Wednesday, February 10, 2016

James is 21

This morning as my first baby turns 21 and I reflect on his life, I am in awe.  I say this every time one of them has a birthday, but . . . where does time go?  I remember people saying when the kids were little, “You will never wish you spent more time at work (or more time cleaning the house or whatever equivalent you might put there), but if you spend too much time at those things, you will wish you spent more time with your children.”  I think that no matter how intentional you are as a parent, you will always wish you had more time when they were little.  You will always wish you could have done something different.  As I reflect on James’s life, it is pretty incredible.  We were babies when we had him . . . I remember being both scared and overconfident at the same time when he was born, knowing that we were going to do our best to do things right yet wondering what “right” looked like.

The memories flood me . . . the good times and the not so good.

I remember the moment he was born . . . the fear because of how difficult the labor had been, the relief that he was okay, the uncertainty when we were told he had a cleft, the hope we sensed as family and friends rallied around us and helped us find the perfect doctor.  I remember holding him . . . I even remember dropping him (only from my arms to the bed, but it was enough for me to deem myself an unfit mom and breakdown into tears, which I later learned was completely normal for a person who has just delivered a baby).  It seems like yesterday, and it seems like a lifetime ago.

I remember finishing college those first three months after he was born, my amazing professors who let him come to class with me, my college friends who watched him in their dorm when I could not take him to class, the lack of sleep as I dealt with a new baby and approaching finals, Brent’s incredible help during that crazy time.

I remember planning and preparing for his surgery, the night before when we went to Tulsa early to just enjoy some time the evening before, taking him swimming for the first time, looking at his big, beautiful cleft smile that we knew would get smaller after surgery and wondering if the risk of surgery was worth it while knowing it was necessary.  I remember the anesthesiologist taking him from us and wondering again.  I remember the incredible peace God gave us throughout the surgery.

I remember his first day of daycare and his first day of pre-kindergarten.  I remember his raspy voice and his ability to talk to adults like he was the same age as them.  I almost can’t remember when he didn’t talk!!!  He could say 30 words at his first Christmas.  He wasn’t even 11 months old yet.  I remember correcting him a many times because he sometimes came across as disrespectful because of how he related to adults, almost as if he thought he was one of them.

I remember parenting mistakes we made, like spanking him too much when he was a little guy or initially trying too hard to make him fit a specific schedule (that only lasted about two weeks) when the schedule was better for me than it was for him.  I have been far too impatient at times and far too emotional at times.  There are other parts of parenting that I still haven’t decided about.  He argues with us about things we should maybe do differently with David and Sarah. 

I remember parenting moments that I think were right.  I remember requiring a lot of him, of all the kids, but especially of him being the oldest, to serve others . . . to help with our church plant setting up and tearing down . . . providing resources to people who did not have resources, providing a meal, but more importantly, a conversation to people who did not have food or a home, and probably didn’t feel like they had dignity.  We taught him to stand up for what he thought was right but to do so while treating others with respect.  I remember when he was being bullied in junior high, trying to work through that with him in all the peaceful ways possible and finally being so frustrated that we told him to just do whatever necessary to stand up for himself, and we would back him . . . then going and asking the principal for help.

I remember the moment he said he loved Jesus and wanted Him to be his Savior.  He was only three, but he was able to explain what it meant to us, and he has been dedicated to serving God since that time.  I remember many phone calls to Brent when he was at work because James was asking questions from the Bible that I could not answer.  Sometimes Brent could answer them, and sometimes he had to get out the commentary and continue the conversation the next day.  James kept us on our toes.

I remember (oh, wait, it was only a couple days ago) his stubbornness and his argumentativeness.  That also kept us on our toes.  One thing I can say about James is that it wasn’t often that he was outright defiant.  It was just constant that he was telling us what made our rule or position wrong, and he would argue it vehemently.  Sometimes his arguments were valid, but usually by the time we reached the point of his validity, I was so frustrated, there was no way I was giving in.  I guess he comes by the stubbornness naturally.

I remember all the emergency room/urgent care visits.  I remember crazy stunts that should have landed us in the ER or UC but thankfully didn’t.  He was so cautious when he was little.  I think Jason walked up and down stairs before James, but once James got over this phase, he was willing to try about anything.  Letting go has never been easy for me.  From sliding down the stairs on mattresses to cliff diving to sleeping on the beach at night by himself to moving to Haiti, none of it has been comfortable for me.  Sometimes I feel like I’d rather not know.  But I do want to know because I don’t want to miss out on his life.

I remember his ability to start up conversations with homeless people . . . when he was 12 or 13 . . . and the compassion he showed to other people.  Even when he was little, he chose friends from the kids who were often unchosen.  It was hard because it has not always been safe and we have had to set boundaries, but it has been beautiful to watch.  When he talks about his “friends on the street,” they really have become friends.

Today as we celebrate his life and send him out to continue this mission God has called him to, I ache.  I ache to get moments in time back . . . to be able to gaze into his eyes while holding him in my arms . . . to be able to kiss his scrapes and his bruises . . . to even correct him when he touches things he shouldn’t touch or refuses to share with his brother.  But I am just as excited about his future.  He has such a heart for the Lord.  He is such an incredible role model for so many.  It would be a waste of everything God has created him to be for me to selfishly hold him here.  So I will cry . . . I have cried . . . and I will miss him so very much, but deep inside I am happy for him and with him and proud of him for doing what God has called him to do.

And for those of you with young kids still, I don’t know if you will ever feel like you have truly spent as much time with them as you wish you had.  Don’t beat yourself up about that, but do seize the moments and cherish them.  More than anything, cherish them!!!!  Capture the moments in your mind because you can’t really relive them, but you can remember them.  And be ready to set them free to be all that God has called them to be.  Remember to love them with everything you have in you, but remember ultimately they belong to the Lord, and you have to be willing to give them back to Him.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

"Run for Haiti"

As most of you know, our family has a HUGE heart for the people in Haiti.  James made a decision a few years ago to spend his first year out of high school serving at a preschool/orphanage that Brent had visited a year earlier.  From that point, Maranatha Children's Ministries has become something we talk about daily in our home.  Last year David told us that he wanted to do a "Run for Haiti" with his friends and got Sarah excited about the idea as well.  He came up with it completely on his own, and we have been thinking about how we might be able to make it happen since then.

As a senior at Valley Oaks Charter School, Jason has to take a class called Senior Seminar in which he has to write a research paper and do a project on the research that he is writing.  He decided to write on the importance of the English language for people in Haiti.  Because Maranatha has a preschool and English camp in the summer, which Jason had an opportunity to help with last year, it seemed we had a perfect opportunity to combine Jason's project with David's vision and Sarah's excitement.

So on November 7th we will be having a "Run for Haiti."  It will begin and end at our house with dinner afterward (nothing fancy . . . keeping it cheap so all the money we raise can go to Maranatha). We've mapped out a one mile circle inside of our neighborhood for running/walking.  The kids will be handing out flyers to their friends hopefully this week, but I thought I would provide some background for parents or other people interested.

The money will go to Maranatha and will be used for children who attend preschool and English Camp.  They have a sponsorship program.  As a family, we pay $50.00 per month to sponsor one child, who goes to preschool during the school year and English camp in the summer.  He is provided two meals a day during both programs.  For some kids this is the only good nourishment they receive.  Our hope is that the kids and their friends can raise enough money to sponsor one child for a year ($600.00).  If it is more, then that's even better.

Those who are interested in participating can ask friends or relatives to sponsor them.  Checks can be made directly to Maranatha (it is a nonprofit, so the money is tax deductible).  We will have plenty of adults and high schoolers for supervision during the walk/run, but we would love for this to be a family event and have lots of parents hang out, too.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Big Decisions . . . and Resulting Lessons

What a week!  I had to announce a big decision.  My boys were in Haiti.  Taxes were due.  There were stressful occurrences at work.  Money was tight.  I was super glad when we got to 6:00 last night!!!  At least I get a weekend break!

Only one of the things in that list pertain to what I want to write.  I had to announce a big decision this week.  I knew it was going to be painful to some people.  I'm being a little vague because there are still some people who do not know.  I prayed through my decision, sought counsel, and trusted God with the decision I made and the fact that my announcing it was going to be difficult.  It was one of those decisions that was more difficult.  It wasn't, "Of course you have to do this; the other is sin."  No, both choices were perfectly good, righteous choices.  But in my time with God and in my conversations with people, I could just feel my heart stirring and leading toward the decision I made.

Once the decision was made, I began asking God to show me when to make the announcement and how to do it in such a way that would be edifying and hopefully not discouraging.  So I wrote a letter.  I had Brent read it.  I reread it.  I made some changes.  I reread it again.  And I prayed that God would give me the courage to give the letter.  I was going to give it in person.  The purpose of the letter was simply so that my words would be down on paper, hopefully preventing my anxiety and stress from doing the talking instead of my real feelings.  In my time praying, I just hoped that God would make the announcement easier . . . make the person receiving the announcement more understanding, calm my nerves, etc.  I was still stressed when I did it, but I had on some level convinced myself that because I was seeking God and following his commands and direction for my life, it was going to go well.

It didn't.  I guess it could have been worse, but it certainly wasn't good.

So the rest of the week was a challenge.  The people it hurt are people I have to see all the time.  And it's hard to face people you've hurt . . . even if your intentions were not to hurt them.

As I thought about this and prayed through it almost constantly, I was reminded of how silly it was for me to expect God was going to make this easy on me.  I thought about Scripture and how often people suffered for following God and making the decisions He wanted them to make.  The list is endless, but the most significant, of course, is Jesus.  He had a choice, and He made it for us, even though it hurt him.  And every time I don't live my life according to His will, it hurts Him again.  And he was hurt for me . . . there was nothing in what he did that he deserved.  Every analogy breaks down.  And this one does quickly.  The decision I made will benefit me in many ways.  There are things I will sacrifice, but not a lot . . . not my life like Jesus.  There are people who will benefit from my decision, but there are people who are hurt because of it.  Jesus' decision was for the benefit of all mankind, and only hurt him.  Life is not easy.  Sometimes we have to walk through some really hard things, maybe because we were hurt by someone, but maybe because we did the hurting (even if it was unintentional).  So as I have been walking through this over the past several days, I have been trying to see what God wants me to learn through it.

My friend, Isabel, says, "It's easy to love the lovely.  It takes Christ's love to love the unlovely."  One thing I have learned this week is that the unlovely is sometimes someone you would not typically put in that category.  I have also learned that though I want to run and though I want to be angry with the unlovely person(s), God can help me love through those feelings, if I will submit them to Him.  And this love that comes from God and exudes through us makes a lasting impression on people.  I will continue to have to face this challenge (these people/person) for a while, maybe forever, I don't know, but I am praying constantly that God will help me love so that He will be glorified.

And then I look at the positive.  While it didn't go as well as I had hoped, the announcement is made, and I am excited for the change. My boys are back from Haiti . . . they are healthy . . . Jason loved it . . . they are both seeking to serve the Lord in incredible ways.  We didn't owe on our taxes, and I got them done on time.  And the stress at work, while it will continue because of the nature of the job, is allowing me a little break, and overall the lives I have seen changed outweighs the stress.  Money is temporary, and we have so much more than so many people.  And we ended the work with with an amazing time of worship and praise with great friends.  God is amazing . . . providing for us as we need.  We don't normally have Friday night praise and worship nights, but He knew how much I was going to need that last night . . . He is truly incredible!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Love and Respect

I haven’t blogged in a long time, but I have something on my heart that I thought I would share for those few of you who might read my blog occasionally.  A couple things before I actually write this.  First of all, I know my opinion about this is not going to be agreed upon by all, and I don’t really want to get in a fight on my blog.  These are just my thoughts.  Second, if you do want to argue my points, I would rather you read the book (with an open mind), then come back and give me your opinions.  Third, I don’t agree with everything in the book, but I did get a lot out of it and would say that I agree with almost everything.  And one final thing to clarify . . . I may be completely wrong, but Brent always thinks that people might view me as somewhat feministic, I guess based on the fact that I have always worked and that I have furthered my education.  I want to make it clear that I am not at all.  I say this because the book might really bother some of you who lean more toward feminism.  I really think that the best-case scenario in families is the traditional (or old-fashioned as some might say):  Dad works; mom stays home and takes care of the kids.  I would have been perfectly happy in that situation, but God had other plans for me, and I followed them.  But to go along with that, I have said and will say again that I don’t think my working outside of the home or being in school has hurt my children; in fact, in many ways it has benefitted them in ways that my staying home would not have.  The thing I would say about our choices or really, if we are honest, just the way things fell, is that we have not been perfect by any means, but we have tried to keep God in the center and our marriage and children a priority.  Has it been hard at times?  Definitely.  But here we are . . . by the grace of God making our lives work.

With that said, I guess you are probably wondering what book I read . . . Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs.  We have had it sitting in our house for years.  I’ve picked it up a few times, but I have never made it through.  I finally determined a month or so ago that I was finishing it no matter what, and it took longer than it should have, but I finished it while I was on the plane to Virginia the other day.  It was a hard read for me . . . not because it is super intellectual.  It’s not!  It’s actually a very easy read.  But because it was incredibly convicting.  Now that I’m putting it out there, too, I’m opening the door for a ton of accountability.  While I do not consider myself a feminist, I definitely do not consider myself a submissive wife either.  Any of you who know me probably can see that I would struggle with that.  I think I can fairly say that I want to submit to Brent, I really do, but my strong, way too independent personality gets the best of me so often.  It is hard for me.  And as I read about respecting Brent, I was sad because I know that my natural tendency is not to show him the respect he needs or deserves.

What made me even sadder, though, was that Brent really does do a pretty great job loving me.  He is a romantic . . . that’s what drew me to him so many years ago.  He loves with all his heart, and most of the time, he treats me like a gem.  I was sitting in a session in my class today and the professor asked us (if we were married) to think about when we first knew we loved our spouse.  I know I would not have articulated this at the time, but the first memory that came to mind was this:  Right after Brent and I started dating (actually we had not even been on an official date, but we were spending a lot of time together in groups, and I would say our friends and other people at our college would have identified us as a couple), I got a little freaked out, and I broke up with him.  Initially he was mad, but the next day, after being out of my dorm room, I returned to find a single yellow rose with a card that said something to the effect of “If you are too scared to be in a relationship, I want to at least remain friends.”  (I know it was worded better).  I think that may have been the moment, though I would not admit it right away.  But after I cried a little, I went and called my dad for advice and a day or two later called Brent and apologized, and the rest is history.  He always took me on amazing, thoughtful, romantic dates.  He planned an amazing proposal (which I ruined, if that tells you anything).  He wrote me a song and had it sung at our wedding.  He had flowers at the house after the kids were born and when I found out I was pregnant.  He will cook and clean and do laundry.  And his thoughtfulness extends beyond me . . . he’s just all around a loving man who desires for others to know how much they mean to him.  Is he perfect?  No.  But he’s pretty amazing.  I say all this because I think for his personality, the loving part comes much more easily than the respecting part comes for me with my personality.

I’m headstrong and stubborn, and I think I know what’s right.  I’m argumentative . . . ask my parents because I always have been.  I also have pretty high expectations.  Am I all bad?  Of course not.  I work hard, and I love my family, and I would give the shirt of my back for other people, but my personality is more of a challenge when it comes to respecting my husband.  So as I read that book, I was convicted, and I was challenged because I can’t figure out how I am going to do a better job and not let my natural tendencies get the best of me.

I hear ladies talk about their husbands or I see things on social media, and it just hurts me for their husbands.  I also see and hear things that hurt me for wives, don’t get me wrong.  As I read in the book about the CRAZY Cycle (which is what Eggerichs refers to when he talks about marriages that are struggling), I could see how very difficult it is to get off of it.  Our human nature keeps us on it.  He’s not loving me, so why should I respect him?  He’s thinking the opposite.  She’s not respecting me, so why should I love her?  Now would either of us admit that we are thinking or saying that?  No, but it shows clearly in our actions and in our words.

The thing I really liked about the book is that, though I know it’s not going to be easy for me to show respect like I should, the book spells out how I can do a better job . . . in detail.  It also spends time talking about how we should work on not taking things personally when our spouse messes up.  On the occasion that Brent is not being loving toward me, I need to remember that he does love me, and he is just messing up like we all do . . . and try not to take it to personally or try to get to the bottom of it.  Did he have a rotten day at work?  Is he stressed about something unrelated to home that is causing him to be short?  Sometimes our feelings take over our logic.  We need to remember what is true and that our feelings often lie to us.

I highly recommend reading the book.  There will be things you do not agree with, as there are in all books, but there are many great truths.  I have learned as I have “grown up” that most books (even those I can’t support) have good principles I can grab, learn from, and implement.  Read the book with an open-mind, with the desire to be the person God calls you to be to your spouse.  Even if you do not agree with all of it, what does your spouse think?  When you got married, you agreed to sacrifice for the other.  For some people, you may not agree with submission and respect, but if that would help your marriage, shouldn’t you do it anyway?  Your husband may not feel like he needs to love you the way you need to be loved either, but don’t you want him to do it any way?  We have to serve each other in order to make our marriages work.  If we are only seeking what we want and not seeking to serve our spouse, our marriages are doomed.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


This morning I got up and went for a run.  I decided I was going to carry some weights with me.  My legs are in pretty good shape (at least my calves), but my arms . . . not so much.  I don't have time to add more to my life, so even if it won't make a big difference, I figure it won't hurt either.  Well, can I tell you how much harder it is to run while carrying weights?  And these aren't very heavy weights either, three pounds in each hand.  I didn't really think I would notice, but it not only was a pain for my arms, but it slowed down my legs, too.  It made me want to give up.  As I was pushing through and continuing to run while thinking about this, I was struck by the analogy that this is for our spiritual life.

As a Christian, I am trying to run the race and to run it well, but things come along, and they completely weigh me down.  Relationships are painful; the work is difficult; exhaustion and disappointment kick me in the rear.  They make me move more slowly and make me want to give up, just like those stupid weights.

While I was running, I thought, "I could just hide these weights in this bush and pick them up on my way home," or, "Better yet, I can just toss them.  Who cares if my arms are toned?  I don't even know if this is going to make a difference."  But I kept on going and even determined that tomorrow I'm going to take them with me again.  So again, I was contemplating how this correlates with my spiritual walk, and two things occurred tome:

When I am weighed down, I first need to ask God to carry those weights . . . it says so in Scripture (1 Peter 5:&).  I do this, but sometimes the weight is not lifted.  Sometimes that is because I do not release, even though I ask for God to take the burden, but sometimes I think it might be because God wants to tone me and train me in areas where I am weak, so He does not lift them the way I want.  Just as I want to tone my arms, God wants to tone my heart and soul.  He is there helping me grow, and it is more important to Him to teach me than to take away the weight.  Do I like it?  No.  But will I like it when it is over, and I am stronger and more like Jesus?  Most definitely!!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Lessons . . . Even When I Would Rather Run and Hide

           God has been teaching me so much lately . . . in not so fun ways, I might add.  It was really good that during the past two months Brent was teaching on faith and hope and that my personal study focused on cycles of sin, God’s sovereignty, and hesed (Definition provided by Sandra Glahn: “the one word chosen above all others to summarize what God is like:  full of loyal, committed, merciful, enduring, faithful, covenant-keeping love.”).  As my friends who are in ministry know, it can sometimes really, really stink.  Or for those who are not in ministry, just being a servant like Jesus calls us to be can stink.  There are times that you feel like you give and give beyond what most people would expect, yet the first time you fail to meet an expectation, people are quick to run.  Loyalty seems to be a lost word in the world these days.  I have spent a lot of time in tears, crying out to God in pain, and I’m not going to lie, anger.

            I have wanted to run from relationships . . . current ones and the potential for future ones.  I have begged God to teach me how to serve others the way He has called me to serve them (no strings attached and with genuine love) but without attaching to them on any emotional level.  I want to do what He wants, but I want to save myself in the process, but that prayer has not been answered in the way I want.  I was driving home the other night after having been physically attacked for 45 minutes by a hurting child (I’m not exaggerating.  I was probably hit no less than 20 times and was kicked in the head, had my hair pulled, was scratched and bit, and this happened just after a pretty huge emotional hit unrelated to the little girl.), God reminded me that we are called into a RELATIONSHIP with him and a He wants us in relationships with others, genuine authentic relationships, which are not possible without some sort of attachment.  Thus that prayer of mine will not be answered the way I want because it is contrary to His will.

            So while I have a level of fear regarding friendships at the moment, I want to push past this, not let Satan win the battle, and nurture current relationships and create new ones.  God has blessed me with some pretty great people in my life.  Now, they are human, and who knows if they will be in my life a year from now (or a week from now for that matter.  God is the only being I can count on to be there for all the tomorrows to come).  But if I let something get me down so much that I don’t cultivate these friendships, they will be gone for sure.  I will be losing out on so much that God wants me to learn and understand, and I will be missing opportunities to love and serve others as well.  Instead of running from friends, my goal is to cultivate them.  I am working part time now, which is a huge blessing, and it gives me more time to do just that.  I’m feeling both apprehensive and excited for what the Lord has for me in the months to come.

            The question that stood out to me from my Bible study on Ruth recently is, “Can you trust that what looks to you like an ending may be the beginning of something great?”  Of course . . . or maybe not.  I want my answer to be of course, but my heart and often my actions say anything but of course.  Sometimes when I feel let down it can look like an ending, but when I look back at other endings, they were truly beginnings.  I can see it now because I am past it.  I’m no longer sucked in by the emotion of pain.  What was hazy is now clear.  But God does not say, “Trust Me when things are clear. “ He calls me to trust Him always, and I need to be thankful that He is there in the sun and in the rain.  He has a plan for me . . . a more amazing plan than I can fathom.  But achieving that plan may happen only by going through difficult moments.

            So here I am pushing through difficult times and cultivating friendships.  I had a fabulous conversation with a friend on Friday night, a nice park play date with another friend on Friday afternoon, On Sunday I spent time with friends from work celebrating a birthday, then enjoyed a barbecue with our neighbors.  I had lunch with a friend today and another family over for dinner tonight.  Not a bad start to my cultivating new and existing friendships.  It has been encouraging, and I am excited to practice the qualities of hesed as I grow to be more and more like Jesus in my relationships with others while trusting the sovereignty of the awesome God who I serve.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


I just completed a great study on the book of Judges, and I just wanted to record the things I learned.  I will be honest, it was not a book I was looking forward to studying, nor was it a book that I thought would teach me a lot, but I spent most of the time I was studying, thinking, “Ouch!  Not sure I want this much conviction right now!”  At the same time, it was incredibly helpful as I went through some super tough situations during the month or six weeks I was completing the study.  It was really neat how I was doing exactly the study I needed to be doing at exactly the right time.  That’s the FAITHFUL God that I serve!

Some of my thoughts that I wrote down as I went through it:

“Why is it so hard to learn lessons?  We all repeat cycles . . . why?”
            Ugh!  So hard.  I wish I could answer the question because the answer probably includes how to change the problem.

“It’s so easy to look at the Israelites and judge, but when I look internally, I realize I am so much like them . . . YUCK!”
            I repeat cycles.  I don’t stay focused on God or obeying Him and get easily swayed and discouraged by people or circumstances around me.  These people or circumstances or my desire for God to just fix things is a form of idolatry that I have to stop.  My constant prayer right now is that I will stay focused on what God wants for me and keep the other things in my peripheral vision, loving and caring for them but not seeking to please them.  They will either be pleased by my obedience (or the actions that come from it) or they won’t, and I can’t fix that.

“They [the Israelites] were so dependent on a leader and did not follow God on their own.”
            We all need leaders, and that’s okay, but when left without one for a time, am I able to stay focused on follow God on my own? I think I can, but the thought struck me as an important question.

“God remembers His covenant with us, even when we forget our covenant with Him.”
            What a great promise!!!!

“While God might respond to a fleece laid before him, we lose the full benefit of just obeying Him to begin with.”
            It was just painful to read Gideon’s story, but that’s because I’m on the outside looking in.  I’m sure other people have watched me with that same feeling that I had while reading about Gideon.  I pray that my obedience will follow immediately without questioning God and asking for more signs.  It’s hard to know what God wants, and I understand that about Gideon’s story.  I question if what I hear is from God all the time, which is what Gideon was doing, so I’m not being judgmental, but I want to learn from him.  Fleece’s are dangerous and should be avoided.  And they definitely should not be used to just get the answer we want, which is often what happens.  Gideon asks the Lord not to be angry with him before he lays out the fleece, indicating that he knew he was not supposed to do it.

“God is powerful but He is also understanding.  He knows our fears and doubts.  He provided something to give Gideon security, even when Gideon should have trusted Him.  Our God is amazing!”
            And yet, even though a fleece was not God’s best for Gideon, He is so understanding that he provided an answer.  He could have given up and moved on to the next available person.

“When things are going well, I fail to depend on God, and when things are not going well, I have a hard time trusting Him.”
            Another painful revelation!  It’s so true.  When everything is cruising along, it is easy to “forget” God or at least to forget to acknowledge God’s blessings.  And yet when things are bad, I want to change them myself, instead of handing it over to God.  I think if I remained “connected to the vine” at all times, my response during difficult times would be to trust God, not just ask God to rescue me and then be bummed when the rescue doesn’t happen (which returns to the issue of treating God like an idol; something Brent’s been teaching at church lately).

“God is jealous but even more compassionate.”
            For this I am just so very thankful!!!!  Another great promise!

One of the questions in the study asked what are the results when people want benefits but let everybody else do the work?  My thoughts:  “They miss the true joy of servanthood.”
            Recently I was asked to help serve in a particular way.  I really did not have the time or energy as I have been pretty spent the past month.  There were several asked to help, but only two of us stepped up to do it.  I felt a little stressed going into the whole situation, but I wanted to bless people by doing it anyway.  When the end came, I realized what a blessing it is to be able to serve others, to see a smile on another person’s face, and to know that it also put a smile on God’s face.  So many people miss out on these opportunities all the time.  Boundaries are good, but too many boundaries can cause a person to miss out on the incredible blessing that it is to bless another.

“We all have spiritual strengths and an opposite fleshly weaknesses, two for me are discernment vs. judgmentalism and perseverance vs. pride.”
            The fleshly weaknesses stink, but God uses us in spite of them.  We need to rely on him to handle the weakness.  A quote I read in the book says this, “Whatever our strengths and weaknesses, the secret of our usefulness is our availability to God.”  And another quote along these same lines. “We fail to see that we’re never too small or too weak for God to use, but we can be too big and too strong.  God is bigger than our weaknesses and will use us in spite of them.”

The biggest lesson for me in the whole study: 
            God is FAITHFUL, regardless of my behavior!

(And on a lighter note:  The book of judges is rich and full of lessons!!!)