If You Don’t Like The Way Things Are


I don’t know why stuffed animals have to disappear at bedtime.  It drives me crazy.  Everything was going smoothly.  The girls had brushed their teeth and changed into their nightgowns.  And then it happened. Bomb was missing.  Our little sweetheart who sleeps with Bomb every night wasn’t happy. She asked “Where’s Bomb?”  I told her I didn’t know where he was but she needed to go look for him.  She got mad. She screamed and she stomped her foot.  I told her again to go look for him.  She just stood there and stared at me. So I said “If you want to sleep with Bomb you need to go look for him.  If you don’t like the way things are then you need to do something to change it.”  She reluctantly left the room to look for him.

Wow.  Did you hear what you just said?  If you don’t like the way things are then you need to do something to change it.  That’s good.  I need to write that down.    

Within a matter of minutes our little sweetheart came back in the room carrying Bomb.  I asked her “Did screaming and stomping your foot help you find Bomb?” She said no.  “Did you find him because you went and looked for him?”  She said yes.  I told her the next time she can’t find something she needs to look for it and skip the screaming and stomping.  I hope she remembers.

It’s hard to go to sleep when you realize you’re a hypocrite.  I’d just told my daughter that if she didn’t like the way things are then she needed to do something to change it.  But I wasn’t doing that in my own life. As I lay there wide awake I found myself thinking about a day at the beginning of 2017. I was standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes. I was feeling hopeless and angry.  Nothing seemed to be going right. Everything seemed to be going wrong.  Struggle after struggle had piled on top of each other.   A few huge disappointments had been thrown into the mix.  I found myself drowning under the weight of it all.  This picture of my life wasn’t at all what I expected.  I started thinking about Jeremiah 29:11.  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.   At that moment I honestly didn’t feel like those words were true.  How is this situation going to prosper me?  How is this plan going to give me hope and a future? I felt the Lord speak to my heart “I know the plans I have for you.  My plans are different from your plans.  But I promise My plans for you are good.”  I would like to say that as I stood at the kitchen sink that day that I traded my plan in for God’s plan.  But I didn’t.

Instead I chose to let disappointment consume me and my emotions control me.  I cried way too many tears over things that I couldn’t change. Insomnia plagued me for months.  Anxiety reared its ugly head and started tormenting me once again. I could feel all of the hope being sucked out of my life.  I started doubting. I wasn’t sure if God was really good.  I felt like He didn’t love me.  Because if He loved me then something would be going right, wouldn’t it?  I became angry with God and my prayer life suffered.   It’s hard to talk to someone you’re mad at.  I found myself in a pit and I didn’t know how to get out of it.

And then Bomb disappeared and those words of truth came out of my mouth.  If you don’t like the way things are then you need to do something to change it.   I was miserable.  I didn’t like the way things were in my life.  But what could I do to change it?  The truth is that there was nothing I could do to change my situation.  I realized the only thing I could do was change was my attitude.

I had been driving through life expecting my plans to succeed.  Why wouldn’t God want these plans for me and my family? They were good plans.  But for whatever reason God put a road closed sign in my path.  I was stunned.  Why would He do that?  The best thing to do when you come to a road closed sign is to turn around and find a road that’s open.  But what did I do instead?  I grabbed the gear shift, put it in park, and planted myself in front of the road closed sign.  I didn’t move for months because I didn’t want to take a different road.  This was the road I wanted to be on.  As far as I was concerned there was no other road.  I chose to stay stuck in the middle of my grief and disappointment.  I looked exactly like my little sweetheart who didn’t want to go look for her stuffed animal.  We were both saying the same thing.  I don’t like this and I’m mad.  Don’t ask me to do anything to make it  better.  I’m just going to stand here and pout.

So after Bomb was found I decided it was time for me to start practicing what I was preaching.  It was time to stop camping out in front of a road closed sign.   I had to stop grieving what would’ve been and I needed to start focusing on what can still be.  So I made a choice.  I grabbed the gear shift, put it in reverse, turned around, and decided to see what other road God has for me.  And a funny thing happened.  I started sleeping again.  I wish I hadn’t wasted so much time letting my disappointment paralyze me.  But the good news is that I’m moving again.  And I’ll keep going.  I’ll trust that God will direct my path.  He’ll show me the road that He knows is best for me.  And I hope that if and when I encounter another road closed sign that I won’t stomp my foot, pout, and get mad because I don’t like it.  But instead I’ll thank Him for closing the roads that keep me from settling for less than His best for me.

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What Great-Grandpa Taught Us About Love

When Brynna was little she dragged the card table to the end of the driveway and put a “flowers for sale” sign on it.   She walked around the yard, picked flowers, and tied them together with purple yarn. Great-Grandpa showed up to buy some flowers.  He reached in his pocket, pulled out $20, and purchased a small bouquet of clover. And before he left he reached into his pocket again, pulled out $20, and he gave it to Taylor just for standing there and looking pretty.

Great-Grandpa passed away in April and then 8 weeks later Great-Grandma left us as well.  He was 94 and she was 91.  They were 4 weeks away from celebrating their 73rd wedding anniversary when Grandpa passed away.  It’s hard to imagine life without them. Great-Grandpa was always the life of the party and Great-Grandma was his sweet, quiet companion.  Right now we feel like our hearts have been ripped out.  A friend told me the other day that it doesn’t get easier it just gets different.  Yes, life is different now.  Two very special people are missing each time we have a family get-together.  Great-Grandma and Grandpa won’t be at anymore birthday parties or Christmas Eve breakfasts.  And it hurts. A lot.

We visited Great-Grandma the week before she passed away.  Brynna took me over to a cabinet in the dining room.  She smiled as she showed me the clover that Great-Grandpa had bought all those years ago.  He had taken his clover home and hung it from the handle of the cabinet.  The clover was special to him.  So special that he put it on display for everyone to see.  Brett was at Grandma and Grandpa’s house the day before Grandma’s funeral.  He saw the clover and he brought it home to Brynna.  He knew it was special. That dried up clover holds a memory that Brynna shared with Great-Grandpa.

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We went to church on Sunday.  I still felt numb from the funeral and just didn’t feel like being there.  During the worship service I couldn’t sing because I had a lump in my throat and tears trickling down my face.  I began to think about the high price that Great-Grandpa paid for that clover.  Why did he do that?  He paid a high price because he loved Brynna.  She was worth it.  And he saw Taylor standing beside Brynna and he gave her the same gift.  She didn’t do anything to earn it.  But he gave it to her anyway. Because he loved Taylor.  She was worth it.

The tears continued to flow down my cheeks as I realized that Great-Grandpa’s love is an earthly example of the love that Jesus has for each one of us.  He paid a high price for our sins by dying on the cross. Why did He do that?  He did it because He loves us.  We are worth it.  We don’t have to do anything to earn His love.  He gives it freely to each and every one of us.  All we have to do is accept His love and share His love with others.  That’s all that really matters.  Loving Jesus and loving others.

As we watched things leave Grandma & Grandpa’s house it made us pause and really think about life.  Things just really don’t matter.  We spend a lifetime accumulating things that we can’t take with us when we leave this earth.  The most important thing that we can leave behind is a legacy of love.  We can create memories that can be passed down through the generations.  Perhaps one day Brett and I will celebrate our 72nd wedding anniversary.  And we will gather around his Grandma & Grandpa’s table and Brett will tell our kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids about the time that Grandpa Jimmy paid $20 for clover.  And we’ll laugh and remember the greatest lesson that Grandpa ever taught us.  He taught us how to love.