TEACHING OUR CHILDREN: One Man’s Journey

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In this Season of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for Facebook … and Jason Taylor, my nephew, is one of the main reasons. Maintaining out-of-town family relationships is difficult in our busy world, and yet I am blessed to get glimpses of the Taylor family almost daily because of social media.

Jason is a Christ-follower and is leading his whole family in that pursuit. He grew up in a Christian home, but rebelled like so many do as he came to the Age of I Am Great – you know, that age when he realized how smart he was and how dumb his parents were. After a decade or more, he had his Moment with God and has never been the same. Check him out on Facebook, and you will know from his posts, as well as from those who comment, that Jason’s #1 goal is to please The Lord and share His Word.

Though I don’t share the writing of others often, this is an exception I gladly make on your behalf. Yes, this is for you. If you are a father, I believe this letter he wrote will impact you and motivate you to lead your family and your friends to a Higher Calling. As one of the volunteer coaches, he wrote to the parents of Ben’s football teammates (a  letter I probably would not have seen had Jason not posted it on Facebook):

“Hello Everyone! As we near the end of another successful Warrior football season, I just wanted to express my appreciation to all of you parents, coaches and kiddos who come together to make our teams what they are! I also want to share some things that we have tried to instill in these boys throughout the season.

As was stated at the first of the year, our program really is about so much more than just winning football games. Almost every week we discuss different principals that will help these boys succeed on and off of the football field. The following are some of the lessons we have talked about as a team.

Our team creed has centered around Believing God, Believing in Each Other and Believing in Ourselves. We want them to grow in faith in these areas. We have chosen to Honor God as a team and have clearly seen Him keep His promise in honoring and blessing us in so many ways on and off the field.

We teach each player to give 100% every play so that they can be confident the man next to them will do their job, therefore finding the courage and freedom to
give their all themselves!

And we want them to be confident in their own abilities by believing they “… can do all things through Christ who strengthens them!”

We tell them to “Hit First and Hit Hard!”
This is a great slogan for football but it applies to life as well. Take the initiative and give it all you’ve got!

We teach them to “…not grow tired of doing what is right for at the proper time they will be rewarded if they do not give up!” Galatians 6:9

We want them to maintain a good, positive attitude if and when we lose (we say Learn) and be humble at all times, especially when we win.
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18

We ask them to say only things that are uplifting and build each other up.
T.H.I.N.K. Before you speak.
True-Helpful-Inspiring-Necessary- Kind

We teach them team concepts and guard against putting the emphasis on any one player. We do our best to build up each kid  and show him how important his position is to the entire team. We play for each other, not just ourselves.”

“The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Matthew 23:11-12

14938049_10206098883510060_1223303939_n      VICTORY!

This is Jason and son Ben celebrating a team victory as well as an individual victory. Christ was honored on and off the field. The x’s and o’s will fade in time, trophies will move from center stage shelves to cardboard boxes, but the Character being taught in this home will live for generations.

A TIME FOR THANKS

Shiny golden pumpking for happy thanksgiving day celebration.

As we celebrate this cherished tradition of drawing close to feast not just on turkey and trimmings, but on the ideal of blessings, I am taking some time away from distractions to think of my own blessings. How long is my list of blessings? How long should it be? Is there a set number we should strive for, or else be banned to the Land of the Un-Thankful?

Let’s see … Family, Friends, Faith, Freedom … oops, I’ve already messed up – of course, Faith should come first! (Well, at least it was in the top tier). Though I could go on and on with my list, and I will proclaim them to the Blessing Giver, my purpose here (if it is not yet obvious) is to challenge us all to stop and think. Yes, we should think about every person in our lives who enriches us, every thing in our lives which makes the journey better, every ideal we hold up to strive for, and every experience that has brought us to this Thanksgiving season. Let us remember that every detail of our lives was known to our Creator before He wove us in our mother’s womb – read Psalm 139 to understand God’s great love for you. Dare I type out one of the most beautiful passages in all the Bible? Why not …

A Psalm of David

O LORD, Thou hast searched me and known me.
Thou dost know when I sit down and when I rise up;
Thou dost understand my thought from afar.
Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And art intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O LORD, Thou dost know it all.
Thou hast enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Thy hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

Where can I go from Thy Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Thy presence?
If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there;
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Thy hand will lead me,
And Thy right hand will lay hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
Even the darkness is not dark to Thee,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to Thee.

For Thou didst form my inward parts;
Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from Thee,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.
Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Thy book they were all written,
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

This God who David describes so majestically has loved us beyond our ability to comprehend! So, while you enjoy your family, remember loved ones, eat, play, love, watch football, talk and laugh – do it all with a new and thankful heart. As His profound love washes over you, shower that Love on someone else.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Susan Butler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Christmas Offer Just For You!

For all of you gift-givers and faithful readers of

SusanButlerLive,

I have very special pricing for FIRST FRUITS,

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Merry Christmas!

Susan Butler

SUFFERING: Interruptions of Life, 2.0

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Before you read the latest excerpt from FIRST FRUITS, I feel you deserve a short explanation on why I haven’t posted a new blog in three weeks – hence, the subtitle, “Interruptions of Life, 2.0.” My first “interruption” was pneumonia almost a year ago. This time, my husband had a scheduled back surgery which was a bit rougher than the one three years ago. Exactly one week later, my grown daughter had a shoulder replacement on her dominant arm. Yikes.

Needless to say, my meager nursing skills were put to the test! But that was just the entree … my only granddaughter got a lead role in the musical “Hairspray,” and I became a stage mom – shopping for wigs, etc., sewing costumes and working on set designs. (My vehicle can almost drive the path from my daughter’s house to the school and back without me in the car). The production is this Friday and Saturday, thank you, Jesus!

But, like the conductor who puts the final crescendo on the Hallelujah Chorus, I got a little ahead of myself (or should I say behind) and fell backwards onto my daughter’s open dishwasher. Talk about crescendo – I screamed, china shards flew everywhere – but by God’s grace, there were no forks (loaded tines up) to announce “you’re done” as they pierced my back. I’m headed to the Dr. today for a rib X-ray, knowing there’s nothing they can do even if it’s cracked … but hey, there’s solace in knowing, right? Unlike my body, however, the broken dishwasher is a fact; so besides rib pain, there’s also pain in my pocketbook.

So, now, the excerpt below is another day in the life …

It has been 100 days since I last wrote. One hundred days since an ambulance carried me to the hospital to repair my shattered elbow after a fall; one hundred days of suffering, slow recovery, and Physical Therapy (aka Pain & Torture)! Traumatic injuries may be common, but they are not at all like planned surgeries, of which I have had a few. Unlike a scheduled surgery, there is no time before an accidental trauma to prepare your mind, body and soul. But one thing’s for sure … there is plenty of time afterwards for reflection.

So I had many conversations with the Lord about what happened, the timing of it and the pearls of wisdom I might find in that oyster of suffering. I am quite sure Satan was having a hootenanny by tripping me up that day, but just like Joseph when his brothers betrayed him in Genesis 50:20 (NASB), “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” Satan doesn’t want me, or any of you, to complete God’s purpose in our lives, but God will use even our suffering for His good!

Suffering can be physical, mental or emotional. What kind of suffering have you experienced? Reflect on it, and ask yourself whether you used the power of God in your suffering to elevate the focus from your suffering to the Savior. Did you claim Him and thank Him for the ways in which He protected you during the trial? Your reaction to suffering has much to do with how you move through it. The apostle Paul had some advice for us in 1 Thessalonians 5:4–8 from The Message:

“But friends, you’re not in the dark, so how could you be taken off guard by any of this? You’re sons of Light, daughters of Day. We live under wide open skies and know where we stand. So let’s not sleepwalk through life like those others. Let’s keep our eyes open and be smart. People sleep at night and get drunk at night. But not us! Since we’re creatures of Day, let’s act like it. Walk out into the daylight sober, dressed up in faith, love, and the hope of salvation.”

The accident changed my writing timeline in a flash, but what of God’s? The path I was on, working furiously (indeed) on First Fruits, was a path where finishing had become the goal. I was so close! He showed me once again that He is interested in every detail of First Fruits (down to the last stroke on the computer), that learning is in the journey, and that His timing will be perfect. He brought me through a long surgery, muffled-but-never-silenced pain, dependence on others, and finally, a heart transformed to appreciate the details of His moment-by-moment provision, protection, and direction.

My desire is to come to the close of First Fruits, not in a rush, but savoring the final pages of God-inspired writing to reflect Him. That’s the bottom line. May He transform our faith from passive to passionate and our love from self-centered to God-centered as we live our lives of hope in the mighty name of Jesus!

Friends, many of you are suffering in ways I cannot even imagine. I do not take your suffering lightly, nor do I think our suffering should be compared. As a wise woman once told me, “no one can know your pain.” That’s right, each ones’ pain is different because each ones’ experience (before and after) is different. We can all take comfort in the fact that our God knows each of us intimately, and that He wants to comfort us in our times of need. Remember this next time your life is interrupted: “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”