So What Did You Learn Today?

That is a question I’ve been driving my kids nuts with for decades. So many nights at supper time, that question comes up…..

But I figure, hey, if we’re spending the time and effort and money to send them to private Christian schools, we should have the right to know what they learn, right?

I won’t tell you how many times they can’t remember, at supper time, what they learned that day at school. Those of you who are teachers would cringe…….

But I want to share with you two things I learned at and about church a few weeks back and I hope you’ll find them useful……

First, if someone shares a struggle that they are going through – whether that be a physical, emotional, relational, financial or ? Kind of struggle, you should consider the fact that they shared it with you as a holy compliment. That means you should pray wholeheartedly for that person and do what you can to help them. There are very few things more disillusioning to a hurting member of a church than for them to open up to a fellow church member and then either find the news gossiped around the church or completely ignored.

Secondly, if someone brings you into the circle of people who know about their journey – journey of illness, journey of pain, journey of whatever they are fighting against, don’t apologize for not knowing about it sooner. Be grateful for the chance to help them be strong from the inside.

Simple things – but simple things that could make the church a much healthier place.

And together we could then Rejoice in the Lord in a much more deeply personal and spiritually healthy way.

God is good.

All the time.

TJV

The Thing About Having Kids

Well, it’s not really THE thing.

It’s more like, no wait, it’s not even A thing.

But it is a thing. It’s a thing that is fun. A thing that can be really enjoyable.

A thing that can help them learn and frankly, help the parents learn too.

I’m talking about bedtime stories. Reading bedtime stories to your kids, with your kids.

Acting out “Ten in the Bed” with two little girls and 9 stuffed animals.

Reading the entire 7 books of the Harry Potter series with one kid on each side of me over a 2 year time span.

And then there’s Doctor Seuss. I miss reading Dr. Seuss. “Oh the Places You’ll Go…..” (I’ve often thought that’s could be a good speech for a graduation ceremony).

Who can forget “Thing 1 and Thing 2?”

And the Cat in the Hat who always picks up his playthings? (Hint hint….)

But the story by Dr. Seuss that stuck with me most is the story of the Lorax.

The Lorax is a sad story. It’s a story of nature ruined by greed. It’s a story of manipulations and misunderstandings. It’s a story that parallels much of our world.

The story ends with nature in trouble. Pollution is contaminating everything.

And there’s this one old “guy.” He was there since the beginning. He protested the growth of the factories. He complained about the sick animals and the animals that had to leave to find a place to eat and water to drink.

When there was nothing left, he levitated through the clouds and left a marker behind with one word on it……

“Unless”
The story ends with the Onceler telling the Lorax’s story to two kids and he ends with “Unless.”

But this time he completes the sentence……

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s Not.”

Someone like you.

Someone like me.

Cares – not a little but a lot.

Unless – if we don’t care, things won’t get better. If we do care, things will get better.

A call for action from Dr. Seuss. A call for social justice. For caring.

That’s one of the things that I’ve learned and seen time and time again. It’s not the big companies that are going to make the world a better place (even though Coca Cola would like you to think they can). It’s the people.

You and me.

I don’t like the way things are right now. Too much pain, too many people struggling, too many people angry and hurting.

Whether it’s immigration or education or racism or taxes or politics or abuse or trauma or….. or………, find something that matters to you. Find something that you care about that isn’t the way you think it should be and care about it.

Do something. Make things better.

It’s the Lorax Iniative.

And we can all learn from a children’s story about how to make the world a better place.

TJV

P.S. Does anyone else remember the thing that they found in the park and what they named him?

When…..

When I’m an adult…..

When my kids are out of school…..

When we get the house paid off……

When I get my college degree…….

When……

When…….

Guess what – God doesn’t work that way.

God doesn’t say, “When you’re an adult, I want you to……”

“When your medical problems are gone, I want you to…..”

“When you graduate, then can you……?”

“When your kids are out of school, then……..”

“When your kids go back to school, then…….”

God says, “I am God, your God. I love you more than you deserve or can even understand. You don’t have to do anything to “earn” my love, it is given freely.”

But God also says that when we are helping the poor or the sick or the needy or those in jail, we are doing that to him and for him. So, we can help the needy and show, through our actions, how grateful we are to God for his love. Or we can ignore those in need or worse yet, support programs and policies that harm those in need and we are in direct conflict with God’s designed purpose.

““Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’”
Matthew 25:37-40 MSG
http://bible.com/97/mat.25.37-40.msg

There’s an author by the name of John Pavolvitz who makes me think. He writes a lot about the current happenings in the world and one of the reasons he makes me think is because I don’t always agree with what he says, but he is very persuasive. He’s a hard writer to just “brush off.”

He wrote a piece on a while back, you can read the whole piece at https://johnpavlovitz.com/2018/07/03/pick-a-hill-worth-dying-on-america/
But let me read you one paragraph…..

So instead of lamenting how horrible it all is, accept the invitation to make it less horrible.
Instead of looking to the sky and wondering why no one is doing anything, you do something.
Step out of the cloistered place of your private despair, and into a jacked-up world that you can alter by showing up.
Use your gifts and your influence and your breath and your hands—and fix something that is badly broken before it breaks beyond repair.

Don’t just stand there and complain about how bad things are, pick something that’s important to you and get busy trying to be the change.

Be the change for kids in foster care.
Be the change for immigrant families on the border with Mexico.
Be the change for your church.
Be the change to combat racism in your community.
Be the change to elect truly competent and wise people to run our government – at all levels.
Be the change for the kids who attend schools that are underfunded and over crowded.

Don’t just stand there and talk about how awful things are. Don’t just stand there and say, “there’s so much that is wrong in this world, how would I even make a difference?” God doesn’t want us all to do everything.

God wants each of us to do something.

What’s your something?

Tom

Telling My Story….. (Whose pen is it anyway?)

So, originally (not back when I started the blog, but earlier this year) when a medical procedure threw my life upside down in many ways, one of the things that I did to attempt to get back to “normal” was to plan out an “outline” of what I wanted to write on here and when and how.

And I got a lot of it written.

And some of it posted.

But it didn’t “flow” the way I felt it should. And so things kind of went in spurts. A lot and then periods of quiet…..

And then there’s TobyMac…..

“God’s Not Done Writing Your Story – Stop Trying To Steal the Pen.”

That quote has been haunting me – in a good way.

So here’s what’s going to happen.

I’m keeping the list – but throwing away the calendar.

If what I’m going to talk about needs some explanation to set it in the right context, I will do that – probably in italics at the top of the post.

And then I’m handing the pen back to God.

“God, this isn’t about me. I’m just an ordinary guy.”

Stay tuned……

TV

Telling My Story….. (Whose pen is it anyway?)

So, originally (not back when I started the blog, but earlier this year) when a medical procedure threw my life upside down in many ways, one of the things that I did was to attempt to plan out an “outline” of what I wanted to write on here and when and how.

And I got a lot of it written.

And some of it posted.

But it didn’t “flow” the way I felt it should. And so things kind of went in spurts. A lot and then periods of quiet….. A lot of the flow had to do with spurts of strength and weakness both physically and mentally/emotionally.

And then there’s TobyMac…..

“God’s Not Done Writing Your Story – Stop Trying To Steal the Pen.”

That quote has been haunting me – in a good way.

So here’s what’s going to happen.

I’m keeping the list – but throwing away the calendar.

If what I’m going to talk about needs some explanation to set it in the right context, I will do that – probably in italics at the top of the post.

And then I’m handing the pen back to God.

“God, this isn’t about me. I’m just an ordinary guy.”

Stay tuned……

TV