May 31, 2014

Steering our Children Towards their Strengths

Each of my children has a strength that without careful guidance can easily become their one weakness.  
God created them with specific personality traits, thought patterns and a way of seeing things that suits them just right.  For a PURPOSE.  
One of mine was having a moment.
Nothing was being filtered and his temper ran away with his reason.
It wasn't until sundown that I was ready to address all that transpired that morning because I knew I would be speaking out of anger and have nothing productive to say.

As we began talking his arms were folded and I could see the resolve on his face.  He refused to budge.  He was angry and he was not going to be broken.  
I began to present a case against him and all of the reasons why he was in the wrong and I pulled no punches.  He withdrew more and more made no eye contact and any eye contact he did make could have pierced through me.
I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to me....."Say something redemptive"
As I began to call out those things in him that I saw as STRENGTHS (not weaknesses) he began to cry and our conversation turned from one of "blame and harsh criticism towards one of redemption and forgiveness.  It was one of the most productive conversations we've had in this journey into his teenage years.  

It was that day that I realized my child has so many GIFTS and such a beautiful way of seeing things that if not carefully nurtured and filtered through the Word and Spirit-filled living can easily become his weakness.
He's bent towards aggression.  God gave him that.
Boys are MEANT to be WARRIORS, protectors, defenders.
I appreciate his strong personality and big emotions.
I so appreciate the individual ways my children have of seeing the world and responding to it.  



I prayed God would give me insight into their souls and learn who they were and how God designed them to operate so that I could be more effective in steering them in the right direction without breaking them.  That I would recognize those things in them that would be world changing if nurtured and cultivated.  
Solomon asked for a discerning heart and how I NEED it as a mother.  
It would be so easy to crush them and their fragile spirits as their still learning who THEY are and what to do with this information moment by moment.  
How IMPORTANT it is as a mother to PRAISE those things in them that make them so UNIQUE and recognize they are bent that way with PURPOSE.  For KINGDOM purpose.  It is MY job as a mother to teach them how to FILTER those emotions and thoughts through the WORD of God and teach them how to be spirit led so that their strengths don't run away with their REASON to make intelligent decisions in a moment of recklessness.

I have to be so careful not to act out of recklessness myself or to be hasty in judgment and quick to lay down the gavel but to take every opportunity to gently steer my children towards their strengths.  I pray I would have presence and peace of mind to not fly off the handle but to make the most of every opportunity to teach my children to appreciate what makes them so unique.  

May 29, 2014

Grace is ENOUGH

When you can’t touch bottom, you touch the depths of God.- Ann Voskamp


Oh the places He's taken me in this last year.
The fears I have had to face head on.
The grief that consumed every part of me.
The things I've had to wrestle with.
At times I had found myself in such darkness.
There were moments when I felt so stripped. So weak. So incapable. So inadequate.
Moments of doubt. Moments I questioned everything I knew.
Moments I didn't think I could go another step.
And through it all----I heard His loving tender voice.
"Do you TRUST me?"
My willingness to LET IT GO and hand it over meant a vulnerability I had to be ready for.
That's what it comes down to. Will you TRUST Him with YOU. With all that is you. Will you show Him your hand --- no matter how the cards are dealt and what you find there.
No matter the mistakes you made, or the grief you face.
No matter the doubt and questions.
Will you trust Him?
I realized I was carrying burdens I was NEVER meant to bear.
Grace IS weightless.
And it is ABUNDANT.
It is ENOUGH.
Grace stepped in when I was willing to let go.
He---said to ME---My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you for My strength and power are made perfect and show themselves most effective in your weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and imperfections, that the strength and power of Christ may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

May 28, 2014

Change is NECESSARY

Change.
I've learning to appreciate change and see it for what it IS. 

Perspective is such a gift of GRACE.
If He has plans to PROSPER us. Give us HOPE AND a FUTURE then our destiny (our DESTINATION) is NOT this moment here.
I think of the Israelites and how disheartening and exhausting it was to be constantly moving. Even in their new found freedom...free from Egypt....they hadn't arrived. God had something in mind.
always moving.
always advancing.

                         towards something GREATER.

The inconveniences and struggles of the wilderness were temporary though it may have seemed in the moment so final. But they had to keep moving to ever see all that God had destined for them.
He has GOOD things laid up for you.
Keep moving.


We respond to pain and inconvenience as if it's an eternal matter. As if *this moment in time* is going to be all there is.
But how quickly we lose perspective and forget that these matters are inconsequential compared to eternity and the One who promised to work ALL things to your good and for His glory.

He NEVER leaves a job half finished.
He WILL perfect all that concerns you.


(Change is necessary if we are ever going to see fulfilled all that was promised.)
"you have camped out here long enough.
This isn't the end.
It's time to break camp and move on." Deuteronomy 1:6-7

May 20, 2014

Apart from HIM I am NOTHING

"Humility is such an elusive virtue.  Once you think you have it, you don't, or you wouldn't think you did." - Max Lucado

Ouch.

I read that this week and my heart hurt..... 
Just when I think I've got my flesh under control, I've repented and withheld NOTHING from Him.....in my repentance my PRIDE takes a beating, stripped and left bare---feeling as though I have
 accomplished some great thing.  As if it's a BADGE of HONOR.  

Dying to self IS a great matter.
Dying to self HURTS.  

Thinking I've been HUMBLED I suddenly realize I'm not very much unlike the Pharisees and I might as well put on the sack cloth, my filthy rags, cover myself in ashes and consider myself RIGHTEOUS.
I'm just needing my certificate of APPROVAL from my Heavenly Father and I can put it on my fridge.


Just when I think I've done all that is required to be RIGHT with God, my heart is ripped out with the gut-wrenching realization that I will never ARRIVE at a state of perfect righteousness.  

I will always somehow come up short......  

Then I remember the words in 2 Corinthians 4:7
We have this INCREDIBLE TREASURE in CRACKED and BROKEN vessels----so that the world would know that ANY GOOD, any EXTRAORDINARY thing that comes from us is from GOD---because it couldn't POSSIBLY be from myself....  

I am ONLY righteous because of all that Christ did for me that day when HIS flesh was put to death on that cross.
There is NOTHING I can do to be right with God.
There is nothing I can accomplish here on earth OUTSIDE of His GRACE.
I can take NO credit for any of it. 

Apart from HIM---I am NOTHING.
That is TRUE humility.



I need HELP

I need *HELP*
Why are those words SO hard for us to admit?
Maybe because refusing our flesh, taking a hit to our pride *HURTS*.  

My "having - already - arrived - there's-nothing-I-could-tell-him-he-doesn't-already-know" teenager climbed into bed next to me this morning just to be held.....
I wrapped my arms around him and was reminded just how fragile. How BREAKABLE. How innocent and naive my children really are. How so very much they NEED ME.

Last night my soon-to-be 13 year old was shutting out a heart to heart about something we needed to address.
I tried every angle. Every approach.
He was defensive and had no intention of receiving anything I had to say.
So I dismissed him --- sending him to bed -- feeling frustrated and defeated.
Within moments I saw a note left on my desk.
"Dear mom, I'm sorry.  If you talk I'll listen. But please *HELP* me". 

I began to cry.  

How I've *BEEN* there. 

Unteachable.  Wanting to go my own way.  
My Heavenly Father aching to *HELP* me....asking me, "Are you ready to TRUST me with this now?"  

Trust Him with the consequences of my actions.
Trust Him to fix the mess I've made and redeem it somehow.
Trust Him to love me regardless of the mistakes I've made.
Trust Him that asking for HELP is far better than trying to go it on my own.
TRUST Him that He has my best interest at heart and that perhaps He knows things that I don't know after all and when I've learned the art of FULL surrender I will find nothing but blessings and PEACE wait for me.  


My anger and frustration seemed to fade away as I realized how much (whether they admit it or not) my children need the wisdom and the lessons I've learned in life. How much they look to ME to learn WHO God the Father is and that His word is TRUTH. How CLUELESS they really are and how much they rely on ME and look to ME for answers. They 
may ACT like they have it all together. They may THINK they know it all.

Life was so much easier when my primary concern was keeping their tummies full and a clean diaper on 'em. Keeping them from hurting themselves as they discover the world by learning to crawl and then walk. Putting band aids on their hurts and loving on them until they are playing once again. Then they begin to become more like young men and less like little boys.

More like a young lady and less like a little girl. And I realize that more than any other calling on my life, more than any other dream I may have, more than my own desires and aspirations........these *4* are the greatest calling I have on my life. To raise them to be men (and a lady) of integrity and honor. To teach them to spend their lives giving without hesitation. Loving without reservation. (That includes forgiving quickly and giving grace without measure in their words and in their actions).

I don't have it all together by any means and fall so short of the mother I need to be to these precious children God has entrusted me with. But it's moments like "these" I realize that I *TOO* need *HELP* and God's grace HAS met me in my flesh. Where I am weak. Where I lack. Where I miss the mark. Those moments where I realize they're "getting it". Those moments when I see them walking in the Truth. I find no greater joy than to know that my children are walking in Truth. But I see in those same moments of small victories such a vulnerable and breakable spirit. And realize how so much more present and fully aware I need to be in every moment. relying on the help of the Holy Spirit. One day at a time. Growing together. Learning together.


In I Kings 3:9 Solomon prayed: 

"Lord, Give your servant a discerning heart." 

Solomon asked for discernment because he KNEW that he could not accomplish what he had before him to do as king without it. 
The immediate and temporary moments grab our attention and we tend to be hasty and rash and anxious in our thoughts and in our decisions. But if we could just step back and see the bigger picture. To see what God is up to and learn to discern the heart of God we would find peace of mind and wisdom (instead of confusion and unrest) in those moments when we need discernment the MOST. He's promised if we asked for wisdom He would give it. (James 1:5) Our decisions and every step will be sure and steady if we could just learn to walk with HIM. It's a discipline. We have to make a conscious effort to LISTEN and UNDERSTAND and OBEY. 

I pray that I walk in the Truth so that my children will follow and I will find them walking in Truth....and TRULY there is NO greater Joy than THAT.

May 14, 2014

For the JOY set before Him

"Who for the JOY set before Him......endured."
Joy can be elusive in the darkness.
When you can't seem to find Him.
Jesus cried "my GOD! Why have you forsaken me?!"
Jesus knew His purpose. Jesus knew what lay ahead for the heart that holds on. The work would be completed, the enemy would be defeated and Jesus would find His place at the right hand of the Father. 
His joy was in front of Him...not in His suffering.
Joy is not an emotion or some naive pie in the sky notion that everything in this moment is as it should be.
Joy is knowing there is a purpose to this moment here and Joy is the moment in front of us knowing that when the dust settles we WILL find ourselves standing with both feet smack dab in the center of all we've been fighting for and all we've been promised.
The joy in front of us breathes HOPE into our spirits.
We can endure the struggles and the heartache, find our way through the darkness because there is a joy that waits for those who hold on.
Don't give up before the dawn.


Celebration not only comes in the deliverance but it comes when you're willing to see God at work even in the darkness.
Make no mistake, friends. God is always at work.
And when you can find Him in the middle of your mess and for the JOY set in front of you endure whatever you might be facing then you can rejoice in even THIS because you know the HOPE of knowing He WILL bring you out.

May 12, 2014

a-not-so-HAPPY Mother's Day

Mother's day was NOT so happy for this mama.
Maybe it was because it started with certain expectations.  Expecting my children would jump from their beds, run to me with EAGER hearts to express their eternal gratitude and undying devotion to me-their MOM.  


Okay---so maybe that's an exaggeration.  
I made a fruit plate and wanted a nice breakfast with my kids.  I even laid out their clothes the night before.  That counts for something right?
It was going to be a GOOD day.  I didn't expect ALOT.  But I certainly didn't anticipate all the things that would go WRONG yesterday.  The frustrations throughout the day.  

....As if Mother's Day was a day that was EXEMPT from life's frustrations, arguing children, bloody noses, spills on the carpet, running late for church hair that would not cooperate.....the list was endless. 
I suppose that WAS my expectation. 
YES! Mother's Day was going to be chaotic free, and blissful.  A day of gratitude, full of laughter and love.  Effortless and enjoyable.
But it was far from THAT.  From the moment we woke.  
Each frustration brought another till sundown.  
To make matters worse.
I threw an honest to goodness temper tantrum. 
Tears and all.  
and if that wasn't bad enough?  I labeled it the, "Worst Mother's Day EVER."
I could see the blank stares on their faces.  
I ASSUMED the tears would evoke some sort of repentant response from them.....but instead they now felt sorry ---sorry for themselves AND their MOM.  haha :)  and felt GUILTY. 
Repentant?  
not so much.
My mother's day? --- ended with GREAT humility. 
.....with me on my knees before my Father, a repentant heart, and an apology to my children.
  I listed for them every reason I could think of in the moment that makes ME a HAPPY MAMA.  Why I am so GRATEFUL. 
PERSPECTIVE.  
Oh if I could only keep perspective.  
Live my life so FULL of the spirit that my every response is a response from the Heart of the Father and not from EMOTION and self-gratification.  Life my life not out of expectation but out of GRATITUDE.  See each moment from eyes of GRACE and not criticism.  To keep a positive outlook instead of a negative one.  Patience.  Peace.  Love.  Gentleness.  Self-CONTROL  (ouch), JOY, GOODNESS, and faithfulness.  
Any other fruit other than these doesn't belong.  

They may have not seen these things on display in those moments....but at the end of the day???? ---- they did see a mama on her knees.  They saw a mom who makes mistakes but then instead of excusing them or placing blame she takes them to her Father so that He can redeem not only her mistakes but the ENTIRE day.
And He did just that.  

May 8, 2014

Taking a Time OUT

It *GRIEVES* my heart to tears to see my children walk in disobedience. To walk in something I KNOW is going to ultimately rob from them peace, joy, and blessings.
But to sit....with one of mine.To take a TIME OUT.....
Talk to them eye to eye.
Cry with them.
Take them to the Word and SEE their heart turn!!! .....as HARD as it is to walk that out with them....
To see the LIFE come from it.  The healing.
Not just in their repentance but in our relationship.
They've grown a bit in their faith.....
And I have no greater joy to watch them live it out. 
It's so hard when life is so busy to take the little things seriously enough to deal with them.
But it IS a serious matter.
Because they are heart issues.....and unless you're paying attention and taking them to the Word of God ---- those Seemingly small issues will take root and over time.....take over.
These heart to heart conversations are exhausting. Emotionally and mentally.  Especially in the teenage years..... (Heaven help me)
Thank God for the Holy Spirit ... to lead ME as I lead THEM into the Truth of God's word. I wouldn't want to parent without Him......
And one day I will see them walk in truth and truly there is no greater joy than that.
I can understand the heart of my heavenly Father when I feel the heartbreak over disobedience and my heart rejoice when I watch one of mine walking in Truth.  But they won't know the Truth unless we've taken the time to teach it to them.......

Act QUICKLY

While my children were at school I received a disrespectful email from one of mine who was frustrated with ME.
His motive was honest.
I cannot fault him for that.
His heart and tone? Not so much......
It wasn't 15 minutes before I was down at the school face to face with the receptionist asking that the offending party meet me in the front office.
Oh yes.
I pulled him out of class.
Took him into the hallway and dealt with it right then and there.
Maybe he will check his heart twice next time he needs to bring something up or at the very least be careful of his words and tone in which he sends it.....
I am happy to talk and entertain anything that might be on his heart. But the moment he took it to a disrespectful level it needed to be addressed.
Quickly.
"Quickly"
I use that word frequently with my children.
apologize *QUICKLY*.
forgive *QUICKLY*
obey *QUICKLY*
When caught "in the act" I always tell my children to fix it "QUICKLY".

Most of time it's "APOLOGIZE!!!!! ....quickly."
Quickly......
Is so important.
Quickly.
Before anger can grow bigger.
Before the offense becomes greater and the hurt deeper.
Deal with it. quickly.
Before doubt has time to persuade you otherwise.
Quickly. Before your thoughts and emotions override your ability to make the right choice.

There are times we need to act slowly.
Slow to ager.
Slow to speak.
To give us time to be sure our heart is in the right place.
But once you've made the error....fix it quickly.

If we are not quick to forgive. Quick to apologize....if not dealt with QUICKLY.... offenses, hurts, wounds become the ground where the seeds of bitterness and hatred grow.
....which will in the end destroy the life around it.

I want more than anything that the Lord would grab a hold of me quickly when He sees there is something in MY heart that needs to be dealt with.
Who of any of us mothers would see our child heading for danger and not use any means and method necessary to catch their child's attention and turn them away from a disaster before they get hurt. Because we know.....
What THEY don't know. We see the obvious where they've somehow missed it.
There is another matter in which we should act quickly.....
be quick to GIVE.
Give without hesitation. Lavishly. Freely.
Quick to LOVE.
Without reservation.
Oh what JOY!! and peace come to those who know how to act quickly.

May 6, 2014

When the Peace of God trumps our UNDERSTANDING

The peace of God that overrules ALL *understanding*........
Our perception of things can be so easily corrupted by emotions, doubt, miscommunication, wrong thinking, wrong theology, misunderstanding about God's character and who He is, upset by circumstances, thrown off in times of crisis.
We are limited by our flesh, limited in our understanding, persuaded by opinions and discouraged by negative thinking......
*BUT*

The peace of God....is born out of who God is.
He is constant.
His word is constant. Unbreakable.
His promises are SURE. His WORD is unchanging.
Our emotions? They attach themselves to whatever is happening in the MOMENT. But in THIS moment here....there is something that EXCEEDS our understanding of what is going on.
Things going on beyond what we can see. GOD is present and at work.
In THAT we can find peace. That kind of PEACE....beyond what we can comprehend in this present circumstance will GUARD your heart. Will settle you and give you an assurance even in the midst of crisis. 



Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

May 5, 2014

Joy in the Midst of Suffering

Shortly after my husband died someone made the comment that I couldn't have been grieving my loss and be so at peace and happy. I have thought a lot about that comment since. Feeling GRATEFUL that I CAN experience such JOY in the midst of sorrow. Peace when my world as I knew it crumbled around me. A settled assurance when my future seemed so uncertain. 
The day after He died......how GREAT His grace was to me that He showed me all the "little things." I called them #gifts and listed them
one by one.
The time my husband had with his kids.
That our last days were our very best days.
The things we were believing for were answered.
Things that weren't answered now made sense.
Bills/finances/household affairs were in order and lined up almost as if he knew....getting it all ready for me.
The words spoken to me in the months before that would keep my faith anchored in the coming days.
The verses in scripture that had become burned in my spirit that would become life to me in my darkest hours.
The precious years he had with his babies rocking the stay - at - home - dad thing.
That the last I saw him was when he blew me a kiss in the foyer to go out of town.
The things Justin personally was believing for in his spirit....desires of his heart...words spoken over him by his pastors...I got to see them come to pass for him.
Appreciating the time I had WITH him not grieving over the tomorrows without him.
God was piling them up for me .... one by one. My gifts. My evidence. That God was at work.
Even in this.

So I rejoice!!!!
Not IN my grief.
But in SPITE of my grief.
That God knows and always has known the things I don't know. And He sees the things I cannot see.
Knowing such sovereignty. Knowing how MUCH He cared for me that He would see to SO many details........

In that I found peace in the middle of some my greatest heartache. His presence in my darkest days.
Knowing if He cared so much to see to THESE details....would He not already have an idea about tomorrow and how to get me there and sustain me on my way there?
You can HAVE peace smack dab in the middle of a storm!!
You can find JOY surviving tragedy!!
You CAN overcome grief and even "APPRECIATE" (yes, I said appreciate) disappointments, heartache, and trials.

****These moments are some of God's greatest opportunities!!!!****

If you're looking for the #gifts....the evidence that He has not left your side....you'll find them.

REJOICE and be at peace. not BECAUSE of the grief but for what's to come.... Because HE PROMISED HE WILL WORK ALL THINGS TOGETHER FOR YOUR GOOD.
The one who can get a hold of THAT Truth in the middle of your darkest day will find JOY not grief.


No.....I am not immune to grief, frustrations, or heartache. 
I've failed miserably. Made mistakes. Sometimes spent days questioning everything I knew about God and myself. Momen
ts that Justin and I struggled. I wondered if God would EVER bring us to a better place in our marriage, in our circumstances. Moments I fought to even hang on. There are moments when I just didn't think Grace could carry me. I could believe and overcome in some of my most desperate moments and then there are moments when I would really struggle and wonder if I could ever feel whole again. Wondering if the grief I felt would be the end of me. 
I've cried hot sometimes ANGRY tears. 
It was in these moments that God held onto me.
"This is what it is when the sacred is torn from your life and you SURVIVE." - Natalie Grant
Grief has a tendency to swoop in at a moment's notice and derail us for a moment. But that's when HE swoops in and carries us, holds onto us and reminds us of His Word. 
You may be surrounded on every side but will never find yourself crushed; you may feel at a loss and unable to find an answer. But you'll never be driven to despair. You may feel pursued but never will you be deserted to stand alone! You may be struck down to the ground, but you will never be struck out and destroyed!!!!!!! (2 Corinthians 4:8-9) You may feel pressed in on every side as if the next wave is the one that's gonna take you under! But take HEART!!!!!!!!!!!!!!...it. will. not. ever. consume. you!!!!!!!