They will know


“And, they’ll know we are Christains by our love, by our love.
Yeah, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”
(Jars of Clay)

It’s that time of the year! The days are getting longer. Warm breezes are beginning to flow. And every conversation I have, every blog I write, every plan I make – includes WRESTLING!!

“Hi, Kenna – did you have a chance to order those supplies?” “No – sorry …..I was looking up wrestling tournament dates.”. – Got to get those on the calendar!

“Hey, Jess – avocadoes are on sale this week – wrestlers love those!” Note to self – Make sure you add jello, peanut butter and 6 1/2 dozen eggs to grocery list – sucking weight….you know!?

“Kenna, can you babysit for us?” “Sure – like in about three months once we are done post season wrestling”

Annoying – I know. (And I apologize ahead of time – because it’s not going to change)

When I got up this morning and my mind automatically went into “grappling mode” – I stopped myself purposely – and asked the question – “What would happen if I talked about Jesus as much as I talk about wrestling?” Hmmmmm. It seems like it would be the right “Christian thing” to do. Should I add bible verses to the bottom of my emails? Maybe I could make the blog less ketchy and more “religious”. Would people think I was weird if I said “peace be with you” instead of goodbye?

Annoying – I know.

And – while I think it’s always good to be ready to give your “testimony” about your faith (if/when a conversation warrants it) – I think it is more important ….and WAY less annoying – to show – with your actions – not necessarily your words – that you are a Christ follower. ( I know my kids are going to use that against me since my constant parental refrain is “use your words, not your hands!”)

But Jesus tells us in John, Chapter 13 verse 35 – “This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples – when they see the love you have for each other.”(MSG) – Did you catch that? When they SEE the love.

I don’t think being a Christ follower is something you say – I think it’s something you do. I think love is something you show. It’s demonstrated by your actions. Being a disciple is one of those things that is so engrained in your daily life that people just automatically recognize that you are different; loving others is a part of your very fiber.

And just like everyone knows that we are a wrestling family – we live it, we breath it, it’s who we are – I want people to see Jesus’ love poured out of me in much the same way – so they know……I want to show love – so they know I’m a Christian.

Turn that frown upside down

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“This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

So, it’s over and done for another four years. That which shall not be named, but which took exorbitant amounts of time and money, has ended. And as we all know, the sun still rose, the earth kept spinning and life has continued. I encourage you to move on.

And here’s why. Life is short, friends. We struggle to make these big, multi-year plans laying out a different future, never knowing if we will even see the end of the day, let alone the next four years. Here today and gone tomorrow, as the saying goes. So, move on – nothing to see here.

But – there is something you should see and do every day. There is joy. And you should find it. As mere humans, we can’t possibly know what the next hour holds – let alone the next day or year. So find your joy. Now. Find that ONE second of joy in each day. No matter how bad your life is, or your situation; no matter what you are going though right now – I GUARANTEE – there is one second of joy to be found.

Look for the color of a late fall flower and enjoy it. Listen for a child’s giggle as you are passing by. Watch for a smile from a stranger – and return it! Hear the sound of raindrops on a roof. Take one second – enjoy that first sip of morning coffee…..or that first breath when you open your eyes, Put on your favorite bright shirt and enjoy how it changes your perspective. Kiss your loved one goodbye every day – one second – to feel the joy of being loved unconditionally. And even if nothing else goes right in your day….you will have had that one second of pure joy to be grateful for.

My all-knowing, all wise and wonderful teenager likes to knock me, frequently – “Mooommmm – you laugh at the dumbest things…..” Yep – guilty as charged. Stupid things make me smile. I laugh at how ridiculous squirrels look when they scurry around. I giggle at the antics on the old black and white comedy shows. Silly slogans, mismatched socks, my husband singing songs from the 70’s – all make me smile as I enjoy the one second of life that I have been given.

You see – people used to tell me – “You’re only given this one day – make the most of it!” Well, I’m telling you right now, I call BS on that one. God doesn’t give us one day. He gives us one second at a time. When we learn to enjoy and value that one, teeny, tiny second – something amazing happens. Our whole perspective changes. When you are actively occupied with seeking joy – those seconds become minutes; minutes become hours….and soon we come to realize that no matter how bad our life seemed before, we can now easily find reasons to be thankful and joyous!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

EVERY knee…

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Scary:
Clowns. Freddy Krueger. Credit card debt. Oddly shaped moles.

Uncomfortable:
Transgender restrooms. Political discussions and commercials. Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Comforting:
Homemade chicken potpie. Warm socks. A mother’s hug.

I guess I’m weird. I have no other explanation for seeing a bible verse on a wrestling singlet and letting my mind mull it over and over and over again. The singlet was pretty cool. The words “Every knee shall bow” were emblazoned across the front in some wild design. (Just a side note generalization – wrestlers are not typically known for their humility or their use and memorization of bible verses) But, regardless of the desired effect on this kids’ wrestling opponents, it had a surprising effect on me.

The prophet Isaiah got the word out in the Old Testament and then Paul reminds us again, twice in the New Testament that “…For we will all stand before God’s judgement seat. It is written: ‘As surely as I live’, says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’ ” (Romans 2:10-11)

Frankly, the verse kind of scares me. It’s a frightening feeling to think that someday I will stand before God’s throne – just the visual image from Sunday School days still sends chills up my spine. While I like to pat myself on the back for good deeds, praying for others and regularly tithing…..there is a heck of a lot that I’ve done and said for which I am NOT proud. Those sins that I commit every single day are ARE going to be judged. And it scares the begezzers out of me!

And if I’m perfectly honest – it also makes me a little uncomfortable. We are all going to be judged. When we stand before the throne I will be no different than an ax murderer, or a preacher, or a drug dealer, or Mother Theresa – we are all the same in God’s eyes. We are all humans. We all sin. Sins do not have categories or ranking systems. They are quite simply sins. Knowing that I’ll be standing in line to confess, awaiting my turn – just like everyone else – makes me – well…. uncomfortable.

And yet, oddly, I guess it’s really kind of comforting as well. It’s assuring to know that in this age of unrest, turmoil and chaos that one day……one day every tongue will acknowledge God. Not just believers. Not just Americans. Not just whites, blacks or purples…..but everyone – will accept the one true God. Just envision it – every single knee kneeling in obedience, in respect, in submission to authority. And every single tongue shouting praise and glory to God. Oh! What a glorious day it will be!

Scary – yes.
Uncomfortable – yes.
Comforting – double yes.

Peace I Give You

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I’ve got peace like a river. I’ve got peace like a river. I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.
I’ve got love like an ocean. I’ve got love like an ocean. I’ve got love like an ocean in my soul.
I’ve got joy like a fountain. I’ve got joy like a fountain. I’ve got joy like a fountain in my soul.

We think we can do it all, don’t we? Sometimes I think we tend to look at life like a competition. In order to feel valued and loved or successful and happy we feel like we have to be that “ultimate super-human Pinterest person” we see advertised on social media.

We try to work 60 hours a week, be perfect parents/spouses/friends, hit the gym, keep our homes spotless, volunteer at church AND bake ridiculously creative cupcakes for the PTA sale……And then we just don’t understand why we’re weary and woefully unfulfilled. All this busyness just isn’t satisfying – and we end up being simply tired, empty shells.

Listen to this people!

Genesis Chapter 1 – verses 1 through 31 – God created everything. EVERYTHING. And it was good.

Genesis Chapter 2 – God rested from all the work of creating.

BABAMM!! And isn’t THAT pretty significant? The all-powerful, all-mighty God of all the universe, the creator of everything in heaven and on earth took a rest. He wanted a break; a vacation from creating.

And if THAT isn’t enough to tell you that YOU need a break…..How about this? Jesus – the ONLY TRULY ultimate super-human Pinterest (not just repost) perfect person – rested – OFTEN.

He went away from the crowds. He slept in the middle of a raging storm! He meditated privately. He took time to reconnect with his father. He went up on the mountainside to pray – alone……no kids banging on the bathroom door because he didn’t hear the oven timer repeatedly dinging and the smoke alarm starting to screech before the neighbors called the cops and the fire truck showed up…….or, whatever.

“My soul finds rest in God alone. My salvation comes from Him.” Psalm 62:1

I love that this verse is so very simple…..And at the same time – so very powerful. Rest and recovery. ONLY from one source. Not only will God give us rest, but he will also fill our empty shells with the love, joy and peace that we are so desperately searching for.

Rest AND recovery.

Teach a Man to Fish

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“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Boy: The wildest of all animals. A noise with dirt on it in constant motion – usually in the form of antagonizing a sibling. And I have raised four of them. Wrestling grapplers, football tacklers, dirt bike racing, heavy ammo hunting, never cry Uncle, all action – all the time – boys.

So, honestly, this concept of rest – is really unique for my family. This biblical truth – that if we are weary and burdened and we come to God willingly he will give us rest – is very…..and I mean VERY appealing right now.

Fishing happens to be one of our most relaxing past times. Fortunately for me – we don’t live near the ocean and we only watch the chaotic, crazy, loud fishing that seems to be Wicked Tuna. At least for now, our kind of fishing usually involves a peaceful pond, nice weather, serene tranquil quiet and hopefully a couple of chapters of a book (if I’m lucky). Animal activist alert – we do use live bait – because, well – BOYS.

Anyway – I think maybe that’s why the image of fishing that comes to mind from Psalm 55, verse 22 really brings me peace in the craziest, most hectic times of my life….which are usually the direct result of – said boys.

“Cast your burden on the Lord and he will sustain you.” (Psalm 55:22) Should be a tattoo at my house instead of a cross stitch pillow!

Close your eyes and envision a fisherman casting his line. For some reason it’s always in slow motion in my imagination and involves Brad Pitt fly fishing in hip waders….but, maybe that’s just me. When most fisher-folk (gender neutral) cast their line, there is actually a unique beauty to the motion. It is not hurried or choppy. It is not hectic, cumbersome or rushed. The action of casting is a fluid motion of release. It is, in a word – peaceful.

“Cast your burden on the Lord.” Just throw it out there. Release whatever is keeping you awake at night; that thing that is causing you stress and anxiety – give it to God.

And even better yet…..”He will sustain you.” He’s got this. He will hold you up. He will help you endure and withstand the turmoil in your life that is making you weary.

So – even if your pond is more like a raging river or a turbulent ocean – I encourage you to give this casting business a try. Don’t worry if there is no artistry in your cast; chuck it like a two handed, between your legs, underhand, lob down the bowling alley of life if you have to….but give it to the one who can and WILL sustain you.

He – in return – will give you rest.