Month: March 2015

Serial Hobbies: My Therapy of Choice

My husband sometimes kids me about my hobbies. I don’t have a lot of hobbies, at once, but I have had several over the years. I am a serial hobbyist. He sees it as a lack of consistency. I see it as a love of variety. And here is the truth about hobbies for me… they are often more than a way to pass the time and find enjoyment.

For me, hobbies are a kind of therapy.

Thrifting is a hobby that I have stuck with for a long time. Some of you are cringing, but I can get lost in a thrift store for a couple of hours, and find that I come out as settled as if I had lain on a counselor’s couch for the same period of time. And if it is a good thrifting day, I come out with a few treasures, too. 🙂

Over the years, in addition to thrifting, my hobby focuses have been on photography, scrapbooking, reading, writing, crafting, yard work, building tiny terrariums, and the list goes on. I sort of bounce from one to the next as the mood strikes me. It’s the bouncing that amuses my husband.

I say amuses… sometimes it annoys him. Like when I bring dirt and plants into the house to build my tiny terrariums on the island in my kitchen. He thinks dirt is dirty. Honestly! It bothers him for outdoor things to be brought indoors and vice versa. For instance, it also concerns him when I use our eating utensils to dig moss and plants out of the woods near our house to put into my terrariums.  I do wash them… and if I had a little green house out back I wouldn’t have to bring it all inside, now would I? That one is on the list for the next house. 🙂 IMG_1185

There’s just something about finding an activity that brings a different focus to the mind. We live in a society of system overload. We are running here, rushing there, forgetting this, and being late for that. Most of us run with a stress meter that at any given moment might just blow a gasket, and pity the poor fellow who’s standing closest when that happens!

When we can settle on an activity that allows our minds to reset, refocus, for a bit, when we come back to reality sometimes we bring new eyes back to that reality with us. And most of the time, our stress meter is a bit better under control. I know this is beginning to sound a kind of like the power of positive thinking, new age break out the crystals, mumbo jumbo, but it’s really not. As usual, and like I always say, it’s about focus and the Bible has much to say about that.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

“Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding;
Yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding,
If you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures,
Then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” Proverbs 2:2-5

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
     He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23:1-3

And finally, the Bible speaks often about the dangers of idleness. Proverbs 31 tells us that admirable woman we all love to hate is always busy with her hands. Why? When we set our hands to a task and get our focus off the things that stress us for just a little while, sometimes the voice of God can finally break through and be heard. Distractions. Sometimes we can’t hear him for all the distractions. So we clear all that away and focus our minds and hands to a task and open our ears. Jesus once said, “Let those with ears to hear…” We all have ears, but most of us don’t always have ears to hear. Being intentional about taking a little while to focus on an activity that calms us and clears our heads, can give us those ears to hear. It can refresh our souls.

Feeling overwhelmed? In need of a little hobby therapy? Carve out a little time. You don’t have to go full on obsession here, just a little time out of your week for a refocus. Maybe you do this already. I’ve shared some of my hobbies, what are some of yours?

Obedience Matters

When my kids were little, I thought obedience from my kids was ultimately for me. I figured well behaved kids would make my life a whole lot easier. It did. I wanted kids who would do what I asked, when I asked them to do it. They did. I wanted kids that I could take anywhere and not have to worry about bad behavior. I had that. I wanted people to marvel at my four kids, and how well behaved they were at a nice restaurant. Marvel, they did. 


It was all very satisfying. I gobbled up the rewards of my labor like so many hunks of chocolate. 

Having well-disciplined and obedient children is its own reward, but it is not an easy thing to accomplish. It involves consistency even when you are too tired to follow through. It requires a team approach with your spouse.

As I have watched my kids grow up, I have come to learn something about discipline and obedience. What I thought was a benefit for me, I have learned, is actually a benefit for them. 

Imagine that, something that’s not about me.

Because here’s the truth, disobedience has far reaching ramifications in the spiritual lives of the children of God.

Take the story of King Saul for example. Saul was anointed king of Israel when the children of Israel insisted on having a King like all the other kids around had. They wanted a king with skin on. Finally, God said, “Okay, you can have a King. But you will eventually see why I should be your only King…” (My interpretation)

Saul was an okay King for a while, but a time came along when Saul had received instruction from God to annihilate an entire people, the people of Amalek. 

This story of Saul is found in 1 Samuel, Chapter 15.

Saul chose to be disobedient to God in that he spared the Amalekite King (Agag) and the best of the sheep. In doing so, he only partially did what he was told by God to do.

Here is some truth for you. Partial disobedience is still disobedience. 

Saul lost the blessing of God over his rule of Israel. But the effects of Saul’s disobedience didn’t end with just what he had done in that moment.

Stay with me. This is why well-disciplined, obedient kids aren’t about you, but about them. 

In sparing King Agag, Saul set into motion a commotion between the people of God and the people of Amalek for generations to come. All the way until we land in the book of Esther, and meet a Jewish man named Mordecai. Mordecai was a multi-great nephew of King Saul, and because of what Saul had failed to do in obedience to God generations earlier, Mordecai would face, once again, the threat of Amalek through a man named Haman, as would the rest of the Jews. 

You can read the story of Mordecai for yourself in the book of Esther. It’s quite the story. But in a nutshell, Mordecai and his niece Esther, because of Saul’s disobedience generations before, were set on a mission to save the entire Jewish people from annihilation. 

If Saul had just done what he had been told to do, we might not have ever even heard of Mordecai or Esther. 

Go read Esther. It’s the only book of the Bible that never mentions God’s name, but his presence and provision speaks louder there than perhaps any other book. It’s also where you will find one of the best lines in the Bible:

 “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

Thankfully, Mordecai and Esther chose obedience, even in the face of huge personal risk, and the entire race of Hebrews was saved because of it.

What do Saul and Mordecai have to do with our kids? Why is it important that we discipline our kids and teach them to be obedient? Ultimately, it is not for the parent’s sake, although as already stated, it does have its perks. Teaching our kids obedience to us, teaches them, in turn, how to be obedient to God. If we fail to teach our kids the importance of obedience to us, they will struggle with obedience to their heavenly Father. 

We want them to obey us, they must obey Him.

Why? Disobedience to the Father can have generational ramifications. When the children of God walk in disobedience to the Father, it affects more than just the current situation. It can set into motion a chain of events that can take generations to make right again. 

As I get ready in the next few years to watch my kids head out on their own, I will no longer need them to be so obedient to me. I mean it’ll be nice if they honor me in that way, but they will leave my house, and it will be oh so important that as they seek to lead the lives God has planned for them, that they do so with a humble and obedient heart to the Father. 

But parents, if you want that for your kids down the road, you have to do the hard work of teaching obedience to them now. I know it’s hard. I know it is sometimes easier to give in and let them lead rather than follow. I well know the terrible twos and those teenage years. I concede that it is tough. But when we consider the story of Saul, and the ramifications of his disobedience to God, do we really have a choice here? We want the best for our kids, and that is found in an unwavering, unquestionable obedience to their heavenly Father.

The Devil Sounds a Lot Like Jesus

My husband likes Ben Rector. Ben is a singer/songwriter we first heard of when he opened for NeedToBreathe a few years ago. Since then, my husband is a fan. I only mention this because the title of this piece, “The Devil Sounds a Lot Like Jesus”, is a line from one of Ben’s new songs that my husband played for me over the weekend, and that one line kind of stuck with me.

When I was about ten, I can remember riding down the road with my grandmother in her huge car. I remember it was summer. my legs were sticking to the leather front bench seat, and the loud air conditioner in her massive car was working overtime trying to cool us off, and having little effect.

Maybe it was that extreme heat that made my grandmother ask the question, “What do you think the devil looks like?”

I had no idea where she was going with that out-of-the-blue question, but I knew just what the devil looked like and I told her, “He’s red and scaly. He has horns and a pointy tail.” And after just a moment, “Oh, and he carries one of those things farmers use to scoop hay… a pitch fork.”th

My grandmother smiled and nodded. I would learn in years to come that smile and nod would indicate something good was coming. After a moment, she said, “Actually, the devil doesn’t look like that at all.” You can imagine my shock. If I had been mildly interested in the conversation before, I was really engaged now.

She spoke with all of the authority of someone in the know.

“The devil can be quite beautiful. He can look like many things. Things that pull our attention away from God. Good things.”

I never forgot that conversation with her. It was the first time anyone had ever really talked to me about the enemy of my soul.

The Bible says that he was heaven’s worship leader, and his name was Lucifer. What a grand position! So grand, in fact, that it went to his head, and instead of wanting to worship the one, true God, he wanted that worship for himself. God basically told him there was only room for one God in heaven, so out Lucifer went, banished to be a little “g” god, and to roam the earth, forever separate from God.

I think both my grandmother and the song lyrics are right. I think the devil trips us up from time to time because he sounds a whole lot like Jesus, and he looks a whole lot like good things. (2 Corinthians 11:14)

I would imagine that before Lucifer was evicted from heaven, he was able to spend a good amount of time with Jesus. In my mind, I wonder if they were friends. There is no indication of this in scripture, but proximity might suggest a relationship there… and it might just be how Lucifer is so adept at fooling us.

The Bible tells us to take every thought captive and hold it up to the measure of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5)… the Bible says that Jesus is truth (John 14:6), so we are to hold every thought up to the truth of, or the truth that is, Christ. We have to do this because our enemy is a deceiver. He takes a lie, and couches it in enough truth, so that if we are not diligent enough, we will fall for his trickery. Teachings or things that may seem, on first glance, to be harmless or even good for us, on deeper inspection are actually pulling us away from where we need to be with God, or in Christ.

The devil sounds a lot like Jesus.

As a ten-year-old girl, it was hard for me to grasp that the devil could be beautiful. As a grown woman, I still have trouble sometimes understanding the wily ways of my enemy, and how he can sound so much like my Savior.

It would be easier if my ten-year-old self had been right, wouldn’t it? I mean, we could spot a dude like that coming at us a mile away. But as a grown up, I know things are rarely that simple. The Bible cautions us not to be ignorant of the schemes of our enemy. The good news is, he has no new tricks. He’s been a liar and a thief from day one. So what’s the answer? To know our Savior so well, so intimately, that our enemy might as well be wearing a red devil costume and carrying a pitch fork!