Dear Peanut-Girl, What I’ve Learned Through the Fantastic Fours

You’re five. Just pressing my fingertips to those nine computer keys hurts. You’re five. How did this happen? My baby. Now five.

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Yet those words make me happy, too. You’re different – different good. I like it. I like you. You’re not at all who I expected you to be. You’re better.

You’re crazy. You’re precious. You’re precocious. You’re your daddy’s girl and your mama’s shadow. You’re your grandmama’s angel and your grandpa’s delight. And you’re your very own person.

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I’ve learned a lot through this past year – this year I’ve called the Fantastic Fours. Here’s what I’ve learned…

I’ve learned that every year, just about three weeks after your birthday, you test me. You push me, you push the limits, you push yourself, and you prove what you’re made of.

I’ve learned that consistent discipline and persistent love bring us both to the place of experiencing God’s best.

I’ve learned that mutual respect works with more than just jobs and marriages. It works with kids, too.

I’ve learned that you crave affection and long for words of affirmation – and it’s my joy to give you both.

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I’ve learned that what makes you happy is being loved, and for you, that means spending time together.

I’ve learned that you can shoulder responsibility beyond your years – with grace and joy.

I’ve learned that four-year-old silliness isn’t my “thing”. (Sorry, just isn’t.)

I’ve learned that you love your friends, Go Fish, and Dinosaurs.

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I’ve learned that you love to learn and homeschooling is definitely for us.

I’ve learned that I must allow you to teach me so I may teach you.

I’ve learned that children are good pray-ers, good forgivers, good peacemakers.

I’ve learned that you want a Tinkerbell guitar, Tinkerbell motorcycle, Tinkerbell baseball bat, Tinkerbell socks, and Tinkerbell clock. Ariel used to be your favorite. Tinkerbell won out this year.

I’ve learned that you’re a challenge, and I’m up for it.

I’ve learned that I really like you. A lot. I think you’re cool. (Yes, “cool”. It’s a word that was rad or down or hot or sick or whatever back when your mom was young…but still a lot older than you are now.)

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I’ve learned that the “Wiggle Game” is by far the best way to help you learn anything – really, anything.

I’ve learned that it hurts me when other little kids hurt you.

I’ve learned that God really does lead me in how to lead you as long as I stay close enough to hear Him.

I’ve learned that you’re learning to love Jesus, and I have no greater joy than to hear that my child is walking in the truth.

I’ve learned that you make a good partner, a good team-mate. And team mates we are – you, Daddy, and me. Team Greene.

I’ve learned that when school just isn’t working for this day or this week or this month, we’re good! We’ll play. We’ll snuggle. We’ll learn. We’re us. And we’re good.

I’ve learned that when school IS working, we can’t allow others to discourage us. We’ll play. We’ll snuggle. We’ll learn. We’re not “pushing” anything. We’re us. And we’re good together.

I’ve learned that the sound of your laughter is the best sound in the world and your smile makes me happier than almost anything else.

I’ve learned that for all my days, all my life, I’ll love you – but then again, I already knew that. Happy fifth birthday, Peanut-Girl. I’m so very thankful you’re my daughter.

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What Do You See?

hannah-montana-1Miley Cyrus. What images flash through your mind when you hear her name? Hannah Montana? Her daddy and his famous mullet? Her hard-to-watch VMA example of fame’s all-too-often harsh implosion?

 

A precious and lost little girl searching in all the wrong places for an answer only provided in the blood-grace of a risen Savior?

 

Newspapers, social media sites, and blogs have Miley’s photo paraded across them, hoping that, like a horrible train wreck, we just can’t look away from them. And when we do see them, we have choices to make.

We can laugh, sneer, and look away. Or we can learn, love, and pray. We can talk about how no one is perfect and avoid talking about sin. Or we can stare sin directly in the face and talk about the Lamb who came to take sin away (John 1:29). We can speak grating lies about people who have become worthless. Or we can speak grace-full truth about souls who are worth the blood of Christ.

But not all blogs, articles, tweets, and status updates about Miley’s raw performance last Sunday night are brutal or crude. Two blog articles, in which the authors shared their hearts more than their minds, provide excellent perspectives on how we as Christ-followers ought to respond to Miley’s childish and uncontrolled antics.

 

Garrett Kell, senior pastor of Del Ray Baptist Church, wrote a powerful post titled What Would Jesus Say to Miley. In part, Kell writes:

Jesus would tell Miley Cyrus that she is the kind of girl He came to spend time with.

There are a lot of religious types who won’t like to hear this. Jesus came to spend time with people just like Miley Cyrus. In the Gospel of Luke 5:30 the religious conservatives of Jesus’ day grumbled and said “why do you eat and drink with…sinners?” The answer? Because Jesus has compassion on sinners (Matthew 9:36), He loves sinners (Romans 5:8), and He came to call sinners to believe in Him (Luke 5:32)…In fact, that’s the very reason He left the holiness of heaven—to proclaim the Gospel of the kingdom to people just like Miley Cyrus.”

 Jesus would tell Miley Cyrus that her sin is deadly for herself and for others.

Jesus would tell Miley that “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (Jn. 10:10)…He’d say something like, “Miley, sin is deceiving you. It’s blinding you. It has told you it only wants a little, but it always wants a little more. Sin will never stop until it has consumed you.”

 Jesus would tell Miley Cyrus to come to Him and He will give her rest.

Sin gives us pleasure—but that pleasure is always short-lived and it always leaves us empty.

Jesus would tell Miley that sin will never satisfy her soul because she was made for so much more. As Augustine, who once found life in orgies and drink, said “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.”

 Jesus would tell Miley Cyrus that she will be judged one day and that she needs to get ready today.

The good news is that God is a God who loves to extend mercy. In Ezekiel 33:11 He says “As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die…?” Jesus would tell Miley that she will be judged one day and that she needs to get ready today. The way to do that is to trust in the One who died for sinners like her, and like me, and like you and turn from our sins and follow Him.”

 

We have all heard it said “love the sinner, hate the sin.” This generation, however, feels that is too harsh and judgmental. Rather than following the ways of Jesus, they have revised the saying to suit a more seemingly peaceful mantra: “Love the sinner, hate your own sin. Don’t judge someone just because they sin differently than you.

But that saying is a gross misunderstanding of scripture and means death to a dying and hurting world. My heart yearns to write a post delving much deeper into that. Until then:

Indeed, Jesus loves sinners with a compassionate undying love, but He hates sin with a passionate undying hate. Love gives, saves, and protects; sin takes, damns, and destroys. The amazing thing about grace is that it is entirely rooted in and founded on truth…we can trust in God’s grace precisely because He tells us we can, and He always tells the truth (Numbers 23:19). Grace and truth do not fight one another – they are the paradox that saves.

 

Go and Sin No More

 

The second blog providing a Christ perspective, titled I Weep for Miley, is a powerfully tender and beautifully written example of the blog name: Kingdom People; Living on Earth as Citizens of Heaven. In part, Trevin Wax writes:

Tonight, I weep…

I weep for the lostness of a girl who doesn’t see herself stumbling around in the dark…

I weep for the American Idol culture that promises glitter and gold to children, then chews them up and spits them out.

 I weep for an entertainment culture that celebrates the breaking of every social taboo and the casting off of every restraint, only then to turn and mock the stars that follow suit…

I weep for men (myself included) who have failed to say, “Enough is enough.”

I weep for the broken, messed-up world we live in.

But then I weep at the power of grace.

There’s Jesus, lifting the head of a woman of the night and sending her away into the light. There’s Jesus in a crowd, healing a woman desperately trying to cover the shame. There’s Jesus at the well, transforming a woman tossed aside by multiple men.

 

For the hurt of the daughter of my people, I am hurt,” the prophet Jeremiah wrote, “I am mourning, dismay has taken hold of me (Jeremiah 8:21). Like Jeremiah, may our hearts break over what breaks the heart of God, and may we pray, function, serve, and speak truth from a broken heart full of God’s grace.

 

Let your heart be tender and your vision clear.
See mankind as God sees, serve Him far and near.
Let your heart be broken by a brother’s pain.
Share your rich resources, give and give again.”

“Let Your Heart Be Broken.” Bryan Jeffery Leech

© 1975 The Evangelical Covenant Church

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A Powerful Choice

Before I Formed YouFocus on the Family President, Jim Daly, tells the story of Joy, a young, unwed girl who became pregnant. Frightened and ashamed, she made an appointment with an abortion clinic.

During her exam, Joy asked the technician if she could see her baby on the ultrasound monitor. Her request was denied, and she was told that it was not even a baby yet. She was instructed to come back in 24 hours for the abortion procedure.

As she left the clinic, she met a woman who asked if she had been allowed to see her baby on the ultrasound. Joy said she had not. The lady then invited Joy to visit the Women’s Resource Center so she could see her baby.

 

That ultrasound photo became the most important picture of her child’s life.

 

I cried and cried as my heart was changing. I was bonding with this tiny life within me,” Joy said, “I took the picture home and called her ‘my little gummy bear.’” Joy and her boyfriend married, and this year, her ‘little gummy bear’ started kindergarten.

In the 40 years since Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that legalized abortion in the U.S., over 54 million babies have been aborted, and a heart-wrenching number of women have lost their lives from abortion-related hazards, including breast cancer, uterine perforation, hemorrhaging, medical error, allergic reactions, infections, suicide, and lack of post-abortive care.

But people are beginning to see through the blood-thirsty lies of the abortion industry, and are recognizing that much of the pro-choice agenda isn’t really about choice or health care at all, but rather about suppression, ignorance, exploitation, greed, and narcissism.

Many women, like Joy, are courageously standing up to claim their right to choose life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for themselves and their children, regardless of their religious or political party affiliation. Many strong and beautiful ladies are making the difficult choice to grow and nurture the unplanned yet miraculous life growing within them.

Those who have had their body invaded and brutalized through rape are grasping the difficult truth that having their bodies ravaged again through abortion will not heal their physical and emotional scars. Instead, many report feeling empowered by not only surviving the ordeal, but thriving, as they find the strength to carry life instead of bring death, supply compassion in the face of hellish fury, and preserve innocence when theirs was taken from them. And that is the true essence of strength, beauty, courage, and power.

And on this 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, these powerful women stand as a challenge to all women to take a stand. A stand for the most helpless of our citizens. A stand for those who are facing unplanned pregnancies. A stand for the rights of women to live. A stand for the compassionate care of the unborn. A stand for strength, dignity, and posterity. A stand for courage, common sense, and truth. A stand for health, happiness, and a future. A stand for the beautiful choice of life. A stand for love.

 

If you or someone you know is facing an unplanned pregnancy, and you want to make a powerful choice, pregnancy resource centers around the country are standing with those who are in need. Visit difficultchoices.org to find assistance near you.

Thanksgiving Thursday, My Cup Runs Over

If you learn to worship while the enemy sits across from you at the same table; if you can learn to pay such close attention to the King that you forget about the enemy staring you in the face…then you win.” Tommy Tenney, Finding Favor With the King

The imagery of Psalm 23:5 is precious, peaceful, worshipful, and altogether different than seems natural in the presence of enemies. Our loving gaze, exclusively on our King; our King’s power, protection, deep affection, and bountiful blessing exclusively on us…all in the presence of our enemy. What a picture!

Worship, praise, and thanksgiving are strong and effective weapons in our spiritual arsenal, because we have his power flowing through us as he inhabits our praises. When we bow in the presence of our King, give Him glory, and shout that He alone reigns, the powers of darkness tremble. Why? Because the powers of darkness can’t drown out one single word in the song of the redeemed!!*

And I can testify to this truth. This week, I have sat at the table prepared for me in the presence of the enemy of my soul, with my eyes fixed on my King. And power has coursed, pleasure has flowed, security has flooded, and no fear has been in his presence. This week, I have feasted with the King. He has prepared a table for me, I have prepared my heart for him.

He will break bread and I will take and the world is His feast! and He is love! and nothing will keep my hand from filling with His.”*

My Thanksgiving List 10/4/12

222. The table prepared for me in the presence of my enemy

223. Being so immersed in the face of the King that I see nothing else

225. Watermelon strawberry smoothies

242. A fun and memorable wedding anniversary

355. Broncos win against the Raiders 37-6 (Hey, all is grace, right?!)

234. Thunderstorms

244. The joy of cooking

362. Sharing a PB&J with my little Peanut

363. That God is always good and we are always loved, even when it all seems to fall apart

367. Training up a child

Please tell me, what gifts have you unwrapped this week?

 

 

 

*He Reigns, Newsboys

*One Thousand Gifts pg 221

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And the child grew and became strong in spirit: Happy 1st Birthday, Shelby!!

My precious Shelby,

Today is a very special day. It is a day of celebration, of remembrance, of thankfulness. Yes, I think you could say today is my Thanksgiving Day. You see, you were born one year ago today.

I knew you were coming; I just didn’t know you were coming that day. I expected you to be born nearly a month later. Yet, June 7th, 2011, was the perfect time; it was your time. I called your daddy the minute I felt you on your way.

 We couldn’t wait to meet you, and at 6:04 PM, you came into the world.

You were oh-so-tiny when you were born; just 5 lbs, 10 oz. The clothes I brought to the hospital to put you in were so little that I feared you would never wear them. But when we dressed you to take you home, you swam in the tiny outfit, and you looked so lost in your infant car seat.

 You were strong, though. Just seconds old, still moist and messy from the womb, you showed strength and independence. 

There is much to tell you about that day, and about the year that has followed. But on this day, my Thanksgiving Day, I must tell you something important, something I want you to know and remember always. Your life, my little one, was spoken into existence, planned, ordained, and blessed by a holy and loving God who holds your life in the palm of his hand (Ps. 119:73, Jer. 1:5, John 10:29). Each day you draw breath has been woven together into a tapestry of grace by a heart of Love. The hand of the Almighty knit you together, and it is by him that you live, move, and have your being (Ps. 139:13, Acts 17:28).  

My tiny Peanut, the Giver of eternal life is the Giver of your laughter. The Author of Salvation is the Author of your faith (Heb. 5:9, Heb. 12:2). The Maker of heaven and earth is the Maker of your body (Ps. 146:6, Ps. 139:14). The hand that holds the tides is the hand that holds your life (Job 38:8-11, Job 12:10). The Keeper of the stars is the Keeper of your tears (Ps. 8:3,Ps. 56:8). The One that orders the wind and the waves is the One that orders your steps (Matt. 8:27, Ps. 119:133). The Lamb that shed His blood to redeem your soul is the Lion that has triumphed and overcome death…to win your love (Rev. 7:14, Rev.5:5, John 3:16).

When you were just three weeks old, your daddy and I presented you back to your Maker, who entrusted you to us. Strength, power, and dignity were the visions for you that day. Your daddy and I, along with members of our family and our church family, gave our word and promised our undying efforts to stand in the gap for your soul and raise you according to God’s Word. 

The journey of parenting you these past 12 months has given me immeasurable joy, awe, and wonder. From the moment of your birth I have pointed you to the Savior. My sweet child, there is only a short lifetime to say all that there is to say, and how quickly the time passes. Yet with all my heart and all my strength, I will live the rest of my days helping you know the Lord. I will work to support, educate, train, and inspire you to be a woman of character, committed to the values of Christ, duty, honor, and country, prepared for excellence and service to God and others. I pray, my little one, that you become a fierce and feminine warrior for the kingdom of God, one to storm the gates of hell, and bring down the enemy’s strongholds in the name of Jesus. I will support the unique and special talents God has placed in you and help you to see that you can do anything he calls you to do, because he goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you, for this God is your God, forever and ever; he will be your guide even to the end (Deut. 31:8, Ps. 48:14).

You are a precious, spirited, happy child, Shelby, with a smile that enchants angels. I see God’s image in you, and I will look forward to watching him work in your life and on your behalf. My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me when he gave me you (Luke 1:46-49). I love you deeply and desperately, little one.

Happy 1st birthday, Shelby Deanne, your adventure has just begun!