“Show respect for the elderly and revere your God.” (Leviticus 19:32) When I was little, my brother and I would go to our grandparents for the summer. It was the best! We had three weeks of total spoiling…and we knew it! However, in between the spoiling, we were taught many valuable life-lessons. My grandparents were well-known in their community, so when we were out and about, inevitably we ran into people they knew. This is how my grandma taught us to respond: “When I introduce you to someone, you say, ‘Nice to meet you, Mr. or Mrs. _____’ “And when they ask you a question, you look them in the eyes.” “And when they say something nice, you say ‘thank you.'” Fast forward a couple of decades to when my oldest, DJ, had someone introduce herself to him by her first name. Without realizing it, I quickly jumped in and said, “DJ, say ‘Hi’ to Miss ____.” Was I being anal? I don’t think so! IT’S BIBLICAL! Tucked in the middle of Leviticus, is the directive to show respect to our elderly. And we need to apply this directive not only to our lives but the lives we are raising. According to Webster, an elder is “one having authority by reason of age and experience.” By that definition, if there’s someone in your life with more age or experience, they are your elder: worthy of respect from you & to God, who loves them.
It’s amazing to me that I’m STILL singing a song in my head that I heard when I was four years old. People…we are talking over 30 years ago! My parents were part of a small country church that had a small church band. The band would jam at my parent’s farmhouse. And there’s one song, in particular, that I can remember the tune, the words, the harmony, even the room that they rehearsed it in. Awhile back, I learned that one of the lines of that song was actually inspired from a Psalm, “Because you are my help,I sing in the shadow of your wings.“ So, here, throughout my life (& as recently as today) when I’ve started humming this song, I was reciting a Psalm. And a very encouraging one at that! What’s my point? Parents, your kids have sponges in their heads–capable of retaining a ton. Imagine if you and I were extremely intentional to feed that sponge the goodness of God? For your kids, that could go an entire lifetime. Case in point.
Today, as I watched this unfold, I had a nudge that a blog-post might ensue. Andy’s dentist experience resulted in him crying, trembling, wincing, clutching & resisting. And it finally got to the point where DJ couldn’t look any more. So he turned & faced the corner. Sometimes love has to look away. There’s a heart-wrenching moment in the bible when Jesus was on the cross & cried out to God, “why did you forsake me?” I am not a biblical scholar but I would surmise that Jesus felt like God looked away. And maybe, as Jesus took on all the sin of the world, God did. But nobody loved Jesus more than God the Father! But sometimes? love has to look away. When my parents had to let the authorities take my addict-brother, though they loved him, they had to look away many times. We can love others so much that to look at them in their pain can be impossible & almost render us useless. But to hold on to them and keep looking at them might be preventing God’s will to be done. Eventually, DJ turned back around, but not until that tooth was totally & definitely pulled. 🙂
The bouts of depression I had included a physical symptom that–unless you’ve been through it–might seem unrealistic. I call it, “heavy feet.” In the morn, I’d wake up with what seemed like concrete poured around my feet. There was such a heavy weight in them that the prospect of trying to put them to the floor was enough reason to stay in bed. So knowing this, I’d go to bed every night & simply pray, “God, please help my feet make it to the floor and take one step tomorrow.” Yes, depressed people (who aspire to heal from it) have to pray for the smallest of things–like one literal step into a new day. But having small goals like that ARE enough victory to take another step or take on another task. The movie “What About Bob” actually had a lot of truth when Bob got the psychiatric advice to take “baby steps” for his healing. For the depressed-in-healing, the “present” can simply be waking up each day, putting feet to the floor & taking a step forward from the past that hurt you. But you can do it! God is the God of your grandest achievements…but also of your smallest steps. Don’t let heavy feet hold you back from walking forward on them.
Today I thought I’d give us a nice no-brainer post to balance yesterday’s deep, pensive one. I am a big online community fan. When used for the right reasons it is an amazing tool! These days, I jockey back and forth between 5 online communities. If you are on these, let’s be friends on them! In “comments,” please let me know what online communities I can connect with you on too!
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Friday night I made an unexpected trip to the mall. When I pulled into my parking space, my car met another car that had 2 teens in it. They were smoking a joint & passing it back and forth between each other. Not being one to have a poker-face, I quickly grabbed my purse & walked inside. But for the life of me, could not get what I just saw out of my mind. As I walked through the mall, I had this convo with myself (scary) but also with God. Over and over, I asked myself, “Should I have said something to them?” “Should I have found some authority or security and reported them?” “Should I just pray for them?”– a firing range of “should I’s” running through my head at 60mph. And in between, I prayed for them. “God, help these kids.” “God, don’t let this be the beginning of a dead-end future.” “God, let them be caught if it means saving them.” I am confident God heard every prayer, but I am not confident that I did the right thing. It’s been 3 days since this happened. I’m blogging because it is still on my mind…and because those two kids are still on my heart. Just wondering what you would have done in this situation?
This is my church, Church by the Glades. To publicly share my church with you is an American freedom I don’t take for granted. To serve at this church is a joy. To be under the leadership of my pastor is an honor. To walk onto this church’s stage is a privilege. To have our kids grow up here is a gift. To have friends here (so much so that a better word for them would be family) is a insurmountable blessing. To park in this church’s parking lot, to walk through this church’s doors & to worship in this church’s audience–are perks you don’t buy with money or gain with points. They are weekly droplets of God’s favor. I’ve been at Church by the Glades for a little over a year & I’m grateful. I hope you have a church & I hope this finds you grateful for it too. 🙂
As Christians, God challenges us to love one another no matter what and I wondered why in the world He would do that—it’s not easy! I discovered that it’s not because He wants to boss us around or make us do things we don’t want to do (and there are definitely times where I don’t want to!), but it’s because people need love. We are genetically wired to desire love…His love.
Before I became a Christian I thought Christianity was simply a set of rules to follow, a life of limitations and I thought I was too imperfect, too outspoken and too lost to be loved by God. But I couldn’t ignore the brokenness I felt in my heart. There was a void and no matter what I did or what I tried, it wasn’t filled until I accepted His love.
I wouldn’t have this amazing loving relationship with God if someone hadn’t extended His love to me through their actions. I’d still be fumbling around in the dark unknowingly trying to fill that void that only He can fill. God loves me unconditionally in spite of my imperfections and He loves you in spite of yours too!
I think because I had spent so many times in the hospital that I learned to have peace with death. One particular year, my hospital stays were so frequent, that I actually planned my funeral party. Morbid. I know. But being sick for so long and not getting good prognosis’ gave me a unique window to look at my life & consider its last days. Which, so many (including my Cuban) are (understandably) uncomfortable with. But if I had to sum it up, I’d like it to be said that I lived life laughing and I left this life smiling. Now will I have any say in the matter? Who knows! But in my heart, since I truly desire to live laughing & die smiling, it’s oddly helped me navigate life in a more positive way. I don’t know where you stand with all of this. But I do know this: if you know where you’re going when you’re gone & you know Who you will spend forever with, a laughing life & a smiling death is not a bad thing to consider. 🙂