Friday, June 20, 2008

Ken's Ramblings

Hi everybody! This is Ken not Terri. No I am not trying to crash the “girly girls” blog cult! I just had a very long (and maybe thought provoking) tidbit I thought I’d share with my sisters (and anyone else who dares to enter the “land of female blogging”).

Wednesday night I heard a brother stand before our church and cry out for Christians to begin loving each other as Christ loved us. He suggested that we allow our lives to be “transformed” by the power of God which in turn would allow us to engage in true and connected love relationships. I don’t think anyone would disagree with his petition. We are called to love one another, but what does that really mean? How does this “transformation” come about in a Christian’s life? I believe it begins and ends with the word grace.

The following is my feeble attempt to link this idea of having a transformed life with one of the most misunderstood words in the bible. That word of course being grace. If at first it seems that I am mindlessly rambling, stick with it. I promise I am actually trying to bring together a rational and organized thought.

When we love each other we fulfill God’s law and prove our love for Christ.

John 14:15 "If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." 22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?" 23 Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.

John 15:9 "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.

Verse 24 of John chapter 14 is particularly important because it makes it clear that we will not obey the Lord’s teachings unless we have come to love Him!

Another important tie in with this is found in Matthew 22. Jesus said, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
So, what does all of this mean? Let’s break it down.

1. Jesus says if we love Him, we will obey His commandments.
2. What are those commandments? In John 15 verse 12 He says His command is this: “Love each other as I have loved you.”
3. Thus, we prove our love for Jesus by loving others the way He loved us.
4. Yet, Jesus makes it clear that we will not do this if we don’t love Him. (John 14:24)
5. This is made clear when we look at Matthew 22:37-40. There is the reason the Lord said, “'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. Why does the Lord list this as being the “first and greatest” commandment? Because, if this is not the case in our lives, we have no ability to fulfill the second greatest commandment which is, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' John 15:5 says, “apart from me, you can do nothing.”
6. Thus, we will not (and cannot) obey the commandment to love others (the way Christ loved us) if we do not love God first. It is impossible!

So, the question is, Do we love God? Are we really at the place in our lives where we are really able to love Him?

Although this may sound harsh, I think the answer to that question would be no for most of us. Before you “freak out”, stay with me! I don’t think this is due to a lack of appreciation for what the Lord has done. We see the cross and cognitively recognize the great sacrifice God has provided on our behalf. Yet, I really believe most of us simply lack a deep and committed love for God. So why is that? Why is it that most of us have reduced this glorious redemption to a system of “hoop jumping” and feeble attempts at pleasing our God with good behavior. Whether we are willing to admit it or not, most of us live as if we believe serving Christ means doing the good and running from the bad. At the end of the day, we tally up the good versus the bad. If the good stack trumps the bad, then we can rest easy knowing we have appeased our Lord. If not, we must deal with the furrowed brow of a disappointed Father who grows weary of our constant failure!
Every now and again, I have these imaginary conversations with the Lord where I play both parts. These generally happen after a “bad” day or some grievous failure has taken place in my life. They tend to sound something like this: God: “Well Ken I see you’ve wasted another day that I blessed you with!” Ken: “Yes Lord. I didn’t do very well today at all.” God: “When are you going to learn boy!” Ken: “I know I’m a complete failure Lord.” God: “Well, I just want you to know that I’ll still love you because of Jesus, but I really am sick of your train wreck of a life. You better straighten up and fast mister before I have to send some nasty discipline to do it for you!” Ken: “Yes Lord, I’m so, so sorry! I’ll try to do better. Maybe I can witness to someone or something tomorrow. That will make you happy. Right Lord?” God: …………(silence). Ken: “Won’t that be good Lord?” God: ……………(continued silence).

This imaginary conversation generally ends with me walking away believing that I will need to live really well for the next few days so that my relationship with the Lord can be restored.
At this point you are probably thinking one of two thoughts. Either you are amazed that you are not the only psychotic person in the world, or you feel sorry for Ken Richmond and his apparent psychosis! Maybe it’s not quite that black and white, but I do believe many of us tend to “feel” as if we must earn God’s love, acceptance, and blessings. The question is why?

That is such a very important question because without its answer we will continue on what we should call “the performance treadmill”. What is the performance treadmill? Well, it is a sick device of torture we have created that forces us to endlessly chase after the embrace of the Father with NO hope of ever really arriving at our destination. The funny thing about treadmills is that they require a lot of work and movement but never transport us anywhere. They allow us to burn off that which we do not want to keep, but keep us in the same spot. Now, if you’re wanting to drop some pounds that’s not such a bad thing. But, if you’re wanting to drop some pain, guilt, fear, or any of the other “stuff” created by our propensity to sin, it’s a complete waste of time and energy. The truth is sin and it’s effects are just far beyond our ability to “burn off”. No amount of hard work and sweat will ever rid us of it. God knew that and provided Jesus. He dealt with a problem we could never have dealt with.
If that’s the case, then why do we continue to try and earn God’s love and acceptance through our own performance? Well here it is folks. FINALLY! Here’s why I think that sad cycle continues in each of our lives. WE SIMPLY DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE GRACE!
SO, what does that have to do with all that stuff about loving God and loving others and having a “transformed” life? It has everything to do with that and our own ability to live a Galatians 5:1 life.
Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Let me ask you a question. Does that describe how you feel? Do you really feel free? Does that word completely describe your Christian experience? From the time you wake up in the morning until you enter the bed at night, do you live each moment feeling free? Not just head knowledge, but a heartfelt, “breath of fresh air” kind of freedom. If not, you do not understand grace. Let me summarize.

1. If you do not understand grace, you will continue trying to earn God’s favor on the “performance treadmill”.
2. If you are running on the performance treadmill, God’s love for you is based on how well you are living the Christian life (hoop jumping).
3. If God’s love (and “like”) of you is based on you and your performance, you will never feel free. Why? Because you and I fail constantly.
4. If you never feel free, you will grow weary bearing the burden of your own guilt, sin, and shame.
5. Thus, God becomes an angry task master who constantly demands that which you can never fully deliver.
6. If God is viewed (even some of the time) as an angry task master, how can you ever truly trust or feel love for Him.
7. If you can’t fully trust or love the Lord, you won’t obey His teachings (John 14:24)
8. If you won’t obey His teachings, you’ll never be able to love others as Christ loved us.
9. All of this makes for a dead, disconnected, and lifeless church. Buildings full of people unsure of how to love God or each other.
10. If that is all we are left with, then we must find some kind of way to justify living this Christian life. So, we climb on the performance treadmill hoping to create “something” with a God we don’t know how to love or even relate to.

The end result: religion.

Is that what Christ died for? Does that sound like the kind of life Jesus talks about “life and life more abundant” (John 10:10)? If there is to be any hope for the Church, we must find and embrace the truth of who we are in Christ and how we are loved by Him. Let me encourage you to pursue a study of who you are in Christ and how God really sees you. As we begin to better understand and embrace the awesome love and grace offered to us by our heavenly Father through Jesus, we will surely begin to see not only transformed lives, but a transformed church!

Sorry this was soooooooo long!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Does this seem fair?

This would probably qualify under Meleia's TMI post or maybe under her "wacky things that happen to me" post. Meleia have you been sending brainwaves my way or what?

Anyway, I don't like to go get those annual physicals that we(women) all have to get...not fun...I know it's not fun for anybody but I really dread them. Honestly, I went the year after Jay was born(he's four) and then I missed my next one. Something came up. I don't really remember what, but I never rescheduled and haven't been since. Bad girl. I know. My mom's been yelling at me. Well, I finally decided that I better make an appt. and I went in last week for the grandiose pap smear. Today, Dr. Harbin's office calls me. The lady on the phone said, " I hate to be the bearer of bad news. Well, you came in last week for a pap smear." I'm came back bad. I'm dying, cervical cancer, etc. etc. (Yes, I turned into my glass half empty husband). She then goes on to tell me that they sent the swab to the lab and the truck carrying the samples crashed AND BURNED. Yes, I have to go back in next week. Is this some type of punishment for not going in for three years? I still have to pay my dues and be humiliated the same number of times. I almost said "Forget it!" BUT I had a moment of weakness and laughed. The whole darn thing is kinda funny. She transferred me to the front desk and I rescheduled. They tried to make me feel better by telling me I didn't have to give them a urine specimen or anything. I only had to be swabbed. THAT'S SUPPOSED TO MAKE ME FEEL BETTER! The worst part of the whole ordeal and I have to do that part twice in two weeks. Ya' know, I really should be immune to this after four babies. I mean the janitor comes in at the hospital and checks you in the middle of the night, right? Well, I'm not immune and I still hate it. Meleia, give me insight here!!!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Being Real...

Okay, Lacey and Kevin, this is for you who heard my husband say that we all paint beautiful pictures on our blogs. I thought I would share what our wonderful (sarcasm) morning before church was like.

Sunday mornings should be calm, relaxed and peaceful. You're about to go to a wonderful church with great friends who love you and learn about a God who couldn't love you less and couldn't love you more because of anything YOU do (thanks Pastor Dewey). So let me paint my sweet, serene picture of pre-church.

I roll over hopefully to snuggle with my husband. He's not there. I think to myself that it must be later than I thought because usually I beat him out of bed. I find him lifting weights in the garage and realize it's only 6:00ish. I ask him why he's not snuggling with me and he says that he had a nightmare that I was raped and murdered. Great start to the morning, right?

Well, after I shower and get my clothes ready, I begin to hear the children stirring. They gradually make it downstairs. Let's see who was mouthy first? Bryn or Will? My children really think they know more than us. Bryn gets sent to her room while I'm raging (yes, I do raise my voice often a bit more than I should) about her mouth talking back. Next, I hear Ken raging about Will's mouth. Ken doesn't like Will's hair and Will doesn't like for Ken to fix his hair. Erin says that Daddy threw the hair dryer on the floor because Will made him so mad. Ken exits to the back deck. I find him sitting on the steps. We discuss our children's current mouthing problem. With no solution in sight, we take deep breaths and return to finish the battle.

Jay is not up yet and doesn't want to get up when I go upstairs to get him. I leave him in his bed thinking that he'll get up on his own since I woke him. NOT...I hear him screaming my name at the top of his lungs and I trudge back UP the stairs to get him a second time.

We finally load the car and get to church...the long way for us, because Shaw has decided to block us out from driving through their parking lot. Jayden's crying that they locked us out of church. We still arrive semi early. We hope to convince Dewey not to present us until after the younger two go to children's church. We didn't convince him. I sigh...and say a silent prayer, "Please, God don't let Jay embarass us when we're standing in front of everyone." God heard my prayer, at least about the being in front of everyone. He only embarassed me before we got up there. He said in his loud voice when we were asked to come forward, "I wanna go to MY CLASS!" Yes, most people heard him. I think he got stage fright when we were standing up there because he just layed his head on my shoulder and was silent...a rarity.

After church, we decide to celebrate by going to Los Reyes-a fairly affordable restaurant for a family our size. Well, we get there and the door is locked. They don't open 'till 12. We're there at 11:40. We decide to regroup and go somewhere else. Jayden throws full blown temper tantrum in the middle of the parking lot-not a parking space, but the street part. He wants chips and cheese with rice. No Fudwuckers, No chinese, only chips and cheese.

Big Brother finally gets him consoled by telling him that if we go to Chef Lin(yuck) he'll get ice cream. Why does my husband like that place? Jay is finally is all right. We get to Chef Lin and get ready to go through the buffet. A fairly peaceful meal occurs. We get the bill to realize that Will and Bryn are no longer considered children. They've changed it to ages 9 and under. Well, that sealed the deal for Ken, we won't be back. It's "okay" food, but not at full price. It was only worth it if we were getting a deal. $40 for a "so- so " meal doesn't make him happy. Inside, I jump for glee. NO MORE CHEF LIN!!! I let him know that for and additional $10 we could have had the lunch menu at Ichiban's(my favorite). He agrees that it was a bad choice.

Sigh, the day does end more rides, four wheelers and just plain fun, but let me tell you at 9:00AM I just didn't think the day could be salvaged. It was!

As real as it is, I still can't bring myself to make it end on a bad note. This post was just for Ken so he'd quit saying I was lying in all my blogs. He is a glass half empty kinda guy and I'm a glass half full kinda gal- that's why we're together. God knew we needed each other. Isn't it great how he puts us together?

Peace out,

Saturday, June 7, 2008

6-7-8 WHO DO WE APPRECIATE?(okay, I left out 5, but you'll see)

As I was journaling this morning, I realized that the date was 06-07-08. That old cheer(see title) came to mind as I was writing it. I thought it would be cool if we spent today and the next few days thinking about who we appreciate in our lives. Of course, most of all ...I do appreciate God and His son that he sent for me. No one could do anything more than He has done for my life, but for this purpose-let's give some "shout outs" to our earthly friends.

1. My sweet hubby-he does more for our family than anyone. He's a Godly man with a lot of wisdom. I'm so thankful to have him to walk through this life with me. Without him I would probably laugh a lot less. Did I mention that he has a great sense of humor?

2. My parents- they raised me with a knowledge of who Jesus was...I never had to seek out the Father. He was present in my home from a very early age. They are still always there when I need help or assistance. It probably helps that they truly love my children and spending time with them.

3. A lady I met in college-Brenda Green. She truly walked the walk and talked the talk. I so enjoyed being with her and her family. She went out of her way to minister to me and several other girls in college. I'm forever thankful for that. I learned a lot about Who the Savior is and how he should be evident in our lives just from her. I have often said that my Mom prayed Brenda into my life when I was in college. She was a Dr.'s wife that just decided to come work at a Hallmark store(where I worked part time) because her kid's were in college and she was bored. She also was a non-practicing nurse, but wanted something not stressful to do. I'm so glad she did that...her ministry was very effective in my life.

4. My new(mostly) friends at guys are so REAL. I appreciate the transparency and love that you have. I'm so grateful that you don't all profess to be these "perfect" christians. We're all on a journey and I'm so thankful that God placed us beside you again. I sincerely feel that you guys would love me through any failure or shortcoming that I have. You simply admit that "you're all a bunch of cracked pots". I'm so glad that my shattered pot can sit right along beside each of you to worship the One who glues us back together( love the "bring the rain" blog)

Until tomorrow,
hugs and love,

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Awards for All!!!

As I've said before, May was quoted by one of my friends as being "the new December". Whew, they are so right. May reminds me why I don't need anymore children. I could never make it to all their extracurricular activities. I love them, but wowee-they kept me hopping this month. I think I ended with their dance recital last time. Now, on to awards day. A few pics from each one. I was so proud of all of them. I still can't believe my oldest just finished fifth grade.
Erin and her teacher, Mrs. Gazaway. She's the most nurturing, loving person you will ever meet.
Will, AKA the giant, standing next to some of his classmates as they receive their awards. The fifth grade teachers were not as good at making their honor's program memorable. I CAN say that because my husband is one of those teachers. I was like, "What? No power point slide show. No memories to cry over?" The three male teachers were just wanting to save time. Tsk, tsk. Next year, I may have to do it for them.

Bryn standing as they call her name for one of her many awards. She's such a smarty pants. She also is a really hard least at school. Maybe not so much in her room, but with schoolwork, she's a hardworker.This is Bryn with Ms. Ciliberto. She came straight from Heaven in the middle of a very difficult fourth grade year. As you can see from the picture, Bryn's a little teary that the year is over. She truly loves Ms. C. Ms. C retired in TN and came down to fill a spot of a teacher that had to depart midyear. We are so thankful she did.
The final awards program was yesterday. Dear ol' Dad received "Teacher of the Year" at Dug Gap Elementary. I was so excited to see him get to stand next to our fellow blogging buddy, Meleia Bridenstine at the countywide awards ceremony yesterday. She was also voted "Teacher of the Year" by her peers at Eastside Elementary. I was so proud of both of them. They both deserved to win.

Last, but far from least I have to give one last award.
It goes to the best hairstyle of the Month!!! Don't kill me Jenny! I just couldn't resist.