Your Child – A Mighty Tree in the Making

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Your Child – A Mighty Tree in the Making 

Ecclesiastes 4:12

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

I love trees.  I mean I really love trees.  I think I picked up this love from my Dad.  When I was a girl, I would watch him plant trees around our yard – LOTS of them.  Living in California at the time, he planted mostly redwood trees. He must have found this hobby therapeutic, because one visit to that old house reveals a virtual forest of redwood trees!  

 I enjoyed watching my Dad plant all those trees – a pretty simple process:  Dig a hole, loosen the root ball, put it in the ground, fill in the dirt and then always, three support straps anchored from all sides around the base of the tree.  They were loose enough to give the tree room to grow, yet secure enough for stability.  “Support System”, my Dad would call it, so the young tree would have a chance to grow straight and tall.  And there those rubber straps would stay, until there was firmness when you shook it, until those roots had time to deepen.  

 Support Systems.  They matter.

In a few weeks we will launch our second born son, Jack, into the great wide world of “life beyond childhood”. Our now mature “tree” is about to stand on his own.  Although there has been much loosening through the years, those straps are about to get their final cut.  It’s time.  

 As we do, my heart is filled with deep gratitude – gratitude for the treasure of a Christian support system. Those straps of support represent something meaningful to me.  These are the supports that have strengthened and fortified our son through the years.  Beyond the limited resources that his Dad and I could give him, these are the supports that have made him the mighty tree he is today.  God has been gracious and I am deeply grateful.  

 Jack’s three “support system” straps represent to me:

 His Family.  This one’s pretty obvious – my husband, me, his siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  There’s no doubt that Jack’s family has been a critical source of love and strength through the years.  Though we haven’t done it perfectly, Jack knows his family loves him so much and we will always be there to support and encourage him!  

 His Church and School.  These loving communities, who love our family and Christ, have made a huge impact on the growth and development of our family. By loving, supporting and investing in us, they have loved, supported and invested in Jack.  Through the years, they have rejoiced with us, grieved with us, helped us pack, helped us unpack…essentially, helped us do life!  Most of all, they have walked with us in faith, helping us to grow in Truth and Grace. 

 His Mentors.  I can’t say enough about these key people of influence in Jack’s life.  His Dad, his older brother, a godly family friend, his pastor, his youth pastor, headmasters, teachers, his cross country coach, the leader of our favorite Christian camp – thoughts and memories of these men and the impact they have had on Jack, literally bring tears to my eyes.  The time invested, the advice given along the way – life changing moments of affirmation, influence, instruction and occasionally, course correction.  How valuable.  How indispensable really.

 I can recall…

 –  Seeing my son come home from camp, hauling a huge hand-hewn table he and his mentor Stu made while he was away. 

–  Seeing tears from his cross country coach, Bill, as he shared the character and commitment my son had shown through a very difficult trial.  

–  Seeing regular Wednesday afternoons blocked off for time with his youth pastor, Adam – where there was much discussion about the best coffee and how to brew it, dark chocolate, plenty of laughter – and oh by the way, lots of godly advice shared. 

 Support systems are powerful.  Significant touches of relationship and investment impacting one life.  These people are to be remembered, appreciated and treasured. Many times along the way, their words and expressions of love and encouragement were vital.  

 As I ponder these sacrificial gifts, I am struck.  I really don’t know who he would be without them.  All I do know is that, by God’s grace, I am now standing here looking at a pretty amazing tree, standing straight and tall, looking like he’s ready to be cut loose. 

 Three short weeks until we cut those straps for good.  As we do I am grateful.  I am peaceful.  I know those straps were always meant to be cut.  And unlike our tree analogy, I know in many ways, those straps of support will remain.  But things will look different.  Independence is here.  

 As we enter this new chapter, I am trusting that with God’s help, Jack’s roots will hold.  They are deep and they are thick, resulting primarily from God’s Truth and Spirit working in His life.  But we can never discount the many lives that have been (and will continue to be) part of that invaluable support system strengthening our now mature and mighty tree.  

 Of course, I know as we cut those straps, there are no guarantees.  Life is wonderful and life is hard.  Only the storms of life will really tell the story of just how deep those roots go, how firmly they will hold.  But I trust God and know that as Jack continues walking with Him, all that has been poured into his identity and development will show itself through the years. 

 To all those who have been a part of this priceless support system, the impact has surely been profound.  From the heart of a Mom and Dad who deeply love their son, thank you, thank you, thank you!  

– Julie McGrath

More Than Just Muffins – Learning to be Teachable

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More Than Just Muffins…

As I was happily working in my kitchen and enjoying the morning, I decided to ask my 13-year-old son if he would mind leading the effort in making blueberry muffins with his four- year-old sister.  He gladly said “Sure!” and pulled out the ingredients to get started. 

As the muffin making progressed, I was amazed at how quickly this simple request turned into a character training session.  

  • The egg shells get tossed across the kitchen into the sink and I open my eyes wide (for effect) as he glances at me, “Sweetie, that is really not OK!  You need to walk over there and toss it in.  Be clean about your work.”
  • The batter gets messy and he sighs with impatience at his sister’s attempt to fill the muffin cups, “Honey, watch your patience in this and pull the bowl closer for Mia so she won’t spill.  Remember that she is little still.”
  • The effort to open the blueberries can is only a half-effort.  “Remember you have to open it completely or it will cut you or your sister.”

As I shook my head at the constant training that mothering requires of me, I had to pause and smile to myself.  Is this how God feels?  

As I cleaned up our muffin making effort, I considered how much I am like my son.  God has to patiently teach me (and re-teach me) things every single day!  As I stumble through my relationships and grapple with the truths of His Word, he patiently waits for me to “get” His good lessons. 

Do I struggle, as my son did, to be teachable and patient?  Do I sometimes give God a half-hearted effort?  I must confess, I do! 

So here is the good news…

Does God give up on me?  Will He withhold His goodness from me because I don’t get it right every time?  Never, no never.  I am His child and He is my loving Father and the ultimate Teacher.  He will persevere until I understand the goodness of His higher and better ways.  

So moms, as you train your children, consider how God is trying to guide you, too.   Are you helping God with the process by being teachable, just as you desire that your children are teachable?  Are you quick to yield to His leading and the truths of His word?  

Just as I know how to make simple blueberry muffins well, God knows how to “do life” well. 

As you try to live your life in a way that honors God and you find yourself stumbling or wrestling with your desire to obey Him, remember God’s character.  He is a patient and loving God who only wants your best.  Trust His good training and yield to His higher and better ways!    

Julie McGrath

Isaiah 55:9

 As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways
 and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 

Hard-wired (Embracing the GIFT of your unique and wonderful child)

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Jack’s 9th Birthday – his dream was to have all of his friends throw a pie in his face!

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Hard-Wired

I’m getting a little reflective as I start to see the blossoms of spring, thinking of my second-born Jack and his upcoming graduation.  Can it really be time to send off this wonderful and crazy child of mine?  Is he really a man now?  I must admit…he is, he really is.

How I thank God for this special and unique young man given to us 18 years ago!  He is TRULY a gift and he is TRULY one of a kind!  I first noticed the pattern of his unique make up as I compared our annual Christmas letter each year.  Through the yearly tradition of the “McGrath Kids Update,” I made a fascinating discovery about the make up of Jack (and each our children, by the way)…a discovery I found to be very freeing! 

This discovery is that our children are hard-wired

Their temperament, their personality, their strengths and weaknesses – in other words their bent – are as firmly a part of their make up as their hair and eye color.  The Bible refers to this reality in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child according to his bent and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  As I leaf through these old Christmas letters, it is amazing how easy it is to see this fact.  

Our son Jack was a funny little laid-back two year old, who belly laughed all the time.  From the get go, it was clear that this boy thoroughly enjoyed the silliness of life.  When he was four, we noted that he frequently had a little mischievous grin on his face and that he seemed to be living life on a different plane.  At six, we recalled how, after mom tidied his closet, he responded like a robot in a trance, arms extended, “Must destroy! ….Must destroy!” At eight, Jack loved Garfield and would constantly recite the comics with great relish, amusing us and himself!  At ten, he named himself “Cat Ranger,” donned a cape and jumped out of our second story floor onto a mattress and about twenty pillows.  (DO NOT try this at home!)  At fifteen, he declared that he was going through a sophisticated phase and was seeking a pen pal in Denmark.  And just recently he has taken to wearing a real rabbit fur coat around town in His jeep, with a smile that lights up Hickory.  

What can I say? Jack is wonderful Jack. 

Whether strong-willed and ready to take over the planet, or gentle and quiet, forming Play-Doh shapes into pairs (just to make sure everyone has a friend ), our kids have been given distinct personalities by God  – and He wants us to get on board.  As I have embraced this reality – that each of my children are His unique design – I have found great freedom in my mothering.  I’ve realized it’s not my job to strain against the bent his Maker gave him, but to faithfully train according to his bent.

Instead of trying to press him into a certain mold, or make him more like me (or my husband), I have learned that I need to work with his strengths and weaknesses, encouraging him to use his unique make up for God’s glory.  And in doing so, I have learned to enjoy the precious creation GOD has chosen to place in our family.  

Moms, let’s do our best to celebrate our children’s strengths:  To the strong-willed child, “You be God’s anchor!  Be a powerful, determined voice of truth for Him!”  To the gentle one, “Keep on loving your friends so well, showing them God’s heart of compassion and gentleness.”  Of course, let’s also do our best to help them strengthen their natural weaknesses, to help them learn to flex the weaker muscles of their natural personality.   

As you work with your child, one key thought to remember is this: the standard of training your child to become more Christ-like does not change, but understanding their hard-wired bent makes it easier to have patience and perspective with their progress

We have to remember that they are God’s first; after all, and He made them just the way He wanted to – to fulfill the plans He has for them in this world. (Eph 2:10).

When we realize that our children are hard-wired from birth, it also releases us from our tendency to take ownership of our children’s victories and failures. This enables us to keep our objectivity, not taking every behavioral issue as a reflection on us.

When we face daily resistance from a child, it keeps us from thinking we have done something unalterably wrong.  When our child comes home with “stars for good behavior” in life, it keeps us from getting puffed up.  Whether they have mud on their face or blue ribbons on their chest, they are His unique workmanship.  All God asks is that we are faithful to do our part, training them in ways of the Lord according to their bent. What a blessing to discover and be a student of our one-of-a-kind children! I think God knew that His unique hard-wiring of our children would leave us scratching our heads and asking Him for help and wisdom as we raise our children – and that’s just the way He likes it. 

In the end, how good it is to embrace these unique and precious gifts that God gives us for such a brief time.  As I reflect, I wouldn’t change the gift of having my “Cat Ranger”, Garfield-loving, fur coat-wearing Jack, for anything.  I am so deeply grateful that this young man, hard-wired by God himself, calls me “Mom”.  

Long live “Cat Ranger”!! 

  • Julie McGrath

Train up a child according to his bent and when he is old, he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6

Going Deeper:

  • Make a list of the strengths and weaknesses you note in your child.  
    • Affirm their strengths frequently and do everything you can to channel them in the right direction – to bring glory to God!
    • Pick out one weakness that needs addressing and start praying for your child in that area.  If you are stumped, seek out advice about how to creatively strengthen this weak muscle. 
  • Seek out the counsel of God’s Word as well as the counsel of families you admire who have adult children walking with God.  
  • Remember to keep your sense of humor and enjoy your unique child!   

Happy in my Lane

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Happy In My Lane

Have you ever watched one of those speedy, hot dog drivers on the road?  They don’t like to stay in one lane for any amount of time, so they dodge, to and fro, in and out, cutting dangerously in front of others.  Their eyes vie for a better spot just ahead in the other lane.

Now, I really don’t know…these hot doggers may be rushing somewhere important, like perhaps…to the hospital??  🙂  The truth is, I doubt it. They are most likely just restless and simply can’t handle the limits of staying in their own lane.

Have you ever struggled with this in life?  Instead of staying in our own lane, embracing the roles and commitments that we have been given, we are tempted to look around for better options.  Maybe we’re hoping that the lane nearby will somehow be faster, easier and better.  We ask ourselves, “What are my options here?  Is there some way around this?”

One area in which God has really helped me to “embrace my lane”, is in my role as a wife.  He has graciously opened my eyes to see that He has designed me to fill a very unique and privileged role within my marriage.  I was made to complete and bless one human being for a lifetime.  I was made to be one man’s support, encouragement and greatest fan.  I was made to serve, bless, come under his leadership, honor and defer to him.  I was made to love him for all of my days!

The Lord God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.  I will make a helper suitable for Him.” – Gen.2:18

When I really ponder the significance of this, it stops me in my tracks.  How my man needs me!  What a tremendous role to fulfill!  If I choose to do this well, his life will be enriched and blessed.  If I don’t, what a gaping hole I would leave in his soul.  So many women (sometimes me!) look at what God calls us to as wives and say, “Surely not. Isn’t there a shortcut?  I don’t really want to drive in this lane.  I think I like the lane called, ‘Woman in Control’ or ‘Respect shown upon Merit’ or perhaps, ‘Romance me Endlessly.’  Now that looks like a place where I can really cruise!”

And what about when your husband isn’t staying in his lane?  Perhaps he struggles to lead and love you well. That is tough. There are no easy answers. But we simply must choose to entrust our husbands to God and focus on our own lane, regardless of what our husband is doing – or not doing. How much does he like it when you tell him how to drive anyway?  🙂

Perhaps the beautiful and humble way in which you fulfill your role will encourage your husband to fulfill his. (1 Peter 3:1-2)   However, regardless of his response, we must know deep in our hearts that God himself is pleased with the offering.

The only thing you can control is your choice to drive in the only lane that leads to God’s blessing for us as wives – His beautiful and fulfilling complimentary design.

I have had the joy of observing the kind of marriage in which the woman joyfully yields to her husband’s leadership and chooses to complete, rather than compete with him.  And guess what I have found at the end of the lane? The treasures we all crave: a husband who is crazy about his wife, a husband who can’t live without her, a husband who counts the day he met her as blessed. (Prov. 31:10)  Most importantly, she has noticeably received protection and favor from the Lord. (1 Peter 3:8-12)  Don’t we all want to be the wife in that kind of marriage?

Consider this morning the man that God brought into your life, whether it was 2 years ago or 20 years ago. Think about his strengths. Think about his weaknesses. Think about his likes and dislikes. Now consider how God made you to be the perfect gift for him.  Consider how much he needs you. Consider how He made you to be the one who would make your husband’s life sparkle with beauty, peace and joy!  Are you loving him well, the way God made you to, or do you bristle at God’s design? 

How blessed our husbands (and we!) will be if we simply choose to embrace the lane He wants us to drive in. By faith, let us do marriage God’s way, fulfilling our God-given roles as wives, trusting that His way always brings blessing! As I think about the future, I carry a sweet picture in my heart of me and my husband, old and crinkly, wearing funny hats. The best part is, he has a look in his eyes that says, “I am still crazy about you!”

The lifelong love of my man and the satisfaction of knowing I am honoring God.  Now that’s a destination that I want to reach.  I think I’ll stay right here in this lane!

–          Julie McGrath

In the same way you wives must submit yourselves to your husbands, so that if any of them do not believe God’s word, your conduct will win them over to believe. It will not be necessary for you to say a word, because they will see how pure and reverent your conduct is. You should not use outward aids to make yourselves beautiful, such as the way you fix your hair, or the jewelry you put on, or the dresses you wear.  Instead, your beauty should consist of your true inner self, the ageless beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of the greatest value in God’s sight. For the devout women of the past who placed their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful by submitting themselves to their husbands. Sarah was like that; she obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are now her daughters if you do good and are not afraid of anything. – 1 Peter 3:1-6

His master replied, ‘Well done my good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ – Matthew 25:21

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. – Eph. 5:22

A wife of noble character who can find?  She is worth far more than rubies. – Proverbs 31:10 

Going Deeper:

1.  Maybe you have never truly studied what it means for you to be a wife as taught in the Bible.  Seek out a biblical study of what it means to be a godly wife (two resources mentioned below.)

2.  Is there an godly older woman in your life, who has lived this out beautifully?  Ask her if she will get some coffee with you.  Come with a teachable heart and ask her lots of questions!   She is probably a lot more human than you think!

3.  Two things a man can’t live (for long) without are Respect and Physical Intimacy.  How are you doing in these two critical areas?

Additional Resources:

Fearlessly Feminine by Jani Ortlund

Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (especially chapter “Wives like Sarah and the Husbands who Honor Them” on 1 Peter 3:1-8) Edited by Wayne Grudem

A Biblical Portrait of Womanhood by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

A Wife After God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George

The Lasting Impact of Attentive Love

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As I sat in our cozy cabin by the fireplace, my dad could tell I was troubled. Not one to hide my true feelings well, he could see it in my furrowed brow.  When I lost my usually sunny disposition and got this pensive look on my face, my parents would affectionately call me “Thunder Cloud.”   Well “Thunder Cloud” was here and she busy contemplating her options, alternating between thinking up excuses and working up courage for the day ahead.

It was my first time skiing, and at the young age of eight, I wasn’t too sure about the whole thing.  COLD, chapped lips and nose, frost-bitten fingers…what’s a girl to do?   It was pretty rough.  The day of ski lessons ahead looked daunting from my little girl perspective.

“Well, Jules,” my dad said, trying to encourage me, “Today is another learning day.  You have to give skiing about three days before it really becomes fun.  You’ve been at it two days.   So today is the day!  If you work hard, by the end of the day, you will be in really good shape!”

I sighed, gave him a half smile, and left to put on what felt like 17 layers of clothes.  At last, I pulled on my boots and gathered up my rather puffy ski jacket.  I looked very akin to The Michelin Man.  As I did my Frankenstein walk toward the door, my dad stopped me and tenderly turned me to face him.

He inspected my readiness. “Let’s see here…”  He helped me with my gloves, working out those tricky inside-out fingers.  He made sure I had a chap stick in my pocket and that it was zipped.  Lastly, he helped me put on that puffy ski jacket.   As he did, he said, “Julie, you were getting pretty good by the end of the day yesterday.  I know that if you work at it, you will be a great skier one day.” I couldn’t fight the grin. The thunder cloud was lifting.

Then came the moment that has somehow stayed with me all my life: my dad snapped up all of the snaps on my coat – and I mean, ALL the way up.  He snapped them clear up to my chin!  “All set?” he asked.  I nodded.

How very loved I felt!  How protected!  I waddled out the door, ready to conquer those ski slopes!

What a simple moment. And yet for me, it is embedded in my heart and mind as an important and life-giving interaction of love that I will always remember.  Here is what I learned:

  • I was needy and in a discouraged place.  With a little unselfishness, my Dad noticed.
  • My spirit needed a few words of encouragement.  With a little discernment, my Dad offered hope and perspective, “I know you can do it!”  “Give it one more day!”
  • I needed a little physical help and felt overwhelmed.  With a little time, my Dad helped me out.
  • I didn’t know it, but I simply needed a big dose of comfort and love.  With just that slight, extra measure of grace, my Dad snapped me up the whole way.

What a great lesson of love, simply meeting the needs of a child.

Do you ever wonder sometimes why God made us so needy?  He made us to need food and water and clothes.  He made us to need comfort and warmth and a little help (sometimes a lot of help!).  So many needs!  I could go on and on.  On the deepest level, He made us to need to be known and loved – first and foremost by Him, then by others.

God made us this way so that we would see how very dependent we need to be – on Him!  But secondly, I think it is so that we would learn how to tenderly love and care for each other. He knew that life is so much more rich and full as we carry the burdens of life together! (Gal 6:2) He knew that as we learn how to love Him and others well, we are fulfilling our highest purpose in life! 

I think that somehow we view being loving and kind as some kind of intangible aura that we just exude, when, really, it is much more practical than that.  The Lord Jesus was a wonderful example to us in this way.  Over and over again, he extended himself with love and time and physical help (Matt. 13:34).  He saw the needs around him and he responded (Mark 3:1-6).  He showed profound love and generosity throughout his life on earth (John 13:1-20).

Valentine’s Day is in just a couple of weeks…

As this celebration of love approaches and we think about our marriages, let us consider how well we are doing at this crucial task of loving.  A few questions to ask yourself as you consider your husband’s needs…

Are they physical? Work related?  Is he facing discouragement? Spiritual dryness?  Exploring these questions may take some effort, but finding the answers and acting on them, will be worth it!!

Choose to pour on the love this Valentine’s Day.  After your relationship with God, your relationship with your husband is your highest priority.  As you selflessly investing in your man I think you will find that, you too, will be blessed by the sweet echoes of love that follow!

  • Julie McGrath

Going Deeper – YOUR HOMEWORK!!

  • What does your husband need in order to feel loved?  If you stop and consider him, I’m sure you know what he likes. Is it time?  An evening set apart in the haven of your bedroom?  Would he be blessed if you clean out his car?
  • What words of love would offer life and hope to your man?  What does he need to hear from you today?  Where he is struggling? Have you told him lately how much you respect and admire him?
  • How can you help him?  What can you do to lighten his load?  What can you do to serve him in a way that says, “I love you and am deeply committed to your well-being.
  • How can you “go the extra mile” to demonstrate love and grace to your husband?  What would speak volumes of love to him?

New or Renew – Out with the old and In with the New??

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New or Renew

One of my favorite shows when I was a little girl was “The Price Is Right.”  I especially loved the excitement and mystery of what was behind those curtains.  Was it a set of lavender Samsonite luggage?  Perhaps a hot tub with super jet power?  Or was it the best one – the one that would get the big announcement, “It’s a brand new car!”  I can still hear those words as clear as day. After that, the music would kick in and I would cheer too, so happy for the lady who was jumping up and down, hugging Bob Barker.  I was sometimes so excited that I would actually tear up with joy, thinking, “You GO girl!”

What is it about things that are new?  I know I’m not the only one who loves the feel of all things new – a new car, a new coat of paint, even a new pair of socks.  We all crave it – something fresh, untouched, unspoiled, clean.  There is nothing wrong with that.  I believe God wired us with a good and wonderful desire for something new.

But, like all things, He has a plan for satisfying this desire – and we humans don’t always follow His way of satisfaction.   It’s amazing to me at how we can take a gift from God – like the yearning for something new – and twist it into something that is not helpful.  For example, instead of cleaning the car we have, we leave it in shambles and drive around, wondering why we are discontent.  Or, instead of sewing a new button on a pair of old pants or mending a torn sweater, we shove them in the back of the closet and eventually buy something new.

Does this sound familiar?  These are just a few examples of some ways that I think I have abused my stuff- neglecting the old and craving the new.

Why do we do this?  I think the first reason is because it is simply easier.  It’s much easier for me to set my sights on something new than to work a little harder and care for my old stuff.  The second is not all bad.  I think a lot of our desire for newness is because God gave us a hint of His glorious ability to design, create and appreciate beauty and freshness.  He made us to enjoy variety and all things new – new colors, new designs, new tastes and textures.

Isn’t this why we marvel when we discover a new hiking trail or the beauty of the incredible variety of flowers and herbs in a garden?  As I said, this is a very GOOD thing.

The problem is when we take this craving for newness and point our desires in the wrong direction.  You can see how this can be a problem when it comes to material things, but what about when we do it with the things that really matter – with the really important stuff of life?

I’d like to address two categories that I believe to be the most crucial when it comes to “newness”: your mind and your relationships.  God tells us in His word that He cares deeply about how we handle our desire for newness in these areas.

Imagine yourself at a fork in the road – one path is called “NEW” and one path is called “RENEW”.  I am not exaggerating when I say that how you handle your craving for newness, and which way you step at these critical crossroads many times throughout life – will make or break your life’s legacy.

It is clear.  God is a God of unchanging wisdom and faithfulness, and because of these character qualities, He wants you and me to choose the path “RENEW”.

In our minds, He wants renewal.  (Romans 12:2) What does this look like?  It means we allow our thoughts, our attitudes and our actions to be transformed by the study of His Word, His ways and His standards. I finally realized this through a series of humbling circumstances that brought me to my knees. I realized that God didn’t need for me to add to His infinite Truth with some of my own new tidbits of wisdom.  How foolish I was to be so “wise in my own eyes”. (Isaiah 5:21 – Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.)

I am so thankful for this shift in my thinking.  I know now that the unchanging, life-giving Truth found in the Bible is all I need. How we all need to renew our minds with God’s Wisdom – reading it, pondering it and applying it – every day!

In our relationships, he wants renewal. (1 Corinthians 13, Eph. 4:20-24) This looks like forgiveness, healing, and a thousand fresh starts.  It means being faithful to your husband and to your children – for life!  Instead of throwing up our hands and walking away from our marriage (as our culture says we have every right to do), it means hanging in there through a painfully difficult season.  At times this will require us to look beyond our feelings and circumstances and simply stay committed to the marriage itself, as a promise between you and God.

Our Lord is our example: “…and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;” – 1 Peter 2:23.  Let’s choose faithfulness, renewing the relationships God has placed us in, entrusting ourselves and the outcome to Him.

How good God is to know that we would often stand at the crossroads, overwhelmed with our need for “a new thing.”  He knows how desperately we continually need a fresh start, a clean slate, a new perspective.  Fortunately He is all about doing a new thing!  Isaiah 43:19 “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.” He wants to make a way through the desert places of our hearts and lives!

But do you and I trust Him to do this?  Do we really look to Him in humility, admit our desperate need and trust that He can make a way through our difficulties?  We need to believe deep in our soul, that down that often painful path of perseverance is CHARACTER…and that down that path further is HOPE – and that hope does not disappoint us! (Romans 5:3-5) 

Let’s love and trust God enough to believe Him – to believe that there is great reward when we choose His way – the way of renewal.

In our relationships, let us choose to renew the healthy and the broken relationships in our lives.  In our thinking, let us choose to renew the grid of our perspective with His unchanging Truth.

As we do, holding fast to His Word and the relationships we’ve been given, rather than throwing them out and looking for something new, we are loving and honoring God in a very tangible way!

– Julie McGrath

Romans 12:2 – “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” 

Isaiah 43:19 – “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.”

Ephesians 4:20-24 – “But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Going Deeper:

1.  What is your typical response when life brings you an unexpected struggle – to seek escape or to seek to grow through it?  Have you seen where either choice has proven to be helpful – or not helpful?

2.  What relationship in your life needs renewing?  Think of three ways to pray for the restoration and renewal of this hurting or broken relationship in your life.  What steps will you take today?