Blogs from The PCA Post
As we get closer to opening our new athletic field, I kind of went into a nesting phase (like a new mom does before her baby arrives). I was scouting out prices for soccer goals, buying a line striper and thinking about the ribbon cutting experience. I remember how fun it was as a teenager to stick solo cups into a chain link fence and write messages. I came across a website that sells these snap in caps that can be placed in such a way that it creates designs. It’s one of those awesome ideas that when you see it, you’re kicking yourself for not invented it yourself! I order this beautiful Panther and Paw design and as soon as it arrived, I found myself outside trying to put this thing together. Mrs. Rosa helped me and as we counted out each cap, and placed it in the corresponding space, the picture did not seem to be coming out quite like the photo grid. Pastor Daryl came out to see what we were doing and said “Hey, nice fish.” Here we are following the directions, sweating in the south Florida heat, doing what we’re supposed to, and yet the end result is looking like a big mess. Now even though I knew he was joking, I was a little discouraged. As I walked to the car to get more caps and a bottle of water, I looked back at the fence….and saw the START of a panther. I could see the eye forming, the tips of the ear. All the pieces were serving a purpose and fitting as the designer planned. As I walked back to the fence with the next set of pieces, I said to Rebeca “Isn’t this just like how God works in our life?” How many times do I feel like “Here I am, doing what I’m supposed to do; working hard every day, trying to raise my kids the best way I know how, meeting the needs of my husband and extended family members, serving in my church…putting each cap in the fence of my life. Yet there are so many nights that I wrestle with the Lord in prayers. “Why is life so hard? Why can’t I feel your presence? Why aren’t you answering my prayers?” The Lord has a much different perspective than I do. He sees how every struggle and every success fits into the picture He has for my life, just like the designer put every cap in place to make the panther, God has ordained every cap in my life to ultimately fulfill the plan He designed, before I was ever formed. Even when I don’t have the distance to see the whole the picture, how each cap serves a purpose, I am reminded that He is in control over it all. I am coming out of a difficult season in my life right now, and it won’t be long before I enter another one. That is how life works. My prayer is that God gives me the peace to live through each piece of my life, resting it all in His hands.
Last month our family participated in the Family Service Day at Bedner’s Farm. Gleaning as a practice to combat hunger is thousands of years old. In the Hebrew Scriptures gleaning was already in place at the writing of the Pentateuch (first five books). The people most likely to be hunger victims during the times of the Hebrew Scriptures times were widows, orphans and people traveling through the land called Sojourners. “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the Lord your God.”(Leviticus 19:9-10). We fill these big buckets with our green peppers and then transfer them to big blue pallets. Our goal was to fill 12 pallets, all of which would benefit the Palm Beach County Food Bank. I had my youngest daughter and her friend with me that morning. They worked so hard on that foggy day, working around the mud to get in there and grab just the right peppers. We were told they had to be larger than a tennis ball and very firm. Keith, the director, made it a point to tell us to make sure they didn’t have any bruising or they couldn’t be used. The girls were so into it, making a game about carrying the most peppers, finding the “jackpot” pepper bush and who could fill the bucket first.
As the morning went on, the competition helped to past the time but as we went to toss our pepper in the pallet, they didn’t pass inspection. The truck driver checked out our crops and pointed out the bruises. He cautioned us to be more careful as “one bad bruise ruins the WHOLE pallet.” The. Whole. Pallet. The science behind it has something to do with the production of the plant hormone ethylene during the ripening process. If that bad pepper stays in the pallet, it will then spill over to the healthy peppers and spoil the rest, no matter how small or insignificant the bruise seems. In that moment, I was able to share with the girls that this tiny bruise, on an otherwise healthy pepper, had the potential to not only ruin this pepper, but all the other peppers it will come in contact with. While we finished quickly, and had fun completing the task at hand, in the end our work wasn’t high quality. How many times in our walk with Christ do we race around doing good works but neglect our prayer time with Him? How many of us are 90% good, but just have this little sin thing over here in our pocket we aren’t willing to let go of? Do you know that you aren’t just ruining your walk with Christ but you could potentially be soiling the entire pallet around you? Your family. Your coworkers. Your church community.
None of us are 100% good. The bible is clear that “for everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23) We are ALL in need of a Savior. While the gift of grace is free to all who confess Jesus as Lord and Savior, and no amount of good works can earn our way into heaven, we are to serve the Lord while we are here on earth. Walking with him is a daily choice, a decision we have to make, as we our prone to feed our selfish, sinful desires. I am guilty of filling my plate with so many good things, that I leave little time for studying God’s word. I can be short tempered with my kids or shy away from ministering to a friend in need because it makes me uncomfortable. During these times, I get that icky feeling in my stomach and I know what I should be doing. It is the Holy Spirit convicting me and trying to draw me back to Him. When we fail, and our bruises show, the Lord is gracious to forgive us again. My goal is to be more intentional in my actions, choosing to seek His guidance FIRST and then act.
My husband and I were having a conversation in the kitchen and our kids walked in and asked what we were talking about and we told them our will. My youngest daughter asked “What’s a will?” and I explained that it was our way of preparing for the family should we pass away and some basic details. Immediately one daughter was upset that the topic was being addressed, one asked for more details and one daughter shouted “YES! We get to live with Nana and Abuelo!”All three girls heard the same information; in the event that daddy and I pass away, you would go live with your grandparents. Yet each child processed this information differently. One immediately celebrated, one immediately felt abandoned and one wasn’t able to take a position on the topic without further clarification. This short scenario is an example of life in general. Everyone has a different perspective.
As we approach Christmas, I always think of Mary and Joseph. I have written in the past about how I am in awe of Joseph and his perspective of the coming of the Messiah. He had to make a decision to trust the Lord and marry this woman who was pregnant with NOT his child. The bible states that even Joseph “had in mind to divorce her quietly” (Matthew 1:19). What a difficult that step of faith must have been!
This year, I have been drawn to Mary’s perspective. As I grow as a mother/ woman in Christ, I look to people I consider to be godly woman. I observe how they interact with their children, how they support their husband, how they handle themselves in public. I sometimes get that jealous bone and think “If only I had her personality” or “How different would it be if I had that situation?” The truth is I don’t know their struggles. I just know how I perceive their life to be.
Take Mary- Mary was the mother of Christ; what a responsibility that must have been! Mary was also around 15 years old (some speculate anywhere between 12-16 years old). Fifteen years old…and pregnant by the Holy Spirit (Think of how crazy that must’ve sounded). I speculate that Mary was talked about, whispered about by the people in her town. She ends up travelling around 75 miles nine months pregnant and delivers in a manager. Does that sound glorious? That difficult start coupled with the struggles of raising a child only to watch him crucified 30+ short years later; I don’t think she would’ve planned that for her life. Believers today have the vantage point of knowing the whole story. Jesus IS the Messiah. His life served a purpose for eternity, to save sinners like me. God sent His son, to live this life and suffer a painful death, for His purpose.
As we enter the Christmas season, this time of year can be particularly difficult for many people. Life is messy and the suffering seems to be exacerbated by all the messages of joy, peace and merriment we are supposed to feel this time of year. Some people struggle publicly but many struggle in private. For many, this IS the most wonderful time of the year but not everyone has the same perspective.
The reality is that we live in a fallen world and will continue to struggle this side of heaven. The one TRUE way to have a peace and joy is to know that THIS isn’t all there is to life. You have the opportunity to spend eternity, in Heaven, with no suffering. If you have not accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, or have questions about what that means, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or any staff member. We are more than happy to share the greatest news of all with you!
My youngest son has never been much of a snuggler. He’s rough and tough and would rather be tackled than rest on your lap and snuggle. He is quick to anger, mainly over the smallest things. He is as cute as the day is long. Those blue eyes and long eyelashes keep him out of trouble some of the time. Recently, his outbursts have become longer and more intense behavior. Some of it is typical toddler temper tantrums, but much of it is sensory seeking. He plays too rough because his body requires a certain amount of input and crashing and nagging is his way of getting that input. His occupational therapist recommended deep pressure to help calm him during these agitated episodes. The problem is…he hates to be touched when he is like this. I tried to explain that but was told to just “bear hug him until he calms down.” So the screaming, kicking, yelling, flailing creature…I’m just supposed to wrap myself around this tornado and hope for the best? Sure. That sounds magical.
The first few tries were less than magical. I was hit kicked, banged into and I really just made the situation worse. He felt bad afterwards because he “hurt me”. I felt bad because he’s uncomfortable in his own skin and I just sit there and watch it unfold. The next few episodes were like Meltdown Double-Dutch, waiting and hesitating, hoping for the perfect time to jump in and wrap myself around him. After a few rounds, I was able to find the perfect time to jump in. I grabbed him and just squeezed him as he screamed and tried to fight it. It was just minutes but it felt so long as he is screaming “stop it, stop it, stop it” while I’m whispering in his ear “it’s ok, you’re ok.” 2 minutes or so later, he calmed down, like his entire body became butter and just melted into the embrace. His cry became a whimper and we both just held each other through this tough time.
I recently heard the song by Casting Crowns “Just Be Held” and immediately thought of my little man and my own relationship with the Lord “When you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away, you’re not alone. Stop holding on and just be held. Your world is not falling apart, its falling into place. I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held.”
Woah- Your world is not falling apart…its falling into place. Stop holding on…just be held.” How I wish my son knew that when I grabbed him to hug him, it was for his own good. It was my way of providing comfort to him; a squeeze that he needed, even if he didn’t want it. How many times is my Father trying to hold me, comfort me, protect me and I’m fighting and screaming STOP IT! STOP IT! When I feel my life is ‘falling apart’ or ‘spinning out of control’, do I rest knowing that the Lord is moving in my life and that the struggles serve a purpose?
As we enter Thanksgiving, my prayer is that each one of us will notice God’s hand in our life and be thankful for the life squeezes that come from a loving Father.