Get excited – you were made in God’s image

I was swinging that little 17 month old of ours outside one day last week and some interesting things came to my mind. You know how we have some great things about us and some not so great things about us? And you know how when we look at others we sometimes just see and focus on the negative and not the really great, positive things about them?

It’s pretty disheartening that we, that I, focus on the awful, different-from-us struggles, sins, and downfalls of others rather than the actually pretty cool, unique giftings of our friends, family, and acquaintances. We are really losing here when we do this and missing the whole point of HOW we were truly made.

So, here’s the real truth of the matter:

Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image,in the image of God He created him;male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:26-27

One huge note here is that in verse 26, God said, “let us make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness.” Who is He talking about? God in three persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. That’s whose image we are made in. The wholeness that embodies God our Father,  the humanity and uniqueness that Jesus possesses, and the vast fruits the Holy Spirit has… in all of this we were made.

Okay, wow. I think about my dearest friend who is so brilliant at creating things with her hands and so real about the right ways to love people the way Jesus does. And her husband who dreams up and catches a vision for anything, from creating a business to ways to evangelize different people groups and is so successful at many things he touches.

All of that, ALL of that points directly to who our God is. Just like the gifts my friends exemplify, God is creative and a seeker of man’s soul for salvation. God is the epitome of vision casting and vision accomplishing. When I see my friends natural gifts, I get a real, tangible picture of who our great Creator God is, who our precious Savior is, and who our Holy Spirit is.

Do you see what I am getting at? My mother is unbelievably gifted at serving others while pushing aside her needs. My mother-in-law is a true gift-giver, with this incredible knack of finding a great deal. These are God-given gifts, and they are visuals for the world’s eye to see just who our Great God is. Jesus laid down His life, while accomplishing eternal life for us. And God the Father gives us every good and perfect gift. He is prudent, planning for the future, just like the gift my mother-in-law possesses.

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What about you? What about your neighbor? What about a co-worker? We have people in our lives who are difficult to understand, hard to work with. Goodness gracious alive, I am hard to understand and hard to work with, but even when I don’t think I have any good in me, I have to remember that I am made in God’s image. He made each of us with special, unique gifts that are from Him and that clearly point to who He is as our God.

Psalm 16:2 says, “I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord;I have no good apart from you.'” Nothing good in us is our own doing, our own gumption, our own passions alone. Everything you see that is good in others, it’s from God. Sure they may have worked hard for this or that, but God gave them the energy, the giftings, the desire to accomplish the goal.

Every person is made in God’s image. And He’s perfect. I am letting that sit on me for a minute. I do not deny our sinfulness. But this post isn’t to focus on that right now. I am overwhelmed as I look around me, at our children, our family, our friends, the people we see every day. God is so kind to show us who He is by the way He has made us and those in our lives and those in the whole wide world.

The God-shaped lens I ought to look through to see others is pretty magnificent. May I use it more every day to rejoice with others the gifts He has given them and to walk in thankfulness and praise for who the God we serve truly is.

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Anger – a sin to be reckoned with

19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. ” James 1:19-27

 

Well, slap me in the face and call me silly. There need be no more words than this on the subject of anger and throwing up at the mouth with harsh and ugly words.

I have heard time and time again, “It’s alright when you occasionally yell at your kids. I mean, you’ve been with them all day long. How can they not drive you insane some days?” Or the one who says, “Sorry, not sorry. I am a yeller. That’s what I do. That’s how I was raised and that’s how I am raising my children.”

That’s me. Like all of those quotes could have come from my mouth and my heart on any given day of the week. Then, God, in His kindness and wisdom, shows me something I have never considered or read before. Because, in my, I don’t know what you call it, pride or desire to have an actual, concrete reason for doing something or NOT doing something, I had to get some cold hard facts about why getting angry at my kids was not okay. So, I did a topical search in the Bible about what God says about anger. And boy was I stopped in my tracks.

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We all know Ephesians 4:26 – “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger….” Hmm… I wasn’t so sure that that was even possible for me. You see, I am fairly laid back, definitely the opposite of type A personality on most things. Pretty easy going. Messes don’t bother me. Spilled paint and glue sticks don’t push my crazy buttons. I don’t even mind a messy car.

But, do you know what can boil my blood more than anything? And this is something I have been trying to figure out the root of for almost a decade. My children’s sin. Like, their sin against one another. Their sin against me. Their hatefulness to one another on the daily. Their filthy talking back to me. Their anger towards one another. THEIR ANGER MAKES ME ANGRY. Do what? Their anger makes me angry….

Ha! Then I read this – Proverbs 19:11 “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” I literally laugh out loud when I read this verse. It is truly remarkable to me. Let me tell you how this verse is obeyed and accomplished: by the mighty work of God in a believer’s heart. Because do you know what I lack? Do you know what Maggie Sheridan in the flesh has zero of? GOOD SENSE! It’s so stinking true. But, I need it, I need good sense to be slow to anger. And whoa to gain “glory” or as Brandon and I say “victory” to “overlook an offense.” What a gift, to have glory in overlooking an offense. Not to not discipline, but maybe to show mercy and grace at appropriate times.

As I followed the cross references from Proverbs 19:11 on into some New Testament passages, I was trying to find where God said just don’t be angry or anger is a sin. The theme that rang over and over and over again was not simply to “put off” but to genuinely “put on.” Here’s what Colossians 3:12-17 says

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Instead of choosing anger, put on a compassionate heart, kindness, humility, gentleness or meekness, and patience. Bear with others, forgive others. Put on love. LET the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. LET the Word of Jesus be all up in you deeply. Be thankful. And do all of this, whatever it is, living this life, in the name of Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through our Savior.

So, since my face got slapped again (I need to tell that story at some point of my original face slap), my aim has been to put on patience and compassion, and kindness and gentleness to these little people in my home. To not live in anger. To not live with ruffled feathers. And, also, to not live in fear and hope that my anger might produce the righteousness of God in them. God’s word explicitly says my anger can do nothing good, and it especially can’t give my kids salvation. So why is it my crutch?

Just like we are teaching our children to obey, maybe I need to listen to my own words and obey the Word of God that I have heard. Not simply be a hearer of the word (like it says in James 1) but to also be a doer of the Word. OBEY the Word of God, that’s what Christians are to do anyway because of our love for our Savior. I can train and instruct and discipline our children SANS anger. God helps us in our weaknesses. Here’s mine. I am laying it all out there. With His help, He can help you in your weakness, whatever it is.

John Piper said that what God requires, He provides in Christ. He requires obedience and perfection. We find that all in Jesus, not in ourselves or other people. Jesus is our hope and our glory and the lifter of our heads. The obedience God requires is not left to us to fulfill, in our flesh, with our striving in our strength alone. But in Jesus and with our full dependence on Him, we can strive to obey His word and all of what He requires because we love Him with all we have.

Man, God’s Word just has all we need to navigate this life. All the wisdom, all the power, all the direction, all the hope. It’s all contained in the Bible. May we gain more and more desire to plant ourselves firmly in the Bible daily!

Each parent’s quiver is FULL

So, I know what you think. I know that having more than two children sounds like a total and utter chaotic train wreck to you. And you know what? You are EXACTLY right. In small, tiny moments in time, the chaos, the train wrecks, the hurricane winds of crazy are WAY TOO MUCH TO BEAR.

But, they are just that – tiny moments in time. And in the middle of those moments, it is so incredibly easy for me to think that this time will never, ever end and never, ever still and never, ever change.

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(Me and my amazing, Wonder Woman of a sister who taught me how to do the crazy parenting thing with a lot of laughs and a lot of quirky fixes to hilarious situations, and the precious souls who get to call her aunt).

I know that you don’t know how we do five children successfully every single day. Heck, I don’t know how we do it every single day, without God’s help of course. But, what I am saying is that the so hard, the unbelievably crazy times are momentary. All of these kiddos do talk at once often, and the four-year-old melts down the same time the five-year-old decides to be the most obstinate child on the planet. Our handsome 9-year-old’s mouth truly needs a silencer some days. And our lovely 8-year-old just gets something in that pretty little head of hers, and she can’t let it go. It has the potential to drive you up the wall. And some days it absolutely does.

But those moments are mostly overshadowed by the indescribable and unexpected times of joy. Like when our 17-month-old walks up to CB and holds his arms up to him for CB to pick him up. Clay is so content in his arms. Or when Clay initiates a game of chase with Carter B. Those giggles we hear are soul-soothing. Or when Caroline and Caleb play pretend for hours, without one single bicker. And that serious Cole Boyce runs and sits ON you in the morning just to cuddle, that’s the stuff memories are made of.

You are right. This gig of parenting five children is impossible. I am a firm believer that a parent’s arms and quiver are full with one child or with 12 children; whoever the Lord has given you has filled your life and your heart right up to the brim. God 100%, without a doubt gives us more, more, more than we can handle. Why does He do this? Because He wants our hearts to be wholly devoted to Him, dependent upon Him, and not living this life in our own strength.

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
    for my hope is from Him.
 He only is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
    my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

Trust in Him at all times, O people;
    pour out your heart before Him;
    God is a refuge for us. Selah (Psalm 62:5-8)

 

“Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah” Psalm 62:8. All times. Even in the maddening times of parenting or struggle or heartache or confusion or anger or loss. All times. Pray to Him = “pour out your heart before Him.” God is our refuge, a safe place, a place to go when all the world around us gives way. Life is going to go awry, but our God does not change. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Our kids change, their emotions change, our moods change like the dang WIND! But, God doesn’t. He is safe. He is secure. He is the same. He is our rock and causes us to not be shaken when we continue our pursuit of His presence. In Him is freedom!

 

Escaping crises

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I don’t know a whole lot of things, but the Lord has kindly humbled my pride about thoughts I struggle through daily.  These thoughts have been about what this life is about. Is it about survival? Is it about thriving? Is it about no sickness, no trials, no conflicts? Is it about escaping sickness, trials, and conflicts?

What if God made us and this world in order for us to learn HOW to DEAL with sickness, trials, and conflicts, and not merely survive through them or escape them?

In John 16:33, Jesus Himself says, “‘In this world YOU WILL have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.'” (emphasis mine) He never said you “may” have trouble or “if” you have trouble. He said we WILL have trouble. So if trouble is inevitable, why don’t I just embrace the trouble and learn how to have real deal VICTORIES in the trouble?

Case in point, just this morning. CB comes downstairs, having woken up on the wrong side of the bed. All red flags are up, and trouble is here on a bright and sunny Monday morning. Do I yell at him and tell him to get his mind right? Or do I swallow my crazy, CRAZY emotions and take this opportunity to fight for a victory for me and my son and the Lord with a prayer and a kind word? Yeah, we’re human. Yeah, we’re gonna fly off the handle sometimes, but what if flying off the handle were so infrequent that they were not the norm, and success, victory, heart-conversations and soul-training were common place? Trouble is here, and it’s not going away. How am I going to respond?

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Kid conflicts. Ear infections. Broken bones. Friend problems. Car trouble. Sibling quarrels. ER trips. Cancer scares. Spousal fights. Ailing grandparents. It’s all here. It all may be happening to you TODAY. So, what does it mean to overcome the world? To wallow in self-pity, to cry injustice, to turn a blind eye to the Sovereign One who is in complete charge of every facet of our lives, to let our emotions rule us and reign over us and our homes?

Oh, so many days I feel like I have allowed my emotions to rule me, and I have allowed my desire to “just get through” the trouble to reign supreme over my day. We aren’t created to just survive or to just get through. I must have an identified purpose for being here, for having the job I do, and for carrying it out to the best of my ability for God’s glory. This is overcoming the world. To know our purpose and to recognize the obstacles when they come and to learn through them and to have victories. And we can’t do it alone. Jesus has overcome all of this.

I have to remember EVERY DAY that we aren’t given the gift of children so that the days will go perfectly. It’s so amazing when I look at each of these five souls and simply wonder. They have some outstanding strengths and drives. And they have some repulsive sin tendencies and weaknesses. Just like me. How am I going to train these babies when their weakness and sin just blow up in my face? And man are there some explosions some days up in this house. But take heart, Jesus has overcome this mess. He’s on His throne, and we are trying to training these kids how to turn their heart’s gaze on them in the middle of the crazy.

None that I say is profound. And I am speaking mainly to myself when I say there is no escaping the trouble. There is no escaping the illnesses. There is no escaping the tragedies. There is no escaping the injustices we will face. What am I going to do when it comes, when I am faced with it daily? Do I shake my fist at God? He made all of this. All things go through His mighty hands because He is sovereign over all things. NO THING we face is a mistake. NOT. ONE. THING. We are WEAKER than we could ever think SO THAT we can lean into and trust God who is STRONGER than our minds can conceive.

Trouble is coming. Trouble is here. Oh, may we have more victories this day and fulfill this purpose in this journey God has lined out for us. “‘Take heart. I have overcome the world.'”

Corie’s Monkey Bread

This. My sister taught me how to make Monkey Bread as a teenager, and I think it sparked a true love for cooking and trying new recipes. I have seen several variations, but when something ain’t broke I just don’t think it needs to be fixed! I used to make two and bring them to Sunday School in high school, and I never had ANY leftovers.

So I am calling this Corie’s Monkey Bread. And it’s a family favorite around the Sheridan household.

Corie’s Monkey Bread

Ingredients

4-count home style biscuits (they come in a set of 4)

1 cup white sugar

2 Tablespoons cinnamon

Gallon sized ziplock or bowl

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

1 cup brown sugar

Cooking spray

Bundt pan **

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray Bundt pan with cooking spray. Open each can of biscuits and cut each biscuit into fourths. Next, combine white sugar with cinnamon in a gallon sized ziplock bag or bowl. Toss about two hand fulls of cut-up biscuits in the cinnamon/sugar mixture until coated. Then, put coated biscuits into prepared Bundt pan, making sure they are evenly distributed in the pan. Continue until all biscuits are coated and placed in the Bundt pan.

2. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine butter or margarine with the brown sugar and melt in the microwave. Stir well after melted. Next, pour over the top of the biscuits. Place Bundt pan in oven for 30-35 minutes or until biscuits are done.

3. Remove from oven and allow to cook for about 5 minutes. Place a kitchen plate on top of Bundt pan, and with oven mitts, flip the Bundt pan and plate over. And watch all that goodness run onto the plate! Enjoy!

** My nephew does not own a Bundt pan, so he used a 9×13 casserole dish and it turned out great! I have also used a bread loaf before and also a muffin tin and that was fun, too!

Consistency or the lack thereof

Consistency

Oh the word is a huge portion of my failings. Inconsistent in my training and disciplining of our children. Inconsistent in my time in God’s Word. Inconsistent in eating right and drinking my daily water intake. Inconsistent at even giving our children and myself the medicine, supplements, and vitamins I know we need.

This inconsistency comes with a terrible lack of self-control. I don’t think before I speak most of the time nor do I think before grabbing that drink or food that I was determined to stay away from.

What is my problem?

Some might say it’s because of my “stressful” life, and because my husband and I are caring for five kiddos nine-years-old and younger. I might tell myself it’s because I feel like I need an “out” or a break or a treat, and I just give in to all the things I planned to change in my lifestyle. Maybe it’s because I am a self-identified “emotional eater.”

And then I think of the term my best friend introduced me to many years ago: self care. Taking care of yourself. Not just surviving on left over french fries and yesterday’s grace. But, doing the things you love, taking care of yourself and your health, getting a break or a momma “time out.” Oh, I love time outs!

For sure, yes and completely, we give of ourselves, and we serve, and we deny ourselves daily for the sake of our families for the glory of the Lord. We pour, and we pour, and we pour, and we pour some more. But our hobbies and our lives do not end the day we birth a precious human being. Some days I feel like I have lost myself, like I don’t know what I like anymore. For several years after Brandon’s transplant he was just surviving and not pursuing hunting or working out. But now, he’s determined on all fronts to live out his passions and to do it well.

So what do you love? Sewing, gardening, scrapbooking. Do you want to learn a new trade or hobby? Our children would do well to see us pursuing something while loving and taking care of them as well.

HOW DO WE DO IT ALL? How do we be a wife, momma, friend, daughter, co-worker, lover of our hobby? That’s one question I have yet to figure out. You see, I am still in the excuse-making category. And then Brandon comes home with this truth bomb from his favorite podcast and drops it like it’s real hot:

“Excuses are lies.”

Are

 

“But, I went to bed late last night, so I can’t get up before the children and get my heart ready for the day.” LIE! “I chose to go to bed late last night and not prepare for the next day.”

“I am in a hurry and will just grab this food or that drink because there are no other choices.” LIE! When we prepare before hand for the crazy schedule ahead, we can do what we need to do to make meals better for us.

“The kids have too much going on for me to have time for this or that.” LIE! They can even come alongside us as we pursue whatever it is that God has given us a passion for.

So, what am I going to do about all of this? Well, I am going to pray and ask God for some real deal self-control in all of these areas. And ask Him for wisdom about what I am to be pursing and how I am to be spending my time.

Some days I feel like a real chicken with my head cut off, not knowing up from down. But God’s grace is much greater than my deficiencies. He hears our prayers, and He answers them in His timing. Get specific in your prayer life. Write down your desires, requests, wants, needs, pleas. Lately, I have been so very overwhelmed at God’s specific answers to prayer. Granted, I prayed for months about many of these “answered” prayers, but wow. I truly believe the Lord gives us desires and prompts us to pray and then does His almighty, amazing thing by answering in His glorious way. Maybe it’s not quite the answer we were hoping for, but God takes care of it perfectly.

Hebrews 4:14-16 “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

The priest would go to God on behalf of the people before Jesus. But now, our Savior, goes to the Father on our behalf. And there, on our knees, in His presence, we “receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

This struggle of inconsistency and lack of self-control, it seems pretty petty in the grand scheme of things. But we sure can still bring it before God and ask Him for help to have success here for His glory. Let’s do this!

 

The brain of ADHD

You know we can go all our lives without putting a name with something we struggled with. Chronic belly ache and fatigue – maybe we had IBS but just lived with it. Sorrowful thoughts that rebounded from time to time – maybe we struggled with mild depression. The words on a page just never made sense, and we couldn’t comprehend much of what we read. In fact, we hated reading but managed still the same – quite possibly we lived with and conquered dyslexia, in our creative, surviving way.

I have a loved one that in her middle age has self-diagnosed herself with Attention and Hyperactivity Disorder. One day she told me her thoughts in a 10 minute span – you would not have believed it. In a picture, it was a small bouncy ball bouncing seamlessly and effortlessly all over the room without stopping on one surface for more than 0.5 seconds. This is what she has lived with and conquered every day of her existence. Yes, days and years passed, and we can look back and see how ADHD made a huge, sometimes negative impact on her life. Then she mastered something amazing in her early 40s – she graduated college with a degree in the medical field. All with these fleeting and abrupt and impulsive thought trains that never made a stop for very long at one destination.

This is your brain with ADHD

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This is your brain on a stimulant with ADHD

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Hyperactivity with ADHD is one thing. Inattention with ADHD is another. Trying to accomplish a task with untreated ADHD is, well, it’s more than a challenge. Treatments range from medication to therapy. Willpower and grit, though valuable to all human beings, oftentimes do not play a key role in overcoming ADHD, especially in those who are young adolescents or teenagers. In fact, you can’t just pull your boot straps up and get your mind to focus with moderate to severe ADHD. It just isn’t going to happen.

Our only daughter could not complete a psycho-educational evaluation last year without the help of a stimulant medication. The meeting stopped short about an hour into it with a gentle but swift declaration that her attention issues were causing extreme roadblocks in her ability to gather information, comprehend information and in turn tell the doctor what she knew.

Those with ADHD have brains that are wired and constructed completely different than those without attention issues. Science proves it; medical professionals show it on brain scans. The part of the brain, the frontal lobe, is what matures more slow in those with ADHD. This section of the brain is responsible for impulse control, attention, concentration, and planning.

Agreed, ADHD is often OVER-diagnosed, but a lot of times, because of the stigma and misinformation and lack of research, families will not even consider that ADHD might be the culprit for their child’s bad behavior at school, impulsive actions at home, and extreme sibling quarreling. Yes, this all stems back to a need for discipline and understanding the heart of children (and humans in general), but it could also be a LOUD CRY for help from the child. He may not know what in the world is going on in his brain because IT. WON’T. STOP. Thoughts go here, there, and yonder on a whim, with the change of the wind, and it can be truly frustrating and confusing to a child.

I want to encourage you today, as a parent or an adult with someone in your life (OR YOURSELF) with potential ADHD, to take a look at this form.  This is the Vanderbilt form looking into potential attention issues.

This will give you real and true insight into what may be going on in your brain or your child’s brain. And there is HELP out there. My child who couldn’t physically complete an assignment as a 7 year old girl told me “Mommy, I can do my math” just an hour after taking her first dose of medication. I am not a prescription drug pusher; I hate to even take tylenol for a headache. I didn’t even take narcotics after having babies (c-sections at that). So, I do not come from that background. I come from the stance that there is help and if you need it please go get it. Don’t delay.

Those with ADHD are stinking smart and creative and capable of living life to the fullest. Maybe your child needs help. Maybe you need help. Don’t turn a blind eye and harp and stress and not consider this. Consider this! Take a look at the form and know there is help for the weary and worn out child or adult with attention issues.

And watch this Tedx https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JiwZQNYlGQI episode. It brought me to tears at the real struggle those in my family face and have faced. But the end is so sweet. ADHD is not the end of anyone’s story. It’s the beginning of understanding. It’s the beginning of a beautiful story full of adventures yet to be told.