Their Church Every Other Weekend

Sharing my children with their dad after our divorce has not always been easy. I used to feel cheated out of spending time with them. It pained me that they were not able to be involved 100% at our church.

Helping to teach their Sunday school class while they were absent and attending their dad's church made me miss them all the more. It even made me reluctant to serve in those areas because it reminded me that our family was dysfunctional.

At their dad's every other weekend and one evening a week made it tough for them to feel a regular part of the children's activities at our church. But honestly, it probably bothered me more than it bothered them. I perceived my glass as half empty.

Then something wonderful changed.

This past year, my teenage daughter was asked to join the praise dance team at her daddy's church. She has taken dance for years, but had never really used that gift for the Lord.

Admittedly, I was reluctant to allow her to "sign up" for that. It would mean driving her to practices and potentially giving up more Sundays at our own church when they performed during their services.

However, after putting my own selfishness aside, I realized that she really wanted to get plugged in. It really wasn't inconvenient because their church is even closer to our house than our own church. It would seem that I did not have a good argument.

I'm so glad I allowed her that opportunity. She has performed 4 times this year. We visited on the Sundays they danced and saw firsthand what a young, energetic, Bible teaching pastor my children hear on opposite weeks.

She is currently on a Senior High Youth beach retreat with this church where they will be leading worship at two churches, performing their routine to Live Like That, by Sidewalk Prophets.

My glass is not half empty after all. It is overflowing.

Because as I joined the kids and chaperones in prayer before they departed, this mama was reminded that we are all one in the body of Christ. How blessed my children are that they have two churches to be a part of and two church families that love them and encourage them!

The Comfort Zone:

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4: (NIV)

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus. Romans 15:5 (NIV 1984)

Let us praise God for opportunities for our children to use their spiritual gifts, even if it means permitting them to go to the "other" church. We can also encourage, participate in service, and worship with fellow believers, even if they are a different denomination, as long as they teach Bibilical truth. No longer do I worry about which church my kids will attend which weekend, but praise God for the opportunity they have to attend a good church every weekend.

Lord, help us blended families have a clear understanding of what is in the best interest of our children. Help us to put aside our own selfish desires or turf wars, even in the area of church. May we view our children's activities and involvement with eternal eyes for Your Kingdom! Thank You, Jesus. Amen.

For His Glory,


A Groundhog Day in June

Ever experience one of those days where you seem to be spinning your wheels? One where you end up backtracking and doing things over and over again?

I kind of felt like Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day this week. It seemed as though I was reliving my day over and over, except in my day I was getting further and further behind as I had to go back to the same stores and redo and exchange items I had just purchased earlier that very day!

Frustrated was pretty much the word that summed up my entire day.

And both do-overs could have been avoided if I had only taken the time to scan the price or double check the size in the clothing label. Of course my mistakes set me back in my schedule.

It's like that sometimes in my spiritual walk. I find myself back in a familiar place and it would seem that God is teaching me the same lesson over and over again. I wonder if He ever thinks, is this girl ever going to get it?

I suppose I shouldn't feel so bad. Even the disciples were sometimes slow to get it. After Peter asked Jesus to explain one of his parables, Jesus asked them, "Are you still so dull?" (Matthew 15:16)

Can anybody relate? Does the phrase "3 steps forward and 2 steps back" resonate with you? It could be the story of my life!

However, let us not be discouraged!

Finding the Comfort Zone: James 4:8 says, "Come near to God and he will come near to you."

Drawing closer to God is usually the first step in getting back on track. Many times when I realize I have fallen backwards, it occurs to me that I have short changed my time with Jesus.

Getting alone with God regularly is necessary for continued spiritual growth. Jesus set the example of getting up early and praying in a quiet place. (Mark 1:35)

Oh how my day goes smoother when I slow down long enough to thoroughly read a chapter or so of His Word and spend time quiet time in His presence.

Not that our day will be problem free, for Jesus said in this world we will have trouble, but we can have peace through Him. For He has overcome the world! (John 16:33)

When we have bad days or become frustrated with ourselves, we can praise God that He is not finished with us! We are still an individual work in progress!

We can be confident that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

Father, we praise You for the peace you give us which is found through a true relationship with You. Thank You for not giving up on us in our "duh" moments, but for patiently allowing us to learn some of the same lessons over and over, and yes, even over again...we trust that You will complete in each one of us the good work You began.

(c) 2012 by Christy Long. All rights reserved.

Finishing Strong

The past couple of weeks have been incredibly busy for my family. My daughter, a high school freshman, had a semester project that was due the week after Memorial Day - she built a model of the Palace of Versailles out of styrofoam bricks! She barely had any fun over Memorial weekend, although we did go shopping at the mall for a couple of hours to enjoy a short break, and pick up more supplies at AC Moore.

She had a test in the same honors class the day before the project was due. She was bordering on an A and a B and had opportunities for extra credit which she had taken advantage of, though not as much as her mother would have liked. I'm sure I sounded like the biggest nag!

A crazy semester schedule, my daughter was a pole vaulter on the track team, a dancer at a local dance studio (recital was last weekend), and participated in a local ministry one night a week through our church, and somehow managed to complete Driver's Ed!

As we approached the last couple of weeks of school, I could see she was getting tired and losing interest. She was exhibiting an attitude of simply getting by.

My words to her over and over, were "finish strong." You've come this far, your grades have been good all semester. I know you're tired, but do your best. Just a little bit longer.

As I've heard myself speaking those words to my child, I have almost heard God speaking those same words to me!

It is easy for me to tell someone else to finish strong, but how am I doing? In January, I wrote a blog post about called Keep it Simple - Don't Ever Quit, based on 2 Timothy 4:1-5:

I can't impress this on you too strongly. God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule, so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don't ever quit. Just keep it simple.

...—keep your eye on what you're doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God's servant.

We often set great goals for ourselves in January, and then realize as the year moves on and we become overwhelmed with life, how difficult it seems to complete those goals. This could be related to our spiritual walk, weight loss, getting and staying organized, just to name a few. Or in my case - all of the above! ;)

We may even wonder if it even matters. We may think of giving up. Quitting.

Our flesh says, "It's just too hard!" or questions, "Does it really matter?"

Yes, it does!

When I begin to feel tired and lazy, the Holy Spirit convicts me to do my best for the Lord.

Am I keeping my eyes on what I'm doing? Am I accepting the hard times along with the good? Am I keeping the Message alive? And am I doing a thorough work as God's servant?

Reading on in the same chapter, Paul tells Timothy:

...This is the only race worth running. I've run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that's left now is the shouting—God's applause!... 2 Timothy 4:6-8 (The Message)

A mid-year evaluation if you will, this is a reminder to me to stay in the race.

What about you? What do you believe God has called you to do? Every life matters to God. The enemy would love for believers to slack off and question their worth in the All Conference Kingdom Meet. He would love nothing more than for each one of us to sit on the sidelines without participating.

But God expects more. We are ALL called to run this race.

Finish strong!

Lord, help us to finish strong in the personal race you have for us. Life is too short not to give our best to Your Kingdom work. May we be focused and determined, not losing sight of the goal You would have us accomplish.

(By the way, my daughter managed to pull off an A in that class! And confirmed that her mother was a nag! :))