Tenacious Tuesday: We Have ALL the Answers

I once spoke to a woman in her late 30s about her wavering faith in God. She was raised in a Christian home, and even though things were rough in her life, when it came right down to it what she had learned was carved on her heart. With every statement she said against the faith she grew up with, she was very quick to remember how real what she had learned was.

Was she brainwashed by her parents? Was the Word of God ingrained in her brain?
Brainwashed? No, but she was taught! And she was taught with such consistency that should could no longer deny the truth behind what she was taught. (per definition, you could say she was “ingrained”).

We teach our kids the Word of God on a daily basis. We read it, we point out how it applies to our lives, and we use it as a guide to parent.

But, to be honest there are times when these tenacious kiddos push every button and make us doubt everything we’re doing. To be completely and totally honest, even as a pastor’s wife… There are moments I tell God, “I’m not seeing this scriptures come to life!” However, without doubt, it’s because I’m not looking or because I’m not actually being consistent in living that scripture out.

The truth of the matter is that when you train up a child in the way they should go, when they are old they will not depart from it. The reality is that we’re supposed to teach the Word of God to our kids. Jesus specifically tells us to let the children come to Him. And as these kids’ parents, it’s our responsibility to introduce our kids to Him.

First, let me tell you how NOT to do this. DO NOT look at your tenacious child moments after the peak of their fit and say yell, “The BIBLE SAYS…” and then fill the blank with some mortal sin your kid has committed. The Bible is not a weapon. The Bible isn’t a tool for shaming your child. When the Holy Spirit convicts us with the Word of God, He does it gently, loving us into correction. And He never forces it upon us. We can not beat our kids up, using guilt, shame, and condemnation and think we’re teaching the Bible. Remember parents can guide, but they can not convict!

So HOW do you use the Bible for teaching the correct behavior?

1. Deuteronomy 4:9-10 tells us to pass what we know down to our children. Share testimony of what God is doing in your life, and what He’s done throughout your life. Share how you got saved, and what an impact the Bible has been on your kids.

It may look like this: “When I’ve been very angry before, I’ve noticed that if I sit quietly and pray that God helps me calm down. Once I asked Jesus to be the leader of my life, I started turning to Him to calm me. I may be calm now, but I wasn’t always.” Share stories of when God helped you through times of stress and anxiety. Focus on what God has done in YOU… not what you are currently seeing in your child.

2. 1 Timothy 4:10-11 Reminds us that we labor and strive because we’ve put our hope in THE Living God, who is the Savior of all people. And that we are to teach this. Be disciplined to read your Bible with your child every day. There are children’s Bibles, and children’s devotionals, and there is nothing wrong with those, but might I suggest reading strictly from the Bible. The NLT is very easy to understand, and you can pause and explain as you go along.

3. Deuteronomy 6:5-9 and 11:19 tells us to Teach the Word to your children. Talk about it wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about it from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night. Basically look for teachable moments where you can apply the Bible to life. You can use your own experiences or even things you see on TV, the news, or things you see in the lives of friends. Talk about it as often as you can. Remember what I said NOT to do. We aren’t using the Bible to condemn. We aren’t pointing out sins in their friends and shaming their friends. But we can show what the Bible says about certain topics that come up.

Although I do not own these products, I’ve heard amazing things about them. These products help find scripture that would line up with topics of everyday life. Check out Parenting with Scripture  by Kara Durbin or head over to www.virtuetrainingbible.com and build your own topical Bible. And of course you can always Google “What does the Bible say about ________”. (or ask Siri, or Alexa, or whatever electronic that answers your random questions). I teach this tool to my kids and now they can find scripture for whatever they are looking for.

4. Lastly, Scriptural instruction isn’t enough. Galatians 5:1 tells us to be imitators of God. Role modeling the Christian life, and your willingness to read and DO what the Bible says will go a long way! We all make mistakes, and we all know that God forgives, redirects, and guides us time and time again. Be real with that Tenacious Child of yours, be patient as God is patient (and even remind them of that). You can model this with simple scripts “I’m trying really hard to glorify God today, so I’m going to leave you to your fit while I go cool down.” or When things are stressful for you and good for them, you can say, “Will you please pray for Mama? I’m really struggling using my fruit of the Spirit. Will you pray that I can be strong in Jesus and use self-control during this stressful moment I’m having?”

If you do not already have a personal Bible Reading practice, now is the time to start. It’s powerful. I’m not a morning person, but I’ve been getting up early and getting into the Word more and more lately and it’s doing wonders in my life. Waiting until things are in full swing then reaching for my Bible hasn’t been working! But getting up just 30 minutes early was a great thing in my life. Search for plans on the app Youversion… or on Bible.com (they are the same!). But ultimately, just READ the Word. For more in-depth study, I HIGHLY suggest David Guzik’s commentary on Enduringword.com.   The Word of God is a living breathing lifeline! I challenge you to start reading today. Please email if you need help getting started! And let someone know you’re starting! Accountability is an amazing thing!

thepastorswifeslife@gmail.com

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Tenacious Tuesday: Who Do You Listen To?

Recently, I had to send my tenacious child to her room to finish cleaning up (one day I’ll have to do an entire post on “bedroom cleaning”… but that’s not today!). She just did not want to do this. And so, of course, a fit manifested. Things were being thrown (and taken away), things were kicked (and removed from her room). And eventually, I just shut the door and sat at the top of the stairs about 5 feet from her room.

To be completely honest, sometimes remaining calm and methodical as we deal with these outbursts is SO exhausting. It breaks my heart, it forces me to keep my anger in check, and it makes me disappointed that my calmness didn’t “work”. She is STILL raging.

So I sat at the top of the stairs and cried, and prayed. And I listened to what she was saying.

“No one cares about me!”
“I’m NEVER going to get this room clean enough!”
“I’m stupid! I’m a horrible girl!”
“I don’t want to live here anymore!”
“I don’t think I even want to LIVE at ALL!!!”

**Now, it’s possible with kids like this that they are doing everything they can to hurt someone. She feels so big, and is such a loving child… but that also means with the huge capacity to love, she knows how to hurt. So it’s possible that when she says these things, she’s aware that I’m listening, and knows that it’ll hurt me to the core to hear her talk this way. We tell her we love her and care for her all the time. We never treat her as if she’s stupid, or horrible. I oftentimes say, “You’re an amazing girl. God created you to be that awesome! NOW act like it! Let your behavior reflect who you are… AMAZING!”

Also, many kids this age do not understand “suicidal thoughts” and they may say things for the shock value… however, I do not take these things lightly… So I called my husband up and told him what I had heard and we went in to talk to her and pray over her.

We told her that what we were hearing her say did not sound like things God would say to her.

And here’s the thing… I think this truth is not just for these kids like ours. This is for all of us. It’s easy to get down on ourselves. It’s the words we say to ourselves (either aloud or in our heads) that are so destructive.

“I’m such an idiot!”
“I’ll never get this down, I’m such a failure.”
“What’s the point? Why do I even care!?”
“Life is so horrible for me! No one cares, I’m all alone”
“I don’t want to do this anymore! I don’t even want to live….”

We think these thoughts, we mull over the words, until we feel so bad we just want to give up.

Is this the voice you’re listening to?

These things do not sound like things God would say to you. They are not things God would EVER say to you! And so you must choose to listen to the right voice. Just as we told our tenacious child, I am telling you, today. Things are not always easy. Emotions can flood our hearts and minds, but we are NOT slaves to them! We do NOT have to listen to them. Instead, we CHOOSE to listen to God’s voice.

God’s voice says,
“Do not be dismayed, for I am with you.”
“I have a purpose for you, a prosperous purpose.”
“I care, give me your burdens.”
“You may be a sinner, but I LOVE YOU!”
“You were worth dying for!”

We can get so discouraged by the actions of our children. We can carry that burden for too long, and take every fit, act of disobedience, or disrespectful tone to heart. We can see our children as our report card instead of our blessings. And we can beat ourselves up. But each time we do this, we are doing no better than that little 7-year-old girl sitting in her room listening to the wrong voice!

2 Corinthians 10:5 talks about taking every thought captive and bringing it into submission to God. It’s a discipline we must take seriously, and change right away. When those negative thoughts come across, stop them in their tracks. Do NOT linger on them. Do NOT agree with them, and DO NOT add to them. Correct your thinking. Search the Word of God and find the TRUTH.

You are not an idiot… you are learning as fast as you can. You are Jesus’ disciple, and you are learning.

You are NOT a failure. You are making progress everyday. Not every tiny step is noticed… but sooner or later you’ll begin to see the difference. Learn to rejoice in the journey.

The point is, this is your child, (s)he matters. God gave her/him to you, and He will equip you to raise this gift He gave you.

You are not alone! God will never leave you or forsake you. He sees the trial, and is already working with you to solve it.

Dear Mommas and Pappas,  when troubles of these kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Let God speak loud and clear in your life. If you begin to listen to yourself, or the enemy, you won’t hear the TRUTH that God is speaking to you. His desire is for you to have life, and life more abundantly.

Ask yourself, “Whose voice am I listening to?” If the voice isn’t saying what God would say, you know you’re listening to the wrong voice. Help your child to recognize when that voice isn’t God… be the example.

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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!

Can They See Jesus in You? Lesson 4 of 5

Speaking of lessons… I have learned mine… writing 5 blog posts in a week just isn’t my THANG! We’ve already jumped into the summer schedule here and that means I am taxi-Mom! This gives me about 30 min of unscheduled time a day! But, oh what fun we are having!!! So, onto the 5 biggest lessons I’ve learned over the past 5 years of ministry.

Lesson 1: Grow where you’re planted. Don’t wait for a big change in your life to start making positive changes, start now! You can read more here.

Lesson 2: Invite people to YOUR church! This is not only the Pastor’s responsibility. Help us grow the church! You can read more about this here.

Lesson 3: Follow God’s instructions. When someone does something hurtful against you, God has a specific way to handle that… if you want to know what that is, read here. (So far this post has quite the most feedback! I’m assuming because it happens to us all, and it can hurt us to the core! But there is a solution!)

Lesson 4: Understand the importance of pointing people to Jesus!

About 3 years ago I started really studying how Paul did ministry in the early churches. If you really want to change your outlook on the people around you, and all the PRE-believers you come in contact with, study how Paul loved, how he stretched himself in order to present the gospel to as many as he could. Then start implementing some of these ways into your ways… It’ll change your heart like no other.

One thing Paul did, and did well, was to give Jesus. He would meet people where they were without ever bending on his beliefs. He believed so strongly in Jesus and his life backed that up. Paul had such boldness because he so boldly believed in who he preached. He believed that Jesus was the answer for every problem we could ever face.

So I began to pray that. I prayed (and still pray, and hope to always pray) that everything I say and do will point others to Jesus. HE is the answer to every situation!

When I’m disciplining my kids, I should be doing it in a way that would never make them question things I’ve told them about Jesus. If I say that Jesus forgives, I should forgive. If I teach them that as we grow in Christ, we begin to produce good fruit, then I should show them what Jesus has produced in me and if I lack those, I now know where I need to grow! (Parents, we NEED Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and SELF-CONTROL!!! but that’s another lesson altogether).

When I’m on facebook, I need my every status, my every comment, even my every page followed, to represent the Jesus in me. I can not invite people to church using “church jargon” and with the same mouth (typing hands) spew hate in a comment towards someone on facebook (or twitter, or instagram… or whatever other form you may use).

When my husband and are at the local restaurant, even when the conversation is just between the two of us, our conversation needs to be pointing others towards Jesus. How can my husband preach from the pulpit about grace and peace and wholesome teachings if when he is outside he pulpit he is cutting people down, stirring up strife, and carrying on unwholesome conversations at the restaurant table? He can’t! And neither can any of us!

Now I’m not talking about every single encounter I have talking strictly about Jesus. “Paper of plastic?” “Well… let me tell you about Jesus!!!” That would leave the grocery clerk annoyed… and probably all the people behind me waiting to get through annoyed, too.  No, I’m talking about our conduct, our words, our LOVE for one another. The way we interact with every single person we come in contact with (kids, husbands, parents, co-workers, grocery clerks, librarian, car mechanic… you see where I’m going) should not contradict the Jesus you say you serve.

Imagine this scenario: It’s Monday, the weekend was action packed, and instead of getting enough sleep, you accomplished a LONG to-do list. The alarm awakens you about 8 hours too soon. You grumpily get up, drag yourself to the shower and complain about how horrible work is going to be. You do this too long, making yourself run behind. By the time you race yourself into work (whether it be raising the kids for one more day, or a high pressure position in town), you are already ready for bed. You grumble and complain, even if just in your head, over every task you have to do that day! By the end of the work day, you’ve had it! You begin rushing to get home, already grumbling about dinner. Suddenly someone crosses your path, too close to comfort. You lash out. You yell. Maybe it’s your kid. You’ve told them one too many times to pick up his baseball glove. Maybe it’s your neighbor who borrowed your  hose without asking, maybe it’s a complete stranger who was in a hurry of their own. You lose it. You begin yelling, screaming, belittling, just throwing the perfect adult fit (which, by the way, looks just as ridiculous as the kids form of a fit… just sayin’!) In that instance, if God prompted you to, could you effectively witness to the person you just lashed out at? With a good conscience, could you tell them how great Jesus is, and what a difference He’s made in your life? And if you could… would they believe you?????

When I started thinking this way, I chose not to comment as often on facebook when I was upset. I chose not to respond to a negative situation until I had prayed. And sometimes I prayed for days… and then chose not to respond at all. When I started thinking, “What will THIS action say about the Jesus I’m trying to show?” I truly started to change the way I behave. Don’t get me wrong, we do not behave in such a way to please men… at all costs, we please God. But in that process, we need to be able to point others that direction as well.

Myth: As a Christian trying to point others towards Christ, we must come down to a level that no longer addresses sin. 

Paul never shied away from correcting sinful behavior. But he reminds Timothy (and ultimately us, as the Word of God is written for us as well) to be prepared in season and out of season to correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Tim 4:2) You can approach sinful behavior in love. You can conduct yourself in a way that expresses love and patience instead of judgment and condemnation. But you must be prepared in season and out of season. You have to live with such a conduct that you can point someone to Jesus no matter what season you are in.

Pray for that idea to penetrate your heart. Ask yourself the hard question, “Am I living in such a way that others see the Jesus I serve?” Before you hit enter read your comment, ask yourself, “Does this show Jesus in me?” (***Even if you are responding to a complete stranger***). Before you let out a loud annoyed sigh at your child for spilling ANOTHER cup of water at the dinner table, ask yourself, “How can I show her Jesus right now in the midst of this mistake?” I’m telling you… this will change your life… and change your ministry!

Myth #2: You have to be perfect in order to point people to a perfect God!

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh! NO! We will make mistakes, we will have bad days… we WILL inevitably scream at our kids with all the windows open so the entire neighborhood can hear (of course I’VE never done that… but…. ), or honk extra long at the car who wasn’t moving fast enough at the green light, or give someone at work an earful because we failed to get enough sleep the night before. It will happen, because, despite what we may think at times, WE ARE NOT PERFECT! Seek forgiveness (from God AND the person you’ve wronged) and start anew. Then do that again the next day, and the next… it won’t ever stop, we’ll mess up a lot. But the harder we try, the better we get, and sometimes, we even point people to Jesus through our mistakes (if we seek that forgiveness). Don’t give up, POINT up!

 

We aren’t perfect at Crossroads Church, but we definately strive to point people to Jesus. Please join us! Follow us on Facebook for more details!

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.

Do you Enjoy your Children?

Of course we love our children. It’d be hard to find a parent who will come out and say they don’t love their children. Even those who lack in basic parenting skills, still love their children, even if deep down under the piles of turmoil that has been heaped on them. So I’m not asking “Do you LOVE your children?” I’m asking, “Do you ENJOY them?” I find that during the challenging parts of parenthood, there are moments I wouldn’t want to share my answer to that question. However, if I’m honest with myself, I’d have to sometimes answer no. I do not enjoy them. It is in this moment that I realize it isn’t THEIR fault, it is mine. The issue may appear to be a behavior issue. It may manifest itself in a period of time when the terrible twos are roaring their VERY loud head. It could be a feeling you have when the toddler and the baby (or the multiples) decided to stay up all night AND cry all day. And outside of those situations where your teenage or grown kids are choosing to be the troublemakers and not the peacemakers (despite what you’ve taught them), the root of the issue isn’t them, it’s us. It’s me. It’s you. So what can we do? How can we enjoy our kids when the bad behavior seems to outweigh the good? How can we truly enjoy our kids when they choose turmoil over peace? Is it even possible to enjoy your kids while you discipline and slowly count to ten… a million times… just to maintain the skimpiest glimpse of sanity. I believe it’s possible. I believe it takes discipline on a parents part, but is very doable.

Children are a gift from the Lordthey are a reward from him. Psalm 127:3
Children are a gift from God so why wouldn’t we enjoy them? And maybe this is the point where I should clarify that I am not suggesting we grin and smile and ENJOY the fits of the toddler, the misbehavior of the tween, the rudeness of a teenager, or the reckless behavior of the grown child. I’m suggesting that over all, we need to seek to enjoy the gifts God has given us. This also may be the point that I should admit that I struggle with this at times. I mean, let’s be completely honest here, kids can be annoying. Their incessant questions, their absent-mindedness (or is that selective hearing?), their bad habits, their WHINING…. I better not go on! But every 2-year-old will ask you why, then why again, then again, and again… it’s part of their development. Every 6-year-old will venture out to see if they’re old enough to get away with a little more. It’s part of the independence they’ve acquired through school. Every teenager will push and argue, they’re forming their own opinions as they learn to live apart from their parents. And every child will whine… I have NO CLUE what the developmental reason for this is… but EVERY.CHILD.DOES.IT!!! (perhaps it’s to build up a parents tolerance!).  If we allow these natural occurrences to keep us from enjoying our children, we have a bigger issue than the annoyances themselves. And I find myself asking God to help me enjoy my kids. I know they are a gift from Him, they are a reward from Him. It reminds me of when I’ve given gifts to my children only to see them toss the gift to the side never to be played with. It hurts. And it hurts God’s heart as well. So, now that I’ve made you feel bad… not really my intention, but if you’ve ever found yourself saying (even if just to yourself) “I don’t even enjoy them!” you’ve immediately felt guilt for even having the thought. I do. It’s a cycle I’m quick to try to remedy. I’m frustrated over their behavior, so I feel I dislike being around them (I’m not sure I like the opposite of the word, enjoy… so semantic people, bear with me!) then I feel guilty for having the thought, knowing that I need to enjoy them… It is a real indication that a change needs to happen. How can I honor God, and the gift/reward He has given me. May I share some of my ideas with you? Not because I think I’ve mastered this, yet. But because I feel it works for me as I battle these challenging parts of motherhood.

  • First, I immediately ask for forgiveness. I pray that God will help me work through these emotions, and forgive me for looking at His gift in this manner. For me, it is a sin. I am not exhibiting godliness, but selfishness. So I ask him to forgive me. Then I ask Him how to get out of this funk I’m in. Most of the time, I’m not able to do anything until I do this number one step. My heart will not change without God’s help.

 

  • I begin to search the scripture for words of encouragement. I remind myself to take captive every thought and bring them into submission to God. So I search for scripture that will remind me of God’s will in my parenting. Scriptures like…

Psalms 139:13-16 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (read it and remember that God created your children in this same way!)

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (If He gave YOU the gift of children, he prepared you beforehand to be able to raise them! I promise!)

(there are many more… but for space sake… I’ll move on)

  • I begin to search for podcasts that will speak to the challenges (and solutions) to parenthood. I get my Bible out, and study alongside the speaker. Hearing that I’m not alone, is a comfort. But learning how to deal with it, is empowering. I use Oneplace.com (it’s an app for Android, too) And there are many preachers that post their past broadcasts. Focus on the Family, or Jim Daily’s “Focusing on Parenting” are very good, but sometimes I just put “Parenting” in the search and find something. You don’t have to agree on everything in order to gain a small nugget of encouragement to fuel your parenting journey. And if I can’t find what I am looking for, I will google things and try to find Christian blogs I can read. *****I am not looking for something that will validate my feelings! I am looking for something that will reprimand me, and encourage me to get back to where God wants me! I suggest you do the same, flattery won’t solve the issue.

 

  • I begin to godly discipline. If it’s bad behavior that is causing my kids to be unenjoyable (I may have made that word up… but I really don’t like the true opposite of enjoy… so…), then I need to teach them the right behavior. It is our job as parents to raise obedient children.

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

Proverbs 19:18 Discipline your son, for there is hope;

Proverbs 1:8-9 Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.

And my point…. Proverbs 29:17 Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.
When we discipline properly, we are teaching our children to be delightful. Not just to us, but to those around them. I warn my children. I start off my telling them that I’m sorry that I did not discipline enough (to which they quickly forgive me, don’tcha know!) And I explain that I’ll be cracking down on behaviors to which they know they should be having and are not. I remind them of my expectations for them, and outline where we’re falling short (not getting the morning routine down, making us late… or putting shoes away so we can find them when we leave, or how to be kind to a sibling… whatever the issue may be). Then I follow through. The first week is hard. They are in more time-outs, I am taking WAY more deep breaths. They are losing out on privileges, I am chanting “Yell less, love more” to myself while rocking back and forth in my closet… but it needs to be done, and it’s beneficial to us all.

  • I let them be annoying once in a while. Like I said, kids can be annoying. As children learn the social norms to behavior, they will often do annoying things. It’s part of their learning process. They repeat themselves, they chew with their mouths open, they get overly excited about things that seem unimportant to us. But, I refrain from being annoyed. I may correct them (“Please eat with your lips closed.” “Please stop repeating that phrase.” “Let’s not stand so close to my ears while chewing gum.”) But I do it in love, not in irritation. I don’t allow myself to reprimand them, belittle them, or show them my annoyance. I correct; I teach them the right behavior… and leave the room if I’m struggling more than I want. (I’m human! I DO get annoyed… but in order to choose to enjoy them, I take my thoughts captive, and I allow them to be children.)

 

  • I go to bed earlier. Let’s face it, we’re a better version of ourselves when we have our beauty sleep. It is much harder to have patience when we’re sleep deprived. I can do this now that I have children who sleep through the night. It’s much harder when you are up all night with babies, and up all day with kids who don’t nap! Grab rest when you can. Ask your spouse for help. You’ll be a better parent for it.

 

  • And Lastly… for now… is CHOOSE to enjoy! Look at your gorgeous, smart, energetic, and amazing child and see him/her as the gift she/he is! Watch them when they play, laugh at their silliness. Join them as they jump in rain puddles, and laugh when they giggle at their own made up joke. Watch them as they interact with their siblings and realize this child of yours is AWESOME! If you have to, go back to sweet baby pictures or remind yourself of funny things they’ve done in the past week, month, year. Hug them tight, tell them how wonderful you think they are, and remind yourself that this reward from God is one of the biggest blessings you’ve ever been given. Pray over them, praise them, marvel in them, and be awestruck! Be intentional about finding things to enjoy. Whether it be the moment they are quiet listening to a book, or coloring nicely at the table, or studying for a test at school, make it intentional. Then remind them how much you love them. Tell your child that they are the best gift you’ve ever been given. Then when you collapse in bed at night from the exhausted day that comes along with being a parent, do not allow yourself to dwell on the rules they broke, or the attitudes they had. Instead count your blessings. Just as you began your day in prayer, end it just the same. Praise God for the thoughtfulness of His gift. Thank Him for the blessing.

I write just as I come out of this. Like I said, I have not mastered this. And I don’t always enjoy every moment. But I love my children, and want to honor God with the gift He has given me. I believe I am not where I need to be when I choose not to enjoy them. So, today, I’m choosing to enjoy them! I’ll gaze at them and thank God for my quadruple blessing. And I’ll start the day tomorrow doing the same. Feel free to add some of the ways you choose to be intentional when it comes to enjoying your children, I’m open to more suggestions!

Until then… Enjoy those kiddos of yours!

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My evolution of Worship

When I made the decision to follow God, to live for Him, to allow Him to guide me, I learned right away that worship was a powerful thing. At the age of 13, I could feel that wonderful, yet very powerful, Holy Spirit at work during the worship aspect of Church. Sometimes it was warm and comforting, other times it was a heavy weight on my shoulders. I learned very quickly to enter in, or get out!

At age 13, worship was a learning process for me. I was learning how to listen to God. I was learning to follow His prompting. I was learning what to do with all the emotions that ran through me during that time. (When we youth pastored, we often saw teens that suddenly had to use the restroom in the heaviest part of worship. This was their physical bodies being uncomfortable with what their spiritual bodies were encountering. They were learning.) I either worshipped, or I would walk out.

At age 16, I became a worshipper. I no longer counted down the minutes until the song service was over, instead I was free to raise my hands, or lower my head, or fall on my knees, however the spirit led. I loved every note, I loved singing and truly worshiping. I would grow with each church service as I really listened to God speak to me. I felt called into ministry not during a sermon, but during the worship time.

At age 20, I attended a Christian College. I loved chapel services. I set my work schedule around the chapel services each day. The service was 40 minutes long. That left about 15 minutes designated to worship. I learned at this time to enter in quickly. I learned that if I wanted to gain the benefits of true worship, I could not wait for the perfect song sung by my favorite worship leader. I had to walk in, begin to sing to God and enter in. I never felt like it was enough, but I learned quickly to get as much as I could out of worship in the little time I had. It was at this time in my life that in the midst of worship God spoke to me and shone a supernatural light on a gorgeous man pacing at the altar in prayer. The lifeline that God had established between me and Him during worship was used to show me the man I would marry. (unbelievable, yet SO amazing!)

By age 24, I had allowed myself to get too dependent on songs, great singers,  and “the right atmosphere” in order to enter into worship. I got bogged down with ministry, busy with work, weighted down with the things that come with life. I still worshipped, but it wasn’t the same. I walked through the motions, had few breakthroughs, and didn’t anticipate it as much as the 10 years prior.  I would have never known this was where I had allowed myself to fall had it not been for a church that loved worship. Pastor and I had taken a new youth pastorate and the church was a church of worship. I felt myself starting all over. I had to relearn to worship. I had to learn how to let go and surrender and allow God to take over. I had to learn that worship wasn’t just about me. It was about us! About God and me! I had to relearn the convicting power the Holy Spirit holds. I had to relearn how to deal with that conviction. I had to learn again how to enter in no matter what the circumstances. Oh, how I praise God for teaching a forgetful student. I believe that church, and their obedience to God, and their openness to worship SAVED MY LIFE!

At age 26 I found myself and my worship loving church under attack. Our worship was being threatened. It was a time in my life where I fought for my worship time. I moved my physical body away from those who would not allow my spiritual bodies to be moved. I pressed forward even when the circumstances were purposefully attempting to hold me back. Worship became a lifeline, a sacred time, something I NEEDED to fight for.

At age 29, I had a 2-year-old and an infant and worship was not an undivided event any longer. Our church at the time kept the kids in the worship service. So Pastor would be on the stage leading worship, and I’d be cuddling a baby while chasing a 2-year-old. Life wasn’t easy, church wasn’t easy, and worship wasn’t easy. I had to worship differently. I had to find time at home, in my car, late at night, or in the few minutes where my son was building with bibles beside me and my daughter was fast asleep in her carseat. It wasn’t ideal, but I craved worship.

Now, at a (VERY) young age of 35, I find myself at our very own church, where my FOUR children are now sitting beside me as we worship. I’m a seasoned worshipper. I’m an educated worshipper. I am a lover of worship… yet, I am a distracted worshipper. To put into perspective of what I mean, this is how my worship experience went today… First song, I was snapping fingers on one hand with another hand raised in worship. I was shushing in between my words of affirmation to God. The 2nd song, I had my 2-year-old entertained, my (soon to be) 4-year-old looking for ‘Rs’ in the Old testament, my 7-year-old sitting at the end of the pew, and my 8-year-old beside me and I got one whole song to myself. I cried for it had been so long. I closed my eyes (with an occasional one eye opened ), asked God to speak, and reminded Him how much I love and adore Him, His presence, and the life He’s blessed me with. I was able to raise both hands, let loose and sing my heart out (oh, I’ve learned by now that if I want to sing loud, I should! God loves it, and worship is for Him, not the people in the pew in front of me!). It was heavenly. By the 3rd song I was giddy (it’s amazing what a 3 minute uninterrupted corporate worship time can do to a person). I was on such a “super”natural high that I continued worshipping as my 4-year-old applied fake fingernail polish on each of my fingers, blew them dry, then proceeded to put on tons of pretend makeup all over my face (which she also blew dry with her mouth). But oh, how heavenly it was to close my eyes, give God my attention in church. I loved it. My fake makeover and my spiritual one! By song 4, my 2-year-old was screaming because the 4-year-old walked in his row and touched a car. The 4-year-old was upset that she couldn’t play with his cars and my worship experience was over.

Worship evolves. It won’t always be the perfect scene, the number one song, sung in the perfect pitch. But it’s always available. I worship while loading the dishwasher. I worship in my shower, where kids can not come in. I worship in my bed that last 5 minutes before I drag my tired body out of bed. I let the vacuum stand alone for a bit while I step back, raise my hands, and pour out my worship on an almighty God. I worship in my living room with my 4 tiny worshippers. We dance, hold hands and shout the lyrics. We worship.

Don’t let life get in the way. Don’t let circumstances keep you away. Even if you have to worship with one eye open… just worship.
We love that our kids get to be a part of worship. I’m watching my 8-year-old enter in in his own special way. I get to see my daughter when she feels that spirit lead her. They are beginning their worshipping journey. And I pray they will write their own worship story, for worship is a lifeline. So, find some time, a quiet corner, or just set out to worship even through your distractions. Just Worship!

Simply_Worship

For the purposes of this post, I am using “Worship” with the meaning of the song related part of a church service. Yes, I believe that worship comes in many forms. When we read our Bible, when we pray, when we tithe, when we listen to a sermon we are worshipping, but I am specifically speaking about the song portion of a service.

Just Do IT!

My girls recently asked for “Little House on the Prairie” dresses. We searched and searched for dresses, knowing that I was not a good seamstress. After realizing I could not make the “Laura Ingalls” collars, or the perfect Pinafore (which I looked up the technical term for those, so I wouldn’t call it an apron), I started looking for something simpler. I googled “easy to make girls dresses” and I read read and read some more. I spent a full week in research. I read every blog, pattern, and comments section. Finally, I took the girls to pick out their fabric. I found a pattern in one of the books, however, it was $14!!! So we passed on that and decided to research more.

The fabric was bought, it sat in the Hobby Lobby bag. And it sat. And it sat some more. I stared at it as I read more and more blogs on how to sew. It sat while I watched youtube videos learning how to do a basting stitch. It sat while I googled what pinking sheers were. It sat while I compared what was best, pinking shears, serger, or a zigzag stitch. (I don’t have ANY clue about serging!!!) The bag of beautiful prints and colors just sat while I stared at my sewing machine and contemplated my plan of action. FOR DAYS!

There comes a point in life when we can’t just research, plan, and ponder without DOING IT! We do Bible studies on how to find God’s will for our lives. We ask other’s opinions, we weigh our hopes, dreams, and gifts all while they sit in a bag unused. We have a huge desire. Our heart aches, but yet we hold back because we don’t think we know what we are doing. We don’t feel we have the resources, the history, the know-how to carry out this calling God’s given.

The great thing is… if He calls you, He also equips you! And that is just awesome! If He calls you to be a preacher, he’ll equip you with the sermons to preach. If He calls you to be a teacher, He will give you skills to teach. If He calls you to adopt, He’ll provide the stamina it takes to go through the endeavor. But you have to JUST DO IT! You’re sermons will not come out of your mouth if you do not open it. Your classroom will not appear when you do not do the work to obtain a job with a classroom.  Adoption paper will not be signed if you do not actually sign them! God allows some things to done on our part. He can line things up just right for the path to go smoothly, but if we just sit and stare at the path, we will go no where… We must JUST DO IT! Then watch how God uses us! Watch and see the wonderful benefits from taking that leap of faith. Move as He leads and dwell in the fact that you are taking every step toward a beautiful masterpiece.

James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (emphasis mine).

So, I sewed. I followed this bloggers instructions to a tee.  I dove right in. I took my time. I read and reread my instructions, and I trusted even when I didn’t understand what it said.  (read into that… The Bible is our instruction manual. Dive right in. Take your time. Read, reread and trust when you don’t understand.)

I made mistakes. But the fabric (and design) was forgiving. (read as, we all make mistakes, but God is gracious and forgives. His love covers over a magnitude of sin)

And at the end the mistakes were only evident to the creator, the dress blessed my daughter. Her ooohs and ahhhs were beautiful. There are times we make mistakes. God works on us all individually. But when we set out to serve, to do God’s will, we can bless others beautifully. As we learn and grow our mistakes become less and less. But the blessings grow in their beauty.

Just as I should, I needed to learn to do this project. I needed that research. I needed to define terms I didn’t know. I needed to know how to use what I learned… that is a given. But there comes a point where we need to start doing what we’ve learned. Listen carefully for the green light!

So… It’s time to DO. What’s in your heart? What has God been nudging you to try? Is now the time to dive in? JUST DO IT!!

There is a long list of things I did wrong... but I did just enough right to create the awesome dress for my awesome 3 year old!
There is a long list of things I did wrong… but I did just enough right to create the awesome dress for my awesome 3 year old!
  • I didn’t plan for it to be a halter dress. It was supposed to have cute little buttons on the front, but I sewed the straps right in forgetting my original plan. It is super cute without the white shirt under… but well, it’s winter already here! So long sleeves and leggings for now!
  • I also measured for the bodice, not remembering that my cutie patutie has a much curvier bum than I think the original model had. So we had to tear some stitching and redo to get it on her… once over that curvy bum, it was adorable.
  • I also did not buy quite enough fabric, so it’s a tad smaller around than the original plan. However, I am not sure I would really notice a few inches.
  • Once it was on her, we noticed that there were two straight pins in the bodice that were sewn in. I had to cut tiny holes to free them. Silly me.. just proves how much more I need to learn!
  • I already had the thread, and the ribbon. So my total for this dress came to $8.09 (look for Hobby Lobby sales, and use your coupons!)
  • Thank you to Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom for a set of instructions and pictures I felt I could really follow. I learned so much doing this project and I couldn’t be happier! Please visit her awesome blog and try a few crafts of your own.

I have one more to make for Lil. I’m hoping it will be easier and with even fewer mistakes. I can’t wait… neither can she!

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