Wednesday, July 16, 2014

No Useful Moves Detected

Since receiving my iPhone, one of the ways I choose to pass the time if I absolutely have nothing else to do is play Solitaire. Solitaire holds a special place in my heart - it is one of the games that I mastered prior to using the mouse. When we were newlyweds, my husband and I used to see who could win a game in the least amount of time - without a mouse. The challenge of Solitaire is to stack the suits in the least amount of time with the least amount of moves. Fast forward to today where there really is an app for just about anything, I now have a new relationship with this game.

In solitaire, as in life, every hand is not a winning hand - some games just cannot be won. On the other hand, even if you have a winning hand, if you don't play your cards right you won't win. Sometimes you can get a hint that would allow you to keep on playing. In a losing hand the hints don't necessarily help, but in a winning hand they do. Once hints are exhausted, "no useful moves detected."

"No useful moves detected" equates to starting over. At this point there's nothing else to do - either start the same game (and come to the same result) or start a new game.
Have you ever felt that way in life - that you've exhausted all your options and no useful moves are detected? Ever felt the need to start all over? I have, and the only reason I do it is because of the Hope within me.
"Hope is produced by endurance through suffering (Romans 5:2-5) and is the inspiration behind endurance (1 Thessalonians 1:3;Hebrews 6:11).Trustworthy promises from God give us hope (Hebrews 6:18-19), and we may boast in this hope (Hebrews 3:6) and exhibit great boldness in our faith (2 Corinthians 3:12). By contrast, those who do not place their trust in God are said to be without hope (Ephesians 2:12,1 Thessalonians 4:13)." Source -

If you have no source and are trying to do things on your own, you will take hints from the wrong people and resources until you are a point where you don't know which way to turn.
But even as a believer you may reach this point. You may become dejected by how things are looking, or how things aren't going to plan or how it seems that nothing good ever happens to you. Don't give up, instead look up. The next time you feel, "no useful moves detected," start all over with God.

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Matthew 19:26 (NLT)

How do you deal, when no useful moves are detected in your life?


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

You Two Don't Get Along

While watching a movie late one night, the main character - the patriarch of the family, uttered these words to one of his adult daughters referring to the other daughter. Of course it was TV, but the parent appeared pained as he spoke these words. Because this was a movie, everything was wrapped up neatly after 120 minutes: his dead wife was able to "visit" with each person, each person acknowledged their faults and hurts, they hugged and kissed, and the movie ended.

Real life is not always so neat. I think of Joseph in the Bible who was treated differently by his father which in turn made the other brothers jealous. This jealousy led to some heinous actions for Joseph but in the end Joseph was able to say,"You meant it for evil but God meant it for good."

There are many different family dynamics - they may be obvious favoritism of one child or obvious dislike of another. There may be no favoritism or malice shown, yet one child may feel that there are the recipient of behavior they don't deserve. As in the case of Joseph, the other siblings may complain when they see special favors directed to one, or a child who feels slighted may act out. The child who knows he is the favorite has his own cross to bear.

I want to talk about the child that feels slighted. As is the case with humans we don't always understand what motivates behavior. But assuming that parents are loving and really care for all of their children, I think it's safe to say parents wouldn't intentionally slight or hurt any of their children. Add to this, some families are very vocal and demonstrative with affection and others aren't. One other point of consideration is the varying personalities of each child - quiet, loud, sneaky, candid, sullen or cheerful. If communication is lacking, the slighted child's feelings may be magnified all the way to adulthood, reaching the point where the parent says, "You two don't get along."

In the movie, the parents recognized that they may have inadvertently played a part in how the slighted child developed. There's a scene where the adult daughter says, "Do you know how I felt, how you made me feel every time you directed attention to my sister? It's why I did drugs and made some of the choices I made. I thought no one cared about me."  The mother responds, "Oh honey I didn't mean to hurt you. You never saw your gifts and what we saw in you. I'm so sorry you went through all of that." At that point there was mutual forgiveness and reconciliation.

In real life this mutual forgiveness is hard to come by. Hurt is awful to bear and awful to watch - Proverbs 18:14. When adult siblings can't and don't get along whether it's over perceived or real slights, it's sad. As a parent, it brings me no greater joy when all of my children are together talking laughing and interacting. It feels like I've hit the jackpot. It was not easy to get to this point. As they've grown, we've all talked and learned from each other. Apologies have been made on both sides.

I know they are no guarantees in life but I believe the following can prevent the onset of sibling rivalry of the nastiest kind:

  • Treat everyone fairly
  • Speak positively and with encouragement
  • Pray for wisdom
  • Celebrate all achievements
  • Hope that adult children recognize that their parents were well meaning
  • Forgive often
  • Talk often

How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! Psalm 133:1(NLT)

Do you get along with your adult siblings? Have your parents done everything yet there is a wedge between the siblings? As an adult, how do you handle this situation?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Notes From My Daughter - Don't Correct Me

Occasional notes from my 20 year old daughter. I never know what to expect when she writes, but it's usually a pleasant surprise.  Read on!

My daughter

When we see the truth we point it out. The truth is ultimately a light that will cut through any darkness. When the truth cuts through some darkness in us however, we get defensive. We find it hard to believe that we ARE (not maybe, not perhaps, not kind of) wrong.

Let's just take a brief moment out of all our busy glamorous lives to be clear and honest: we all could have avoided much pain if we listened to God. Not only could we have avoided destructive pain (there is constructive pain so don't avoid that) but we also could have progressed if we listened.

I am not encouraging you to live in a world of "should've, would've, could've," because that's not the solution. All hope is not lost, God is a merciful great God, but this post is going to focus on you as His child and how the choices you make in your role do indeed impact the play we call Life.

Conceptually, I think we all understand we aren't God. But sometimes we get this notion that if we were God everything would be OK because we could have control. What if I told you, you could get the control you seek by………submitting? Crazy ain't it? But it's true.

Know your role and listen to the one ahead of you; simply put God has it all properly ordered in His will for life.
To be honest, when I think about God's role,
  1. I know for certain I can't do it
  2. I don't know how I would feel if I made paradise, Hell and everything in between yet the creation that I gave my heart to only listened to me on their terms.

Every parent out there can testify that it is a burning frustration when their child doesn't listen to them, and that feeling isn't really birthed from their selfishness. 99% of the time you  want your children to listen because you see the best path for them, and you, having lived longer, know better than them. (This is my public apology to my mother for the many times I didn't listen to you, love you mom).

If you study 1 and 2 Samuel you will see the difference between a man that listened to what he interpreted God would want him to do, and a man who was truly after God's own heart.
Saul: Shows us a lot through his character. Looking at his life we can learn in advance to faithfully listen to God at all times even when you think you know what's best.
David: A man who still did wrong, and suffered the consequences, but made God the center of his choices.

Listening takes time, and its effects happen over time. Be patient, not prideful.

"Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done"- C.S Lewis

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Lost and Found Stories

Four years ago, our younger daughter spent a year with her grandmother in Jamaica. We'd never done anything like this before and it felt like everyone was flying by the seat of their pants. As is the case, preparation for a trip can be taxing, especially when one is to be gone for a significant length of time. We had some cash in the house and thought we would send it down with our daughter in her luggage - what were we thinking? She told us she put it in a secure place in her suitcase and no one would find it. Of course when she gets to Jamaica, and everything is unpacked the money is no where to be found. This was not the best way for her to start her year. A couple of weeks later, the phone rings.
Me: Hello
Me: Hello
Caller: We found the money. We found the money. It was in a really safe place in the suitcase.
Me: I can't believe it.
Fast forward to this week. Once more this daughter is preparing to travel and we are doing some last minute shopping.
Daughter: Mummy have you seen my wallet?
Me: No
Daughter: Don't panic; I had it with me in the bathroom. Let's retrace our steps.
So we walk through the store a couple of times with no success. In the interim she leaves her contact information with the store. This wallet contained her driver's license, various ids and a credit card. We decided to get a duplicate drivers license at DMV. Believe it or not, bureaucracy was on our side, and we were able to get this accomplished. At some point I had a chat with God, along the lines of, "You told me not to worry or be anxious, you told me to trust you, so I'm trusting and claiming the promises in your word and hoping this has a good end...Amen." At this point the worry dissipated and I was fine with whatever the outcome was going to be and this in and of itself is a huge lesson.  Around 6:00 pm the doorbell rang and a stranger is at the door.
Stranger: You lost something
Me: A wallet
He then proceeds to take the wallet out of his pocket.
Stranger: I saw it in the parking lot of the store, but there was no phone number so I saw the address on the license and decided to stop by.
I'm so glad he did. I screamed then hugged him.
What's the point of these stories? As a mother I've dealt with lost homework, book bags, jackets, books, and on a couple occasions, the children themselves.
Sometimes things are just misplaced,other times they are truly lost but we sometimes don't know.
Stay calm - this is very hard for me as my personality does not lend itself to being calm. However God continues to show me the benefit of not worrying but trusting.
Trust God - at the height of my anxiety certain verses rushed in to my brain: Be anxious for nothing....,
It all works out well in the end - regardless of the outcome, I believe all things work together for good to them that love God.
Time and time again, I've seen God worked. So even as she is preparing to travel, I know that I don't have to worry. I know whatever happens, God is in control.
Before I hit publish - I know some of you may be wresting with the outcomes of your situations. I know right now it seems bad, very bad. I don't have the answers for all situations but I shared these two stories because they were big deals at the point in time. When the answers aren't what you expect, turn to God and ask Him. He can deal with your heartbreak also.

26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:26-28

How does lost and found work for you? Are you calm when things go missing?