Judging….such a strong convicting word that I’m sure we’re ALL guilty of doing. We judge others by how they dress, where they live, what their kids after school activities are, how they discipline their kids, homeschooled, private school or public, fulltime, part-time or stay at home mom, etc etc Why? Because for some reason we think we have the right to!
I have been judged for numerous things, but mostly my boys’ sports schedule. The funny thing is that I tend to be judged by people whose kids don’t play sports or only play one. Thankfully, I am not easily offended & have been blessed/cursed with the gift of sarcasm. When someone tells me they’d NEVER let their child play more than one sport, I in my sweetest tone possible point out that, that’s most likely why God didn’t give them kids who want to play more than one sport. Now hear me out, I mean that in the NICEST way!! Jeff & I both played multiple sports & I was on various travel/club teams growing up. Jeff also went on to play college football. We make a GREAT team & totally see things eye to eye. Our crazy schedule is no different then what he & I had growing up. Our boys LOVE to play football, basketball & lacrosse. We LOVE to encourage that & willingly make many sacrifices for them to do so.
We must realize that God has a different plan for each one of us & our families. That’s why it is important to seek God’s will & wisdom through prayer & His word. We may start off planning what we think is best for our life, but in the end God is the one whose plan we end up following. Just like it says here:
Proverbs 16:9 In your heart you plan your life. But the Lord decides where your steps will take you.
For someone to then judge the steps that God led me to take means that they’re basically judging God since God is the one who led me to make that decision.
This way of thinking has also help convict me of my most guilty judgement…..at what age to send boys to kindergarten. I used get up on my holy high horse when I found out someone was sending their son to kindergarten early making him the youngest vs the oldest. I judged their decision based on what I thought was best. All four of my boys have August/September birthdays & all four of my boys started school at age 6. I have helped some people with their decision, but unfortunately, I have offended some people too. God REALLY convicted me this year when one of my friends decided to send her barely 5-year-old son to school. Before I could even open my mouth to object, He shut it. He reminded me that their decision was between Him & them, not me. He also reminded me of a Scripture where Peter questioned God about John as if it were his business:
John 21:21-22 When Peter saw that disciple, he asked, “Lord, what will happen to him?”Jesus answered, “Suppose I want him to remain alive until I return. What does that matter to you? You must follow me.”
What does it matter to me? I mean honestly, what concern is it of mine when they send THEIR son to school? Rather then spending my time judging people, God wants me to spend my time following Him. Here are some other verses on judging:
Romans 2:1 If you judge someone else, you have no excuse for it. When you judge another person, you are judging yourself. You do the same things you blame others for doing.
Romans 14:13 Let us stop judging one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put anything in your brother’s way that would make him trip and fall.
James 4:12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge. He is the One who is able to save life or destroy it. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
Who am I to judge my neighbor? My heart is convicted! How about you? Are you having a hard time with people judging a decision that you’ve made according to God’s plans for you? Are you struggling with judging others on something you may feel that you know what’s best? I still struggle with both, but I am working on being a lot less judgemental & a lot more supportive as I’m continuing on to Canaan.
While I was looking for a picture to sum up my week, I had to laugh when I came across this one. Why? Because see how that football is dominating the screen & edging out that book? That book is my Women of the Bible book & it is being upstaged by a football. This week my whole Biblical routine has been upstaged by football & I am NOT happy about that! (I’m sure God isn’t too pleased either). Not only am I writing my blog a day late, I have failed to do my daily Bible devotions & my prayer time has been rushed to say the least.
Yes, football season is a double-edged sword. We say we are happily crazy busy as we do truly LOVE football! This year is especially crazy as I have a son in college, a son in high school, a son in middle school AND a son in elementary school. And yes, they ALL play football!! I have 4 sons playing football in 3 different cities. (We ARE blessed that our college son plays within an hour of us so we are able to go to his home games.)
Thankfully, it is only crazy for 4 months. I purposely do not have my younger boys playing ANY sports during the Summer. Their Summer is their time of rest & our days are filled with beach trips, family trips, playdates & whatever they so choose. That way when August rolls around, they are READY to go!
I on the other hand, was not ready! I should’ve been ready as I’ve been doing this football routine for over 15 years. This year just snuck up on me & guess who took a backseat to football? God! Ugh, the conviction! My heart was in the right place, but unfortunately my timing was not. I had my days “planned” out & then the days came & nothing went as planned. So, what to do when life happens? Be aware & make a plan on how to adapt. Here’s what the Bible says about this very thing:
Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Temptation. What tempts you from keeping your time in the Word, in prayer & most importantly in God? We are all pulled by something, whether it be sports, homeschooling, working, going to the gym, blogs, etc. What is most important is recognizing when that pull starts to succeed & we are no longer pulling back. Satan will use whatever he can to try & get us a part from God. It is so IMPORTANT that we keep our time with God a priority & not an “if I have time” part of our day. Here’s what the Bible says about remaining in Him:
Colossians 2:6-7 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
John 15:5-6 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.
Romans 8:5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
Proverbs 3:1 My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart.
Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
I knew I needed to ask God’s forgiveness for dropping the ball (couldn’t resist). I had allowed my boy’s football schedules to knock God from being my #1 priority of the day. How about you? Are you keeping God as your #1 priority? What changes have you made to help you do that? I am READY for some football, but most importantly, I am READY to keep God as my #1 priority as I am continuing on to Canaan.
Jeff & I are slowly coming out of our 18 month trial. Once Jeff started his new job some people thought we were immediately back to “normal”. That’s not the case. We are now finding ourselves in the clean up stage. A stage I like to compare to grocery shopping with a child. I’m sure most of you have either been there or witnessed this happening to some poor mother. You pull into the grocery store & life is great. You’re singing along with your favorite music while promising your child you’ll buy them their favorite ice cream if they behave. That in turn makes them happy as they start thinking about what flavor they want.
Then you enter the store & all that good stuff goes out the window. Just like when you’re hit unexpectedly with a trial. Good feeling…..gone! You are no longer singing happily as your little one accidentally knocks something over & makes a BIG mess. Yes, it’s NEVER a little mess, but a BIG one. Seems to be the same with our trials. When we “run away” from God & decide to do things our way vs His way we too create a BIG mess. And that my friends makes A LOT of cleaning up to do!
That’s where we are right now, cleaning up the big mess we made. Oh, we’re grateful that we’re no longer making a mess, but cleaning it up is still hard. When your child genuinely feels sorry they made the mess, do you just stand there & say, “You made the mess, you clean it up!” No, you realize your child has learned their lesson & help them clean it up. THAT my friend is what God does too. He waits till we’ve learned our lesson & then not only does He deliver us from our trial, but He helps us clean it up. We are NEVER left alone to clean up our mess, God’s hands are right there with us. He insures that our mess is COMPLETELY cleaned with no traces remaining! Here’s some verses that remind us that God IS here to help us:
Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Psalm 54:4 Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.
Psalm 121:2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
So you see life can change in an instant. Trials come & make a BIG mess of your life. It’s important that once you find your trial ending, you allow yourself the time to completely clean up the mess. Don’t be in such a hurry that you leave traces of your trial here & there. You want ALL evidence of your messy trial gone! I know it is sooo hard to wait for your trial to end! But, the waiting is not over, God is still working. Before you can walk out of that store, you must make sure you left it completely clean. Same thing with your trial, you need to make sure the mess you’ve made has been completely cleaned with God’s helping hands. Next week I’ll talk about the importance of not forgetting what you’ve learned during your trial. It amazes me how quick we forget things once life is “back to normal”. Until then, I’m thankful I’ve got God’s mighty hands helping me clean up my BIG mess as I’m continuing on to Canaan.
When I was in the middle of my trial I found myself getting very discouraged. I started questioning our decision on Jeff quitting his job even though we KNEW it was what we were being called to do. Once again I was reminded of the Israelites & how they too started grumbling on their journey to the promised land. Take a look:
Exodus 16:2-3: In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”
I loved how they conveniently chose to remember the food in Egypt, yet did not bring up their bondage & slavery. I realized that I too was conveniently remembering just the good times when reminiscing about life pre-trial & not the bad. That’s dangerous territory my friends as Satan will fill your mind with half-truths. Yes, we did have a stable income, but we weren’t where God wanted us to be. We now realize that God was faithful in refining us & purging us. We needed to change & we needed God to change us in a way that only He could. There’s even a verse in the Bible about not looking back, here it is:
Isaiah 43:18-19: Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
I LOVE that verse as it totally stops me from dwelling on my convenient half-truths of the past & instead shifts my focus forward to my future post-trial. He even tells me “I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” He WAS at work in my trial & He WAS making a way out…..it was just up to us to continue to follow His way to find that way out. Unfortunately, it took us a little longer to find that way out when we inadvertently got off His path & started following our own (which can be read about in my archived post titled, “Our Detour”).
My attitude started switching to gratitude after meditating on that verse above as well as:
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Rather then focusing on the pitfalls of my trial that were igniting my attitude, I knew I needed to focus on the blessings. Yes, you read that right….blessings! Believe it or not dear friends your trials do bring blessings! After reading the verses above I was filled with gratitude knowing God WAS at work in my trial for my good. Plus..the testing of my faith during this trial was producing perseverance so that I would not lack anything. How could I possibly continue to have an attitude after reading those verses?!
I remember sharing with my Bible study group about how hard it was to pray sometimes when things were so overwhelmingly stressful. One of the girls asked me if I was praying with an attitude of gratitude or just an attitude. OUCH! GREAT point & totally made me stop & think. My prayers were ALL about requests & very little gratitude. Since that day I have made a point to start my prayers with gratitude & to pray for my attitude 🙂 How about you? Do you have an attitude of gratitude or just an attitude? I hope you can find some gratitude along with me as I’m continuing on to Canaan.