Oh No! Not YOYO Night!

My kids are hungry – A LOT. In fact, I think they’d be thrilled at the prospect of me staying in the kitchen all day aspiring to be the next Pioneer Woman.

Pioneer Woman’s kids have it made. Think about it. They have the Food Network’s test kitchen in their house every day! A teenagers’ dream.

But I’m not Pioneer Woman. I have a job, things to do, errands to run.

You probably do, too.

When my kids were younger, it was essential for me to feed them several times every day. If I didn’t feed them, they didn’t eat. If they didn’t eat, they wouldn’t grow and become healthy.

Now they’re getting older and it’s important for them to learn to feed themselves because I can’t accompany them to college to pour their milk and cut their meat.

I’ve been feeding them their whole life – they’ve come to expect it. They desire it. So when they don’t see me in the kitchen by 5:30pm, a look of dread melts across their faces. Their eyes become glassy and the color begins to drain from their faces.

Eventually, one of the kids will sheepishly ask, “Mom, are you going to cook dinner tonight?”

And if I reply, “Nope. It’s YOYO night!” their response usually resembles, “UGH! Not YOYO night!” (Insert gigantic sigh with the dramatic tossing back of their head.)

Because in our house, YOYO night means, “You’re On Your Own.”

In other words, I’m not cookin’.

AKA, Feed Yourself.

For the kids, this usually means throwing something from the freezer into the microwave or cracking open a can of soup. If they’re feeling particularly ambitious, they may pull out the toaster.

But by their reaction of despair, you would think I was asking them to kill and prepare the fatted calf from the family farm! (No, we don’t live on a farm and no, we don’t have any fatted calves. Just the occasional feral chicken, but I digress.)

They don’t want to do the work of getting their food. They want me to feed them.

As Christ followers, I think sometimes we have a similar approach regarding our relationship with God.

We love it when our pastors, books and small group leaders feed us. And they do. And they will.

But they can’t be the primary source of our spiritual food.

Your church, your small group, your friends have an important part to play in your spiritual growth. They build into your life, but they can’t be the sole caretakers of your spiritual life.

You have to do that. You have to take responsibility for your spiritual growth.

Eating a great meal once or twice a week might keep you alive, but you won’t flourish. You won’t be strong. You won’t grow very big.

In Jeremiah 17, the prophet Jeremiah tells of a tree that was planted by the riverbank.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. 8 They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear whe

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

The tree was intentionally planted by a water source.

The tree did the hard work of digging its roots down deep.

The tree never failed to bear fruit, even in times of heat and drought.

The tree wasn’t looking for someone to water it. The tree took responsibility for its own health and growth.

The Bible is the power of God. It has the power to transform your life. It has the power to cause your life to flourish even under adverse circumstances. You have to plant yourself by this healthy water source and do the hard work of digging your roots down deep.

When you’re physically hungry, you go to the kitchen for food. When you’re spiritually hungry, you go to God’s Word. (Not Netflix or social media) 🙂

Spiritual growth doesn’t happen from a distance. It happens as you dig your roots down deep.

Dear friend, feast on the abundance of God’s Word. It’s rich, fully satisfying and will never leave you wanting.

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water… Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you… I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. Psalm 63:1, 3, 5

What would your life look like if you gave God the first of your day? Your time? Your thoughts? Before you looked at your phone to check for messages, you paused and gave the day to him and said, “Thank you.”

 

 

Advertisements

The Struggle is Real

The end of January. To be honest, the zeal and enthusiasm with which I started the year have begun to wane.

Just three weeks ago, I was filled with hope and motivation. Filled with thoughts like, “This is my year!” “This year will be different!” “This is the year of big dreams and even bigger accomplishments!”

The burst of energy that surged with the beginning of the year has slowly faded and I’m in a fight. A fight to move forward. A fight to maintain some of the strides I made the first three weeks of the year.

My to-bed early, up-early, healthy eating, exercising, voracious reading aspirations aren’t what my flesh craves. My flesh wants to quit, throw in the towel, eat a box of Oreos, hit the beach, push the snooze button and gradually drift back to comfort.

But if I don’t give up, perhaps these tiny steps forward – if I keep persevering – will get me closer to where I hope to go.

There’s a story recorded in the Old Testament book of Zechariah that gives me great encouragement when facing the end-of-January weariness and staring at the long road ahead.

Many years earlier, the temple where God people worshiped had been destroyed and the people had been taken into exile. A man named Zerubbabel was given permission to lead a remnant of people back to their homeland.

Here’s what God spoke to Zerubbabel in Chapter 4,

Then he said to me, “This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Zechariah 4:7

I love this! In other words, you can try to do this on your own. You can fight, work, strive and strain and you may see a little progress. But if you will learn to trust God and tap into his unlimited power, you will discover a source of strength you’ve never experienced or even knew existed.

God’s message to Zerubbabel continues,

Then another message came to me from the Lord: “Zerubbabel is the one who laid the foundation of this Temple, and he will complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has sent me. Zechariah 4:8-9

If you study about the rebuilding of the temple detailed in the books of Ezra and Haggai, you’ll find the initial phases of the construction went slowly.

In fact, after 18 years all they had done was laid the foundation. Talk about being behind on a building project! They had work needs, family needs, distractions and opposition from other ethnic groups living in the area.

With all they had to do just to keep their daily life moving forward, when would they possibly find time to do what God was asking them to do?

The work was hard…long…not going as they planned. So they eventually stopped.

Isn’t this how we sometimes feel, too? Things aren’t moving as quickly as we hope. We’re not seeing the progress we wanted.

  • You’ve been exercising, but haven’t seen the weight loss
  • You’ve been eating healthy, but haven’t seen your health improve
  • You’ve been working faithfully at your job, but haven’t received the promotion or financial compensation you expected.
  • You’re trying to save money, but your debt is still growing.
  • You’ve applied everywhere, but still haven’t found a job.

It’s slow…tiresome. We want to give up. But before you do, listen to God’s encouragement to Zerubbabel,

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” Zechariah 4:10 NLT

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin,

Isn’t that exciting? The Lord rejoices to see the work begin! You’ve got to place one foot in front of the other, one stone upon another stone. You have to start where you’re at and keep moving forward.

God rejoices to see you be faithful and consistent in the small things.

Perhaps this is where you’re at right now. Whether it’s your diet, your exercise, your budget, your devotional life,…

The yearning to start something will always be greater than the desire to finish.

Here’s my encouragement to you,

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Don’t give up! Jesus is walking alongside you every step of the way. And I’m gonna guess that He gets greater joy out of watching us along the journey than the actual finish line.

Small consistent steps forward will eventually get you to your desired destination.

 

 

 

Ten Minutes till Impact – What I Learned from the Hawaii Missile Scare

January 13, 8:07am. A day and time that will forever be imprinted in my memory as the morning when over one million people received this startling alert…

fullsizeoutput_6ddb

No need for your morning coffee when you wake up to this!

My phone conveniently decided to stop working the night before; so, when my husband told me in his calm Japanese demeanor, “An emergency alert just came to my phone,” my usual Italian “level ten” freak out reaction was reduced to about a 6.5.

Within seconds, our peaceful isle of paradise spiraled into a panic. People racing through the streets to find shelter. Families hiding in bunkers and bathrooms. One of my sons, who was at his paddling regatta, said the scene at the beach was reminiscent of the apocalypse – hundreds of people running to their cars trying to escape the imminent threat.

Thankfully, it was an error. Apparently, someone pushed the wrong button.

While those 38 minutes were quite traumatic – and a message I hope to never see on my phone again EVER – in a strange way the whole experience was kind of a gift.

Let me explain…

Our community, for 38 minutes, collectively captured a glimpse of what’s truly important.

Faced with the realization that within ten minutes we may be entering into eternity brought laser focus to our lives like nothing else possibly could.

My hurry and hustle, necessities and needs suddenly didn’t matter. The projects, the cleaning, the laundry, the errands – my “urgent, don’t-get-in-my-way to-do list” was reduced to…

  1. My family
  2. My family
  3. My family

All I wanted was to get home to my kids. Nothing else mattered anymore.

I wasn’t alone on this.

In my conversations with others about their experience, all of them involved gathering together with the people you love for a few words of prayer, love and comfort.

No one’s focus was on their stuff. It was all about people. Helping people, serving people, calling people, being with people.

I can’t be sure, but hopefully, some of these calls and conversations were between family members who hadn’t spoken in years. After holding onto years of offense, perhaps, this experience created an opportunity to lay aside differences and offer reconciliation?

Scripture reminds us of the urgency of the times in which we live. In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul admonishes the Thessalonians,

Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3

Suddenlyunexpectedly… When you least expect it, Christ will come. You don’t know when, so be ready. In other words, don’t get so busy with your life that you schedule God out of it.

It seems the apostle Paul understood this pretty well and lived with a level of urgency and awareness that life is a gift to be used wisely, with great care and intention.

Paul continues on this thought to the Thessalonians by finishing with these words,

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Perhaps the urgency with which Paul lived is what continually inspired him to encourage the early Christians to live in unity with one another? To be a light to a dark world? To offer hope to the hurting? To turn their focus from their wants and desires outward to the world they were called to love.

You can almost hear him pleading in his letters, “Put aside your pettiness, prejudices, preferences and politics and be the Church to a world that is hurting and searching for hope.”

Because when nothing else matters, people still do.

Which caused me to consider, what if I learned to live with this urgency and focus every day?

To receive every day as a gift, being fully present, truly enjoying and valuing the people in my life? Not taking them for granted. Not allowing little things to drive a wedge into my relationships? Not allowing my busy schedule to take precedent over the joy of gathering with those I love?

  • Is there a phone call you need to make? Make it.
  • Is there forgiveness you need to extend to someone? Extend it.
  • Are there words you need to say? Say them.
  • Is there something you need to do? Do it.

Because when nothing else matters, people still do.