Saturday, June 30, 2012

Undoing Damage

"When your children are young, keep short accounts. Say you are sorry. You are going to make mistakes with your children. It happens. Sometimes, we lose tempers. Sometimes, we make bad decisions. Sometimes, we need to apologize. Don't be afraid. Let them see your humility. Let them experience offering forgiveness. It is good for them as it is for us to practice Colossians 3:13, 
"Forgive as the Lord forgave you". 
- You are Captivating, Celebrating a Mother's Heart by Stasi Eldredge




Forgiveness is the final form of love.
-Reinhold Niebuhr


"There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love." - Bryant H. McGill


"Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life." 
- George MacDonald


"We are all on a life long journey and the core of its meaning, the terrible demand of its centrality is forgiving and being forgiven." - Martha Kilpatrick




Do you freely and easily forgive others? Why or why not?


Is it a struggle for you to ask your children for forgiveness?


What steps can you take to be a good example to your children as you live out Colossians 3:13?

Friday, June 29, 2012

What If?


        How often have you asked, "What if?" or “What’s does my future hold?”  I stand amazed at how God’s Word is living and active.  I HAVE read God’s Word through numerous times…and yet some times I look at His Words and I’m sure I’ve never seen it before.  This week was no exception.

         I was challenged to place two chapters side by side and compare their differences.  Particularly, to find the verses I could claim for my family this week.

         The two chapters were Edom’s future in Isaiah 34 and Israel’s future in Isaiah 35.  I chose Isaiah 35: 3 and 4. 

Strengthen the feeble hands,
Steady the knees that give way;
Say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong
do not fear;
your God will come, He will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
He will come to save you.”

         I have needed these verses to encourage our oldest.  My beautiful bride daughter has been facing the reality of stress in the work place.  She is such a thinker. She can’t seem to shake the “What if?” question.

         I know (and she knows) that God will provide all she needs to glorify Him in her work place.  These verses were the reminder that she need not worry or fear, rather she can commit her hands, her knees and her heart to Gods’ ability to be strong, be present, to respond with vengeance and He will save her.

         God’s Word far exceeds my ability to parent.  I have found the ultimate parenting skills in His Word.  My challenge to you is the same as I received earlier this week.  Place Isaiah 34 and 35 beside one another and compare Edom and Israel’s future then find the verse(s) you can claim for your family this week.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Waiting - Focus on the One Who Chose You

Every morning I get up to read these three things on my bathroom mirror:

“I will turn my attention away from those who have rejected me and refocus on the One who called me to Himself for His purposes.” (Priscilla Shirer – Anointed, Transformed, Redeemed)

"You did not choose me, but I chose you.” John 15:16

“I was handpicked by God.” (Priscilla Shirer – Anointed, Transformed, Redeemed)

I was finding that in my time of waiting there was this huge burden that I couldn’t seem to give up and let go of, I had to refocus. My focus was zoomed in on what was going to be done about these new unforeseen challenges in my life. There were so many prayers needing to be answered and little hearts to protect, so much uncertainty and so much hurt. I was in the middle of a forest staring up at an unknown amount of giant redwood trees. Somehow I had to zoom out, seriously get a grip, and see the bigger picture. I needed to focus on the One who chose me.

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

“…I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Philippians 3:12b

There is a time when we all need to zoom in and focus on the details of our lives but when it becomes completely overwhelming we need to remember there is greater purpose. God chose you, He chose me with a purpose in mind. None of us are here by accident God planned us. He knows every little facet of our lives. Nothing has caught Him by surprise. In all our mess and craziness He has purpose.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

What is that purpose? I didn’t stop praying about the craziness that was my life but it was no longer my focus. I wholeheartedly sought God. Over the years God has given me glimpses of purpose. He has given me passion in different areas but now I needed Him to be more specific. I needed Him to focus me instead of me trying to focus Him. I moved from Lord I need, I need, I need…to “Lord, show me what You desire for me. How can I love and serve You better? Stir the fire in my soul Lord for the things I am to be passionate about. Point me in the right direction. Lord, prepare me for the work You have for me. Reveal to me a little more of what that purpose is.”

“…for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2:13

“What gets our attention determines our direction and ultimately, our destination.” (Andy Stanley – The Principle of the Path)

We can be easily distracted and get stuck in the forest. The enemy loves to grab our attention with problems to solve and messes to clean up. I don’t know about you, friend, but I personally want my destination to be where God’s purpose and my life come together. I want my kids to witness what God can do in and with mess. I don’t want them to see an overwhelmed crazy mama running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Distracted by every little fire to the left and to the right. I want them to see what focus on the One who chose them looks like. I want to be an example for them to follow. I want them to see God at work and the peace He brings. I want them to be blessed when life just seems way past blessing. I also want to serve and love them in the way that they truly need and deserve. And the only way I can do that is if I am focused on Christ and in His perfect love it will all fall into place.

“If I am devoted to the cause of humanity only, I will soon be exhausted and come to a place where my love will falter; but if I love Jesus Christ personally and passionately, I can serve humanity though men treat me as a door-mat.” (Oswald Chambers – My Utmost for His Highest)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tossed to and fro

Ephesians 4:12-14
"for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,"



As I read Ephesians 4:12-14 I remember hearing Dr. Bob Barnes and radio host RuthieJ talk on Reach FM a while ago about keeping purpose in your kids’ lives.  The advice was simple yet profound.   Here’s what I got from it:  “Every time you drive by the community center sign, the sport of the month is advertised for your kid(s) to get involved.  But take heart - you don’t have to do it all.  Get your kid(s) into one or maybe two focused sports or other activities in an effort to build their confidence and other skills by giving them goals to strive after.  They can apply what they learn from sports to help with their daily walk with Christ as they look forward to heaven, the ultimate goal.”

And if we are ready with the Scriptures to equip these little saints for the work of the ministry to edify the body of Christ, they will be unified in the faith and know Christ and all His fullness.  These kids of ours will be armed with true doctrine so they won't be tossed to and fro, but having confidence knowing what they believe in and their hope of Heaven.

"Parenting Today" with Dr. Bob Barnes Mid-Day with RuthieJ

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

THINK Before You Speak (Gossip)


The Tuesday blog is currently dedicated to a series of posts on taming the tongue. We have been encouraged to put the principle of THINK before you speak into action and allowing God's Spirit to be our filter as our thoughts turn into words. Last week, we examined our speech as it relates to how we speak to and about our spouses. This week is the mother of all issues I believe we face, and that is gossip.

I believe people see many areas as grey areas when it comes to gossip. For example, in some family circles, everybody knows what is going on in everybody else's lives and do not consider this gossip. Aunts, cousins, siblings all know intimate details of every family member's life and such is often the topic of conversation at family get-togethers. What is your view on this? What boundaries have you established in your family?

Another grey area is where to draw the line when it comes to informing vs. gossip. Nobody wants to go up to a friend who is going through a divorce and ask how their spouse is doing or say a friendly, "Happy Anniversary". So, is it okay at some points to share basic info as long as you don't go into too much detail? And how much is too much when it comes to the details?

I am sure we have all heard the conversation (gossip) starter, "So and so needs prayer...". Is it okay to share information when asking for prayer? If God knows the details of a situation, do we need to in order to better pray for someone?

Here are some more questions to ponder as well as some Bible verses to see what God has to say about gossip.

Where do you find yourself most tempted to gossip (on a phone call with a friend, on the playground, at work, etc.)?
If it's family, is it still gossip?
How can you resist that urge to "just have to tell somebody"?
Is there a current situation you need to make right in this area?

He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.
Proverbs 11:13 

A perverse man spreads strife, And a slanderer separates intimate friends.
Proverbs 16:28 

And at the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention.
1 Timothy 5:13 



Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.
James 3:5-10 

Father,

Please help me to control my thoughts and words that whatever comes out of my mouth is pleasing to You. Today, I ask for help to avoid the temptation to gossip and listen to gossip. Please help me find things to talk about that are true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, and kind. When I stumble, please let it be a lesson as I feel the conviction in my heart, and may I apologize and ask for help from my friends to hold me accountable in this area. May no pain be caused or fire set ablaze due to my tongue. Please give me a quiet spirit and self-control to only share with You when I  just have to tell someone. May my words bring healing rather than hurt, and may I be a role model for my children in this area. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Faithful or Fearful?



Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, 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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.  Phillipian 4:6-9

Do you ever get tired? I mean extremely tired…mentally and physically hanging on by your last thread? Ever find yourself in a bind…wandering, straining to find a way out? Ever want God to just fix it all…right now? I do! My husband used to joke around and say, “Today is a great day for the rapture!!!” I used to laugh, but was inwardly a bit annoyed. Why did he like that line so much? I am convinced it is because he was fixing his eyes on what is ahead instead of the here and now. Even if we were experiencing “the best day ever”, he knew heaven was infinitely better, greater, and more magnificent.
In fact, God’s word says that are toughest day are “light and momentary “ compared to what is ahead of us. Check it out:

          For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  Corinthians 4: 17-18

When I was younger, my mom had a knack for making tough times look like fun. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that the nights where we had “hot dog smorgasbords” were the nights when funds were tight. Mom made some hot dogs and pulled out every possible topping to go with it and set it up buffet style. We thought it was a treat; she was making her dollars stretch.

I hope I can offer my kids this same gift when times are tough…a light and merry heart…a heart that trusts in God even when I don’t understand…especially when I don’t understand! I understand that as moms we will not be all smiles all the time, but I hope I can learn to exhibit God’s peace more and more in my life. I pray that HIS peace will be contagious in my home.

One last thing…I often think that as moms we try to shield our kids from tough times. We don’t want them to know when we are struggling, and we certainly don’t want them to have any struggles of their own. But I have encountered something far better than shielding our kids from trouble. Rather than shielding, teaching them to navigate through their troubles is much more profitable because we know that in this world we will have troubles, BUT God rescues us (in his way and time) each time. (John 16:33).

So, in an effort to help make God “real” to my four year old, we have begun to pray through some of our troubles, concerns, and desires together. What a blessing this has been for both of us! When we reach the other side of a tough time or when a desire is fulfilled, we thank and praise God together. My hope is that he will be able to track God’s faithfulness in his life from a very young age. I want him to have a mental track record (until he is able to write it down) of all the times God has showed up for him personally.

For example, when we moved we prayed for friends. After a while, God provided! We prayed for a bigger house to accommodate our growing family. God said “no” and “wait” quite a few times, but then HE provided! We are praying for a family who is dear to our heart, because their daddy is away for a season. We can’t wait to see how God will provide for this family! Make prayer a regular part of your family’s life, and watch how God brings His peace into your heart and home!

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, you have given us your Word and the gift of prayer—constant on-line communication with you. Thank you for always being available. God whether we are having a good day, a rough day, or anything in between, may our hearts be full of the peace and joy that only comes from knowing you. Help us to know that you are real and true. Help us to make you known to our children by teaching them to pray and teaching them to establish their own personal prayer life. You are so faithful! Thank you that your love knows no bounds. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Challenge: How can you involve your children in your personal prayer life? What things can you prayer for together? Keep a journal or checklist of when and how God answers---I bet you will both be amazed by his faithfulness! J

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Miracle in the Walmart Parking Lot

Today I read a blog and was so convicted and encouraged all at the same time. My friend, Elizabeth, wrote about being an agent of the King. I read, so wanting to be this type of mom. A mom who follows the prompting of the Holy Spirt and allow the miraculous to happen because of my obedience to the call. Read on and be encouraged to step out in FAITH as your kids are watching and will reflect what you live out.
CLICK TO READ HER BLOG
"Miracle in the Walmart Parking Lot"
http://paulsonpawleysisland.com/2012/01/14/miracle-in-the-walmart-parking-lot/

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Next Generation Leaders

“The greatest among you will be your servant.” - Matthew 23:11




Today during snack time in the Seawell house, we had a conversation that has been a reoccurring theme over the past few weeks. It is the leadership role my oldest son has stepped into and the impact it has on his younger brother. As we munched on popcorn, I praised my older son for his leadership skills he has been showing lately. I have watched him really step up and strive to obey. While through this process trying to remind him that Christ is always watching him, even if mommy isn't. He is not perfect, but like the rest of us...he is a process.

Jesus was a servant leader.  My heart's desire is to instill that truth in my sons. Boys becoming men who will be our next generation leaders who are willing to serve and sacrifice just like the Lord did. Here are three simple steps to take as we raise up our little leaders who will one day impact others in the name of Christ.
Prepare, Practice and Praise!

Prepare- share and talk about ways your child can be a leader towards the younger siblings, while the smaller ones are listening (knowing this someday will be their role as well as you have more children). I tell my oldest all the time what a privileged position he has, and how God chose him for that role of being the leader of the kids in our family.

Practice- teach them and then give them an opportunity to put it to work.
Here are some servanthood leadership ideas for children to help illustrate this revelation from:
http://ministry-to-children.com/servanthood-leadership-ideas-for-children/



At church…

1) Wait on friends during snack time. Let everyone receive snack before you take snack yourself.


2) Ask their teachers,  "How can I help serve you today?"


At home…
1) Help sibling with their chores (i.e. make their bed, help with their dishwasher duty).

2) Empty all the garbage cans in the house.


At school…
1) Let others go ahead of in the lunch line. Do not argue about being first.

2) Bring a pack of fresh pencils and sharpen them all. Hand them out to all your classmates.

3) Serve the teacher by offering to wash the blackboard.



Praise- remember to praise them as they follow through leading a great example. As they receive praise they will be encouraged to do it more often!


We want our kids to serve others and look more like Jesus, but we forget that process must start with us leading the way.

Are we reflecting a good example of what a servant leader looks like?

Are we asking Christ for ways we can better serve Him to further the kingdom?

What do you think the Lord might be saying to you through this blog?

What do you think He might want you to do about it?

Friday, June 22, 2012

S.M.H.


This past week has kept me “SMH.” SMH stands for the texting abbreviation for "Shaking my Head…"

SMH so sums up emotion, right?  In parenting, SMH works for so many occasions.  For me, this past week:  I had one child completely disregard my instruction, SMH.  While another child went toe to toe on an opinion laden topic, which reminded me we don’t always have to agree.  SMH
Google image
Then there were the moments for SMH when, I laughed with our youngest until we cried as we did our own version of Hello Dolly in the kitchen with our legs kicking out as if we were auditioning for the Rockettes.

       And finally SMH as I looked at scripture this week.  Some verses that left me SMH include:

I Peter 2: 21 – 23
“For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that you should follow His steps.  Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His Mouth, who when reviled, did not revile in return;
when He suffered,
He did not threaten,
But committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.”
Google image

Psalm 54: 4
“Surely God is my help”

:7 “for He has delivered me from all my troubles.”

Psalm 55: 16
“But I call to God and the Lord saves me,
Evening, morning and noon
I cry out in distress
And He hears my voice.”

:22 “cast your cares on the Lord…”

:23”…But as for me. I trust in you.”

May you too find yourself SMH at the wonder of our Perfect Parent!

Father, as I shake my head today at the wonder of You, may I not get caught up in the disappointments of my own failure as a mom, or a belligerent child, or my flailing attempts to keep up with other moms.  May my focus be on
You and Your goodness which will in turn cause me to
Shake my Head at the Beauty of You!!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Waiting - Your Most Effective Weapon

The single most important activity for people waiting on God is prayer.” - John Ortberg, Waiting on God


I have this ring of index card that Maggie (fellow blogger:) gave me. She knows how much I like to write scripture on index cards and put them around my house or in my pocket. It was such a thoughtful gift and has blessed me probably more than what Maggie realized it could at the time. Every scripture that God has used in the last few months to reach out and touch my life is on that ring of cards. It goes with me everywhere and every opportunity I get to read through them I do. But the biggest blessing they have brought is in my prayers.

There have been many times I have locked myself in the bathroom with that ring of scripture and fallen on my knees praying for a very long time. I insert my husband, my children, my friends, and myself into these verses and pray them. The comfort, joy, and confidence the Lord brings in these moments has both blessed and amazed me.

When God has brought us to a time of waiting there can be so much frustration because of our desire to do, do, do. We fail to see that prayer is our most effective weapon. We often miss the opportunity to really do something great because we are so focused on what we can “do” that we neglect the one thing that can really be the most effective…prayer.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

I don’t know what scripture God is using to speak into your life this week but I want to encourage you to pray it. Moms do so much for their families. We are always busy “doing.” Instead of “doing” so much this week, sit and pray that scripture over your family and wait to see what God does.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"Flip It"

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever" Psalm 136:1

Every morning when I wake up I do not have to figure out how I feel, my sin nature is wide awake.  My body is still trying to wake up along with my spirit. The same is true for my children. In our family we have incorporated the "flip it" principle.  When a situation provokes our flesh to react whether in complaint or criticism we have choices to make. We can either choose to wallow in our feelings and how it effects us or we can rise above it and be unaffected yet still connected.  When you study the life of Jesus in the Gospels, he was just that.  Whether the crowd accepted or rejected him he remained the same. But how do we do that? Flip it! For instance, this past Sunday on Father's day I opened a letter I received from my daughter's school.  She did not do as well as expected on an Algebra I placement test and is required to do some extra practice work this summer. Suffice to say, she was not pleased.  Her demeanor went  from "yippee let's celebrate and honor Dad" to "I stink at math and my Summer is ruined". I took one look at her and reminded her she needed to "flip it".  God is made perfect in our weakness and this was an opportunity to pray and allow the Lord to work.  Not an opportunity to only think of herself. I encouraged her that this weakness could be a good thing because it causes her to rely on Him all the more: if she chooses.  I also "gently" reminded her this day was about Dad and she needed to to be thankful for him and reflect that in her attitude.  As her mom, I told her it was normal to feel that way, however, crucially important not to stay there.  It would only lead to self pity and being self-centered. This in turn would steer her off the Lord's course. "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1Thessalonians 5:16

If you approach each day as though it's the best day of your life, because after all, it is the day you have,  you begin to cultivate a heart full of thankfulness. Even though Jesus told us in the Gospel of John, in this world we will have troubles, he promises us that he has overcome the world.  How can we loose...no matter what.  When trouble comes your way,  make a list, whether mental or written, of all the things you are thankful for. Try it regularly with your children no matter what their ages are. It's fun and revives your souls! We, the Cudmore family, have learned that as you practice this principle, your situation may not change however, supernaturally your heart and attitude does.  "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones" Prov 17:22 You begin to "happen" to the world around you instead of it "happening" to you.  Proverbs 27:19 tells us that "as water reflects a face, so a man's heart  reflects the man". When you "flip it" you have peace, joy, and love, (among other things the world thirsts for),  to offer.  It will empower and free you and your children to fulfill the two greatest commandments to love God and love others. This will make your children stand out for God's glory and their good.  Now what mom wouldn't want that for their children? I encourage you to incorporated the "flip it" principle into your every day training.  Not only for your children but for yourself.  Focus on the "haves" instead of the  "have nots", the "dos instead of the don't s", the blessings instead of  the burdens. As you encourage your children to "flip it" watch them "flip" their world for Christ!

Some verses to ponder: 2 Corinthians 10:5 and 1 Corinthians 2:16 

As always, I pray that you will be encouraged not discouraged by these words.  I pray that any opinions of mine would be erased from your memory and only He will remain!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

THINK Before You Speak (Part 2)


Last week I shared with you my desire to work on taming the tongue. I am so blessed by those who have agreed to join me and pray we are successful!  In an effort to let our conversations be led by the Holy Spirit, we spent the last week working on THINKing before we speak:

I found that more often than not, I would do the THINKing after I spoke rather than before. I found myself rerunning conversations through my mind, making sure that my words honored God and going back to make it right if they did not. This is tough! So, I plan to keep working on this, realizing it's a marathon not a sprint.

This week I would like to focus on one particular topic of conversation, and that is how we speak to others about our husbands. Back when Rick and I were dating, he made a request. He asked that we not talk to any friends or family members about our arguments. It paints a bad picture of your spouse and once the anger and hurt feelings have passed, we go back to normal while the person we spoke to is left with that image of our spouse at his/her absolute worst.

We have both worked to commit to this, and have seen the fruit. With no one else to talk to, we have to talk to each other and work things out, we don't make things worse by venting and having someone agree with our one-sided version of events, and our friends and family members see us firsthand for who we are rather than who we become during those moments of an argument. Though there still may be times when we need to seek counsel from a fellow Christian, it's all in how you approach it.

 For example, here are two scenarios for seeking counsel about the same problem :

"How do you keep the romance alive in your marriage? We could really use a little boost to spice things up."
vs.
"Bob just doesn't seem interested in me any more. He never takes me out on dates. He stopped opening the car door for me ages ago, and things in the bedroom just aren't what they used to be. Just the other day, he ....."

You can see where this is going. Let's be challenged this week to THINK before we speak to others about our  spouses. Let's commit to building them up with our words and in times where we need help, take a 'less (said) is more' approach.  If you are not currently married, this same principle can be applied to how you speak of your ex or current significant other you are dating.

Our children should see us building up our spouses with our words as well, rather than mocking, tearing down, rebuking, or contradicting them. If a disagreement/discussion is to be had, it is best to be had in private. If we want Daddy to be their hero and leader, let's speak words that follow and encourage that idea. And when we need a friend to talk to in our frustration, let's first take the problem to God in prayer, communicate directly with our spouse to resolve the issue, and if we still find a need for counsel, seek out a wise, like-minded sister and spend more time talking through the resolution and less about the problem. Amen?

I close this week with a Scripture that brings as much of a chuckle as a reality check. Thank you for joining me on this journey and challenge to honor God with our words.

Father, I confess I do not always tame my tongue and struggle in this area of my life. I want to honor You with all that I am and humbly ask for Your help. Please help me to put the principle of THINK before you speak into practice and make right any wrongs my words have caused.  I ask You to help this week as I work on how I communicate to and about my husband. May I build him up with my words rather than tear him down by mocking, contradicting, or rebuking him- especially in front of our children. Please help me to come to You, first and foremost when I need a friend to talk through our problems with. I know that You are the Wonderful Counselor, and our help and hope is in You. In times when I seek wise counsel, please guide me to a like-minded believer and help me to state the area of need in a way that does not bash or degrade my husband. Please help me to use discretion and honor You in this area. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Lessons from a Children's Bible

This is another blog from my friend Julie, founder and contributor of www.happyhomefairy.com. I love the way God uses lessons for little ones to teach us His truths. Towards the end of this blog, you will also find an update on her little guy, Baby Jethro, who is still in the NICU... but God is doing some amazing things. Keep praying for him, and that he gets to go home to his mommy and daddy soon! Enjoy and have a blessed day! Teresa :)



             This is one of the Bibles the Happy Buddy enjoys reading before bed each night.
I found it interesting that over the last several months since the Happy Baby has been in the hospital, God has used that little children’s Bible to teach me some pretty profound lessons.
Around the time that the Happy Baby was born, the Happy Buddy got hooked on this story about Jesus calming the storm (Matthew 8:23-27).
The Happy Buddy requested it night after night and I began to realize that I was acting just like the disciples in the boat.
Initially, I panicked about the storm we were going through.
I cried out to Jesus (who, in my opinion, seemed to be sleeping through the whirling mess around us).
And He reminded me to not be afraid… To have faith.
That He controls the wind and the waves and is with me in the midst of the storm.
Then the Happy Buddy got really excited about this story concerning a paralyzed man and his friends who lowered him through the roof to Jesus (Mark 2:1-12).
I started to see that I was like the paralyzed man – unable to move (in my case because of fear) and probably without hope of ever being saved.
It was the faith of his friends that brought his healing.
As our church (and all of you, sweet blog friends) came around us with prayers, hugs, cards, gifts, and encouragement, I felt lifted up on my little mat and carried straight to Jesus for the healing my own heart so desperately needed.
Next the Happy Buddy started requesting this story about a blind man (John 9:1-12).
The disciples asked Jesus about the blind man, “Teacher, did this man sin? Or did his parents sin? Is that why he is blind?”
And I thought of the hundred different things I did or ate while pregnant and wondered if I had caused the Happy Baby’s sickness.
But Jesus’ response to the disciples was simple and life-giving, “No one sinned. This happened so that God’s work could be shown in his life.”
God has shown His good work and purposes in our baby’s life and in our own lives as a result of this ‘blindness’ – this season of trial.
The second part of this story also helped me the week the Happy Baby was on the CPAP machine
I was overwhelmed at first by the sight of my precious little boy having such a large and obstructing contraption on his face.
In the story, Jesus spit on the ground and made mud with his hands. Then he gently spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes.
When the mud was washed away, the blind man could see!
A friend texted me saying if Jesus could accomplish healing through something as strange and unattractive as mud on a person’s eyes, than surely He could do the same with a tubey, loud CPAP.
The Happy Buddy moved onto this story about a man named Jairus whose daughter was very sick.
By the time Jesus got there, the daughter had died.
At this point in the NICU journey, the Happy Hubby and I were told that our baby was probably not going to make it.
Many of the doctors thought the Happy Baby had a rare and incurable genetic disease (on top of the virus he had contracted while growing in my tummy).
Like Jairus, the Happy Hubby and I had to wait for Jesus.
We had to wait 7 long weeks for the genetic test results.
But would Jesus heal our boy as he did Jairus’ daughter?
The day the Happy Baby was born, I felt a deep assurance from the Lord that he would be okay.
When you’re faced with medical evidence and the opinion of professional doctors and nurses, however, it was easy to forget what God had spoken.
In the last two months I constantly acted like Peter, in this final Bible story, who, when his eyes focused on the wind and waves storming around him, began to sink.
There were many days when I took my eyes off of Jesus and felt myself going down because I let what doctors said and speculated cause me to lose hope.
I even closed the door to the Happy Baby’s nursery and refused to wash some of the tiny outfits we’d been given for him because it was just too painful to think that he might not make it.
But when I fixed my gaze on Christ and what I believe He had said to me concerning the Happy Baby’s future, then my foundation was sure.
Walking in that confidence, we received the news last Sunday that our gift from the Lord does not have a genetic disease.
:-)
Jesus has brought healing to our son in so many ways.
He has been with us in the storm.
He has given us the Church to carry us to Him when we’ve been too weak.
He gave us hope through the mud on our eyes.
He, in a way, brought our son back from the dead.
And He has given a firm foundation on which we can walk when our gaze is fixed on Him – no matter what the winds and waves of life are doing around us – because we are still fighting battles (ie. feeding).
So, dear Happy Home Friends, I am delighting in the spiritual milk of His Word which God has used to nourish my soul in this season and am praying that the Happy Baby will crave the milk of his bottles. :-)
Because if that lil’ booger can eat then we’ve got ourselves one giant homecoming ticket!
“Like newborn babies, thirst for the pure milk of the word so that by it you may grow in your salvation.” 1 Peter 2:2

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Preciousness of Others




Philippians 2:3-4 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 

My husband and I recently did a bible study that helped us as parents learn to be better equipped to raise our little ones... The bible study was called Growing Kids Gods Way by Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo.

Lately a few of the principles we learned have been on my mind, being a stay at home mom and dealing with 3 children all day I guess that is bound to happen. I have been thinking a lot about the preciousness of others. Gary describes this as “The moral mandate of scripture- it requires looking for and responding to the preciousness of those outside of self”. What does that mean to you? Do your children currently do this or do they look more like the picture above? They may look like the picture because of their age, but it is never to early to start teaching and training.

I want nothing more than to raise up godly children who are not only obedient to their parents and authority, but who also value others. When they are at the point of making their own decisions I want them to value the other person, object, or place they are in with high regard. I want them to put others first and to have empathy, being sensitive to how other people feel in situations. I want them to have a moral compass that one day will reflect the desires and direction of Christ...

Since I thought so much of what the Ezzo's talked about was helpful I thought I would share some of the principles they outlined in their study:

1.) Do not allow unkind speech between siblings.

2.) Encourage your children to be happy when something good is happening to a sibling or friend.

3.) Teach your children to respect others property.

4.) Teach your children empathy.

5.) Teach your children that they are each others best friends (siblings)

6.) Teach them not to steal another’s possessions.

7.) To respect nature, because God made it.

8.) Parents are the primary architects of the family conscience and of each child within the family. (basically we are their first teachers of a conscience).

9.) The conscience is something you shape in the child-carefully and with purpose.

10.) The duty of parents is to continually bring their children to a consistency of virtue that is pleasing to God, but never lower the standard to suit the child.
 
Lord please help us to notice the preciousness of others and teach us to be the best example our children can have of how that is played out. Help us instill in our children the values and virtues that will be pleasing to You. Help us to love and teach without being legalistic and to recognize and discern the moral appropriateness of all situations... In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

What kind of imitators are we?



Ephesians 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 


When you're checking out at the grocery line, do you catch yourself looking at the front cover of the latest issue of style magazine? Wondering if you are sporting the latest trends. Up to date with your hair and jewels. Maybe there's something in my closet that can imitate that great outfit on the cover. So you go home, do a quick inventory of your closet and realize you could use a few things to perk up your look for summer. So the next thing you know, you're picking up a nice cool Mocha Frappachino before heading to your favorite store to do a little shopping. Innocent enough right? Be careful!!! See where that little morsel of a magazine ad got you! 


Questions to ask ourselves in addition to what the Holy Spirit is speaking:


1. Did I ask myself if these things I so desire are wants or needs?


2. Did I talk this over with my husband, as not to put us over the family budget?


3. Is this money I should be using toward my husband's Father's Day gift? 


4. Etc. etc.


Loving reminders of God's Word of protection: 


Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life- is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.- 1 John 2:15-17 


And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. - Romans 12:2 


The cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. - Mark 4:19 


Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. -Ephesians 5:6 


Ladies, let's move into the fragrance department: 


And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. 
-Ephesians 5:2


My season right now being an empty nester, allows me more free time on my hands. I must pick and choose how I spend His time. Choices that bring forth fruit, not compliments. 


Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. - Ephesians 5:16


So next time we're in the grocery line, let's be thinking of how we can encourage the cashier and give her a lift. Imitating Christ, instead of being distracted with nonsense.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Shine Like "the Top of the Chrysler Building" isn't Just for the Play Annie anymore...


My husband and youngest daughter have a Saturday morning tradition.  It starts with Greg parading through the house “YARD SALE!”  The two of them gather their coins and ball caps and head out on a hunt.

They have occasionally called or sent pictures back from a yard sale to ask my opinion if they should buy or not.  One of the pictures I received while they were out one Saturday morning was a large china cabinet.

I told Greg we had no need for such a piece.  He told me it was in good condition with glass all in place and beautiful lined drawers.  He said we could even paint it if we wanted to.  I was VERY hesitant.  When he said it was $25.00, I told him to move the seats in the van and “load her up!”

If they had a particularly successful Saturday the week before, its hard for the rest of us to resist the sing-songy “Yard Sale.”  So we too roll out of bed and join them on their hunt.

On one of those Saturdays we found ourselves at a yard sale when I noticed this.

This old dirty tea pot stuck in the corner, had potential and for $3.00, I brought it home.  I’ve shined it up and now it shines like “the top of the Chrysler Building!”

            I tell you this story, not so you will envy my possessions, or even our ability to find hidden treasures.  I want to remind you that we like the china cabinet and tea pot, find ourselves day in and day out with little ones or big ones, who we kind of just “shake our heads” at.

            Will they ever get it?

            Christ is our Redeemer.  To redeem means:

To purchase back; to ransom; to liberate or rescue from captivity or bondage

Job 19:25 As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,

            Moms, each of our babies (and it doesn’t matter their age) has potential.  God is using us to shine them up.  To minister to them.  To deposit His Truth in their souls.  Their hearts will have to submit and fall madly in love with our Savior.  I am confident that even when we don’t see their potential (or ours) Christ is smiling, knowing He has already “bought us back.”  And it won’t be long before we too, will be shining like “the top of the Chrysler Building!”

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Encouragement

2 When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.

4 Others were given in exchange for you.
I traded their lives for yours
because you are precious to me.
You are honored, and I love you.

13 “From eternity to eternity I am God.
No one can snatch anyone out of my hand.
No one can undo what I have done.”

18 “But forget all that—
it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
19 For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.


For the last couple of weeks I have found such encouragement in Isaiah 43:1-44:5. These are only a few of the verses so I encourage you to take the time to click on the link and read the entire thing.

I am encouraged by all that God has done and all that He will do. I pray that you too will find encouragement there.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Be Alert



I can’t tell you how many times I do this, and I know you probably do too. Drink my coffee, listen to Way FM, and even check Facebook at a red light. Sometimes, I even add a few more tasks to my driving routine. Tasks such as; getting Sippy cups and snacks, changing the DVD, or trying to solve a fight between the boys in the backseat.
The other day, it hit me. I’m so distracted! I didn’t even notice the homeless man approaching my car. It was my son who noticed him first. WOW! However, who convicted me the most of my every growing problem with distraction, was my 2 ½ year old son.
A few months ago I was distracted checking Facebook at the red light and drinking my coffee, when he says, “Mommy pray.” At first, I ignored him, too engrossed in what others had to say on the Social Media tube. So, he got louder, “Mommy pray!” I answered him, “What is it Skylar?” He pointed then to fire trucks and ambulances and sirens of all kinds. My sweet son wanted to pray for the people that these men and women were going to.  So, I did just that. We prayed.
From that day on, each time Skylar hears sirens, he says, “Mommy pray.” He will even pray, “ In Jesus Name, Amen”  Sometimes it takes a moment like this to remind me and all of us of how distracted we are with the meaningless things in life.

My son, reminded me that there are more important things to be consumed with and thinking about as I am driving. I need to be aware of my surroundings.  He reminded me that someone is in need of prayer, somewhere. Each time we hear a siren, it reminds us to pray for the police officers and fire fighters who risk their lives to protect us each day. We pray for the EMT paramedics who arrive on scene of accidents and ask God to give them wisdom to help the injured. We pray for the homeless we see on the street, and when God leads us, we help them.
I thank Jesus for my sons and the convictions I receive from them to be a better Christian, wife, and Mom each day.
-Lena
"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."
Ephesians 6:18 NIV



"So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled."
1 Thessalonians 5:6 NIV

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

THINK Before You Speak (Part 1)


What a picture! Seriously, I think the tongue is the most difficult part to tame, and the one that gets us into the most trouble. There are so many verses to be found throughout Scripture warning and edifying us to control our tongues, from beautiful descriptions of wise words being likened to honeycomb or apples of gold set in silver to hasty and foolish words being compared to sword thrusts or a great forest set ablaze by a small fire. Our words have power and can set the tone for how our home is run. Consider this quote:

"I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides…"
~ Goethe


I am sure we have all heard the expression, "If Mama ain't happy, nobody's happy". I have recently set my heart to consider the effects my words have on our home, our children, our marriage, and other relationships and hope to spend the next several weeks working on taming my tongue and teaching by example as I instruct my children to do the same. Being that this is such a grand undertaking, I hope to work through this endeavor by focusing on one thing at a time and really working to make this life change one that is realistic and permanent.

This week, the focus is on where it all begins, in the mind. We have all had those moments where just before the words come out of our mouths, we feel that tug in our spirit that warns us to tread carefully or not to say anything at all. The goal this week is to train our minds to listen to and for that voice and keep in tuned to it at all times. In essence T.H.I.N.K. before we speak and not ignore the Spirit within us attempting to guide our conversations.

This is a great one to post in and around your home to remind your kids what kind of speech is acceptable, especially when it comes to siblings. I am committing this to memory and working this week to make it a part of my filter before I open my mouth and pray you will be inspired to do the same. We may find ourselves silent more often, but that may not be such a bad thing... (Prov 17:28- ouch!) Let's pray!

Gracious Lord, You are the giver of life and the originator of this gift we have to communicate with our words. Please teach us to tame our tongues and use our words to bring life and edification rather than to tear down and cause destruction in our homes. This week I commit to praying for Your Holy Spirit to guide my conversations and be the filter that every thought runs through before it comes out of my mouth. Please help my words to be true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, and kind. If they are not, please let Your voice resound in my mind as a warning to stop speaking, and may every failure be a lesson learned that brings me one step closer to my goal of self-control over my tongue. Even as I take this small step, may I see the fruit in the mood and tone of my home as well as in my relationships with others. May my husband and children be blessed to see this change and inspired to do the same. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen. 




 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Fixated






Have you ever found yourself singularly focused on one particular goal. Finding the right school. Locating the right house. Setting a budget. Buying a new car. Creating a new baby room. Cleaning the house. Creating a balanced schedule. Finding a new job. Praying for a loved one.

Both good and bad things can tend to occupy or thoughts and attention. We can become wrapped up in our own “stuff”.  Life can certainly throw us a few curve balls. I love how Sy Rogers puts it, “Faith is trusting in God even when the world gives you a reason not to.” How awesome is that?! Faith  requires that we trust in God. But how do we do that?  We have to fix our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2).  It’s what Jesus wanted Peter to do in the following biblical account in Matthew 14:


22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25 During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."28 "Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." 29"Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."

I recently had the pleasure of sharing this story with my son Mikey. He had become fixated on the thunderstorm outside. When it starts to thunder outside, he becomes a completely different person. He becomes terrified! He sticks his fingers in his ears, closes his eyes, and acts as though he is in great distress. He gets like this no matter where we are. We have prayed with him, we have had him pray, we have taught him Bible verses about notbeing  fearful because God is with us. We have exhausted our brains trying to come up with ways to calm this boy down in a thunderstorm!

Well, this past time as I described to him how Peter was walking on the water to Jesus in an incredibly bad storm, I felt like Jesus was speaking to me as well. I told Mikey that Peter was able to walk on the water as long as he kept his eyes and his focus on Jesus, but as soon as he started to look at the wind and the waves and the storm around him, he began to sink. How true that is of my own life!

So many times I try to dig my own way out of something, search for my own solution, figure something out on my own, and exhaust my own resources trying to fix my own problem. God doesn’t call us to scramble to find a way to save ourselves from the storms of this life. He doesn’t want us to look for worldly ways  to calm ourselves down and attain relaxation in the midst of craziness. He wants us to fix our eyes on Him. To focus on Him. To look to Him instead of our circumstances. He wants us to be fixated on Him because he is the only one able to handle all of our issues, concerns, fears, and problems 100% of the time. Isaiah 26:3 gives us an incredible promise saying, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (NLT)

Ladies, let us decide to stop, pray, and think about the numerous times God has rescued us, saved us, provided for us, dug us out of a hole, and given his peace when our circumstances threaten to take away the peace that God has for us…and let’s teach our kids to do the same.


Prayer:

Wonderful, merciful, savior: I love the way you rescue me—physically and mentally. When my mind is exhausted from trying to figure my own way out of a mess, you are there. You are there to encourage me, strengthen me, take the load off of me, and place it on yourself. Help me to give my cares and concerns, frustrations and fears all to you. May I fix my thoughts on you, and receive the beautiful promise of your peace. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Don't Sheild but Educate


My son recently watched an episode, on Nickelodeon for Kids, called "Mike the Knight." At first I was thrilled my son was excited to watch a show about being brave and knightly. Then as I paused the other day to watch it the more weary I became. One character on the show, Evie, who cast spells on objects, is in training to become a witch.


My first gut reaction was to turn it off and shield my kids from Satan's subtle way of weaving witchcraft into cartoons. I brought my concerns to my husband and asked if he preferred they stop watching the show... knowing he would give me sound Biblical advice. James, my husband, reminded me of the opportunity placed before me. To sit down, view it with my children alongside me and allow it to be a learning experience.  So I did just that!


The next time they asked to watch "Mike" I plopped down to watch it with them. We pushed pause numerous times throughout the video to share who witches worship (Satan) and how Satan feels about us. How he wants to steal, kill and destroy us. What God's word says about witchcraft (and witches). How much God loves us and how Satan does not. I reminded them of just how much OUR God loves them and how he wants us to worship Him alone.  Simple in words but deep rooted in truth.


I shared this "sitting and sharing" concept recently with a friend struggling with a family member who has been making some hurtful comments to her while in front of her kids. I reminded her that even in that hurtful situation there is lessons learned and taught to our little ones. What God's word says about our words, and the type of words that should come out of our mouth (Eph. 4:29). We can love and pray for those (enemies) who are hurtful to us (Matt. 5:44).  Truth shared in times of trial! Turning what Satan meant for evil into something Christ can use for good!!


You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good - Genesis 50:20


Sometimes I can shelter my kids so much that I forget there is a world out there that they will be exposed to once out of my sight. So rather than shield them, why not sit down and expose them to it with me alongside them to share what HIS word says and allow my counsel to teach them truth instead of allowing others to do that work. 


What lesson can you teach your child today because of something "intended to harm" but you allowed God to use it for good?


Pray that Christ gives you opportunities each day to "sit and share" Truth as you continue to build a firm foundation in your child!