writing for children

Loving our Neighbors

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I saw this on the pavement yesterday leaving Food Lion.

I stopped and stared, then took a pic. I’ve been thinking about it since then. That singular face mask represents so much to me and yet it’s too much for me to unpack. So here is just a little of what’s swirling in my brain…

I was there buying groceries that we needed…but not toilet paper. Why? I didn’t need any because my mama had shared some with us. A act of kindness and love that has continued to bless us in more ways than I can say. Toilet paper…something simple that I take for granted on a daily basis.

But there is nothing simple about what our world is going through right now. The impact on families (physical, financial, spiritual) weighs heavily on my heart. I hurt for the world knowing the damage that has already been done. People have died and are dying. Families have had their jobs cut until further notice. They can’t just “run to the store” for a few things…and even if they do, the shelves are mostly bare.

And yet I see some people making fun of others who are fearful. Why? Why do we, as a society, attack those who are already feeling vulnerable? (I have more to say on that, but that’s a post for another day!) Many who make fun of those who are struggling with fear are the ones who act as if they are invincible. To do so is foolish. It doesn’t matter what age you are, disease is not a respecter of persons.

This is clearly not a situation to be treated flippantly.

And still…in the midst of the craziness around us…I have hope and faith that there will be “joy in the morning”. That we will have a greater sense of brotherhood and community, reaching out to help our neighbor…and that we will understand that everyone is our neighbor. I hold onto the hope that there will be healing and gratefulness for our jobs, families, and food on the tables. That we will appreciate the “mundane” side of life and understand that it is a luxury…and that we will “love our neighbors as ourselves”.

Through it all, I have to trust that God can bring beauty from the ashes…and He will. And as we wait, I pray that we share hope and walk in love. And yes, that might even come in the form of sharing our rolls of toilet paper. (Thank you, Mama…we love you!)

writing for children

Risky Business: The Currency of Love

Jan 9, 2020.

“We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” – 1 John 4:19-22

As a follower of Christ, Love is supposed to be my currency. Loving God and others should be THE most important thing I do — but it will also be the hardest thing that I do. If it was easy, there wouldn’t be so many scriptures and sermons about it, would there? We don’t hear sermons on breathing. It’s just assumed that we’ll do it naturally. But loving as God loves us? Putting others above ourselves? Even climbing a mountain might seem easier on some days.

Loving our fellow humans carries an inherent element of risk. It leaves us open for hurt. It leaves us open for rejection. Most people have an innate ability to love themselves, so why is it so hard to love others?

C.S. Lewis has this to say about it, ““To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Have you ever ridden a water-ride at an amusement park on a really hot day? I have – many times. And each time, I got drenched… sopping wet. Did I go hide in the car so no one could see me? Of course not. I kept walking around the park. And yes, water dripped from my hair and clothes, leaving evidence of my adventure wherever I walked or sat. Every once in a while, one of my kids would hug me.. then they would be wet, too. If we make the decision to allow our hearts and lives to drenched in the Love of Jesus — and refuse to hide ourselves away — imagine the beautiful soaking of Love that would occur in the world around us!

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” — 1 John 4:7-12

writing for children

Do you Hate someone?

What I’m chewing on today: 1 John 4:11, 19-21


Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

***

I don’t think we all have to like each other or even agree with each other… but we have to love each other. And in this passage, we see that the opposite of loving someone is hating them. No in between. So what does it mean to hate others? What does that look like in our lives today?

Imagine a person you don’t like at all. Someone you vehemently disagree with morally, spiritually, and politically. Got them in mind? Now imagine that you’ve found them hurt and dying by the side of the road. Do you help them… or leave them to die?


About 2,000 years ago, that same scenario was addressed when an expert theologian asked Jesus an important question. He asked, “What must I do in order to inherit eternal life?”


Jesus didn’t give him a long list of things to do. He asked a question that fell well within theologian’s circle of knowledge. “What is written in the Law?” Jesus asked. “How do you read it?”


The guy, probably feeling pretty good about himself and his understanding of scripture replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”


“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

So… Jesus affirmed that the theologian had the right answer. But at that moment, the man had questions. Perhaps his mind filled with images of the people in his life that he did not love as he loved himself. People he considered dirty. People that he didn’t even consider people. In his heart, they weren’t worthy of love from him…and certainly not love from God. So this happened…


“But the man wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?””


As always, Jesus knew the subtext of the man’s question. He knew the fella’s internal struggle.


In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” Jesus asked.


The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

**
I can imagine the theologian sighing and wish he hadn’t asked the question. But he did… and now we have the answer, too.


Are we willing to leave our “enemy” by the side of the road? Or are we willing to “go and do likewise” by choosing love and mercy over hate? How do we love in daily situations that don’t involve “road side” emergencies? What does that look like?


I think the answer can be found in I Corinthians 13: 4-7. But it’s also hard a hard pill to swallow. So I’m just gonna leave this right here… and chew on it a little more.


“Love is large and incredibly patient.Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter,for it never stops believing the best for others.Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.” (The Passion Translation)

writing for children

Devotion: Is It Good for You to be so Angry?

In the last chapter of Jonah, the water-logged prophet is a wee bit upset. It isn’t, however, because of his staycaytion in the belly of a big fish. Nope. It was because God was merciful and compassionate to the people of Nineveh.

I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:2a-3)

See that last bit of that verse? Jonah was so bitter and resentful that he asked God to take his life. God’s response, in Jonah 4:4, was to ask…

“Is it good for you to be so angry?”

In Ephesians 4:26 we read, “When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down.”  

The truth is, anger is not a sin. But it can lead to sin if we allow it to take up residence in our hearts.

Jonah cared about his reputation. He cared about his health and comfort. But he did not care about the people around him. Why? He was too busy wallowing in resentment and anger because had God decided to bless and forgive someone that Jonah thought “unworthy”. Not only did he allow his arrogant anger to take up residence in his heart, he allowed it to pull up a throne and become king. He had become so comfortable being engulfed by it that he didn’t see the danger to himself and others. His callous and resentful attitude toward the lives of those in Nineveh became the hill he wanted to die on… literally. 

We can tell ourselves that we aren’t like Jonah. But how often have we allowed anger/exasperation/indignation to last longer than it should? How often have we held on to things that we should have given over to God? How often have we secretly wanted someone to “get what they deserved” — but then God forgives and blesses them, instead? What’s that about?

Well… it’s all about God’s mercy and grace. And like Jonah, we are sometimes blind to it. 

When the prophet pitched a hissy and ran from the Lord, he didn’t see the log in his own eye.

And we often do the same.  

But God forgave Jonah. He saved him. He gave him a second chance.

He does the same for us. 

So God’s question remains. “Is it good for you to be so angry?” 

Prayer: 

Lord, when we get angry, remind us of Jonah. Remind us to extend the same mercy and the same grace that we have received — and to kick anger out before it pulls up a throne and gets comfy. 

 

poetry Friday · writing for children

Poetry Friday and Madness Poetry

So I’m out of the Madness Poetry competition — I got knocked out in the second round. Thank you to everyone who voted for me and took the time to vote for others, as well! The poetry is still going strong, though, so head over today and vote for your favorite of the remaining matchups! https://madnesspoetry.com/matchups

***

Today, my kids made a pun when they thought someone said, “soul-er” powered instead of “solar” powered. It stuck with me… so I penned this little poem. Happy Poetry Friday!

CHOOSE CAREFULLY 
by Donna Earnhardt
The things we say can form friendships
and help build confidence.
Or we can choose words
that make other’s laugh —
at somebody else’s expense.
Words can be lovely and gracious —
or they can be salty and soured.
Just know that the words
you choose to use
are always “soul-er” powered.
writing for children

I put it in a song…

My kids always ask what I want for Christmas. I give them the SAME answer every time – so this year, I decided to put it into song. Note: you have to sing it to the tune of “I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”.

I Want a Clean and Happy House for Christmas
by Donna Earnhardt (me!)

I want a clean and happy house for Christmas
Only a clean and happy house will do
Clutter steals my joy – I lose my peace and poise
I need a clean and happy house that we can all enjoy

I want a clean and happy house for Christmas!
Instead it’s coated in a messy hue
The house needs a scrub – it’s long overdue!
We need a giant breakthrough – can we
get a cleaning crew?

I can see my house on Christmas morning –
No more muddled mess!
Oh what joy I will feel, if my dream gift is revealed
and see the clutter gone –
Poof!
No more stress!

I want a clean and happy house for Christmas
Only a clean and happy house will do
No dirty dishes! No piles of stinky clothes
I want a happy house that’s not offensive to my nose
And everyone who lives here wants that, too!

Let’s donate lots of stuff, we really have enough!
But then again – I must confess that letting go is tough

If only we could put this mess in a garage
or hide it all somehow, but man… I stink at camouflage!

I can see my house on Christmas morning –
No more muddled mess!
Oh what joy I will feel, if my dream gift is revealed
and see the clutter gone –
Poof! No more stress!

I want a clean and happy house for Christmas
Only a clean and happy house will do
No dirty dishes, not piles of stinky clothes
I want a happy house that’s not offensive to my nose
And everyone who visits wants that, too!

writing for children

To the Naysayers

My beautiful babies amaze me. They are all smart, intelligent, and creative young ladies, intent on chasing their dreams and using the gifts God has given them.

My mama and daddy always told my sister and me that we could do anything we set our minds to. They told us that God had given us gifts to use — and we needed to use them or lose them! They taught us not to listen to the naysayers… the people who shout, “You can’t do that!” and the negative Nellie’s who whisper, “That’s not possible.”

The poem below is meant to remind my daughters of the TRUTH of scripture that declares… “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me!”

My daughters are children of the King, the Lord Almighty. His Holy Spirit lives, breathes, and moves in them! They are loved beyond all measure and were created to do GREAT things. This poem is to remind them to remember these truths — no matter what other people and voices try to speak over them.

Huge thanks to my mom and dad for always teaching us who we are in Christ… and reminding us to NEVER give up.

*** *** ***

To the Naysayers
by Donna Earnhardt

Don’t tell me what a girl should do
or try to force your point of view
on me because I don’t know you
and frankly, you don’t have a clue-
you don’t know who
you’re talking to.
Don’t tell me what a girl should do.

Don’t tell me what my dreams should be.
They fill my idea-galaxy
with worlds of creativity-
so keep your negativity
a universe away from me.
Don’t tell me what my dreams should be.

Don’t underestimate my mind.
I’m different, yes, but still designed
the same as YOU – but not confined
to tired tropes that
make you blind
Don’t underestimate my mind.

Casey jumping

I am, indeed, a wunderkind–
Don’t underestimate my mind.
And just because you cannot see,
Don’t tell me what my dreams should be
I’m bigger than your narrow view…
Don’t tell me what a girl can do!

writing for children

Out of the Bubble…

old timeyI can finally sit in the chairs on our porch again —
there’s room!

I’m sure our neighbors are glad because it was a mess.
A giant mess, indeed. It was obvious to anyone who passed by that things had piled up on the porch and needed to be addressed.

I’d avoided cleaning it for months. But it was time. So…

I got things in order.
I swept and threw away trash.
And in the process, I even found some broken glass hidden under a box. (Thankfully, I wasn’t barefooted this time!)

It felt good to step out from behind the computer and get outside in the fresh (but cold!) air and sunshine. And it really felt good to have a more peaceful porch.

The process reminded me that there is more to my life than the warm, comfy bubble that you can find me snuggled in most days.

There is far more to this life that God has created for me.
But sometimes it feels like I don’t have room for it all.

I’m sure you see where I’m going with this. 

Bubbles are nice for keeping out the “bad” stuff. But they can also trap us in, forcing us to breathe stagnate air that is not good for our soul. Stepping out offers fresh air and sunshine… a new perspective on things. BUT…

stepping out of our bubbles is not for the faint of heart.

If we choose to do so, we might end up on the messy “porch” that we’ve been avoiding. We might find hidden, broken things that need to be cleaned up. Things that have piled up and need to be addressed.

Maybe the brokenness is a strained friendship.
Maybe the mess is a spiritual battle we’ve been avoiding.
Or maybe it’s a combination of things we can’t even name. Things that yell at us with belittling inner dialogue — dialogue that we have allowed to replace the beautiful life-giving Word that God has been singing to our hearts.

The truth is, we can choose to run back into the warm and cozy bubbles and keep avoiding the mess and brokenness.
But the mess won’t go away on its own. No…
it will keep piling up.

I’m gonna be real.
There is still plenty on my porch (literal and spiritual) that needs to be addressed.
But I can’t do it all at once.
And I can’t do it by myself.
God is working on my blessed mess — bit by bit.
And I know that in Him – there is no judgment — no fear. Only love.

So if you’ve got a “messy porch” in your life, you’re not alone. Come on over and pull up a chair. There’s always room for one more…

#loved
#thankful
#Godisgoodallthetime
#allthetimeGodisgood