Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Abundant Life

He who has the Son has life;
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

At the end...

Lord, I need forgiveness. I sometimes feel that being at the end of my rope, the end of my patience or the end of the night gives me the right to be snippy and mean. I expect too much of my kids and offer too little. Why do I so often find myself here? Why do I end the day on such a rushed, angry and frustrated note? It is clear to me every night that I need your grace. And tonight is no different.
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

The Way He Should Go...

"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Prov 22:6 This verse sometimes lends itself to a cliche in the world of Christian parents. I struggle with this verse because in the reality of the world I have seen wonderful, Christ-loving and devoted parents have children grow up to indeed turn far from that, and not follow after what they learned as they were raised. And that scares me. Really bothers me. Its not that I don't think God has our children in his hands no matter what happens to them or what they choose, I just want them to choose the "right" way to the verse says. But then I also wonder if what I am training them in IS the way they should go. I know overall loving God and others, etc, but all the little details that fall in between. And then there are the biases and views that each of us holds that we may not even realize, that are passed down just because they are ingrained or part of who we are.
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

Love is a Good Thing

The other day, as we drove in the car, I did a terrible thing. It was hot and uncomfortable, and I'd just hurt my neck. My little girl, from the back seat started putting her stuffed animal on the back of my arms, my seat, and eventually on my head. I pushed it back off my head and asked her to stop. And then I saw the look on my husband's face. I turned around (I was not driving) to see my little four year old hunched over in her seat, shoulders shaking, weeping. She was trying to give me her stuffed animal as a gift, and I had literally thrown it back in her face. I had crushed her. I had made her feel unaccepted, unloved and rejected.
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

wisdom and knowlege

I have tried to start a new habit of rising early, to beat the morning rush of my household. Get a few minutes alone to jumpstart my day by giving it to the Lord. Of course, my house also rose early and I sat with my bible, coffee, and journal, trying to focus my bleary eyes with the sound of tonka trucks racing down my hallway. (Where do they get that kind of energy when they've just rolled out of bed?)

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 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.

Dear Lord,

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