So the toddler just walked by with her hands full of blankets and informed me she was going outside for some blanket time. I nodded and asked her if she needed any support and she confidently replied, “No thanks, I got it.” Then I watched as she preceded to carry some pillows and ponies out as well. A few minutes later I decided to go out and check on her. And this is what I found.
At an early age we taught our daughter boundaries in the house by using blanket time (from Babywise). Thanks to their recommendations for teaching independent play and self-control using a blanket (and God of course) we have raised a child who can do things for herself, including set up her blanket(s) and play safe with minimal supervision.
Let’s not forget the many opportunities we had for reinforcing this skill with our weekly pictures during her first year. For 52 long weeks we placed our daughter on one yard of fabric (pre-blanket time) while snapping pictures frantically before she rolled off to document her growth. Let’s just say after week 52, I never wanted to see another piece of fabric again.
Now it seems like she is eager to teach her stuffed animals how to do blanket time as well. However, I have also been informed that it is called “carpet” time instead of blanket time when we are at school. “We don’t have blankets at school, silly mommy.” Needless to say, we are blessed beyond measure.
Year after year I wore the badge of shame. The sense of failure was daunting.
I would hope every year, that without practice, I would dip into the lake, and miraculously swim a perfect line and back, just to earn the badge of honor and not have to keep swimming in the shallow end all week. But it never happened.
You see, in summer camp every year we would test our swimming skills and earn a band that we would wear all week long for safety reasons. It was a badge of honor and freedom if you were the right color. If you the wrong color it was a badge of shame, weakness and failure.
So, I took lessons at the local pool.
I’d hold onto the side of the pool. We would bob in and out of the water practicing holding our breath without plugging the nose. I was being brave. It was kind of fun.
But that was the glorious, safe and comfortable shallow end.
Then there was the daunting, perilous, terrifying deep end.
Through hard work the child can earn going over to the deep end.
I earned that right much to my dismay. The water was deep, darker, absolutely petrifying.
I made it through a few horrifying classes and quit.
I learned to deal with the badge of shame because it was only a week of shame. A long week. An embarrassing week. But only a week. The rest of the year no one had to know my shame. I didn’t have to wear the badge of failure.
I didn’t learn how to become a strong swimmer until the winter of 2012. I was 29 years old then. I am confident enough now to swim half a mile well. I could earn the band of honor now!
You see, I had a friend that taught me.
Before she came I would “swim laps” on my own. I would go every morning as the lifegaurd and I laughed about how horrible I was. I would do the froggy swim. Never put my head under water.
When she started coming around I was even more humiliated.
I let her teach me. She pushed me. She taught me technique. I got faster. I got stronger. I got braver. She wouldn’t let me give up. We went every morning.
She saved me from my shame. A lifetime of shame.
In Christianity there are no visible badges of shame. It is safe to walk in and out of church without anyone knowing that you can’t swim.
At some point, however, a friendship starts to build. They see our lives and learn we aren’t very strong and that we are floundering, and it is absolutely humiliating. They want to bring us to Jesus.
We have an option at this point. Do we stop showing up for practice? Or do we let the person help us learn?
Jesus wants to take us over to the deep end. He wants to teach us to swim.
You find yourself on the deep-end hanging on for dear life at the edge of the pool.
Understand, He wont let you in the deep end without Him knowing that you are ready for it. He will help you pry off white-knuckled hands, slowly and gently, at the pace that you allow Him. Each finger that works itself loose is a victory of trust.
He wants us to swim faster, stronger, braver. He wont let us give up.
It is humiliating to let the guard down and let Him and others see our shame, weakness and failure.
But let Jesus and His people into your life, you will no longer have to wear the invisible badge of shame. Then go out and teach others to swim with Jesus, too.
Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind. Ecclesiastes 4:4
“Keep your eyes in the boat.” It’s a saying we have in the dragon boat community.
A few months ago, Kate was in a race up in Vancouver, BC. When she and her team had finished the race, they were coming off the dock when one of Kate’s friends said, “How did you do?” Kate replied that she didn’t know. Again, they said, “Well, what place did you come in?” Kate replied (again) that she didn’t know. Her attention was so focused in her boat and on her team that she had no idea if her team came in first or last. She wasn’t focusing on what the other teams were doing. Her eyes were in the boat.
It can get loud during a race. The caller is up front, banging a drum and yelling, giving the team coaching and guidance. The paddlers are splashing in the water, moving their paddles, and sometimes that comes with sound effects. The steersman, in the back, is also frequently yelling and giving commands. If you have four or more teams during a heat, it can get pretty loud on the water.
It can be easy to lose focus. It can be easy to want to look around and see if your team is winning or losing. If your team is losing and you see the other team pass you, you can whip your paddle faster, causing the team to get out of sync, causing you to get overly tired and out of breath, causing your team to lose–for sure. We can get very distracted.
What happens when we look at what others have? Coveting and envy, unfortunately, are natural human thoughts and emotions. We can look at the marriage someone else has and wish ours was as good. We can look at the job someone else has and wish ours was as good. We can look at the house someone else has and wish we had one as nice. We can look at another church and think their building is cooler or their programs are better or their congregation is more compassionate. This is not to be the way of the Christian!!
(That’s my team in boat 2. Notice that someone in boat 3 doesn’t have her eyes in the boat!)
God is drawing each and every one of us to our own unique calling and our own, individual (yet, corporate) path in life. We need to keep our eyes focused on what God has called US to do and not on what others are doing around us. God is sufficient and faithful to lead us. What we can do to battle envy, covetousness, and looking at what other people are doing, is practice contentment. Contentment isn’t just an emotion or a feeling – it’s a choice. Choose today to be content – it can be hard, but it can truly set you free. Keep your eyes in the boat.
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
One thing Evan really loves is the time of year when the blackberries are ripe for the picking. It reminds him of his childhood in New Zealand. His Mum makes his Grandmother’s cobbler recipe which is the same one he uses now. It is probably his favorite dessert. And if you know Evan, that is saying a lot.
According to the toddler we now call blackberry picking… blackberry hunting. Why? I have no idea. All I know is that the picking (I mean hunting) is a super fun adventure.
#1 – Dress appropriately… long sleeves, longs pants and cowgirl (boy) boots are recommended.
#2 – Wear a hat whether it is hot or not… it prevents your hair and head from being attacked by the bushes.
#3 – Bring water. Keeps you hydrated and makes for easy cleaning to erase the blackberry traces from your face.
#4 – Bring a basket with tupperware and lids. The lids are like boobietraps for 3 year olds and prevents them from eating it all on the ride or walk home.
#5 – Park down the block from your blackberry patch or disguise your car so that other people looking to get lucky do not discover your spot.
Yesterdays message, Nobody Names Their Kid Judas, was super challenging and it reminded me of this little story:
I was a little frustrated at the beginning of this year.
I was expecting God to tell me what this year’s goals were. I really wanted Him to tell me to do what I heard last year, “‘Come daily’ every day this year.” I knew in the Spirit and from the Word of God that this was His will; but because He always encourages me, I wanted to hear the invitation in my spirit. I just kept pressing it and pressing it and then I got a little frustrated, “Why wont You just TELL me?”
I had just finished up my time with Him and was grumbling in my spirit when I “heard” that sweet Holy Spirit say, “I want you to come every day for the rest of your life.”
WooHoo! I heard, kind of, what I wanted to hear, but it came with a harsh rebuke. This may not be a rebuke for everyone, but I heard what He was telling me. I felt the emphasis in “every day FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.”
He was addressing a deep problem that I didn’t know existed!
I realized at that point that I was actually expecting there to come a time in my life that I would no longer need to rely on Him!
I didn’t realize that I wanted to live INDEPENDENT of God! I wanted to become self-sufficient. I wanted to hang out at Jesus’ feet, take all of the notes, then walk away and do all of the right things with a right heart, making God impressed with my ability to live life without His help.
I thought that by DOING the right things that I was maintaining relationship.
But that is not what He wanted. He wanted ME.
My relationship with Him is about Him and I BEING together: LIVING life TOGETHER. I am never to become independent of God.
The day I met Him at the cross, He excused my inability to perform life without Him, and He invited me to be His child. He doesn’t expect me to perform life without Him NOW either.
There is more to God than His expectations of perfection. He expects us to be in relationship with Him because of LOVE.
I love my kids. I want them to make good choices for their benefit, so they can be happy; and, yes, it will please me when they do the right things because it protects them from harm. My purpose for having kids, though, was not so I could teach something to perform; my purpose was LOVE, to live the rest of my life watching these beautiful children grow up and have a lifetime connection with the objects of my love.
They don’t have to DO life without me. I care much more about their being with me than their ability to go off and try to impress me.
Ever noticed how much the Bible talks about sinning with our mouth? Our words are powerful- for good or for evil. God takes what we speak very seriously and so should we. Jesus said in Matthew 12:36-37 “But I tell you, on the day of judgment men will have to give account for every idle word they speak. For by your words you will be justified and acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned and sentenced.” Words are powerful containers. We can speak life and we can speak death. We have the power to lift up and encourage and the power to tear down and destroy. We repent with our words and bring new life and salvation, or we curse and bring damnation. In Proverbs 6, God proclaims 7 things that are an abomination and 3 of those things have to do with our mouth: 2 speak of lying and 1 of sowing discord among the body of Christ. It’s interesting to me that lying and speaking evil of your brothers and sisters in Christ is ranked right up there with murder. Yes, God takes our words VERY SERIOUSLY. Could it be because what comes out of our mouth is what’s brewing in our heart? Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Examine yourself. Let God cleanse, renew and change your heart THEN speak life!
The husband and I recently stumbled upon this new living concept involving tiny houses. If you haven’t heard of it, we urge you to check it out. It basically means living simply in a small home. A home that is less than 1,000 square feet to be exact. However the average tiny house ranges from 150-500 sq. ft. But before you move in you must purge just about everything. I believe tiny house living forces you to rethink between what you “think you need” and “what you absolutely need”. Plus, they are just so stinking cute.
When I die, nothing I own is coming with me to heaven. Might as well start getting rid of it now. But wait! Getting rid of stuff is hard. So we will start first with something easy. That darn tubberware cupboard.
I forgot to mention, you will need support when downsizing. Thankfully the toddler is around and is not as attached to things as we are. In our future tiny house there will not be enough room for an entire cupboard of tubberware.
God is good ALL the time. You need to settle this fact in your spirit once and for all. I watch Facebook and I see people getting the things they want and post “God is good.” But never once have I seen a post from someone who didn’t get what they wanted and still proclaim “God is good.” Why is this? God is not only just good when things go your way- He’s good ALL THE TIME. David said this Psalm 31:19 “Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear, revere, and worship You, goodness which You have wrought for those who trust and take refuge in You before the sons of men!” Throughout the Psalms we see David go through healing and sickness, pain and pleasure, prosperity and lack, victory and loss; but he never loses sight of the fact that GOD IS GOOD. On the day of the greatest calamity that could happen to one person, Job exclaimed,” the LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job continued to BLESS GOD in the midst of extreme adversity because he knew and understood that no matter what happened to him- GOD IS GOOD. Are you guilty of only giving praise to God when you get what you want? Whether you’re rich or poor, healthy or sick- GOD IS GOOD.