Poop, Potty and Perseverance

The blog was on a hold due to some pressing matters… poop, potty and perseverance. My daughter tuned two in September. Prior to her birthday, I spent time gearing up in learning how to potty train. I bought two books and powered through each chapter thinking, “my kids got this”. Day six, and I told my husband, “I want to ram my head into the wall”. My lack of patience took over any hope for perseverance.

As I started to back off my intensity of training, teaching and telling my daughter how GREAT the potty is, I noticed a change. Particularly in me. I noticed how before I lacked any peace because I wanted to avoid the suffering part. This is what I learned, not just about how scary poop is to a toddler, but more about perseverance and how there needs to be suffering to get to hope.

Fear of Suffering

Touchy subject because this is not fun, light, encouraging or something we look forward to. Yet, it’s inevitable, part of life and present in our lives at times. Witnessing my daughter be scared of the potty, refusing to use it because of the unknowns, shocked me. I kept thinking, if only she knew how much BETTER it will be once she uses it then the fear will leave. Then I thought, how hypocritical I am to say that. My husband and I are too facing unknowns as we plan to change jobs, cities and re-schedule our lives. Many times I look to God in fear. Assuming I know better in my comfort than He knows in my future. Its no different than my daughter crying out for her diaper, because its all she knows – that’s her comfort zone.

However, now she is confident in her ability to use the potty. I witnessed her growth in a short time period due to her perseverance through suffering. I too must face my fear to persevere. Even when it feels outside of my comfort zone.

Joy of Persevering

Without suffering there is no training in perseverance. Once we train in perseverance we grow more hopeful in Christ. I am hopeful in Christ because He saved me from death itself. I am joyful in my suffering because I grow closer to the suffering of Christ. Who sacrificed His life, died and rose again to save me, a sinner. That hope, resurrection and redemption lives in all of us who believe in Him. There is no greater hope than Jesus Christ. He is where the joy is.

Hope of Persevering

In times of suffering we need to visualize our minds and hearts onto Jesus so we don’t quit. The time frame is irrelevant because our hope is not found on earth, its in heaven.

My hope of my daughter using the potty was set on “day 3” of training… a little TOO ambitious and unrealistic of a goal. But I really wanted perfection not mere progress. How unfair of an expectation to assume of my child. I’m so glad that God, our heavenly father, is more interested in our spiritual growth as progress and not perfection. In some sense *figuratively speaking of course* I’m still potty training in many aspects of life. To step out of our comfort zone is the beginning of growth.

I’ve heard of faith like a muscle – use it or lose it. So whatever we face now is an opportunity to grow our faith muscles. Growing in likeness of Jesus, the original trail blazer.

My daughter will forget these weeks – but doesn’t mean she won’t face it again in other areas of her life. If I want her to persevere in life as a kid, teen and adult – I need to train her up in knowing who suffered to save her, Jesus, our only path to hope.

Perseverance looks like Jesus

We all face unique situations a part from each other. But where we come together in unity is through our knowledge and love for Christ. Our hope found in Him. This is how we encourage one another through suffering. Hope in Christ.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:1-8

God is Merciful

God is merciful – saving us even when we least expect it or don’t expect it at all. How quick we are to forget the blessings of God or ignore God’s hand over our lives when we fear our circumstance.

In Egypt, Pharaoh finally set the Israelites free from slavery due to the power and mercy of God through Moses and the ten plagues. They left Egypt to pursue their freedom. Upon their journey God shared with Moses His plan to rescue them once again. The Lord told Moses to lead the people of Israel through the wilderness to reach the sea. As their pursuit for freedom was not finished. Pharaoh and his hosts are coming after them. However, the Lord assured Moses that He would win over Pharaoh.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’  And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” And they did so.

Exodus 14:1-4

In this passage we see God sharing His plan with Moses. The Egyptians are on their way to pursue and bring back the Israelites as slaves. But the Lord will have glory over Pharaoh and save the Israelites. This is all the information we get. No details as to how God will save them at the sea, just that He will. This is when I think of times when God gives me a plan without much detail. I know I have to trust Him anyway. But the Israelites were scared and lacked any trust! Once they saw the masses of angry Egyptians on their trail they trembled in fear. I would too if I was led through the wilderness and to the sea without a Noah-built-size-arc waiting for me.

The Israelites’ circumstantial fear trump their fear in the Lord.

The Israelites cried out to God and to Moses. They said, “is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? (Exodus 14:11)”. The Israelites’ fear in their circumstance overshadowed their fear in the Lord. Even though the Lord said He will get glory over Pharaoh. The Israelites are viewing their circumstances without reference to the fact that the Lord brought them there.

Trust in God for He is merciful to see His plans through.

God rarely gives us details of how His plans will unfold. But that doesn’t mean we stop trusting Him. The Israelites had proof already of God saving them through the signs and wonders that brought them out of Egypt. Yet, they chose to ignore those signs and feared their current circumstance instead. They were given plenty of good reasons to believe God would save them. How quick we are to forget the blessing we’ve already received.

Crossing the Red Sea – How God Saved the Israelites.

In the next few verses to follow, Exodus 14: 15-18, the Lord again reassures the Israelites. He repeats to them that He will get glory over Pharaoh, “and the Egyptians shall know that I am Lord“. The rest of chapter 14 explains the miraculous power of God controlling the red sea by splitting it half. So the Israelites have dry ground on the sea bed floor to walk through. The lord then closes the sea once all the Egyptians have entered, sweeping them up, not one remained. Then in Exodus chapter 15 the Israelites sing a song to the Lord in praise and worship! They have been saved and finally set free!

God is Merciful

God shares His plans but leaves out the details – not to harm us but to protect us. We learned about the Israelites’ fear in their circumstances and not in the Lord. I want to be more fearful of the Lord that my first response is to thank God for His plans not to doubt Him because of my circumstances. Through all the fear and doubt swarming over the Israelites, God’s plan to save them still prevails. He rescues them by parting the Red Sea and destroying their enemy. God is merciful. His ways are higher than our ways, His thoughts higher than our thoughts, and His plans higher than our plans! We just need to trust Him.

 Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord, saying,
“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
    the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my song,
    and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
    my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

Exodus 15:1-2

Happy Father’s Day!

To my husband, you’re one amazing father/man and I’m glad in life its not “I”, but it’s “we”. Happy Father’s Day!

To my father and all the other dads out there! Especially when we couldn’t believe in ourselves, you were there to believe in us, for us!

Rock Climbing
Harnessed in, fitted boots, up on a wall,
The goal of this venture is not to fall,
Cannot feel my toes. The shoes are too tight,
This is one area I just can’t fight…
Its supposed to hurt – they will gladly say,
Not the words I wanted to hear today…
Trying to mimic a pretzel like fold,
My legs and arms shaking on the first hold!
Why is this fun, is it enjoyable?
I will quit! but that’s unavoidable…
So I will try again to reach the top,
Only to tremble in thought of the drop,
Argh! I must prove I can achieve my best!
Which means putting my doubt aside to rest…
Forgetting the pain, and height and the drop,
I forge forward knowing one day it’ll stop,
Oh I’m close! I can taste it in the air!
Thank-you, you thank, my belayer down there,
You gave me guidance and strength to do it,
Scared, yet you assured me I could do it!

First Love

Ephesus separates deeds from love: Revelation 2:1-5

To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

Revelation 2:1-5

The book of Revelation

Revelation is a hard book in itself to explain as there are many symbols to unpack. For example, in this passage the word “lampstands” refers to a Christian church. The author of this book is the Apostle John who receives a very symbolic vision from Jesus. In this vision Jesus warns 7 different churches. I want to highlight his first warning to the church of Ephesus.

The warning to the church of Ephesus

Jesus commends the church of Ephesus on their good deeds, perseverance, work ethic and endurance. Yet, in verse four, His warning is that they’ve abandoned their love they once had for Christ. The kind of love Jesus refers to is the Greek word, Agape. Agape is the meaning of the highest form of love; love for God and his Son (Jesus), for Gods people, each other and even enemies. Jesus then tells the church to repent because they cannot have good deeds without love (agape).

Good deeds and love must work together – you cannot have one without the other

In writing this I find myself relating to the church in Ephesus. I could easily be writing, and recording from selfish reasons, treating it as a good deed or a task to check off the list. Doing “good deeds” will have a positive effect on peoples lives regardless of motives, but to what end? I want my writing to flow from a place of love for God, so people can experience His love through it. Let’s face it, I ain’t much of a writer, but I am a lover of Jesus. I am devoted to writing because it keeps me accountable to learning God’s word. This increased knowledge of Him returns in me loving Him more!

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

2 Peter 3:18

Good deeds are a natural outpouring from your love of Christ

Just like the Ephesus church we can take our first love for granted. We are all guilty of sin and we tend to judge ourselves and each other about how ‘good’ we appear. But only God knows man’s heart (Proverbs 21:2). Good deeds don’t earn us eternal life, Jesus paid for our sins on the cross. His blood for our sins. I thank God that my faith is not based upon what I can do but based on what Christ has already done. I have a freedom in him despite my sin and imperfections. Staying true to learning Gods word will help us refocus our hearts back to that first love.

Remember who He is in you, reflect on the cross, repent of your sin, and love Him first because He first loved us.

We love because he first loved us

1 John 4:19