of some skilled author, to ride as a knight on horseback, or to travel to a dark planet to save my father; whatever adventure lay before me. When I was depressed, or feeling lonely, or just didn’t want to cope with everyday life, I could escape in the pages of the book.

Unfortunately, though, I still had the mundane facing me when I finished the last page. The story only took me away, never giving me anything to help me “deal.”

Read the Word often.

I’ve had to deal with a lot of different things in my life. Growing up with a single mom was hard. I was a teacher’s pet in school, so didn’t have a lot of friends. I wasn’t the cleanest kid on the block, so got teased about my personal hygiene, and was considered ugly by most. I faced a miscarriage and a husband who was very ill for a long time, job loss…you name it, I probably experienced it. I found no story written that could change my life and help me cope with all the craziness, until I found the Bible.

Now, I know you’ve probably heard many people tout the benefits if reading the Bible, because it’s the “thing to do” as a Christian. But let me tell you as a person who has struggled with self-confidence, loss, life-threatening illness and mental instability, I found something in the Word to help in every facet of my life.

I read examples of God’s patience with the people of Israel when time and time again they rejected his leadership and laws to live like the heathen. Yes, he punished them. But don’t we punish our children when they do wrong?

I saw Jesus wanting the children to come to him even when the disciples tried to shoo them away. I saw love and compassion and mercy when he raised the widow’s son from the dead so she would not be destitute. When he wept at Lazarus’ tomb, I saw that he wasn’t weeping for his friend, but for the people who just couldn’t see past their own problems to the big picture.

The more you read and study, the more God will help you.

I’ve had scriptures pop in my head when facing obstacles, and just the right word helped me make the right decision. No other book, no other “story” could come close to the way the Bible helped me.

Do I still struggle with things? Heavens, yes. I’m human, after all. But I find that the struggle is not as hard when I read the Word often. When I delve into the Word, it’s like a warm blanket that covers me on a chilly day, and I feel safe and secure in my mom’s arms. When I’m confused, I go to the Word and get clarity. When I don’t understand why I am experiencing a particularly difficult challenge, the Word shows me that God is the light in my path and I can trust him to make everything work for his good. And he does. I can look back on my life so far, and see where I’ve made decisions in my own understanding, and where I’ve let God lead me, and every single time, I mean EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. my way has ended up hurting me somehow, but God’s way has kept me from further trouble and pain.

I have found, though, that I can’t just read it like I’d read a novel. I have to study. Cross-reference. Pray while reading, so that I can glean the most information and understanding from the Word. It’s like when you are dating. If you just go to dinner and chat, but not really pay attention to your date, you can’t get to know him or her. You don’t know favorite color, food, places to go, things to do. You know nothing about the other person but just the surface, or shallow, areas, and have no real idea if that person is truly compatible or not.

But when you study that person, talk about important things, listen with both ears and an open mind and really spend quality time with him or her, you get to know the deeps of that person. You fall in love and grow closer together, until you realize he or she is your best friend, and you can’t stand the thought of the rest of your life without the other. It’s the same way with the Word. You can’t truly see the Bible for the blessing it is without digging deep into the stories and examples of God’s power, grace and mercy. You can’t see God as a loving God, a devoted and caring parent who only wants his children to grow up obedient and respectful, honest and righteous. You won’t get to know his voice and hear him direct you in the dark times. If I don’t read the Word often, I feel dry and confused, hopeless and lost. And no number of other books will change that.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” — II Timothy 2:15

Posted by: S. L. Doss | May 28, 2015

Principles to Live By #9

WHATEVER YOU DO, GIVE IT YOUR VERY BEST

You know, it’s easy to give something your very best when you enjoy what you’re doing. Say you enjoy baseball. You will play your heart out and try to hit a homerun at every game. You study the sport, you practice, you put effort into the game so you can succeed. You want to be the best player on the team, and it shows. Or, maybe you love to build models. You pay meticulous attention to every detail, getting the glue just right on each seam, lining up every piece just so, so that no one can see any flaws in the final masterpiece. You want to spend time doing that activity, finding pleasure in the accomplishment, and it shows.

It’s harder though, when you have an activity you don’t enjoy…when the “do” is more of a job than a hobby. An example in my life is cleaning house – you know, dusting, vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, cleaning toilets, etc. I would rather have my fingernails pulled off with pliers than clean house. Ok, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. I really don’t enjoy cleaning, though, and find myself having to get mad at the world to finish the job. Most of the time, I clean as fast as I can, and only do what absolutely must be done to look clean. If you look behind the furniture, though, you’ll see dust bunnies the size of cats, and the laundry may be washed and dried, but not folded and put away, but sitting in a pile on the floor in the bedroom. If someone came over unexpectedly, I’d be scrambling to shove piles of papers in the closet and closing my bedroom door to hide any untidiness.

Not giving my best in this way means my family suffers. Oh, we’re not living in filth; the dishes are washed each day, and we don’t have trash piled up all over the house, but the dust aggravates allergies and wrinkled clothes means we don’t always look our best.

Do it with your whole heart.

What about those times when we are doing something that for the most part we enjoy, and usually do well, but just don’t feel like putting forth an effort sometimes? Like work…I enjoy my job most of the time, but some days I just don’t want to get tasks done. I may be feeling bad. Or I might have an extreme case of Spring fever. Or I just don’t care to do more than the minimum required today. How does that reflect upon me? I may not score as high on my performance review, and that rating becomes a permanent part of my record. I may not get a project done as timely as my boss would like, putting her behind and aggravating her. I may not receive the maximum wage increase possible because I had too many “slumps.”

Play time with my son is another area where I find myself not always “doing with my whole heart.” I love my boy, and we have great times together. Sometimes, though, I’m tired from work and would rather veg on the couch. So, I heave myself up, drag into his room and plop on the floor. “What are we going to play?” I ask. “Let’s play (fill in the blank)!” he responds with excitement. “Aww, I’d rather play something easy, since I’m tired.” His shoulders slump, and his voice drops, “Ok.” So, yes, we play. But my attention is split between him and the comfortable couch, or the million and a half things I need to do (can anyone say “clean house?”). My son is unhappy. I’m unhappy. I feel like a rotten mom. He doesn’t get the love and attention he desires. We’re both miserable.

If I had found a way, however, to give my all regardless how I felt, I’d be a more productive and valuable member of my team at work, and my relationship with my son would be stronger. I’d feel better about myself because I wouldn’t feel guilty for those slumps, those lackadaisical days, and others would be more pleased with me.

I think a half-hearted effort is worse than not putting forth an effort at all. When I do well sometimes, there is an expectation that I will always do so. I then cause greater disappointment when I slack, because there’s a greater expectation involved. If I don’t try at all, there might be some aggravation or disappointment, but hearts aren’t broken. The Bible talk about being either hot or cold, because lukewarm is unacceptable in regards to a relationship with God. But that can also apply to what we do with, for and to others, as well. So, I will give my very best effort to doing my very best in everything I do.

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might;” – Ecclesiastes 9:10a

Posted by: S. L. Doss | November 17, 2014

Principles to Live By #8

BELIEVE GOD DOES NOT KEEP YOU FROM GOOD

Sometimes, when life just seems too hard to bear, I wonder what God has against me. You know what I mean? One thing after another goes wrong, and no matter how hard I pray, or how much I try to trust God, nothing seems to work and it seems like the heavens are made of brass. Recently, we experienced a time of trouble like this. My car needed a repair. I thought, based on research online, that I would only need my power steering motor replaced, which was a little pricy but not outrageous. However, it ended up that I needed a new steering column, too, and the cost was 2 and 1/2 months’ worth of rent! Ouch! I went to an independent mechanic who had worked on our extended family’s vehicles for years and would be able to do the repair less expensively, but he wasn’t able to get the part in as soon as I needed, nor was he sure he’d be able to do the repair since it was such an unusual part. So, I had to go to the dealership instead.

We prayed for God to intervene and somehow provide the funds to cover the repairs, but to no avail. Then we had other situations rise up which impacted us financially, and I almost despaired. Was God angry at me? We were trying to live right, pay our tithes, give in offerings, be good stewards of our money and finally pay down some debt. But how could we catch up on bills when we had to pay for car repairs?

Even health-wise, sometimes it seems like God was deaf to our cries, and was keeping us from blessings, instead heaping trouble upon trouble on our heads. His word says he would put no more on us than we could bear, right?

If you’re his child, you must believe he wants what is best for you.

When I look at this situation from a parent’s perspective, I can see why God did not swoop in and solve our problems. One reason is because we have been consistently weak in the financial area, overspending sometimes instead of saving for a rainy day. Or, just not planning well. What parent doesn’t want their child to learn responsibility? Even if it’s hard to let your child fail, sometimes failure is the only way the child will learn and grow.

Also, we haven’t always been faithful in our stewardship. So why would God continually reward bad behavior? He wants us to be mature, faithful, responsible adults, and sometimes we have to learn that the hard way.

And, his best for us is not necessarily what we think is best. We would think that a “special handshake” (where someone in the church hands money to someone in need, either directly, or through the pastor) or an anonymous check in the mail would be in order. Why not? He’s done it for others, why not us?

But what if his best is something different? We’ve learned through this particular situation that we really can trust God, and that somehow he has stretched our budget to take care of our immediate needs. Oh, sure, we’re still behind on rent, but shortly after we had the car repaired, we got a notice in the mail that there was a recall for the exact part that went bad. And the company would reimburse the cost of repairs already completed if done by the dealership! So, in the end, we received most of the cost back, which resulted in the final amount to be considerably less than what our family’s mechanic would have charged. God really did take care of us.

He can see the future.

He knows what is coming before it ever hits us. Sometimes he steers us around it, sometimes we go through it. But we can trust Him to be with us every step of the way. He is a faithful Father, loving, gentle, but firm, teaching us to be well-rounded, mature Christians. So, even when all heaven is falling, somehow, some way, He will make it good.

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” – Psalm 84:11

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