Thursday, August 16

The Fighter

So... I'm a runner! Truthfully, I'm a jogger. But, no one ever says, "I'm going for a jog." We say we're going running. And, it sounds really good. So I'm o.k. with that.

Running is something I've always wanted to be able to do. And, until 3 years ago, I COULD NOT! I've always been in pretty good shape. I love the gym and have usually done classes. But, when I'd try running, my lungs would fail me. I could run! Or, I could breathe! But, I couldn't manage both at the same time.

So, it's empowering for me to get out there and run 2, 3, 5 miles and not collapse. And, the secret to my being able to run in the beginning was the music! Carefully planned playlists were loaded to my iPod for each run, and when there was no more music, there was not more running.

My playlists are a mixture. There's definitely some praise and worship. But, I have some popular and rock music as well. The other day I downloaded a song currently being played on the radio called, The Fighter. It's a GREAT song for a running playlist. But, let me just go ahead and warn you that there are a couple of not so good words. I'm sorry if you think less of me now.

Moving on... I was listening to the words, and I began to have some real spiritual thoughts associated with the lyrics. It's basically talking about pressing on in uncertain times. The artist is urging others to FIGHT regardless of what your situation looks like or what others expect from your life.

In this day and time, "FIGHT" isn't a word we like to use. In recent years, devastating acts have led to things like "zero tolerance" in schools and in homes. "PEACE" is a much more socially accepted term. And, we've almost moved into a "peace at all cost" mentality. As believers, we've lost too many battles searching for peace regardless of the cost.

However, that's not at all the kind of life that Jesus led. I think He was a fighter. I don't believe He just started fights for no reason. I also don't think He fought like the religious expected Him to fight. But, Jesus knew what His purpose in life was. And, when something or someone came against that purpose, He fought against it. And, when the opposition was a bunch of Pharisees trying to exalt the law... rules that THEY had established as the way, the truth and the life, Jesus fought against THEM! Praise God for that. Praise Him that even though this world is STILL full of Pharisee that will take rules over relationship as a way of life, He has given us His Word that shows us He has a better way. Jesus is the ONLY way.

O.K., I could write and write on the frustrations of legalism and rule following and how teachers of this practice have led people in NEED of a Savior away, but that's not my point of writing today. So, I'll get back on track.

My question as I listened to this song was, "What's holding us back?"

What do we need to fight against in order to enjoy the FULL, abundant life that God ordained for us in Christ Jesus? Is there anything that hinders us, but we've made peace with it, because fighting against it would just be too hard?

Some of the things that I thought of were...

Our marriages! Obviously, this one is HUGE to Scotty and me. How many of us are going through the motions of life with a partner but NEVER enjoying our spouse intimately as God intended? Maybe, life is good... great kids, community, work, etc. But,  close relationship and real SHARING of life is missing and you've decided that's just how marriage is when you "grow up". NO! Fight against it! God meant for there to more than sharing a home with a mate. If you feel like something is missing, I'd be willing to bet there is. Let the first step in the fight be swallowing pride and asking for help BEFORE it's too late. Determine in your heart that achieving ALL that God wants for your marriage is your goal and settle for nothing less. That's a fight that would be worth it! Peace at all cost in your marriage CAN be devastating.

Our families. Parenting is just hard, right? At every stage, there are challenges. And, at every stage, there are situations that call for a struggle... a fight. And, sometimes, life would be so much easier if we just ignored the struggle. In our family, the days would be so much more pleasant if we NEVER asked our children to do anything or if we NEVER said "no" to one of their requests. If I did all of the housework even though they are old enough to HELP, they would be such happy children. If we would just let Caleb play every game created for the X Box EVEN THOUGH the rating CLEARLY says "MATURE" AND HE'S 9!, he would feel like I was such a great parent. (can you tell that's a big one?) These are only two examples, but they prove my point. I could take on a peace at all cost mentality, but I wouldn't achieve results that I'm looking for. I have seen the adults walking around without ANY sense of work ethic, and that's not really what I want to be looking at in 10 to 12 years in my children, so my struggle over chores is worth it. And, I believe in the words to the long lost song "Be careful little eyes what you see..." As guardian over these precious hearts, protecting what goes into their minds is important to me. So, we we are praying for continued strength to fight for the BEST for our children in a world where even believers are throwing in the towel, because immediate peace is more desirable.

Our churches. Hmmmm.... I'm treading carefully here, because I am in the South. I know. I love "church" too. I grew up in church, I want my children in church, and "church people" are some of the most wonderful people I've ever known. But, churches are flawed, because WE are flawed. Our churches are sitting in the middle of communities where people are bruised, banged up and burned by life and are often too caught up in the routine of CHURCH to actually BE the church to the hurting. I think many times there are people within church bodies that KNOW what needs to be done. But, to actually DO it would cause friction. There may be some uncomfortable conversations to be had and someone might get angry. Now, please understand, I'm not talking about the wacky divisions that happen in churches over paint color and what we name our Bible study hour. I'm talking about making changes that create environments within the church walls where Jesus Christ is preached, experienced and sought after completely. I believe that any time a church determines to pursue Christ above ALL ELSE (including image) they have a fight on their hands, because this world isn't for it. And, the scriptures have warned us that this would be the case, because Jesus had a fight on his hands.

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.  Matthew 10:16

So, what I'm trying to say in this TOO LONG post is that sometimes a fight has to take place in order for the peace to come. We live in a fallen world, so there are ALL sorts of things warring against the life God desires for us to have. The world WON'T back down. Our enemy has no intention of waving a white flag. So, WHY ARE WE? Satan is defeated already! His victories are temporary! He knows it, so he's fighting harder.

Are you feeling defeated in your marriage, your family, your church? Do you feel food, alcohol, drugs, or another person has power over you? Whatever it is that is hindering you from experiencing God's presence in every day and knowing that He is enough must go! Wage an all out war against it and don't settle for less. And, if it means asking for help, get on that TO...DAY!!! What's the worst thing that could happen? Someone might know you have issues?

Well... I speak from experience when I say... I bet they have their own bag of issues too. :)

Peace is important, sure. But, when it comes to the things threatening to destroy our lives, let's have the world say of us... "This one's a fighter."

Tuesday, August 7

To everything, there is a season...

July, 19, 2007 began a season within a season for our family. That is the day that Elizabeth Claire Rogers came into this world. Our season of "married with small children" was already going strong. But, surprisingly, God allowed us to add a baby girl to our VERY boy world.

 We've had a few things going on this summer, and I MISSED writing about Claire Bear on her birthday. But, today, Scotty and I dropped her off at Kindergarten. And, I'm feeling like this day is worthy of a blog post.

First of all, for those of you with small children at home, I KNOW all about the season of life you are in. Your world is completely dictated by other people. You can't do anything without being interrupted. Full conversations are a thing of the past and you find yourself using words like "potty" instead of "restroom" while speaking to adults! If you have a baby in the mix of the small children, focus on fashion has also left the scene. Now, you get dressed and just hope you make it where you need to go without throw up (or worse!) on your clothes.

This season is difficult by any standards. But, when you throw sleepless nights into the mix, sometimes it can seem that your life will ALWAYS be consumed with babies, diapers and clean ups. Yet... people keep saying irritating things like, "Enjoy this time. It will be over before you know it!"


It seemed impossible. But, now, I know it's true. It seems like yesterday, Claire was our newborn... just home from the hospital. And, this morning, she hopped out of the car and walked in to her first day of BIG  school.

Claire has added MUCH to our family. Being the only girl obviously adds a lot of elements that we wouldn't have had without her. And, I'm so very grateful that God allowed us to experience life with sons AND a daughter. But, she's added a million other things... smiles, joy, laughter... LOUD laughter, and love. Today, her going to kindergarten, ends a season for me.

Thankfully, a new season begins when an old season ends. I can't wish these giant children back to babies. But, I can look back over the previous years and move on with renewed strength and vision for the future. As many great memories as I have of the past 9 1/2 years as a mom, there are things I would have liked to have done differently.... BETTER!

And, that's the beauty of a fresh start. I can purpose to do the next season better. Maybe you are staring at the end of a season in your life. Whether it's children going off to school, a move, a job change, or.... you fill in the blank, a new season provides opportunities to use the lessons of past experiences to create NEW & BETTER for yourself and for those around you in the season to come. The only other option is to attempt to stand still! And, life is moving on QUICKLY whether we join in or not.

I can think of SO MANY verses I'd like to include in this post. All of them apply to the point I'm trying to make. And, I'm seriously fighting the urge to type each and every one out and say, "Pick the one that most speaks to you..."

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE and a FUTURE.  Jeremiah 29:11

In every season of my life, this has been a favorite verse. The sovereign LORD of the universe has GREAT plans for me, my family, my children (AND YOU!). AND.... He knows how each and every one of my life's seasons fit together to bring me to HIS exact plans.

So, when I think I'm JUST packing lunches, fussing at quarrelsome children, washing clothes, folding clothes, fixing dinners, etc., I can trust that God is working in me and through me to bring about HIS plans and HIS future. Now, that adds some excitement to life and some importance to my "seasons".