Thursday, November 12, 2009
Leaving the coffee shop that night my heart was heavy for these women who had lost so much. So as I checked my facebook account when we got home, my heart broke a little more. A friend of mine was mourning with a friend of hers who had lost her husband just as suddenly...last week. They agonized over how to tell his 4 year old daughter that he was not coming home. And then my mind wandered to Abby, a contestant this season on The Biggest Loser. Her husband took her 3 year old daughter and 2 week old son out for a drive and they were hit head-on by a man driving over 100mph. Her entire family was killed instantly. And as she stood on that big scale with all of America watching she said she battles every day to lose weight and be healthy because it would be easier for her to just die than live without her family.
Just a few days earlier I had read in Parents Magazine a story of a mother who lost her 1 year old daughter to a rare intestinal deformity that had only just been diagnosed. She sat in the hospital room with her child's body and would not let the nurse take her daughter away to the morgue. She had been in charge of watching over this baby girl since before birth. What pain and torment it must be to let someone walk off with your baby and know that in this life you will never, ever lay eyes, hands, hugs or kisses on them again.
It is a fact of life that everything can change in a split second. One second everything is perfect, the next your world is blown apart and your life is in disarray. I am amazed at how many of these stories and experiences I was confronted with in the span of a week. It makes my mother's heart want to grab onto my babies and never ever ever let them go. It makes me sad. It makes me fearful. And I know I need to throw it all at the feet of the one who has the whole world in his hands, as the song goes. Because, as I'm sure you know, not one of those people had any control over what happened to them or their family members. They could not have changed one thing. It was out of their hands.
I don't know why things like that happen. I don't know why one person loses a child and another does not. I don't know why God takes some people sooner than others or why we must go on living without them. I don't know. And so I pray.
Lord, the kind of pain I have heard about this week seems like it would be unbearable. I feel as though I would crumble under it. I don't know if I could walk through that fire. But so many people around me are. First of all, Lord, I pray for them. For those people who no longer have to wonder if they could handle such a blow, because they have already received it. I pray for those who have lost children, spouses, entire families. Let Isaiah 43:2 be true in their life. As they walk through this tremendous fire, let them not be burned, for your presence is protecting them. Father, be their conforter, their friend, their shoulder to cry on and their reason for continuing to live. And, in ways that I cannot even imagine, please carry them through the grief and healing process. Let them see glimpses of hope every day and be assured of your presence by their side.
And Lord, I pray for my children and the children of all those reading this. Let your protection cover them. Keep them safe and preserve their lives. Steer them around dangerous situations and strengthen their bodies from the ailments of this world. But if they do get injured or sick, I pray you would bring doctors and nurses into their lives that can work your miracles. And if you choose not to, I pray that you would endow us all with courage and faith to get us through the hardest of hard times. Surround us with friends that, in joy or in pain, will help sustain us, encourage us and walk with us. And we pray that the words of the prophet Isaiah will ring true in our lives in any and every situation:
"When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze."
I pray with all my heart that our children's lives would be long and full. But, Lord, if it not your will for them to be long, I pray that they would be full just the same. Fill their lives with love and laughter and hope and grace and pour these things forth from them.
But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
"For I know the plans that I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29: 11-13
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
The truth is, we cannot. Because it's not just about belief. It's relationship. It's love. It's intimacy. It's friendship. It's knowledge. It's sharing thoughts and feelings and experiences. It's questioning. Belief is the result of teaching all these other things. Belief is not one simple thing. It is the solidifying of all these other things in the bedrock of your heart.
I cannot teach my kids to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. But I can teach them about who He is. I can show them his love and mercy and grace. I can model what it means to run to him in times of joy and sorrow. I can read to them about the truths of his character and prompt them to reach out to Him with question and longings.
No, I cannot teach them to believe. He does that himself. I can only teach them that Jesus is here and waiting for them with open arms. He is good and right and perfect. And because He is who He is, He will take care of the belief himself. I suppose this is where I must lay them in the hands of the One who loves them more than I do - and know that if He is worth believing in, he is also worth trusting.
Lord, I know I will not always say the right things or explain truths the right way or model the right behavior, but somehow please help me teach my children who you are. I pray that their hearts will be protected from the lies thrown at them about who you are and what it means to love and follow you. I pray that you would protect them from legalism and also from mysticism. Help them see the truth through the veil of our culture and the ways of this world. Please give me the words to say to answer questions they may have, and point us all to the scriptures that speak the truth of who you are. Unveil their eyes so they may see the depths of your love and your plans for this world you have created. Help them understand the mysteries of you, and not be confused or led astray by them. I pray they would know your character and your love for them. I trust that you want their hearts in your hand more than I do, and I pray that you would pursue them, love them and care for them their whole lives. Let their eyes see the truth and their hearts be compelled to believe. We lay our children in your loving and capable hands, Lord. Thank you for trusting them to us. Help us be accurate representatives of you in their lives, and help us love them with the love you pour through us. Let our words, actions and relationships point them to you.
In Jesus Name, Amen
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I love to see my family love each other. When they hug and laugh and connect...it's what every mother's heart aches for. And when we see it there are no words to express our overflowing joy. We are building relationships minute by minute. We are learning how to love, forgive, show mercy and accept differences. We are setting the course for the future of their relationships.
I know people who are best friends with their siblings. And I know people who haven't talked to their siblings in 20 years. To think the latter could happen to my little ones is a thought that breaks my heart. This week my husband and I witnessed our middle child run past our oldest in the backyard, and the oldest reached out and shoved her to the ground with all his might. Apparently she was doing something he didn't like. We jumped into action. And as we dealt with him, she began playing again. About 30 minutes later he was ready to apologize. The funny thing is, I'm sure she had already forgiven him. She was not angry. She was not ready for revenge. She was worried about him. "Is he getting in trouble?" "Can he play yet?" I think she forgave him about a second after he did it. After all, he's her big brother. And not a smidge of her trust in him was broken. I pray it's always that way. That they always want to whisper about their secrets at bedtime and ride their bikes together and be each other's best friend. I pray they can always trust each other. And that they will always be quick to forgive. And that they will always enjoy each other's company and friendship.
It is obvious to me that this life comes down to love and relationship. It is the essence of who you are. I pray for the relationships between my children. Please protect them from the plans of the Enemy. I pray that they will continue daily to build trust and friendship and mutual respect. And as they go through life, as children and adults, I pray that they will be able to lean on each other for strength and fellowship. Let them sharpen each other, as iron sharpens iron, and I pray with all my heart that they would not wound each other. As they grow, let them be quick to forgive each other's wrongs. Please let them also be able to speak truth in love to one another, so that they will be able to rebuke and set one another straight out of the love in their hearts. And give them ears to hear the truth they speak to each other, so that hearts are not wounded and relationships are not broken because words are tough to hear.
Above all else, Lord, I pray that they would always love one another with your love, and that they would spur one another on towards love and good deeds. Help them to encourage each other and care for each other in love. And I pray that because of their relationships with one another they would bring glory to your name. Amen.
Friday, September 18, 2009
I've been thinking a lot about how often God reaches out to us with open arms and we shame him, or 'curse' His name (maybe not intentionally, but I know I sure do) or just flat-out turn the other way. And instead of being vengeful and hateful towards us, He waits for us to remember who He is. Not that there aren't repercussions for our actions, I simply mean He is always there with open arms. This has hit me very heavily the last few days, as I think about how I react to my child, His child. Do I open my arms to her at every turn and let her know I am here, no matter what? Do I open my arms to myself, realizing that God's amazing grace extends to me as a parent as well? His words, "Go and sin no more" (John 8:11) have captured my heart this week as I've gone over and over again in my head how I have let my sweet girl down. But I know, just as He is teaching her, He is teaching me...and I too need to turn and run into those beautiful arms of forgiveness!
Sweet Lord and Savior - parenting is rough! This is not for the weak...and it's proof again and again how deeply and truly we need you. Need your mercy, your wisdom, your patience, your guidance and most importantly, your grace. Father, I pray that you would help me, and my fellow parent friends, to have grace with ourselves. I know I am not the only one who is incredibly hard on myself as a parent. We will fail our kids, we will let them down, we will need to ask for their forgiveness and then move past it. But, you will never fail them, you will never leave them and you will never forsake them. Help us to teach them this and model this for them, that we believe that in our own lives! Lord Jesus, I would be lost without your grace. I pray that you would mold me into the mother you have called me to be and love that sweet girl you have placed in our lives as you have created me to. And Father, I pray for your patience as we journey onward. Thank you that you hear these prayers, and thank you that your mercies are new every day! Lord, we are grateful and humbled - in Your Son's Mighty Name, Amen
Monday, September 14, 2009
then I would fly away and rest!
I would fly far away
to the quiet of the wilderness."
It is no secret that mothers are tired. Fathers are tired. Anyone who cares for a child is tired. It is a tiring job. We are a weary bunch. We work and clean and cook and dress and mop up spills and fix broken things and make sure homework is in the proper backpack and weeds are pulled and oil is changed and hair is brushed. We move at a relentless pace because life won't slow down for the weary. It does not acknowledge our plight. Time disregards my fatigue and continues to march along. Life does not pause while we take a breather. It keeps moving, sometimes like a snowball rolling down a hill, gathering momentum it fixes it's sights on us and plows us over. "Oh, that I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest!"
There are weary parents out there. Beat. Drained. Burned out. Overworked. Fatigued. Done in. Exhausted. We need rest. Sometimes it's as simple as that.
Lord, as we wake up and start our days please bless us with a kind of rest and refreshment that only comes from you. No matter how much sleep we have gotten, let us be renewed. This job is hard. It is tiring. But we know that it is so worth it. In the midst of life and it's continual movement, please pour your renewal and rest upon us. Like the crisp quiet of morning, let our souls and our minds have a stillness and peace. And as we run around, go to work and take care of these blessings you have entrusted us with, we pray for your continual renewal - for your continual rest, even in the craziness of this world. We ask that fatigue will not be allowed to steal our joy or make us quick to anger, but help love and joy and energy abound.
And, Lord, if it is our poor decisions or overloaded schedules that have run us into the ground, please give us the wisdom and courage we need to let go of commitments or addictions that make us even more tired. Help us make the best decisions for our families, ourselves and your body.
So, as I hear the little creaks and moans that tell me little ones are stirring this morning, I pray that the tiredness I feel will be fleeting and temporary - and that your Spirit will fill me up and carry me through this day. Help me overcome the weary nature of this job, and take joy in the blessings you have given me. And, Lord, give me rest.
I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint. Jeremiah 31:25
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
I am a fallen and broken person, and it hurts my heart to see that I am passing on my junk to my kids. I am teaching them something, through how I respond to things and how I react to them, that pains the heart of God. I get angry with them, and they get angry with each other. They say hurtful things. They shun each other and shame each other. They boss and manipulate and use each other. And they often explode at each other when they can't take it anymore. Just like me.
I love it when people say that Ellie looks just like me. Or when they say Payton has my smiley cheeks or tiny ears. But realizing that my kids also have my anger and my biting tongue and my quick temper...that's not quite so flattering or heart warming.
I reminded my son today that the hard times we have today don't have to be carried on to tomorrow. The Lord's mercies are "new every morning". He is making "all things new". We don't have to carry the baggage from today into tomorrow. So today I am letting go of my failures and praying for his new mercies.
Lord, I have failed in being a living example for my children in more ways than I can count. I have passed on things I do not wish for them to own. I pray for your intervention in our lives. Inervene in my heart to stop anger from welling up. I pray that you would replace that response with one that would honor you. Help me to be patient, thoughtful, instructive and merciful. I pray that you would give me the tools I need to parent in a way that honors you. I don't want to depend on my feelings or on the ways the world accepts as adequate parenting. I want to lead them to you and I know that requires more than just knee jerk reactions. It requires more than I have. It is true that I struggle with anger, but it is also true that you redeem and transform. As I lay this burden at your feet, please help me to let go of it and allow you to deal with me. Have your way in me. And for my children, Lord, I pray that whatever I have passed on I can take back. I pray that they would witness my surrender of this sin and your redemption in my life. Let their hearts be softened towards each other and their anger subside. And I pray that they would not carry this feeling, this reaction, this sin, through their lives. Let patience, wisdom and tranquility mark their interactions with each other and with others. I pray that as they grow they would learn how to be even-tempered in all situations and that they would be able to react to situations with compassion, kindness and love. And I pray that your Word would become the center of our lives. Teach me to "Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."(Deut. 6:7-9) I ask for your Word to feed us, renew our hearts and guide us as we learn and grow. Thank you for redeeming us daily, for changing us and for only dealing with us one issue at a time (or I may be overwhelmed by my depravity to the point of hopelessness). Your kindness and mercy amaze me. Amen.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Our church is starting something new this fall, we are doing a worship service for families. I'm pretty excited about it, though our little one is just a bit young to really take it in we feel. It's geared toward kids five and above, as far as them being able to 'participate and understand' the worship. I think it's wonderful that we are inviting our children to take part in church, to help them further understand what it means to be in relationship with Jesus and model, not just say, what our relationship with Him looks like. Again, it was a good reminder that my child sees my actions so much clearer than she hears my words. I was struck by this Scripture yesterday and it's stuck with me:
"People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belong to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them." (Mark 10:13-16)
I was really moved by "he took the children in his arms" for some reason yesterday. Jesus stopped and took the time to embrace these children, to show them that they were important and mattered so dearly to him...even if they didn't understand his words.
Sweet Jesus, I pray that you would help me to be a mother that shows my child by my actions and my words how important you are to me. That I would be intentional in my prayer for her and for all the sweet children in my life I love so dearly. I pray the things my mind would focus on would be the things that matter to you, instead of the things I feel are so important they sometimes cloud my priorities. Help me to remember that the kingdom of Heaven belongs to children, because of their sweet innocence and unquestioning love for you. Help me to be like a child in my faith, to love and trust you without reserve. And help me to be the mother you created me to be. Lord, I am so grateful for the gift of my child - and I pray that not one day I would take her for granted. In Jesus precious name, Amen
Thursday, September 3, 2009
I got up early this morning, had some real quiet time with the Lord. As usual, things shifted right into perspective. "Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say REJOICE!" Phil. 4:4.
I have been reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan (GREAT book, BTW). In chapter two, Francis says, referring to Phil. 4:4, "You'll notice that it doesn't end with '...unless you're doing something extremely important.' No, it's a command for all of us, and it follows with the charge, ' Do not be anxious about anything' .(v. 6)"
I had noted this verse last week in my journal, and as soon as I cracked it open this morning, I knew I needed to revisit it. I needed it. Here it is:
4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
I knew I need to give my stress, my anxiety, my embarrasment, over to Him, and fill my mind with the wonderful things he has done in my life. I made a "thankful" list. I gave my kids and husband, my menu plan, my budget, all back to him, where they belong. All day long, I've been chanting in my mind...Rejoice! Rejoice! God is good.
Francis goes on in chapter 2 of Crazy Love to say this: "When I am consumed by my problems--stressed out about my life, my family and my job--I actually convey the beliefe that I think the circumstances are more important than God's command to always rejoice. In other words, that I have a "right" to disobey God because of the magnitude of my responsibilities.
Worry implies that we don't quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what's happening in our lives.
Stress says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, oru lack of grace toward others, or our own tight grip of control.
Basically, these two behaviors communicate that it's okay to sin and not trust God because the stuff in my life is somehow exceptional. Both worry and stress reek of arrogance.They declare our tendancy to forget that we've been forgiven, that our lives her are brief, that we are that we are headed to a place where we won't be lonely, afraid, or hurt ever again, and that in the context of God's strength, our problems are small, indeed."
Sheeee-yoot. Guilty of all of the above, right here!
Lord, forgive me for clinging to my worry and stress as if I had some control over the things in my world. Fill my heart and mind with the knowledge that you are the one with a grip on this planet, not me. Let me freely release my stuff...my bags full of crud that I carry around with me each day. The bag that says I'm a lousy mom, when my kid embarrasses me in the store with his shocking behavior. The bag that says we don't have enough money. The bag that says I am not good enough to raise respectable respectFUL kids. The one that says I need to do more. The one that says we need this or that...Lord, take them all. Replace them with your joy. With bags full of lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Let me be full of thankfulness and peace. Let that flow into my kids lives and fill them up too. Amen.
for more info on this book click here www.crazylovebook.com
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Of course, I don't show that to him, but he knows. Yesterday he asked me, "Mommy will you be sad when you only have Ellie and Shiloh to play with?" I said a very sincere, "Yes".
I know this step is going to open up whole new worlds of wonder for him. Playground friends, field trips, a library with more books than he could ever read, new knowledge, adventures and fun. But in the back of my mommy mind I know there are also other worlds that will be there. Worlds filled with things that are not so fun or wondrous. Insecurities. Temptations. Pain. As he steps further and further from the nest, I have to admit that the world is full of those things. And there is no way to stop him from encountering them. He will have decisions to make. He will have obstacles to overcome. And I won't be able to be there with him, gently guiding him down the right path or comforting him when his feelings get hurt. I can't tell the kids on the playground how fun he is or stand up for him when someone is playing unfairly.
As I sat in sadness and resignation this morning I realized that I need to bring this before the Lord. Not just for today, but every day forward. He needs that guidance even when I'm not there, and that's where the power of the Holy Spirit will shine bright in his life. I may not be able to walk with him, but the Spirit of the Living God does not leave his side.
Lord God, I want to lay my son before you this morning. He is walking out the door and leaving a part of his childhood behind. He will be out of my reach for so many hours of the day. And I have no idea what he will encounter. It feels like having a part of my heart walk away into that first grade classroom. I so desperately want to be there, but I know I must loosen my grip and let go. He is your son and you are with him.
I pray that you will be his comforter. When his is lonely, scared or hurting, scoop him up in your arms and give him comfort. Hold him close, so that he can feel and know your presence. Whisper truth in his heart when he is tempted to believe a hurtful lie. Calm his fears when he feels like he cannot take another step. Give him the confidence that comes from walking in your presence. Be the arms around him that I cannot. May his heart say "May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant." (Psalm 119:76)
I pray that you would be his protector. When he is in danger, either physical, emotional or spiritual, please stand guard for him. Keep him safe from physical harm, accidents and injury. Protect his heart from Satan's lies that are intended to wound and scar him. And please protect his spirit from temptations that threaten to draw him away from your loving embrace. Please, Lord, be his guard and sentinel. Fight for him. Cover him. Save him from the plans of the enemy as you did David when he said, "He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters." (Psalm 18:16)
I pray that you would be his friend. Let him know that you are beside him, walking with him throughout his day. Hold his hand. Be his constant companion. Give him the confidence that comes from being a friend of God. I pray that as he walks into that school he would be ready and excited to make friends, that he would have the wisdom to choose them carefully and that he would be comfortable in his own skin because you have made him perfectly and walk with him daily.
In all the ways he will need you that I have not mentioned (or do not even know about), I pray that you would be with him, caring for him and watching over him. Lord, your son is about to step further out into the world, and I know you have a path marked out for him. Please give this mamma peace that her boy is your boy, and he is in your hands.
In the name of Jesus, who died for my son, Amen
1 I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!
3 He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.
5 The Lord himself watches over you!
The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.
7 The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
8 The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
1 John 5:12
I want my kids to have life. Not just "enjoying their days and satisfied with the things they have" kind of life. Life abundant. The kind of life that Jesus talks about. The kind that stretches you, strengthens you, pours over onto others and just generally blows your mind. I want them to know what it means to LIVE. To live passionately. To live generously. To live actively. To live ABUNDANTLY. Jesus said, "The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life." (John 10:10 NLT). I want that life for my kids. And the only way they will find it is through the Son of God. "He who has the Son has life..."
Lord, I know that life with you is abundant, and life without you is desolate. Sometimes I don't know how to best explain this to my kids. I don't want to scare them or coerce them into loving or following you. But I do want them to know the truth. I want them to know that life is nothing without you. Help me to explain this to them, and help me to live it out in front of them. I pray that they would understand from a very young age that life is all about knowing, loving and having a relationship with you. Help their hearts and minds grasp the concept of a personal relationship with an invisible God. Help them know that they can pray to you anytime - and that when they do, you hear them even though they cannot see you. I pray that as we read them scripture, pray with them and talk to them about living for you the true messages we intend to convey would sink into their hearts. Please, Lord, protect them from the lie that being a follower of you is about works, doing good things and following the rules of "living right". Help their little hearts understand that loving you and knowing you comes first, and the rest is an outpouring of that relationship. It is a confusing concept in our world of right vs. wrong and working to get ahead. I misunderstood it as a child and still struggle with it sometimes. But I pray that my children won't. Please give them hearts of discernment and wisdom, that they may read and understand your Word. And as they build their relationships with you, I pray that they would abide in you just as you abide in them. Let them live out of that relationship. Give them life abundant as they sink the roots of their life deeply in you. I pray that they would always be sensitive to the leadings and promptings of your Spirit. Even if it takes them to far off places to do dangerous things, let them always live in the center of your will. Give them hearts that yearn for life abundant, everlasting and centered in you. I pray that they will "have the Son", and therefore have the "rich and satisfying life" that comes with fully living for you. And I pray that if they are ever tempted to give up abundant life for the empty life this world offers, that you would bring friends, family, circumstances, angels and all the power at your disposal around them to draw them back to you. Take their hearts captive and let their footsteps follow after you all the days of their lives...Amen
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. John 10:28
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. Psalm 36:9
I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:5 NASB
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. John 14:16-19 NLT
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I pray that my attitude and words did not hurt my children. I pray that they did not soak in any of the venom I was spewing. Please let there be a divine padding around their hearts tonight, protecting them from my poor decisions and my short temper.
And please change my heart. More and more each day, change my heart. Chisel away the rough marble until something beautiful is exposed. Overwhelm me with your love, and teach me to do the same for my children. Teach me how to be a loving, wise, decisive, fair, merciful and consistent parent. And forgive me, Lord. Oh, forgive me. I have let my heart walk away from you and my kids paid for it tonight. I come back to you on my knees, confessing my failure and needing your grace. Oh, and please, please, please bless my children with hearts of understanding and forgiveness also. They are such beautiful gifts...please don't let my mistakes scar them.
Thank you for the grace you so freely give this sinner...the worst of all.
In Jesus Name, Amen
Sunday, August 9, 2009
But in the midst of training up our children I sometimes think, do I even have a firm grasp on what I am trying to train them in, or the answers they need, or the direction that is best for them. This is when I remember that I know nothing, the Lord directs their steps, and I can only leave it in His hands. So in leaving it to the Lord, I have to pray for myself as a parent...because it is us that they come to for answers, for help, with their questions, with their struggles, with their challenges. And what do we do with that? Is the help, the answers, the encouragement that I give the right thing for them, what they need in this moment?? I have to pray for the wisdom for answers when they ask hard questions, the best words to encourage them when they need it, the appropriate amount of letting go when there are consequences for their actions, the vision to see beyond my desires as a parent and into the heart of God for my child.
I think as our children grow we realize more and more how completely out of our control they really are. How utterly frightening, both for us and for them sometimes. My four year old has been asking some amazing questions, hard questions. His brain is always working and way beyond what I can keep up with. I don't always know what to answer or how much info to give for those answers, but I don't ever want to give him wrong information either. I need help. I need to be in the Word more to be able to give scripturally relevant answers that point him to the Lord. I need the wisdom to know the level of knowledge he is ready for. I need guidance to know how to channel his energy and curiosity!
Lord, you created them and us. You chose us to be their parents and them to be our children. Give us the grace to ask for wisdom each day to be able to answer them appropriately, train them correctly, and guide them toward you in every way. Help me to know that I don't need to have all the answers, but that in the moment to trust that you do and you will give me the words to say, or the direction to point them in. Above all, may I always be pointing them to you, to your Word, and to what we know to be true.
As they grow, may I grow too. Please give me the desire to grow and change and learn as they are going through the same process.
I just heard "This is my Father's world....though the wrong seems oft so strong, He is the ruler yet!" Help me to remember You, the Father, the Ruler of all and please be that in the heart of me and my children. Amidst the wrong and craziness of the world that sometimes seems so strong and overshadowing, I pray that You, Lord would shine through my children, our conversations, our relationships as they grow.
"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps." Prov 16:9
"The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction." Prov 16:21
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
There is a reason that so many movies, songs, poems and books deal with love and relationships. It is what drives us. It's what we are searching for. It's what we desire. Inside the depths of the human heart is the deep longing to be loved and accepted. We all have it, because we are made in God's image - and "God is love." 1 John 4:16.
This desire for love and acceptance drives us to do crazy things. It makes us quit our jobs and move across the country. It makes us put silly messages on the jumbotron at NFL games. It makes us make rash decisions - sometimes good, sometimes not. Love, in it's truest form, is a GOOD thing.
However, the lack of love and acceptance (or perceived lack of it) is devastating. It makes us weep, mourn, lash out in anger, withdraw into ourselves, and shut down our emotions. It makes us pass on hurts from generation to generation. It crushes our spirits and leaves us thinking we are not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, funny enough..."I am not enough." It is heart-wrenching and hope destroying. And it is a lie.
God says, "I have chosen you and not cast you away" (Isaiah 41:9), "I have loved you with an everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3) and "neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39). But Satan knows that he can incapacitate our children (just like he tries to do with us) by telling them they are not loved. This life is hard and our children are sent messages constantly telling them that they do not measure up, and are therefore not accepted or loved. If they are not living in the truth of the Word of God, they will probably believe these messages. Their tender little hearts are poised to be crushed by the Enemy.
Even though God's love is what ultimately matters and sustains, the love of a parent is the first love a child knows. We are God's vessels, pouring his love onto them. It is our love, or lack of it, that shapes their views of themselves. And no matter how old your children are, it is never too late to begin to speak truth and love into their lives. Our words, actions, eye-contact, facial expressions and time commitments all tell our children how loved and valued they are. Do we hug them? Do we speak about our love freely and without shame or embarrassment? Do we look our children in the eye when we tell them we love them? Do we spend time with them? Do we show them, in any way we can, that they are loved and accepted just the way they are?
Sometimes, in order to be able to do this, we need to get past wounds and lies we believe ourselves. Often our own hurts and lack of love make it hard to pass love on to others. We need the healing of the Lord to not speak the same lies into our children's lives that we spoken into ours. But it is imperative that we let the Holy Spirit do his work in us so that we can break the cycle of crushed hearts, and pass on love and acceptance to our children.
We pray for our children, that throughout their lives they would feel loved and accepted by you. We pray that they would know your love in their heads, hearts and depths of their souls. Whatever the state of their hearts at this moment, we pray that your love would penetrate their core. Let them live life knowing that you loved them so much you gave your life for them, and help them to always understand that "nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:39) Please protect them from Satan's lies and schemes to try to shake their faith in your salvation and their trust in your love. May they always have confidence in themselves and security in their identity because they know they are loved and accepted by the Creator of the universe - and we pray that they would abide in your love all of their days. When rejection comes, let it roll off their backs as they stand in the confidence that you love them and fully accept them. We ask, Lord, that today you would manifest your love in a very real way to them, and that you would give them the ability and desire to receive it.
We also pray, Lord, for us as parents. Give us the ability to love our children as you do. We come with pain, wounds and baggage - but we desperately ask that you will help us not pass those things on to our children. Let the generational pain stop with us, that our children may live knowing completely that they are loved by us, accepted and ultimately "enough". Help us receive your love, and pass it on to our children. Please give us words to speak into their lives that will reach their souls with the message "You are loved. You are accepted. You are a wonder of God's creation. You are enough." And as we pray this for ourselves, we also pray that family members, friends and teachers will speak these messages to our children as well.
Help us show love to our children in ways they can receive it. We know you have made each of our children unique, and we ask for your guidance in how to speak love into each of their lives so that they, in their own love language, can recognize and accept it. And we pray that, as they are love by us and you, that they would learn to love others freely as well. Give them confidence to freely speak words of affirmation and show love to others in appropriate and authentic ways. Help them know how to communicate love to those around them in a healthy way. As they are loved, make them a fountain of love into the lives of others.
In Jesus name, Amen
Scripture to Claim:
Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Proverbs 3:3
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Psalm 143:8
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1,2
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God...This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him...Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world...And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:7, 9, 11-14, 16
We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19
Monday, August 3, 2009
I've entered into a season of reprioritizing my life. Simplifying. Relating. Creating peace. I was reminded as I read through Proverbs 2, that if we accept Gods words, and seek them like we would buried treasure, cry out for wisdom and seek to understand His heart...He will generously give it. I was reminded by that phrase "seek it like treasure" of our recent beach trip. We spent hours on the beach hunting "treasures". Broken shells, bottle caps, feathers. I equipped each of the boys with buckets and shovels and off we went. Journeying down the shoreline, looking for treasure. This triggered something in me...am I equipping them to seek the most important treasure of all?
Prov. 2 promises that if we DO seek Him with all our heart, search out His wisdom and understanding like we would treasure, He has so much for us. He will give wisdom. He will give victory. He will give knowledge of what is right. He will be our sheild from the world. Man, do I want THAT for my kids. I want the victory, the wisdom, the sheild from the world. I want the clear paths and knowledge of what is right.How can I give it to them? By helping them seek the treasure. God's Word. Pray that it sticks. Pray for opportunities to point them to it. Pray that I remember TO point them to it. Teach them how to seek the Lord's Words when they need wisdom.
First, thanks for being so much bigger than me. Thanks for generously giving yourself to us when we seek you. You are always waiting, right there, waiting to give us your heart when we ask for it. Lord, please help me teach my little fellas to seek you. Let me show them, daily, how important it is to seek you out. That your Holy Word is the real treasure. There is nothing, absolutely nothing I want more for them, than to live a long, faithful life, rooted in your wisdom. I long for them to grow to be men of integrity. To know right from wrong, good from evil. To be a source of wisdom to those around them. I want them to claim victory over pain in thier lives. Victory over the one who wants to destroy them. I want them to be protected from the snares of the world...the lies thrown at them every where they turn. I want them to KNOW distinctly what you have created them for, and to see cleary the path you have for them. I know that for them to have those things, they have to know your word. Help me give it to them. Help me teach them the way to your heart, your wisdom. Give me the brains to see the teachable moments in front of me, give me the words to pass on to them. Cover our home in your wisdom and knowlege and deep love for your Word. Let it take deep roots in their little hearts, that they would know your power over darkness. Know your love over the pain of the world. Know your mercy and compassion for others. Let it start with me...let them ask me why I'm hiding in my bedroom with the big book in front of me. Let that wisdom and love fill our house...Amen
Thursday, July 30, 2009
"Well I wish that I could say that at the close of every day I was happy with the way that I'm behaving.
'Cause Job, he chased an answer. The wise men chased the Child. Jacob chased her 14 years and he captured Rachel's smile. Moses chased the Promised Land. Joseph chased a dream. David, he chased God's own heart. All I ever seem to chase is me.
Well, they say a race can only have one winner. And you know you've got to pull out front to win. God knows the only time I'm winning is when I'm chasing Him."
We are all born with a deep desire in our hearts for wholeness, fulfillment and unwavering love. It is the quest for Eden, the longing for the complete and perfect relationship we once had. And since the garden gate slammed shut, we have been chasing fulfillment from all sorts of things. As the years pass, our children have more and more choices when it comes to what they will chase. Will they chase social acceptance? Attention from the opposite sex? Financial success? Sedation from drugs, alcohol or prescription medication? Will they chase the world? Will they chase the flesh? Or will they chase the things of God?
Our kids have a very real enemy that would love for them to spend their lives chasing things that take glory away from God. He would love for their desires, strivings and energy to be fruitless. But the Lord says, "I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me." (Proverbs 8:17) We need to be in prayer that our children would spend their lives chasing, seeking and finding the King of Kings. We need to pray that their hearts would desire all that is good, right, perfect and holy. For them to spend their lives fearing the Lord (as in: to lovingly respect and be in awe of our powerful and holy God), we must pray that their hearts are drawn to his ways.
We pray for our children's hearts to be drawn to you, your ways and your desires. As they sense the void that is in them that was left when the relationship was broken in Eden, let them also sense that only you can fill it. We pray that they would not waste their lives chasing after other things to fill that void, but that they would realize early that a relationship with you is the only thing that will ever fill and heal their hearts. And if ever our children choose to buy into the lie that the things of this world are worth chasing, we pray that they would quickly realize how unfulfilling their strivings are, and that they would be drawn back to you.
Give them a longing and a love for "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable... excellent or praiseworthy" (Phillipians 4:8). We pray that their hearts would fear you and that they would join David in being men and women after your own heart. We ask that as you form and shape their hearts, that you would plant in them a love for your Word, your laws and your truth. Let wisdom and discernment be qualities etched deep within them, that when confronted with the choice to chase after other things they would be able to make the right decision. Please bring friends into their lives that also love and chase after you, that they can encourage one another and spur one another on towards love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).
Above all, Lord, we pray that our children would seek you and find you when they seek you with all their hearts. And when their time here is over, let it be said of them that they spent their lives chasing after the very heart of God.
Scripture to Claim:
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, "The LORD be exalted!" Psalm 40:16
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death. Proverbs 14:27
With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. Psalm 119:13-15
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Matthew 5:6
Monday, July 27, 2009
However, the Lord tells us clearly to let go of these things. He says, "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you." 1 Peter 5:7 NLT. It is clear that we cannot be everywhere. We cannot fix everything. We cannot prevent our kids from being exposed to the curses and sins of Adam and Eve. So God says, "Trust me. I love them. I want to be their Father." No matter what our kids are going through or what stage in life they are, releasing them into the hands of God is the first step in making a difference. Stormie Omartian, in Power of a Praying Parent, says, "We don't want to limit what God can do in our children by clutching them to ourselves and trying to parent them alone." The first step is realeasing them. Giving them up. Handing them back. And trusting God, who loves our babies more than we could ever imagine.
I want to release my children to you. You made them. You love them. You are waiting for us to trust you. You can take care of them better than I ever could, and I cannot do my job well without you. I trust you with my children. Teach me how to pray for them, how to teach them and how to care for them. Hold them in your hands and watch over their every step. Release my heart from the fear and worry that Satan tries to bind me with, and give me peace.
Thank you, Father, that you walk this journey with us. Thank you that I do not have to do this alone. Thank you that my children are your children, and you want to raise, lead, guide and teach them. And thank you that I can trust you for eveything, and I do not need to rely on the wisdom and methods of the world. Let the wisdom of your word and the whispers of your Spirit lead me. Show me what I worry about, things I try to control and places I have yet to surrender - and help me to lay them in your hands. I trust you with my children and surrener them to you.
Scripture To Cling To:
I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.
I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.
1 Samuel 1:27,28
Sunday, July 26, 2009
We have visions of their future where they will have to make choices about who to play with at recess, whether or not to laugh at the kid being picked on, where to hang out after school, what friends to have, what sports to play, whether or not to put on their seatbelt the first time they drive alone. They will have to decide how to behave in class, how to treat their friends and what to say the first time someone offers them a joint (yes, most likely, this will happen sometime in their life). And they will have to decide what to do with a man named Jesus.
Then our minds move on to what they don't have control of. What had the driver in front of them on the freeway been drinking? Will someone make them the kid on the playground being picked on? Will someone try to take advantage of them, lie to them, manipulate them or abuse them?
I don't say these things to try to scare anyone. Or even to try to persuade anyone. I am simply saying that, in light of all that is possible in the world, we are pretty small. We are pretty weak. We are pretty powerless. And yet, we have a very powerful God. A God that not only says we can trust him with our children, but with our worries, our fears and our very lives. He says, "Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you." (Jeremiah 29:12) and "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) and "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6,7). As we lay down our worries, fears and anxieties about our childrens' lives, He not only answers those prayers but he lifts the worry from us as well.
We have been given these children by their Creator, and the best thing we can do for them is give them right back. Not relinquishing our responsibility, but joining with the One who made them and letting Him lead us on this journey He set before us.
Lord, Let us be parents who trust you for our childrens' lives. We give ourselves wholly over to you, knowing that we will fail in this endeavor without you. We are lost and hopeless people, but you are our light, our hope and our guide. Help us be parents who pray. Help us stand in the gap for our children. Prompt us to pray when we need to for the specific things that need to be brought before you. We pray, Lord, that our knees would be calloused and our children protected. When we worry, fear or feel anxious, remind us to bring those things to you immediatly and relieve us. We give ourselves to you, and ask that you would guide us in your wisdom as we raise your children. And when we fail, let our failures bring us right back to our knees before you. Help us not to follow the path of anger, bitterness, sarcasm, resentment, fear, or detachment. But lead us in your love, mercy, patience, peace, kindness, humility and grace. We need you, Father, to teach us how to be parents like you.