My Family

My Family

Saturday, October 24, 2020

The in-between

So, I follow Courtney with Women Living Well to do my Bible Studies, which is my main posts on here. Her next study begins on November 2, with her annual Making Your Home a Haven. This year’s study is called Delight in the Lord. During this study, we learn to pause and focus. The first week, we have a lit candle during the day. The second week, we add soft music during our study. Find out more details about this incredible way to connect with God during this busy time here .

How has your life changed because of the virus? This hybrid school schedule is really kicking us. I do not have to work outside the home, so I am available to be with the kids on their 3 days of online school each week. But I am not a teacher, and this is not a homeschool curriculum that uses the same information for all kids, just on a different level. This is 2 very distinctive levels, as I can almost group my kinder and 1st grader with both of their lessons.  My 5th grader is another thing entirely. And we just learned that we are keeping the hybrid schedule through Christmas. 

I feel for those parents who are juggling this with work, and the kids who have to take their school work to a daycare facility. I know this is just a drop in the bucket compared to our whole life, but right now, our whole life is on edge. The kids have never been more at each other’s throats. They aren’t like this with summer, because at least with summer break, they can go play outside all day when we are home. 

I’m lifting this up. God is not punishing us, but I know there is something to learn from all this. I will just put it all in his hands, and continue to reach for him when our school days get tough. I pray for those who have lost jobs because they had to choose between work and their children. And those who are struggling to make it all work. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Rejoice (2 Corinthians 13)

 2 Corinthians 13:11 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the a God of love and peace will be with you. 

Paul was correcting the Corinthians for their misgivings. They must remember to fix their own errors. As Christians, we need to not get caught up in excusing our faults, saying that is just a weak point. No, we can’t be perfect at everything all at once, but we shouldn’t disregard one part of our lives because we aren’t good at it. We may not be good at praying everyday. Doesn’t mean we should not try. Instead of saying, “I just can’t find the time,” we need to diligently work on making the first part of our day dedicated to prayer. Everything else can truly wait. 

Lastly, we must choose joy. Our relationship with God is amazing! We should celebrate that every day! And in that joy, we should reflect to see how we can bring that joy to others. How could I share this joy with other people at my church or in my community? It may be difficult to try something new, especially sharing God’s word, but it is what we are called to do. So we need to try. I challenge you, friend, to reach out to someone this week with a word of comfort and love. Pray to God first, and ask him to provide the words. Show love. That is what Jesus wants from us.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Staying humble (2 Corinthians 12)

 “God doesn’t have to come down with a big stick.” That was something my siblings all heard a lot growing up. From my mom, grandmothers, aunts, etc. It was usually after we had done something not very nice, and then somehow got ourselves hurt. Like if I had been teasing my brother, and then I tripped and fell down. The chastisement from the older ladies after own hurt was a gentle reminder that we were trying to put ourselves above others, and that wasn’t ok. Did God trip us? Or let our boasting blind us from what was in our path? That is certainly what the old Catholic ladies had us believe. And I have used that same saying with my children lately.

2 Corinthians 11:7 Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, and angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.

Paul had a vision of the heavens that was so magnificent, it could have put him above others if he bragged about what he saw. So this vision was kept a secret. To keep him humble, as he is human and not resistant to pride, Paul was given a “thorn in the flesh.” I have read that this “thorn” was not a mere small item, but like a tent stake. So this “thorn” was definitely visible to others. And perhaps they thought less of Paul because he had it. Maybe they thought he did something wrong to deserve having this obtrusion in his body, and if he had done something that wrong surely he isn’t the man of God he said he was. 

2 Corinthians 11:9 My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made in weakness. 

Who would have thought that Satan would be allowed to harm someone close to God? But God allowed Paul to be humbled in this manner to remind him that Paul needed God. That just because Paul was a man of God and had seen the heavens, he couldn’t go off on his own and be mightier than others. Sometimes we forget that those who look like or seem like they have it together can also be fighting demons, and maybe fighting even harder ones than we have to face. We don’t realize what they have overcome to receive those blessings. We don’t see their weakness or the power God has given them to withstand their battles. 

Jesus had thorns in his crown that was not gently placed on his head, but shoved into his scalp. He endured the nails hammered into in his hands and feet as he was nailed to the cross. He withstood all the demons around him, criticizing him as he was hung to die. He didn’t given in. He didn’t call it quits. He allowed the humiliation and degradation. He stayed humble on the cross. How? Through God’s grace. 

In our daily battles, God is giving us grace to withstand the demons attacking us, the ones trying to make us weak. People say “God won’t give you anything you can’t handle,” aren’t quite right. Life will have things we can’t handle; can’t handle alone, that is. Until we understand that we are insufficient without God, we won’t see that his grace alone is sufficient. Grace is God’s strength and is available to us all the time. It fulfills what we lack. It is enough to overcome our obstacles, to power through our thorns. God uses our weakness to remind us that we need to rely of the grace through Jesus. And through that weakness, God strengthens us. God reminds us to be humble, that we are children of God. His grace is sufficient for us. His grace is sufficient for you. 

Monday, September 28, 2020

A wolf in sheep’s clothing (2 Corinthians 11)

 2 Corinthians 11:4 For if someone comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it well enough.

I remember in college, when I wasn’t sure of myself and where I felt I belonged, I went with my dorm suite mates to several different churches. We “church hopped,” visiting a new church every few weekends until they found one they liked. Or at least that was the idea. We had a Catholic Church on campus, but their Mass was at 8 at night on Sundays. I preferred to go in the morning. I didn’t know anyone Catholic in the college yet, and I didn’t feel brave enough to go into a new church by myself, so I stayed with my suite mates for a month or two. Then I grew tired of church hopping and just went to the late Catholic Mass. And it was the one I stayed with for the remainder of my college time. 

 I know that every Catholic Church I go to is preaching the same message. For me, when I get to a new town, I just look to see what times the Catholic Churches offer Mass, and go to a time that works for me. Moving to a new city, I look for the Catholic Church that is in the area of my house, and pick a time. I know that not every other church or religion works this way, and people grow tired of their church or their leader, or they don’t agree with their church leader’s message. I know that some people who were Catholic don’t always agree with the Catholic leaders standpoints, and leave the Catholic faith as a whole. I am NOT saying the Catholic Church is free from errors. And I’m not saying that my church is the right church. We all just need to be aware that there are false teachers out there. There are people who separate themselves from a church because they don’t agree with the churches beliefs and try to make their own church with their own take on the Bible. Just guard your heart if you are still looking for a home church (whatever the denomination), or if you have doubts at your current church. Be on guard against those who seem to offer something new and shiny, because the devil doesn’t come out wearing doom and gloom. He disguises himself as an angel of light, trying to lure you away with his “truth.”

Friday, September 25, 2020

Dressed for battle (2 Corinthians 10)

 I am Catholic. A “cradle Catholic,” meaning I was born into and raised in a Catholic household. I did not attend a Catholic school, rather I went to public school in a largely Catholic community. I received religious education during school until about 5th grade, and they stopped allowing it since it was public school. Then we had Catechism on the weekend. I felt I understood my faith, until I went to college. I moved from south Louisiana to north Louisiana, which is mostly Baptist. On campus, I met a lot of other students that attended the Baptist College Ministry, who would walk around quoting Bible verses for everything other people were doing “wrong.” A leader of another campus group (who was not Catholic), would question me until I was very uncomfortable about my Catholic beliefs, why we did this, why we prayed this, etc. At first, it made me very doubtful of my faith, because obviously I didn’t know enough. But I didn’t know where to start, and just let it go. I endured this questioning for a bit and then joined a group of Catholic students, so at least I wasn’t walking around getting bullied on my own.

Years later, I met a friend who also questioned my beliefs, but in a much better attitude. Her questioning made me dig deeper into why we believe what we do, why we pray certain things, why I am a Catholic. At this point, I had a child already and knew that I wanted to raise her Catholic, and so I needed to learn before I preached to her of our faith (Christian and Catholic). 

2 Corinthians 10:4 For although we are in the flesh, We do not battle according to the flesh, for the weapons of our battle are not of the flesh but are enormously powerful, capable of destroying fortresses.

On Enduring Word, David Guzik notes:

‘The Corinthian Christians tended to rely on and admire carnal weapons for the Christian battle: 

· Instead of the belt of truth, they fought with manipulation.

· Instead of the breastplate of righteousness, they fought with the image of success.

· Instead of the shoes of the gospel, they fought with smooth words.

· Instead of the shield of faith, they fought with the perception of power.

· Instead of the helmet of salvation, they fought with lording over authority.

· Instead of the sword of the Spirit, they fought with human schemes and programs.’

As we face the world, there are those who give their opinions against God. I still have one dear to me with these opinions. I have very many times had to take hold of the things said and give them to God. Because of my desire to learn and grow since my children were born, I am able to stand up to their thoughts easier. I used to just let them come and attack, same as when I was in college. I don’t use harsh rebuttal, but with kindness, I face the arguments. Through that kindness, I feel a softness has opened up in this person’s heart. I can tell in the attitude towards me thinking Mass is more important than anything else on a Sunday. I will continue to stand up for my beliefs and fight with weapons that are not of the flesh, because the spiritual war is not over.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Is it enough? (2 Corinthians 9)

 I have control issues. And this COVID mess is wrecking havoc on things and taking control away from me. Now that we are back at school, my issue is helping with their online school. There are days where we finish their assigned lessons early, so I am trying to find things to fill in the time. Some parents see this as a break, and let their kids just do what they want (Watch tv), but I feel that if they were in the school building, 2:00 PM is still school time so it needs to be filled with something semi-educational. But is what I am giving enough? Am I enough?

There is that terrible question. It brings even the greatest days down to nothing. Am I enough? Am I doing enough? Is this good enough? 

In similar thoughts, when I give to the church or someone in need, is it enough? If I give with a giving heart, it is. If I give with reluctance or bitterness, then I am withholding God's love from that gift. 2 Corinthians 9:7 tells me "each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." I need to give from my heart, not with hesitance or because of manipulation or guilt. It continues with the fact that God completes every gift. When a gift is given, he can make the work in giving abundant, making sure the giver has what is needed. And he can take that gift given and make it a great harvest. As I am giving myself (whether money or physical work), I am serving God. And if I do this work with a generous heart, I am being obedient to his word. 

Jesus was the greatest gift ever given, and nothing I do will ever match that gift. However, if I follow God's word and give with a generous heart, God will multiply my gift so it will always be enough. I am enough. I am good enough. Even as a secondhand teacher, if my heart is open to my children, I know I will give them what they need, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I am enough. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Giving (2 Corinthians 8)

 2 Corinthians 8:7 Now as you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse, knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love we have for you, may you excel in this gracious act also.

Each year, between Halloween and Thanksgiving, my kids and I go through all their things (toys, books, clothes, etc.) and find things that are still in good condition, and make a large pile of what we can give to others. I have always said that if they are hoping for new gifts for Christmas, then we need to show our love for others first. We dive a little deeper into why each year. When they were younger, it was “Santa can’t leave presents if there isn’t any room for them,” then it was “Santa won’t leave presents if you don’t have a giving heart.” This last year was more of opening their eyes to see that some families need more help, that some children really may not have gifts because their parents may not be able to get them. I am trying to open their hearts to giving so they can realize that there are so many other people in the world in need. That we are called by Christ to give. 

Giving is a big thought process. How am I called to give? In what capacity should I give? Some people give money to their church, or to a Christian radio station. Some give their time. Some give both. All of the gifts, when given with an open heart, are amazing. Think of the story of the widow Jesus told his disciples in Mark 12:41-44. “Amen I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors in the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.” God isn’t calling us to give at the end of the month, seeing what we might have left over. Or at the end of the day, seeing just how tired we are, if we can give one more hour. He is calling us to give from the bottom of hearts, at the very beginning, putting him first above all things. And when we do this, we are showing his grace. 

Is there a ministry around you that could use help? Whether monetary or a physical body? It’s going to be getting cold soon, maybe a soup kitchen needs help serving. Or donations to be able to serve. Prayerfully consider how you can do more for your local ministries, whether through your church or your town. It is great to help missions abroad, by all means, but the people around you are struggling, also. There are people you may see every day who are seeking help in the after hours from non-profit groups. Yes, our country is still high above financially than some third world countries, but when I see children in our country going to school with holes in their shoes that belonged to two of their brothers, I know there are people here that are forgotten, too. 

The most gracious act was God giving us his only son. Jesus suffered and died on the cross for us. He is our eternal gift. God gives us grace so that we can give it to others. Let us be more generous as this Christmas season approaches, and remember to serve others before ourselves. I heard this song on the radio the other day, and it really caught my attention. We need to start here and now, around us, if we want to see a change in the world. 

Start Right Here