An Inward Look: Family Gatherings According to the Book of James

When extended family gathers you begin to combine different family dynamics all under one roof. When the six of us join my siblings and their families and our parents, there can be upwards of 23 people in one living space. I’m always so filled with joy when the night is over and we all head to our hotels or homes and my stomach hurts from laughing so hard. I may have a headache as well due to the pure sound volume of so many people but my heart is happy.

The volume alone can be overwhelming to some families,  not to mention when everyone has their own set of values, opinions, and priorities. In an ideal world, we would easily be accepting and respectful as we meld those differences for a day; but we all know it doesn’t always happen. Especially when we gather with those who may not share our faith.

I’ve been going through the book of James in order to give us a guide for how to manage the holidays and bring God glory all at the same time. You can see yesterday’s post here.

Today, let’s discuss what others see in YOU. Like I said yesterday, most all conflicts can be subdued by ONE person choosing not to react. We can only be in charge of ourselves. So it’d be wise to turn inward these last few weeks before christmas and ask God to reveal to you areas you need work on.

Before you finish chapter 1 of James, the book is reminding you that living a pure lifestyle is key to managing the things that come your way. Spending time drawing close to God will help you as you face holiday gatherings. James reminds us not to just listen to God’s word, but to be doers of the Word. (1:22) When you walk into the chaos, if you claim to be a Christian, shouldn’t people recognize that in you? Shouldn’t a person who professes that they love Jesus and follow Him respond different than Addy Addict or Tommy Trouble Maker?  “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions?” (2:14) When chaos ensues, will you use the wisdom God has given you, or join in and add your own drama? “Can that kind of faith save anyone?” (the rest of verse 14).

As Christians, our goal is to point others to Christ, so it is our responsibility to handle the stresses in a God-honoring way. “If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.” (3:13)

So, the second thing after seeking God’s wisdom (see yesterday’s post) is to begin to draw close to God so we can behave in such a way as to draw others to Christ. You must  “humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, and purify your hearts…” (4:7,8)

We’ll never be the light to our loved ones if we behave like the darkness.

If you tend to respond to Negative Nancy by rolling your eyes, or giving your best snarky come back, pray that God will give you a way to turn things positive while sharing love to the hurt that causes the negativity. If you struggle holding your tongue when Judgemental Judy gives more than her two cents, leave the room and pray for peace in your heart so you can return later with the shield of Christ.

And if you find yourself in a situation where you must ask an abusive guest to leave, and it doesn’t make you ungodly to have to do so, pray now that you RESPOND in love and not react adding to the drama.  There just may be times where you have to leave or ask someone to leave in order to keep the peace. This doesn’t mean you can’t do it in a godly way.

Make the goal of your family gathering to glorify God. Have fun in the process, play games, chat about memories, laugh it up, sit close, hug lots, and enjoy the moments together. But before you ever set foot in the door, ask God to purify your heart so you can minister to others.

Check back tomorrow for a more indepth way to do just that.

Lord, it is my number one goal to point others to you. So I pray that you will please reveal to me areas that I need to clean up so that your light can shine bright when I attend family gatherings (and always). Please give me strength to respond in love when conflicts arise. Help me to say only loving and peace giving things or show me when to stay quiet. Protect me against insults or judgements that are hurled my way, let them roll off my back so I can respond with truth and life. Help me to set boundaries and carry them through in a godly way. Basically, Jesus, YOU shine through me during stressful times at a family gathering.

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To the Overwhelmed Mama

It’s Mother’s Day week. This either brings excitement to your mind, or dread. You may be looking forward to an amazing day planned in your honor, or you’re preparing for unmet expectations… yet again. Well, I’d like to spend a few days this week encouraging Moms with some things I’ve learned  I’m learning on this journey. I’ve only been here for 13 years, and I know there’s this entire teen-mom thing just waiting for me (x4). But for now, let me share my heart at this stage.

Being a Mom of 4 (with an extra baby 10hrs of the day), I’m a tad overwhelmed. I may make it to church in time, and have most of the kids’ hair brushed and dressed semi presentable… but the chaos that gets us there is pretty overwhelming. There’s just so much to do. Laundry, cleaning, grooming, laundry, teaching, loving, encouraging, laundry, sports, shopping, feeding, laundry, breaking up fights, cultivating family bonding, laundry… and have I mentioned the never-ending loads of laundry? Even if I have the kids do their own, our schedule does not always allow for them to finish it all in one day, so the mounds begin to form, and the digging to find clothes adds to the frustration, then Sunday comes and no one has anything decent to wear… see, I’m getting overwhelmed just talking about it. But, the Laundry isn’t the only thing on the never ending list!

We are gearing up for a garage sale. And to be honest that was all because we’re really gearing up for family to come and stay for a couple of days in our home. So that means I want the bedrooms to be “guest-ready”. The problem is that My room and bathroom is downstairs, the Fab Four sleep and have a bathroom upstairs. Do you know the destruction that goes on when there is no parent living on the 2nd floor, just room after room of unorganized, hoarding, slime making kids!? If you don’t know… you don’t want to! It can get bad!

But I have to be honest, checking 4 bedrooms (oh how I’m blessed that each kid has their own room!!– But it can appear to be a curse!), 4 closets, a bathroom, a hallway, and the stairs EVERY DAY on top of everything else can be a tad overwhelming for me. I know that sounds lazy, and seem silly, but I also check 4 maths, 4 englishes, 4 sciences, 4 handwritings… I oversee 4 completely individualized curriculums, a baby who is here 40-50hours a week, sports schedules, doctor appointments, dentists appointments, and I’m married to the Pastor. And I don’t even have the energy to go into the work of the church.

Please hear me out, I LOVE this role as Mother (and wife, and pastor-wife). I really do! But, it can get so overwhelming. And so at the end of the day, there are days I’m just glad we made it. I’m just so thankful we all have smiles on our faces as I drag myself to the bottom step, cuddle them all, pray over them all, and send them to their beds. And as I lounge on that bottom step thanking God for those amazing little blessings, I snarl my upper lip, let out a sigh of exhaustion, and say, “Oh MAN, I forgot to check their rooms!”

So, day after day of that, when I FINALLY do check rooms, they are such a mess! And I drop my shoulders in despair as emotions of failure, inadequacy, incompetence and overwhelming unworthiness sweep over me. I can not mange bedrooms, I must be a failure as a mother! Lie number one!!!

Boy, did that escalate fast! But it’s true. We somehow equate being a good mother with how well we manage all the things that are piled on us day in and day out. We let messy playrooms, bedrooms, faces, and bottoms determine our self-worth. And just when we conquer managing the bedrooms, we notice those pesky stairs! HOW in the WORLD do stairs get so incredibly messy!?

But, that’s a LIE. Our success in motherhood has nothing to do with getting our kids to sports on time. It isn’t found in the cleanliness of our kids ears, or thank heavens the amount of times we’ve actually scrubbed that kids’ toilet!

You are a great mom because you love your kids. You are a great mom because you are pursuing a good life for your children. You are a good mom because you protect them, encourage them, love on them, and nurture them. You are their mother! Not their maid! And God has given you these blessings, not to overwhelm you, but to draw you closer to Him. My prayer life has increased exponentially since having children… even more so the more kids I’ve had.

Motherhood isn’t the most glamorous job in the world, but there is no better calling on this earth! And God never expected you to do this alone. I wake each morning and hit snooze on my alarm. It’s only 5 min, but I bombard heaven in those 5 minutes. I ask for patience, endurance, and a measure of Grace. I pray against the urge to be perfect, and for a peace to calm my overwhelming tasks throughout the day. I pray for my kids, and their walk with God that day, and I ask God to help them help me. It’s not a lengthy prayer, but it’s my way of reminding myself that it’s not my responsibility to walk this day alone. It puts before me the fact that God is on my side, desires for me to walk in His will, and will help me to do so. This doesn’t mean I don’t pray throughout the day as well… believe me, I am doing it often. “HELP, GOD!” “Protect this child!” “Oh God, I’m glad you love them! Remind them that I do, too!” and many many “Please forgive me, Lord” prayers! But nothing rejuvenated me more than that 5min prayer before I put my feet on the floor each morning.

Mama, be encouraged today! Know that God wants you to raise your kids in His love, and if you have to skip room checks in order to do that, then so be it… Just know even in the midst of the many sports trips, doctor visits, late night feedings, and all the ever-loving trash that comes along with motherhood, Jesus is walking this path alongside of you. He desires your company, and relishes in leading you as you raise these precious blessings He gave you. He chose this calling for you, He won’t fail to equip you to do it.

Praying for each of you lovely mamas this Mother’s Day. mothers-day

For those in the St. James, MN area, Crossroads Church will be starting up a Parent support gathering. These nights will be laid back nights for parents to come and meet other parents. If you are in the area, we’d love for you to join us. We will all be in different stages of parenthood… but we’ll share the same overwhelming feelings that come with the journey. June 10th at 6:00p will be our first gathering. If you’d like more information, please like our Facebook page so you can receive updates as the date comes closer.  Feel free to call the church office for more details as well. 507-375-5920 (leave a message if you want a call back)

Why Church this Easter?

There used to be a tradition that people attended Church on Easter and Christmas. Even if they never attended any other time of the year. It used to be that weeks before Easter mothers everywhere searched for the perfect color coordinating outfits in the perfect pastels for their family so that Easter was the perfect photo opportunity. Pink plaids, eyelet lace, Easter bonnets, and collared shirts… AND CHURCH, that was the tradition. Then our society started to buck the traditional ways and people who attended church only on Christmas and Easter were given names like “Chreaster”, so even those 2 days got missed.

More and more churches are reaching out and people are politely declining the invitation to attend church. The tradition of going no longer holds any appeal, and the commitment of going is no longer a priority. As a regular church attendee, I haven’t missed an Easter Sunday service in 25 years. So if anyone has some experience in this, I’d be one of them… So would you take a moment and examine my answer to Why Church this Easter?

For a Christian, Easter is the foundation of our faith. Without the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our faith would not exist. We believe that Jesus is the Messiah. He conquered death by defying its parameters. It’s what gives Christians life! So it seems fitting that anyone who calls themselves a Christian should set aside an hour each year to celebrate that. For me, I can hardly contain my delight. I’ve lived a blessed life following Jesus and trying my best to live close to His teachings. So when given the opportunity to gather with like-minded believers and specifically celebrate all that Jesus did, I’m ecstatic. Easter is my favorite time! But for those who are trying to live this life without a weekly boost of church, I can see how much harder the journey can become. So it’s all the more important to join a church Easter Sunday to reconnect, celebrate, and refuel.

For Christians who used to go to church, and have walked away from it for a time, this is a great time to try again. I’m all for coming to church every Sunday. I belong to a church that is just as excited to see someone walk in in October as they are to see someone come on Easter. However, sometimes it’s hard to make that decision to come back to church on a random October day (or any day)… but not on Easter. It’s almost expected. So it takes a pressure off.

For someone who is seeking, who is unsure where they fit in, Easter is a great time to visit and get a feel of the church. The attendance may be up for church that day, so it’s less intimidating for you to walk in as a new-comer. You’ll learn a lot about the Christian faith by coming on a day where the foundation of that faith is going to be celebrated. This is a great day to venture out and attend the church you’ve been thinking about attending for while.

For the regular attendee who has never missed a Sunday, don’t let this be the Sunday you miss! Of all the services I’ve ever attended at the various churches I’ve been to over the last couple of decades, Easter service is so heartwarming. The energy is high, the joy is evident, and the celebration is heavenly!

Now, here’s the thing. You may be thinking I’m giving a free pass to ONLY coming to church on Easter. You may be wondering why a church lover is promoting this “Chreaster” mentality.  And here is why… TODAY is the day of salvation. Today is the day of God’s favor. God set in motion thousands of years ago this EASTER celebration by giving us His son as a way for us. Jesus was the sacrifice that we could not give. He died in our place so we could have a relationship with God for all of eternity. The world thought they could kill Him. But, He could not be contained by their ideals and ways. He conquered death and rose from the dead. Christ raised Himself to show Himself powerful over death and sin. So, if Easter is the only time you plan on going to church this year… THEN GO! Go and see for yourself all that Christ as done. Go and fellowship with other believers and see how much that can benefit your life.

Sin and darkness creep at every corner. A day can’t go by that we aren’t affected by evil everywhere. We see it on the news, in the schools, at our jobs, and it’s increasing. The world won’t be won by marches, facebook rants, and divisions among political lines. But for that one special Easter Sunday you’ll get a glimpse of the Man who can change this world. With Christ in our hearts, and the encouragement we get from attending a church that helps us grow WE will be the change. And we’ll eventually overflow onto our neighbors so they THEY can be the change… and why wait any other Sunday but THIS EASTER!

Of course it’s the goal of every church that you’d return week after week… but you’ll have to make the decision to come the first time. So, Why Church this Easter? Why not? This just may be the day that changes your life!

Quick disclosure…

  • Please don’t let the pressure of color coordinated, perfect Easter outfits hinder you. Come!
  • Please don’t let your hate for tradition keep you from joining in the tradition of Church on Easter. Come!
  • Please don’t worry about the many years you haven’t made it to church, this is a new day, a new choice, and a new adventure. COME!
  • Please don’t be intimidated. We’ve been praying for you, we’re expecting you, and we are SO excited about you! YOU are welcome! COME!

If you are in the St. James, MN area, Crossroads Church will be meeting Easter Sunday at 9am for breakfast and our service will follow at 10:15am. YOU ARE INVITED!Copy of Church FlyersInvitation

Crossroads Church 721 Weston Ave in St. James, MN 507-375-5920 Follow us on Facebook

If you are too far for our services, and need a church recommendation, feel free to email the pastor’s wife at thepastorswifeslife@gmail.com. I can find you a GREAT church in your area!

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Tenacious Tuesday: All over the Place

I have a lot on my plate today (and yesterday). I’ll be the first to admit, I need my man! When he is out-of-town, I notice, and lament! He left yesterday and we have covered 310 miles in two days dealing with all things unplanned. From broken bones to broken vehicle to surprise Tuesday Night plans, the past 48 hours have been a blur. And most of that time was spent in a car with bored children as I toted them to 5 different towns.

Life doesn’t always go as planned. Sometimes things are all in place and you can sit back and breathe deeply and feel just so content with the ways things are going. And other times life throws us so many curve balls we don’t even know where to aim to hit them!

So I sit here, in the quietness of my house munching on candy corn and sipping some McDonald’s coffee… 22050824_10155853326664430_1950326624_oat 9pm reflecting  on this day  these days.

Despite waking early, doing some school work with my older two, jetting off to finish school in a Tires Plus store, getting home just in time to get some much needed chores done, then running off to another activity where I got extremely lost (which just heaps mounds of anxiety on me) and getting home just in time for kids’ bedtime… I think I can say we had a good day. So I shocked myself and I sit here and wonder what did I do? My kids were cooped up the car almost all day… and most of yesterday, too as we tracked down an arm brace for a broken arm… and yet… we did pretty good!

Please don’t think I’m bragging. Well, I am… but not about myself and how great I did (I really felt the day was out of control!), but I’m bragging on my God, and the power of His Word.

I titled today’s Tenacious Tuesday “All over the place” because I feel that’s been my week, and my mind lately. As I was trying to come up with a theme for posting this week I just couldn’t decide between posting about the power of prayer or the power of the Word. And although I’d like to dive deeper into each one of those, today my mind just can’t narrow it down… and I don’t have to. They go hand in hand.

My weekly verse is Philippians 4:8. I can’t believe how often this verse has come up this week and it’s only Tuesday!

Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.

The previous verses talk about prayer… another main theme in my life right now… but I read this verse and think, “How can I do this? How can I think of these things when so much takes up my thoughts.”
How can we fix our thoughts on things that are true and noble and right and pure when the world is so opposite? How can we think of things that are lovely and admirable when we are lost in a town we don’t know and kids are screaming and giggling shrill giggles in the back of the van? What if our plans are changed into things that aren’t excellent or praiseworthy? HOW are to we think about such things?

Well, we worry about nothing but pray about everything. We look for the peace that comes only from Him, and we dwell in it. We turn our negatives into positives just by going to the Lord in prayer. We stop dwelling on how our day didn’t go as planned… and we start dwelling in the one who has our steps ordered!

We pray… and we read His Word. The next verse says,

 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.

Whatever you have learned… So you go back to the Word, and you go over what you’ve learned… and you put it into practice.

I homeschool and multiple times a day I hear, “But that’s hard!” as if that should be a valid excuse for not doing long division, or spelling the challenge words, or perfecting cursive writing (yes, we still teach it!). Well, since when does something being difficult mean we stop trying? Sometimes we just DO IT!

It’s hard to put the things we’ve learned into practice. Perhaps you haven’t actually learned it, perhaps you haven’t “by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, presented your requests to God”. And because you haven’t, you feel all over the place.

This morning I had a 10a appointment to get my tire fixed… we had 45 min to get there, but when I got to the van, the tire was flat. I drove slow to the gas station and spent 15 minutes airing up that tire. I wanted to cry. I needed my man, he wasn’t there! I whined, I got frustrated, and by the time I was done, I was in pain from gripping that stupid air hose! But I got in the van, 15 min later than we needed to leave for the appointment and said, “Dear Jesus, thank you for this van! Thank you that airing up this tire will get us to our appointment. Now, Jesus, please take this worry from me, get us there safely, prompt me if I’m being unsafe, and guide the rest of our day.”

I made a choice. I stopped whining. I let go of the frustration. I gave my anxiety of being late over to God and when we got there, my van went straight in to be worked on! *It was even done in 30 min!

When I drove aimlessly around an unfamiliar town searching for the place I was supposed to be I was FULL of anxiety. I yelled “WHERE AM I!” one too many times. I felt frustrated at the lack of direction I was given, and I felt overwhelmed by the possibility of missing an event. And I pulled over, bowed my head and asked God, “Will you give me peace?” It was a simple prayer, but my aim was to think of something praiseworthy. And I looked up and could see my destination in the distance. It took me 2 tries to get to it… but I made it (and the event was wonderful!).

I may feel all over the place, but I know God is still on the throne, there to give me peace that surpasses all understanding.

So, what does this have to do with our tenacious kids? Well, I guess I just started writing, and I left it to God to take this blog post where it needed to go… and I suppose I never mentioned these tenacious ones… but, I can see where it still applies. We can set the example. We can calm their storm by showing them to fix their thoughts on things that won’t bring stress and anxiety.

And parents of tenacious children feel “all over the place” often. So, what will you choose? May I suggest something true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy?

If you’d like to join us on our journey with The Tenacious Child… find out what it’s all about here or send me a request to join our Facebook group here. We don’t have to do this life alone. A New Design (2)

The Tenacious Child

I would like to introduce you to “Tenacious Tuesday”. I’m fully aware that today is Wednesday, but when you have THAT child, and you don’t always get to do exactly what you want to do.

First… let me explain THAT child. My goal is never to speak to ill of ANYONE  or cause you to think less of them. I do not share this information without the consent of my child that I speak of. I also hate the term THAT child. I feel that if I were to speak to her in this way, she would lose hope that she can conquer this difficult time… so, again, with her permission, we’ll use that phrase until I get to the point where I’ve fully explained who THAT child is. **Just beware that there will be many disclosures within these posts.

Ok… back to THAT child. THAT child is the child that you struggle with the most. It may be your only child, it may be your oldest, or youngest, or like us, one of the middle. But it’s the kid that takes what you know about child rearing and throws it out the window… but not before ripping it to shreds, stomping on it and screaming at you for believing you knew anything at all. It’s the kid that has days, or unfortunately even weeks, where the only peace you get is when they sleep.

Don’t get me wrong, these kids are amazing. Mine is smart, SO caring, hilarious, and I can honestly tell she has a huge desire to please God. She loves church, she loves worship, she reads her Bible and I can visually see how she tries to put it in action. But she struggles. Her temper gets the best of her and her rage goes out of control.

I have 4 kids. My first was strong-willed. I read James Dobson’s Strong Willed Child at least 4 times by the time the kid was 5. So I was pretty convinced I knew what I was doing, and how to handle the “strongest of strong-willed” children. My 2nd child is strong willed, but it’s so  minute in comparison.

And just when a mom thinks she’s got it, #3 comes along to prove you wrong. She was such a sweet and loving and quiet baby. She was the perfect fit to our lives. Her brother started Kindergarten (homeschooled) the year she came, and she just melded into the “classroom” with ease. So naturally I felt like I could handle more kids, and by the time #4 came, my beautiful calm baby became the most energetic, high maintenance, and stubborn child I had. She loves just as hard! Basically she does everything at a much higher volume than we had ever seen. What a thrill!

It’s just such a struggle for her to have such huge emotions… she loves big, she angers big. And it’s such a struggle as her parents to parent THAT child. I love her, I want her to excel. I want to foster those super sweet, super loving, super smart, and super hilarious moments… but have to learn how to first maneuver around the super tantrums, super hurt feelings, super monster anger, and it’s just.SO.HARD!

So… back to this phrase, “THAT CHILD”. She told me she didn’t like being THAT child. And I squeezed her tight and told her that with God’s help she was going to no longer see herself as (wish you could hear my tone of voice here) “THAT CHILD” (said in a negative way… “THAT angry child, THAT naughty child, THAT tiresome child”) but she’d see herself as I see her…  “THAT child” (said in a positive, cheerful  voice… “That amazing little girl! That sweet friend. That loving child!”). And so, I want to change THAT child to TENACIOUS Child. Hence the “Tenacious Tuesday”.

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I’ve been searching for near 7 years for the correct phrase to describe a child like mine. Strong willed was not quite strong enough. And many other words or phrases sounded so negative. You see, we do struggle. We have a lot of hard days. I cry and pray A.LOT as I try to figure out how to parent her, how to remain sane, and how to show her I won’t give up on her. And to find this word, to study its meaning, brings me to my knees before God. I can TOTALLY see this in her.

Synonyms for Tenacious:
Determined, persistent, spunky (AMEN!!), steadfast, strong-willed, unswerving, iron, obstinate, persevering, purposeful, solid, unforgettable (YES!), UN.SHAKEABLE (Please, God!)

I found myself shouting, Yep! Yes! This is SO HER!!! Then I had to look up “Obstinate”. stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or chosen course of action, despite attempts to persuade one to do so… very difficult to change or overcome.

I stopped. I prayed. “Lord, is this ever so true! Guide me, teach me, and help me be creative in overcoming.” And within the very second of finishing my prayer I saw how positive this could be in her walk with God. I could see how strong her will has to be to make it in this ever darkening world. And I added, “Lord, please let her not be overcome. Let her stand on her course of action, YOU, and YOUR WILL despite the world’s attempts to persuade her any other way.

And so… here we are. I’d like to take time each week to share her with the world. She wants to help with this portion of this blog. She’d like to share some of her thoughts on here. She knows this is a struggle, and she prays daily for the fruits of the spirit to be evident in her life. (This girl… she can rattle off all 9 fruits and what they mean! She has studied them on her own, and even knows which one she needs more of as she faces issues that causes her big emotions to come out… folks, she’s SEVEN!!! What a TENACIOUS one I have!!).

Please come back on Tuesdays, see how we handle these Big emotions with a Big God, and join in on the conversation on Facebook. Click here to request to be in our new group called “The Tenacious Child”.

I look forward to seeing what God will be doing in and through us!

Raising Arrows

Arrows come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. They can be different, look different, have various purposes. They can have plastic vanes, actual feathers. They can have an arrow head made of stone, metal. Arrows can vary in length. They can even have completely different designs specific for target shooting, competitions, or hunting…. And even then more specific to WHAT kind of hunting. Fish aren’t going to need the same arrow makeup of that arrow used to hunt say a bear.

However, they are all alike in their basic design. Each one has been crafted and carefully fashioned, molded and balanced. They ALL are intended for flight, that ALL are created to hit a target and they ALL are intended for maximum impact on that target.

This Father’s Day I want to talk to you about arrows every dad has in his life.

The Bible says, 

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children on one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them,” Psalm 127:3-5

 

Each and every father, and each mother pulling double duty in dad’s place has an arrow or two (or 3, or 4, or 5…) they are all different from one another. They all have different looks, different personalities, but they are also very similar in the way that each of them were fashioned and crafted by God and each of them should be molded and balanced and readied for flight from our home.

Children, like arrows, are meant to be handcrafted and eventually released. If they aren’t’ crafted well, they won’t shoot straight. And if they aren’t released they’ll never hit their target. Dads with kids at home, it’s reality– one day these kids of yours will be aimed and released out into the world. I spoke to a friend about this earlier last week and she told me she wasn’t coming to hear my message when I preached this to our church if I was going to insist on reminding her that her little girl would one day leave the house and move on… Well, I searched for the right words to soften the blow.. But when it comes down to it, we just can’t stop the inevitable, so in the meantime, we need to equip them for that moment they head out to find their target! We have to choose now to be intentional in order to equip them for that journey.

There’s a broad spectrum here. You have some parents who lack intention. They have a full quiver but the arrows are just a bunch of sticks. They are un-carved arrows with knots of bad habits, and rough attitudes. They are crooked and unpolished. So when they are shot out, they waver and falter and fall short of their intended target.

Then you have some parents who are so intentional. They correct grammar and politeness, and posture, and habits and attitudes. They have such sharp pointy straight and smooth arrows. Oh, they have it all together… perfect little mommies and daddies!!! But they have no intention of shooting them out of the quiver. 30 year old Bobby still gets all his meals home-cooked from mommy. Sally dear is still grabbing her allowance from daddy as she goes shopping with her 28 year old friends… This just doesn’t work.  These arrows, like children, need to be shot out into society as sharpened arrows, ready to take on the world and hit the mark…
But who am I kidding, this is a FATHER’S DAY message… Father’s ALWAYS want to shoot the kids out! I have to remind my husband that our son isn’t quite ready at 12 years old!

But in all seriousness if your kids are still at home. The day is coming and we must get them ready. But, don’t fret, if you’ve already shot your kids out of the quiver, praise God you get to sit back and watch them hit their target… but don’t tune me out just yet. You still have a job to do… and we’ll get to that.

When this verse that I read to you earlier was written, men didn’t go to the ammo store and purchase their bullets they were going to use for protection or war or hunting, no they had to fashion their bow and arrows themselves. They had to select a good branch, sand it down until the stick was straight and smooth. Then they found rocks to sharpen to fashion the arrow head. There were no shortcuts. If they wanted to hit the target, they HAD to spend the time to fashion the equipment. These arrows were important, they HAD to be straight, they HAD to be smooth, and they HAD to fly the distance. In the same way that archers fashioned their arrows, parents must equip their children with the skills and disciplines to be effective in life.

Looking at an arrow, you have 4 major parts.

 The Shaft, the Fletching, the Arrow Head, and the Nock. Looking at your child, there are 4 major things it needs to make it into this world and to hit it’s mark. Discipline, Encouragement, God’s Word, and YOU! 

Let’s explore further…

The shaft of an arrow is the long part of the arrow. Every arrow shaft has a degree of stiffness and resistance. So you have to craft it in such a way that will allow it to bend when it needs to bend (as it thrusts out of the bow) and when to bear it’s weight (when it hits it’s target). If they arrow shaft is too thin or too light weight, they can bend in an extreme way resulting in missing the mark.

 Your child needs discipline. Time and time again in the Bible, God speaks through the writers to extend the message to us that we MUST discipline our children. Here’s just a few..

Proverbs 29:15- The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

Proverbs 29:17-Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.-
Disciplining is just as much for you as it is for them… a disciplined child is a peaceful child… come on. We’ve all seen undisciplined children… they’ll have you reaching for the excedrin immediately!

Proverbs 23:13,-Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. **See, it’s right there in the Bible… spanking your kids won’t kill them! HA!

Proverbs 13:24-Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.

Do you love your kids? Then you need to discipline them… look at this last one

Proverbs 19:18- Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death.

I keep saying that you’ll shoot your kids out to hit the mark. What is that mark? Eternal life. That mark is a life with Jesus! Discipline is the first step to getting there. Discipline your children for it’s the way to show them salvation, and eternal life.

We often tell our children that they need to be obedient to Pastor and me, that being under our roof, and learning to listen and obey is their practice for listening and obeying God. Parents, that means there’s a big job for us! We’re teaching them a skill that will bring ETERNAL LIFE! We must discipline our children.

If the shaft is too weak and too light, it won’t fly straight. Our discipline towards our children need not be too light. Discipline is the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience. It does NOT mean ignoring bad behavior… it means CORRECTING IT! It does NOT mean doling out punishments every single time you’re annoyed… it means TRAINING! It’s no easy task, but it’s the one God gave us as parents, and even more specifically gave to fathers.

The fletching on an arrow is the feathers or vanes. This part  creates drag and can help the arrow spin as it soars through the air. It provides the arrow with stability and accuracy in flight. This little part of the arrow can give it a little extra jump out of the bow.

When we discipline our kids we have to do it without provoking them. Ephesians 6:4 says  Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Colossians 3:21 says Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

To exasperate means to irritate, to provoke, to pick pick pick pick pick pick. Guys… I love my kids… I love your kids… but man oh man, kids can be SO annoying sometimes! But, that’s in the DNA makeup of kids. Kids will be Kids. yes, we have to discipline, but we must not provoke them in the process. We need to encourage them in the way to go. Tell them you love them, tell them you think they are amazing! Did you notice that both of these verses are to Fathers. Most mothers tend to coddle, to protect their kids feelings. They are more likely to think every little thing is just so cute… Dads… not so much! They have a bigger tendency to be short, and harsh, and say things like, “Suck it up, rub some dirt on it, quit cher belly achin!”
Daddies, your words of encouragement provide stability and accuracy, giving kids a head start as they jump from the “bow” of life. Fathers need to encourage, and not provoke. They need to be loving and involved. Do not embitter your children. Do not push them out with a long list of things to be bitter about.

James Dobson says that Dads are the ones that encourage their kids to try that high dive at the pool. They are the ones that instill in their kids the courage that it takes to venture out and try new things. They are the ones that increase the arrows longevity and help it to go further, The more encouragement they can get, the more umph they receive leaving the bow, just like those feathers… Fathers, encourage your children.

Okay, so what if your husband isn’t reading this, and won’t. What if they don’t do these things? What if they are short and harsh, and abrupt more than they are encouraging? I’ll get into that a bit more in a minute, but let me encourage you now… pray! Pray for your husband to start doing this, and in the meantime, model this behavior for him. Moms can provoke their children, too… Unfortunately I know this first hand!

Next the arrow has an arrow head. Whether it be a craftsman’s arrow head, or a rock carved to a point, these are placed at the end of an arrow shaft and secured in place to penetrate its target. Without this, the arrow may shoot far, it may spin and soar beautifully, but once it gets to the target, it will bounce right off and fall dead to the ground.

You can raise your children to climb the professional ladder, to obtain the highest education with the top of their class. You can raise them to be caring and charitable helping every person they come in contact with…  but if they are not taught the ways of God, His salvation, His word, they will miss the mark.

Speaking about God’s word, Deut 6:7 says,  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.
Isaiah 54:13 All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace.

Psalm 78:5-7 talks about God telling Jacob to teach his children the word so that the next generation would know it, and then the next. It even talks about reading it to the unborn child! By doing this, the children would put their trust in God and would not forget His ways but would follow the Word.

We must be teaching our children God’s word. We began reading to our kids at a very young age. They’d play on the floor with cars, or dolls. All we asked was that they stay quiet so they could hear the Bible. They may not understand it all the first time, but keep reading and start over when your done and you’ll get through it multiple times as it settles into their hearts. Pause within the reading to explain, ask questions, answer and dig deeper if they want. And remember… ALL scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, (2 Timothy 3:16). So as you discipline… use the Word of God. As you encourage… use the Word of God, and as you teach God’s way… use the Word of God, it’s all in here!

Lastly, there is a tiny little spot on the back end of the arrow called the nock. It goes unnoticed many times, but it’s a plastic tip on the rear that holds the arrow in position. It’s the part that allows the bow string to rest inside steadying the arrow just before it launches. All the pent-up power in a bow is of no value if it can not be effectively transferred. That’s why every arrow has this small little groove. (Slide 7: Dads, Our kids need YOU) Dads, our kids need the strength, comfort, encouragement, discipline that only a daddy can give. Many moms are forced into that role but in reality, backed by study after study after study they need that anchoring point from their fathers. A review of studies by the Father Involvement Research Alliance shows that babies with more involved fathers are more likely to be emotionally secure, confident in new situations, and eager to explore their surroundings. As they grow, they are more sociable. Toddlers with involved fathers are better problem-solvers and have higher IQs by age 3. They are more ready to start school and can deal with the stress of being away from home all day better than children with less involved fathers . Moms who are doing it for dad, good job! But every chance you get to encourage Dad to step up, do it. And every time Dad does step up… back off. Let him set the rules and enforce the rules. Ask his input, involve him as much and as often as you can. And Dads who have been there, help those still at target practice. Titus 2 speaks of older men teaching the younger men. Share your experiences, check up on dads in the trenches and encourage them to do these things for their kids. And yes, Titus 2 also speaks to young men and tells them to listen to those who have gone before! Pastor Dave is an amazing Guy… but even he will admit that he’s not perfect, he is still learning, and would gladly take advice from a dad who has done this before. I do not preach this message because I’ve perfected all things parenting! I have great kids, but their parents fail A LOT!!! We are all still pushing through trying to do the best we can.

But the point of my message today, the reason we have these arrows, why we discipline, why we encourage, why we teach them God’s ways can be perfectly summed up in the Message’s version of Proverbs 22:6

Point your kids in the right direction– when they’re old they won’t be lost.

Letting your kids go can be scary, not just for us, but for them. But if you can equip them, train them, and release them to hit the mark, when they are out on their own they won’t be lost. They’ll know whose they are. They belong to the Lord and will continue following Him.

This verse ends speaking of these children being a man’s protection. Imagine walking this life with all your arrows equipped with the armor of God around you. When you are in trouble, they will be your protection. They’ll cover you in prayer, they’ll bombard heaven on your behalf… the more you send out, the better the prayer protection.

I’m praying for you, Dads! I pray you step up to the plate and prepare your arrows. I pray you steady them, aim them, and shoot them out with eternal life in their path.

Happy Father’s Day!

Grow Where Your Planted: Lesson 1 of 5

It was a Wednesday. We packed our moving van. Thursday we said goodbye to friends and family, cried for the first 50 miles… then again 100 miles into the trip, again 200 miles in, and probably again at the 400 mile mark as we pulled within a town over from our new home. It was a thrill, but stressful. It was what we felt God calling us to, but it was so full of anxiety as we moved our family of 6 to our new church.

That was 5 years ago. I’ve been in church ministry with my husband for 16 years (20 years total), but this past 5 years has been the first 5 years of being in the Lead pastor position, and boy oh boy is it different. 5 years go be VERY fast and we can either look back with regret of wasted time, or marvel in the lessons God has taught us. I’m a “glass half full” kinda gal… so you’re going to get the lessons I’ve learned. Plus, I can not look back with an ounce of regret… This has been such an amazing 5 years! It’s only been 5 years… but already we’ve learned so much (and I pray we just keep on learning and growing).

I can’t possibly put this vast amount of new-found knowledge into one post… no one would want to read that many words. So come back each day as we lead up to our 5th anniversary…

Let’s start here…

Starting over in a new town where no one knows you can set you on a path to a new you.

We were given 4 weeks to inform our employment, pack our home, and move to our new town and church. In that month I began to pray, “What kind of pastor’s wife do you want me to be?” I began to evaluate who I was, what I had to offer, and who I WANTED to be. I’m not saying we should be fake. I’m saying that sometimes we get stuck in our ways and changing isn’t easy. But when you move, and you are completely unknown, it’s easier to change. I may have started out struggling to be loving, to be patient, to be compassionate,  to be bold, but the more I prayed about the traits I wanted to have, the easier they became, and the more they became a part of me. I am not the same person I was 5 years ago. And I like the new me.

Myth: You have to move in order to become the person God’s calling you to be. 

Nothing could be more WRONG! I allowed my concern of what people thought of me hold me back from being who I wanted to be… and more importantly, who GOD wanted me to be. I fell into bad habits, found friends who didn’t mind those bad habits, and never sought ways to change those habits. I underestimated my friends and family and figured they’d see me as fake if I made big changes in my personality.

Can I encourage you to begin seeking where you are, and begin making the changes necessary to be who God is calling you to be. Do you want to be nicer?… start acting that out until it’s really WHO you are. Do you want to be more compassionate? Look for ways to show compassion to people with whom you come in contact. Do you want to be more evangelistic? Start stepping out. Don’t delay, and don’t wait for God to call you to another town… that may not work. You may never move from where you are (whether that be physically or spiritually) if you’re unwilling to make those changes.

For me, I wanted to step out of my shell and be bolder, nicer, friendlier, more purposeful. I look back now, and wish I would have done all those things where God had me. I let idea rejections keep me from coming up with new ideas. I let myself get lost in “bigger cities” where my niceness and friendliness wouldn’t go as noticed (although it may have made a bigger personal impact one on one). I missed opportunities because I was too set in my ways.

Moving certainly allowed me to step out and be bold, more enthusiastic, more evangelistic. What could I lose? I’ve learned my lesson though… living this way is powerful, it’s life changing. I will not hold back again. If God wants me to change, nothing will hold me back from making that change for Him. I praise God for giving me this opportunity to be who He’s called me to be. I thank God for this new adventure, and for still working in me through it. I pray I’ll keep making changes as He calls me drawing me closer to Him.

Please don’t hesitate. Don’t wait for any reason, jump right in, start your new adventure, and draw close to God. He will guide you, change you, and create a more perfect you!

Check back tomorrow for lesson #2

If attending church is one of the changes you’d like to make, please find a church in your area. If you need help with finding one, please email me at thepastorswifeslife@gmail.com and I will get to work on finding one in your area!

If you live in my area, Crossroads Church is right for you! Please join us this Sunday at 10am for amazing teaching straight from the Bible… I’ll save you a seat!

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Slave to Busyness

In the first year of marriage, I ran circles around my husband. If he took the last drink out of his glass, I hopped up and put it away (whether he was hoping for more to drink or not). I mopped our hardwood floor EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. It was just the two of us. No shoes were worn in the house… but those floors NEEDED to be mopped. There were nights my husband would sit on the couch and say, “Honey! STOP! Come sit with me.” I had to stay busy all the time. Funny thing though, I got off work at 2p (went in at 6a) and cleaned the apartment and took a short nap because, well, I wanted to be completely available to my new husband once he got home from work. Yet, I spent most of the night running around doing… busy work.

We live in a society that glorifies being busy. We value one another based on our schedules and how much space we can fill in on that little hourly grid. We come home and sit just long enough to brag about our busy days on social media… or we do it from our phones on the go.

We see statuses like
– It may be 3am, but I’ve crossed off the 40th thing on my to-do list! #whoneedssleep
-Yep, that’s an empty 12-cup coffee carafe… and it’s only 7am #busyday
-Not sure how I’ll get this paper done, dinner made, house cleaned, dog walked, work completed! #notime
-Up at 6a, and still going strong at 1am #insertyourenergyboostingproducthere

It’s absurd! It isn’t how we were designed. The Bible says, “It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.” -Psalms 127:2

All this running here, there, and everywhere (even if you stay in your own house) is useless. Sure, we have to prepare meals, we have to work (whether it be outside the home, or in the home caring for children), we have to maintain our living spaces. There’s nothing wrong with signing up for a sport or book club, or church choir. It’s not useless to volunteer, pursue further education, or train for a better job. Of course if we try to do them all at once, we have to eventually give up rest. And rest is a gift from God.

Busyness can soon become a disease in your life. It can destroy your happiness, your health, and your walk with God. Busyness may get you through life, but it will not BRING you life. John Ortberg says in his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted ,”For many of us the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them.”

I often wonder if the reason we fill every minute of our day with activity after activity, and the reason we boast about all we can fill in to our 24 hours is because society has filled us with this idea that the more we do, the more value we have. And yet, the more we do, the more pressures and temptations we put in our life. We may think that the packed full schedule means success and security and comfort and happiness. But it only attempts to fill a void that only God can fill. Our success isn’t measured in how well we can function on a tiny amount of sleep. Our security isn’t secured in a life with little down time. Our comfort doesn’t seem very comforting when we fill our lives with activities over people, and our happiness will be shallow when we fail to step back, slow down, and find solitude in God.

Hey, I’m not saying I don’t fall into this trap. I do, too often and I’m sure that’s why this is laid on my heart so heavy lately (well, for the past few years really). I see it, I recognize it, and I want out of it. We live in a society where pulling out of the busyness of life isn’t encouraged. We live where fast-food isn’t fast enough, we have to go through the drive-thru and eat in the car. And if that isn’t bad enough, we have replaced our meals with pills and patches, and tiny little power bars. We’ve gotten too busy for simple MEALS… we are in trouble. We put our kids in so many activities that we not only cut into their healthy sleep time, but we have completely done away with family time. Our kids are in school 7 hours a day, given 3 hours of homework, and still encouraged to try for varsity in every season of sports (sometimes those sports even overlap). And this has become so important that church hasn’t found itself on our schedules in months.
We must do something! But what? It’s the world we live in, right?

Author Dallas Willard speaks of a study done where mice were given amphetamines. Some mice were in solitude, some were in a group. It took very high dosages to kill the mice in solitude. However, the mice in the group started hopping around and hyping each other so much that a dosage twenty times smaller was lethal to those mice. They even introduced mice that had not been given ANY drugs to the group and within 10 minutes, the crowd had gotten them so hopped up and hyper that the drug-free mice died. This is the great effect of this “World” that has been created around us. We look at all of our friends get all hyped up on busyness that we feel we need to as well. We begin to put a value on ourselves based on how much we can cram into one day. But, let’s just STOP.

Let’s stop over scheduling our kids. Let’s stop boasting about everything we’ve done that day. Let’s stop letting our to-do list define how great we are. Let’s stop neglecting the rest God has given us.

And let’s start…
1. Planning ahead. When we procrastinate, we find that we cram way too much into a 24 hour period, and we miss out on the abundant life God wants for us. So plan ahead, and be sure to plan some down time into your life.

2. Praying and seeking God first. Give time to solitude with God. If that means getting up before kids do, then go to bed earlier so you can get up after a healthy night’s rest. This also may mean you have to cut something out. *You can also choose to go have time late at night… but only on nights where you can still get healthy amounts of sleep to prepare for your next day.

3. Cutting things out. Yes, getting a degree would help you get a better job. Getting a better job would help your finances. Better finances will…. Well… can I stop here and say, “Not always”. I don’t make 6 figures. And I’m doing great. Money isn’t everything. Simpler living just may be happier living. If you are pushing to get a degree just to get a better job to make more money… stop and ask yourself if that also means more hours away from family and church. I’ve seen this way too many times. Dad goes back to school while working full-time. He tells his family it’s just 2 years, then I’ll have so much more time. But then the new job requires more time away… and the cycle never stops. Maybe this isn’t the time for the new degree. Maybe wait until kids are grown and there is more time to pursue it. (Moms, this goes for you, too). Sports are fun. But don’t allow your kids to fill their time so full that they aren’t learning about quiet times. Stop the cycle now.

4. Take time to do nothing. Don’t plan something in every single slot on your calendar. Leave room to life. Do not be afraid of boredom. Let the day get away from you. You will start to feel free. Probably not right away, since busyness has such a great hold on us. You will have to make this a discipline, or a training in your life. But I guarantee it will bring freedom soon.

5. Change the stigma. Let’s start changing the scene. Stop glorifying busyness. Encourage others to come and enjoy life.

It’s time to change things, to choose another way of living, and to eliminate busyness from our lives.

One last thing… God wants more of you. He values you. He longs to be with you, to be in your thoughts, to be king over all your activities. If rest was good enough for Him… it’s good enough for us.

Ok…so one more thing…
Please watch this funny clip…
And remember, not everything that “saves time” makes life better. 😀

Whatever you want…

It doesn’t take much research to find that the Bible encourages us that whatever we ask in Jesus’ name we will receive.

Matthew 18:19- Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.

Matthew 21:22-And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Mark 11:24-Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

John 14:13- Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

John 15:17- If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

John 15:16- You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

John 16:23-24-In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you,whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

1 John 3:22- and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.

1 John 5:14-15- And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have

And that’s just a quick google search of the words “Ask anything you want in my name”. I’m sure there is a longer list and deeper research that can be done. But as easy as it is to search for it, it’s just as hard to have the faith it takes to do the asking. As you can see in these verses there is nothing that suggests you can ask God for unlimited monetary wealth and he will just “poof” place it in your hands. There is a limit to what we ask. As we see in 1 John 5:14-15, He shows us that we ask according to His will. And so, our faith comes in when we aren’t sure what that will is. 1john-5_15-15

We are all human, and we’ll have human “wants” that aren’t always part of God’s will. That doesn’t mean we don’t ask, it means we start out trying to discern what that will is. And although we still may not always get that part right, as we do the searching, we draw close enough to God to be content with the answers (even when it’s “no” or “wait”) God gives.

I’m slipping from my intended purpose here… but consider that an “intro” to what I’m about to say… PRAYER CHANGES THINGS! As we draw close to God, as we seek to do His will and not just our own, our prayers begin to take on a shape that changes the way we live, the way we see life, and the way we handle the life we’re given.

It’s so fitting that I’m writing this and that it will fall on my blog history right after “Mothering, the struggle is real”. The struggle is always there, but in the last 6 or so weeks since writing that (man, I need to write more!), God has done some really great things in my life.

You see, I have 4 children. As wonderful as they all are, 2 of them are pretty strong-willed. My first strong-willed child has grown out of most of the issues we had when he was younger, and is proving to be a quite the young man. But it seemed the same things I used on him are not working on the other strong  Iron-willed child. And I’m struggling, 6 weeks ago, struggling wasn’t a strong enough word… I was drowning.

Then a friend asked some advice on Facebook about how to parent a child whose heart is not changing. And I immediately remembered what worked on my 1st child that I had neglected in my current parenting struggle. And here is where I’d like to really start this blog post…

When my first-born, who was such an obedient wild child, would show these massive fits of rage when we simply asked him to pick up his books nothing we did taught him to control his outbursts. We tried giving him ways to express his frustrations… but nothing seemed to work. At my wit’s end (and at this point I had only 2 children, and was not nearly as stressed out), I began sneaking into his room at night while he slept and laying hands on him and praying. I would spend 30 minutes or more some nights, 10 min other nights. But I begged God to change his heart. To speak to the heart of my little boy when I could not reach it. Within days, his behavior changed.

The problem is, as he got better, I got worse at spending that time in his bedroom at night. Don’t get me wrong, I always pray for my children,  WITH them and in my own personal time… but I wasn’t spending that concentrated time in prayer on a consistent basis.

So fast forward to what brought me to write that last post. My poor little girl is struggling hard with BIG emotions, and small coping mechanisms. And her drained momma is running out of ideas. Until I was reminded by a friend’s search for answers, that I had the answer. Well, GOD has the answer… PRAYER! This Iron-willed child of mine can be relentless at times. And now, with 4 children, all doing school, and having activities, and needing different things at different stages… I’m tired! And I need answers. And God reminds me… “In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you,whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” Oh how I need that joy… that FULL JOY! So I began that journey. I sneak into her room at night, and I cuddle up next to her. I rub her back, I kiss her face, I stroke her hair, and I pray over her heart.

“God, I’m failing! But you love her even more than I can ever love. Change her heart. Take away her rage and replace it with peace. Take away her triggers and replace it with happiness. Take away her frustrations and replace them with dependence on YOU!” I go on to pray for me as a mother. “Lord, I’ll mess up! Help my patience. Expand my heart to see where she’s struggling, and give me compassion for her during the process.” I continue to pray many things over this child.

And here’s the thing… Let’s be real. Sometimes when our children are consistently a struggle, although obviously our love for them never ceases, our “like” level starts to drop. Cuddling your sweet blessing from God when they are calm and peaceful increases your compassion and the child’s likability. And in that moment, when that peaceful little angel is sweetly sleeping, you can fight the biggest battles for her that you’ve never be able to fight in the midst of the chaos of the day.

Although it took some time of suffering before I remembered this gem of information,  I eventually began the process of praying over my sweet baby girl. And now… today… I feel I have my real child back! We’ve had our bad moments, but there is such a tangible change.

You see, I’ve tried it all. I’ve tried more sleep (her and me). I’ve tried being strict. I’ve tried letting up. I’ve tried letting her choose, complimenting more, hugging more, begging, pleading, and crying. But I had asked not, so I received not. It sounds superstitious to say, but superstition has nothing on prayer! Not only has her behavior changed, but so has mine. I’m calmer, I’m more likely to see the issues, more in tuned to how God wants me to handle said issues, and I completely see her in a new light.

God is in the business of changing hearts. And only HE can do it. We can teach our children, we can lead our children, but we can not change their hearts. And once we begin to pray for our children’s hearts to follow after God, God listens and answers.

In the midst of busy days, I’d crawl into bed finally get cozy and then realize that I had not gone up and laid hands on my child like I had in the days before. “But I’m already tucked in. God doesn’t care if I lay hands on her as long as I just pray.” I thought. So I’d pray in my warm cozy bed. Then the next night I’d do the same… slowly getting out of the habit. And just as before, her behavior began to slip. We were going right back into the Iron-will. What was happening? I mean, is it mandatory for us to have a specific formula to how we pray over our kids? A certain posture? A specific time of the night? Are our prayers dependent upon our rituals? NO! They are not. But, God was teaching ME something through this exercise and I was not in direct obedience to that. I do not understand it all. I don’t claim any top secrets when it comes to prayer. But what I do know is that God asked me to have this particular discipline and when I do, I see results, when I don’t… I see those results, too.

I asked Pastor if he thought it was possible God was using this exercise to show me something specific to the method, or was there something Biblical behind this kind of prayer and the changes we are seeing because of it. The Bible does talk about laying hands on the sick. It talks about how when the apostles laid their hands on people the Holy Spirit would come upon them. The Word of God mentions Moses laying his hands on Joshua to commission him into service to the people of Israel. There is something wonderful about laying on of hands. But also, there is something about your child waking from a deep sleep and seeing their mama praying over them. She smiles at me, cuddles up tight, and plays with my hair. She is no longer lost in the shuffle of her siblings. She no longer is a middle child who struggles to find her place in the family. She is no longer a rambunctious character who can’t  won’t sit still long enough to read a simple book. She’s the apple of my eye. Just me and her… and God!

Whatever the reason behind doing it, God is doing it. Now, multiple weeks later just as she begins having her big emotions, (and although she even lets them out for a split second) she is showing that she DOES actually have self-control. Imagine that! A fruit of the Spirit. Not only have I increased my prayer time with her, but she’s following suit and has been praying on her own. She is SIX! And she’s extraordinary!

Each child is going to teach their parents something. I could go on and on explaining all the unique things the other three have taught me. But right now, I’m learning to pray. And I’m gleaning all the benefits of God’s mighty answers to my prayers.

Prayer changes things. Ask anything in Jesus’ name, according to His will, and He WILL do it! I challenge you to try it! And please let me know the results.

pastorswifeslife@gmail.com

 

Mothering… The Struggle is Real

I’m not in a good place today. It hasn’t been a positive mothering day, and I’m currently locked in my bedroom with the left over ice cream (I didn’t even put it in a bowl!) bawling my eyes out. Why? Oh for many reasons. One, however, is that I feel alone. Even though I have a very supportive husband. He isn’t here when the kids are at their worst. And so although I may send frantic text messages to him during the day threatening to run away, he doesn’t see what happens on these bad days. So I sit… all alone… unable to reach out.

Why is it so hard for mothers to reach out? Why is it so hard to admit that we are struggling? Why can’t we call up our friends, or maybe even our family members and vent about our disobedient child and our mothering struggles? Maybe you have your own reasons, but I don’t because I feel judged. I’m aware that this feeling could totally be me, that my friends and family are not judging me at all. But I don’t see enough support for mothers to have that hope that I can venture out and describe how completely lonely I am, or how I feel like I’m a complete failure as a mother. I don’t always see enough love for mothers who struggle, so when I do, I fear the same judgment they receive.

Something about how fast our fingers can type on an anonymous internet and how slow our minds are to censor creates  a very threatening atmosphere. If you’ve ever read an article about a parent being raw with their struggles, you’ve probably read the comments that follow. Sure there are many that are encouraging and loving, but there are just as many who bash and beat down. They judge a person based on 5 paragraphs of her life. They say wicked things going as far as to say they don’t deserve to be parents. As if the parent themselves haven’t already beat themselves up over and over again because of the struggle. These people are ruthless. ***I have my comments on moderation only. No bashing allowed here.

What would happen if mothers felt comfortable and felt they could go to their online life and seek support for the struggles they are having? What if a mother did lose it and hit their child, then come looking for help immediately after**… and what if we actually helped? What if she found the courage to seek forgiveness, to get professional help, and became the mother she always wanted to be by receiving love from fellow struggling parents? Unfortunately many are met with criticisms, generalizations, hate, and judgment. They are told that they aren’t good mothers because they aren’t perfect.

Sadly it doesn’t always have to be from strangers on social media. Sometimes the reason we sit alone in our struggle is because we’ve heard our friends, and probably even joined in the bashing of another mom. We’ve heard our friends talk about the boy with the bad behavior and how the mom should have done this or that. We’ve heard the judgment in their voices as they give the reasons why the child is so ill-behaved. We may have even been the instigator of the conversation… until we realize we have a kid just like that. But then who can you go to? The friends who saw fault in the other boy’s mom? Nope, we sit in silence… all alone… and continue to struggle.

We hear a friend rant about the behaviors of all those imperfect children and we think in our minds, “What if they knew about MY child!?” And we instantly close ourselves off even further.

Whether it be online or face to face, it’s hard to find rest within a mom’s struggle. It’s sad that our ice cream is a more warming environment and brings more comfort than a friend’s shoulder to cry on.

But can I offer some repose? You are NOT alone. Moms struggle on every block. Kids misbehave. Kids can be rotten for entire days at a time. And God loves your child more than you can even comprehend. I know it’s hard to believe. In the midst of the biggest fit you’ve ever seen, God still loves. (and I’m talking about Mom’s fit, too).

I found myself sitting with the ice cream carton in one hand, a spoon in another, and tears pouring down my face as I cried out to God asking, “Why isn’t my love for her enough!?” Feeling lost and alone, God was right there. As I prayed, He comforted. Don’t you know God says the same to us? We all mess up, we all throw fits, we all go in a direction God never intended for us to go. If only we understood His love for us. So, since God won’t give up on me, I won’t ever give up on my child. And I’m not giving up on trusting there’s support out there.

If you’re struggling, and “Strong willed” doesn’t even come close to describing your lovely child… come sit by me! If your non-judgmental friends suggest the “glitter calm down jar” and you immediately envision your child throwing said jar… come sit by me! If you are getting ready to down your 3rd pint of ice cream this week all alone in the corner of your bedroom… hiding from your children… come sit by me. You’ll find no judgment here!

Just remember, just as not every child is the same, no mother is either. Some children don’t sit still, or calm down with a mother’s hug. Some children don’t feel love as easily as their sibling, throwing mama for a massive loop… and some moms can’t handle as much as others. Some moms are laid back and able to handle their iron-willed child (seriously, what is stronger than strong willed??), and some moms crumble in stressful situations. We don’t need your condescension. We need someone to hold us up; to push us along when we grow weary; to carry our burdens when things have gotten too heavy. So, come sit by me. I promise to be careful when talking to my friends. I promise to add one more comment in the encouraging column. And I promise to keep praying!

If you need someone in your corner, email me. I’d rather you have some support than reach for the ice cream! (Save the ice cream for making it another day!) I’m saving you a seat by me! Email me @ thePastorswifeslife@gmail.com 

**Before comments come pouring in, please know that I personally do not hit my children. However, if you have, or you’ve come close… I’d rather you reach out than do something that would harm your children, or add to your struggle. Take a deep breath, and contact someone for help.