Teachable Moments

A Strong and Simple Faith

Throughout history, there have been many women of notable interest to us since they help us change the way we look at God and others. They all stand firm in the faith with incredible strength and grace, while also working hard to care for their families and those around them. I could write on and on about strong examples of women in the Bible who knew how to use their words and actions in truth, love, and righteousness for the Lord. There are many matriarchs of the civil rights movement who stood strong and courageously fought for the truth when others failed to do so. These women and more were pioneers for many reformations and they are all to be honored and admired.

If you had a chance to listen to the podcast on the Women’s History Month (see “Women’s History Month” blog post if you have not yet listened), you may recognize the name, Katherine Coleman Johnson. I’d like to take a minute today to talk about this math genius and human computer. (Facts taken from Nasa.Gov).

  •        Katherine was one of 3 African American students chosen to integrate West Virginia’s graduate schools and earned her Bachelor’s in Mathematics and French with highest honors.
  •        She established the computations of the angle needed for rocket ships to land back on earth for NASA and helped sync satellites and computers together for moon-orbiting modules.
  •        She was so astute in understanding the new processes and technology necessary for traveling to the moon that she was a vital piece of the puzzle for space travel and exploration in the USA.
  •        In 2015, Pres. Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor for a civilian, and she was very humble and gracious in her receipt of that award.

While all of these accomplishments are amazing and Katherine did break many barriers, both as a successful African American and woman during a difficult time in history to do so, the greatest thing to remember about her is a simple reminder she provides.

In an interview with her in August for her 100th birthday, she was asked what the secret was to her longevity of life. Her answer was simple, “I’m lucky…and the Lord likes me. And I like Him.” She, in a very simple manner, communicated much more than simply knowing where her longevity of life comes from. She communicated humility, simplicity, and her love and identity rooted in Christ while speaking nothing of her great knowledge, experience, or accomplishments. Very simply she communicated that she is the Lord’s and the Lord is hers. The Lord loves her, and she loves the Lord. Her humility comes from her faith and identity in Christ. Her joy comes from her simplicity. Her bedrock is a quiet, strong, and simple faith.

At the end of the day, what we do or do not accomplish in this world doesn’t matter. It all comes down to our relationship with Jesus and who we are in Him. Out of all the things we could learn about Katherine and other women, this mindset of a quiet, strong, and simple faith is the one thing we should remember well today.

Being kind, tenderhearted, humble, gracious, and allowing the spirit to show up in our conversation is the most noble and gracious act a woman can do for God, others, and her family. None of our greatest accomplishments in life could ever compare to the value of holding a strong and simple faith. The most important characteristic about our personalities and identities should be that the Lord likes us, and we like him, and that is made evident by our words and actions. The words and actions we display must revolve around the idea that “the Lord likes me and I like him.” When we abide in Him, the fruit of the Spirit will be evident and we too will empower others to reflect the same grace, love, and humility that Christ has shown us. This is the simple gospel. A strong and simple faith. The simple reminder that orients us back to what truly matters.

I urge you to reflect on this idea today and let others know that your strong and simple faith is the most important aspect of who you are.

Blessings Abundant, Elizabeth

Eph. 4: 31-32

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as Christ God forgave you.”

Teachable Moments

Everyday Celebrations

If you don’t have to choose, don’t.  Try and say “yes” to whatever you can, as long as it is not illegal, immoral, unethical or ungodly.  For example, one hot summer day many summers ago, my children and myself had just spent a day working in the yard.  We all deserved a treat after all that weed pulling, mulch laying, and flower planting, so off to our local ice cream parlor it was.  When we got there, it seemed like every other family in the area had the same idea so we had plenty of time to contemplate our choices. However, when we stepped up to the register, my daughter just could not make up her mind.  What a pleasure it was to say to her, “get both.” Why choose between Birthday Cake and Cookie Dough ice cream if you don’t have to? In fact, put them both in a bowl and pour on the hot fudge, with whipped cream and sprinkles.  Go big, or go home. This wasn’t an everyday occurrence, but occasionally, when choices did not have to be made, we didn’t. We exercised this privilege on trips to Florida when we stopped at gas stations or when we went to the $5 movie with $1 treats on a Wednesday matinee for children and one adult.  Special times deserve special choices.

These exceptional moments made our everyday lives exceptionally fun.  Sometimes they were planned, but more often than not, it was a moment that had crept up and just couldn’t be ignored or treated casually.  These extraordinary times allowed us as parents to exercise generosity and to let our children know that we not only noticed, but celebrated them.  The moment was not just about what had taken place, but with whom we had been with in the moment.  

I believe when I was aware of the moment, reflected on how best I could show my love and appreciation in the moment, and then acted on an immediate plan of celebration, I loved my children well.  It wasn’t just what had happened situationally, it truly was that I was getting the opportunity to enjoy that moment with them.

Biblically, there are many examples of people exercising extraordinary moments because of how they experienced God with them.  God was powerful and very present and the people responded in praise.

  • Genesis 12:7 – God appeared to Abram as he entered the promised land and spoke with Him.  Abram built an altar of praise, showing worship to God in the moment.
  • Luke 1:39-56 – The spontaneous praise of both Elizabeth and Mary filled Zechariah’s house as together, expectant Moms, they rejoiced, being with one another in the moment, glad and thankful for what God was doing.
  • 2 Chronicles 20:17 – When God announced to Israel at the time when King Jehosophat was on the throne that He would fight the battle and win on their behalf, Jehosophat and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem bowed down and fell to the ground in worship.  They stopped everything and physically, together, acknowledged God’s promise, power and promise through an immediate act of worship.

Beyond these biblical examples, God promises to be with us from the lips of Jesus (Matthew 28:20), “And, surely, I am with you always to the very end of the age.” This is the great joy of the Christian life – that our God is with us.  And it is what makes everyday moments exceptional in our families – taking the time to remember that being with one another can take an ordinary day and make it extraordinary.  What makes movies fun or runs to the ice cream parlors? Being with one another.  

Dear Reader, I hope you look around today and see the people God has put into your life that you are with, especially if you have the privilege of being with family.  Remember to celebrate the moments not just because of a situation, but because of these people with whom you get to share life.  What a privilege to live this life together!

May you enjoy both kinds of ice cream flavors today, and enjoy the blessing by being with those whom you love.  

Fondly yours, Elizabeth

Teachable Moments

The days are long; the years are short

I recently had a lovely day with my adult daughter, chatting over lunch and diving into some retail therapy.  As we engaged in the hunt for a new pair of workout clothes, I reminisced how different shopping was now compared to 22 years ago when my daughter was a toddler.  I watched the young Moms in the shopping center, pushing strollers and attempting to pacify children who were hungry or in a need of a nap. I, on the other hand, was thoroughly enjoying a quiet day, strolling through the shops, sipping a Vanilla Almond Latte, conversing about everything and nothing with my 20-something, newly-married daughter.  Wow – what a difference 22 years can make.

I remember those days back then. There were moments when I thought they would never end.   I would never sleep a full night, never take a shower without being interrupted, or never eat a warm meal again – ever.  The days were long. At times – never ending long.

At the same time, the years are short.  It went so quickly. I remember the dance recitals with tiny pink tutus and itty-bitty ballet shoes.  I remember the play dates, Bible times, and early Saturday morning pancakes. I remember as the years went by trying to figure out schedules and which sports, lessons, and activities should or should not be signed up for.  Figuring it all out was stressful, time-consuming and when it all went right, a joy. I loved cheering from the sidelines, commiserating over an unfair call, or offering a hug when defeat was hard to swallow. I loved being my daughter’s Mom.

Time is hard for parents to put in perspective.  At the time when newborns and toddlers fill the house, the days seem long, but after they are done, indeed – the years are short.  It seems time is a game we can never win. Time is not so much an ally, but an adversary. Understanding this and gaining God’s view on time is the key to making the most of the time we have.

When did time start to go wrong?  I would suggest we find the answer at the beginning of Genesis.  When death as a consequence for sin entered the world, time went wrong.  Prior to death, we were created with an intention of living forever with God in a state of peace.  But with rebellion, man no longer walked with God, but ran from Him and instead of enjoying endless days, knew that the days of one’s life would come to an end.  Death creates a tension in our relationship with time that heaven will, thankfully, erase.

Eternal life is the state in which time is no longer a Christian’s enemy.  As immortal souls, we are freed from this body of death and finite experience, and enter into the infinitude our soul longs for.  CS Lewis said, Though we cannot experience our life as an endless present, we are eternal in God’s eyes; that is, in our deepest reality” (Letters to Malcolm).

I as a Mom have lived most days by schedules, appointments and deadlines.  I have felt time move too slowly and too quickly; I have had too much time on my hands and more often than not, I have not had nearly enough of it.  Time is not comfortable for me and yet, I find myself mucking about in it every day. I have found that if I stop and consider life through God’s eternal eyes, I remember that this day isn’t so much a moment in time, but a moment that is part of God’s infinitude.  It is part of a bigger picture. If I remember that my life and its teachable moments are part of God’s bigger plan for me, then long, endless days seem less long because the purpose of even having this life grabs my attention. In addition, perhaps the years that seem too short seem more precious because of the path they created to where I am today.  An eternal perspective on the many years of parenting that are now behind me leads me to gratitude for the faithfulness of God as I navigated those years. How grateful I am for Him and His ever-present provision.

Dear Reader, may this week we look at our days and our years through the lens of eternity.  May we find strength in the days that are long by remembering we are a part of a bigger, eternal plan.  And for the years that are short, may we find ourselves able to give God thanks for the many ways He provided and for the many precious moments we enjoyed.

For this week, I pray God grants you an eye that looks at life through eternity.  Knowing as believers in Christ, we get to enjoy eternity together with our King, I rejoice in sharing my thoughts with you in this moment in time.  I hope they bless your days as you live out your years in light of the bigger reality of immortality.

As always – fondly yours, Elizabeth

Other CS Lewis Quotes on Eternity:

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. (Mere Christianity)

The difference God’s timelessness makes is that this now (which slips away from you even as you say the word now) is for Him infinite. (Letters, August 1949)

If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. (Mere Christianity)