Monday, October 31, 2011

A T in the road

Not too long ago I apologized to Ryan when I arrived home later than Ryan had asked me to be home so that he could leave for a meeting.

I said, "I'm sorry."

He responded: "No you're not. Otherwise you wouldn't do it anymore."

Ouch.

That hurt.

Not because the words themselves were hurtful, but rather because they were truthful.

And sometimes the truth is hard to swallow.

I tend to be late and my tardiness impacts others. When my husband asks me to be home at a certain time, it is rude and disrespectful of me to not honor what he has asked me to do. My tardiness tells others that their schedule is not as important as my schedule is.

There are times in our lives when we come to a T in the road. We have the opportunity to go to the left or go to the right. One way is the road we've been on. The other road is a new road.

I believe it's the road of repentance and change.

2 Corinthians 7:10 says: "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death."

Our culture often focuses on worldly sorrow and worldly grief. It is sorrow that is self focused. It says, "I'm sorry" to make the other person feel better or to make the offender feel better because he/she apologized. But it lacks repentance. It is about guilt and regret. Worldly sorrow is about me.

Godly grief and Godly sorrow lead us to repentance - a change in our hearts, our actions, our words. A change in our decision making and our choices. A change in our priorities. A change that ensures our actions align with our beliefs. Godly sorrow means we want to change our sinful ways. Godly sorrow is God-directed. We are sorry because we sinned against God first and foremost.

Repentance involves turning from our old ways and beginning anew. Marriages. Addictions. Finances. Lifestyle choices.

Repentance isn't about feeling shameful or guilty. It's about choosing to make a change. It's about turning from sin and turning directly into the arms of Jesus. We cannot truly repent without involving God. Any 'sorry' without God is just worldly grief about our actions.

You might be standing at a T in your life right now. Maybe it's the first time. Maybe it's the 50th time.

There is a sign labeled "guilt, shame and regret." And there's another that says, "repentance." Which is really just a fancy word for turning from your old ways and choosing new life.

I'm at a T and I need to do some business with God. My lack of repentance is causing hurt to those I love and has led me on a road I don't want to be on.

I imagine some of you reading this are at a T as well. Like me, you've focused far too long on self.

Let's get on our knees and get right with God.

Let's turn around. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

What we're waiting on....

Read these powerful words of truth yesterday:

How comforting to know we don't have to wait on our circumstances to work for our good. Instead we wait on God, because it's HIM who works for our good. He's trustworthy and faithful. {And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. ~Rom. 8:28}

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

An appointed time for blessings

A few weeks ago we heard that some dear friends of ours sold their home after a very long wait. I believe their home was on the market for more than a year. They cleaned. They organized. They took down personal pictures. They staged their home just right. They prayed. They waited. They had showings and showings and more showings.

They got pregnant and had a baby. They waited some more and finally the offer they had been waiting for came in.

We are so happy for them and excited about what is in store for their future.

At the same time, if I am honest, my heart is envious that God answered their prayer.

While my head knows that God does not answer prayers in the order that they are received (unlike most places where we put in our orders), my heart begs of God, "Why did their prayer get answered, but not ours? Why do they have the blessing of moving forward with life, while we are still waiting? Isn't a job offer more important that an offer to buy a home? Why, why, why?"

In April of 2009 I wrote a post about blessings and the fact that I was feeling guilty about being pregnant when we had already received the miracle of Samuel in our lives. I felt doubly blessed and didn't want to 'take away' the blessing of someone else since I would have two babies while others were waiting for just one baby.

At that time, and since then, I have continually been reminded of how God blesses us...and how it doesn't have anything to do with anyone else and it certainly doesn't happen according to our human timelines.

There is an appointed time for each and every blessing.

And as I wrote in my post in 2009, my time is not your time and your time is not my time. My blessing is meant for me and your blessing is meant for you. God answering 'yes' to our friends is completely independent of Him saying 'yes' or 'no' to us.

Eclesiastes 3 says "There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven."

There is an appointed time for each and every blessing to be given and for each and every promise to come to fruition.

I KNOW that. I just need to remind myself of that.

Marriage. Health. Finances. Careers. Babies. Education.

Every blessing is independent of another.

Abraham and Sarah are a beautiful example of God's timing and His blessings. 

Genesis 15 says, "[God] took [Abraham] outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

In Genesis 17 God told Abraham he was the father of many nations and God would make him very fruitful. Abraham was 99 years old at the time!

Genesis 18 says, "Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

God's appointed time for Abraham and Sarah brought all glory and honor and praise to God. They were past child-bearing age. And yet God used their lives and their family to perform a miracle and through the birth of their son Isaac, God was glorified.

Had God blessed them with children when they were 22, their story probably would not have been remembered and studied for generations to come. 

God doesn't have to juggle blessings. He doesn't have to choose each day who He gets to bless and who has to wait until another time. His blessings are not dependent on time or finances or age. When we are faithful to pursue Him, seek Him, wait on Him and sit in His presence...He will bless us at His appointed time.

Friday, October 21, 2011

From the Inside Out

After reading my last post, my dear friend sent me a link to this video - From the Inside Out by Hillsong. What a beautiful expression of our desire to honor God from the inside out. The words are a powerful reminder for all of us striving to live our lives to the honor and glory of Him and Him alone.

Everlasting your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending your glory goes beyond all things

And the cry of my heart is to bring you praise
from the inside out Lord my soul cries out


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My praise and my mess

I stepped off the bus this morning and into the cold wind of downtown Minneapolis. As my feet hit the pavement, my mind and heart were directed upward.

Oh hello Lord. Good morning to you. I’m off to work and am just now remembering I haven’t yet greeted you today. Forgive me Lord that the first words on my tongue this morning were not praise or gratefulness to you…for another day to breathe…another day to love and live and work. I lay in the warmth of my bed too long this morning. I hurried to fix my hair, pack food, iron my pants and prepare for my day. I offered quick hugs and kisses to the little people in my home and I rushed on my way. I confess that I was harsh with my husband because of my tardiness this morning. I did not leave my home with kind words of encouragement for the day, but rather with a stressful goodbye at the door.

Why Lord? Why can’t I get it together? Why can’t I prepare the night before to allow adequate time for my family and home? Why can’t I get up earlier – to get both my heart and my body prepared for the day? Why can’t I recognize my desperate need for you…first and foremost every day? Why can’t I make the connection between my heart and my words and actions? For out of the overflow of the heart my mouth speaks. God I am so grateful that your love for me is not based on this sinner’s heart because the overflow is ugly these days. It hurts my loved ones. And it grieves you because how I treat your creation reflects how I view you – the Creator.

I remember the day I stood on a beach in northern Minnesota. I gave my faith story and then I was baptized by cool lake water. I declared myself a follower of you. I admitted before many that I was stubborn, independent and self-reliant.

And today I am still all of those things and more. You have such a work to do in me God. I am weak, you are strong. I am selfish, and you give of your mercies graciously, repeatedly. I am a fool that repeats its folly. Yet you hold your arms open and allow me to run into them daily.

It’s all there for me. You offer to carry my burdens for me. Then why do I hold so tightly to them? When will I loosen these fingers that are wrapped so firmly around…what? My responsibilities? My to do list? My commitments? The pieces of my day?
Renew my mind God. Every day. Transform me from the inside out because the brokenness inside is ugly. My pride, bitterness and self-righteousness is what made you turn away and forsake Christ on the cross. My sin, my brokenness was laid bare for all the world to see. Your holiness and perfection cannot co-exist alongside my sin and humanity. And that’s why your Son bridged the gap. It doesn’t just make a difference for eternity. God it makes a difference for today.

Wait who is this man that just stepped in front of me? Is he…homeless? He has an overstuffed cooler. Deodorant and a toothbrush stick out of the pockets of his backpack. His clothes hang from his body. His hair is oily and his clothes greasy. And his smell is…foul. He stops by the garbage. He looks in. He begins to dig.

Oh Lord, help him. Help me. I am consumed with self and it’s sickening. His stench is apparent and his appearance is unappealing. My stench is hidden, but it’s rotten. God the filth in my heart is overflowing onto those around me. Protect their hearts from my ugliness. Create in me a clean heart, but do it gently Lord.

This man. This homeless man. His filth is easily washable. My filth was erased at the cross. I claim that promise for today. Thank you that we are both cleansed by the blood of Jesus. Thank you that you can still shine, still be glorified, still transform and still renew amidst my mess. I can’t clean it up. I wouldn’t even know where to begin. In deep humility I offer you my praise and my mess simultaneously…and you eagerly receive both.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

me too

"Some of the most comforting words in the universe are 'me too.' That moment when you find out that your struggle is also someone else’s struggle, that you’re not alone, and that others have been down the same road." – Rob Bell, Sex God

Sunday, October 16, 2011

This is what I fear, this is what I dread...

Fear can hold us in bondage and keep us captive.

There are extreme cases of people living with crazy amounts of fear.

And there are also many of us with fears we haven't whispered to anyone. Particularly, the dark, deep fears about ourselves. Our loved ones. Our futures. Our hopes, dreams, lives.

During my journey to parenthood, I heard Beth Moore say that in order to really address our fears, we must list them before the Lord. Verbally. Written. Whatever.

But we need to get them out there before our God. That's the only way to truly find freedom from the fears that are holding us captive.

Through my season of waiting I had many fears about the future of my family and the timing of it all coming to fruition. I took Beth's advice and on April 10, 2008, my 32nd birthday, the following is part of an entry recorded in my journal:

"Beth Moore says to write out "Lord this is what I dread, this is what I fear..."

So here goes:
I fear that one year from today I will not be pregnant (or have a baby).
That one year from today I will question why we moved to Northeast.
That one year from today if we do have a baby that I will have forgotten.
That one year from today I will not have a stronger, deeper love, trust and faith in the Lord. That I will not be as reliant.

Those are my fears. I lay them at your feet. Thank you for the gift of life. I love you."


(Looking back, I know my list could have been much much longer. I had journaled for three pages prior to this list so it's quite possible it was late and I was tired. Today I can think of many more things that were on my heart in April of 2008).

I can truthfully say, there is power in declaring our fears, worries, concerns and anxieties to the Lord.

Because at the end of our list...even if the list goes on for three pages....I think the Lord responds with, "So what?"

'"So what Stacy? So what if all those fears come true? What if every single thing you wrote down and all the things you are thinking, but didn't take the time to write....what if they all come true? Every. Single. One. Are you going to stop loving me Stacy? Are you going to stop serving me? Are you going to stop believing in my faithfulness and goodness?"

"No Lord. I will still love you. I will still serve you. I will still follow hard after you. But it will hurt so much. And I am so afraid."

That's it. That's how it works. We put it all out there and in doing so, our gracious Heavenly Father helps us realize that even if it all comes true, we will still survive. We might be more battered and bruised and broken, but we know the Healer intimately.

I found an article by Beth that describes the day God challenged her to tell Him her fears. You can read about it here.

So now it's your turn. Do you need to make a list of fears and worries that are holding you bondage? Secrets from the past or fears about the future?

Or maybe it's just one thing.

Beth Moore would tell you to write it out:

What if ______________________________    then ______________________.

The if statement is what you fear. The then statement is how you will respond. Maybe it won't be your initial response, but eventually.

"If one year from today I am not pregnant, then I will still trust that you are in control God and that your timing and plans for my family are perfect."

What if...
I get a fatal illness?
A loved one is diagnosed with a fatal illness?
A loved one suddenly dies?
I fail as mom?
I never get married?
I never get pregnant?
I struggle with identity/self-image issues all my life?
My marriage fails?
He has an affair?
I don't succeed in my career?
I am always this lonely?
We lose all our money?
I am never truly happy?
Everyone around me gets the one thing I want most?

In the process of writing this post, God has spoken to me about a fear I have in regards to my children. I am not sure if I have ever told anyone about it, but it is terrifying to me. It turns my stomach into knots and makes me want to vomit. It is my greatest nightmare and the Lord is telling me it's time to give it over to Him.

I haven't talked to the Lord about it...or to anyone else...because I think I fear that if I say it out loud (or write it) somehow that will make it come true.

I know that's not how life works, but it's how my brain works.

My worst fear is not that my children would die or get sick or get hurt. My greatest fear is that they get taken. And I don't know who has them or where they are or if they are OK.

Writing these words is highly emotional for me because it's a fear so deep that I can hardly swallow. In a heartbeat I would ask the Lord to take them home before He would allow someone else to take them from me.

For those of you who live locally, Jacob Wetterling is my worst nightmare.

Three and a half years ago my greatest fear was never having children. Now I have them and a whole other set of fears is facing me.

And so I have to make a choice. Just as I did in 2008. To give my greatest fear to the Lord and not let that fear define me, guide me, fill me or hold me captive.

It seems I've got an if/then statement of my own I need to talk with the Lord about. I'm dreading doing it. But the alternative is to live in fear of it coming true and that is NOT the abundant life Christ came to give me.

This post has ended much differently than I had planned to write it. God knew my heart and what I needed freedom from even more than I did.

What about you? If you don't already know, ask God to reveal your fears to you so you can give them to Him.

It's with great confidence I say, the Heavens REJOICE as we name our fears one by one.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

We didn't get the memo

I read a post a few months back titled, "We didn't get the memo." I have thought about it frequently since I read it.

The post is written by a woman who has 10 children (I believe 7 are adopted).

It's pretty in your face about how we live in America. And our assumptions. And our priorities. And our hearts.

While words like these are tough to read, I need to read them from time to time. Because many in our country (I believe due to our society, culture and media) live by a different unspoken 'memo' and the temptation is great to follow the vast majority.

Matthew 7:13-14:
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

The purple box is her blog intro, and the post starts beneath that.

Don't say I didn't warn you....

We didn't get the memo

Agree? Disagree? Challenged? Love to know what you think after reading this!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The sin of ingratitude

My daughter has a natural heart of gratitude. When I bring her teddy bear to her when she's in her crib, she responds: "Thank you mommy. Thank you."

When I give her food in her high chair she says: "Thank you mommy. Thank you."

It usually sounds like "Fank you." It is so sweet. So natural. So precious.

And I pray her heart of gratitude grows and grows throughout her life.

I am noticing this trait in Lauren lately, because I have been reading about gratitude.

Last week I got the book One Thousand Gifts from the library (thanks for the offer to read your copy Ann!). The author - Ann Voskamp - says: "Satan's sin became the first sin of all humanity: the sin of ingratitude. Adam and Eve are, simply, painfully, ingrateful for what God gave...... Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren't satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other."

Whew. Powerful stuff.

The sin of ingratitude...it started with Satan. Then moved into the garden.

And it's running rampant today.

It's not a sin that we talk about often. Not like lust, pride, greed, envy.

Some of those are found among the 7 Deadly Sins (or Cardinal Sins).

And they are filthy. Disgusting.

We know about those sins. We read about them. We are challenged to stay far away from them.

But ingratitude can't be a sin like those sins. 

Can it?

I've never read: "Thou shalt be thankful."

I do, however, recall reading:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

and

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18


In all circumstances.

Give thanks.


And be thankful.

So then...why am I not?

How did my heart become so full of ingratitude?

I have much to be grateful for.

So much.

But the sin of ingratitude can quietly creep in.

And take over.

And soon my heart is restless. Unsatisfied. Hungering for more than God is giving me.

And be thankful.

I came across the reading below from Beth Moore. I found it on my computer. Don't recall reading it before. Don't know where it came from. 

But it's good.

A Life of Gratitude

Scripture Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-25

Today's Treasure: "Thank [God] in everything - no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks; for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). (Amplified Bible)

One way to fortify our lives from sin is to live lives of active gratitude. Dissatisfaction is a stronghold waiting to happen. An unsatisfied soul should never be ignored. Ongoing or chronic feelings of dissatisfaction are waving red flags that need to be well inspected. Such feelings may mean something vital is missing, and we need to seek God without delay.

Other times, nagging feelings of dissatisfaction can be little more than the byproduct of living in such an overindulged society. Think about it. Countless millions of dollars are spent annually by advertisers whose only goal is to convince Americans that we are not yet satisfied. Since our hearts are deceptive in their natural form, sometimes our feelings are telling us we're less satisfied than we really are.

How can we know the difference? Apply the phrase Paul supplied us: "Be thankful and give thanks." Active gratitude will cure self- or society-induced dissatisfaction. Often we know what our problem is. We even know what the remedy may be. If we're going to continue on in our sincere and pure devotion to Christ, we're going to have to start taking the medicine the Word prescribes when we're spiritually feeling under the weather.

Many times we don't have a knowledge problem; we have an obedience problem. Be thankful and give thanks. Do you hear what Paul is saying? Just trying to sit like a thankful-looking bump on a dead log won't cut it. Actively give thanks.

When I'm feeling down or a little like a brat, I often sense God speaking to my heart, "Name 'em, child." I don't even have to ask what He means. He means start naming a mere twenty or thirty of the thousands of ways He's shown His goodness to me. God has had such mercy on my life, I ought to be among the most grateful people on the earth, and that's exactly what I want to be.

God has taught me another way to actively give thanks. He has shown His goodness to me in innumerable ways through other people. I sense Him saying to me, "Give thanks to me first and foremost, but, Beth, I want you to be one of the most genuine and vocally grateful people others know. I have caused many people to show you kindness and help you accomplish your calling. Thank them continually." I am sure the same is true of your life. God is teaching me not just to be thankful for the love and support I receive from my family, my staff, my friends, and my church but to actively tell them.

If our selfish hearts are trying to trick us into feeling a false sense of dissatisfaction, a good strong dose of thanksgiving will cure what ails us! If it doesn't, we've got a more serious issue, and we must diligently seek the wisdom and remedy of God.

Spend time giving thanks to God for the spiritual and physical blessings He has given you.

Adapted from When Godly People Do Ungodly Things , by Beth Moore, pages 110-111. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2002. Used by permission.

Ingratitude.


Satan.

Adam.

Eve.

Me.

If it caused separation from God, it is certainly a sin that needs to be dealt with.

I can't do it alone. It's not about me striving to be more grateful.

It's about recognizing what God's already done.

And choosing to be grateful for it.

Because we can't accept his gift of grace without gratitude.

It's giving thanks for this miracle of life. For breathing. Laughing. Loving.

It's thanking God for tears that bring healing and hope that keeps us persevering.


It's being grateful that God can take a wayward, stubborn, independent, selfish, sinful person like me...and bring transformation to my heart and soul.

In all circumstances.

Give thanks.


And be thankful.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Lamenting

A month ago I wrote a post about bitterness and the series that we are doing at church called Hang On/Let Go.

One message in the series is about letting go of bitterness and hanging on to forgiveness.

As a result of that message I asked our pastor and friend what does one do when they are struggling with bitterness, but don't have someone to forgive?

Say, for example, with unemployment.

Or infertility.

Or disease/health issues.

No one did something wrong. No one needs forgiveness.

Yet there can be pain and loss and heartache and anger and loneliness and bitterness. 

My pastor gently reminded me that the spiritual practice of lamenting is a wonderful option in a case such as this.

He describes lamenting as righteous complaining to God that can end with praising God or end with bitterness toward God. 

The spiritual discipline of lamenting is a valuable tool when we are in a difficult place with no end in sight...or an end that is causing us deep pain and grief.

Laments can express our mourning, our sadness, our anger, our doubts, our lack of trust.

We can go before the Lord and lament from the depth of our heart....honestly, completely, authentically.

We can write out our lament. We can tell the Lord how we're feeling and what we wish He would do for us.

We can lament verbally by reading a Psalm.

Psalm 13 is a beautiful example of a lament. It is very honest and direct to the Lord: "How long, O Lord?" And it ends with a declaration to trust in God: "But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he had been good to me."

Next to Psalm 13 I have these dates written: 6.1.08 and 2.20.11

In 2008 I was lamenting that we were without children. And now in 2011 I am lamenting our season of unemployment.

I read that more than half of the Psalms are lamenting Psalms so we can learn much from Scripture about the practice of lamenting.

Hannah gives us examples of lamenting in 1 Samuel. It tells us she poured out her soul to the Lord...in bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord.....she had been praying out of her great anguish and grief.

Author Ginger Garrett says, "When the answer is no the Bible instructs us to praise him, pour out our hearts to him...and to wait." 

Pouring out our hearts includes lamenting.

So if you've got bitterness in your heart...

If you're struggling to forgive someone...

If you've faced a devastating loss (death, disability, divorce, financial)...

If you're walking through a season of pain and heartache...

Why not try lamenting?

God already knows your heart and he knows your thoughts.

Lamenting can assist you in letting go of that bitterness and bring healing to your heart.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

It is well with my soul

I've never been a huge fan of the song, "It is Well With My Soul."

It is often sung at funerals and seems so incredibly depressing. Ryan and I heard it at a wedding once and it was sung so terribly (not to mention a very odd song for a wedding celebration) that we had to contain our laughter.

The hymn was written in 1873 and the story behind the song is one of deep sorrow and loss. You can read about it here. Scroll down to hymn history to read the tragic events that led to the writing of these lyrics.

However, I am a big fan of the television show Parenthood and last week there was a scene that featured "It is Well With My Soul."

It was sung so softly, slowly and sweetly that I couldn't help but take notice of these precious lyrics. I looked up the artist online and found the video on youtube.

It's worth your time to stop for two minutes and 47 seconds and listen to these powerful words:



And when you finish watching it

whatever your lot

whatever your journey

whatever your story....say with me:

"
It is well, it is well, with my soul."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Happy Birthday Samuel

Dear Samuel,
Yesterday was your 3rd birthday. Happy birthday my little man. There are no words to describe the joy you bring to my heart and the thankfulness to God that your dad and I have for bringing you into our lives three years ago today.

You are so sweet, so entertaining, so energetic, so curious, so delightful and so exhausting. Our world was rocked the day we got the call about you and it's never been the same since.

How do I communicate to you Samuel that I feel so privileged to be your mom? Celebrating your birthday, talking with you about Jesus, teaching you about baking and cooking...to be your mom is to see things through new eyes every day. 

Before I had a son, there were so many things I didn’t notice. Police cards. Fire trucks. Diggers. Trains. Dump trucks. Dinosaurs. Drums. Guitars.

Construction and emergency vehicles passed by me unnoticed. Musical instruments did not give me cause to stop and listen and then immediately imitate. I didn't visit the zoo every month hoping to see sparky the seal. I wasn't aware that monsters could be part of every conversation whether we're discussing going to the potty or eating lunch.

But not anymore. I have a son. And because of that I see the moon when we're driving home from grandpa and grandma's house at night. I stop to wave at school buses when they drive by. I am now aware that nearly anything can become a drum stick in the hands of a little boy. And the act of hiding from monsters is a regular occurrence in my life these days.

Being a mom to a little boy has made me a better, more well-rounded person. Thank you for that Samuel. I hope I don't ever stop noticing all the things in life that you are passionate about.

Here are some things you've said recently that make my heart smile:

Who are you talking to Samuel? "The moon, but he's not listening."

"What does pardon mean?"

"Can I have a hug too?" (after I hugged Lauren when I got home from work)

"Can I put my arm around your neck?" (while reading to you)

"Is that grass on your sandwich?" (while I was eating a veggie sub from Jimmy Johns on $1 day)

"I can do all things through Christ." (you say it with actions and you even taught your sister this verse)

"Mom do we say we kill someone?
No we don’t say that.
But the news just said it."

While discussing baby Jesus in his children’s Bible, “Can I kiss him?”

While discussing Mary with baby Jesus in her tummy, “Can I put a baby in my tummy?”

While looking at Goliath’s sword in the children’s Bible: "Is that a lightsaber?" (Because our friend and neighbor Oliver has a lightsaber).

"I want to shoot some ladders." (while we were at a park called Chutes and Ladders)

"Dad make sure you don't get into the street." (while yelling out the door at dad who was walking to a neighbor's home)

And my two favorites:

"I want to tell someone that Jesus died on the cross."

"Did you know that Jesus takes all the monsters away?"


I love you with my whole heart Samuel...all the way to the moon and back. I treasure these days with you. They are challenging me and growing me and teaching me. And I wouldn't trade them for the world.

I am proud of the little man you are becoming. I love our conversations and all that you are learning. You teach me so much. And I enjoy teaching you about the God of the universe who loves you so much.

Happy 3rd birthday. Lets make it a great year little man!

Love you,
Mom


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Some thoughts on mothering

My best friend from 10th grade had twin baby girls in August. She has a 4 year old, a 2 year old and now newborn twins.

Her hands are full. And so is her heart.

And she is doing an amazing job!

We had a little baby celebration for her the other night. We chatted, we ate and we held her five-week-old twins!

I shared the following with her that night:

Deuteronomy 6:5-9
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."

That passage is quoted often and as parents we hear it frequently. It gives us important direction in raising our children and teaching them about Jesus. In my mom's Bible, they present a unique reminder about this passage that I'd like to share with you:

"If it were important, I would have remembered it" is a big fat lie we tell ourselves. Our abundant use of sticky notes, electronic organizers and calendars on the refrigerator attest to the fact that we function best with constant reminders. When God first gave instructions to the Israelites, he knew his people would need daily reminders. The most important information is not absorbed instantly - it is steeped into our heart through repetition. Today, tell your children again about God's wisdom and love. They need to be reminded as much as you do."

We are told as followers of Jesus to spend time regularly with God. Scripture is clearly telling us that our children need to be taught about Jesus regularly as well.

Our most important role as a mom - the best thing we can do for our kids - is to impress upon them the Word of God and the love of Jesus. At meal time, bed time, bath time, dressing time, cooking time, playing time. Our time with God shouldn't be limited to a short devotional in the morning or evening...but rather small moments all throughout the day.

Pray daily that you would love God more, love your children more and that they would love God more.

It's easy to be overwhelmed as a mom with young children. But if nothing else gets accomplished in your day except telling them repeatedly that Jesus loves them unconditionally, that's all that matters. Then you can lay your head on your pillow at night, and even if there are crumbs on the floor, piles of laundry to wash and dirt in places you don't even want to think about, you can rest assured because your children know about the love of their Savior.

Don't ever let the world tell you mothering isn't important. It is one of the most important jobs in the world - to raise the little people in your home to know and love God in a personal way.

Every night when I put Samuel and Lauren to bed I pray according to Deuteronomy 6 that they would love God with all their heart, all their soul and all their strength. What better prayer is there to pray as a mom?

I'd like to conclude with these powerful words from Growing Grateful Kids:

"We have this one life, this short time on earth to make our mark and to make life count. We have these children in our care for a blink of an eye. Now is the time to be engaged and fully present. Now is the time to seek divine insight into God's plan for their lives. Now is the time to rise up and be the parent that we might train our kids in the way they should go.

We are not alone. Not be a long shot. Yes, we have a seemingly impossible task before us, but we have Christ within us, and the heavens cheering for us. We can make a difference in this world! We can do ever single thing God asks us to through Christ who gives us strength. Nothing is impossible for us! It doesn't matter that our society has fallen to an all-time low; in fact, this is the perfect time to rise up and be blessed. God's promises are as true as they've ever been. His call to live an otherworldly life is as real as it has ever been.

Will it be easy? Absolutely not! Will you cry yourself to sleep sometimes? That's certainty. But would you want to be anywhere else? I hope not! God has ordained you and appointed you to bear life-giving fruit, and to leave an impact on this earth that lasts long after you're gone. Your children are part of that fruit. Invest in them. Teach them about this living, breathing God we serve. It's not enough to being them to church on Sundays and to get them to youth group on occasion. That won't be enough in the days ahead. Go after Jesus in your personal life. Live with breathless expectancy and marvel at everything He does. Because everything He does is worth noting.

Share what you learn with your children. Let the joy of your faith journey deeply impact kids. Teach them not about rigid religion; teach them about love. And forgiveness. And faith. And hope. Help them inherit the idea that, truly, nothing will be impossible for them if they will humble themselves before the Lord.

Cast a vision for what is possible for those who believe. Read stories of some spiritual greats who have gone before them. Tell your children that god wants them to change the world, because He does, you know. Never allow your walk with Jesus to become rote, or an ought-to, or a should-do.

Life with Jesus is unequivocally a get-to."