To Fight, Run, or Wait

courageous

I despise making life changing decisions. I so want to make the “right” decision, that the process nearly paralyzes me. Making a decision is infinitely harder when my whole family is involved. How do you meet everyone’s needs?

When life presents you with a difficult situation, how do you know whether to dig your heels in or retreat? And when is simply waiting best?

God works in various ways in the Bible. He always tells us not to fear, but the methods He encourages us to use to overcome an obstacle can be vastly different.

Take for example the stories of Joshua and the Israelites as they sought to conquer the promised land. Jericho was their first recorded target. Instead of immediately attacking, they were told to march around the city once a day for six days. On the seventh day they marched around seven times then blew horns and shouted and the walls simply fell down.

When they went to take Ai, God told them to go forward as if to attack, then run away. Once they were a distance from the city, the Israelites were to ambush the people of Ai. In later situations, the Israelites were simply told to go forth and attack whatever army it was they were trying to overthrow.

Another story that stood out to me recently is the story of Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20. He is informed that a vast army from Edom (along with its allies) was marching against him of such size they didn’t have the resources to overcome them. Jehoshaphat gathered the people together and prayed fervently. A man by the name of Jahaziel received a message from the Spirit of the Lord. He was told Jehoshaphat’s army should not be discouraged, but should march out against the army of Edom and take their positions. They were to simply stand still, though, and God would take care of the rest. Jehoshaphat obeyed, and as his army stood there chaos occurred among Edom’s army as their own allies began attacking them as the Israelites stood and watched!

Now, in each of these stories we see different sets of instructions.We see God giving them goofy directions. Sometimes they had to run, sometimes they had to barrel forward. And once in awhile the people of God had to wait and let God take care of the rest. Can you even imagine what it was like for them?

All of these stories have one thing in common, though. The leader sought God’s guidance and then did what He said. Each scenario shows ultimate trust in their creator.

As we make decisions and fight our own personal battles, I think this is an important lesson to remember. Unfortunately, God doesn’t speak to us so clearly, but we can rely on his Word, stirrings in our spirit when we pray, and the godly counsel of others.

Life is messy. Seek to listen and follow through. History tells us that there is no need to fear when we do what God expects of us. It does take great courage to listen and obey, but the outcome is worth it when we do.

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

“This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chronicles 20:15

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Somehow I’m Not an Idiot

einstein education

Ok, well maybe I am an idiot in some respects, but not in the way I’m writing about today.

If you live in Indiana like me, you are probably aware of the educational mess we appear to be in right now. Our Superintendent of Public Instruction is likely going to have her power stripped. Investigations are being made into the length of our statewide ISTEP test at great expense. Trial runs have shown a variety of problems, and the test is supposed to start in about two weeks.

I have yet to form an opinion about all of this specifically. It feels like too much to read and sort through.

However, here are some things I know about the education I received growing up:

1) I didn’t go to preschool at all.

2) I went to kindergarten only a half day.

3) During half day kindergarten we had rest time on mats.

4) I loved using Mr. Sketch scented markers for special occasions and I hated the game we played where we had to rhyme with everyone’s name. I always got, “Amy, pay me.” It annoyed me. We played games just for fun to kill time and watched movies on Fridays.

5) My teachers saw I got my work done quickly, so they always provided me with extra learning opportunities of different kinds. If I was bored, I read a book, or helped someone else. There is actually value in both of those things.

6) Would you believe I had three recesses??? 15 minutes in the morning, and afternoon, and 30 minutes after lunch. It’s a wonder we got any learning accomplished…yet I still have my handwritten reports I did on Abraham Lincoln, Bach, and the Navajo Indians that are pages and pages long…longer than anything my son has written in his longer school day with only one recess.

7) We only had one standardized test. ONE! How in the world did our parents and teachers know how we were performing? Oh, that’s right, parents actually went to parent-teacher conferences and letter grades reflecting the teacher’s opinion meant something.

8) We didn’t have agendas to fill out. It’s a miracle I knew what my homework was and actually got it done, right? These days a parent has to initial everything from agendas to Friday folders, book logs to returned tests. Teachers have to ensure accountability like never before. I think I need a stamp!

9) When we celebrated holidays, we actually celebrated them. None of this make a party a learning experience crud. (I will say that my sons’ teachers have planned some nice “parties” that included learning, but it wasn’t really a PARTY, if you get my drift).

10) What I want to know is how did any of us get home safely? We weren’t assigned numbers. We weren’t escorted to our cars. There wasn’t anyone using walkie talkies. Did they even make parents designate who could pick up their kids back then? I rode home with a friend one time in kindergarten and wasn’t supposed to. I remember my mom being mad, but she was mad at me, not the school. I knew what I should and shouldn’t do and I disobeyed. End of story.

Yet, somehow I am not a complete idiot. I learned and I function as a successful adult. All of this to say, is the quality of education really better now? More minutes in the day, more testing, less fun. I had so much less, but I went on to college and became of all things, a teacher. Maybe we need to make sure the teachers teaching our children went to preschool and had full day kindergarten themselves. We don’t want our kids being taught by individuals who were not properly prepared for life. Maybe that’s the problem! (Just kidding, in case you weren’t sure.)

I get that the quality of education, for some groups of kids especially, was not ideal when I was a child. However, we are addressing the wrong issues, and our teachers, parents, and most of all our children are suffering as a result.

Do what you can to encourage your child’s teacher(s). They work hard and their job is just getting harder. Read with your kids, practice their spelling and math facts, but most of all encourage their gifts whatever they may be.

Above all, be an advocate for your kids when given the opportunity. Let’s express our concerns. Supposedly, we have a voice. Let’s use it.

Please share if you agree. I have tweeted this post to legislators and anyone else I could think of that might care. Let’s create a better tomorrow for our kids!

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In-to-me-see

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To be seen and to be known. These are some of the greatest needs of the human spirit.

That is supposed to be the beauty of the marriage relationship. The connection that is supposed to be deeper and more intimate than any other.

Yet, unfortunately, at least half of marriages fail. Those aren’t very good odds. Couples complain of disconnection, falling out of love, and outright neglect. The reality does not meet our expectations.

Recently, I read a definition of intimacy that said: “Intimacy means ‘in-to-me-see,’. It’s a blending of our heart with another’s, so we can ‘see into’ who they really are, and they can ‘see into’ us.”

Additionally, as I researched the topic of intimacy, one of the foundational ideas that kept coming up was the idea of eye contact. And that is what I think we are losing to a greater degree every day.

It has always been a danger. Husbands of yesteryear would get caught up reading the newspaper or watching the news. Wives would get lost in their romance novels. Both parties would devote more time to hobbies or interests outside of the home than to each other.

Now there is even greater danger. With so much accomplished through the use of a technology device, our eyes get distracted more and more. Tweeting, facebooking, instagramming, gaming. emailing, reading, text messaging, television watching, all with our heads bowed low and eyes averted. Spouses have more competition than they ever did before. Forget the worries of the other man or other woman. The computer, tablet or cell phone is the third party in our relationships.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, you may be wondering what to give to your spouse or significant other. How about the gift of your undivided attention? The gift of your presence? A few hours that say, “You are more important to me than anything else right now in this moment.”

None of the things I have mentioned are inherently bad. They all have their use and their place. Take a moment and ask your significant other if they feel any of those things get in the way of your relationship. Let’s be mindful of our actions so we don’t unintentionally drift into disconnection. Look deeply into their eyes with the desire to truly know him/her. Give the gift of being seen.

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