Sunday, April 29, 2012

Praying a blessing over your children

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A couple months ago I started praying a blessing over Samuel and Lauren when I put them to bed.

I chose this passage from Numbers 6:

The Lord bless you, and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.’--Numbers 6:24-26

Every night that I put them to bed I pray these words. Samuel and Lauren both have it memorized just by hearing mom pray it. In Growing Grateful Kids Susie Larson has an entire chapter titled Give a Blessing. She believes our words, as parents, are incredibly powerful. We can speak life-giving words into our children and pray God's Word over them and to them.

That chapter, along with a sermon by John Piper, inspired me to start praying a blessing over my kiddos. I believe it is truly among the most impactful things I do as a parent. So simple. So easy. So meaningful.

I have a few more thoughts I would like to share in another post about blessings and verses specific to marriages, families, a child, home, etc.

Until then I'll leave you with these words from Susie:

"If you've never asked God for a specific blessing for your child, I encourage you to do so. God will show you His heart for your son or your daughter, and you'll be blessed in the process."


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hard things and tough places

I run from tough stuff.

I do.

I don't want to be the person that runs, but I am.

I pray for brokenness, I pray for humility, I pray for growth, I pray for understanding...and yet I want it all sitting from the comfort of my 1938 brick home sipping a diet coke on my 3-season porch.

When the hard stuff comes, I grab my flip flops (because we all know I am not a runner) and I head for the door.

The door is the easy way out. The door doesn't force me to do soul-searching or challenge me to change. The door allows me to run and hide from the hard. 


Beauty and growth and change and God's glory can't be found on my porch or by running out the door. 

These things require me to fully embrace the story God is writing for my life. Sometimes that story is filled with great joy and abundant blessings. And other times that story is filled with change and trust and unknown...and hard. 

It's when we enter into the hard things and face the tough places
that God brings us to a greater awareness of Him and dependence on Him. 

I read two posts today about hard things and tough places. The words are insightful, powerful, convicting and compelling:

"And this is what I learned: the hard does not minimize His goodness but allows us to experience His goodness in a whole new way." Such wise word from Katie. Go read her post. It will leave you breathless.

"But it's in the tough places, that He teaches me. If life was always pretty and perfect, I wouldn't know how to search for the beauty. Beauty is often wedged between the hard and uncomfortable, adjacent to the difficult." Truthful words from Kristen. Her post is worth the read. 



After reading these words I must ask myself:
Do I believe this? Do I trust that the hard will allow me to experience God's goodness in a whole new way? Do you? If so, why do I run from the hard?

Do I believe that it's in the tough places that God teaches me? Am I willing to face the hard and uncomfortable and difficult to find the beauty? Are you? 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Pray better

The other day my friend said to me, "We can pray better because of our experiences."

As I ponder that statement, I absolutely believe it to be true.
A husband or wife who has walked through a separation or divorce knows the words to pray for those walking similar roads. 

Someone with a chronic illness knows what kind of prayers to pray for others struggling with disease and pain. 

Those who have a strained relationship with a family member, can pray specifically about that situation.

An individual who has experienced deep and personal loss...of a child, spouse, loved one...understands the prayers of the heart that sometimes have no words.

A person who has experienced a life-changing diagnosis, is well-acquainted with the prayers that are required to adjust to a 'new normal.'

Someone who has waited for a season, or possibly even a lifetime, can offer up prayers for others walking a similar journey.

Why am I writing about this?

What am I trying to say?

I'm trying to communicate exactly what my friend said to me the other night: we can pray better because of our experiences.

Scripture tells us that we can comfort others because of how God has comforted us.

Scripture says we can mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice...and I believe we can do those things better because of our experiences.

I also believe that we can pray more specifically and powerfully because of our own personal experiences.

Your current season...whatever that may be...your past seasons...whatever those may be...don't waste them.

Let God use them. For your good. For His glory. And to love one another.

I don't know what it is like to have cancer or another life-altering disease.

I don't know what it is like to walk through the death of a spouse. Or separation or divorce.

I don't know what it is like to face depression or anxiety or addiction.

But I do know what it is like to go through unemployment and the loss of our family's income.

I do know what it is like to lose babies in my womb.

I do know what it is like to wait on God desperate for Him to move in my life and answer my prayers.

My friend called me last November and with heartache in her voice she sobbed, "There's...no...heartbeat." And I knew. I had been there. I had heard those words. I had felt that heartache. I could pray for her passionately and purposefully. I could ask God to make beauty from those ashes. I could pray for healing for her heart and that He would minister to her in a way that left her breathless for more of Him. And I have been able to continue to pray for her as she grieves the loss of her baby and the due date that is to come.

When people share with me that they are waiting...for a spouse, for a baby, for a job offer, for health, for healing...I haven't always experienced what they are longing for, but I understand the waiting and I can petition God on their behalf. I can pray that they would wait well and that God would refine them during their waiting. I can plead with God to help them not waste their waiting.

I believe it is both a privilege and a responsibility to pray for others. And I believe when God brings someone into our life who is journeying through something that we've experienced, we can call on God on their behalf and pray life-changing, powerful prayers.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Jesus Calling devotional

This was sent to me today by a friend and I believe it is worth sharing:

I thought this was a good message for those who are waiting.... its from the Jesus Calling devotional. The date is April13.

When I give you no special guidance, stay where you are. Concentrate on doing your everyday tasks in awareness of My Presence with you. The Joy of My Presence will shine on you, as you do everything for Me. Thus you invite Me into every aspect of your life. Through collaborating with Me in all things, you allow My Life to merge with yours. This is the secret not only of joyful living but also of victorious living. I designed you to depend on Me moment by moment, recognizing that apart from Me you can do nothing.

Be thankful for quiet days, when nothing special seems to be happening. Instead of being bored by the lack of action, use times of routine to seek My Face. Although this is an invisible transaction, it speaks volumes in spiritual realms. Moreover, you are richly blessed when you walk trustingly with Me through the routines of your day.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.—Colossians 3:23

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”—John 15:5

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.—Psalm 105:4

I don't personally have the Jesus Calling devotional book, but I have read numerous devotionals out of the book and they are powerful. Everyone I know who reads these devotions are impacted by them. If you're looking for a devotional to start or end your day with the Lord, this would be a wise choice. There is a Kindle version, Nook version and an app for the iPhone/iPad. Let me know if you read it or if you decide to buy it! Be blessed friends by these words of truth.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tonight

Dear friends,
Tonight you surprised me. Tonight you celebrated me. Tonight you filled my heart to overflowing with your love for me.

Tonight you prayed for me, you hugged me and you gathered together for ME.

Tonight you sacrificed your time, you asked me questions and shared stories and poured into me.

Tonight you blessed me with your presence, your friendship and your love.

Tonight turning 36 felt a whole lot better because God used each of you to shower me with love and laughter.

Tonight God used your printed words on cards to remind me that I am valued and worthwhile and that He is using little ole ME.

Tonight God used your prayers to fill my heart and renew my mind and encourage my spirit.

Tonight the tears poured from my eyes because I am so undeserving....so humbled...so grateful.

Because of tonight I am encouraged to embrace tomorrow and all that God has in store for the 36th year of my life.

As my husband wrote on my card: "Look around you and know that you are loved." That is what I did tonight. That is how I felt. And I give all the glory to God for who He has created me to be and who I get to journey through this life with. You are my friends. You are my community. I am in awe. I am amazed. I am deeply and profoundly impacted by each of you and who God has uniquely created YOU to be.

And I am crazy about each of you and that I get the privilege of (as my friend said tonight) knowing you and being known by you. What a rare gift.

You know my weaknesses...you've seen my imperfections...and yet you still call me friend.

Tonight you brought the words of Zephaniah 3:17 to life for me: The Lord God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.

Thank you friends. My heart is full tonight. I feel so loved and celebrated by your friendships and presence in my life.

And thank you Jesus. You are so good to me.

Stacy

Friday, April 13, 2012

Can you pray that...

"Can you pray that I love daddy a lot?"

"Can you pray that daddy and I are best buds?"

"Can you pray that Jesus was in the tomb and it was really dark?"

"Can you pray that I like the blue Lightening McQueen at Jonathan's house?"

"Can you pray that I love Jesus and God a lot?"

These are the types of prayer requests Samuel suggests in the midst of me praying with him before bed... everything from family members to school to toys to his thoughts about God. Side note: Samuel is currently obsessed with the crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. He and Lauren act it out almost daily. I'm not quite sure how I feel about hearing my son say: "Lauren you be Jesus and go in the tomb. Daddy lets do the crucifixion." It seems I should draw the line somewhere but I haven't quite figured out yet where that line is...

Tonight was filled with many questions and an abundance of prayer requests. I was tired, getting impatient and our prayer time had gotten quite lengthy. Then I heard:

"Can you pray that daddy doesn't give me everything I want?"

Samuel was asking for me to pray about the fact that daddy doesn't give him everything he wants and that he wishes daddy would.

His question touched my heart. Because isn't that the pure heart of a child? Isn't that the unspoken request of our heart? The one we dare not verbalize: that our Father would give us everything we want?

How often do we beg God to give us our heart's desires and how frequently do we plead with Him and petition Him for "everything we want?"

And how often do we claim Psalm 37:4 while we're praying:

"Take delight in the Lord
and He will give you the desires of your heart."

A few weeks ago I was reading a book that mentioned this verse and it led me to ponder the words of Psalm 37. What is the Lord actually saying through this passage?

We tend to understand Psalm 37 this way: I delight in the Lord and then He will grant me my heart's desires. Those desires might be a relationship, health, a baby, a new job, a home, a better income, a new car, +++

We claim this verse and can't understand why our desires don't come to fruition if we're delighting ourselves in the Lord.

I think it's possible that the Lord is trying to say this: delight in me and I will place the desires in your heart that I want you to have. 


Do you see the difference?

It's not about God giving us what we want. It's about God actually placing desires in our heart. When we delight in Him our desires are all about Him. And I think He desires one thing above all else: for us to know Him.

I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord. Philippians 3:7

When my son prays about not getting everything He wants, I see myself (and many others) in his request. We want what our human flesh desires. Instead God wants for us to desire Him and Him alone.

If we were to get all our heart's desires...well, can you imagine? There would be no need to know God. There would be no need to be in relationship with Him, talk to Him, commune with Him. God doesn't give us what we want, He gives us what we need and what brings Him glory. And since He created us to be in relationship with Him, that is our greatest need.

He's only 3 and yet God has granted Samuel with wisdom and understanding far beyond his age. I love having conversations with him about Jesus and God and the curiosities that fill his mind. Samuel recognizes that we don't give him everything. He gets angry about it. And yet I think a part of him realizes that it's the right response from his parents.

We won't ever give Samuel everything he wants. God won't ever give us everything we want. Until everything we want is Him. 
 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Something better

I read online that God answers our prayers in three ways:

1. Yes
2. Not yet
3. I have something better in mind



Samuel you are my something better! Today and every day little man...


**I do think that sometimes God can answer our prayers with a 'no.' I believe that we often think God's answer is no when it's just not yet or I have something better in mind. But for the times when God's answer truly is no, the pain can be unbearable. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Jesus, Son of God

Hands down, one of my all-time favorite songs. It was released last month and is from the Passion Conference in January. I've been listening to it since January waiting for it to come out so I could buy it on iTunes - it was worth the wait!


Friday, April 6, 2012

It's Friday, but Sunday's Coming!

We can't celebrate the miracle of Sunday without the sacrifice that took place Friday. And today is Friday friends. For those who were present for Christ's death and burial, what a dark day it must have been.

But Sunday's just around the corner...and what a glorious day that is!

Turn up the volume...!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hope always triumphs fear

I saw the Hunger Games on Friday night. It was fabulous. I enjoyed every single minute.
President Snow (played by Donald Sutherland) made a statement that I haven't stopped thinking about: "Hope--it is the only thing stronger than fear."


For his purposes, President Snow was trying to squelch hope because he knew exactly how powerful hope can be.

From time to time I get emails asking me about waiting. How did you wait? How did you stay strong? How did you maintain your faith in God?

My first response is my belief in who God is: that He is good, wise, loving and that His ultimate goal is that I know Him - is what kept me waiting well and walking in faith.

My second response is hope.

Hope is what gets you out of bed in the morning. It is what keeps you going during the day. It is what tucks you in at night with a promise for tomorrow.

Hope for the single mom that tomorrow will be a better day.

Hope for the sick that the next round of test results will show improvement.

Hope for the husband or wife that their relationship will improve. 


Hope that next month will provide enough income to pay the bills.

Hope that soon she will meet the one she has been waiting for.

Hope that this month will be the beginning of the 9-month wait they have longed for.

Hope truly is the only thing stronger than fear: fear of test results, doctor's appointments, phone calls, emails, loneliness, an aching heart.

This weekend we celebrate Easter and for many Easter is about hope. We reflect upon Jesus' death on the cross and His resurrection. We look for reminders of hope in this powerful story of redemption and restoration.

But remember that hope is not found on the cross friends.

Hope is not in Jesus' death.

It is not found sitting in the empty tomb.

Hope is in the risen Savior. 


Because of hope we can face tomorrow, we can confront our fear of loneliness and waiting and unknown futures because of the beauty and grace of hope.

Hope enables us to wipe away our tears, offer up our broken heart for healing and wait for the promise of new mercies tomorrow.

Fear is crippling. It has no place in the life of a Christ-follower. It holds us captive and prevents us from living and experiencing abundant life.
                        Hope always triumphs fear.


Take hold of hope today friends. This weekend claim, believe, thank God for and celebrate the hope that comes with the resurrection. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Resurrection Garden

Last week I was reading A Holy Experience and fell in love with this idea. A grace garden. A Resurrection garden. An Easter garden. A visual parable. It's called many different names, but they all tell the same story.

The story of Jesus. A tomb. A death. And a risen Savior. 

I was so excited.

I had hoped to make it this past weekend and that just didn't happen. 

But tonight a dear friend dropped of the makings for us to create our own resurrection garden. It was a wonderful activity to bring our hearts into focus this Holy Week. 

And it will be a visual reminder all week long. 
We have to tweak a few things: put together our cross, find a stone to cover the tomb, and add some more dirt....but here are a few pictures of our garden:










There is another version that you can make that includes sprinkling grass seed and watering it in the weeks leading up to Easter. You can find those directions here.

The following are ideas and suggestions about how to talk to your children about the events that took place during Holy Week: