Tuesday, January 31, 2012

In Training

This past week, we began our first experience with potty training a toddler. Our daughter Selah is 2 1/2 years old, so we thought it was as good a time as any to start. The first day was very tough. She did not like sitting on the potty at all, and she did not really understand that we were asking her to listen to her body's cues that it's time and not just go then and there, but instead wait until she could sit on the seat and "put her pee pee in the bucket". The first half of the day was filled with accidents; but after her nap, she seemed to get the hang of it and went the rest of the evening with no trouble at all.

On day 2 we went on our first big outing and took the potty with us. You know you are a parent when you are sitting in the back of your SUV with your little one on the potty in the parking lot of a grocery store. But, we had no accidents and many more successful outings to follow. Within a week she was even going without us knowing. I discovered this when I walked in the living room to find my one year old, Susannah, banging the pee pee bucket against the potty seat and sitting in a puddle of wetness. True story...

Then it happened. One week in, and we thought we had success (well, not totally, #2 on the potty is another challenge altogether). Selah was used to the potty, going on her own without reminders, and even picking out which pair of big girl underwear she would wear each day. But this day, she was just not having it. She had an accident as soon as she woke up and then another mid-morning, and she was not phased at all. She even jumped in it like it was a puddle! To top it off, she had a 3rd accident in the middle of the toy aisle at Walmart with my husband. She just stopped communicating and caring.

As we were talking through our frustration and how to get her back on track, the spiritual truth in all of this hit me in the face. How many times has the Lord thought He has finally gotten me to a place He can use me only to have me backslide into a bad habit, sinful behavior, etc. I mean, I totally get it. There are days when I don't want to be a 'big girl' and would rather take the easy way out; but our Father just lovingly and patiently leads me on, gently whispering "you can do this" in my ear- just as we have decided to do with Selah to get her back on track.

It's funny. I am typing this while my girls are down for their nap but not quite asleep yet. In the time it has taken me to write this, I have gotten up to rescue little Susie 3 times already. She has reached the point where her legs are just the right size to get stuck between the crib bars, but she has not yet learned to stop dangling her feet and legs out of the crib. So, she cries out to me when she gets stuck in the same trap over and over. Again, I cannot help but see the parallel to our walk with God. How many times does He have to rescue us from the same situation we get ourselves into before we finally learn our lesson? But, like Him, I will still run to my child each time she cries out for help and lovingly rescue her and kiss away her tears. What a beautiful picture of the Father's love. And what a great way to regain focus amidst the frustration. (Make that 4 rescues for Susie...) =o)

Let's pray together-
Loving Father, please help me to be encouraged as I think of all of the times You rescued me from my mistakes and showed me Your patient love and grace when I backslid in my life. Please help me to model Your love and grace as a parent to these precious children You have blessed me with and not get discouraged when they seem to take one step forward and two steps back. May I reflect Your patience, grace, love, and mercy and not lose heart in this journey of parenting. Please help me to softly whisper words of faith and encouragement in their ears rather than speaking harshly with words of frustration and disappointment. Please help my heart to listen and obey You when Your Spirit gently leads me back after a fall. Please help me to teach them to do the same. Thank You for loving me with such a deep and unending love and allowing me to get a glimpse of it in the love I feel for my children. You are a great and faithful God, and I am so thankful I am Your child. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Really Real

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.”
John 4:23 (NIV)

I am convinced that as a nation, as a people, as man and womankind we have a problem: we know spiritual things in our head without taking the time to process them in our hearts. We need to do what God’s word says in 2 Corinthians 13:5. It urges, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless of course, you fail the test?” We need to take the time to ask ourselves a few questions: Why do I feel this way? Does the Bible address this issue? If so, what direction is God giving me? This verse challenges us to act on our faith…to do something with it…to make it real! This verse is the difference between saying you are a Christian and living the Christian life.

As I sit back and observe my own life and those around me, I have concluded that we often do not examine ourselves for several reasons. The first is that we are ignorant (not malicious) because we simply do not know what the word says. It’s the reason why some Christians give others crazy, unbiblical advice---they just didn’t know better. Another reason is because we are sometimes a little lazy—we don’t take the time to see what the Bible has to say so we lean on our own understanding. The last reason is CHANGE. We are often terrified of change, even change for the better because change is unknown. The present is predictable, but change is unfamiliar and often times downright hard.

Yet, we have all heard or told someone that becoming a mother/parent changes everything! I whole-heartedly agree with this statement. Becoming a mom catapulted me out of a selfishness I didn’t even know I had!!! The same should be true about our daily walk with the Lord—it should change everything! As moms who are disciplining the next generation, we can’t afford to piece-meal our Christian faith. I want my sons to have a real relationship with Jesus. I don’t want them to associate faith with a set of rules and regulations.

I heard a while back that the reason why so many Christian college students are deserting the faith is because they were never taught to experience Jesus for themselves. I left that church service about year ago praying that God would help me lead Mikey (and Jeremiah) into a real relationship with Him so they could experience the power of God for themselves. In my pursuit to do so, I have come up with a few ideas:

1. Explain the Trinity—this question comes up a lot with Mikey. I have found two ways to try and explain it to him (although if you get real technical, some may disagree with me). Also, these ideas came from my Sunday School class, so I cannot claim them as originals. The first way to explain that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are three persons but the same entity was to do so using H2O as an example. I put ice in one cup, water in another, and left one cup “empty”. I then explained that ice, water, and air (while different in their presentation) are three forms of the same thing: H2O. Another example involved taking an apple and cutting it in half. Then I explained that there is one apple made up of three parts: the peel, the flesh, and the core. One apple, but three parts.

2. Deal with issues by digging into God’s word. We have been dealing with sassiness and crude language (not cussing, but inappropriate, unkind/unloving language) in our house from our four year old. The other day I had just about enough when I decided to take a different approach. I said, “Hey Mikey, do you know what God’s word says about that kind of talk?” “What?” he responded. “It says that we should not let any unwholesome or bad words come out of our mouths, but only what is helpful to others so it will help and bless those who hear it.” (Ephesians 4:29—my own kiddie paraphrase). His response, “Really? What is unwholesome?” Then we talked about it and he said, “I didn’t know God said that.” That ended the crudeness for the moment, but the idea seems to have stuck. I remind him of that verse when he starts running off at the mouth again.

3. Serving others so we can experience God and see how he works in the lives of other people. My husband seems intent on feeding every homeless person who asks us for money. He doesn’t give out money, but he asks if they are hungry, what they would like, and then he drives to go get it and bring it back to that person. Then as a family we pray for that person. This has been such a blessing to us because now Mikey thinks God gave a job so we can have food and everyone else can too. LOL :) But the heart of the matter is teaching him to put feet to his faith.

4. Prayer. We have really been trying to emphasize the power of prayer and become more mindful of pointing out the many times God has answered our prayers. For example, we recently prayed for our friend Bella when she went into the hospital after falling down a flight of metal stairs at the zoo. We were so excited that she was released from the hospital after only one night and that her injuries were not more critical than a concussion. We also make a point of praying with Mikey when he is sick or hurt. When he feels better, he knows that Jesus healed him. One huge prayer that really broke my heart occurred when we were very lonely after moving away from Fort Lauderdale. Mikey prayed, “Thank you God for my friends that live far away, but please help me to have friends that live close.” I cried! Yet, we rejoice that over time God has answered that prayer and has provided us with some really wonderful friends that live nearby.

God is good and he is faithful and he is real! Let’s make a point of living out the gospel. Let’s make sure no part of our lives is hidden from Christ. Let’s help our children experience God for themselves.

Challenge: Think of a few creative ways you can help your children understand that Jesus is real and that God is all around them, even though they can’t “see” him face-to-face yet. Put those ideas into practice, and help them practice the presence of God.

Lord, this mom-thing is loaded with responsibility, but I am so thankful for it. I am constantly growing and learning in my walk with you. Help me to not be satisfied with “good enough”, but to pursue You and your righteousness with each breath that I take. May my faith be so much more than a Sunday thing, and may our kids, through my example and prayer, experience you for themselves. Please meet them right where they are at as you have so done so often for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Jehovah Jireh... My Perfect Provider

Ray Boast, a man my husband used to work with, gave me some wise counsel a ways back when our first born was just a baby. He said to journal. Something so simple with benefits unmeasurable. He shared that as time goes on you will forget the cute, sweet, sincere things they do & say, missing the opportunity to reminisce later. I want to journal more. I want to have lots of memories written down to share with them as they grow up. 

Life is like that. If we don't write things down we will forget. I LOVE "Post Its" for that exact reason! I have a terrible memory. So I have started a "journal" ,of sorts, next to my bed that I have started to put things into. It is titled, "Blessings" and depicts memoirs from times the Lord has provided miraculously for our family. I am attempting to put some sort of remembrance as we encounter those times for later encouragement. Yeah I know myself and there will be a day I need to be reminded of HIS goodness and provision.

My husband and I decided early on in our courtship that I would stay home when we were ready to have kids. Saying that and doing that are two totally different things. It has been an exciting, bumpy and joyous ride. We have been on this journey for the past four years and boy has it been adventurous to say the least. I have shared with many the amazing and awesome things Jesus has done in our lives because we were limited to one income. It has caused us to trust more in Him and less on on our own strength. It has reminded us that HE owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10) and that nothing is impossible for God (Luke 1:27). I have been on my face in prayer more in the last four years than ever before....all because I was stripped of what I found my comfort and security in.  I can honestly say that I have seen the hand of God move miraculously on our behalf in giving us our needs....not wants...but needs.

“I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me? -Jeremiah 32:27

The Lord longs for that intimate relationship with us. Sometimes there are things that must be stripped away in order for that to be accomplished. I am so thankful for this season in my life as I get to share with my kids HIS goodness and provision in our life and be grateful for the little things that used to go un-thanked in my life. Sometimes I really miss those indulgences I used to enjoy but its all worth it for the journal entries and pictures I have that later I will share with my grandchildren. Rejoice in where HE has you right now. Yep this verse is so true and I need to "post it" up somewhere to daily remind myself that He is all I need to be content.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. - Philippians 4:11-13

It was about a year ago that my husband and I were traveling to Jacksonville to see family. Both our cars had issues and were very old. We had borrowed a car from a couple in ministry who we knew, very briefly, through our church. We were so blessed and had no idea that a few months later the Lord would tug on their heart to give us that same car. It was a 2007 PT Cruiser. They also paid for our insurance for 6 months!!!! We were so in awe and at the same time rejoicing in His perfect provision. I have told that story so many times and it is a constant reminder that HE hears, HE cares, HE owns it all,  and HE longs to provide for HIS children!
I wanted to end this blog post with that amazing story of God's provision in my life. It shows that HE is into the small details of our life and pays close attention to the prayer requests we lift up. That is something I get to journal about and tell our grandkids later. 

So what is it for you? What is the thing you are hoping HE provides for you? Finances, wisdom, peace or patience? Pray and watch Him work! Remember to take time each day to jot down, journal somewhere of how HE has provided for you and allow that to be a memory you come back to in times of drought....HE longs to refresh you!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

You Want Me To Do What?

"For I live in eager expectation and hope for I will never do anything that causes me shame, but that I will always be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past, and that my life will always honor Christ, whether I live or die." - Philippians 1:20

By nature I am not a bold person. Don't get me wrong, I will share my opinion when asked and my body language definitely lets you know how I feel with any given subject. But I want to be more bold for Christ. There have been many times in my walk with Christ that He has called me to step out in faith and obey. It can be exciting. It can be scary. But one thing I know is that I am not alone. He is with me.

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. -Hebrews 4:16

I love this verse because it reminds us that we must approach His throne first before we can get the help we so desperately need. HE wants to give it and longs to strengthen us... all we have to do is ask.
SO, have you felt the nudge? You know, the prompting to go and do something you have never done before, in the name of Jesus.

I want to teach my children to obey the Holy Spirit even when it is uncomfortable. I want my kids to know that supernaturally the Lord wants to do these great things in their life if they will just submit to His will and not their own. How do I share that practically with my kids? Read them those awesome stories in His word of how obedience led to great victory and then share those times HE walked alongside as you took that step out of the boat in faith and obedience (Matt. 14:29). All the while you must keep your eyes focused on Him and not the circumstances that surround your obedience or you may sink. Your testimony to your children, of what God did in and through you, will leave legacies once you are gone. Along with them seeing the fruit that came from your obedience.

Don't allow Satan to discourage you! I was having a rough day with the boys recently and a friend text me "Satan is great with discouragement."  SO true! If thoughts of doubt come into your mind, pray that the Lord would give you clarity and wisdom (James 1:5) on what HE wants you to do next.

What is HE asking you to do? Are your eyes focused on HIm as you get out of the boat?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Shepherding Your Childs Heart

The Anderson Family this summer. The "docent" is seated on the right!

My Father-in-law used to like to be called a docent.  A docent is a word I didn’t know the definition to nor had I ever heard.  He explained to me it was another term for a “tour guide.”

After my father-in-law retired, he gathered as many of his friends that would fit in his SUV and take day trips to areas along the South Carolina coast and share his historical knowledge.  He is a brilliant man, and his love of history is made perfect on historical sites with those who are curious to know the past.

I was thinking about our role in our children’s life.  We too, are docents with our children.  Guiding them to those things that will grow their walks with Christ. Guiding them away from things that may bring them harm.

As the old saying goes, "you can take a mule to water but you can’t make him drink."  We can guide our children all we want. When they are younger we can pick them up and move them where they will be safe.  As they age they will make their own choices.
 Google Images

Tedd Tripp wrote one of Greg and my favorite parenting books, Shepherding Your Child’s heart.  Mr. Tripp writes how important it is to not to merely try and control our children. Rather we are to lead their hearts into a personal relationship with Christ.

In our Ladies Bible study we are looking at the Names of Jesus.  This week we have been looking at Jesus calling Himself, I AM.  We specifically looked at the scripture in John 10:11, where Jesus said, “I AM the Good Shepherd.”

I began to parallel the words docent and shepherd.  I realized a docent is tour guide while a shepherd literally leads with care.  So I asked myself, which (if either) am I doing as a Mom?  Am I guiding my children just for a sight seeing experience? Am I taking a pointer and simply showing them highlights of a tour? Am I taking them to the beach, or the park, or even a historical landmark, simply to say we have been on a tour?

Or am I shepherding them?  Loving them, caring for them.

This past week, Greg and I experienced that difficult moment in parenting.   The experience where the child literally looks like the thirsting horse by the river, but won’t take a drink.  As previously mentioned, when they are younger we can “man handle” them down to the bank and ladle the water to their lips.  When the children are the ages ours are, you look at them in disbelief that they could possibly be so obstinate.

Yet in this moment, Greg and I looked at each other after the child had left the room.  Our options included: giving up, correction, or shepherding. The tempting option was to give up. However, His Spirit encouraged us to keep shepherding, to keep taking them down to the water’s edge.

My challenge is for you to consider your role in your childs life.  Are you merely a docent or are you reflecting our Savior as The Good Shepherd?  Ladies, we can’t give up now.  The water is cool and refreshing.  In fact Christ said, “I AM the living water!”  Let’s shepherd our children making this Water available as The Good Shepherd does to us!
Google Images

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Creator

Do you remember the great childhood classic Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White? I haven’t read it in a couple of years but my last reading of it was memorable. I was reading it with my oldest daughter who hadn’t yet been told that the meat she ate each day used to be an animal. When we got to the part where they were talking about Wilbur being the Easter ham she was appalled to say the least. But that is not the memorable part. This is probably cruel and I have most likely caused the need for my daughter to have future counseling but it was like the filter from my brain to my mouth was malfunctioning. She was just so grossed out by Wilber being eaten as a ham. We had just eaten lunch and it was the good old American meal of hot dogs and mac-n-cheese. And out of my mouth it came, “What are you so upset about? You just ate Wilbur for lunch! What did you think a hot dog was made of?” Oh, I can still see the look of shock on her face. To anyone who is a vegetarian or crazy about animal rights you probably don’t find that funny at all, but I am telling you, it was priceless. I am still laughing about it. No worries for my fellow meat eaters, she still eats meat. But she does frequently tell me how her favorite food is steak and how terrible she feels for that cow.

Thanks for taking that quick trip down memory lane with me. There was really no point to that story except for the fact that I am still laughing and will probably be smiling the entire time I write this blog. But there was a point to Wilbur being an Easter Ham. Charlotte, the spider, had promised Wilbur she would stop the farmer from following through on the whole ham thing. So one night she spins a web and in it she writes “Some Pig.” Mr. Zuckerman, the farmer, is just blown away. He isn’t sure what is so unusual about his pig yet, but he is certain that there is something because the web says so. “It’s a miracle,” he says. Mr. Zuckerman goes to his wife, tells her all this and this is her reply, “Well, it seems to me you’re a little off. It seems to me we have no ordinary spider.”

How often are we like Mr. Zuckerman? We look right past the Creator and focus on the creation. I like Kate’s word of the year, intentional. I have decided to be intentional in seeing the Creator and in helping my kids to see the Creator.

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Romans 1:20

I read this the other day in my bible study and was stuck on the phrases ‘clearly seen’ and ‘without excuse’. Without a bible, without a bible study, without a Pastor, He can still be seen “clearly.” He has made his creation, leaving us with no excuse for not seeing and knowing that He is the Creator. I have no plan to go without my bible, bible study or Pastor, but I do plan to slow down and see the Creator through his creation and I want my kids included in this too.

I can see us all sitting outside enjoying the sunshine, drinking lemonade and laughing together. I want to slow that down, tell my kids to feel the heat of that sunshine on their skin, to recognize that the sun is a huge ball of gas. It’s so bright we can’t look at it without it hurting our eyes. It is so huge we can still see it from 93 million miles away and can you imagine how hot that sun would be if the Earth were any closer to it. It would be so hot that life could not exist.

I can see the kids running and playing so hard that they have to stop, lay down in the grass to catch their breath. Now slow that down. I will have them breath in slow, feel their chest rise and fill with oxygen. Exhale slowly and feel the carbon dioxide leave their body.

I can see us taking a walk through the woods. Now slow down. Stop and feel the tree. Feel its rough bark and soft leaves. It is amazing that the oxygen we breathe in is from that tree and that very same tree needs the carbon dioxide we breathe out. It is amazing how sensitive to touch our fingertips are that they feel the rough, the soft, the cold, and the hot.

I want to slow down with my kids and really take in the creation but most of all I want to take in the awesomeness of a Creator who put the earth just far enough away from the sun so that life could exist on it. The incredible care that was taken in forming our bodies just right so that they could see, hear, taste, smell and touch. The remarkable detail of the Creator who made a tree that needs what we breathe out and we need the oxygen that it makes.

In all that is seen a Creator that loves and cares for his creation, a Creator that wants his creation to thrive and wishes them good. It is evidence of the truth of God’s Word, that the invisible qualities of his divine nature and eternal powers are clearly seen.

I invite you to join me in being intentional in seeing the Creator through his creation with your children. I have no bigger plan than just to slow down and take it all in. I know some days that will seem impossible but I am up for the challenge. I want my kids to see just how much their God loves them and this is just one more way to go about that.

The Good News of Jesus Christ is evidence of our Creator’s love for us. It is a picture that is hard to wrap our heads around sometimes. The idea that our Creator could love us so much that He would send His son to die for us, a fallen sinful people. And if you have ever taken a real hard look at yourself I am sure you understand what I am talking about. You see your ugliness and don’t understand why God would do that for you. It’s love, a love that is beyond our understanding. But God has given us something that we can clearly see and understand about His love in what He has made. I want to use that to teach my children about their Heavenly Father’s love for them.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

In His Time

"Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand." (Isaiah 64:8)

I remember my first year of teaching (even though I'd rather forget it) and how difficult it was for me. I felt like I was acting the part of a teacher, b/c if my students really knew how little I knew about controlling them or disciplining them or teaching them--I was in real trouble. I felt like I was on stage, all eyes on me and I was winging it as best I could at times. And many nights I'd drive home thinking, "What am I doing?".

Fast forward to year four and I no longer felt the pressure to "act" like anybody else but me. I was comfortable in front of my 6th graders, I loved what I was doing and I had been there long enough that kids knew me before they entered my classroom from their older brothers or sisters. Even though I had days in those first couple years where I wanted to quit, I managed to stick it out and the rewards were finally starting to surface. People told me it'd get better and I hung on to that hope--sometimes, by a thread. And they were right.

Now, as a mom, I have similar days to those first years in the classroom. Those moments when I feel like I'm acting out the part of what I think a good mother should be. Because if my kids really knew how little I knew about controlling them or disciplining them or teaching them--I would be in real trouble.

I hear so often how other moms are teaching their kids scripture and reading devotions with them and of course I want my boys to have that experience early on in our house. So, yesterday I decided to sit down with both of them and read a children's version of the creation story to them and apply it to what we had been learning in Sunday School. But as I started reading, I felt again like I was playing a part. Not that I don't enjoy sharing with them or being a part of their spiritual journey, I just don't completely feel natural doing it.

They both did really well while I read (except for the 2 minute explanation of why Griffin had a mosquito bite on his leg), but I've realized that's normally the case. Things usually go pretty smoothly, it's just the anticipation and wondering what's going to go wrong that throws me off.

And, of course, everything gets better with time. It was last year that I tried teaching Cooper his first memory verse and he just wasn't getting it. I kept thinking I was doing something wrong, if I was like this or that mother he'd have it by now...what were they doing that I wasn't? But just last week he recited in sunday school Genesis 1:1 and now I know that some things just come with time.

That if our hearts are truly in it, the feeling of playing a role will gradually become more real and the graces of God will fall on us in the meantime.

Help us to grasp this thing called motherhood. There are definitely days where we feel like we're trying to be the best mom we can be in spite of our weaknesses and inexperience. Allow us to fall on you in those times and rest knowing that in our inability you will pick us up and push us to be the mom you called us to be. We love you, Lord.
In Your Name,

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Respect and Manners

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another
Romans 12:10

This morning my husband and I were doing our devotions before the kids woke up, and as we read through Proverbs, my husband commented on the Scriptures referencing having a foolish vs disciplined child. It brought us to a discussion on manners. We talked about how it seems that not many kids these days are taught respectful behaviors such as saying "sir" and "ma'am", standing when a lady or authority figure enters the room, making eye contact when speaking to an adult (it should be noted that this behavior in particular is actually considered disrespectful in some cultures), using body language that shows interest in what the speaker is saying, etc.

Then Rick said something very interesting. He said he remembers every student who ever thanked him after a class. He then proceeded to name them. These kids would walk up to him at the end of every class, look him in the eye, and say thank you before leaving for their next class. I too remember the students who were more respectful, but it's a little different dynamic in elementary. We did lessons on manners, and the expectation was to use them. In Rick's high school classes, these were the kids who took it to heart and made it a part of their character. They made it a point to thank a teacher for his instruction. And not only did he notice, he remembered years after.

Of course, we want that to be our kids. We have already started with "yes/no, sir/ma'am" and the other basics of please, thank you, etc. with Selah, but we realized today that we want to go beyond the basics of manners and teach our children to go above and beyond to be caring, respectful, well-mannered children and, eventually, adults. Proverbs 20:11 says "Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright".

So, we have begun making a list of behaviors we want to make sure we are modeling for our kids and instructing them in. John 13:35 tells us that all will know we are Christians by our love for one another; and we know from 1st Corinthians 13 that love is kind. It is not arrogant or rude. Teaching this kind of respect and humility to our children is just one more way to show the world the Love of Christ. I hope you will join me in this mission. I pray that you too will make a list of behaviors and manners you would like to start modeling for and teaching your child to exhibit. I pray that we will be successful in raising up a generation of respectful young ladies and gentleman and grow more ourselves in this area. Let's pray together!

Lord, we commit this plan to you, knowing that if we "commit our way unto You, You shall bring it to pass". Please help us to teach our children to be honorable, respectful, and well-mannered individuals who reflect Your love in their interactions with other children and adults. We pray that they would show the utmost integrity in this area and really take this lesson to heart that it may become such a part of their character that they do it without anticipating recognition or reward. May they find joy in showing respect and gratitude and making others feel loved and appreciated, especially those who may be difficult to love but most in need. Please help me to grow in these areas as well that I may effectively role model this kind of loving behavior. May all of this be for Your glory alone Lord. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Temper Temper

“My dear brothers [and sisters] take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
James 1:19-20 (NIV)

Patience. It’s the one thing that still drives me crazy! It is one of the many things God has been working into me over the years. It’s something I prayed for when I was a little girl. It is something I still struggle with. I desire to be patient, but there is a little part of me that always wants to know “when”…okay, and maybe “how” as well. I find that this thing called patience…or the lack thereof, bleeds into all areas of my life. No one or nothing is exempt—especially my kids.

My son Mikey is such a beautiful gift. He lightens me up in so many ways. He is calculated, yet free; cautious, yet zany. Although outwardly he is always on the move, inwardly he seems to be in no rush at all. And it is this late point on which we differ so much. I am naturally a go, go, go person---outwardly and inwardly. I find that I am often multi-tasking outwardly and focusing on several different things inwardly at the same time. I am often in a rush. I need to slow down. Mikey is never in a rush—never in a rush to put his shoes on, go to the bathroom, brush his teeth, put his clothes on, etc. He would be perfectly content to have all of the above be a process in which takes several breaks (in the middle of each task) to stop and play with a toy. He needs to speed up.

I have found that this difference in us often gets my pressure pot cooking. Afterall, we need to go! Yet, I have found that once again I need to stop and ask for wisdom and balance. I need to slow down a bit AND lovingly teach him how to pick up the pace—he does not need to take his airplane to the bathroom to go potty and brush his teeth. :) In fact, God has been showing me that when I slow down and exercise patience with him, I enjoy him a whole lot more. In fact, I come to appreciate him for who he is…I tend to focus more on what he does right! On the other end of the spectrum, when I am moving far too fast, I tend to focus on what he does wrong. :(

I have come to realize that I need to be more of a teacher than a corrector. I want to train him up to be a man of God. My husband told me about a “Focus on the Family” broadcast he listened to recently. In the broadcast, the woman discussed how important it is to be wise and thoughtful in dealing with strong-willed kids. She said so many things that I need to hear (some things that for the sake of time I will blog about later), but one thing she said is that we often think we need to shape our kids, but we don’t. We need to unfold the person that God has created them to be. As I meditated on that, I realized that far too often I was trying to shape Mikey into a little me. I like myself as much as the next person, but we do not need another me walking around our house. ;)

In an effort to unfold him, I think that there are three things I need to remember to do each day.

1. I need to be consistent. He needs to know what the rules are, and I need to enforce them so that I am not blowing my cool because “I have already asked him five times”. He needs to learn first-time obedience. I need to lovingly enforce it. As my husband would say, “don’t get angry and start lecturing the boy, just write a ticket”—a police metaphor for giving him a consequence (time out, take away the toy, no TV show that day, etc.).

2. I need to take the time to meaningful dialogue with him—and yes, sometimes that does involve asking “why”. Even though as parents we are often told not to ask our kids why they don’t want to do something, I have often found that asking him “why” gives me a glimpse into his heart. Sometimes he isn’t being defiant, sometimes I learn that he needs help or doesn’t know where his shoes are so he can’t put them on. Other times, he is just curious to know how something works. Asking questions often helps me respond appropriately to the situation. It also gives him “grace to grow”.

3. I need to ask the Holy Spirit to fill me each day so I can be poured out instead of drained out. This beautiful thing called motherhood that was begun in the spirit needs to be continued in the spirit, not in my fleshly, fallen way.
I’ll have to check back in to let you know how I am doing with these things. But I pray that you and I will both seek to unfold our kids so that they can be the young men and women of God that they were created to be. I would also pray that God will help us slow down and study our kids so we can understand “why” they are the way they are…and enjoy that they are not just like us. :)

Heavenly Father, thank you for your incredible love and your incredible patience with me. Truly, I do not deserve it. Help me to extend that same type of patience to my kids so that they can grow in you, knowing that they are loved by both you and me as they grow and sort things out. Help me to be quick to listen and slow to become angry. Help me to do what I so often tell my kids—to not say anything if I don’t have anything nice (or loving) to say… so that in my rushing I don’t say something harsh. Help me to put you at the center of everything, and please help me to slow down. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Verses to consider:

“The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.” Ephesians 7:8 (NIV)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22

“Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Colossians 3:12

Sunday, January 22, 2012

"Broken In" by Guest Blogger Sheila

“God bless you! I can barely handle one!”

I read a blog today written by Smicha Fisher that inspired me to write about this topic.
Listen, mom’s of one or just pregnant and starting out. One is hard! I remember being a mom
of one. I remember fretting over every move. Is she eating the right things and if so is it enough?
Am I spending enough time stimulating her or is she lacking intellectually and developmentally
for her age? What if I drop her? What if she gets hurt? Can I care for another human or is she
going to need therapy to fix the damage I have non-intentionally done? I pushed her limits
developmentally. I attempted to get ooos and awes’ with the designer clothes and hair styles.
All the while I was exhausted! I could no longer bathe myself in privacy. Reading was a thing of
the past. The money was gone for any extras and I had to change from me me me to her her
her!! I was learning to be selfless and I was plagued by terrible visions of what might happen to
her if I shifted my eyes away for just one second. She demanded all of my extra attention. I
remember doing everything I could think of to find new ways to spend time with her just to get
through the day. Yes ladies, one is hard!

When I heard other women discuss their multiple children or saw moms in the store
surrounded by 2 or more I felt guilty. “I can’t believe how much I am struggling with this one
child. I would never be able to handle more. How do they find time for anything?” These were
just some of the questions that haunted my mind. I felt disgraced as a mother and though I
have always been a fighter, a I can handle it all kind of girl, my invincibility was shriveled. Do
you ever compare yourself to other women? Do you hear about their accomplishments as a
mother handling many roles and wonder what happened to you? I am guilty of this. I hear my
friends with multiples leading women’s groups and think how does she do it?! I can’t even
handle my own life. I hear other children’s accomplishments and immediately compare my
children’s status with theirs. I hear of their cooking, see their clean houses, their devotional life,
etc. and immediately I am looking at myself and feeling pretty unaccomplished. Until I read
God’s word about this matter:

2 Corinthians 10:12 12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with

some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by

themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not
wise. NIV

Wow, not wise, A.K.A. a fool! When I compare myself to other women I am being a fool.
God created me to do the things He wants ME to do. No other mom will mommy like me. No
other house is intended to look like mine. We glean things from our friends, yes, but we do life
the way God intended.

Galatians 6:4 Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you
will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won't need to compare
yourself to anyone else. NLT

Yes I have three children and though it’s time consuming I have been broken in. Many
times I tried to keep up with the preoccupation of measuring up to others but it only got me
frustrated and weary. Not the result I was longing for. I no longer fret about the imperfect hair
and clothes. I don’t worry when one doesn’t want to eat, they will get nourishment at the next
meal/snack time. I don’t envision anywhere near the amount of tragedies that I used to. I have
more laundry; spend more on food, have a messier house, but I don’t worry that everything
has to be in its place. I keep up with the needs of three schedules and don’t make it to every
function but it’s ok. I am broken in! My kids aren’t perfect but I hear scripture come out of
their mouth, hear worship songs on their lips and have seen the fruit produced in them as my
husband and I attempt to parent the way the Bible leads.

We are not intended to be each other ladies. We are intended to do the things God has
laid out for us, each of us as individuals, each of us with our own gifts and talents.

Romans 12:6-8 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given
to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with
your[a] faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is
to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously;
if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Run the race well and keep your eye on the prize that God has intended for you! Don’t be
tempted to let your mind compare you to anyone because it’s amazing what you alone have
been made to achieve. You can accomplish all things through Christ who strengthens you!!
Philippians 4:13

Philippians 4:8 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is
noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is
admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Gracious Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us unique characteristics. You know what we can
and are able to handle. Please forgive us when we compare ourselves to others. Help us to have
the strength, wisdom, and courage to accomplish the tasks You have ordained for us. Help us
to crave You more Lord and not be fooled into thinking we need to measure up to those around
us. Thank you for using all of us differently and distinctly placing us together at this time to
strengthen one another as iron sharpens iron. We love you Lord! Amen

If you find yourself comparing think instead of what you have accomplished that day,
week, or month. What task have you fulfilled that was specifically designed for you?


Saturday, January 21, 2012

She Provides Food for Her Family!

She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants.  -Proverbs 31:15

Most of us as we read the above verse we think of physical food that she is providing for her family & others serving her family. But what about the spiritual food she is digesting and giving out to those under her roof. I LOVE sleep. I stay up late and get up early and I definitely need more of it. For the longest time I have felt the nudge from the Lord to get up early for morning devotions but have continually put it off until recently. I have come to love my morning time with the Lord. He shows me such good nuggets of wisdom as I get refreshed and ready to head out with my marching orders for the day. It is such a small deposit with such great dividends. I want to be a wise mom and have kindness on my tongue as I instruct (Prov. 31:26). How can I expect to be "trained" by the master unless I am willing to sacrifice something to get there.

I wrote the above journal entry a few weeks ago.

The paragraph that follows is an entry from today. Very different!!

This past week has been rough with my boys. I have felt like the boys have really struggled with listening and I have been so frustrated to the point of crying many times. I have felt down-trodden and questioned myself. When I re-read the above paragraph I know immediately why. One reason. I have not gotten up to do my devotions as I was doing in weeks prior. Oh yes I have still squeezed in my Bible reading while busily trying to prepare for the day (making breakfast, in between play times with the kids, ect) and I have noticed a common denominator.....the more time in the morning I spend with Him, in prayer and reading the Word, the better I reflected Jesus throughout my day. To everyone. To my husband. To my children.  To my friend who calls. To my cashier at the store. I have something of worth to give them. His truth and His love.

I need to be intentional (my word for 2012) with my devotion time. I need to plan better. I need to go to sleep earlier if I want to have an early coffee date with my Jesus before it's light outside :)

What does your devotion time look like for you these days as a mom?

Do you wish you had a more consistent devotion life?

What are some practical things you can put into place to achieve that?

Have someone to hold you accountable? If not, pray that Jesus brings you a friend who will.

Are you in a busy season with sleepless nights, infants or nursing babies? A great suggestion was made recently at a Bible study.... to read Bible baby board books to your little one and watch how the Lord uses it to teach you as well.

These two journal entries are written very differently. The first had plenty of time carved out for the ONE who gives peace, joy, fulfillment and truth. The last one tried to rely on her own strength and realized no fruit comes from that. Only heartache and frustration.

What kind of week will you have?

"The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him."- Matthew 12:35

Friday, January 20, 2012

Parenting vs. Ministering

The Ladies Bible study started at our church yesterday!  I didn’t sleep well the night before because I was excited to see what God was going to do.  Our pastor’s wife delivered the introduction to our new topic.  The room was filled with ladies three different times. With so many ladies you can be sure childcare was also filled. 

 image found here: google search

Our youngest, Hope (she is our seventh grader) came in to Bible study as school finished.  She was quick to ask the director of the study how childcare went.  She told Hope that there was a high amount of children and a low amount of volunteers.  Hope, without hesitation considered how she could get out of her classes the following week to help the need in childcare.

Her desire to leave school is not because she dislikes school, its because she loves the children and sees her help as valuable.

I love Hope’s perspective and am embarrassed and humbled by my own. She saw a need and offered to minister, to be a servant. She simply tried to find a way to help.

Occasionally, I slow down long enough to hear God’s still voice.  It comes in the form of hearing the same scripture, the same prompt of the Spirit, the same burden over and over throughout a small span of time.  This week I have recognized the repetitive term, “minister.”

I have specifically considered that term as it pertains to my family. It has been easy for me with some sort of “spiritualese” to say, “My family is my ministry.”  However, to look at my husband and think, “how can I minister to him?” or to talk to our children and consider “how can I minister to our children?” revolutionizes my responses to them.

Here is an example of the change of thought.  My oldest daughter called last night to chat about her anxieties over a new job and their only car that can’t seem to get out of the mechanic shop.  There was a shift from, “I need to parent her” to “how can I minister to her.”

Drew (our son in college three states away) later called to “check in.”  Again, the conversation changed when I altered my mind from mentally parenting him to considering how I could minister to him.

Surely, it must be semantics. In the literal picture of Jesus walking through the unpaved, stone scattered paths of Israel.   I see the God-man, look down at His disciples feet.  Maybe He thought as a parent, “boy those are some stinkin’ feet they better get down to the Sea for a scrub.”  I love the picture that Jesus, filled to compassion, grabbed a towel and dropped to His knees to minister to His disciples.

Why did He do it? Although only a guess, but surely He practically saw they needed their feet cleansed.  But He also washed their feet as an example for us, for me.  He lovingly ministered to those He was closest to.

I am realizing I am so close to my family we just “do life to life together.”  You know, the practical everyday household chores.  When in fact, I need to consider how I can minister to each of them.

Will you join me in an all out day of ministry?  A day where we consider looking at our husbands and children through Christ’s eyes and consider how we can minister to each?

John 13: 4 & 5
4So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, 5and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.