December 31 – Jack Will NOT Be a Dull Boy!

First plant your fields; then build your barn. Proverbs 24:27, MSG

There’s this thing with parenting called “delayed gratification.”  It’s not only a great concept.  It works.  Very well, I might add.  (Not that we adults have it figured out. . .)

Anyway, we have a certain child who was given a certain birthday gift this past week who is ALL ABOUT his certain gift.  Which is great.  He’s really thankful and has expressed his never-ending gratefulness for such an amazing birthday.  Enter delayed gratification.

Now I don’t always relate my afore-mentioned concept of parenting to a birthday gift, but for my point today it will suffice.  You see, even when we are blessed with something, it doesn’t mean that the normal, every day, basic groundwork stuff ceases to go forward.

See, each day presents it’s own challenges, but most importantly, it presents the mundane, gray and boring concrete blocks of sameness called work.  With this cool gift in my child’s brain every morning for the past two weeks, he has literally flown through his obligations, even without the occasional prodding from Mom.

Yes, with or without the motivation of the occasional birthday, I want to instill in our child’s heart that we work, then we play.  The basics, then beyond basics.

And of course, the lesson goes deeper while I’m getting it across to a four foot tall human who seems to “need” so much help.  It sinks deeply into my conscience and wiggles around, uncomfortably, waiting for my acknowledgment and even, repentance.  I’m guilty of going out to “build my barn,” make grandiose plans, reward myself somehow, when there are seeds to sow and dirt to dig.  I get the cart before the horse and then have the nerve to feel sorry for myself! What?  No, this parenting gig ain’t for the faint of heart.  Half the time it isn’t even for the “children.”  Right?

Lord, help me do first things first.  May the reward of true diligence keep me about Your business and the real nitty-gritty priorities.  And regardless of who “Jack” is, may I know that work, THEN play, will mold me into the “me” I need to be!

Jennifer 🙂

 

 

December 30 – Friends in High Places

It’s better to be wise than strong; intelligence outranks muscle any day. Strategic planning is the key to warfare; to win, you need a lot of good counsel. Proverbs 24:5-6 The Message Bible

I have a book about child training that was written a hundred years or so ago. The insight in it is timeless. For instance, I learned from its author, Clay Trumbull, that there’s a distinct difference in how you teach a child and how you train a child.

Also, when Jen and I had our hands full with one of the stronger-willed children, we used some of the strategies in the book to steer them toward right attitudes…particularly about food and flavors.

But one of the most transcendent pieces of advice I got from the book was on the subject of friendship and counsel. Clay raised eight kiddos of his own and was a seasoned grandpa at the time he penned “Hints on Child Training.” So, I believe he knew a thing or two about the subject.

“The unfriendly criticisms of neighbours, and the kind suggestions of friends, are not to be despised by a parent in making up an estimate of his child’s failings and faults. Rarely is a parent so discerning, so impartial, and so wise, that he can know his children through and through, and be able to weigh the several traits, and perceive the every imperfection and exaggeration of their characters, with unerring accuracy and absolute fairness.”

In the process of rearing our “crew of a few,” this counsel has been invaluable. But not just in child training. In many areas of life, I have found I can cover most of the bases, but having good friends who add insight without insult is key for consistent success.

Smart is good and wisdom is kind.
But a counsel of good friends is a worthy find!

December 29 – We Understand It Better By and By

Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; Proverbs 24:3 NKJV

In the summer, we would get these catalogs from Montgomery Wards and Sears and Roebuck. Mama would pore over them and circle some of the ugliest clothes on the planet. I would beg her to reconsider her choices…sometimes she would and most of the time, she wouldn’t.

I would fret over my plight for the upcoming school year. Hard as I tried, for the life of me, I could not comprehend the difference in our taste.

But by and by, when it came my time to serve as parent and provider, I understood better. As a kid, you have the luxury of being self-absorbed. Life seems to revolve around you, your feelings and your preconceived reputation. And although you think you know a thing or two about the world of practicality, it’s not until another life bears your name and requires your undivided attention that practicality and prudence grows from within.

The Lord is gracious to allow such fragile beings to participate in His Masterpieces. But then, I guess that’s what makes it so Masterful.

We evolve in time, and then…Ah ha!

Surely, He smiles.

December 26 – Skillfully Inspired

Through wisdom a house is built . . . Proverbs 24:3a NKJV

I know wisdom as a two-sided coin; one side is skill and the other godly inspiration. Each of us have been enabled by our Creator and Father with certain abilities. And often those abilities produce results that are noticed and confirmed by others as special.

But to be inspired to color inside the lines alone doesn’t constitute a “wise soul.” However, when that inspired one seeks out how to mix the shades of his or her colors to create a unique blend of tones, then we see skill come on the scene. Together, they do completely phenomenal work!

House-building done well, can only be done through wisdom. Every member that belongs there comes complete with his and her own plans and purposes. And in order to minimize chaos and maximize communication, one does well to practice the skill of listening twice as much as he applies the inspiration of talking.

Nothing I ever given my whole self to required so much of me. Many days I feel I have nothing to offer, and it seems it is during those times that godly wisdom shines from within me in the most humble of ways.

And one day when you wake up and look around to find walls, ceilings, rooms, tables and chairs in the form of moments, memories, and lives that are singing the same chorus to you…thank God for all He has done!

December 24 – Then He Parted the Sea

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

We live in a world that denies miracles and begs for evidence and facts. Commitment is no longer a covenant if it’s not convenient.  But God’s light of truth continues through the ages to shine in the darkness, changing hearts from the inside out, whether the darkness likes it or not.  For this Christmas season and the end of an often tumultuous 2014, we had to share this true story of a couple we know and love dearly.  Please feel free to share as you might need to.  And may it make your resolve in an Almighty God solidify into an unwavering confidence that cannot be shaken. 

Merry Christmas!

Lorenzo and Jennifer 🙂

This is a very special anniversary for us and Cindy let me share this because we know someone out there may need it……

In high school I met this cute little cheerleader they called Pigeon. I took her away from a good, safe home and stole 18 years of her life. I didn’t set out to do this, but that’s what happened. We don’t live in a world that tolerates her kind of commitment. We don’t understand it and it makes us angry. When I look back my heart is so broken for her, but she knew about things that I didn’t understand yet. She talked to the sky and I didn’t understand that either, but I was glad she did because she found peace there. I would try to do better, but failed every time.

18 years later we were broke and homeless. I was shattered and I deserved it, she was gone and the only thing I knew to do was talk to the sky. I did and she was right, even without a promise that anything would get fixed, I had peace.

She didn’t know where her prayers would take her, but she always knew they were heard. Maybe for the first time ever, I wanted more for her than myself. I hoped her prayers would take her somewhere safe. They brought her back to me and I have had the most unbelievable, undeserved 18 years humanly imaginable.
Thank you so much God. Thank you so much Cindy for 36 years.
18~18~36

Exodus14:14 God will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” ….Then he parted the sea.

December 23 – Bottle of Insanity

Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent and stings like a viper. Proverbs 23:31-32 NKJV

Addiction is nothing new, but anymore, more common than not. And of all the forms of addiction, the gateway for most is alcohol. Each week, some of the dearest men and women I know gather together as a unified force against this monster that has stolen so much of their lives.

Today’s proverb is profound and needs to be absorbed with very little “exposition.” Here is a version that I like that puts a bit of modern color on the subject:

Who are the people who are always crying the blues? Who do you know who reeks of self-pity? Who keeps getting beat up for no reason at all? Whose eyes are bleary and bloodshot? It’s those who spend the night with a bottle, for whom drinking is serious business. Don’t judge wine by its label, or its bouquet, or its full-bodied flavor. Judge it rather by the hangover it leaves you with- the splitting headache, the queasy stomach. Do you really prefer seeing double, with your speech all slurred, reeling and seasick, drunk as a sailor? “They hit me,” you’ll say, “but it didn’t hurt; they beat on me, but I didn’t feel a thing. When I’m sober enough to manage it, bring me another drink!” Proverbs 23:29-35 MSG

Insanity! And so many of us have been there…are there. If you consume alcohol, you must know it cannot be trusted. If you find yourself making excuses for it, chances are there’s a problem. When you look around and your life reflects brokenness and loss in the area of dear loved ones and good relationships, ask this question: Could it be the alcohol? Better yet, call up one of those people and ask them point blank, “Did my drinking have anything to do with what happened with us?”

Life is too short to live a lie. The fruit of the vine can serve a wonderful purpose, but man’s historical temptation toward abuse of its properties warrants extreme caution. Faith, family and friends are not worth the bottle of insanity.

December 22 – Tend the Sheep

Do you see a man diligent and skillful in his business? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men. Proverbs 22:29 AMP

When you’re young, you tend to want to do something big, exciting. Something that makes people say, “Wow, now there’s somebody special”!

But when it comes to fixing your bed, washing the dishes, taking out the trash, washing the car, putting gas in the car, you know, the basics, the motivation toward greatness wanes.

Yet, it is in doing those basic boring day-to-days that greatness is hewn. One of my boys might one day be, pound for pound, the greatest boxer of all time. But right now, his daddy’s impressed with his early morning milking chores and mucking the stalls.

I don’t know if it’s always been like this, but in the time in which we live, stories like little David and his sling shot taking the giant Goliath’s head clean off his shoulders take center stage and get all the press. But nobody even knew the boy’s name when he was out tending his family’s livestock. His own daddy forgot to call him home when a national dignitary stopped in.

Case in point, every one of us have God-given qualities that can one day make a noticeable difference in the grand scheme of things. But the key is realizing that if we can’t be counted on to be consistent on the things nobody sees or cares about, our gifts and greatness won’t be ready.

Word to the wise: you are special…so work on tending those sheep!