Blessings in Heavenly Places

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy… Ephesians 1

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Wow, how’s that for a promise here on this mother’s day weekend? Somewhere a while back (I tried to Google it but I think it happened before the internet took over our lives) someone coined the phrase “Ephesians, the breakfast of Champions.” An obvious rip off of the Wheaties slogan, but it was memorable and through the years whenever I read from Ephesians I think of that, “breakfast of champions”—Ephesians truly is. I plan to be exploring it here over the next few weeks.

It’s such a powerful book and it really lays it all out there; who we are in Christ, what we have, and how to live a life of victory. From the mystery of God’s will and grace revealed in the opening chapter that won the war for our souls, to the armor of a warrior given us at the end that we may win the battles in our own lives.

Better Eat your Wheaties

Does anyone eat Wheaties anymore? The idea behind their slogan obviously, was that if you ate Wheaties for breakfast you would be a winner, you would have energy and stamina to win and they always put a picture of a sports champion on the cover. If you get your picture on the front of a box of Wheaties you are truly at the top of your game. It was a common expression once that if you were going to have a big day the next day, someone, your boss or a coworker would say; “We got a lot of work to do tomorrow, you better eat your Wheaties!”

I just don’t eat cereal anymore, wheat cereal gives me heartburn and I discovered I am allergic to milk, so, no more Wheaties for me. But I start my day with Scripture, oatmeal and eggs so I’m good. Food to fortify the body and the spirit for the challenges of the day. So I guess in this day when it seems every day seems to bring bigger and tougher challenges for those who are trying to walk with the Lord we need to remind one another, “Better eat your Ephesians—devour the word of God!” We can’t live in and claim every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places if we don’t know what they are.

You eat breakfast every day, your body demands it, feeding your soul daily is just as, and probably more, important. After all, man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God. We need to move those blessings from heaven into our own souls.

Speaking of blessings-

Mothers are indeed a blessing sent from Heavenly places and any good mother would agree that her greatest blessings are her children. So remember your mothers today, your love and time are her heart’s treasures.

Does anyone do breakfast in bed for their mothers on Mother’s Day anymore? When I was a kid that was the big thing on mother’s day, to bring your mother breakfast in bed. Some of those breakfasts were pretty scary to be sure but it was the thought that counts. I mean, if little kids were good cooks they wouldn’t need mothers right?

I remember my sister and I fixing my mother breakfast starting when we were pretty young. Before we were old enough to cook we would bring her a bowl of cereal, maybe even Wheaties, it might have been Captain Crunch, that was my favorite, a glass of orange juice and toast and who knows what else, maybe a banana.

I do remember my sister being in charge of the toast. The only breakfast I really remember was one that involved very dark, pretty much burnt, toast. We put it all on a try and carried to my mother’s bedroom and watched while she tried to eat from a tray perched on her lap without spilling all over the bedspread while proclaiming to my anxious sister that she loved her toast just that way.

Most mothers who have seen their babies grow up too fast would give anything to hear those little feet coming down the hallway with a tray full of something that resembles breakfast just once more. Messy kitchens, spilled milk and all.

Never mind the messes because messes that are made in an effort to love are not messes at all, they are evidence that someone who loves you cares enough to show it.

I never heard my mother complain about the mess we surely left behind, I only remember the feeling of joy we got from feeling like we made her day special. We felt loved.

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…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, Ephesians 1:4—5

God knew who our children would be long before we did. God already had a plan for each and every one of us and he knew all of us even before He knit us together in our mother’s wombs.

God also knew who would be His children also, those who would accept the invitation to be adopted as his. Adoption was predestined for those who would answer his call and our showing up to honor him as our Father gives him great pleasure, it is his will for us to stand before him blameless, even though we all know there are messes somewhere not too far behind us.

God chose us to be his children knowing that we have and would make messes; burn the toast and maybe be banging on the door way too early in the morning with our meager offerings that seldom outshine the messes we left in the other room. But what he sees is someone who is blameless and holy because he has adopted us because it was his pleasure to do so and it is his will to love us.

And that is what keeps us trying, that is what keeps us from giving up, giving in and gives us the strength, the desire, and the motivation to keep fighting the good fight of faith and to continue seeking the Father through Jesus Christ for the empowerment through the Holy Spirit to be his champion.

We are the champions for Jesus our King. And we cannot loose, we will not lose because the victory is secured. In the end we will receive our inheritance and we have his Spirit within us as a guarantee that all these promises are to be counted on.

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Mother’s Day Fantasy

“Can I just check myself into the nursery and sit in the corner with a sippy cup full of wine for an hour or two—or six?”

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The alarm goes off—it’s Sunday, Mother’s day.

You informed everyone the night before that they will all be going to church tomorrow lest there be any doubt. It’s Mother’s day and you are going to have a nice day with your family. You are going to church— let everyone see what a wonderful family you have, that you are the godly parent providing for their spiritual nourishment.

After church your family is taking you to a nice sit down restaurant and you are going to pretend that you are not stressing over how much this is taking out of your budget for the month.

So, the alarm goes off—way too early, you are the first one up and you were the last one in bed because you had to finish the laundry. You jump into the shower, throw on your robe and go wake up the kids. They are all in a state of suspended animation so this takes several attempts over a 25 minute period making you more frustrated and leaving you less time to do something with your still wet hair.

Finally they are all sprawled across the furniture out in the living room, hugging their blankets and making unpleasant mumbling sounds. A few moments later from the bathroom you know they are finally waking up because they are now starting to snarl at each other until one of them screams; “Mom, Johnny called me a poopy head!” You scream back; “Go brush your teeth and find something to eat!”

Your husband shouts above the sound of clanging pans, “I’m making oatmeal!’ Your youngest replies, “I want sketios.” Husband; “You can’t have Sketios for breakfast, you’re eating oatmeal, that’s what’s for breakfast.” The chorus continues as you close the bathroom door to focus on getting ready.

20 minutes later you emerge from the bathroom to make sure the kids are finding the right clothes to wear. Your youngest is wearing her oatmeal—as is the stove top. Johnny is just sitting at the table staring at his bowl determined to outlast his Dad who told him he is not moving until he eats and your teenage daughter is informing you that you are ruining her life by not allowing her to wear the outfit she came home from the mall with last week and she has already texted fifteen of her friends and posted three selfies on Facebook of her new tongue piercing, which is now swollen, possibly infected, and makes her lisp like Gopher on Winnie the Pooh.

You would laugh but you are convinced that she will probably die from the infection and you are already trying to figure out how you are going to get her into a doctor on a Sunday afternoon. But first, ‘we are having Mother’s Day!’ Fifteen more minutes magically disappeartime flies when your frantic—“Everyone in the car, where going to be late!”

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Where’s your youngest? She’s in her room cutting the hair on her My Little Pony. She has already taken off her new dress and replaced it with her Toys R Us  Princess Anna dress, ‘Ughhh!” no time to change, you grab her and a pair of her shoes and head out the door only to find out half way to church that you grabbed the Minnie Mouse shoes and she wanted her Dory shoes and you are going to hear about it the rest of the way there. She won’t keep them on anyway so what does it matter?

Your husband and oldest daughter aren’t on speaking terms right now because of the piercing thing, but at least they’re quiet.

You walk into church half way through worship, send the kids in all the right directions, plop down in a chair way to close to the front because that is what’s left and pretend you are able to focus even for one minute on worship. You hear a phone ring and it about sets you off—“Who could be so inconsiderate!” Then you realize it is yours, you forgot to put it on silence.

‘Can I just check myself into the nursery and sit in the corner with a sippy cup full of wine for an hour or two—or six?’

And that’s just Sunday morning.

Happy Mother’s Day!? I am a miserable mother and I’ll be lucky if my children don’t grow up to be ax murderers.

It Is Enough

I bet if I could took a poll every mother reading this would say they feel or have felt this way. And you can bet your own mother’s often felt this way as well. You are tasked with raising little human beings with all the complexities of emotion and thought that anyone else has, each with a different and unique personality and way of thinking.

Yet, when you get them, they have absolutely no idea how to deal with any of those things. They have all the potential and none of the tempering experience, and you, probably have little or no experience being a mother. and training these needy helpless complex creatures on how to be a functional person in a world that few really understand in the first place now seems way beyond your pay grade.

You went into this with an idea in your head of how it would or should be. ‘Sweet little darlings to nurture and love, entertain and delight with crafts to do, cookies to bake together and eat, board games and activities with other wonderful kids from the neighborhood.’

You are going to teach them how to sew and garden, cheer them on in sports and be the 4-H mom that is able to volunteer for everything. Your kids are going to sing in the church choir and everyone will envy you for having such wonderful children and they will grow up and give you grandchildren who can’t wait to come over and spend time at your knee listening to the stories of your wonderful life and memorize Bible verses.

You might think that because that’s what you hear from your neighbors, you saw it on that Christmas movie on the Hallmark Channel —or that’s what you remember from your own childhood. You just want to give your kids that perfect childhood.

There are no perfect childhoods—at least not by the impossible standards of our fantasy’s. But there are perfect memories. Not that things are remembered perfectly, but that in memory they become perfect.

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You think back and remember the good times you had as a kid, the things you learned, the adventures you had back when everything was new and exciting and you felt safe and loved because your Mom was always there and always cared. She probably remembers the chaos because while you were being covered in love she was being covered in bodily fluids. While you were learning about the wonders of the universe above she was being annoyed by your constant questions while she was trying to balance the check book and figure out how to pay the gas bill.

You get my point, all we can do is the best we can do and by God’s grace, if we indeed care, it is somehow enough, more than enough. You are not tasked with creating the perfect person, there is only one creator and he has already done the hard part and yet he never quits working on until the task is complete. What he is asking you to do is to help them build the foundation.

What you need to do is give your kids the foundation to build on, the corner stone, give them Jesus. How do you do that?—You do the best that you can and you keep caring. You build the foundation by caring, and you keep caring—always.

You keep standing on the rock, loving them, praying for them, being there for them, getting them here to church to hear about Jesus from a teacher who is devoted to teaching them God’s word and giving you the opportunity to be fed as well.

All the Lord asks of us as parents, just as he does in our relationship with him, is that we keep doing our best and never give up knowing that it is not entirely up to us.

You love them for Jesus, and keep knowing that you are loved as well, by him, by your kids and by us. And every day is a new day.

on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.

Cherish this day

If there is one piece of advice I can leave you with—mothers—is this; enjoy this day, cherish the chaos and noise because one day you’re going to miss it. Trust me, my wife will tell you the same thing; each and every day with your kids is a gift, and one day your kids will look back and say the same. Your kids would never trade you for another, you are their mom.

Keep standing on and loving from the rock—you are immovable, and that’s all your kids really want anyway.

. . .you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture,

“Behold, I lay in Zion
A chief cornerstone, elect, precious,
And the one who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” 1 Peter 2:5,6

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Mom Forever

 

“…eternity isMoments meme a moment that never goes away until we choose to let it.”

You may have noticed that God keeps his own clock, much different from ours. The church of Peter’s day, anxious for the return of the Lord, thought ten years was for—ev—er! Try 2000 years! Still just a couple of days to the Lord, I mean, I’m still trying to figure out how he created a 13 billion year old universe in just 6 days, we can’t explain it but we keep trying don’t we, it’s what we do. We just have to shove eternity into our calendars.

With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. 2 Pet 2:8,9

I think kids actually have a much better concept of eternity, they haven’t been bitten in the butt by time near so many times as we adults so they just live in the moment. I think maybe that’s what eternity is, a moment that never goes away until we choose to let it.

That is why the Lord can take care of so many complex issues, be with everyone at—what seems to us like—the same time, and still be in the past and the future as well. He can take what is just a moment to us and make it last just as long as he needs to, until he is fully satisfied that whatever he is doing, creating or fixing is completely finished.

I imagine heaven being a place where I can sit on the front porch of my mountain cabin and visit with someone I love or find interesting for hours, even days, and still have time to visit with the myriad others I would like to spend time with and never miss anyone or anything because I spent too much time with someone else—I know I’m getting into the weeds here, welcome to my brain…

Anyway, what I was trying to get at, is that kids still think eternally, they are eternal souls learning to find their way in a temporal world so they think they do have time to just enjoy whomever or whatever is before them for as long as they wish and still never miss anything important. If you have kids you probably had that fight this morning when trying to get them out the door for school or church—you didn’t know you were fighting against eternity did you.

Kids see life through the “a day is like a thousand years” part of the eternity equation that Peter lays out here. When we are kids a day is like a thousand years; that last week of school just before vacation took forever, ‘I can’t wait!’ And then school is out and it seems like we were able to do such much just in one day, (maybe because when you are a kid your energy level puts you into hyper speed mode and you really can do much more in a day.)

Then we get older and the other side of that equation becomes our reality, ‘I only have one week to get this done, oh my gosh, it’s Thursday already, AHH!’ Our busy weeks go screaming by and then the weekend’s here and what really sounds good is a nap. We are now living in the one thousand years is like a day mode. I can see us all saying that at the end of the millennial reign of Christ; ‘Wow, that thousand years went by quick!’ (I’m already stressing about the end of the millennium and it hasn’t even started yet.)

Maybe that’s the difference, kids don’t stress about the end, the future, they enjoy the present.

Time to Mother?

But, I suppose we ought to get to the subject of mothers, which is really where I am going with all of this, while you are busy trying to get something productive accomplished, like wash your hair or do the laundry, when you really would rather take a nap, your kids are bouncing around in hyper speed, (maybe the theory of relativity comes into play here, they are moving so fast that they really are slowing down time), anyway, they just want to do stuff—“Mom, can we do this, why can’t we do that? Let’s go there, help me build this, take me to the pool, can I have a sleepover, “I’m bored!” this is the worst day ever, this is the best day ever, and all this just in a couple of hours.

And you are exasperated, all your dreams of being the perfect mom, having happy well balanced kids who never argue with each other, or you, who sit politely at the table waiting for you to flit in with your apron on, your hair and makeup done, and a tray full of fresh oatmeal cookies made from organic oats that you grew and rolled yourself, while their father is packing the minivan for a dream trip to Disney land—all those dreams now seem so far away; “Just give me the strength to make it till the end of the day without losing it and emotionally scarring my little monsters—I mean darlings— for life!”

Again, that’s your perspective. Maybe you thought you had the idyllic childhood and your mom made your life so wonderful, or maybe it was the mother of one of your friends, or a TV fantasy mom like June Cleaver or Mrs. Brady who made it all seem so easy and wonderful, but in reality, at least for the real life moms, they were also going through their days thinking; “Lord, give me the strength to not kill one of these kids before I can deposit them in their beds tonight.”Rockwell Mother

You thought it was all wonderful and perfect when you were a kid because that is the part you remember, you remember because you lived fully in the moment, you weren’t worrying about the future and your weren’t pining for, or trying to live up to, a past that can never be recreated, a past that now lives only in your mind.

Or maybe your childhood was full of turmoil and drama and you have vowed that things would never be that way for your own kids, but here you are, fighting off drama using your crabby Mom powers leaving you to beat yourself up at the end of the day, thinking you are failing miserably, letting the regrets of the day or even the regrets of a decade ago, keep you awake at night.

There are no regrets in eternity, only the moment.

Eternity begins today, eternity begins right now. So learn how to live in, make the most of, and treasure the moment.

I heard an interesting and kind of disturbing bit of trivia a while ago. Norman Rockwell, the famous artist who illustrated the cover of The Saturday Evening Post for many years, with what everyone thought of as classic Americana, once told a reporter that he discovered early in his career that he couldn’t sell reality near as well as he could sell the reality people longed for.

People look at Rockwell’s version of a perfect world and believe that somewhere, at some time, this was the way things really were. We all want to live in Mayberry.

I believe, because I have experienced them, that those moments do exist, they are just not as constant or as perfect as we dream of, but they are there, moments worth treasuring, we need to learn to recognize and appreciate them more, they make the rest of this crazy life much more palatable. And the more we grab a hold of and ponder those moments, the more there will be, not because they will magically happen but because we just learn to appreciate things more—less stress, more gratitude for today.

The most famous mother of all had this figured out:

 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19

Relax and treasure the moments that matter, take mental snapshots and ponder them later—the moment your child gives you that smile that just melts your heart. The moment your child spontaneously says: “I love you Mom.” The moment your little girl hands you a bouquet of wildflowers she just picked with her pudgy little hands, when your child falls asleep snuggled into your lap like it is the safest place the world.

These are the moments to treasure, these are the moments that matter, moments you actively helped create, even if they didn’t go exactly, or even close to, the way you planned, and the moments you create by just being in the right place at the right time.

Every moment spent being a mom, being a parent to your child, is  a moment spent in the right place at the right time. You are building eternity, moment by moment —and that is what makes you the world’s greatest Mom.