When light reveals the spots…

I rolled out my Pilates mat last Thursday and was surprised to see these white, worn-out spots all over it! mat-1 I stood there thinking Where did these come from? Just the day before I had used this mat and saw nothing. Did those spots appear overnight? Nope. I’m sure they were there the day before. The difference was the room I was in that day. My usual Pilates room is a cozy room with dark lighting, but the class I went to on Thursday was in a big, bright, well-lit room. That light revealed spots that the darkness kept well hidden.

That’s what light does. It reveals things that are hidden.

But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. Ephesians 5:13

We know that Jesus came to reveal the things that are hidden and to show us truth.

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” John 8:12

Are those spots really on my mat? Yes. Even when I can’t see them? Yes, again.

God revealed Himself to us through the light of Jesus. Whether I choose to look at the truth of what’s really there and act upon it, or turn off the light and lay contentedly on a torn up mat is up to me. My belief and my perception don’t change the truth of what actually is.

It’s just something to think about.

When I go back to my regular, dark room, I probably won’t even think about those spots on my mat. It would take going to that well-lit room every time for me to do something about it. It’s just so easy to forget what I can’t see.

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror;  for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. James 1:23-24

I need to be continually exposing myself to God’s light if I want to have eyes that see truth.

But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. James 1:25

If I want to, I can choose to never again enter that well-lit room with my torn up mat. However, I cannot choose to ignore forever the light that God’s word sheds on my life. There will come a day when that light will reveal truth with undeniable reality. There will be no walking away or rolling up my mat to avoid it.

For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light. Luke 8:17

Personally, I would rather know the truth. I would rather know what my Pilates mat looks like so I don’t have to be embarrassed when I roll it out in the light. I don’t like surprises. Through His word, God gives me the opportunity to have no surprises when my life on earth is over. It’s my choice to either walk through life guided by His light or to turn the light off and pretend my mat has no spots. Either way, the spots are there.  The decision to see them or not is mine.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105


Be a Leader

ae_3 I had managed to avoid politics all year, but that changed last week when my oldest daughter had to watch the first Presidential debate for a school assignment. I couldn’t let her suffer alone, so we settled down to watch the debate together. Meanwhile my younger daughter, Autumn, was making cards in the kitchen. From there she could still hear the debate. After about 30 minutes Autumn said “Mom, they’re not being a leader.”

When I asked her what she meant, she said “They’re talking bad about the other one.” This did not meet Autumn’s expectations of a leader. She has been learning about being a leader the past two years at school through a program called The Leader in Me. The program encourages each child to learn to be a leader by choosing to listen to others, work together, and be respectful – the complete opposite of what she was seeing from the two people trying to be our nation’s next leader. debate

Children have a way of seeing things just as they are, don’t they? We can teach concepts all day long, but they notice if what they see lived out doesn’t match up to what’s being taught. Thankfully, Autumn is in a great school, and she does see those leadership qualities lived out each day. She also notices when she doesn’t see those leadership principles practiced other places, such as in that Presidential debate.

It is so important that children see a consistency between the words and actions of adults in their lives. When they don’t, it leads to confusion at best, and cynicism and complete rebellion at worst.

I can’t control how those candidates behave, but I can control my own influence. I need to make sure that my actions are consistent with what I teach. I need to lead by example.

If I teach my children that their lives should be full of the fruits of the Spirit, then I myself need to be patient, joyful, gentle, and kind.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

If I teach them to find their joy in the Lord, then I need to exhibit that joyfulness myself. If my joy comes from another source, they will surely notice.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Philippians 4:4 

If I teach my children to control their anger and their words, then I must also control my temper. I can not talk in a hurtful way about other people or to other people. If I do, then I can not expect that my children will behave any differently.

 But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Colossians 3:8

If I teach my children not to complain, but instead to make the best of a situation, then I need to do the same. (This is the hardest one for me. I have to confess I was the one heard saying “Having to watch this debate is ruining my night!”)

Do all things without grumbling or disputing; Philippians 2:14

If I teach my children that they are blessed and they should be thankful for all they have, then I shouldn’t spend my time wishing for what I don’t have. I need to constantly express my thankfulness to God for all that I do have.

In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

If I teach them that the things on this earth don’t last, and then focus all of my energy on earthly pursuits, it won’t make sense to them. Instead, I need to focus on eternal pursuits. My actions will reveal what I truly believe.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

If I tell my children that God should come first in their lives, then I can not let other things come before Him in my own life. Allowing other interests, ideas, and thoughts to pull my heart away from God will speak louder than any words.

And He said to him,  ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ Matthew 22:37

ae_1Do I want my children to follow Jesus? Then I need to lead them there – not just with my words, but with my life. When it comes to being a Christian, I don’t want the reality of what they see to not meet the expectations of what I’ve taught them. There’s no fooling them. Even when we think they’re not paying attention, those children are listening and watching.

Do we want our children to follow Jesus?

Then let’s not just tell them what a follower of Jesus looks like.

Let’s show them.

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Luke 9:23


Beautiful Misspelled Words

AE drawing age 6These sweet pictures hang in my office. I look at the messages that my youngest daughter wrote to me a few years ago and I smile. She wrote on one of them “I hope you have a good tiam at wrook tonnite.” I love it. I love the misspelled words written by her little hands.

I love them because I know the intent behind them. It doesn’t matter that they are misspelled. That’s not what I see. Instead I see the love that she has for me, and her desire to express that love. While it may not be perfect, it’s beautiful to me.

I take such comfort in knowing that my Heavenly Father views my expressions of love for Him in the same way. I am His daughter.

The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God. Romans 8:16

As such, I take comfort in knowing that He doesn’t expect me to be perfect. He loves me the way I love my daughter. My attempts to show my love to Him may have mistakes, but that’s not what He sees. He sees my intent and my love, and He thinks that it’s beautiful.

Sometimes I can be hard on myself as I look back on my past efforts. I think “Oh, I would do that so differently now. I can’t believe I did that.” Well, that’s just as silly as my daughter looking back and feeling bad about misspelling those words.  

Princess Autumn and Queen Mom

Princess Autumn and Queen Mom

Thinking about her pictures makes me a little more patient with myself – and with others. There are things that just take time and maturity to learn. They can’t be rushed.

Now, at age 8, my daughter knows how to spell all of those words correctly. She’s at a different point in her life, a point when I can expect a little more of her.

As Christians, we should be growing and learning as well.

When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 1 Corinthians 13:11
Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature. 1 Corinthians 14:20

Parents expect more of their children as they grow, and God expects more of His children as well. That doesn’t take away from those early efforts, though. (I’m talking to myself here.) Don’t feel bad about those misspelled words. Don’t worry about what others think of them. Your efforts are beautiful in your Father’s eyes.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 1 John 3:1-2