Friday, October 31, 2008

Imperishable Blessings & the Costume Contest of 2000

Before I actually had children, I developed a long list of things that I would and would not do as a parent. Several items on my list were as follows:

-My child will eat healthy, i.e., no McDonald’s junk food,
-My child will never have a pacifier,
-I will never allow my child to throw a huge temper tantrum in public, and
-I will sew all my child’s Halloween costumes

Now that I actually have children, McDonalds has turned into our second home; I feared that my child would start preschool with a pacifier; and we hold the record for the biggest tantrum in the history of the Riverchase Galleria. Therefore, I decided that I needed to sew a Halloween costume in order to avoid breaking all of my early parenting rules.

I also had an ulterior-motive for sewing a costume: the church fall festival costume contest. Have I mentioned that I am a very competitive person? Overly competitive people and costume contests usually do not mix well. But, if you are going to lose hours of sleep working on a costume, you might as well win, right?

I set my sights on making a monkey costume for my then three year old child. This costume was ultimately much harder and more time consuming than I could ever imagine. A veteran seamstress could have sewed all of the dresses in a large wedding party in the same amount of time that I needed to make this costume. However, I thought the time and effort would be worth it. If I won, I would taste the victory of feeling like the “Crafty Mom.” In the future, when I forgot to send lunch money or missed one of my child’s dentist appointments, I could think back to the Great Monkey Costume of 2000 and not feel like such a terrible mother.

As the contest started, my heart was beating hard. Even though Joshua refused to do the monkey head scratch or screech out “Eh, Eh, Ah, Ah, Oh!” like we practiced, he did a wonderful job. I also pulled out a secret weapon: bananas. My monkey had real bananas to carry in the contest. I bet that no other contestant would be carrying his own food source.

However, I have to admit that I was worried. When I arrived at the carnival, several people thought he was a cat instead of a monkey. This made my confidence waiver a little bit. Hello- does a cat carry bananas?!?! Several costumes in the contest appeared to be much better than mine, but my monkey had the biggest blue eyes and cutest red hair that you have ever seen. Who could resist a blue-eyed, red-headed monkey?

It came time to announce the winner. I was about to join a long list of esteemed Halloween crafters.

I held my breath as the judge said, “And the winner is……..


Everyone?!?! Surely, I did not hear that correctly.

Then the judge said the words that I will never forget, “All the costumes were so good, you are all winners.”

PU-LEASE! All winners? You have got to be kidding me.

I even had scripture to back up my disappointment.

1 Corinthians 9:24 (NAS) says, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize?”

“Only one receives the prize” was the portion of scripture that I quoted to the judge in order to convict him of his decision.

However, looking back on that section of Scripture years later, I realize that I was not looking at the real meaing of the passage. Reading 1 Corinthians 9:24 and 25 together reveals a different meaning than I orignally thought. The passage reads as follows:

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath but we an imperishable.”

I now realize that this verse is talking about an imperishable prize, certainly not winning the costume contest. I used the verse out of context when I quoted it to justify my disappointment in not being crowned “Crafty Mom of the Fall Festival.”

What kind of imperishable prize could you ever receive at a fall festival? As I think back to past fall festivals, I realize that I did receive a wonderful gift from a fall festival that is so much better than any contest prize. Several years ago, I ran into a childhood friend and his family at our church’s fall festival. I had not seen him in years. We talked a while, and I was very excited that he seemed interested in visiting our church. A week later, our church was sending out Faith Teams (a church visitation program) to visit the people who attended our fall festival and indicated that they did not have a church home. When I received my assignment of homes to visit, I discovered that I was assigned to visit my childhood friend. I was nervous as I traveled to his house. He knew the “old” Kelly. He knew me way before I was a Christian. What would he think of my visit?

Thankfully, the visit was wonderful. I asked him about his thoughts on how a person can go to Heaven. He indicated that he had been saved a few years earlier. What wonderful news! What a wonderful blessing to hear!

Two years ago, my friend died unexpectedly. As I sat at his funeral, I could not believe that I was at his funeral. The world had lost one amazing son, dad, brother and friend. I was heartbroken for his parents and children. At the same time, I was so thankful that I had the opportunity to talk to him about his relationship with the Lord. I know for sure that I will see him again one day in heaven.

I am so thankful for the imperishable blessings that the Lord brings into our lives. Why do we strive so hard for things on this earth that will not last? For example, the prize for the costume contest was a bag of candy. If I had won, that bag would have lasted five minutes at the most. I have to remind myself continually that we can not take things to heaven with us; we can only take other people. On this October 31st, please remember that candy and costumes will not last; however, people and our relationship with the Lord can be eternal. I pray that you will use this Halloween and the days ahead to show His love in real and imperishable ways.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Baby I Never Held

October 15th was National Remembrance for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day. Angie Smith left the following post on her blog, “Bring the Rain” (

In the process (of losing a baby shortly after birth), I have met many, many
women who have lost their sons and daughters, and I have been praying about ways
to make this blog about them as well as Audrey. Last week, the Lord spoke to me,
and I was inspired to do this...

If you have lost a baby (and yes, I consider a miscarriage in ANY week to be the loss of a life) to infant death or miscarriage, I want the honor of praying for you. But I want others to be able to pray for you as well, the way they have for me. So, if you are one of those women, will you please leave a comment on this post ..

I posted a comment along with 2,116 other women.

In honor of the child we lost, I would like to share my story with you.

In 1993, we were newly weds. We had just started going to church at Calera Baptist. I had never been active in church before, and I was excited to have my own church home. Steve was the exact opposite. He had grown up in church but had gotten away during his teen years. He went through many years of rebellion with church being the last thing on his mind. As Calera is such a small town, he was very uncomfortable going back to church and felt like everyone knew everything he had ever done. Sunday mornings usually ended up being a debate to decide whether we should go to church or go fishing. A lot of the time, fishing would win. Occasionally, he would go to Sunday school, but he looked like a two-by-four sitting in the class—stiff as a board.

The week of our one-year anniversary, I found out I was pregnant. We were overjoyed and scared to death at the same time. Everything was going great with the pregnancy until I went for a routine doctor’s appointment when I was around 15 weeks along. They could not find the baby’s heart beat and sent me for an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed the baby had died.

The baby’s death really knocked my spiritual legs right out from under me. I read my Bible, went to church, and served Him. How could God allow this to happen? I was a baby Christian, and even though I knew the Lord, I knew very little about His character. Like so many people in today’s time, I bought into “prosperity thinking,” which says that if you serve God, He will bless you and your life will be filled only with health, wealth, prosperity, and happiness. Yes, I had a lot to learn.

During this time, someone gave me a book on Christian grieving. It said that the final stage of grieving was to be able to thank the Lord for the event that happened. The book made me furious. I literally threw it across the room. That was the dumbest thing that I had ever heard. I found it preposterous that one day I would thank God for this terrible event. One night, I was sitting on the couch ranting to Steve about how unfair God was. I had come to the conclusion that my husband was right—we should have been fishing on Sunday mornings. I will never forget what happened next. He quoted a Bible verse to me. I wish I could remember the verse, but I was in such shock that he knew a verse that I have no idea which one it was. That was the first time I had ever heard him say anything spiritual. What made the difference?

The church displaying the love and compassion of Christ.

I can’t explain to you in words the amazing love our church showed us. Our Sunday school class was a real-life example of being Jesus’ hands and feet. They showed us love in so many ways. This profoundly affected Steve. He realized that no one cared about his past. The church just wanted to love us. And love us they did. Our lives were forever changed by the love shown to us from the body of Christ.

To my sweet baby that I never was able to hold:
Even though you did not get to look into the eyes of a mom and dad who love you so much, I hope you know the impact your life had on our lives. I believe your life helped to change the path of our family. You helped bring us closer to the Lord and our church family.
It is so comforting for me to know that when you left my womb, you opened your eyes for the first time in the perfect place of heaven in the presence of Jesus. You will never have to know the pain and sadness of living in a fallen world. You are a reminder to me that this world is not my home. One day we will be able to look into your eyes, and you will meet your brothers. The time we were apart will seem so small in light of the eternity that we will have together celebrating our Lord and Savior.

I love you more than words can say.

Jeremiah 1:5a - Before I formed you in the womb I knew you..

Friday, October 10, 2008

Will You Smell Chili for Eternity?

Philippians 3:20-21: For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He had even to subject all things to Himself.

While cooking chili last weekend, one of my children came into the kitchen and commented on how good the chili smelled. I agreed with him; nothing smells better on a cool fall day than chili. This smell led him to an interesting question, “Mom, what do you think Heaven will smell like?” I did not know what to say. I had never thought about the smell of Heaven or if we will have a sense of smell in Heaven. I told him that I thought it might smell fresh; fresh like after it rains. He asked if I thought it would smell like chili. I explained to him that I don’t think Heaven would smell like chili since a lot of people don’t like chili. If you were not a fan of chili, you would not want to spend eternity smelling it. He said that several years ago in children’s choir they talked about Heaven being so wonderful and so much more than you could ever imagine that it would contain new colors that you had never seen before. He reasoned that if our eyes would see new colors then he could smell chili in Heaven. I honestly don’t know. What is your opinion?

I did what I always do when I am faced with a question that I don’t know the answer and can’t find it in the Bible- I goggled it. Obviously, you get some pretty strange matches for a Google search on “Will we smell in heaven?”. You have to examine your sources carefully. Luckily, I came upon a match to my search that contained an excerpt from Randy Alcorn’s book Heaven. Here is Randy Alcorn’s opinion:

God designed us with five senses. They’re part of what makes us human. Our resurrection bodies will surely have these senses. I expect they will increase in their power and sensitivity. We’ll stand on the New Earth and see it, feel it, smell it, taste its fruits and hear its sounds. Not figuratively. Literally. We know this because we’re promised resurrection bodies like Christ’s. He saw and heard and felt and, as he cooked and ate fish, he presumably smelled and tasted it. We will too.

I am thankful for a child that helped me to stop today and reflect on the “realness” of Heaven. What’s your opinion? What are your favorite smells that you hope to smell in heaven?


Friday, October 3, 2008

My Husband's Driving

Occasionally, I do something while my husband is driving that really gets on his nerves. I did it again yesterday. I don’t mean to. It is a reaction. It is a reaction to thinking we are about to suffer serious bodily harm.

I ....GASP.

The noise comes out of my mouth before I can contain it. Usually at the same exact time, I throw my left arm out like I am trying to hold back an imaginary child that is riding between us.

One reason that my gasping gets on his nerves is because he does not see any threat of danger. To me this is a very strange phenomenon. How can two people riding it the same car see the same event so differently. How can I think that the car that pulled out in front of us may be my ticket to go see Jesus and it does not concern him at all?

A Gary Smalley marriage video answered that question for me. The answer is depth perception. Men and women have different depth perception. According to Gary Smalley, women can’t judge distance and space as well as men. Undoubtedly, we are really not inches from the car in front of us; it just looks that way to me.

I don’t know why God would have given men and women varying degrees of depth perceptions (please comment to this blog if you have any ideas). I do know that there is one thing that the Lord wants both men and women to be able to correctly judge. That is his love:

Ephesians 3:16-19
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love may have power together with all the saints to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

I have heard this verse many many times. But Monday when I was reading Ephesians 3, it struck me for the first time that he wants us to be able to measure the love he has for us. To measure something, you have to really look at it. That is what the Lord wants us to do with him. He wants us to really examine and know Him and his character.

Are you having depth perception problems in realizing the great love of God? Some days, we tend to look at our circumstances to gage God’s love for us. I know that in my life when I have looked at circumstances to measure God’s love for me, I have greatly underestimated His love and at times doubted his love. We would all have a much better grasp on understanding His love if we stop trying to measure the things around us and start measuring Him.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Spoiled Brat

Have you ever seen the train wreck of a show called My Super Sixteen? If I am ever channel flipping and come across this show, I have to stop and stare. This is the one show that makes me feel better about my parenting skills and watching it makes me thankful that I am not wealthy. The show follows filthy rich parents who are giving their 16 year old children a ridiculously expensive birthday party. In addition to the party, the teen usually receives an equally expensive new car. At the end of the show, you see the total amount that the parents spent on the party. Usually, the party and car cost somewhere around $200,000. Whenever, I see the total cost I can’t help but think how many foreign missionaries that money would have supported.

In one particular episode, the mother gives her teen a brand new Lexus (cost $67,000) the day BEFORE her 15th (not 16th) birthday party. The word BEFORE is very important. According to the daughter, this act ruined her life. She wanted to receive the car during the party. How could her mother love her and do such a terribly mean thing to her?

Another clip on YouTube shows a girl having a complete melt down when she receives her brand new Saab convertible. She wanted a blue convertible but she received a red one. Now she is stuck with a car that does not coordinate with her wardrobe. How could her father be so uncaring?
As I see these clips, I am shocked. How could anyone be so spoiled? How could these teens be so inconsiderate and thankless? The parents gave the girls everything they wanted. Just because it did not come EXACTLY like they wanted, they threw a fit.

As I started reading through the book of Ephesians on Sunday, I came to the shocking realization that I am not much different from the teens. As I read through Ephesians 1:3, I realize how spoiled I am.

Ephesians 1:3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.

God has given me EVERY spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. I have it all. But some days, it does not come EXACTLY as I want it. I want a blue car instead of red. I want the timing of things to be different. Some days, I can throw a pretty good fit.

A good cure for a spoiled attitude is to look at the entire chapter of Ephesians 1. Ephesians 1 is an interesting chapter. After the greeting, the entire chapter was originally made up of only two very long sentences. Modern translations have added addition punctuation. Verse 3-verse 14 is a long sentence composed of Paul’s praise and verse 15-23 is composed of Paul’s praise and prayer. When you read this chapter as two long sentences you come to realize how full Paul was with joy and excitement. He had to praise and pray- no time to stop for periods, commas or capital letters. It is hard for me to imagine these wonderful praises were coming from the mind of a man locked in prison.

Have you been acting like a spoiled brat lately? Please join with me in praying that when the “it’s all about me” attitude creeps in, we turn our eyes from ourselves to our creator in praise and prayer.