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Is it Okay to be Angry with God?

I felt lost. I felt confused. I felt very alone. But most of all, I felt angry with God. Really, really angry. Seethingly angry. “I’m not going to church anymore” angry.

In the spring of 2016, I had the opportunity to apply for a teaching position in my local school district. Out of hundreds of applicants, I was one of the few chosen to interview for the job. The interview included the typical question-and-answer session, as well as a requirement for me to play a prepared piece on the piano for the interview panel, in order to show my ability level on the instrument.

I knocked this interview out of the park. I answered each of the interviewers’ questions fully and succinctly. I was calm and at ease, even politely joking with the panel at one point. I tied their questions back to the NYS Arts Standards and Common Core Standards. I gave specific examples of typical “music teacher stuff”: how I would teach a lesson, how I would run a chorus rehearsal, how I would accommodate students with special needs. When I told the panel the title of the song I would be performing on piano, one of the panel members said, “Great choice! The kids love that one.” I played the song perfectly with no mistakes. I left the interview feeling euphoric. I would definitely be getting a call back for a second interview!

But that call never came.

I spent an agonizing two weeks waiting for a phone call or email from the school principal. What was taking them so long? I gave an amazingly strong interview! I have to be one of the final candidates, right? I found myself questioning my answers to the panel. Had I said something that didn’t sit right with them? Where had I gone wrong? After some time went by, I resigned myself to the fact that I had not been chosen. During the last week of June, I received a generic letter from the district saying the position had been filled, and thanking me for my interview. And that was that.

You’ve gotta be kidding me. That’s it? A bland “thanks but no thanks” letter? Where was God in all this? Why was He allowing this to happen? I felt lost. I felt confused. I felt very alone. But most of all, I felt angry with God. Really, really angry. Seethingly angry. “I’m not going to church anymore” angry.

Now let me back up a bit and explain. I haven’t been happy in my current job for some time. In my prayers at night I always ask God to help me to be obedient and to do the best work I can in the position where he has placed me. I know I am where I am for a reason. Clearly I was meant to be an example of Christ to the students of this community. But I was (am) overwhelmed, exhausted and numb. As I was praying one day right before the beginning of the 2015-16 school year, I heard these words clear as a bell: one more year. I clung to those words, firmly believing that God had sent them as a message to me. “Just get through this one last year, Sabrina, and you will be able to move on.” So I waited. I tried my best to be patient. The phrase became my mantra as the year wore on and more and more responsibilities and expectations were piled onto me. One more year. One more year. When the local job opportunity opened up, it further cemented my belief that God wanted a change for me. So I applied, had an awesome interview…and nothing came of it.

Talk about a punch to the gut.

Is there ever a time when it is okay to be angry with God? At first glance it seems like a pretty selfish and petty thing to do. Who the heck am I to question God’s judgment? I am broken, He is perfect. Why should I presume to think I know better than Him? However, the reality is that people blame God for stuff all the time. Divorce, sickness, financial difficulty, not getting the job you wanted (hmm…). People raise their fists to the sky and curse God for “letting” these things happen to them. I sure felt that way at first. Why would God send this one more year message to me, and then not follow through? I needed to turn to Scripture for some guidance.

In Deuteronomy 32:39, God tells us, “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me. I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.” Ouch. This verse brings me back to the days when my parents would say, “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out, too!” I definitely needed to be knocked down a peg, and this verse sure did the trick.

But as much as God can take things away (or just not give them in the first place), He can also bless us abundantly. “For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men.” (Lamentations 3:31-33). These words bring me hope. We may go through seasons of loss and sadness, but God is always there to comfort and heal us.

In reading these two passages from Scripture, the father/child relationship is especially evident. In Deuteronomy, God has reminded us who is boss and given us a time-out in the corner. In Lamentations, God has put His arms around us, had a chat with us, and sent us off to play again. In my case, God is telling me to “get over it”, in a certain sense, but in another He is also saying “just trust me”. Through it all, though, the important message to be heard from God is simply “talk to me”. God wants us to bring our troubles and lay them at His feet. He wants us to express our feelings and emotions to Him. He wants to carry the load for us. He wants us to fall on Him in any and all things in our lives. Yes, even when we are angry with Him, God wants us to tell Him about it. He already knows, of course.

I tried to figure out any sort of meaning or message from the events that took place with the job interview. All summer long I prayed and said “Okay, just show me what it is you want me to do then!” In late August I heard a beautiful song for the first time. It is called “Thy Will” by Hillary Scott and the Scott Family. I stopped dead in my tracks as I heard the first words in the song – I’m so confused/I know I heard you loud and clear/ So I followed through/Somehow I ended up here. Wow. By the time the chorus of the song came, tears were rolling down my face. I don’t wanna think/I may never understand/That my broken heart is a part of your plan/When I try to pray/All I’ve got is hurt and these four words/Thy will be done, Thy will be done, Thy will be done. Suddenly a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. The darkness surrounding the whole situation was gone. Nothing had changed at all, but yet everything had. I looked up and said, “I’m sorry I was so selfish. Whatever you have in store for me will be wonderful.”

So be gentle on yourselves, friends. It’s okay to feel upset, disappointed or even angry with God. Just don’t stay that way. Confess your feelings to Him, but acknowledge that in the end, He is the one who knows best, not you. Pray for guidance and peace. Lean into God and let Him be your comfort and your rest. Allow Him to carry your burdens. From what I hear, He’s got pretty broad shoulders.

Sabrina

Wanna hear the amazing song that helped me reconcile with God? Click the link below!

Thy Will by Hillary Scott and the Scott Family

 

(Not) Willing to Sacrifice

Could you sacrifice your child if it meant showing God your complete and utter faithfulness to Him? I gotta be honest. For me the answer is no. I’m sure the answer is no for pretty much everyone. But does that mean I don’t love God if I’m not willing to do whatever it takes to please Him?

     My daughter Dannica is seven years old. Many people think she is older than that because she is quite tall for her age. In reality she is your typical little girl in many respects. She is loud, sassy and often thinks that directions given from her parents don’t necessarily apply to her. She is also funny, sweet, empathetic and a kind friend. As with any child, Dannica is frustrating one minute, wonderful the next. Apples and oranges. Sugar and spice. Mud and sparkles. Whirlwind and pleasant breeze. That’s Dannica.

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     Today after church she was playing with her friends as I chatted with some folks during coffee hour. I turned around to tell her something – no Dannica. Okay, they probably just went into the lounge. I looked in the lounge – no Dannica. Hmm. I looked in the kitchen – no Dannica. I asked some other moms if any of the kids had gone downstairs to the playroom, then went there to check – no Dannica. Okay, don’t panic, she’s here somewhere. Bathroom – no Dannica. Stairwell – no Dannica. Preschool wing, conference room, rector’s office – no Dannica. My heart was pounding at this point as I was literally running around the parish hall looking for my child. I ran for my husband who, being a vestry warden for the church, was assigned to count the offering from this week’s services. As I neared the door I saw the light on in the nursery. The door was open only a tiny crack. I opened it, peered in…and there sat my Dannica. There sat my life, my world, my everything, playing with little cars on the playmat. She had her back to the door, but when she heard it open she turned around. “Mommy!” she cried, a big smile spreading across her face. “Will you come play with me?” I rushed to her, dropped to my knees, grabbed her and held her close, tears streaming down my face. Relief isn’t a big enough word to describe how I felt in that moment.

     In a span of ten minutes I had lost my child and found her again. In those ten minutes the world had stopped. Time had stood still. I was running but moving in slow motion. In those ten minutes, I died. My life came back only when my child came back.

     Now imagine the story of Abraham. In the book of Genesis, God tested Abraham’s faith by telling him to sacrifice Isaac, his only son. You don’t have to be a parent to understand how Abraham must have felt upon hearing this command. For his part, however, Abraham was obedient, faithful and trusting. In fact, he never even questioned, argued or pleaded with God. He simply “…rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.” (Genesis 22:3) By reading further, we know that Abraham had every intention of carrying out God’s command. In verse 9, we learn that “When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son.” (Genesis 22:9) Fortunately for Abraham, the act of being willing to sacrifice everything for God was enough to please Him. God sent an angel to intercede and to tell Abraham not to kill Isaac. (paraphrased from Genesis 22:11-12)

     Abraham was willing to give up the one thing he loved most in the world in order to please God. Despite the gut-wrenching pain he must have been feeling, he was still obedient. Could you do that? Could you sacrifice your child if it meant showing God your complete and utter faithfulness to Him? If you don’t have children, how about your husband or wife? Or your best friend? I gotta be honest. For me the answer is no. I’m sure the answer is no for pretty much everyone. But does that mean I don’t love God if I’m not willing to do whatever it takes to please Him?

     We Christians are obedient to God to a certain point. We give of our time, our talents and our money. We pray and we ask God to use us as a means of glorifying Him on the earth. When bad things happen, we try not to blame God, but rather lean on Him in love and support. We pat ourselves on the back for being “such good Christians”. But when the time comes to truly be tested, we back away. God can’t really be serious, right? He wouldn’t really ask me to give up (insert awesome thing here), right? Clearly there must be another way…right?

     Here’s the good news, friends: we don’t have to sacrifice our loved ones in order to show obedience and faithfulness to God. You know why? Because God has done that which NONE of us is willing to do. God sacrificed His only Son so that we could have eternal life. Jesus was our ultimate gift. He came from Heaven to Earth in order to teach us about God and His love, to model for us the way God would have us live, and ultimately to pay for our sins upon the cross. Just think about that for a minute. Let that sink in. We would never in a million years be willing to sacrifice our children, but God did. And by doing so He saved us all. Is there any greater news in our world than this?

     Does this mean that God will never test us or ask us to give up worldly goods? Absolutely not. We will all have times in our lives where God will ask much of us, perhaps more than we feel we can handle. He will take things away. He will expect a lot from us. And it won’t feel good. But these are the times when we must lean into God. By sacrificing worldly goods, we realize how much we truly rely on God for everything we are and everything we have. And by taking the focus away from the here and now, we see the everlasting. We see how our lives can have a positive impact on the world. We see God.

     I lost my child for ten minutes and felt like I was dead. Abraham tied his son to a bundle of wood and probably felt the life draining from himself as he held the knife up to kill him. These things both pale in comparison to what God actually followed through with doing for us. He really did sacrifice his child, knowingly and willingly. Kinda makes you wanna rethink how you repay Him each day, huh?

     I’m so thankful that I don’t need to make that ultimate sacrifice for God. I’m thankful that there is nothing I can do to make Him love me any more or any less. And I am incredibly thankful for the gift of Jesus. I know that the next time I am asked to sacrifice, it won’t be easy. But I also know I won’t have to do it alone.

     Now I’m gonna go hug my kid and play whatever she wants to play.

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A Sacred Heart in a Secular World: Becoming a Reflection of Jesus

I want so much to take them aside and say, “Can I please pray for you? Let’s pray together.” But I can’t do that. So how, then, does one go about exhuding Christian values when you work in a place that says Christian values are inappropriate?

They walked in bright and early at 8:15 am on Wednesday morning. Braids and faux-hawks. Elsa dresses and Captain America shirts. Light-up sneakers and Velcro shoes. All smiles and a thousand things to say.

The kindergarteners had arrived for their music time.

We spent a glorious half hour together playing instruments, singing and dancing around the room, and playing with our stuffed animal friend Berlioz the Bear (pronounced BEAR-lee-ohz. He’s named after the famous composer). When I walked to my classroom after bringing them back to their teacher at the end of music, I smiled and remembered why I do this in the first place. The happiness that making music brought to those children – and honestly, the happiness they brought to me by sharing in their joy and wonder – was exactly what I needed to get back into the swing of life at school.

I teach at a VERY small school and we have PreK-12 all in one building. (I know, mind blowing, right?) This means I get to teach everybody! So later in the day I had the seventh grade class for music. This is a really fun age level to teach. No no, hear me out! I know it’s middle school, but I’m not crazy! They are witty, smart, and so so SO funny! They make me laugh every single time I have them in class.

Since this is their last year of general music class, I always base my curriculum around teaching the seventh graders to play acoustic guitar. They love it. Fun, engaging, keeps them occupied and too busy to misbehave! This week we have been working on the basics – holding the guitar, strumming patterns and some simple chords. On Friday I passed around the first song that the class would be learning called “Down in the Valley”. It’s an old folk song that is simple and repetitive, and only requires two guitar chords to play. Some of the lyrics include these words: “Roses love sunshine, violets love dew, angels in heaven know I love you.” Upon reading these words, one of my boys said, “Mrs. LaPointe, are you sure this is an okay song for us to be singing in school?” I replied, “What do you mean?” His response: “Well, it’s an awfully Christian song, isn’t it? I mean, we’re singing about angels! I thought we weren’t supposed to talk about God in school?”

Okay…think before you speak here, Sabrina. Many impressionable minds are awaiting your response. They will all go back home and tell their parents exactly what you said-and one of those parents just happens to be on the school board!

I weighed my options for a second, then said, “We can definitely sing about angels. We are blessed to live in a community that supports learning of all types, including music. If singing a song that includes lyrics about ‘angels in heaven’ will help you become a better guitar player, then I am doing my job.” The boy nodded his head and went on as if nothing had happened.

I lament the lack of Christianity in our schools today (heck, the whole world), and I continue to pray for God’s intercession for this. However, I kind of doubt that I will walk into our next faculty meeting and our superintenent will say, “Hey guys, we were just kidding around with the whole ‘separation of church and state’ thing. Now get out there and get those kids reading and reciting Scripture! Team Jesus!”(Although…wouldn’t that be awesome? I’d totally pay to see that.) As I have gone on in my teaching career, I have been witness to countless heartbreaking situations involving the home lives of my students. How I wish I could do something more to help them. I feel especially drawn to the teenage girls in this respect. I am blessed that many of them feel comfortable enough to confide in me when they are having problems. I want so much to take them aside and say, “Can I please pray for you? Let’s pray together.” But I can’t do that. So how, then, does one go about exhuding Christian values when you work in a place that says Christian values are inappropriate?

As Christians we are called to evangelize and spread the good news of Christ throughout the world. In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, he reminds them (and us) of this expectation. He writes, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21) Now, I can’t stand up on one of the cafeteria tables and testify about the amazing miracle that is Christ Jesus. I can’t be the advisor for a Campus Crusade for Christ group. I can’t have a “come to Jesus” meeting with my Chorus students. However, I can choose to be a reflection of Jesus through my actions and interactions with each class and each student that I teach.

Some might say that by doing this I’m just trying to be a good person, and not truly being a relfection of Jesus. I don’t think that’s true. Of course I want to be a good person! Doesn’t everyone? But I know plenty of “good people” who don’t know Jesus! It needs to be taken a step further and seen from a Christian perspective. From Jesus’ perspective, really.

When I treat my students with dignity and respect, I am reflecting Jesus in His interaction with the blind man, Bartimaeus. Instead of casting Bartimaeus aside, as so many others had done, Jesus calls him over and essentially asks Bartimaeus, “How can I serve you?” He then heals the man of his blindness, saying before the crowd, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” (Mark 10:46-52)

When I guide my students through a conversation about inappropriate choices or behaviors, I am reflecting Jesus in His treatment of The Adulterous Woman. When all of the men were ready to stone her for her actions, Jesus instead rebukes the men, saying, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” After saving her life, Jesus (most importantly) forgives the woman of her sin, but at the same time cautions her to “sin no more”. (John 8:1-11)

When I show patience towards my students who are disrespectful or consistently act out, I am reflecting Jesus in His conversation with the apostle Philip. Despite having been following Jesus for a considerable amount of time, Philip displays doubtfulness by saying, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” While Jesus does seem a bit exasperated by this lack of faith on Philip’s part, He exhibits extreme patience and restraint. Jesus tells him, “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.” Jesus then goes on to make amazing promises to Philip, despite his lack of trust, by saying, “Truly, truly I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:1-14)

It’s true that I can’t overtly share my Christian faith with my students. I pray that Jesus will soon come back and show this world how much we truly need Him in all aspects of our lives. In the meantime, I will work to be the best reflection of Jesus that I can each day. I am by no means any less ignorant of my myriad blessings, any less broken, any less of a sinner just because I am trying to be more Christ-like. But if my students can see a bit of the sacred heart of Jesus in their secular world every time they walk in my classroom, I will consider it a job well done.

~Sabrina

 

 

 

Too Tired for Church

When we gather together to worship, miraculous things happen. Prayers are requested and offered. Testimonies are professed. Gospel truths are proclaimed. Illnesses and pain are healed. The body and blood of Christ are shared. And in the midst of this, God is glorified.

Most Sundays I wake up and think, “I’m too tired to go to church today.”

My alarm goes off at 5:30 am during the work week. By the time I get up, get ready, and drive 45 minutes to the school where I teach, it’s now almost 8:00 am. I power through my day (fueled by several cups of coffee), drive home, then switch back to “mommy mode” for the rest of the evening. It’s what most working people have to do to to get the bills paid, I know. And I also know that there are people out there who work several jobs to make ends meet. I don’t have to do that. Blessed, for sure.

Still though, by the time the weekend rolls around, I just wanna crash. We’re up and at it again for 8:00 am soccer practice on Saturdays, along with catching up on housework and shopping for groceries (aka the bain of my existence). Since I am a music teacher, I often have Saturday work commitments with my middle and high school students. Most Saturdays we try to squeeze in a family outing, or at least a movie snuggled up together on the bed.

Sunday is literally the only day of the week that I could sleep in. And most Sundays, that’s the first thing on my mind when the alarm goes off. “I’m too tired to go to church today…I’ve had such a long week…God won’t care if I miss this week, right?” Sleeping in. So. Darn. Tempting.

The reasons that initially kept me going back to church each week were selfish ones. I joined the choir and I often got solos. There were many young families at our church with children around the same age as my daughter, and the kids would sit together in the pews and leave us parents alone (hallelujah!). A semi-monthly gathering of female parishoners called Women at the Well brought the promise of a child-free evening with delicious food – and wine! Church was shaping up to be a pretty fun place to be!

Slight problem, though. None of that has anything to do with Jesus. Oops.

So what should be our reason for wanting to attend church every week? Worship, of course. Our first and foremost job as Christians is to worship and love God. But can’t we just do that from home in our pajamas with a cup of coffee? Why do we have to physically attend church services when there are a million online bibles to peruse and prayer groups to join?

Jesus specifically calls us to gather together in a body of worship. In Matthew 18:20, Jesus says, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Jesus’ disciples echoed this call. In the book of Acts, Luke writes, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-47)

When we gather together to worship, miraculous things happen. Prayers are requested and offered. Testimonies are professed. Gospel truths are proclaimed. Illnesses and pain are healed. The body and blood of Christ are shared. And in the midst of this, God is glorified. Yes, I could stay home and “get my church on” with Joel Osteen, but I would be missing an incredibly crucial and integral part of Jesus’ teaching – worshiping God in one body. If I’m not doing that, am I really worshiping the one true God?

Our call to worship God is followed closely by a call to serve others and to make disciples in His name. Easier said than done, right? I’m more than happy to serve others. I’m a mom and a teacher, so it’s sort of ingrained in my DNA.The disciple-making part? That scares the dickens outta me. Ever heard the opening song to the musical “The Book of Mormon”? That’s enough to scare someone of any denomination away from trying to make disciples. It’s a work in progress for me, and I often pray for guidance, courage and faith in order to take even the first step. But here’s what I know for certain: you can’t attempt this part of the call alone. You can’t serve others from your couch, and you sure as heck can’t make disciples by sitting around watching TV. Gathering together in fellowship with others is the only guaranteed way to be able to serve and to evangelize.

I am so blessed by my church family. God placed me in a church that has given me the chance to learn and grow as a Christian. He has given me some amazing friends who understand what it’s like to try and navigate this crazy world with a clear head and a Christian heart. He has given me my best friend, a woman who is caring and kind, and has taught me how to speak the truth in love. He’s given me all that, AND he gave me Jesus! Wow. That’s pretty mind-blowing.

And you know what? I wouldn’t have any of that if I slept in.

~Sabrina

 

 

 

 

 

Am I still a good Christian if I liked “Bad Moms”?

It would be really easy for us to say “I’m an adult! I can watch/read/do whatever I want!” True statement, at least by society’s standards. But if we claim to be Christians, lovers of Jesus and followers of His word, this is in fact NOT true.

I recently went with a group of girlfriends to see the movie “Bad Moms”. It stars Mila Kunis and Kristen Bell, and it’s about a group of thirty-something women who are sick of the pressure put on today’s moms to have everything together and be perfect. Throughout the movie, the ladies engage in a series of stereotype-busting adventures and eventually come to the realization that none of us really have our lives completely together.

The opening scene shows Mila Kunis in a typical “mom morning routine” – getting the kids up and ready, slapping together PB&Js, giving her husband a quick peck on the cheek before rushing out the door to bring the kids to school. She spills her coffee on her blouse as she tries to put mascara on in the car. She yells reminders and a quick “I love you” out the window at the kids as they walk in to school. Meanwhile, the PTA moms (played by Jada Pinkett Smith and the fabulous Christina Applegate) look on in judgment, sipping their lattes and smirking. When she finally gets to work (late, again), she has missed the morning meeting and is again judged by all of her just-out-of-college coworkers, none of whom have kids yet.

Oh man. PREACH, Mila. Been there, girl. I completely identified with this scene. I sat in my seat, eating way too much popcorn, thinking about how this movie has totally got it right. The writers really understand today’s moms! It’s like they made this movie about me!

But then…the sex conversation happened.

Later on in “Bad Moms”, Mila’s character, Amy, has a conversation with two other moms, Kiki and Carla (Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn). Carla explains to the girls, in graphic detail, what it’s like to have sex with an uncircumcised man. She uses Kiki’s hoodie sweatshirt as a visual aid and gives specific instructions on what to do.

Yikes.

I squirmed in my seat. I looked around at my girlfriends, but in the dark I couldn’t really see their reactions. I suddenly became very interested in my popcorn.

Why? I’ve never considered myself a prude. I’ve seen movies and TV shows with scenes that were much more gratuitous than what was currently on the screen. So why was I suddenly so uncomfortable? I think the reason is because I was ashamed. I am a Christian. A Christian, people! A child of God! GOOD Christians don’t go see “Bad Moms”…right? Jesus is totally disowning me right now. God is turning His face away. Where’s my cat o’ nine tails? I need to run to confession, I’m going straight to hell!

Okay, perhaps that was a bit dramatic.

But I knew. I knew what I was getting myself into before I went. I knew the movie was rated R. I’d seen the poster with the tagline – “Party like a mother”. I had a good idea of what kind of movie this was going to be. But I still chose to buy the ticket and sit in the seat. I knew. And I did it anyway.

What confused me further was that a movie that was full of curse words, excessive drinking and sexual innuendo was also a movie that I thought was really funny. Hysterical, even! I identified with parts of this movie, and could see my life reflected back to me from the screen – blasphemy! What is going on already?

My struggle was with discernment. I had trouble categorizing this movie as “good” or “bad” in my brain because it fit both categories, at least in a way. How do we stay good Christians in this world without locking ourselves up in our houses and channeling our inner Little Edie? (That’s a “Grey Gardens” reference, folks. Look it up.)

Psalm 119:66 says “Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments.” The word that stands out to me here is “commandments”. We all know the Ten Commandments. You could probably recite them in order in your sleep. It’s one of the first things we are taught in Sunday school (or church school or CCD or whatever you happen to call it). The tenth commandment is “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:17) But wait – am I breaking this commandment just by watching a silly movie?

No. And yes.

It would be really easy for us to say “I’m an adult! I can watch/read/do whatever I want!” True statement, at least by society’s standards. But if we claim to be Christians, lovers of Jesus and followers of His word, this is in fact NOT true. God does not want us to defile ourselves in thought, word or deed. Yes, we are adults, but we are also God’s children. If you’re rolling your eyes at this point, think about it – God feels about us the same way that we feel about our own children. He wants to keep us safe and protected. He loves us more than we can ever begin to know or understand. But in our human brokenness, we make choices that He would not want for us, in much the same way that our teenage or adult children may make choices that we would not make or would not agree with. This is where discernment comes in.

Discernment is defined as “the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discernment). Discernment is that little voice inside your head that says, “Really? You’re really gonna go ahead with this?” It’s also the voice that says “Atta girl! You’re doing the right thing!” It’s your conscience. Your Jiminy Cricket. But it’s more than that. It’s also your deciding factor in whether a choice you made will be made again. Whether you will have that second or third glass of wine. Whether you will continue to gossip about your coworker. Whether you will watch another movie full of swearing and conversations about sex. Discernment is thinking biblically.

There were parts of “Bad Moms” that made me incredibly uncomfortable. But I took a valuable lesson away from it as well. We women are not defined by any one role – not by being moms, or wives, or girlfriends, or whatever we are. We do not need to be pigeonholed into one defining characteristic. We need to lift each other up instead of tearing each other down. I love that. I’m grateful for that message. I want to see it out there more in the world. The drinking? The hookups? The laid-back attitude towards relationships? Not so much. That’s what I have discerned. Maybe my girlfriends got something else out of it. We should chat about that. But in the end, a “bad” movie about “bad” moms doing “bad” things still left me with a “good” message. And I think that was what the plan was all along.

~Sabrina

For more information about discernment, here are some good resources:

What is Biblical Discernment?

Discernment – Thinking God’s Thoughts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you mean I have to “submit” to my husband?

When we wives “submit” to our husbands, we are really taking the spotlight off of ourselves and instead making the pool of light larger to include them, too.

It’s a gorgeous late August afternoon here in Upstate New York.

Earlier today I was sitting in the warm, comforting sun on the porch, bible and water bottle in hand, reading and watching my daughter play in the sprinkler in the driveway. The dog was running around, looking for frisbees or rocks to bring to me for the never-ending game of catch she always wants to play – and getting completely soaked by the sprinkler in the process. The neighborhood was quiet, with only the birds chattering and the occasional car slowly sauntering by. Everything just felt peaceful, calm, happy…pretty much perfect. I was very much aware of my earthly blessings in that moment. Why isn’t it always that easy to see all that the Lord has given us? Sigh.

Even in that blissful, seemingly perfect summer scene, I still found myself worrying. School starts in less than one week! Being a teacher, I am blessed to have summers to myself to spend with my daughter (although I do have a small three-week job that brings in some money so we can actually still eat at the end of the summer). One of the greatest things about that time off is being able to keep up with the housework. No stress about getting laundry done, plenty of time to get dinner made, time enough even to sit on the porch and read my bible! But once school starts, all that changes. I leave the house at 7:00 am and most days don’t get home until 5:00 pm. I teach private voice lessons two nights a week, which run until 8:00. I drive my daughter to soccer practice and violin lessons. I’m also active in some weekly church activities. Laundry, dinner, dishes? Totally not fitting into that equation.

But I’m not so much worried about getting all that done (see my previous post about overcoming Wonder Woman syndrome). I’m concerned over where all of this busyness leaves my sweet husband, Anthony. I am blessed with an amazing, selfless, kind, funny, handsome, God-fearing man for a husband. He works incredibly hard and spends as much quality time with us as he can. Another blessing from God that I don’t always appreciate. It’s my job as his wife to make his home comfortable for him. To give him a place of refuge after a long, hectic day at work. But hang on, wait a minute…didn’t I just work all day, too? Don’t I need a place of refuge as well? What about my fatigue, anxiety and stress? Here’s where we working Christian wives need to turn to Scripture.

Ephesians 5:22-24 tells us, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”

“Umm…what? SUBMIT to my husband? I’m a modern woman, I can take care of myself! I don’t need him to control my life!” That’s what you were just thinking, correct? You’re right, in a way. Today’s women have so much more control over their lives and decisions than the women of the bible ever did,  more so than women did even 20 years ago! And while yes, Paul’s letter to the Ephesians was written a VERY long time ago (around A.D. 62), we need to remember that it still has application and meaning today. No ladies, you do not need to “submit” to your husbands, at least in that sense. This isn’t the Stone Age and you don’t need to get dragged around by the hair…especially since your hair looks so cute today!!! What you do need to do is think of his needs being just as important, maybe even more important, than your own. When we wives “submit” to our husbands, we are really taking the spotlight off of ourselves and instead making the pool of light larger to include them, too. This is a partnership, after all. Isn’t that a big reason why you married him in the first place? You pictured yourself being able to spend the rest of your life with this person, building a home, a family, a life. Together.

Of course, this goes both ways. Further on in Paul’s letter, he states, “In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.” (Ephesians 5:28-30) So it’s a two-way street! Your husband should be ready to “submit” to you when necessary, and put you first as well.

Usually the first week back to school is an exhausting one for me. There will be lots of chaos. The house will be a mess. There will be numerous takeout dinners. But instead of complaining, I know that Anthony will take it all in stride, knowing how much I have on my plate. He’ll pick up the pizza on the way home and throw in some laundry when he gets there. And when Anthony has a board meeting, a vestry meeting and a warden’s meeting all in one week, on top of working probably about 55-60 hours, and he’s not home before 9:00 four out of five days that week, I will make sure he has a hot meal waiting for him, that the house is at least partially picked up, and that he can just come home, kick off his shoes and chill. That’s my way of submitting to my husband. It’s not so bad after all. At least he’s not dragging me around the house by the hair.

~Sabrina

 

Wonder Woman: “Me-Centered” vs. “God-Centered”

When I think “How am I going to get all this done?”, it places the pressure on ME to deliver the goods. I don’t know about you, but that plan hasn’t really worked out too well for me up to this point.

I am so so SO excited to launch my new website! Song of Hannah was born out of much prayer and the desire to do something tangible to glorify God. It’s my hope that you will find it to be a blessing and a way to draw yourself closer to Him and to Scripture.

Now let me be clear: I am not a priest. I didn’t go to seminary. I don’t profess to be a biblical scholar or a theologian. Heck, I don’t even have my life put together most days! What I am is a Christian woman/mom/wife/teacher trying to keep my focus on God throughout my daily life.

That’s hard, right? We’re all too busy rushing off to work, schlepping the kids all over the place, or (gasp!) mindlessly scrolling Facebook to make God a priority. But here’s the thing: we can find a way to focus on God at any given time of the day. At your desk at work. Strolling the freezer section. In the stands at the football game. Waiting in the drive thru line at Starbucks while the kids are arguing in the back seat (yup, even then).

Believe me, this doesn’t mean slapping on your “What Would Jesus Do?” bracelet and calling it a day. (If you currently own a WWJD bracelet, perhaps you should reconsider that decision. Just saying.) It means a shift in focus. A shift from “me-centered” life to “God-centered” life. How do we do this? Well, for me it has been a shift in attitude. When I think “How am I going to get all this done?”, it places the pressure on ME to deliver the goods. I don’t know about you, but that plan hasn’t really worked out too well for me up to this point. When it’s up to me, and only me, the dishes are still in the sink, the laundry is still piled up, the lesson plans accidentally got left at school and my daughter is on Day Four without a bath. Great work, Wonder Woman!  Could you let God handle things now, please?

If you think about it, that “me-centered” attitude is pretty darn disrespectful to Him! “Yeah, thanks anyway Lord, but I got this. You can sit this one out.” …REALLY? But it’s what we all do. Every day. When we leave God out of the equation, we assume we know better. And guess what? We don’t. We really, really don’t.

So next time you are feeling overwhelmed by the 8.5 million things on today’s to-do list…stop. Breathe. Pray. Breathe again. And take one step. Just one. I promise you, God has got things under control. Isn’t it nice to have the pressure taken off?

Now go be awesome. Be the best you can be today. Be Wonder Woman! Just remember that you’re not the super hero. In this equation, you’re the sidekick.

~Sabrina