Friday, May 31, 2013

Raise the Bar!

     Another action packed week has past with the 8th grade graduation of our youngest.  This graduation was our first, although we have two older children there weren’t ceremonies for them.  I feel the events of kindergarten, 5th and 8th grade are all in the shadow of the Hallmark greeting card corporation.
     Yes, we had to go dress shopping for yet another dress.  I felt the pressure to send out invitations, have a party and buy big gifts.  Fortunately I didn’t give into the pressure and simply gave lots of hugs and opted for a favorite meal after the graduation ceremony.
     All that said, we were more than a little impressed, encouraged and inspired with the message to the graduating 8th grade class.  Pastor Doug Sauder explained to us that the term “teenager” is a relatively new term, appearing in the 1940’s.  He told us the “passage to adulthood” in the American culture is much different from other cultures. 
     Pastor Doug explained that our culture allows for the bar to be set low for “teenagers.”  In fact the overall culture excuses a teenager’s laziness, their wasting of time and the acceptable behavior of rudeness and disrespect.
     He went on to challenge the students to raise the bar Pastor Doug did and amazing job of weaving into his message the example of  young teenagers who chose to work hard, set goals and not to be intimidated.
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and to “Do Hard Things.”
     This message intended for my daughter and her class struck me between the eyes.  In parenting it is easy to drop the bar.  Every since we began parenting teenagers ten years ago, there has been pressure to loosen up on my involvement.  The temptation in parenting teenagers is to let them “figure it out,” or to parent like an ATM machine.  There is an expectation that their teachers and youth pastors would give them the guidance they needed.
     I am grateful I had a pastor who told me just because other parents stopped parenting their teenagers it didn’t give me permission to stop.  I am grateful I went to a conference, which taught a parents responsibility extends to adult children.

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My challenge today is don’t lower the bar of your parenting.  In fact, raise it!  What would the next generation look like if we stayed engaged with our children’s behavior?  What if we raised the bar with the relational aspect of parenting? Throughout the next few days, lets ask ourselves, “Did I raise the bar today?”  Why is it important to raise the bar?  Colossians 3: 17 “…and whatever you do…do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus…”  As unto the Lord, lets raise the bar of parenting!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How Will You Wait?

"He will do this."  -Psalm 37:5

"He knows the way that I take."  -Job 23:10

Thursday was a day of anticipation and excitement awaiting the arrival of Kate's little bundle.  The day was hopeful as every noise my phone made I'd look to see if there was any news.  Hopeful anticipation.

I was reminded that our waiting in any circumstance should be just that.  Hopeful anticiaption knowing that in God's timing everything will come to pass that is in His will.  Unfortunately, anticipation can turn into expectation very quickly and our HOPE turns to disappointment.  Why isn't it happening in my time?  I wish this thing would come sooner....

As Thursday went along, I'd find the time going by slower the more I looked at my phone, but as I became fully invested in my day and focused on the task at hand, that's when the news of Kate's new baby caught me off guard and in turn was a true surprise!

Will you allow Him to surprise you by diving into your days, weeks and months unbridled by worry and expectation?  Giving Him the reigns while you anticipate the next turn with hope?

Give it to Him.  Continue to seek, serve and love those around you while His plan is put into motion.

When told, "It's a gray day," an old Scottish cobbler once replied, "Yes, but didn't ya see the patch of blue?"

What glimpse of hope do you see in your time of waiting?  What patch of blue?

I've prayed this so many times, but help us to stay out of your perfect way.  Give us patience in our waiting and guidance in our every day.  Help us to keep our eyes focused on You. 
In Your Name,

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Do This In Remembrance Of Me

Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME.” Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you. And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!” - Luke 22:17-20, 22 NKJV

On Memorial Day we celebrate and remember military veterans who have died. These veterans were defenders of our country and many died while fighting for our freedom. 

What an opportune time to teach or remind our children about the greatest memorial, Holy Communion. Jesus is the defender of our faith and His death on the cross freed from eternal sin and death, Salvation.

Challenge: Take time this week to remember Jesus with Holy Communion with your children. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Today for Tomorrow

Matthew 6:25-34

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Jesus words in Matthew 6 are so applicable to each and everyone of us.  They will penetrate our minds and hearts and empower us to live a life that makes God known every day and everywhere we go.  We will have love, power, and joy no matter what the day holds; finding ourselves in the center of God's will.....if we allow them too. Easier said than done, it takes practice and commitment.

I've mentioned my teenagers often; Samuel 17 and Bailee 15.  They both have very distinct gifts and callings that the Lord has placed in and on their lives.  Samuel believes that the Lord is leading him towards youth ministry. Bailee believes that the Lord is leading her to minister in the world of Ballet.  We do not know exactly what that looks like in their future.  However, we have been learning to live in those gifts and calling today.  King David declares in Psalm 139:16 "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."   As Samuel gets ready to finish his Junior year of high school, he is faced with  many questions about his future, college, major, etc.  We try to encourage him that although it is good to pray and plan about those things he must remember that "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails" Proverbs 19:21 We remind him that if he only focuses on his "tomorrow" he misses God's plans for "today".  The same applies to Bailee.  She dreams of becoming a Ballet dancer in a professional dance company.  However, this very morning she will slick her hair back into a perfect bun, dress in tights, a leotard and pointe shoes and go off to Ballet class.  Today she is a Ballet dancer.  The Lord put the gift of dance in her for today to take her to the places He wants, to minister in and through her.  As we function today in the gifts and callings God has "knit" in us, He is glorified every step of the way.  We live for the day not the dream because the dream is in today!  
 Isaiah 26:3
"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you."
Be encouraged godly mom! My prayer is that we will enjoy today and teach our children to do the same.  To see today as the day we have and live it to God's fullest for His purposes in and through us.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Enjoy the Moment

A cheerful heart is good medicine,
 but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
- Proverbs 17:22

For the past 10 days I have been completely out of my element. I am staying with my parents on the east coast awaiting the newest Seawell baby (because I stayed with my midwife even through our move across the state).  I miss my big comfty bed. I miss my husband (he is still working until we go into labor). I  miss being in my own home (thinking its the "nesting" thing too).  

It's a wild thing though, because sometimes when we are stripped of our normal, natural comforts the Lord shows us some hidden treasure that we were unaware of. While staying with my parents (who have served me and the kids so Christ-like while in their home) I have been laying down with the kids until they fall asleep. The "treasure" has been in those 20-30 minutes I have with them, in bed right before falling asleep, where they share those questions and thoughts they have about life. Those moments where their fears and joys come to light and I have had some of the sweetest conversations EVER. What a gift. One I will cherish always!

So thankful for the "treasure" in those simple yet memorable talks. Many I shared later (each night) on the phone with my husband. I have been so blessed all because we were out of our normal routine and placed in a new one. So grateful to be out of my element and reminded of how important those small, simple talks are! I just need to slow down more often and enjoy the moment.

Has your normal "schedule" been interrupted lately?

What do you think Jesus might be showing you?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Roots and Wings!

     How blessed I am that God chose Jill as my sister in law.  
Glean from her!  She has wings to follow!  
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This cute picture & parenting quote contains a lot of Godly wisdom in its simplicity.  It brought several great verses to mind!

It states the 1st gift to our kids is "ROOTS"....roots that will NOT wither or fail them, and that’s a role that only GOD can fill (NOT us as parents, NOT money, NOT position/title):
(Jer 17:8) "They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."
(Psalm 1:1-3) "Blessed is the person who does not follow the advice of wicked people, take the path of sinners, or join the company of mockers. Rather, he delights in the teachings of the LORD and reflects on his teachings day and night. He is like a tree planted beside streams—a tree that produces fruit in season and whose leaves do not wither. He succeeds in everything he does." 

It states the 2nd gift to our kids is "WINGS." Our refuge is under HIS wings & our strength & ability to FLY come from the LORD! Only HE can be their Savior, only He can be their Strength to soar higher (NOT parents, NOT money, NOT position/title). 
(Psalm 91:4) "He will cover you with His feathers. He will shelter you with His wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
(Isaiah 40:31) "But those who trust in THE LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint."

MOMS & DADS…Let’s teach our kids that simplicity!  Growing “roots in the Lord” is the only SURE way to live, that attempting to grow “shallow roots” in the things of this world OR even in us/family will only lead to discouragement, disappointments, and failure.  As much as we love them, if it’s a selfless love as God intended, then we will also teach them HOW TO live without us, and to be more dependent on God the older they get. We have to give them the chance to grow their wings AND spread those wings to fly, just like a momma bird pushes its babies out of the nest – it’s HOW they learn!  But if we keep clinging to them and pulling them back into the nest, we become “wing-clippers”, selfishly disabling them. We will be stunting them from becoming who GOD created them to be, AND forcing them to continue their dependence on us instead of on God! 

Parents – we have a choice. We can live OUR life for God and teach our kids to do the same through our example.  Or we can selfishly cling to them and try to live their life for them.  I think I’d rather let go and trust GOD to GROW them!  I do have a feeling that if we stunt them, not only will God frown on us for “idolizing” our children, but our children (and THEIR children) will suffer for OUR selfishness someday.  Parents – young OR old – we need to let go and entrust them to God instead of overprotecting them.  We must allow them to learn hard lessons by experiencing the consequences of their own behavior and choices in life (instead of trying to rescue them from the PAIN that would actually LEAD to their personal growth & healing!)  And lastly, when it’s time, we need to let them “leave & cleave” without guilt trips or even feeling sorry for ourselves.  Anything less would be dishonoring to the kind of marriage God intended for us to experience!

Moms & Dads, let’s be a parenting generation that brings honor to GOD (and not to ourselves, not to the family name, but to the name of JESUS), and let’s become who He wants us to be to our family.  Let’s be the generation to EQUIP our kids to run NOT to us, but to HIM.  It starts with us being an example.  And the best part is that we don’t have to do this alone -- WE CAN’T do any of this on our own, because living for Christ is impossible without the power of the Holy Spirit living IN us and THROUGH us! J

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Go Green With Your Heart

In the last month our family has watched three different nature documentaries.  Each one portrays man as the bad guy destroying the earth and using up its resources.  We aren’t green enough, we need to give more money to this cause or that cause, we need to stop cutting down trees and driving cars.  The list goes on and on. 

At the end of the movie my kids think that if we would just turn out the lights more, recycle more, or adopt a whale, we could save the planet.  But the truth is not one of those things, if we all did them perfectly or did without them, would have a saving impact on the earth.  None of those things are bad. We want to take care of God’s creation.  But man is depicted as the bad guy here for all the wrong reasons. 

“The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the heavens languish with the earth. The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes
and broken the everlasting covenant.  Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt…” Isaiah 24:4-6

Here in Isaiah 24 it clearly states that the earth, the world, and the heavens are being destroyed because the people have defiled it by disobeying God’s laws and violating His statutes.  This is what has led to the curse that consumes the earth.  The root of this issue is not whether I choose paper or plastic or, better yet, my reusable bags at the grocery store.  It’s not the kind of car I drive or how many whales I adopt.  The root, as always, goes back to my sin, man’s sin. 
It is man’s sin that has destroyed the earth and is destroying the earth.  The heart is the real root, the real cause.  But, as with so many things, we allow the enemy to come in and distract us from the heart.  We so easily fall prey to simply skimming the surface of an issue instead of taking it to the depths, to the heart, our own hearts. 
There is no way for us as humans in our fallen state to redeem and save the earth.  The earth is not even the real issue.  It is really just one more thing God has given us to point us to the main issue, which is the fallen state of man’s heart, the consequences of that, and our need for a savior. 
“On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever.  The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken.”  Isaiah 25:7-8
He will remove His people’s disgrace from all the earth.”  He will remove the curse.  He is the only one who can. 

God, take me to the heart of this issue and all issues in this temporary home you have given me.  Remind me that it is always about the heart and relationship with you.  Help me to guide my children to the heart and not just skim the surface with distractions.  Father open my eyes to see other areas in my life and in my children’s that are dressed up to avoid going deeper and looking at the heart, at the sin.  



Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Your hands

Mom, your hands are very important, special and comforting.  You have some of the most important hands in the world to your little ones.  When someone asks me one of the things that makes my mom special I would say, her hands.  If “A picture is worth a thousand words”, well then her hands are worth a thousand thoughts to me.  And now as I get older and my hands are constantly cleaning, wiping, fixing, holding … my hands have become a comfort to my little ones.

“Your hands have made me and fashioned me.” Psalm 119:73a

God’s hands are comforting, forming, shaping, knitting, protecting, and guiding.  Each time I listen to an invitation being given for people to come to know Christ as Savior, I picture Jesus holding out His hand, ready to lift the person up out of their seat to “walk forward” or take that first step in receiving His gift of salvation.  Those hands have comforted me and will forevermore be comfort as they are always outstretched for us to take hold of. 

“use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.” Ephesians 4:28

I’ve seen how my daughter’s hands are being used as tools of comfort and compassion as well.  I’ve observed her playing with her dolls lately and how gentle she is.  Also whenever she sees someone crying (wherever & whenever) she goes up to them and puts her hand on them.  She loves to rub her hand on whatever skin she can get to.  Jordan has the gift of touch and if you’ve ever held her, she will rub your neck, arm, or back…all while sucking her other thumb of course.

How can your hands be used as agents of comfort and compassion today?  You have a gift, its right in the palm of your hand.  Pray and ask God to use your hands today.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Prayer For Oklahoma

Written by my friend Sharon Castles who now lives in Oklahoma but is safe, thank God!

Heavenly Father, I pray for EACH person affected by this massive tornado that ripped apart the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore! So many have died. I ask for comfort to those mourning the loss of their loved ones!

Strengthen and guide the rescue workers and volunteers who are frevently working to rescue children that are missing and may be trapped Plaza Tower Elementary School. Send Your angels to comfort the children who may be trapped under the debris until they are saved. May no more lives be lost and may we hear of miraculous recovery stories that will be for Your glory. Comfort the parents who are waiting to hear about their children.

I pray that You provide rides for all of the hundreds of people who are homeless, without transportation to get out of the area and are walking long distances to get to safety. I also pray for safe places for them to sleep and be refreshed as they begin the mourn the losses of all they own..... and possibly of loved ones.

Continue stirring the hearts of many to action, to help as You lead, using the gifts and talents You have given us. Help us to treat others, as we want to be treated, to be sacrificial, loving, kind and generous.

Lord, there are so many needs as a result of this tragedy. Please meet the needs that are unspoken here.

I ask the you perform miracle after miracle, that Your name may be praised! May many come to know You as the loving, good God that You are and surrender their lives to Jesus, Your son. I thank You for Your faithfulness despite our unfaithfulness towards You! I am great full that I can come to You with these request and trust You to meet these needs. I love You! In Jesus' powerful name, AMEN!

May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. - Roman 15:5 (NLT)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Temporary Difficulties

I read this blog the other day by Barbara Rainey and thought about how often we go through disappointments with our children and don't really know how to handle them.  I am sharing this blog because I thought it was a great example of how to be real with our children.

Temporary Difficulties
by Barbara Rainey

Have I not wept for the one whose life is hard? Was not my soul grieved for the needy?
Job 30:25
You've been through the same type of difficulties your children are facing now, whether as preschoolers, school-age kids or teenagers. But have you forgotten what it was really like to be their age? When they suffer setbacks, are you there to give them the emotional support they need--from someone who's been there?
Our oldest daughter, Ashley, tried out for the cheerleading squad three times in a row but failed to be chosen on each occasion. Still, she decided to give it one final effort during her junior year, and this time we went all out.
I arranged for her to take lessons. I videotaped her practicing. Together we critiqued her moves. We prayed and prayed about it, feeling surer each time that God wanted her to make the team this year. It would give her a strong platform for influencing her public school for Christ. 
But when the tryouts came around, she didn't make it. This time, I was as heartbroken as she was. It seemed so unfair. We cried for hours, so upset that she had to endure this loss a fourth time in a row.
I could have said to her, "Ashley, cheerleading really isn't all that important. You're making too much of a fuss over this." But this was the most important thing in her life at the time, and she needed me to let her know it was okay for her to cry, to feel sad . . . even to wonder why God had said no again.
Through an amazing set of circumstances, Ashley ended up being selected for the squad a week later. But as I look back on that experience now, I realize that the biggest thing God accomplished in our lives at that time was to knit our souls together, mother and daughter, in sorrow.
Name the biggest challenges facing your children right now. How can you walk with them in the valleys yet still help them trust a sovereign and loving God?
Pray for the words to speak . . . and the words not to speak.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Out of My Control

The Lord himself goes before you 
and will be with you; 
he will never leave you 
nor forsake you. 
Do not be afraid; 
do not be discouraged.
 - Deuteronomy 31:8

My due date was this past Wednesday and it is no surprise that I am late, once again, with delivering my little one. The last two deliveries were late as well and definitely taught me a profound yet simple's out of my control. I know that the Lord is sovereign and has my days numbered. He knows the hairs on my head and the fears of my heart (being induced again with a crazy little drug they call PITOCIN :) 

But how and when I go into labor is in His hands and I must simply trust in that truth alone.

So many times I try to help the Lord out and guide Him in where I should be (as if He needs help) and struggle when things are out of my control. But that is also the sweetest spot to get comfy in. Why? Because it allows me the freedom to relax, let go, trust, seek, learn, grow, and glean from not knowing it all ...and being ok with that simple fact. Looking, with excitement, on how it will go down, as I continue to pray for my delivery.

Tons of friends have asked questions about when or how I think I will go into labor but the honest truth is there is only ONE who knows the time and day I will deliver this newest Seawell baby...and that's the Lord. 

Even as I got prepared tonight to enter this blog, I had a few contractions and mentioned it to my husband. Nothing consistant or too crazy but there were a few. We pondered the fact that my midwife is out of town for the weekend and the possibility that someone else may deliver the baby if we go into labor. But we again came back to the truth that HE is sovereign and we will trust HE has someone wonderful to help us in that process and resting in that...if and when that is the case :)

Trust in His sovereign plan even when you don't see the full picture.

Pray that Christ allows you to enjoy the journey He has you on even when it's out of your control.

Seek His face (Psalm 105:4) in all you do and it will continue to reflect in the beauty of your spirit.

Allow His Word to refresh you in those moments fear creeps in and tries to steal your joy.

Praise Him that He never leaves us but walks right along side us as we move forward in life. 

What is the Lord saying to you, personally, through this blog? What do you think He wants you to do about it?

Friday, May 17, 2013

What or Who is Calling you?

Summer is calling!!
Don’t get me wrong I’m a firm believer in academics, but my heart…not so much! I’m thinking I really fit in the “unschool” category of American mommas.
            I love my babys being home, sleeping in, and eating waffles with sticky kisses that follow.  I love watching them carry a favorite book and sit in their tree houses until they figure out how to dress as the character they are reading about.  I love a peanut butter sandwich on the beach.  As you can see, I’ve got “summer fever” bad.
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            As much as I love summer, I already see endless possibilities of activities for them…and for me!  With as many summers as I have under my belt as a mom, can I share one piece of advice; make a plan for your summer with your children.  
            I am only on the third day of a new Bible study, Gideon by Priscilla Shirer.  She is making a case for Gideon’s call.  Priscilla says one reason she believes God lead her to study Gideon is to remind us of the significance of his unique calling.  As a mom with three young boys, she can certainly relate to the call we have as mothers.
In talking about spheres of influence 

Priscilla says…

I’m convinced that God lets me witness their cute, comical lives to give me good material in my teaching.  But without a doubt, outside of my relationship with the Lord and my husband, my sons are my highest priority, and I have been commissioned by God to be their mother.  Being a parent may seem like a commonplace human relationship, but I will not be lulled into downplaying it as ordinary.  My role as a mom is a deliberate strategy initiated by God to rear young boys into godly men.  AND I AM RESOLVED TO FUFILL THIS CALLING- to be for them what God needs me to be during this critical stage in their lives.

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Yes Moms, summer is calling, our friends are calling, and our kids are calling.  Don’t miss God’s call!  Don’t miss opportunities for the summer. Be the mom who has a plan and is “unschooled” enough to enjoy the unexpected.
            This is His Summer, enjoy His Call!

Judges 6: 14  The Lord turned to him and said, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hands.  Am I not sending you out?"