Different Does Not Mean Wrong

Don’t you love how sometimes God will push the recall button of an old memory to teach a new lesson? Of course, then I have that whole “Hey, wait a second…” moment as I realize that obviously He has walked me down this path before. On the other hand, sometimes those wonderful old lessons can yield a brand new crop of results.

Scenario #1: Shortly after marrying my perfect dreamboat of a man, I slowly began to comprehend that he had some slight, hardly worth mentioning…um, flaws. From toothpaste tubes to toilet paper, from dirty socks to dirty dishes, would you believe he handled all those things incorrectly? Surely he must have noticed that each time he picked up the toothpaste it had (yet again) been left neatly and perfectly squeezed from the bottom! TP flap: over the top. Socks: right side out and NOT in balls. Dishes: rinsed as a minimum standard.

Ahhh. *sigh* The sweet saga of that first year of marriage.

As the weeks and months went on, he grasped the “proper” way of tackling all these little odds and ends correctly. (And, much to my delight, my bare bottom never touched cold ceramic in the middle of the night again!) In the due course of time our little married life became a family life; and as much as I would have contented myself with “correcting” any and all little shortcomings, I found my hands filled to the brim with a baby who thought sleep was overrated. Thus, this groggy woman gratefully accepted any small assistance my wonderful husband offered.

One sunny morning, as I emptied the dishwasher, I happened to notice that–in spite of getting loaded “incorrectly”–all of the dishes came out…clean!!! Each one just as clean as the next, and all just as clean as if I had loaded and ran the dishwasher myself!

At that moment, God’s truth shot across my mind and my heart: different does not mean wrong.

Uh oh. My mind suddenly raced hither and thither gathering up all the details and instances of judging my husband through the lens of right v. wrong instead of allowing him the respect of simply doing something differently. And the repentance of my heart transformed into a new freedom in my marriage as my happy heart sang out, “The love of my life isn’t wrong–he’s different!!!” Of course, once I truly, whole-heartedly embraced that fact, I began to appreciate his differences in the most delightful of ways. (Although–and I gotta hang on to this–leaving dirty socks inside-out and in a little ball can never be right!)

Scenario #2: As many a parent before me has noted, the years flew by. The baby boy I once cherished in my arms has transformed into a man leaving for college. The lessons I spent years teaching him have taken hold in his heart. He no longer throws rocks in the pool just to watch the splash, nor does he ride his roller blades down the hall. No Legos litter the floors of our home, nor does he simply out-n-out disobey my words. He treasures me. He honors me. He frustrates me.

While praying for my two children this morning, my mind stumbled over a disparity within my heart as I prayed that they would each cherish God’s wisdom as they chose and set priorities for their lives. My prayer for my daughter came easy as I imagined her sticking to her guns and walking in discipline in all that God called her to do. My prayer for my son, however, seemed to stick a little. Why was that? What caused this inconsistency within my heart over two young people who each love and long to serve the Lord Jesus Christ?

Well, like any smart person should do, I asked the One who created me. And guess what? An old, beautiful refrain came leaping across my mind: different does not mean wrong!

My darling daughter, who seems to prioritize in a way which is comfortable and easy for me to understand–for it aligns familiarly to my own, makes praying for her regarding her choices and preferences come more naturally. (That’s not to say she’s not unique; her style’s just more…well, similar.) My son, on the other hand, zooms through life with his own methods and priorities, which varies so distinctly from anything I could dream up. (This probably makes him very much like that guy I married!) Because his actions and agendas leave me puzzled, however, does not make his wrong and mine right: it merely makes them different from each other.

What do you know? God made my son unique!

I tell you this in faith that the same Lord who taught me to appreciate the beautiful differences in my husband–which transformed my marriage!–will employ His Spirit to work His sweet changes in how I respect, pray for, and cherish that singular persona known as my son. May God alone continue to mold him and shape him in HIS image. And I’ll stand in the background and pray with the love only his mother can have…a love that already knows that God’s molding comes with pain, but a love that he can trust will forever hold a soothing balm.

“For we are His workmanship, created for good works in Christ, that He prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

Of Counting Calories and Tallying Rejections

I have entered a new world of “diet.” It’s called eating right without counting calories. Can I get an “amen”? I can’t even begin to tell you the freedom I feel away from the food scales, the calorie apps, and the nutrition logs. This yeast-free, grain-free diet (Know the Cause Phase 1 Diet) may seem restrictive to some, but I feel absolutely liberated. All I have to do is choose food that is free of grain and yeast (sugar is a grain!), and I can eat whenever I want and (for the most part) how much I want, which has resulted in a loss of 25 pounds in about as many weeks. Ah…the sweet life away from keeping tabs. It’s enough to make a girl smile.

Now while that little bit of info may seem delightful, can I tell you something that has freed me even more? The liberty of not tallying rejections! You cannot even begin to imagine the playground taking place in my heart because I don’t have to foist guilt on others nor tote bitterness around upon my shoulders. I get to be free. Oh yeah…that puts a grin on!

Needless to say, this didn’t happen overnight! By the time I first said my prayer to ask Jesus to be my Savior and King, I had gone through much pain and rejection…all by the ripe old age of 19. Though I didn’t understand it at the time, I had learned to carry an inordinate amount of pain, which meant that until I grasped how to offload my inner torment to God, I experienced a near-extreme breakdown over the smallest signs of rejection. My limit for pain and rejection had reached capacity.

Yesterday I randomly recalled a memory from an event that took place after I had been saved about five years. My husband and I had been asked to host a table at a church dinner…and no one sat with us. Well, one friend, but she was in the choral assembly and only sat with us half of the evening. I remembered the hope I felt each time someone came near and the excruciating disappointment each time they sat someplace else. Try as I might to contain them, those tears determined to flood my eyes.

Reflection has taught me to see that though our table was in the front near the stage, it was completely opposite of the door, which allowed people to inevitably find seating before our table. Also, I’m certain that if those dear coordinators knew what inner griefs tormented me, they would have done everything they could to put me at a table nearer the door. The pain of the evening was not intentional, yet it did happen.

Fast-forward many, many years to another dinner at our church. Yet this time my husband served as an associate pastor. As we wended our way through the tables in search of seating, we get offered seats at the head table, which we declined…mostly because the darling hosts who extended those seats to us would have had to vacate them! No! Not for us. Then our eyes fixed on a table with a cute young couple seated all alone. The sweet young wife carried a hopeful, longing expression that I remembered so well. On the way, friends pulled us aside to tell us that two seats remained at their table, but we knew we had to decline. Our choice had been made. One big table with one sweet couple awaited.

As I sat there, I could not help but wonder at God’s goodness. Had I never known the pain of a lonely table, I would never have looked for the hosts who sat alone. Never. My husband and I would have sat happily surrounded by friends and gone home content, naively ignorant of another couple who may have gone home with broken hearts.

I learned one of my life’s most valuable lessons that evening: a pain yielded to God reaps a bounty of graciousness.

Because I had determined early in my Christian walk that if I was to be God’s, He had to have all of me to do with as He saw fit…including my pain. He had shown me such continual faithfulness and love that I felt safe in laying down any deemed entitlement to pain and rejection. Over several growing years, I learned (repetitively, too, I must say) that because my pain is precious to me–for it often came at a cost–it is precious to Him…and I can trust Him with it.

Since I expect absolute honesty from myself, you need to know why this all came up lately. Plus, I want you know I’m not serving up leftovers here–these inner meditations result from a current struggle with rejection, from which I repented of my feelings of entitlement and pride but this morning. May God strengthen me by His Spirit even now.

In my past two and a half years of, more or less, living a primarily solitary life filled with extreme exhaustion which often precludes me from the simplest tasks, I have received very little encouragement or assistance from those outside my home. I receive invitations to events, but no simple note to cheer my weary soul. I receive tons of “hellos” sent via my family each Sunday, but rarely a quick text or facebook greeting. My heart feels pricked when I know of others who get sick for a couple of weeks or face a time of trial and have help with dinners, while I have received maybe four…about one every seven months.

Now please understand…I’m not complaining…I’m merely attempting to paint a portrait of my circumstances so you can glimpse the surroundings from which my heart must find succor. And know this–the moments of feeling spurned arouse themselves so infrequently that they do hardly make a dent in the overall makings of me. However, I paint them here now because so many experience such pains…and they don’t know how to stop counting them up and then putting them on others.

Please enter the real deal, my highest solution…well, to pretty much anything: I spend each morning with God. Through His word I glean some key truths on which to hang my hopes:

  • My Father sees (“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” 2 Chronicles 16:9a.)
  • My Father understands (“You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you understand my thought from afar” Psalm 139:2.)
  • My Father cares (“Cast all your anxieties on Him, for He cares for you” (I Peter 5:7.)

My Father God has a plan plotted out for me to conform me into the image of His Son, which stands as His purpose regardless of the actions or inactions of others. I get to stand alone before God in my circumstances and inquire of Him what He sees and holds just for me. I don’t have to tally anyone else into the equation. My God + me = freedom from the tyranny of painful rejection and joy in the knowledge that He’s making me like Jesus. Woot-woot, ya’ll!!

So now we come to a second of life’s most valuable lessons (two in one blog–who knew?): we can choose to bind the responsibility of our pain on others or release them and trust God–we cannot do both.

Isn’t it interesting how a healthy diet for one’s body and a healthy diet for one’s soul can run so parallel? In both areas, if we dine on the right stuff we don’t have to keep track of the wrong stuff. And God’s word filled with God’s wisdom is the very best of stuff. In addition, when my soul is hungry, I can eat anything I want from God’s menu to my heart’s content which will result in the transformation of my mind until my inner being looks more and more like my Jesus!

I now find myself at the final of life’s most valuable lessons for the day (That’s three for those who are counting!): Freedom from harboring the pain of rejection allows me to walk through life’s situations with a heart to minister to others rather than wondering who will minister to me.

Stop counting sins (and calories!). Keep reading God’s word. Start serving instead of expecting to get served. And never forget that God’s truth in God’s way brings the most exhilarating freedom…always!

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners” (Isaiah 61:1).

Sweet and Upright Words

I have a confession to make. As a 50-year old woman of two young adult children, I still struggle using the correct words to teach and train. Anybody with me?

Sad, ain’t it?

Despite my head knowledge that my children have arrived at the ripe old ages of 21 and 18, I find ugly words like “Don’t…” and “Stop…” creeping harshly into my disciplinary technique. Rather than exhorting and encouraging them to more thoughtful and adult actions, I find myself correcting them with that nasty ole “mom voice.”

Example of shame: Yesterday morning I noticed my daughter pouring hot water into her teacup with the pot positioned where it could easily dribble into the “xylitol” bowl. However, instead of using words of respect, I found this gem shooting out of my mouth: “Hey! Don’t pour that over the xylitol!” And, of course, said comment was made in front of her younger brother, who happened to simultaneously chuckle, which I’m certain made her feel about six.

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Oh, and don’t even get me started on the ugliness that finds its way into the corrective measures I take with my son! Somedays I simply feel like Paul when he penned, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24). Though perhaps I should cry out, “Who will set me free from this tongue of death?”

I know that a host of mothers have gone before me in this transition of role; of going from mommy to mom to mother of adults. Many have done this beautifully, I am sure, while others like me have struggled, and others even have sadly failed. Sure, these children still live in our homes, but (and I need to truly understand this deep in my heart and mind!) we will lose relationships with them and respect from them if we cannot grant them the respect of a fellow adult. That does not mean that our teaching and mentoring days are over–they have merely changed shape.

God has granted us age and, hopefully with that, the wisdom of those years. Not only that, but He has freely given us the wisdom of the ages: His solid word. When we spend genuine time daily in the Bible, we find that it transforms our hearts and minds. Ultimately, then, we will find that since “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34), our words will begin to reflect the word we truly “have hidden in our hearts.”

Proverbs 18:21 states that “death and life are in the power of the tongue.” I have watched my words crush my children, but I have also witnessed God use my words to bring life and understanding into their hearts. Interestingly, the words that crushed came in a torrent; the words that brought life settled sweetly and succinctly like a seed well sown.

God used the words of Job to convict me this morning. And from that place of brokenness I pray for those of you who also find your words striking out hurtfully at the precious ones you love: may you spend genuine time before God in His word, may His word challenge and change you, and may He, in turn, use you to speak life into those around you.

“Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone astray. How forceful are upright words” (Job 6:24-25a).

Walk Boldly in Your Kingdom Role

My darling, precocious daughter.

My darling, precocious daughter.

She was such a little thing–that precocious toddler of ours–but she simply wouldn’t obey me. I told her to do something. She stubbornly refused. The whole scene played out as though I weren’t even uttering a word. Actually, the whole scene played out as though I weren’t even in the room! There she sat, continuing in her own little world of play and ignoring my now repetitive requests.

Frustration!! (Every single parent knows what I mean!) And frankly, though I hate to admit it now, I didn’t know what to do.

An unwavering certainty started settling itself across my heart and mind. Undeniably, a truth arose in my motherly breast: I was the mom here. No other mom was going to magically show up and make my daughter obey me. This was God’s new role for me–and I needed to walk in it.

Rapidly my mind raced to grasp and sort all the gleanings I had gained regarding motherhood. Compassionate nurturer. Kindly supplier. Faithful corrector. Ah…faithful corrector–my missing link. Thusly armed with my new comprehension, I stepped boldly into my full role as mother.

I couldn’t help but recall this scenario when I considered Esther’s plight after Mordecai challenged her to plead for her people before the king. Granted she was the queen, wife of the king, but the Persians had this nasty little law about putting to death anyone who appeared uninvited before the king’s presence–unless he held out his golden scepter toward her, thus extending his favor.

In her time as queen, no doubt, she had grown to understand other aspects of her role. Reign in the women’s quarters. Appear in her finest at state functions. Hasten to the king at his request. But this role? How could she ever walk in such a strong calling? How could she present herself and find that presentation enough?

We all know those feelings. We come supplied with a handy list of our shortcomings. If others can’t figure out why they shouldn’t accept us in our role, we could probably tell them several reasons. But there we vulnerably stand anyway. Heart racing. Doubts pulsing. Fear rising. But we stand. We must. For this is our role.

Each new bride or groom, each new parent, each new employee, each new landlord, each new pastor, each new anything, must understand what their role entails and step boldly in. Will we make mistakes? You betcha! Will our shortcomings show? Undoubtedly! But if God has called us to a new role, we have no other choice but, with eyes fixed on the King of kings, to step undeterred in what He has granted us to do.

Actually, that’s not quite true, is it? Esther had a choice. With great wisdom, however, Mordecai counseled her that God would supply relief and deliverance through another, but the cost to her would be great. You see, we can choose to not walk in the role God has conferred on us, but at what cost?

What if I had chosen to not walk in the full role of mother? What if I had elected to simply love on my children and provide their needs? What if I had decided that disciplining my daughter and son was too much work, or felt that perhaps it might impede my “loving” relationship with them? Would I now have a twenty-one year old blessing of a daughter? Would I have an eighteen year old blessing of a son? Or would the cost to my life and home be grievous? And, since my children must learn discipline, who then would God have raised up to serve as their tool of correction?

I don’t know what new role God may have opened for you. My daughter currently has a new role, and both my son and my daughter have new roles looming before them as God takes them into new arenas. But I do know the same holds true for you that holds true for them–and that has held true for me. God will provide and equip for that to which He has called.

Walk boldly in. He is with you.

“Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13b-14).

Twenty-Nine Months

Not only have I not posted anything in a while, I have not updated on my health in ever so long. Hence, with not a whole lot more I can accomplish from my comfy brown couch, I thought I’d bring you all up to date. Plus, I seriously don’t think I will have to put as much effort into organizing my thoughts as I do my other posts. Well, we’ll see–you know how all writers like to ensure their words communicate concisely and colorfully (and apparently with alliterations!).

As I entered this new year I felt as though my relapse with ME/CFS had started to make a slow upward swing–which actually doesn’t say a whole lot other than I had started to realize that perhaps I wouldn’t live the rest of my life from the bottom of a barrel. I no longer required fourteen hours in bed each day, meaning only around eleven hours spent prone in my nest of all comforts. Also, my walks seemed to occur on a more “daily” schedule than previously. Although I couldn’t shop by myself nor rarely cook a simple meal for my family, I still believed that my health was heading on the uphill slope.

One little thing plagued me, however: I could not seem to do anything about my horrendous scalp psoriasis. I searched online for diet or food related causes and cures, and found that everyone seemed to have an opinion with a mish-mash of food ideas that worked for them, but almost all seemed to have sugar in common. And I thought to myself, “Well, I can at least start there!” So “start there” immediately I did. Sugar in all its sources and names promptly left my diet. (I couldn’t even find any gluten-free bread without sugar!) The date: January 16, 2014.

Side note: Upon going sugar-free, my piercing headaches completely stopped. When tested with a salad dressing containing sugar a month later, within two hours my piercing headache returned. Not trying that again!

About three weeks later, a friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer and was interested in alternatives to traditional chemo. In an effort to assist her, I offered to get information on a diet that another friend had adopted for the same purpose–and with wonderful success! Before I simply passed it along, however, I felt it would be wise to at least preview it, and found myself absolutely intrigued. I spent two or three days scouring the site, reading medical articles and blogs, as well as watching videos. One video interview showed the host, Doug Kaufmann, speaking with a man who had gone on the diet and cured his psoriasis (photos included!) over a nine-month to a year period. Not an easy fix, surely, but an incredibly compelling one. Plus, with a maternal-family history of cancer, I wondered if I could preclude this awful disease from impacting me. Besides, with already being gluten-free, sugar-free, and (mostly) dairy-free, I calculated that I was pretty much just one giant step away from ticking the boxes off this yeast-free, grain-free diet. Okay. I didn’t like the idea of going corn-free, soy-free, and restricting my favorite fruits, but at this nothing ventured-nothing gained point, I figured, “Why not?” Start date: February 24, 2014.

Four months later:

I have faced rather interesting changes and challenges as I have pursued improvement with this diet. First of all, my atrocious scalp psoriasis has cleared about 70-80% Pretty doggone amazing for something that traditional medicine seems to think is incurable. In addition, the small patches on my torso and legs are finally diminishing as well.

Big bonus: I’ve lost 22 pounds (20 of which I put on during my relapse), yet I’m never hungry and have relatively few and minor cravings. (Occasionally watermelon or pineapple look tempting. What can I say? I’ve always been a fruit girl!) And this is from a gal who still spends most of her day in a reclined position!

Random medical factor: my body seems to better absorb nutrients. Based on a recent blood-test and comparing it to one from about a year and a half ago, my Vitamin D is now higher than the normal parameters as opposed to sitting near the moderately low level of “normal” although I had started taking less Vitamin D about a month before the test. I now get to take a lot less!

Current struggles: Since beginning the diet, I find that I have regressed to needing to be in bed for about twelve to thirteen hours a day. I puzzled over that and researched the role rest plays in the healing process. Ultimately, I concluded that this need for more sleep/rest actually supports the other healing factors I see taking place in my body. God designed the human body to require more energy to as it goes through the healing process; it needs to eliminate toxins and support a weakened immune system among other things. Thus, even though it may seem like a regression, I see it as complete support of a healing process.

An additional understanding I’ve gleaned: I’ve grown to realize that my sympathetic nervous system is entirely messed up. My entire body chronically feels like it’s “on the edge”. When I researched the sympathetic nervous system, I found many aspects which described my body’s overall function, including: decreased saliva, fight or flight ready to engage, and increased heart rate. When I realized that the sympathetic nervous system stems from the spinal cord and I associated that with my current back/neck problems, I began a more aggressive treatment schedule with my chiropractor. Not only that, but I understood another reason why my body wanted rest: it needed to allow the parasympathetic nervous system to recover and reassert itself.

My personal prognosis: After fifteen years with this debilitating disease, I have to stay focused on the fact that repairing my health will be more like turning a battleship around than a speed boat. I will stay the course and I will let you know.

Until then, nap anyone? :)

“Teach me good discernment and knowledge…” Psalm 119:66a

PS. If you’re interested in the diet that I have embraced, please check out: http://www.knowthecause.com/

And if an alternative treatment for cancer intrigues you, check out his 25-minute video on the subject.

Not Just Any Mother

We must have made a dismal picture, my brothers and I, that summer’s day in 1977, for it was the day that our mother stepped from this earth into eternity. With all the fear of my thirteen–nearly fourteen–years, I fled from her room just seconds from her last gasp. As the intensity of my pain mounted, I could bear it no more and found myself running down a cold, sterile corridor, flying past the stark waiting room to face the grayness of an unusual June sky. My dad, showing what felt to me a rare compassion, followed with the dreaded news, and as I threw myself into the warmth of his arms, the heavens let forth their tears and wept.

Today, as we celebrate the role of mother, I cannot help but consider the kind and loving soul that shaped my younger self. Within her gaze, I truly understood what it meant to know love. Her open laughter over my antics and childish statements cast a net of acceptance around my heart, while her firm hand of discipline built a barrier of safety which melded me deeply into foundations of trust and security. With her alone did I know the loving sanctuary of true childhood.

The summer of my ninth birthday, I recall her gathering her children to the kitchen table of our Eddyville home. With gentleness, she shared her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis and what it meant to her and changes we could expect to encounter. Yet with all the ignorance of a child, I simply nodded my understanding…while not understanding at all.

My beautiful, loving mom.

My beautiful, loving mom.

Over the next few years, I watched my beloved, beautiful mother slowly fading away. Her hands began to jitter and lack strength, and her steps began to falter. Although not fully grasping the totality of where this would lead, I became unquestionably familiar with insecurity and fear as I watched her move from a walker to a wheelchair to a hospital bed placed prominently in our living room. The pinions of any hope gave way when my step-father transferred her to a care center, and we three children moved to live with our dad.

Visiting this bedridden woman, who could no longer speak and needed others to care for her most basic needs, became part of our bi-weekly, and then weekly, routine–complements of our grandparents. Yet in her presence, I no longer felt the safety and understanding which had once bound my heart so sweetly. It felt strange and, quite frankly, I did not want these visits–I did not want this life.

But then, those beautiful blue eyes would rest on me, and I could almost tangibly feel her sorrow and pain as she gazed on the face of a daughter she could no longer reach out and touch, and for one moment my heart would squeeze with the realization that the love she held for me stood unchangeable.

Stands unchangeable. For in eternity–in the presence of God–pure, sacrificial love never falters nor fails. It waits stalwartly. And it bears witness to the mother I have become, and am yet to be.

I may have made a rather dismal picture that June day–a tear-streaked, motherless girl, wanting desperately to run, but with no place to go until finally finding refuge in the arms of a distant father. Yet over time I have found limitless shelter in the arms of the Most High. Unerringly patient, His love has filled me to abundance, and through His immeasurable love He has guided me to become a mom that my own precious mother would smile upon.

Interestingly, I find that the physical weaknesses which plague me daily compel me to consider the greatest gift a mother can give her child–the same gift my mother gave me, even at her weakest. It’s not the physical tangibles that our culture extols on this Mother’s Day–housework, errands, laundry, cooking, hostessing, chauffeuring, etc., etc.–things at which I fail miserably. No. The gift which each child will treasure for time immemorial is the accepting, encouraging, disciplining love springing forth from the heart of a mother.

The rarest, most precious of gifts.

Thus, while my mom could not be just like any mother, she could be that forever link of love which deeply instilled in my heart and my mind–indeed my very innermost being–the knowledge of an eternal, life-giving love–a love filled to overflowing with acceptance and encouragement, beckoning my soul to find refuge in God’s almighty truth and limitless forgiveness. And for these richest of reasons, I find my heart bound deeply with a cord of understanding on this Mother’s Day to my very own precious Not-Just-Any-Mother.

Thank you, Mom.

“Her children rise up and call her blessed…” (Proverbs 31:28a).

God’s Face -> Cutthroat Decisions

“In the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet a boy [age 16], [Josiah] began to seek the God of David his father, and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the Asherim, and the carved and the metal images” (2 Chronicles 34:3).

To my never-ending delight, I get to enjoy the role of mother to two pretty nifty young adult children. And much like young king Josiah, they have faced the challenge of growing up in about as un-Christlike a culture as you can find. Whereas Josiah’s father, Amon, endorsed that culture by choosing to do “what was evil in the sight of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 33:22a), my husband and I have tried our level best to choose, and to encourage our children’s choosing, of God’s highest–even in the small, unseen places which don’t play out on the big-screen of life.

Thus our little family has marched on, trying to evaluate our choices in light of God’s Word with a longing to stay sensitive to His Spirit’s direction. To the encouragement and conviction of some, and to the amusement and bewilderment of most, we don’t watch certain TV shows, go to certain movies, indulge in certain video games, nor read certain books. We don’t judge others, we simply try to judge our actions through God’s eyes. Imperfectly? You bet! But we’re in there swinging!

It should come as no surprise, then, when either of our thought-filled children come to us to talk about past choices–to wonder if they missed the boat in regards to the pleasures and delights this life has to offer. Or to ponder future choices–to consider what those will cost in light of past decisions. As many of their friends embrace all the cultural options available to even Christian youth, my children cannot help but speculate on what they might have lost out on, and will they continue to “miss out” if they maintain their trajectory.

The answer is yes. They have missed out on what our culture has to offer, and, yes, they will keep missing out if they stay their course.

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Christians who love Jesus and determine to seek His ways do NOT get to play both sides. We cannot serve God and indulge our flesh. We do not get to explore all the allures of our culture and maintain spiritual purity. We cannot sate our soul with societal pleasure and the fulfilling joy of the Lord.

And wise parents won’t allow their children to believe they can.

Furthermore, wise Christian parents will train their children when they are young to seek God’s face and act on God’s guidance.

You will note that as King Josiah sought the God of his father, he felt compelled to take action and purge his kingdom of the things which provoked those around him to serve their cultural gods. He didn’t just not participate–he went on a seek and destroy mission!

Seeking God will do that in a person, for to truly encounter God’s face will result in decisive cutthroat action. As a matter of fact, if we don’t find ourselves tearing down cultural idols in our lives, perhaps we should wonder if we’re really seeking God’s face.

“Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually” (1 Chronicles 16:11).