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Posts Tagged ‘Rebellion’

feedsheepccc“Do you love me?” Jesus asked Peter – you and me, too.

“Yes”, Peter answered.

Jesus told Peter – and you and me – “Feed my lambs. . . . Shepherd my sheep. . . . Feed my Sheep” (John 21: 15-19)

Last year, my family chose to sponsor through Compassion International an 11 year old boy in Haiti. He is one of those lambs that need feeding, literally and spiritually. My support allows for others to spiritually mother and father this boy – and it allows those spiritual parenting hands to fill bowls and make soul-contact that I cannot because I am so far away.

Christians are a faith people commissioned to take the gospel to the world, to love our neighbors as ourselves, to feed God’s lambs. Yet, as we minister to the great needs of those around the world, it is equally important to not neglect the mission fields in our own communities, from backyards to school yards to church yards – all filled with children and young adults who cry out to be fed and shepherded. 

It is a daunting mission-field, filled with the churched and un-churched – wearing rebellion, disinterest, eschewing group-think and God-think, daring others to look beneath the tattoos and piercings, the black clothes and saggy pants – daring you to find the beauty beneath because they have trouble finding it themselves.

“There are teens with bigger problems,” someone once told me about a churched teen, setting on a rebellion path.

“It’s all in the parenting,” someone else said about an un-churched teen not interested in God the Father because maybe he’s never experience a Shaddai-kind of father.

“There are a lot of people around who can’t wait to tell you what you’ve done wrong, but there aren’t many fathers[mothers] willing to take the time and effort to help you grow up” (1 Cor 4:15).

I’m going to tell you straight up – I think it’s easy to send letters and financial support to a little boy in Haiti who needs. It’s not so easy to walk into the neighborhood mission field, where souls not only wear wrappings to discourage, daring you to come closer, but who fluently push back in your own language – who maybe through that pushing back allow you to feel as uncomfortable and graceless as they feel in this big old world.

When our children – yours and mine do this – we push right back, we reach right in, both physically and spiritually. But there are children – regardless of the age – who might not have a parent who is able, for various reasons, to fight that spiritual battle, to stand in the gap, to weather the ugly storm and fight for them.

“Do you love me?” Jesus asked. . . . “Feed my lambs”. . . “Shepherd my sheep”. . . “Feed my sheep.”

Not just my lambs . . . all the lambs: the lambs He puts in our path between our kitchen counter and the school desks our kids sit in or the sports field we walk on or the pew we sit in. It’s not just a one time feeding, a one time foray. It is a continual going back, our footsteps creating a path of familiarity.

“The real religion of the world comes from women much more than from men – from mothers most of all, who carry the key of our souls in their bosoms.” ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Spiritual mothers and fathers care enough to slog through spiritual poverty and hunger, through a minefield of emotions that our country’s children seem to battle, so many inside things that tear at them – these spiritual mothers and fathers slog through to carry soul keys to help youth and adults unlock who they are in Christ.

Are you a spiritual mother or father in your community? Are you willing to reach through uncomfortable barriers? To be challenged? To shepherd through real relationship?

Spiritual Parents do that – love children beyond their own, fight for them, push back, get uncomfortable, don’t give up in the ugliness of the challenge.

You don’t have to buy a plane ticket. You don’t have to take foster classes – though both are good. You just need to make your hearts available from your kitchen counter into the school rooms, the sports fields, the church pews and in-between. God will bring them – if you will love them.

“Do you love me?” Jesus asked. . . . “feed my lambs. . . shepherd my sheep. . . feed my sheep.”

 

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“Celebrate,” he belted out, swinging his right arm in an arc, palm face forward
in a Wal-Mart aisle, walking beside his dad.

“Rejoice,” left arm, swinging in an arc, palm face forward.

Both arms held in a V – just waiting. . . waiting for the right count . . .
“Exalt the name of the Lord,” and his arms shimmied upward, reaching high, words to the rest of the song following.

Little boy singing uninhibited of His Lord, a song from his church musical – overflowing
in Wal-Mart.

My husband smiled, telling me about it – part proud, part sheepish about this boisterous, out-loud
singing of a little boys heart
celebrating the Father
throughout Wal-Mart
His dad didn’t tell him to stop, though – he let it just flow out –

an odd little smile on his face in the telling – an odd smile that I remember today, making me think it was a moment to be stored for days where faith needed remembering

little boy letting out his song
his faith song
planted something deep
with roots reaching
that wouldn’t be so hard to pull out
when the hard times came
the teen times

““For there is hope for a tree,
When it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
And its shoots will not fail.
8 “Though its roots grow old in the ground
And its stump dies in the dry soil,
9 At the scent of water it will flourish
And put forth sprigs like a plant.” (Job 14: 7-9)

hydrangeas2c
and something that once bloomed, was cut to the stump, like my hydrangea
when we transplanted last year
and it looked so lost, nothing but dry sticks through April, May, June, July –
“Just wait,” my husband said. “It will grow back.”
and so I waited, making myself hope, making myself believe
that we did it right
then one August evening, we saw a little green, pea-sized
on a dead-looking branch
Hundreds of days later, this Saturday morning, it stood under my kitchen window, stems and leaves growing tall, strong – not blooming yet but emerging with new life
hydrangea
My prayer to Jehovah-Raah – the Lord my Shepherd, is and has been that none will be lost – and he told me in His word, and all around me –
His creation showing me His promise –
whispering it in the stories of their roots, their leaves, their blooms
My transplanted hydrangea, the butterfly bush, the knock-out rose, the yellow flowering shrub without a name – they told me the story to encourage my belief. . . my hope. . .to trust
butterflybush

the story of the root of Jesse that was cut down by the world that sought to destroy it
and yet it survived – it was as though the trees, flowers and bushes were putting on a remembrance play in my yard, daily for hundreds of days.

I think really, it was a play going on long before I heard it, read it, watched it – since before I was born, even before Eve took the bite of the apple – the play, the chorus was in creation.
butterflybush2

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit” (Isaiah 11:1)

God does not forget the roots planted deep in little boy hearts

His word tells of the salvation story of the root of Jesse who died on a tree so that we may live

that He came to die to save us
to save us from missing it
walking away from it
losing it
getting lost from it
but the root remembers
and wants to be found
by
Jehovah-Raah – the Lord my Shepherd,
who pursues
every
lost lamb
who pursues to bring
every root back into the light
shoot through the darkness
into the light
to leaf
to bloom
to become as He designed

butterflybushc

Looking at those sticks last year – it was a chorus in my yard – a message of hope
to rejoice in the pea-size
to do the dance of joy over that pea-size dot of green
and wait
because growing to bloom takes God time
and today – its leaves are bursting green

If you have a teen/young adult who is struggling with good choices – remember the seeds you’ve planted, the roots that have grown deep – God remembers – remind Him, stand in faith on them – just because you don’t see the evidence of them does not mean they are not there.

Jehovah-Raah – the Lord my Shepherd, though, is already pursuing, searching, working to restore – you might not see it – but He does.

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1)

Little boy and little girl voices bursting in faith songs in Wal-Mart aisles are not forgotten by Him, the God who is my Shepherd.

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Still Counting Gifts with Ann at a Holy Experience:

    1. sharing Sfogliatelle over Friday lunch with my husband
    2. 6 a.m. Tues/Thurs workouts outside at my house with a friend
    3. compliments on the work-ethic of my sons
    4. 2 boys deciding to apply for phlebotomy training and the other radiologic technologist because they do not want to take the traditional route through college
    5. my second son and his girlfriend standing beside me in church
    6. and coming to the house to grill afterwards and sit talking over the table
    7. rain fall, rain drops on an at-home day where I can just be blessed – rain is like God saying to me, “Slow down. Relax. Just let it wash your spirit clean.”
    8. each random smile from each random son – at the top of the stairs, across the dinner table, laying across the porch settee, arms wrapped around the puppy – in the rear view mirror – each makes my heart smile right back!
    9. evidence of Jehovah-Raah pursuing each of my sons – evidence of the holy shepherd leading them home

 

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Lunging from his stance, the young football player – himself a kicker and defensive end –lunged toward the football before it could be kicked into an afterpoint.

The opposing kicker’s leg touched ball, rising upward impacting the player in red’s helmet, knocking it off, leg soaring to drop a double blow on the now bare head on the way down to rest position.

This player in red was my son, a sophomore player. It took a couple of weeks, an inability to remember classroom content, an anxiety attack before a doctor trained to identify and treat concussions diagnosed his concussion.

Initially, they thought he’d miss the rest of the school year. They sent him to bed for 2 weeks – no t.v., no video games, no computer – no media. Just rest.

It was the best sleep he ever had, he said later.

It took him at least a month to make up the work he did for those two weeks of school with the concussion + the two weeks of school sleeping the concussion to healing.

Remembering was like a kick in the head.

A few weeks ago, he said, “I don’t remember much from before the concussion.”

My heart dropped to my toes.

Not remember much before your sophomore year, before rebellion kicks in – all the sweet memories, the innocent times, all the love we had to give – living without those memories must be bleak. Dark. Lonely – not remembering the love before the rebellion of youth.

Being the problem solver, the fixer – I decided to create a 30 days of memories. Then, knowing me like I know me – I knew it would take a few months for this to steep in my mind – this vintaging of memories.

As the 30 Days of Memory Project (see – now it’s in caps so it’s almost official, almost at kick off now) – I thought how hard it must be, without a concussion, for a prodigal walking home to wade through the hard memories to find and pull close the sweet rememberings.

How many leave good memories un-vintaged because of the shame of rebellious memories, the hurt-inflicted-on-others memories? You pass those, in the walk back, taking ownership – before you walk far enough back to the good stuff.

Remembering the good-stuff, though, needs to be done. If he can’t do it right now, on his own, whether the concussion or the prodigal path stands in the way, I can help.

I can sort through and pull out the blessing rememberings. They were a gift to him – from God and his family.

Sometimes it takes others to help vintage the good rememberings.

The prodigals walk home retraces the steps that led him away. The retracing, the return is a coming face-to-face with regretful behavior, regretful memories. In remembering the regretful comes true repentance. With true repentance comes forgiveness, with forgiveness comes refreshing.

“Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, so that there may come times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord,”(Acts 3:19).

He will blot out your sin.

The blotting out of the sin will reveal the history of blessing.

It’s time to vintage the blessing memories.

True forgiveness does that – blots out the dark memories – sheds light on the blessing memories.

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Words go on consequence journeys, just like actions do. This week, the word “No” went on a journey – from our home, to defining a weekend for one son, to church on Sunday morning, to Sunday lunch. It went on a journey growing and becoming much more than it started out to be.

“No!” My little guy said, 7 a.m. Thursday morning. It was picture day at school. I’d asked him to wear a light blue and white checked shirt, button down with khaki shorts. He wasn’t balking at the shorts. He balked at the shirt.

Typically, I don’t make a big deal over clothes – well, except for Sunday morning. All I want on Sunday mornings is khaki casual and a nice shirt (like that blue and white checked, button-down shirt). You’d think I was asking them to wear pink boas and tap shoes to church!

I digress, though. It was 7 a.m., and I had a “No,” not-gonna-wear-it response trying to stare me down. Here was my littlest, almost 12, already exhibiting verbal fronds of teen rebellion –  7 a.m. on picture-day Thursday. This was the first picture day I had remembered before the photo in a couple of years. I wanted a couple of nice, shiny, smiling, smartly-dressed sons in a photo.

It was 7 a.m. I needed a cup of coffee. I didn’t need rebellion.

After a few intense moments, he agreed under duress. He did wear the shirt. He did look terribly nice. When he and his brother got out of the van for school, I thought, “Shouldn’t they look like that everyday – without a verbal war?”

Some of you might say, ‘You shouldn’t fight over what they wear.” I agree to an extent. However, they need to know how to dress appropriately for appropriate occasions, like weddings, funerals, graduations, Sundays, job seeking, and, well, picture day.

My little guy, he suffered for a few days.  He had to tell his dad later that night what he’d done – and he was grounded from t.v., video games. As he was walking out his punishment, he uttered these awful words, “What is there to do without t.v. and games?”  Did I say he was my saucy one? Who smiles while yanking my chain?

I told him we may turn off the t.v. after words like that. I suggested he read, create a little art, play his guitar, find his friends in the neighborhood.

He did – all of it, peppered with a few moaned words, “I’ll never tell you no again.”

Some of my sons obey easier than others. I call it being more “coachable.”

Today, the minister preached on believing God. He talked about how Eve didn’t really believe God when he said, “Don’t eat of the Tree” – because she did eat of the tree. She didn’t really believe He meant it – or she wouldn’t have eaten the apple. She didn’t trust what God said enough to obey – and she created a heap of a problem.

The Israelites had a problem believing, trusting, and obeying, too.

“But you rebelled against the command of the LORD your God. You did not trust him or obey him” (Deut 9:23)

When God tells you to do something, we are to trust him and do it. That’s a hard lesson to learn – even harder to learn if you cannot do it with your down-here, earthly father (and mother).

With a house full of boys to men, “No” opportunities happen more than I like – some verbally, some behaviorly – not just on school picture day.

During the sermon, I passed the following note down to another teen. Yes, I am that mom!

 “If you neither trust nor obey your parents, how can you trust or obey God.”

He sent a typical teen note back, trying to out-smart my note. I penned back, “Don’t out smart your common sense”(Song, “Love Like Crazy”) .

Later, over Sunday lunch at Cracker Barrel, we discussed Neil Armstrong, booms and earthquakes in California – and how if you cannot trust and obey your parents, how can you trust and obey God.

The parent relationship is the training ground for the child’s God relationship.

Each son, since we’re down to just 3 – each has signed up to do the dishes 2 nights a week. Each son knows his day. Each son hears us remind. Each son makes a choice to obey or not.

If they disobey, the brother doing the dishes the next night has a bigger load. The relationship experiences conflict. Chaos evolves.

When children don’t obey, problems pile up, seemingly little problems like dirty dishes. Like saying “No” to a parent might result in down-time, relaxation activities being taken away and one moment turns into 3 uncomfortable days.

 “If you neither trust nor obey your parents, how can you trust or obey God.”(Blue Cotton Memory)

“But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it?”(The Message, Romans 10:14)

 Holding my sons to accountability, to hear, to obey – even at 7 a.m. in the morning on picture day – it is not a comfortable thing. Sometimes, it makes me want to slam the door to a room. Sometimes, it makes me want to go into a quiet place and cry. Because some things are not as simple as shirts on picture day. Some children are not as easily coached.

If we are to teach them how to listen to the Father, hear what He tells them – and, obey it, then we need to teach them how to listen to us, hear what we say, and obey.

If you neither trust or nor obey your parents, how can you trust and obey God?

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