Monday, April 30, 2012

Hide and Seek

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV) Ever play hide and seek with your little ones? Ever pick a really hard spot and find that they are having a hard time finding you? What do you do next? Do you give them a hint, or do you listen as they become increasingly frustrated and start to cry? Does the search go on for hours, all day? Of course not! At some point, you either give a hint or reveal yourself…I hope. :) I love the promises embedded in God’s word, and one of his many promises to us is that if we seek him, we will find him. He does not take pleasure in concealing himself as we become increasingly frustrated. One thing the Lord has been speaking to my heart about lately is seeking His face (intimacy with him), and not just His hand (blessings). I want to know God. I want to experience his power and love at work in my life in the smooth times and the rough times. When I read the Bible, I need to ask him to speak to my heart and reveal himself to me. I have to admit that sometimes I open the Bible with self-seeking motives: God tell me something to make me feel good. Tell me something to help with my situation right now. Let’s decide today to go deeper than that. Let’s seek the Lord’s face and not just his hand. Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the love and joy we find in you. Thank you for the promises of your Word. May we seek your face and fall more in love with you. May we worship you with our lives. May we find that when we are seeking you, you are right there. We love you God. Thank you for revealing yourself to us. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen. Check out the link to this song: “Give Us Clean Hands” by Mark Schultz http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNwc5uzpkMU

Sunday, April 29, 2012

An Outlet

 "A friend loves at all times." - Proverbs 17:17

Last night I was blessed to have coffee with a friend. We don't really know each other all that well but have the common bond of Jesus. After a few moments into our conversation I felt the prompting of the  Holy Spirit to just listen. She needed that. After talking, the weight was lifted and she felt better.

We all need that. An outlet. A place to come and bare our heart and know we will not be judged but prayed for. We all want to be heard.

As a mom we encounter so many struggles and question our decisions continually. We need to have a place we go to for refuge. Where when all that is within us wants to give up but the Lord is saying, "Be still and wait I am doing something here." When is that "coffee time" for you? Do you schedule in some "me time" to get out and talk with other moms to be encouraged and lifted up?

I am so thankful for  my close friend, Fran, that I can call up (even if I am crying) and ask her for prayer. She doesn't judge, but encourages and prays with me.  It is so important to have a friend that is like-minded (Christian) that will build us up (with scripture and prayer) when we are falling down.

Do you have that friend who is your "outlet"? Coffee time for yourself to be refreshed and renewed for your family?

If not, pray and He will provide. He made us for community and knows that there is life in communion with Him and others.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sharing Truth

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. - James 4:14

                                          
In 1988 my older sister, Beth, lost her battle with Lymphoma cancer. She was only14 years old, and lived with the disease for 8 months before going home to Jesus. She is the one with the Santa cap on in the pic above. Sunday, April 22, was the anniversary of her death. I have so much respect for my parents. I watched them walk through trial relying on the Lord for strength, which allowed them to grow closer instead of apart (many divorces occur from the loss of a child). They have ministered both by mouth and action to many who have lost a child.

Now, being a mom, the phrase to "lose a child" has a whole new meaning. I allowed Sunday to be a day our family rejoiced over the life of my sister. I explained to my kids where Beth was and that when we get to heaven we will be greeted by Jesus and Beth too! Some may shy away from talking about death with a four year old, but it gave me an opportunity to share with him truth about life and death. That here on earth we have a beginning, our birthday (day we are born), and an ending (where we will meet Jesus face-to-face if He is our Savior).


Death is part of life. It is the sweetest part of life if we know Jesus.
Talking about death with your kids doesn't have to be a scary thing because the conversation that follows is about Jesus. One about TRUE life, how to find it, and His path to heaven.


Has you family encountered a loss of a loved one (Grandma/Grandpa, family friend, dog, cat, ect) is there is an open door to talk about heaven and TRUE life?


Friday, April 27, 2012

What would you do?


"Praise Be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
Who daily bears our burdens." 
Psalm 68: 19

I love the days when Hope is at dance and I get to meet a friend for coffee.  I was especially looking forward to this week’s coffee meeting because it would be our last visit for awhile as our family will be traveling.
Image found Pinterest
As I pulled in to wait for my friends arrival, I noticed across the parking lot another car with a lady getting out of the drivers front seat to the back seat.  I watched in disbelief as I saw ongoing arms flailing. Both from her and what I gathered was a child.

This seemed like an episode from “What would you do?”  It’s the new show where the actors portray a real life situation to see how people react. (I actually can’t watch it. Every time I’ve seen a commercial for it, it’s so disturbing I have to change the channel.)

Watching across the parking lot, I questioned what should I do?  Maybe it would soon be over.  Two different people walked by, they looked and even stared, but they didn’t do anything. Why should I?   Maybe it is a domestic violence thing…

Finally, I decided, it didn’t matter how they reacted to me, I needed to do the right thing (as Tammy encouraged us in a previous post.)  When I opened my car door, I could hear the child.  As I approached the lady's opened car doors,  I spoke to her.

 “Can I help?”  was all I knew to ask. The lady told me she was the mom of this child with developmental delays and his current medication needed to be adjusted. He had been throwing severe tantrums over the last week.  The sweet mother had several “nicks” where her son had slugged her.

I began speaking to the boy. He immediately became calm.  His speech was limited, but he seemed to understand my questions.  He is ten years old.  With the help of his mother, he told me his name and where he went to school. Just talking to him distracted him from the full on tantrum he was in the middle of.

Galations 6:2 tells us to bear one another’s burdens.  I remember a post where Kate encouraged us not to judge other mommies.  I never felt like there was blame to be given or someone to be judged.  It ached my heart to see this struggle.  I was burdened and wanted to help bear the burden

Lets pray we will be on the lookout for times when we can help carry the burdens of other moms.  These Moms could be your dearest friends or those from church or a mom you had never met before.  Maybe your meeting will come in a grocery store line, in a park or even in a parking lot.

Sweet Heavenly Father, I can’t get Lynn and her son out of my mind.  Lord help her.  Strengthen her.  Give her a desire to find you above a solution to how to care for her son   Provide those who can help carry the burden of raising this little guy.  Thank you we can trust you to bear the burden of any You have allowed to be sifted through your divine fingers.







           


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Feelings


If you can’t put your own feelings into words, how are you supposed to help your child put theirs into words? This was a question I read a few years ago and it made a lot of sense to me. At the time one of my little guys, who was very emotional, seemed to express most of his emotions with anger. He was always hitting or yelling. Whether he was sad, mad, scared or frustrated, it didn’t seem to matter, everything was expressed in the same way, like he was furious.

When I read this I started to make a list of my own emotions and practiced putting them into words. This helped a lot when I was trying to teach my little guy to use his words. I would help him calm down and ask him what his feelings were and it was nice be able to give him a list of different feeling and explain them to him.

Now, a few years later, he is still very emotional but he is also very good at telling you exactly what he feels. Though, if you are his little sister and you upset him, how he feels will most likely get yelled at you. We are all a work in progress.

He may be very emotional but with that comes a gigantic heart; a heart that seems to feel things more fully than others and a heart that loves big. He is a huge blessing and cherished in my heart. God has used him to teach me patients and Proverbs 15:1, “a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

I came across this feelings wheel years later and thought how nice it would have been to have then, so I thought I would share it. I am sure that I am not the only mother that needs to learn to put emotions into words to help their little ones.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

In Your Hands

In these economic times, I hope this brings some encouragement to anyone who has worried or struggled over their finances when raising a family.  From When I'm Praising God by Anita Donihue.

How thankful I am, Lord, that I don't have to depend only on my own resources to provide for my needs.  My happiness isn't dependent upon earthly treasures.  Instead, You know very well what I need.

When I do the best I can to make ends meet, I trust in You and share my tithes with You, I will not lack in what You know I need.  Thank You for not withholding the good things from me as I follow along Your paths of righteousness.  I trust in You.

When I'm tempted to toss and turn because of financial worries, I can cast my cares upon You and thank You already for answers to come.  Then as I trust in You, I have a peace greater than anyone can comprehend.

Have you counted the hairs on my head?  (I must keep You busy when I tear my hair out from worry.  Forgive my distrust, Lord.)  Do You really know each time a sparrow falls?  How valued am I?  Certainly more than a bird, yet they are important, too.

Each time I work to make the money stretch, remind me, Lord, to come to You with even the small needs.  I know You care about those, too.  I praise You for each blessing and miracle You give.

I will bless the Lord at all times:
  his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make her boast in the Lord:
  the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me,
  and let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he heard me,
and delivered me from all my fears.
                                        Psalm 34:1-4


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Being Held Up



Over Spring Break we traveled to visit Rick's family and spend the week with them. On the road trip back, we stopped at a rest stop with a scenic overlook, and we allowed our 1 year old, Susannah, to practice her new found walking skills as we trotted up the path to the overlook spot. She was doing a great job, when all of the sudden she stumbled and almost hit the ground. There she was, dangling, barely escaping scraped knees, tears, and injury, only being held up and supported by my right hand.

She steadied herself, and we continued, at times with me carrying her, until we got to the overlook. It was then as I recounted her near fall to my husband that I saw this perfect picture of what the Lord does for us when we stumble. I can very clearly remember times I have felt I was dangling just like Susie, completely boneless and clinging to the Lord to hold me up. Just like in the poem, Footprints, I too can clearly and wholeheartedly recall times I could not go on, and the Lord picked me up and carried me through. We have all had those seasons as will our children.

Our kids need to "fall" to experience the fullness of the Lord's mercy and grace. But as moms we rest in God's promise to uphold them and us with His righteous right hand.  He will never leave us or forsake us. He will carry us through the times we are too weary to go on. And much like that scenic overlook, at the end of our walk is great reward.

Dear Father, I praise You for Your promise to uphold me and my family with Your mighty and righteous right hand. I pray that my children will only fall far enough to be humbled, changed, and truly appreciative of Your mercy and grace, but never so far as to veer off the path You have laid out for them. When they are weary and weak, I pray that You will carry them through those difficult seasons and that they would daily choose You and choose life no matter what the circumstances. Please give me wisdom to know when to let go and allow them to fall and gain their own wisdom and understanding and when to shelter and protect them. I look to You for the wisdom to raise these children to be true disciples of Jesus Christ. In Your holy and precious Name I pray, Amen.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Exposed

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:1-2 (NIV)

It was a beautiful tree. It had big lush green leaves, a winding trunk, and big fuscia-pink flowers. It provided the perfect amount of privacy from my kitchen table to the front street. I loved to sit at the kitchen table of my old house and look out toward that tree and the beautiful landscaping around it. It was such a peaceful, quiet time spot for me. Well, one day the landscapers came to “spruce thing up” as they made their rounds through the neighborhood mowing loans, trimming hedges, and shaping trees. They usually did a good job, except they always cut the trees back too low…I thought they were just being careless and lazy…just making sure they didn’t have to trim the trees often.

On this particular day, I made a special note reminding myself to ask the landscaper to trim the tree slightly so it did not look haggard by the time he left. Well, I heard them coming as they were making their way from the neighbor’s yard to my yard. One guy was cutting the grass, so I figured I had a few minutes before I needed to make my way outside. I didn’t. I went to complete a task only to come back and find that another guy had come at the same time to trim the tree and the hedges.

Sticks were the only things left of this beautiful tree. It was beyond hideous! Not a single flower or green leaf was left. How could they call this landscaping?! I was mad. So mad that I let the landscaper know how frustrated I was that he had just butchered my tree. There was no more privacy. As I sat at the kitchen table for quiet time, my neighbors going on their morning walk would look toward my direction and wave. Ahhhhh! I was frustrated!

BUT the strangest thing happened: after a couple of weeks of sun and rain, that tree started to bloom from the inside out. Green leaves, buds, and flowers had sprouted up all over the barren branches. It turns out that even though that tree was bountiful on the outside, the inside was barren and needed some sun and rain. The inner branches had to be exposed in order to bear flowers.

Has there ever been a time in your life when you felt pruned to the max? Like God had given you too many burdens, too much pain? Have you ever felt barren or exposed or vulnerable? I have! I can name quite a few times: when my brother and dad died, when we miscarried our second child, when my husband disappointed me, when I felt like my kids were testing me to my limits, when we had to short sale our house.

BUT God was faithful through it all, and just like that tree, He produced fruit and spiritual muscles in my life that I did not have before. Some of those times of trial had produced an incredible surge in my spiritual growth. If you know someone who is going through a tough time, where they feel completely pruned, or if you are going through a tough time of pruning, I want to encourage you that God will transform the haggard brokenness into beauty.

Challenge: Do you know someone who is hurting? How can you better serve them? Remember that one of the best things you can do for them is to remember them in your prayers. Stand in the gap for them. Pray that God will shower them with his Son and the light that only He can give.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, you love us so much. In fact your Word says that you are love. Yet you often allow seasons of pain and pruning in our lives that we don’t understand. Please hold us when we need it the most. Shower us with the love of your Son. Rain your Holy Spirit on us so that we may know that you are near. Help us to be soothing balm to those who are hurting and feeling exposed. Help us to not just pray for our own needs, but for the needs of others. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Further reading: John 15:1-17

***This is a repost of an earlier blog last April, but I am reposting it because rereading it has encouraged me greatly. Once again, my family and I are in a season of intense pruning. I do not like the process, but I find myself thanking God for the results. I have grown in so many ways, and I am so thankful that I am not the woman that I used to be. I pray that this blog post blesses you today.

In His love,
Teresa

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Solution to Chaos

But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way. 
                        - 1 Corinthians 14:40-

Throughout our life we encounter lessons the Lord is trying to teach us. Sometimes we get in the first time and other times it takes some good frustration before our minds recall what we heard and didn't heed.



Lately it seems my boys have really enjoyed jumping, punching, and hitting each other way too much. I have found myself getting irritated as it seems I cannot do anything without someone crying or whining in the process. As I tried to find a common denominator of why this was happening, it occurred to me that our life has gotten off of our regular schedule. We need a routine. We need a schedule.

Today was a rainy day.  But it was great. It caused us to get back on our schedule. We got back on routine and had blanket time (time each child has seperate from each other to play alone - on a blanket or designated area).  Taking many 10-15 minute intervals with different activities (setting our kitchen timer). It allowed me to slow down and enjoy my boys. Exhausting as it was (with no naps mind you), I cherished our quality time together.  


Schedules work. They help alleviate boredom in our kids, which is where most chaos occurs.
 

Are you on a schedule?

If you are not sure....try this activity
---> Get a notepad & commit to write down every activity you do throughout the day
---> After a week (or less) you will see a pattern (or lack of one) with your day/week

This activity was so convicting and telling as I did this last summer :)


If you do not have a schedule....make one.....print it out....put it up....follow it through!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

American Idol Judge?


My husband and I are addicted to watching American Idol each week. It details the lives of aspiring singers along with 3 judges who assist the contestants on their path to stardom. Each week the judges use their own knowledge & experience, in the entertainment business, to help guide them to success. The judges compare each contestants performance to the others in the competition. The experts help them pick their songs, outfits, and choreography. Sometimes their expertise works and is pulled off beautifully. Other times you see the contestant pushed to do a "song choice" that is completely out of their comfort zone and they are so uncomfortable in that genre of music that they fail miserably. Why is that? Because that is not who they are as an artist or as a person. 

I find myself being a "judge" as I compare my kids to others wondering why they don't fit the cookie cutter mold. The reason is because they are not supposed to. They are individuals and God designed them with a purpose and plan completely their own. The "song choice" for their life is unique only to them. The Lord has equipped them with gifts and talents to be used to further the kingdom.

So what spiritual gifts & talents does your child possess?

Click this link & go to the middle of page if you want to print out a test (do at a later time)
Kids Spiritual Gift Test

How can you encourage them to use those for His glory??

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. -James 1:5

Pray that the Lord helps you hone in on those areas. Praise your child for the abilities they have been given. Don't compare. Smile He is going to do great things with your child if you continue to seek His face daily and rely on His word for wisdom.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Mom, are we there yet?


This week Greg and I are on a family road trip to be with His parents for their 50th wedding anniversary.  When taking a road trip I always try to start with my best foot forward by washing and preparing the van for the adventure.  Cleaning it good inside and out, washing the windows, stocking it with essentials such as; water bottles, snacks, paper towels, Clorox wipes and tissues.
  
Our family has had many road trips under our belt.  We have been laughing while sharing favorite moment stories from past trips.  We have had many trip challenges to overcome, some small, like emergency bathroom stops or getting lost, and some large, like accidents or car sickness.  We have great bonding times on the open road.  As we reminisce about our favorite stories, I think as a mom how our family has grown and changed through the years,

Car music - From Barney to Justin Bieber
Luggage - From Diaper Bag to Ballet Bags
Snacks - From Cheerios to Sandwiches
Entertainment – From Road Trip Bingo to watching DVDs and listening to iPods
From Single to Married for one of our Daughters and now Son-In-Law first road tip (Also the first trip that our son will meet us there from college)

I look back with such gratitude and see how faithful God has been to our family.   Road trips are not just about the destination, but about the memories that we build along the way. I am looking forward with great expectation to many more trips in our future.  

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. Phil 4:11 NKJV

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Comfort

“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible” Hebrews 11:24-27

Moses persevered because he saw Him who is invisible! I love this. This spoke to the depths of my heart when I read it because don’t we all have our Egypts? The places or things we know we should leave or the ones we wish to go back to but it’s just a fleeting pleasure. It could be anything, big or small, it’s different for everyone. It could be a relationship that you know is not healthy, a job that pushed the ethics envelop, maybe the indulgence of dessert a little to frequently, another pair of shoes, a good book or movie that you can just get lost in.

It is that stuff that makes us all comfortable. But, sometimes that stuff is what keeps us from a right relationship with our Heavenly Father. Seeking comfort in areas where we should be running into the arms that will never leave us or forsake us can really hinder that relationship. God wants to be our comfort, our security, our refuge. He doesn’t want us to turn to substitutes when he is right there waiting.

Take the Israelites for example, seeing God perform one miracle after another. A huge one being that He heard their cries for help in the first place and delivered them out of Egypt. Yet, the minute something was uncomfortable, “Oh why didn’t you just leave us in Egypt? Did you bring us all the way out to the desert to die?” Whine, whine, whine. They forgot so quickly what Egypt really held for them, that they were getting just what they asked for and just who their God was.

“Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.” Isaiah 59:1

Man, I do not want to be that annoying. But, I fear that I probably am.

Lord, I pray that you would search me and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).

To be the mom I desire to be, one my kids can love and look up to, one whose example they can follow. I have got to have things right in my own heart. I have to look to the One who is invisible and not seek the fleeting pleasures of my Egypts but instead run into the arms of my Father.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Be Watchful

"Summon your power, O God; show us your strength." (Psalm 68:28)

We had a prowler in our neighborhood last night who took a few things from one of our unlocked cars in the driveway. Talking to neighbors, it seems he managed to open about six cars without having to break in and therefore, we were taken.

It makes me think about our hearts and our minds when we're on the verge of thinking that everything is safe and we're in a good place in life. We have Christian friends, we go to church, we pray and read His word...but we may let our guard down thinking that Satan is prowling around in someone else's life. Not ours.

But oh how sneaky he is--like a prowler in the night waiting for some trusting soul to let their guard down. He waits for just the right time to lurk into our thoughts with worry or sadness. He attacks the weak and vulnerable and is made glad by the darkness because that's where he does his best work.

Don't let him!

God has his mighty hand in every detail if we will just call on Him! He knows where the devil crawls around and waits and He will be right there every time if our hope is in Him.

Dear Lord,
I pray that our guard will not be down in facing the enemy. You know the places where we need to watch and pray and be more aware of where Satan is trying to beat us down. Please go ahead of us and prepare a way that will keep us safe from harm and danger and guard our hearts.
In Your Name,
Amen.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Doing Right When You Are Wronged


Recently, my precious, creative little girl thought that the Curious George book we had checked out from the local library could use a little more red... well, actually, alot more red. So, she got through about 4-5 pages or so with her red crayon before I caught her- red-handed, you might say.

In the past, we have checked out books on more than one occasion that had been colored in, and I decided I was not going to be that person. I found a brand new version of the same book online for around $5 and purchased it. I walked into the local library branch where we had checked out the book, explained our situation, apologized and handed them both books. Well, it turns out there is a new "no exchange for damaged materials" policy, and I would have to pay to replace the book, plus a processing fee. I explained my heart to the clerk, told her I was a stay at home mom on a budget, and $22 plus the $5 I had already spent was alot for me. She recommended I contact the main branch as there was nothing she could do.

After being transferred 3 times, telling my story each time, a woman finally said she would look into what they could do for me and call me back. She later left a message saying they would do nothing, and said I should work out payments with the local branch. Shock. They all seemed so nice and understanding on the phone. It's times like this where being honest and doing the right thing is tough. I probably could have dropped off the book and pretended it never happened (obviously, they don't check the pages of the books upon return), but I refused to even view that as an option. What kind of example would that be for my kids, and most importantly, what would the Lord say of me? (The message in Luke 16:10 resounded on my heart.)

As I drove to the library, I prayed, and I thought to myself how it just stinks that there was no grace to make an even exchange, and how they were putting honest people in a tough place. I just wanted to get it over with quickly, like ripping off a band-aid, go home, and let it be. Well, after all that, the woman I returned the book to, with money in hand, told me not to worry about it, it happens all the time, and she did not think it was fair to charge me that much money. After I asked several times if she was sure this was okay, Selah apologized to her for coloring in the book, and we walked out thanking the Lord for hearing and answering our prayer.

Would they have noticed if I had simply dropped the book in the return slot as if nothing happened? Probably not. Would my 2 year old and 1 year old daughters have known that Mommy made a dishonest choice? Again, probably not. But I would have known, and more importantly, God would see that blemish on my character. I am far from perfect, but I do desire to walk blamelessly before the Lord and as an example to my kids and be faithful and honest in both the little and big things.

Doing right in even the smallest things and maintaining the utmost integrity is an example I believe we all hope to set for our kids and a character trait we pray we model for and teach to them. So, even when it's tough, when we are greeted with injustice, and even in the smallest detail, let's pray we will maintain the utmost integrity, display our faithfulness to God, and set a standard for our kids.

Lord, I pray today for Your Holy Spirit to guide me in every area of my life. May my character be defined by the utmost integrity, and may dishonesty never be an option. I pray my children will see me as a role model in this area and grow in integrity and honesty as well. Please give me strength and perseverance to do right according to Your Word and Way even when I am wronged and treated unjustly and help me teach my children to do the same. Please be our Redeemer, Defender, and Justice. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Different Spirit

“But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and serves me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.” Number 14:28 (NLT)

I was watching Mikey skip in the grass, play in the dirt, and pick up “flowers” (weeds). I was agitated. All of this would have been totally normal and OK with me, except he was on the soccer field! He was supposed to be kicking the ball or at least running after it. Half of me thought, “Ahhh, this is his first season, give him a break.” The other more competitive part of me thought, “I don’t care if he is actually good at soccer or if he even kicks the ball, but he better listen to his coach, pay attention, and at least give it his best shot.” I was mulling over whether or not to pull Mikey aside and say something when my husband stepped in.

God had presented him with the perfect opportunity to give Mikey a little “pep talk”. His cleats had become untied and so Rod called him aside and tied shoes. As he was tying his shoes I heard, “Hey Mikey…” Ah man, I could not make out the rest of what he said. Mikey went back on the field, and the coach blew the whistle. Mikey shot out after the ball with such veracity that he and his opponent collided and Mikey did a somersault over the ball. I was shocked! The very next play was just as shocking. Mikey ran after the ball with such intensity that he even chased the ball out of bounds. I found myself laughing hysterically. That was my Mikey! I cheered for him as loud as I could!

I was curious. “Babe, what did you say to Mikey?” He said I just told him, “Hey Mikey! I did not get off of work early to watch you play in the dirt, pick flowers, and put grass in your mouth. I got off of work early to watch you play soccer. So go out there and do your best!” And he gave him a big hug.

As he told me that little piece of information, I was shocked. That was it?! It was so simple, yet so direct. We really don’t care if Mikey scores a goal (although that would be great), we just want to see him play wholeheartedly…to go out there and do his best. More than that, we hope that one day he will live wholeheartedly like Caleb did, and have an unconquerable spirit for God or what the Bible calls a “different spirit”.

I was thinking about how this applies to my life, and like all other good character traits that I wish to nurture in my children, I realized that I need to model it first. It’s like I could hear God saying to me, “Teresa, I didn’t die on the cross so you could…be so concerned about being politically correct that you don’t talk about me to the other mom at the park. I didn’t die on the cross so that you…would watch that piece of trash on TV because it’s the popular show right now. I didn’t die on the cross so that you would…hold back on telling your girlfriend the truth in love because you are afraid of hurting her feelings. I died on the cross so that you could be free of other people’s opinions and expectations and that you could live wholeheartedly for me.”

So, what about you? In what ways could you live more wholeheartedly for the Lord and see him do in your life and in your children’s lives what He did for Caleb?

Heavenly Father,
I thank you that your Word is so full of wonderful examples and divine encouragement about how to live this life. Help us to love you and your ways. Help us to live for you wholeheartedly and not be concerned about what other people will think of us. Only your opinion matters. Help us put feet to our faith and run like crazy for you. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

For more great info about the life of Caleb, check out: Numbers 13 & 14; Joshua 14. You will be blessed and encouraged! :)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Refreshment

 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. - Philippians 3:12


A few days ago I read a blog by a friend and it so ministered to my heart that I felt led to        re-post it for you! I pray as you read Elizabeth's message you are encouraged and hopeful knowing HE loves you very much regardless of your situation. 
Click this link to view her awesome blog.
http://paulsonpawleysisland.com/2012/04/13/imitation-is-the-sincerest-form/

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Whose Power Are You Tapping Into?

"When the Holy Spirit comes to you, you will receive power." - Acts 1:8

I recently read the book, "The Big Red Tractor and the Little Village", to my boys that really got me thinking.  Sit back, listen and we will come back in a few to discuss some main points together.



Which character can you most relate with
(1) the villagers- relying on their own strength and knowledge ---> producing little fruit
or
(2) Farmer Dave- relying on the strength & power of the Holy Spirit and
     seeking wisdom in the "Owners Manual" the Bible -----> producing much fruit

I was so convicted as I read this to my boys because I realized I was SO much like the villagers. Not calling out for the Holy Spirit in the craziness of my day when struggling. I want to be full of His power and strength. I want to be fruitful with an abundance to share. I must allow His Spirit to do the leading if I plan to be a helper with the harvest.

What role does the Holy Spirit play in your life? Do you daily reach out in prayer and ask His Spirit to lead and guide you as you disciple your child(ren)?


Lord, help me to rely on Your power in my daily walk with you. Baptize me afresh with your Holy Spirit today and remind me of your strength when I want to rely on my own.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Remnant of Easter



            As I glance out the back windows of our home since Sunday…I smile!

I am reminded of the two dozen friends and family we had in our home for Easter dinner.  I am reminded of the food we ate, the friendships that were represented and most importantly the reason we celebrate Easter.

As a mom, I smile looking at the remnant of Easter.  Or should I say the remnant of motherhood?

I see hanging from the largest tree in our yard tissue paper flowers.  Our oldest, Michelle made the flowers. 

Greg and I often said we should have named Michelle, “Happy.”  Michelle always finds happiness in life. 

As believers, we can’t live expecting happiness, rather we can choose to rejoice!  Rejoice in all circumstances.

I Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18  “Rejoice always…for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

        I should really take those tissue paper flowers down, but instead, I will rejoice! 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

His Masterpiece



Every day when we are sitting around the table doing school there are a few things that I can guarantee: there will be complaining from one of the children and probably me, we will get off task, and my one son will always interrupt another siblings lesson because what ever he is having a hard time with is more important and he needs help NOW! Every day. I explain to him every single day, “If you have a problem move to the next one until I am done. Do not interrupt. This child’s lessons are just as important as yours. Be patient.”

Now I am sure, mainly because I have read them, that there are some great parenting books that would tell me this happening on a daily bases is my own fault. My mom would just tell me I need to watch super nanny. I am sure it is my fault, which makes it all the more frustrating. Anyway this one child, in particular, is the most persistent little child I have ever met and many who know him would agree. He knows what he wants and he does not give up without a fight.

Since birth he has been this way. He refused to take bottles he would only nurse. My mother-in-law said, “just leave him with me he will eat when he is hungry.” Oh, no he won’t. The kid nearly dehydrated because he would not eat. I bought every bottle and every nipple available at the Babies R Us. Nothing worked. He knew what he wanted and he was gonna fight for it.

If he knows in advance that there is something fun that will be happening later in the day. He will demand it come quicker. He is ready the minute he gets out of bed. He will even skip meals to speed things along. I know it is normal for children to be excited and ask about something throughout the day but he is above average in this area.

If he wants me for anything he doesn’t just say mom once, it’s “mom, mom, mom, mom, mom.” It doesn’t matter how many times I say, “Buddy, I heard you on the first mom” he just has to use the word mom in multiples. He knows what he wants and this is his way of fighting for it.

Like I said he is a very persistent little guy and as annoying as that can be sometimes I can see that God will use his persistence for good. He is God’s masterpiece. God has good things planned out for him to do. He has had them planned out since before he was born. As his mom I pray that God will help me to see my son through His eyes. I want to encourage that fight in him, encourage the fight for good. I don’t want to just see the frustrating parts of it I want to bring out the good.

I encourage you today to ask God to help you see your child through His eyes. Pray that God would give you a glimpse of His masterpiece in your child. Maybe those things that sometimes bring you frustration God will have a way to use them for His good. And while you are doing that remember that you too are God’s masterpiece and He is still working on you. He has plenty of good things planned for you starting with the good you can do in the lives of the little ones he has blessed you with.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus so we can do good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Sound Mind



You know, in my life, one of the greatest strongholds the enemy uses to trap me in his lies is my own thoughts/emotions. Take any of the above statements on the left, and you can believe that I have felt that way or said that to myself throughout the course of my life. In times like this, I base my view of reality on a thought or feeling rather than a spiritual truth.

As a mother of 2 girls, I realize that they will most likely experience these same insecurities and doubts at some point in their lives, and I am so grateful to have this tool to help teach them and myself how to fight and win this spiritual battle for our minds and hearts.

Ephesians 6 goes through the armor of God and how we are to fully clothe ourselves in order to fight the daily battle for our souls. Much of this armor is for our protection i.e. shield of faith to protect against enemy attacks, helmet of salvation to keep our minds from believing his lies, breastplate of righteousness as a guard over our hearts, etc. But we do have a weapon in this battle... and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. For every lie, there is a truth found in the living Word of God. Satan cannot handle the truth (anybody else picturing Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men?). In fact, he runs from a fight (Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. -James 4:7).

I am keeping these Scriptures in my arsenal to combat every lie, every doubt, and every fear that seeks to overtake me and my children. Our thoughts and doubts can too easily consume us and leave us frozen in fear and trepidation if we are not careful. They can keep us from living God's best for our lives. Let's arm our children for battle by speaking these truths to them and helping them base their reality on the Word of God rather than the falsehood from father of lies.

Lord, I pray right now that in the battle for my mind, thoughts, and emotions, You would fully clothe me in spiritual armor and go before me in this battle. I pray that I would focus on the truth in Your Word and not believe the lies of the enemy that would seek to hinder me from Your best plan for my life and the lives of my kids. I lift up my children to you, Lord. Please help me to establish a foundation based on truth. Help me to recall these Scriptures and speak them to my kids when the enemy would try and tempt them to believe his lies. May they develop sound minds that fully believe in You and Your truth, and may they be confident in their faith in You. Help them to see themselves through Your eyes spoken through the truth found in Your Word rather than the deceptive whispers of Satan. May we forever stand upon the rock of Your Word and allow it to be our source of strength and our weapon in this spiritual battle. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Father's Way

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 (NIV)

It was a normal, ordinary day at track practice. I was in college going over a new hurdle workout with my coach when the most unexpected thing happened…I slammed into a hurdle, flipped upside down in the air, caught myself on the way down with my left hand, and broke my left wrist. I was shocked. I was hurt. I had surgery and went through extensive physical therapy. In fact, I still have a titanium screw in my wrist and little scar as a reminder.

BUT the thing I remember the most is that God taught me two very important lessons:

1. The power of service in the life of a believer
2. How to ask for help

I will never forget how one of my friends (not even one I would have considerrd a “best friend”), stepped up and served me during that time. She was incredibly strong in her walk with the Lord, she was fun, and she was busy. She volunteered a lot with Athletes in Action/Fellowship of Christian Athletes and she was on our college soccer team. Yet, after I had surgery, she drove out of her way to pick me up and take me to class and take me back home. She even stayed at my house a few times and helped me with little things like putting my hair up in a pony tail. Looking back she acted like so much more than a great friend; she showed me the love of Christ. She showed me faith in action.

The second concept, asking for help, was also a novel idea to me. I had always been pretty self-sufficient and independent (or so I thought), but God was teaching me that I needed the body of believers. I could not do everything on my own, and I needed to ask for help. We are blessed and allow others to be a blessing when we simply learn to ask for and accept help. There are no extra points for doing everything on your own. In fact, God’s word makes it very clear that we can do nothing apart from Him (John 15:5). Through this injury, God was teaching me to that I was not a self-made girl. Everything good that I had done was with his help and the help of others…whether I had realized that before or not.

So, in what ways can you put action to your faith and serve those in your sphere of influence? In what area of your life can you experience the beauty of the body of faith by asking for help?

Heavenly Father,
Everything begins and ends with you. You are our light-bearer. You are our rock. You are the source of our salvation. You are the Creator of the entire world, yet you served us. You sent your son, Jesus, to model you for us, and he served. He even washed the dirty, sandy-laden feet of his disciples. Please help us to follow in your ways and to serve others in a way that truly pleases you. And God in those times when we are worn out, please help us to humble ourselves and ask for help so that we can be blessed by the body of believers. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

"Celebration of a Servant" by Guest Blogger Patrice

I've been blessed to spend the most important day of the year with my daughter at Moody Bible Institute. I arrived in Chicago early Thursday morning when I grabbed a cab, arrived at the school and toured the the D.L. Moody museum anxiously waiting for her to get out of class. Wasn't long and I saw my girl go by.  What a sweet reunion! We dashed off to chapel to celebrate Maundy Thursday.

Maundy is where we get the English word “mandate.” This day observes the significance of Jesus' new commandment to “love one another as I have loved you”--given to His disciples at the Last Supper. Christ's act of foot washing demonstrated the servanthood that Jesus enjoins upon all who follow him.

Students and faculty members led the service of public worship which included a time of foot washing when the congregation could follow Christ's example of humble servitude. After a great sermon and  beautiful hymns, I needed my tissues from that point on.

After Maundy Thursday came Good Friday. The service at Harvest Bible Chapel that night was exceptionally somber. We wore black to church and entered the lobby to find darkness, smoke, and men carrying beams of lumber. The clanking of nails that resonated through the lobby immediately brought our focus to the main attraction of the night: the Cross. We watched a video of a man constructing a cross.  From the cutting down of the tree to the engraving of his initials upon his work, we were to put ourselves in the place of that carpenter. We were the ones who built the structure upon which the Righteous Servant died.

Mark 10:45 says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” 


 These are the words I know will remain with me as I board a plane Easter Sunday back to Florida. I must remember that Jesus is not only my Lord but my Savior, Whose stripes heal me.   Let us not forget His physical pain but also Christ's immeasurable torture when His Father turned His back upon Him. My prayer for you is that next time you look at a cross you remember who its chief constructor is. The next time you sing a song about Christ's blood, you consider who it was meant for. This Easter, may we view our gift of grace through the lens of the Cross and the Righteous Servant that died upon it.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

"Sweet Spot" of Forgiveness



Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.    -Proverbs 17:9

Five years ago as I was preparing to leave the teaching profession to become a stay at home mommy I had a life-changing conversation with a parent, Amy. Her son, Sam, was awesome and had such integrity and Christ-like character for a fifth grader.  We were in my portable for our parent-teacher conference and I posed this question to her, "What words of advice would you give to parents?"  She simply said, "We let our kids know we are not perfect. We say sorry and ask for forgiveness when we have made mistakes as a parent."

That was the BEST counsel I ever received about parenting. Sometimes we allow our pride to get in the way of saying sorry and it robs our children the opportunity of seeing us humble as sinners in need of forgiveness just like them. My most recent struggle in parenting is raising my voice in times of frustration instead of taking a moment to pray for wisdom and peace. I have cried many times over how I have "lost my cool" because my kids were driving me nutty.

The one soothing balm to my "wound" is to humble myself and go to my child, ask for forgiveness and tell them I love them. I have also prayed out loud with my kids and apologized to Jesus for the way I have acted/spoken. It is a great lesson they will see and repeat in the future as they sin against others. Each time I ask my son for forgiveness within a few moments of silence he follows up with saying he, too, is sorry, asks for forgiveness and loves me as well. He is getting it! Those have been some of the sweetest memories as I look back on my journey in parenting so far!

Challenge:
Say sorry, stay humble, pray and allow Him to use you to impart wisdom that will repeat generations after you are gone :) 

O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.   -Psalm 86:5 


Friday, April 6, 2012

Seeking Education


With a college graduate, a freshman in college and a middle schooler we have found ourselves looking at every option known to Christian Americans on how to educate our children.  Our children have experienced Christian, public and home schooled education.
So many parents wait until their child reaches the ripe old age of five and enroll them in the public school around the corner and never look back.  It didn't come quite so easy for Greg and I.
This is the time of year when many concerned parents consider where their children will receive their education in the fall.  If you are making this decision for the first time or at least the early years of education I highly recommend Susan Schaeffer Macaulay’s book, For the Children’s Sake.  Mrs. Macaulay does an incredible job of helping us to see our children as gifts from the Lord.  She encourages us to see that education doesn’t start on the day of enrollment.
Image found minordetails.typepad.com
 I ask you to pray and seek the Lord’s direction for your child’s education.  This could mean your children may or may not be doing the same form of education.  The key is to ask Him. Seek after His plan for each child.  Knock.  He will give you direction.

Matthew 7: 7  “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.”

James 1: 6 “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt…”

Thursday, April 5, 2012

My Oreo Cookie

Have you ever heard of the oreo cookie technique? It’s when you are going to say something negative to someone, you sandwich it between two positives. Recently I read the question, to what extent is your life bracketed with praise, and it made me think of that oreo cookie. I really had to stop and think about this question. Then I had to pray about it. I was really feeling quite awful about the question, to be honest, because “praise” I have just always assigned happy, joyous, God is great, feelings to and I haven’t had many of those lately.

I know in past blogs I have said sometimes being God’s tool is hard and I just happen to be in one of those really hard seasons. Right now my cookie looks more like a double stuff and I am just hangin out, waiting for God to dip me in some white chocolate and make the whole thing taste better.

So in all my waiting and praying here is what God has shown me; praise isn’t always the happy, sing and dance feel good stuff. I can praise God in my tears, my doubts and my pain and maybe, just now, is not a good time to take a look at my “life” and see if it is bracketed in praise. For now, maybe I should ask, was my day bracketed with praise? Whether it was in tears, doubt, pain or happiness, did I wake up and go to bed praising God?

I encourage you today to read some of Psalms. Psalms is a great place to learn to pray honest and sincere prayers. Prayers where you lay your heart out before the Lord, all the brokenness, hurt, pain, fear, happiness and joy. God wants you to bring it all to Him and as a mom you can’t afford not to. You have others who depend on you, who trust and follow you. Take it all to God. He will give you all the strength, wisdom and comfort you need. He will equip you for whatever lies ahead of you. Just trust Him. He is faithful.

God, you have shown a pattern of faithfulness that goes throughout my entire life. You have always been there for me; you have never let me down. You have been my strength in weakness, my shelter in the storm, and my rock when I am weary. I trust in you. I trust in the plan you have for my life and for my day. I know that Your power, the power of the Holy Spirit lives inside my heart and that power, Lord, is not a weak power. In my tears and pain there is the power to heal, in my doubt there is the power to encourage and build up, in my joy and happiness there is the power to spread it to others. You, God, are an awesome God.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work with in us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen” Ephesians 3:20-21

“Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:3

“Come near to God and he will come near to you.” James 4:8

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

“He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Surprise in the Sky

"Thirsty hearts are those whose longings have been wakened by the touch of God within them." (A.W. Tozer)

"Surely I am with you always." (Matthew 28:20)

"He will quiet you with his love." (Zephaniah 3:17)

I was driving with my boys the other day and the sky ahead of us was very strange; almost the color of a sky that could produce a tornado. Kind of reddish-gray, heavy and dark. It gave me a funny feeling just looking at it, but I kept driving thinking it was probably just a rain cloud--hoping it wasn't anything more. And then, as I rounded a bend in the road the sky became less angry and a beautiful rainbow revealed itself off to our right. It was so surprising as just minutes ago I was feeling worried about the weather but now how this beautiful arch in the sky had shifted my focus so quickly in the opposite direction.

How amazing is our Creator. I wasn't scared anymore.

That rainbow had been there all along. But as long as it was hidden from my view, the sky in front of me was all that was on my mind. How often do we go along in our day dwelling on things that create worry and anxiety while all along God is right there? Waiting. Beautiful. Wonderful. Amazing. Yet we miss Him because there are other things in front of us that are distracting our thoughts.

I pray that as you go through your day, you'll give Him an opportunity to bless you. Through scripture, through music, or friends. I just know He'll wow you!

Dear Lord,
It is so easy to get caught up in ourselves during the day. Our worries, fears and anxieties as a mom. Please take our eyes off of the temporary things of this world and to see the eternal in You. Give us rest in You and a peace that only comes from trusting in your power.
We pray this in Your name,
Amen.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Would You Really Die For Your Kids?


I was watching a documentary on WWII the other day, specifically on the Hiroshima atomic bomb. They were sharing survivor stories, and one in particular moved me to tears to the point I had to turn it off, pray, and catch my breath.

Immediately following the blast, a mother who had only moments before been eating breakfast with her husband and two small daughters awoke amidst smoke, rapidly approaching fires, and utter destruction. She and her severely injured husband quickly searched and could only find their oldest daughter who was trapped beneath rubble. No matter how hard they tried, they could not free her. As the fire inched closer, the mom did the unthinkable. She left her daughter and ran to safety amidst her child's cries of pain and pleas for help, all the while crying out that she "failed her daughter" and "was a horrible mother for not being able to die with her". The reenactment of the little girl crying out in pain for help as the mother cried out in anguish was too much to bear. This woman had to live the rest of her life with that moment, those cries echoing in her mind. Her husband would pass away later that day of radiation poisoning. She passed away in 2002.

I just could not help but thinking that were I in that situation, I would fling my body over my daughter and pray that death would come swiftly and she would feel me there with her in those last terrifying moments. But something in that woman just could not face that fiery death. I do not doubt her love for her children. Her anguish was real. And while we all believe with all that is in us that we would react differently, I am reminded that even Jesus who knew the pain facing Him, Jesus who loves us to an unimaginably greater degree than that overpowering love we feel for our kids, Jesus who knew this was the only way to save our lives, even He asked for a way out when faced with the impending pain and suffering.



When I put myself in that woman's place, I realize that I would want to die rather than face life without my child(ren). I would all the more want to take the pain and suffering in her/their place.

It is with that picture I enter into this holy season. Our Savior faced unfathomable pain and suffering, but He bore it for us, for me, for you. He would rather die a horrible death than face eternity without us. I pray that were I ever in the situation to make that awful choice, I would do as everything in my inner being still insists I would do and lay down my life for my loved ones, and I praise the Son of God for doing just that. Nothing brings us closer to understanding His love for us that day than the love we have for our kids. Think of what you would do, remember what He did, and let that overpowering love consume you as we celebrate and reflect this Easter season.