At My Current Age

I would never have thought when my mom was my age that she would only have ten more years of life. Knowing this, there are so many things I would have done differently.
In my youth, I didn’t understand the brevity of life. I was busy making a career for myself, feeling like the top dog, thinking I was all that and a bag of chips. I was proud and selfish. The worst part was that I didn’t even know it. I was blind. At the time, I didn’t have a single mentor in my life. I am pretty sure the only questions I asked of anyone were: “Can you help me get a good deal on this?” “Can you help me get this for free?” “Do you need my help?” I thought I knew everything.

A few short years later, I had my first baby girl. I think my mom desperately wanted me to ask her questions and look to her for what she could teach me and counsel she could pour into me. For the most part, I did not do it. Whenever my mom tried to give me unsolicited counsel, I would not listen. I desperately wanted her to look at me and say, “Good job.” It didn’t take her long to figure that out. She began to bite her tongue and choose silence. I missed out.

There were a few things I really respected about her. One was her frugal attitude. My mom never made much money, but she was a saver. She was able to save quite a bit of money in a short period of time. She paid off her home and her cars. I had mad respect for her ability to save!
I was a young mom when she was diagnosed with cancer. Spencer had just turned four, Chandler was about to turn two, and I had just found out I was pregnant with Kennedi. Those are such exhausting times when your children are little. I desired to lean on my mom for help and babysitting because, by golly, I only trusted my mom. A grandma looks after your children like you would—with ownership—because they are her own flesh and blood.
But it was quite the opposite. I was in the hospital with my mom. My husband took turns being with the kids and being with my mom. I grew extremely pregnant. It was miserable to be in the hospital, so he spent a lot of time with my mom.

We made sure to continue our weekly family meals. Unfortunately our time was spent differently once we heard the word ‘cancer.’ It felt hopeless, terminal, like a death sentence. Our imaginations began to run wild with what-ifs. What would Christmas be like without Mom? How long did she have? Would she just fall over and die? Every time she went to the hospital, we wondered, “Is this it?”
I was thirty-four when my mom was diagnosed with cancer. I was thirty-seven when she died. I grasped at every straw I could, every opportunity to be with her, to talk to her, and to love on her. I really respected my mom. She was fun and a bright light. I am so thankful she was a young mom, though she didn’t want to be. She could have ended her pregnancy. She could have chosen another outlet for me. But she chose life. She chose to raise me.

If she hadn’t been so young when I was born, then I would have only been twenty-seven when she died. Knowing what an arrogant fool I was in my twenties, I’m so thankful I grew up a bit first and had an opportunity to truly love her. I am thankful for the years I had because I have friends who lost their moms when they were in elementary school and junior high. Their memories are more vague than mine. I can’t imagine how they feel.

Life is brief. We don’t think so when we are young and invincible. But Ecclesiastes 7:2 says, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting” (NIV), because when we see someone pass from this earth to the next, the people left behind are reminded of the brevity of life.

Don’t waste your days in your arrogance and pride, being right, defending yourself, being easily offended, putting down others, and judging them. Realize that people who are hurting will hurt others. Just because someone lashes out at you doesn’t mean you have to respond in the same way. It is possible to forgive and forget and to love that person until his or her wounds are healed. I said possible, not easy. 

What Relationship Means

Being a homeschool mom, I have a lot of time with my children. I’m with them for hours every single day of their lives, but just because I’m with them doesn’t mean I’m actually engaging with them in their hearts. I can be commanding them to do things, issuing orders, telling them what to do with school, giving them tasks and challenges, but all the while, not truly connecting with them and their hearts.
The question is what is the most important, quantity time or quality time with our children? I would argue that it’s neither. Greg Gunn of Family-iD first introduced me to this concept that it’s not about quantity time or quality time; it’s about quality of relationship. When you have a quality relationship with someone, it doesn’t matter if you spend five minutes together or an hour. When you connect with each other with your hearts, that is what makes the relationship continue to be woven together and glued together thickly.
How can we relate that to God? In my own home, I have a choice with God. I can choose to spend a lot of time with Him and acknowledge Him. I can choose to have a quality relationship with Him. That’s a very different thing. Having a quality relationship with God involves listening.
I think sometimes we feel guilty about going to God and asking Him for something and telling Him what our needs are because we think, “Oh, I haven’t spent enough time with You. I haven’t read the Bible enough. I haven’t prayed enough. I don’t feel worthy to ask You this.” But it’s not really about the time; it’s about the quality of your relationship with God.
I think it’s important for your heart to bow down in thanksgiving to Him continually, like when you see the sky and the beautiful sunset or the puffy, beautiful clouds and you acknowledge the Creator. I mean, that’s quality relationship right there. It’s not a work. It’s recognition. It’s honoring God. I want to encourage you to seek a quality relationship with God and your spouse and your children.

Someday Your Feet Will Be Carried, Too

Youth is celebrated.

Yet, everyone ages.
Everyone dies.

A new, baby tree is so cute and beautiful. It’s flexible; it bends to the ground in a heavy wind. Its short, unable to see the horizon over older trees. The bark is youthful and smooth, without many marks or deep grooves. The bright-green, tender leaves are small and dainty.
The older tree climbs far above the new tree. The trunk is thicker. The bark is rough and deeply grooved. It’s apparent that it has had much wear and tear over the years. The trunk is strong and stable. Its branches can hold the weight of climbing children and homemade swings. It can stand firm through strong winds. It towers over the other trees, giving it a perspective many others cannot see. Its leaves are dark and thick, veiny and tough, even coarse. Each mark and groove tells a story of a storm weathered, a season endured.
My precious grandma stayed in a nursing home. My daughter said, “Mom, nursing homes are like orphanages for old people. They are mostly alone, with visitors few and far between. People come in for an hour to visit once in a while, and then they’re gone again.” It crushed her heart.

Youth is idolized in our nation, and older people are devalued. 

Getting old isn’t glamorous. 
What’s the …

Newest trend?
Most youth-restoring moisturizer?
Coolest thing to wear?
Latest diet?

People look to plastic surgery to lift it, tuck it, change it, keep it youthful.
Everyone wants to stay young. But it’s in growing that we gain wisdom to live by and share. It’s the storm survival that makes us like that tall, sturdy tree. Our marks are testimony to our endurance. We gain perspective and can have peace in the storm because we know we will make it through, even if we lose everything. We know there’s a circle of life and we are just a tiny part of it.
The life that once seemed larger than life when we really thought we were somebody now seems so small, like we haven’t left enough of a mark.
Will anyone remember me?
How long until I am forgotten?
What more could I have done?
All those years I wasted, believing I was invincible.

Everyone ages.
Everyone dies.

Someday your feet will be carried, too.
One day you will be like the very people you see no value in now. You may end up alone in a nursing home, wondering whether anyone will remember who you are in 100 years.
When you are on your next trip in nature, remember to look at the trees. The most beautiful ones are large and weathered, with the thickest trunks and intricacies in every branch. Their leaves are larger than your hands. Their branches stretch to the heavens.
That same stunning beauty can be found in the wrinkle lines, spotted hands, thick trunk, and hunched back of an elderly person. They carry their stories in their bodies and their minds. They will mesmerize you if you just ask.
Just ask.
Maybe you will find some wisdom to help your tiny new leaves weather some future storms.

You know they’re coming.

Love, 
Sheri 

What relationship means?

Being a homeschool mom, I have a lot of time with my children. I’m with them hours every single day of their life. But just because I’m with them doesn’t mean that I’m actually engaging with them in their hearts. I can even be commanding orders at them or telling them what to do with school, just giving them tasks and challenges, but all the while, not connecting with them or their hearts.
The question is what is the most important, quantity time or quality time with our children? I would argue that it’s neither. Greg Gunn of Family-iD first introduced me to this concept that it’s not about quantity time or quality time. It’s about quality of relationship. When you have a quality relationship with someone, it doesn’t matter if you spend five minutes with them or an hour, when you connect with them with your heart, that is what makes the relationship continue to be woven together and glued together thickly.
How can we relate that to God? That’s in my own home. In my own home, I have a choice with God. I can choose to just spend a lot of time with Him and acknowledge Him. I can choose to have a quality relationship with Him. That’s a very different thing. Having quality relationship with God is listening.
I think sometimes we feel guilty coming to God and asking him for something and telling him what our needs are because we feel like, “Oh I haven’t spend enough time with you. I haven’t read the bible enough. I haven’t prayed enough. I really don’t feel worthy to ask you this.” But it’s not really about the time. It’s about the quality of your relationship with God.
I think sometimes your heart can just continue to bow down in thanks giving to him. Like, just when you see the sky and the beautiful sunset or the puffy, beautiful clouds and you just acknowledge the creator. I mean, that’s quality relationship right there. It’s not a work. It’s recognition. It’s honoring of God. I just wanna encourage you to seek a quality relationship with God and your family and your children.
 
 

Jesus is my rock…

I’m here tonight to give you a short little message.
Who knows who David is in the bible? Everyone? Okay. I really want you guys to read this if you can this week. It starts at 1 Samuel 16.
Before I start, let me tell you a story in high school. I went to a public school and I loved to go there for one reason. Want to guess? It’s not the food! Okay, there’s this one guy, he’s seriously so handsome. I was like, “Ooh, there’s Joe! He’s so cute!” He never knew. I never talked to him. Never ever, ever, ever, ever. But I could not wait to see him at school. He dated all the pretty girls. He liked all the pretty girls and I just thought of myself as ugly, homely, big haired. It was a long time ago. Big hair was popular back then. Like this, kind of. I was a cheerleader with big hair.
Have you ever looked at someone else and thought, “They are so much prettier than me,” or, “They are better at sports than me.” Have you ever felt like that? Do you compare yourself? Every day of the day. When you compare yourself, do you put yourself up like, “Yeah, I’m better than them,” or are you always feeling down?
Don’t you sometimes feel like crap when you compare yourself to someone else? Don’t you? Really? It’s easy to do, right? “They talk better.” “They have more friends. These two spent the night together and I wasn’t invited—right? You can feel pretty stinky most of the time if you want to.
Well, David had a whole slew of brothers. Samuel went to David’s dad’s house and God told him someone in his house is gonna be a king. So he’s like, “Go to Jesse’s house. Someone in the house of Jesse is going to be king.” God was choosing them and picking them out. So Samuel shows up and he scans.
Samuel just started scanning the room with Jesse and his sons. “Who is it, Lord? Who is gonna be king?” Guess what? God did not pick the dad. It wasn’t the dad, Jesse. He did not pick the oldest in the room or the wisest in the room either.
When Samuel saw Eliab, he said, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed one standing here.” The Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his height for I have rejected him.” The first thing Samuel did was look and think, “Yes, he’s the one! He looks like a king!” Have you ever looked at somebody like that before? They look rich, right? They look like a hunter, right? We judge people from the first time we see them. 
The first thing Samuel did was he started judging all the people by their appearance. God said, “People look at the outward appearance, but I look at the heart.” So think about that for a minute. When you look at somebody and you think they’re better than you, maybe that’s just the stuff that they can do or what they look like on the outside. But it’s not what their heart is.
Then Jesse called another one of his sons and he passed in front of Samuel. He sees him and he passes by and Lord’s like, “Nope. I haven’t chosen that one either”. They’re old boys. It’s all the oldest sons. And then another one passes by and the Lord’s like, “Nope. I didn’t choose that one either.”
Jesse had seven sons that had already passed by Samuel and the Lord was like, “I have chosen none of these. None of them.” He’s like, “Man, Jesse are these all the sons that you have? I don’t see anybody here that is fit to be king.” I love this, because Jesse says, “There’s still the youngest.”
Do you have a younger sibling? Or are you the youngest? So how do we typically think about the youngest kid? Spoiled. Annoying. They are bossy, sassy, and loud. They may be underestimated. You look down on the youngest one, don’t you? I bet David’s brothers looked down on him too.
But Jesse’s like, “Well there’s still the youngest.” Guess what he’s doing. What did he do? He was a shepherd so he was in the fields. He was tending sheep. So they sent for him and Samuel said, “Send for him and we will not sit down until he arrives.” Think about this—all the oldest sons are already present so they work near the house. They probably have an honorable job. But David is out far away and they have to go send for him and bring him in. “He was glowing with health. He had a fine appearance and handsome features.” God said, “Rise and anoint this one.”
Can you imagine if your little sibling was anointed by God and said like, “Hey, you know what, you’re not gonna be king, Jake, but Abby is. Sorry.” But you know what, sometimes, we don’t see the heart because we don’t take the time to get to know the heart, right?
Here’s what I do know: I do know that every single one in this room is called to reign as a king in this life. Including your little brother. That’s what Romans says. Romans 10:17, if you look it up in the Amplified Bible, if anyone’s taking notes, it says that we’re to reign as kings in this life.
So it’s as if God walks in this room and he scans it. Every single one that knows him, he is choosing. He has picked you and he has called you to be a king in this life. You may be the youngest in your family or you might be the oldest, but he has chosen you. He needs you to step up into the role that he has called you.
The world will let you just be a kid and have fun but God wants you to be a king. When you’re a king, it comes with a responsibility and accountability. It comes with a calling and a cry of your heart. You guys are here worshiping God but David, the reason he was appointed king was because he knew God so well.
David spent time away from the crowd learning who God was and talking to him and speaking to him and learning. It said he glowed. Did you know people, when they spend time with God, you can actually see them radiate? If you look with spiritual eyes, if you say, “God, give me eyes to see people how you see them and tell me what’s really going on with them,” you can see them glow. How seriously are you taking that charge to seek God when you’re all alone? If you can’t hear his voice, you can read the bible and hear from him every day. You can read your bible, you can pray, you can just sit and listen.
But I wanna give you guys a challenge this week. In Kathleen’s challenge you may be the first fifteen, maybe you are the first thirty. You read Revelations. You have lead worship. But the challenge is can you have a heart like David? The bible says that David had a heart like God’s. Don’t you want a heart like that? I just wanted you guys to know that. 

Do you receive that God has chosen you to reign as a king in this life? When you start to compare yourself, just think like, “Hey, wait a second. I’m to reign as a king in this life.” When you know you’re supposed to reign as a king, you don’t give up. You don’t give up. You don’t quit. You don’t stop. You keep going back to God and say, “I’m sorry, will you help me?” 
Would you guys like to make a pledge to just take that up and pray? Leaders, raise your hands if you’re interested. You don’t have to raise your hand.  So we’re just gonna say a little prayer-ish pledge.
Father, thank you for making me a king like David. I take it seriously. I wanna know your heart more. Will you help me mine deep the word of God? Will you open my eyes? Will you open my heart? Will you make me real? Help me to stop judging myself and others.
Father we love you and we praise you for this day. God, we thank you for your word and we just thank you God that we get to reign as kings in this life. I pray that each one of these kids will make an impact in their family, that when their family is down or discouraged or frustrated that they would bring joy and lift up because they bring your truth and your word and they glow in you. In Jesus’s name, amen.