Legacy

Good day readers! I hope that you all had wonderful Christmas and stand ready to accept God’s full blessings for you throughout this New Year! Yay 2016!

**Contains Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens spoilers**

As I am sure most of you know, a new Star Wars movie came about a few weeks ago, and I hope you got to/will get to see it because it was quite good. Except for that one part that was quite sad, I won’t say what that was because if you did not see the movie yet, I don’t want ruin the surprise (for lack of a better word.) Anyhoo…I enjoyed the movie, and find myself looking forward to Episode VIII, and how this new story develops, and hopefully getting to hear Luke say…something…anything really would be awesome. One thing that still concerns me however, is how Anakin’s legacy will be handled in this new story line, especially after reading that Hayden Christensen will possibly be in Episode VIII. I truly hope that his appearance will be less about Darth Vader and more about Anakin, and what he did to save himself, Luke, and galaxy; from the tight grip of evil.

In the new movie, a new evil has arisen, and is attempting to once again take over. Kylo Ren, who is Han and Leia’s son, is the new bad guy and vowed, while talking to Vader’s half melted mask, to finish what Grandpa Vader started. Two things bug me about this scene: first, listen here sonny Darth Vader is not your grandfather, Anakin Skywalker is. Second, where on God’s green Earth did he get that mask?! And third, what Vader started was brought to an end when Anakin came back, someone needs to finish what Anakin started, and leave Vader’s nonsense where it belongs in the past. Okay so that’s three things, but I can’t help it Anakin is my favorite. I know big surprise, right? : )

My favorite thing about the movie was seeing Anakin’s lightsaber again. And not just seeing it, but watching it being used by a good guy. This amazing weapon, that Anakin built himself, and was also used by Luke, found itself once again in the hands of good. While just a small part, his lightsaber was and is apart of his legacy. Something that was given to his son, something that connected Luke to this father, and instilled the confidence of a Jedi. While yes I know that it was not Anakin’s intention to leave his lightsaber behind. Protecting it from his bad turn, is what allowed it to get into Luke’s hands. What would have happened to it if he had kept it? Would it have been destroyed? Redesigned? Hidden away?

This got me thinking about the things that I may leave behind, things that will inspire, connect, or encourage. My stories, my pictures, the things that I write down, can all be used by those that come after me. Objects and mementos that could possibly help my kids, my grandkids, and beyond find themselves, and all the wonderful things that God has in store for their lives. And these things need to be made available to them, not hidden away, or redesigned, or even destroyed because of lack of perfection. Because an important aspect of legacies, is we don’t get to keep them, others do. The Bible says in Psalm 78:4, “We will not hide them from their children, but to tell the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and His might, and wonders He has done.” In 1 Corinthians 12:1, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed.”

So allow your gifts, your talents, your things, to be passed on. Allow them inspire, to encourage, and to connect. And like Anakin, they just might help you to rediscover a piece of yourself.

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Hope

The Thanksgiving season is upon us and in preparation for that I have been posting onto my Facebook page something that I am thankful for, and it is not always easy. There days when I really have to think hard to find something specific of which to be thankful. And I have used things like my kids, my parents, even indoor plumbing. While doing this everyday, there have been terrible things going on in the world. Events that can cause people to be fearful or even angry, which in face of so much bad news it can be difficult to resist those feelings.
A friend of mine posted on to his Facebook yesterday, about how he is having trouble staying positive in the midst of all the violence and heartache. This got me to thinking about Psalm 112:7 which says, “They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” To me this verse means, good will win even when it seems that evil has the advantage. Which it often times does, but in the end good wins, even if it takes a little while. And of course, when Jesus returns the ultimate good will win.

On the show Once Upon a Time, Snow White/Mary Margaret often speaks about good winning, and one time even states, “..just as it always does.” She also encourages the others to have hope, because hope is powerful thing. Hope speaks life, it encourages, it counteracts fear and doubts. Hope is something that resides in every positive person, every hero, and should reside in every Christian. Because as the popular hymn declares, “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” Now, the tricky thing about thankfulness and hope, is that they can wither away in the face of bad news, setbacks, or pain. And that is just what evil wants, people with out hope.

Luke Skywalker was relentless in his quest to hold on to hope, after he was “The New Hope”. Luke believed with every fiber of his being that the situation was not hopeless, and that Anakin could still come back. Yet even with his strong hope and faith, he was tempted by the Emperor and, even if just for a second, thought that maybe good would lose the fight. The Emperor would say things like, “You must know by now that your father can never be turned.” And made Luke stand there and watch all the good guys fall into the trap that he had set. It may have only been for a moment but that was all the Emperor needed, fear and anger flooded in and Luke came awfully close to killing his father. Thankfully good stuff like hope, love, and faith are stronger than ANY evil. (Which is something that evil wants you forget.) The Emperor was defeated and Anakin did come back to fulfill his calling and died a hero.

The evil that is at work in the world right now wants us to be discouraged, to be fearful, to be powerless. But I will encourage to look to the source of our hope, a source that will not run dry, a source that is perfect and everlasting. Because in the end good will win, it always does. And the hope found in Jesus will lead you to the greatest happy ending of all.

“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” -Psalm 31:24

The Perils of Parenthood

I have given a great deal of thought to parenthood lately, mainly because I am a parent and with my husband being gone, I have been shouldering the responsibly myself. My husband has been gone for nearly three months (which is the half way point, yay!), but that also means that there are three more months to go. I’ll be honest I have had my days where I wasn’t sure if I would make it to bedtime, I have lost my cool, and I have been overwhelmed with my role. And sometimes it can cause me to wonder whether I indeed am the best mom for my kids. After all, isn’t it me who can be driven crazy be their silly car game? Wasn’t it me who allowed them to eat chocolate cupcakes (which were homemade, in my defense) with peanut MnM’s on top, um…3 days…um…in a row? Would some other woman be better able to handle their questions, their energy, or their “them-ness”?

The answer is honestly, maybe. But would she be the perfect mom for them? The answer is most certainly, no. Why? Because the God that I know and serve, doesn’t make mistakes. His ways are perfect and He knew what He was doing when He gave me the kids that He did. The Bible says in Psalm 18:30, “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him.” His ways are perfect, His calling for my life is perfect. Do I always execute perfectly? No of course not, I am human, and great thing is that that, is okay. God doesn’t expect me, you, or anyone else to be perfect. What He does expect is for us to trust Him, and to turn to Him for strength, and to find His perfect will and His peace amongst the chaos of the day to day.

Another thing that I have come to realize is that my kids are a perfect mix of my husband and myself. Meaning that, their personalities are something that they, largely, got from us and have combined into something uniquely them. And if they had different parents they wouldn’t be the same people, they wouldn’t have the same energy or the same sense of humor. This got me thinking about two other people whose traits combined to make some awesome kids, Anakin and Padame.

There are some that might say that these two, well Anakin mainly, were not meant to be parents. But when their good qualities came together, it produced Luke and Leia, leaders of the Rebel Alliance. Leia, is so much like her mother, she was strong, brave, and had her mother’s relentless spirit. And Luke, is so much like Anakin, he had a thirst for adventure, the desire to help others, and Anakin’s bravery. Luke, like Padame, also had the ability to see the good in Anakin, and fought for that good relentlessly. Leia and Luke were instrumental in the fight to save the galaxy from the clutches of the Empire, and they got their “them-ness” from Anakin and Padame. Therefore, Luke and Leia had the perfect parents.

Parenting is hard, and I think that most of us have had our days when we felt that someone else could probably fill the “mom” or “dad” role better than us. But that is simply not true. No one can parent my kids better than me, and no one can parent your kids better than you.

Will have my days were my patience is lacking? Yes. Will I have my days were I wonder if I am a good mom? Of course. But I will rest in the promise that God does not make mistakes, I will recognize the joys in the midst of the chaos, and I will parent my kids to best of my ability, because I am the perfect mom for my kids. And it is my prayer that you will stand on the same promise.

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.”
-Psalm 127:3

The Spirit of Unforgiveness

There was story in the news recently, the details of which I will not go into for they are not the purpose of this post. But if you “Google” Josh Duggar, I’m certain you will come up with plenty of information about the situation. I discussed in a previous post that I believe that everyone has a Darth Vader, Anakin’s was after power and recognition, and mine was after control. You see, American discovered that Josh Duggar has a Darth Vader, and most people can now only see shining black armor and a red lightsaber.

I saw in (most of) the responses to this undeniably bad news, a lack of grace and unwillingness to forgive. People tossing statistics and hopes that Josh’s past will be daily rubbed in his face. Something that I did not see, a lot of, was the willingness to see that Josh has changed, he is not that person anymore. The Duggar’s chose to make this information public, knowing full well that the “boom” would be lowered on them with much more force and severity. Why? Because they are Christian family. And the general public expects Christians to be perfect rather than the broken, saved by grace people that we are. Imperfection requires forgiveness, which can be difficult because it goes against our human nature. Its easy to be angry and to hurl someone’s past in their face. But Jesus calls us to forgive, it says in Matthew 18:21-22, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

This begs the question. Why would Jesus call us to do something that can be so difficult? Because He knows that the unwillingness to forgive can be draining, that grudges get heavy, and that bitterness can steal our joy. To be clear, forgiveness does not mean that one should forget or to quote the popular phrase, “Sweep it under the rug.” But rather chose to recognize that the person has changed and/or to release your own spirit from the burden of carrying a grudge, which can lead to anger.

Obi-Wan also carried within him the spirit of unforgiveness, he believed that Anakin had been completely devoured by the dark side of the force. He could not see past Anakin’s mistakes (which yes they where HUGE mistakes) but, he also refused to even allow the possibility that Anakin could change or that any goodness could be left in him. According to the book, The Life and Legend of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Obi-Wan’s spirit was present (but unseen) during Luke’s battle with Darth Vader on the Death Star at the end of Return of the Jedi. And he was completely shocked that Anakin managed to fight his way back from the dark side.

“And suddenly Obi-Wan realized where he had failed. For unlike Luke, Obi-Wan
had not only believed that Anakin was completed consumed by the dark side,
but had actually refused to believe that any goodness could have remained within
Vader. And by refusing to allow that possibility, Obi-Wan had condemned not
only his former friend but his own capacity for hope.”

Jesus calls us to forgive because He knows that it will not only benefit us, but also has the potential to benefit the one who sinned against us. Luke’s willingness to forgive helped Anakin regain his true self and I’m sure that the Duggar family’s willingness to forgive did the same for Josh. And if God can forgive, then with the strength, humility, and peace that is gained by reaching for Him, we humans can forgive too.

If you are carrying the spirit of unforgiveness I encourage you to pray for the strength to forgive.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” -Colossians 3:13

True Friendship….a Revisit

I just finished reading (for the forth or fifth time), The Rise and Fall of Darth Vader. I know what you may be thinking and yes it is 211 pages of awesome. But that is beside the point, I came upon a passage that was a conversation between Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine. I mentioned in my previous post about friendship, the fact that Palpatine calls Vader/Anakin “friend” 4 times. This bugs me because the last thing that Palpatine ever was to Anakin or Vader was a friend. According to the book this conservation had occurred several times and started with the same taunting question:

Palpatine: “Are you afraid of death, Lord Vader?”
Darth Vader: “No, Master.”
“Then why do you go on living?”
“To learn to become more powerful, Master.”
“Do you seek such power so you might try to strike me down?”
“You are my path to power, Master. I need you.”
“Yes, my apprentice. Remember, your place, and that you have much to learn.”

Now compare this conservation with the last talk that Obi Wan had with Anakin before he turned to the dark side. Obi Wan was about to leave on his mission to find General Grievious, and Anakin took this opportunity to apologize for his recent behavior. In response Obi Wan said, “Anakin, you are strong and wise and I am very proud of you. I have trained you since you were a small boy. I have taught you everything I know and you are far greater Jedi than I could ever hope to become. But be patient Anakin, it will not be long before the council makes you a Jedi Master.”

The way that each of these men talk to Anakin is very different, one seeks tear him down and the other, to lift him up. One really was a true friend, one other was only using Anakin in his own quest for glory and power. One loved Anakin, and the other, most certainly did not.

People flow in and out of our lives, probably more often than one may notice. Most are trustworthy and honest, although few may use us for their own selfish needs, whether it be attention, money, or time. Much like Palpatine (although not nearly as severe), these “friends” are not going to look out for the needs of the other person. And will probably move on to someone else, when a better opportunity presents itself. It is important to know who your true friends are, they will tell you what you need to hear rather than what you want to hear. They won’t push you into something that you are not ready for, and will value your happiness and well-being. The Bible teaches about love in several places and in 1 John 4:7 it states, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” Love, is important, from it flows, hope, trust, patience, understanding, and forgiveness. Without love it’s difficult to be true friend. For if you love someone, regardless of how much, a friendship will surely blossom.

Friendship is not always easy, and it certainly wasn’t for Anakin and Obi Wan, but love (that is the love that Luke had for Anakin) is what brought him back. And Obi Wan, well, he was ready to forgive Anakin, and welcome him back as a friend.

He is ALWAYS there

There is a new song by Colton Dixon called “Through All of It”, it is about God and how He is always there no matter what. It doesn’t matter how far we fall or how many times we stumble. Now that can sometimes be a difficult concept to wrap your head around, because humans, frankly, are not always awesome. We lie, cheat, we’re selfish, we say/do things that we shouldn’t have, and can hurt our fellow man. Yet, God never leaves. How do we know this? Because the very instant, we realize our faults and ask for forgiveness, God’s love, grace and mercy are there to greet us every time. And let’s be honest, this scenario has and will play itself out more than once in one’s life time.

In a previous post I wrote about grace and how it’s enough for Darth Vader and then some. In that post I quoted John 1:16 which reads, “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.” This means that God gives us ALL grace, and then some more, and then some. And thankfully so, because we humans need it.

This morning my kids and I watched “Return of the Jedi” because tomorrow is Star Wars Day. (May the 4th be with you!) While watching Darth Vader continue to do his well, Vader stuff, it got me thinking about the light side of the force, and how it stayed with Anakin the whole time he was following the dark side. Many, to include Yoda and Obi Wan, felt that Anakin was a lost cause, that turning to the dark side was something that he could not turn back from. This may seem a little harsh, but these two saw first hand Anakin’s initial actions as Darth Vader, and Obi Wan had to fight Darth Vader. He certainly felt his anger. So you can’t really blame them for seeing Anakin in this light. But because they felt this so strongly, they refused to acknowledge someone else’s, hint Luke’s, feelings about Anakin. After all Luke was Anakin’s son, and had a much different connection to him, then Obi Wan or Yoda. Of course in the end, Luke was right because Anakin managed to fight his way back from dark side.

The closing scene, or next to the closing scene, shows Anakin reunited not only with Yoda and Obi Wan, but also with the light side of the force. Now how could this have happened so quickly? Because the light side never left him. Through all of his Vader foolishness, the light side never once left his side.

In the same way God, with His grace, His love, His mercy, and His blessings, are there to greet us as soon as we turn back and return to who we were created to be. Amazing isn’t? To have a God who loves us in this fashion, is an incredible blessing. He is our rock, and He will never give up. A love like this deserves every praise we can muster, and He accepts them no matter where it is we just returned from.

His grace will catch you every time you fall, it’s enough for Darth Vader and then some.

Significant Calling

While Anakin Skywalker is not the “poster child” for good decision making, he does give us plenty of mistakes from which we can learn. As has been discussed he was impatient and prideful, yet talented beyond measure, and blessed with an incredible gift with which he was to benefit many, many people. But he stumbled and as we know he fell from grace. The one pulling Anakin’s strings and encouraging his slow fade into the dark side of the force was Palpatine who was to become the evil Emperor. There are many things that were said to Anakin during the time that he was working on him but a few statements rise up above the rest. During the conversation in Episode III when Anakin discovers who Palpatine really is, he tells Anakin that he feels like he has always been looking for a life of significance outside of being an ordinary Jedi. Two things bother me about that statement, both of which of course are a part of Palpatine’s lies.

First, think of all the people that inhabit the Star Wars galaxy, billions and billions. How many of those people at one time are Jedi? Maybe a couple thousand at the most. Jedi Knights are not a common thing, it is a very rare talent to have, so that alone is significant just by itself.

Second, Anakin was not called to be just an ordinary Jedi, he was to be one of the most important Jedi ever. That seems awfully significant. But Palpatine played down this calling and his duty as a Jedi, wanting to deliver the promise of greater power and recognition else where, something that would bring respect and “show up” those who Anakin thought where out to devalue him.

The enemy often engages in this same kind of tactic, down playing a good work that you are called to do or the career that you are meant to have, especially if God is to receive all the glory from your actions. Proverbs 21:21 says, “He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.” The best way to receive the abundance of blessings that God has in store for our lives is to stay on track with His will, His perfect will. We may have to wait longer than we may think is necessary, but trusting in God’s timing is key.

A few days ago there was news of a shooting in California, the young man who was responsible for this crime was bitter and disgruntled with life. He felt that he was not getting enough recognition or attention, especially from girls, his plan was to prove to those around him just how much power he really had and what he was capable of; therefore hoping to gain…something. Much like Anakin he was impatient, much like Anakin he had lost faith in those around him and just like Anakin he lost everything. Sadly however, this young man died as his Darth Vader. God only knows what sort of Kingdom potential was within him, yet he was talked into tearing it all down in the pursuit of fruitless gains and he even more sadly, took some innocent people with him.

Anakin found himself in a similar position, he tore down everything that he was called to be and took a great deal of people down with him. He lost everything; his wife, his children, his friends, his hope, and his passion. Well he almost lost everything, his calling stayed with him. His calling that was so good and so significant, that it managed to stay alive within what little was left of Anakin Skywalker after he turned into Darth Vader. Anakin was reminded of who he was meant be and gained more in that one revelation than in all his years as Darth Vader. Luke had faith in his father’s goodness (the goodness that both him and Padame knew was still there), more importantly he had faith in the source from which that goodness came from and it brought Anakin back.

The calling that God has in store for your life whether big or small is significant, more than you may ever know. God will reveal His plans in His time, have faith and trust Him. There is nothing that can be gained from following the urgings of the enemy, don’t allow him to minimize God’s plans. Have faith the goodness that flows through you, for it comes from a source that never fails.