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Posts Tagged ‘learning’

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“What does this bowl say?  The Pioneer Woman?  Mom, are you The Pioneer Woman?”

“Well.  As much as I would like to take credit for that woman’s success in homemaking, no, I am not her.  But, I am a pioneer, I think, and I am a woman, so, yes, I guess that does make me a pioneer woman even though I am not The Pioneer Woman.”

The inquisitive, almost too mature to be called my little girl, girl with freckles and braids follows me into the backyard.

“You look like a serial killer with that sword.”

I cut a path and I pick a pie-filling bunch of black raspberries from the picturesque providence surrounding my fully covered tick and thistle fearing body.

“See.  I am a pioneer woman.  I cut a path.  I blazed a trail.  I made a way where there was no way.  Now, the next person who wants a berry can get one without a hazmat suit.”

I carry my sword – which, by the way, is a large machete-looking knife – and I find it becoming cumbersome as my picking is prolonged.  I put it down for a moment only to pick it right back up.  There is not too far I can go into this jungle I call my backyard without it.  If I want more fruit, my sword must remain my best friend.  I tuck it underneath my arm and I continue further back into the weeds.

“Of course,” I think to myself, “There is never a fruitful harvest without a brave, willing pioneer willing to risk being bruised by the thorns, brushed by the poison, and bitten by the bloodsuckers to make a way for others to find the fruit.  There can be no fruit -finding without a constant carrying of the all-important sword.”

Oh!  How all of life is Christ!  Fruitful Christian life is never found without a pioneering spirit.  We must be willing to go where we have not gone before.  We must be unafraid to do things we have never done.   We might even have to know people we have not known and be people we have not been.  Fruitful Christian life is never found when our sword is lying on the ground.  No matter how cumbersome and difficult that sword may prove to be, we must never fail to not only carry it, but use it, everywhere, always.  Our sword is our greatest weapon in this fallen world full of thorns and thistles.  The Word of God is our sword.

We must always be willing to risk being bruised by the thorns, brushed by the poison, and bitten by the bloodsuckers if it means making a way for others to find the fruit.  Pioneering hurts.  It is hard.  If it were not so, everyone would do it.  Pioneers are the few who are willing to take the risks, endure the pain, and go the distance so that those coming after them can do the same more readily and with the confidence of a good example.

Pick up your swords, brothers and sisters!  Fail not to carry them, everywhere, always, and in every situation!  Your Bible must, must, MUST be your very best friend if you would ever wish to find your walk fruitful.  Without it, not only will you not find your own fruit, it is likely you will not even be able to walk forward any farther.

As I exit the overgrown briars and brush, my mostly mature miniature me rambles on about her frustration in the pie crust preparation she’d  been busying herself with while I had been buried in briars picking berries.

I looked down at my bucket of berries and with my sword in my right hand and my bucket of berries in my left I thought, “Fearlessness and fruitfulness inspires fearlessness and fruitfulness.”

“Hey.  You tried.  You did something most 12 year-olds wouldn’t even think of doing.  Even if your first crust isn’t right, we will make another one.  You are a pioneer woman and pioneer women keep trying until we succeed.  We have to make a way; cut a path; blaze a trail for others to come behind us and be fruitful, too.”

I thank God today that I am no longer afraid.  I do not need to follow the beaten path made by the many and the minions.  No.  I have actually learned to prefer the road less travelled.  I don’t even mind mingling and meandering along the road where there is no road.  No matter how difficult or personally dangerous, I am confident and courageous enough in the power of my both my Sword and my Savior to do all that I am called to in cutting and clearing new paths so that others can follow Christ and find themselves fruitful, too.

Thank you, black raspberry patch. Thank you, briars.  Thank you, bugs, poison branches, and brush of all kinds.  Thank you, sun, and heat, and sweat.  Your lessons are deep and your rewards make all of you worthy of my time.

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Twenty years.  That’s how long Mr. Rodeheaver and I have loved each other.  Today is our 17 year wedding anniversary and I could not be more in love.

There were many years where I could not have imagined our marriage being what it is today.  I can say with all honesty and without exaggeration that it is better now than ever before.  This is the result of a faithful God and a faithful husband.

I spent the past week cleaning the house.  School is out – homeschool, that is, where mom is always home but never able to get anything done – and cheer season is over.  Finally, I had time to do all those jobs I never get around to.  Cleaning out drawers, closets and bookshelves, scrubbing floors, baseboards, and walls, and, my personal favorite, throwing away everything that isn’t nailed down.

House cleaning is not my favorite job.  There are only two reasons I clean: 1. I can no longer function due to the chaos happening around me 2. My husband told me to.  If it was not for Mr. Rodeheaver’s consistent reminders about doing “my job” I honestly might be featured on the next episode of “Hoarders.”

It is because of my husband’s unwillingness to overlook or ignore sin in my life that I have grown in the areas that are most difficult for me to find success in.  Because he neither fears telling me the truth nor accepts any nonsensical excuses I make that keep me from being better, I have no choice but to grow.  He understands my potential and he accepts nothing less than my best.

Twenty years is a long time to be learning something.  Most would have given up instructing and encouraging me a long time ago.  Love never fails, though.  Tim’s faithfulness to me extends far beyond dinners out and depositing paychecks.  Tim’s faithfulness to me is often found in his consistent correction in the things I figure out how to continuously fail at.  Housecleaning is just one example.  We can also add cooking, planning, spending, and eating, just to name a few.

If I am honest I would have to say I fail a lot in almost every area of my life in some way.  We all do.  Fortunately life is not a competition against anyone besides ourselves.  If I am better today than I was yesterday, that is progress.  It is a reason to celebrate.  It does not mean I won’t regress and fail again tomorrow.  It means I have victory today and I have a faithful voice to correct me again tomorrow, if need be.  I can think of no greater blessing.  Faithful love instructs, encourages, corrects, and forgives.

If any one of those elements is missing, I would be hard-pressed to call it faithful love with any amount of confidence.  Things I would call it may be idolatry, selfishness, fear, or resentment.  These are what love is not.

Idolatry.  Idolatry worships.  When we make someone an idol, we only encourage and forgive.  Idolatry lacks the ability to instruct and correct appropriately.

Selfishness.  Selfish relationships only do what is best for self – not the other.  They may instruct, encourage, correct, or forgive, but all things are done only in one’s own interests depending on which manipulative action will give them – not the other – the most satisfaction.

Fear.  Fear is not found in true love.  The Bible says,  There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” One who fears in a relationship will never correct or instruct appropriately.  They may not encourage or forgive, either, depending on what kind of fear they are entertaining.

Resentment.  Resentment is when a person only corrects and instructs but never encourages or forgives.  Resentment is not a characteristic of true love.

Faithful love instructs, encourages, corrects, and forgives.  Love is not idolatry, selfishness, fear, or resentment.  If I am honest, I would have to say that over the course of our marriage, I have fallen prey to all of these things which are not love at one time or another.  Thankfully, true love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.  Thankfully, I have a husband who sent this message to me first thing this morning:

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Love covers a multitude of sins.  We fail but love never does.  Keep loving no matter what else happens.  I will leave you with a few verses from the song we chose as ours in May, 1997 and has been true of our lives:

Better than I was
More than I am
And all of this happened
By taking your hand
And who I am now
Is who I wanted to be
And now that we’re together
I’m stronger than ever, I’m happy and free

Oh, it’s a beautiful thing
Don’t think I can keep it all in
And if you ask me why I’ve changed
All I gotta do is say your sweet name

It’s your love
It just does something to me
It sends a shock right through me
I can’t get enough
And if you wonder
About the spell I’m under
Oh it’s your love

~Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, It’s Your Love, May, 1997

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“Mom, why do we have lips?” asks my oddly inquisitive eleven year old.

“I don’t know. I guess God thought we needed them.”

“But why do we have them?  What are they for?”

“Appearance?  Well, actually they are for kisses.”

Cue awkward face of preteen disgust.  Moms do not talk about kissing.  Moms especially do not talk about kissing when said preteen was clearly asking a purely scientific question and attempting to formulate a very serious hypothesis based upon nothing less than observation and factual information.

But that’s my oldest daughter.  My youngest daughter has different ideas about both lips and kissing.  One year-olds love kisses.  Well, at least mine does…usually.

When I say, “kisses,” she leans her head towards me and waits for my kiss to be planted on the back of her head.  We are still working on the lips part.

Generally, Little Miss Congeniality loves kisses.  The only problem is that she turns her face away from me when I ask for them.  She only knows how to receive kisses.  She hasn’t mastered the art of giving them.

I try to teach her each day.  She is at the point where if I say, “kisses,” and I don’t plant one on the back of her turned head, she looks at me and sticks out her tongue.  “No, Sonny.  Not tongue; lips.”

It is an arduous process wherein her tongue stays out and I resort to raspberries all over her face because tongues are not easily put back away and the cuteness of one year-olds does not allow for any option wherein they do not get kissed regardless of their slowness or complete failure to learn proper methods and techniques.

We usually move on to blowing kisses once the emergent tongue enters the lesson.  She thinks it’s funny to watch me blow kisses but she hasn’t reciprocated yet.  Don’t worry, there will be a two hour video once this milestone is mastered and I am almost certain it will go viral.  I know you can’t wait either.

Babies are easy to love.  Babies are hard to love.  Children are easy to love.  Children are hard to love.  Just like kisses are more easily accepted than they are given by my baby, we children of God often need to be given repeated daily examples of love from our Father before we even begin to learn how to give love back.  We must feel loved and be shown how to give and receive love before we even begin to figure out that it isn’t about turning our head as much as it is about being face to mad about you face.   Finally, we realize it isn’t about turning our head at all.  It is about turning toward the other every time, and never, ever turning away from the ones we love.

We need so very much to be loved, to be shown love, to be adored by one who adores before we can even begin to learn how it is that we can possibly get Mister Slimy Slobber inserted back where he belongs and plant our very own puckered presents upon the proper people.

Learning how to love well does not boil down to a science lesson.  Learning how to love well does not emerge from a self-preserving, safe-staying cocoon of systematic daily lessons on proper lip mechanics.  (Although that may well be additionally necessary when delving into what comes forth from those sneaky pink gates.  In that case, just use emergency mom language: “Zip it, child.”)  No.  Learning how to love well results from being loved well.  It is not something we teach.  It is something we do.

Learning how to love well results from being loved well.  It is not something we teach.  It is something we do.

Brothers, sisters, consider your children.  Think about your babies – the ones you have been so graciously given; the ones you long to be given; the ones who were and are and will be.  Close your eyes and appraise their faces.  Reflect upon your deep, deep love for them, wherever they may be today.

Are you there?  Do you have their picture in your mind?

Now, open your eyes.  That is how God sees you.  That is how your Father loves you.  Go.  Love that much, always.  We are all but children in need of love and grace.

From one sister to all her siblings, please give grace.  I need grace.  We need grace.  Love covers a multitude of sin.  So, here are my hugs; kisses; love.  How I long to embrace you and let my tears fall upon your shoulder!  Written words are my heart on paper saying what my lips never seem to get out quite right. Happy St. Valentine’s Day.  There is much love in my heart for you all.

xoxoxo

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Daughter Up

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He has me in a headlock.  Not an I’m-about-to-kill-you chokehold.  It’s more like an I-just-beat-you-at-freeze-tag-and-now-I’m-gonna-drag-you-by-the-head-before-giving-you-a-dutch-rub headlock.  Yes, it’s an I’m-about-to-tackle-you-and-tickle-you-unless-you-say-uncle-and-tell-everyone-who’s-boss.  It’s that moment right after a knock-down, drag-out play-boxing fight where I either tap out or I’m toast.  My white flag is waving and my release is downright dependant upon Daddy’s mercy.

Take note, family members.  If you are related, rest assured that your turn is coming, too.  Daddy plays rough inside this house.  It’s a rite of passage around here.

Sometimes I don’t want to play, though.  I’m just a little girl, after all.  Dutch rubs mess up my hair and too much tickling makes me tinkle.  Play boxing leaves real bruises and the white flag finds me flat on my face eating the humble pie.  Playing with Daddy is fun, but it is outrageously fierce.

Sometimes he has to drag me head first ’cause that’s the only way I’m goin’ with him.  Sometimes I’d rather just sit in the dark with my fisted hands over my as-tight-as-I-can-shut-them eyes wrapped in my homemade fig leaf jammies.

Daddy doesn’t leave, though.  He will not.

Perhaps the most profound miracle of all is that, after all I’ve done to shut out the light, quit the game, and pretend he isn’t there, I can still see him.  I can still see him.  He stands waiting like a father in front of the imaginary monster magnetized closet door waiting for his fear-filled, wet behind the ears whippersnapper to fall asleep.

With crossed arms and pouty lips she pretends to want him to leave when she most desperately needs him to stay.  He will not leave until she trusts him enough to rest.  Peace.  He waits for her.  Patience.  Father may be as fierce as he is wild, but he is also insanely patient.  When she finally lets go, he lets go.  He releases her from his humble-making headlock and he holds onto to her hand instead.  She is finally free.  Despite all her fear, he names her “Valiant.”

I hear her voice in my children.

“Let’s play ‘Joker’ Daddy!”

He turns out the lights and attacks.  Laughing…then crying.  “I hurt, Daddy.”

He scoops her up and wraps her in his arms apologetically.  He knows her wholly.  She trusts him fully.  At the end of the day, he stands in front of the scary door and he makes her secure.
She falls asleep again.

In my Father’s house, he often plays rough.  If you come in, do not close your eyes.  Uncross your arms.  Unhand your fear and expect to learn how to trust Him alone.  You will be attacked.  You will be bruised, branded, and abased.  But you can bet the bad guys that you will be better.  You will be broken.  These are the effects of being loved.

Daughter up.

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I’ve had exactly one lesson.  Aside from a couple years of kickboxing, shadowboxing, and beating my belligerence out on the heavy bag, I do not know the first thing about boxing.  I’ve been in four street fights – only two of which I was the aggressor.  This is not the same.  I am hardly qualified to teach anyone anything about boxing.  Nevertheless, here is what I learned on day one.

My stance is wrong.  My angle of impact is wrong.  My position is wrong.  I do not protect myself properly.  My balance is off, and, if I enter a fight uncorrected, it will hurt.  A lot.  Truth be told, it will hurt anyway.  Like teach told me – boxing hurts.  

You know what he didn’t tell me though?  He didn’t say, “Your stance is wrong.”  He said, “Stand like this.  Good!”  He didn’t say, “Your angle is wrong.”  He said, “Press in and hold your punch.  Can you feel how your angle corrected?”  He didn’t say, “Your position is wrong.”  He said, “Turn your body away from me…like this.  Don’t leave yourself wide open like that.  Better!”  He didn’t say, “You’re gonna know it if you keep trying to protect yourself like that.”  He said, “Hold your protecting fist flush against your face.  It will hurt less if there is contact.”  He did not laugh when my wretched excuse for balance left me lying on the floor.   He gently reminded me how important balance is. He did not allow me to continue throwing the wrong kind of punches when he saw that I was bleeding. He wiped my blood up off the floor and showed me something else. 

I cannot imagine how utterly ridiculous I looked to this guy (and my husband who sat watching the whole sitcom.)  But I do believe I learned more about life – particularly the Christian life – than I have in a long time.

Teach said two things that I doubt I will find myself soon forgetting.  He said, “Boxing is a game of windows.  You have a split second to make your move and then the window closes.”  He also said, “Boxing is war.  It may not seem like it to those who think it is just a sport, but when you are in that ring, you feel it.  It is war.”

Life is a game of windows.  We have momentary, fleeting opportunities to get this thing right.  The Christian life is war.  Those who do not see it as such are not engaged.  And we who are engaged have a monumental choice when it comes to teaching the privates entering boot camp how to fight fair.  Boxing is offensive and defensive at the same time.  So is the Christian life.  We can discourage and destroy others with heavy-handed defense or we can train and encourage them so patiently and respectfully that it makes even our offensive moves kind.  

That’s the kind of teacher I want to be.  That’s the kind of trainer I want to become.  I imagine I will have a lot more blood on my face and hands even if I do it the right way.  I might even look like a big disgrace at times.  But the war is worthy of my all.  I refuse to stop fighting.  I just have to better learn how.  Quitting is not an option in war time.  I will persevere.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my eye upon you. ~Psalm 32:8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcCaTXcwh9w

 

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I hate being late.  That’s why I married a drag racer at age 20.  I usually show up fifteen minutes early with a well-deserved speeding ticket and an invisible trophy from my imaginary friend who I like to call “Put Together and Prompt.”

That said, at three days into the New Year, in Loriland, this article is extremely late.  This time, my lateness is purposeful.  I believe it actually reveals something about what God has been doing in me over the past year.

As many do, I like to recollect my thoughts, evaluate my life, and process what I have learned and where I’m heading at year’s end.  I usually start summing up the day after Christmas.  By the time my tree is down, my time is up – if I want the trophy that is.

This year was different, though.  This year was exceptionally deft.  It was also unusually difficult.  It taught me – a recovering intuitionist – to slow down.

Oh, by the way, if you don’t read me often, I also make up words.  That’s what creative writers do when there aren’t adequate describing tools.  Don’t worry, though, we usually also define them.

Intuitionist – a person who trusts intuition and instincts to a fault and frequently inserts both feet into her mouth.

Being intuitive is not bad.  If you’re a single woman or a witch hunter, it’s likely highly beneficial.  The problem is that intuition is likely responsible for creating both the Mr. Perfect illusion who keeps single women perpetually single and the Salem witch hunts where innocent people were mistakenly murdered.  The truth is that fear, past experiences, and personal insecurity can easily be mistaken for the highly regarded, supposedly fool-proof test known as intuition.

Enter: pseudointuition.  (Yes, I made that one up, too.)

Pseudointuition is very dangerous for those of us who like to think of ourselves as naturally intuitive.  It causes us to conjure up flawed hypothesis, enter into premature judgments, and jump to hasty conclusions about many matters.  Without adequate prayer and fasting, pseudointuition will destroy true discernment and leave us paranoid, cynical, and thoroughly untrusting – just like single women and Salem witch hunters.

Like I said, though, I am recovering.  I am learning.  I am slowing down in a good way.  I no longer say everything that I initially think.  I am avoiding any reliance on first impressions.  I am refraining from dismissing that which I cannot put under an interrogation lamp, study intricately, and dissect until it stops moving – yet.  I am learning to wait upon the Lord – longer.  I am beginning to hide my face like Elijah and pray five, six, even seven times for the tiny rain cloud that I must believe will annihilate every desert and doubt surrounding.  Even when every weather man insists that there will be no rain for many more days,  I resolve to keep on believing for the very best.  I resolve to put down the pride that prods me to pounce when people and places seem particularly peculiar to me.  I still have my wings.  I’m just not sure how often the Lord really wants me to fly.  I think, maybe, he gave them so I might spread them to protect far more often than I project.

Bottom line: Life is not an algebraic equation.  A + B does not always equal C.   If anything, life is more like geometry – you’ve got to be able to prove how and why the pieces fit together before you really find a concrete solution.  If you cannot, you are probably suffering from a bad case of pseudointuition with the underlying etiology of fear, bad past experience, and personal insecurity.  Life really isn’t like math anyway – despite how desperately I need it to be.  I think it is more like creative writing – there are too many words to ever comprehend them all but never enough of the right ones.

That is why my New Year’s recollections are, according to the schedule of a neurotic race runner, late.  My goal for 2014 is not to be less intuitive or timely, but to be more patient, prayerful, and, God help me, precise before I act, write, or speak.

  Happy New Year!

Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool,
    but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered. ~Proverbs 28:26

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztjhHkH7OvQ

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Playing catch.  Planting a garden.  Riding a bike.  Working hard.  How to surprise Mommy.  Prayer.  Picking blackberries.  Courage.  Sled-riding.  Getting dirty.  The importance of church attendance.  Fishing.  Homework.  How to fight the heebeegeebees.  Computer skills.  Dog walking.  Giving.

These are just a few of the many things my daddy taught me.  Daddy got sick when I was 11 and I spent the rest of my life wishing he hadn’t.  Still, I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if he hadn’t been there at all.  I wonder how the world can pretend fathers are simply an optional appendage to an otherwise fully fulfilled childhood.  

Fatherhood was God’s first idea when he created the first man.  He was the father!  God himself has always been a father, first to his One and Only Son; second to humanity.  He’s been living and working in the hearts and lives of his children for all eternity past.  He’ll continue to do so for all eternity future.  He gave us his best that we might be our best.  That is the role of a every good father.

Married men and women, think of your children before you think of yourself.  Your children need a father who lives in their home.  Single men and women, think of your future children before you think of yourself.  Your children will need a father who loves and is married to their mother.  

If your living situation is not ideal presently, look to God, your first father.  Ask him how you might seek imitate his model for family and abstain from anything that will detract from his plan.  Remember, we serve a redeemer who has unlimited resources and is capable of redeeming all circumstances for the good when we obey.  

Let us all consider Our Father God and never underestimate the impact of a selfless father who willingly lays down his life for his children from beginning to end.  That is, after all, how the world was saved.  Let us also consider Jesus’ mother, Mary, who willingly laid down her life for both her God and her child before he was even born as well as on the day of his death.

Men and women, let us learn wisdom from Our Heavenly Father and go and do likewise.

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows
    is God in his holy habitation. ~Psalm 68:5

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pu6TJeasyWE

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