Posts Tagged With: Christian

Because Parenting Is Hard

Being a parent is hard.

It is fun. It is thrilling. It is rewarding. But it is hard, heartbreakingly hard.

Both my boys started back to school just a few weeks ago. My oldest son began 8th grade and my youngest son began Kindergarten.

And my Mommy heart was breaking. My hands wanted to wrap around both of them for dear life and not let go.

And so I prayed. I prayed and I prayed and I prayed and I prayed.

It was still hard.

My youngest son came home his first day and absolutely loved it. He could hardly wait to go back the next day!

But as the days pass, his excitement has dwindled. At times he feels lonely. He knew nobody going in and most of the other kids already had friends.

Every day when he comes home I ask him who he played with at recess. So far he has responded that nobody wanted to play with him.

I fight back tears.

I want to run to school and ask – no, beg – those kids to please not be so mean. Pease don’t be exclusive.

He is such a nice boy. Why on earth don’t they want to play with him?

Parenting is just plain hard.

At the same time, my older son announced to me that he has decided to run for student council president.

“Do you need help making your poster?” I ask.

No, he’s already done that.

As the time nears for the candidates to give speeches and the students to vote, he warns me that he doesn’t have much of a chance:

“So-and-so is running and he is much more popular than I am.”

“So-and-so is running and she is the only girl. All the girls will vote for her.”

Again, my heart breaks because I know how much he wants it and I can’t get it for him. There is absolutely nothing I can do.

He would be excellent at it, I know.

I ask if he needs help with his speech. I ask if he needs help with his campaign. But he informs me that he’s got it.

I cringe.

Not because I don’t believe him. I believe that he thinks he’s got it, but I’ve also seen him comb his hair in the morning. And he tells me that he’s got it when it’s sticking straight up right on top.

“It doesn’t matter anyhow. Nobody’s going to vote for me” he says.

And I want to cry.

I look at him and all I can see is my sweet toddler with blonde hair and chubby cheeks holding on to his blankie. I don’t care if he’s nearly a foot taller than I am. He’s still my baby and I hurt because he’s hurting.

He, too, feels alone.

I want to hold him on my lap and love on him.

I want to pick out a band-aid to cover the hole in his heart.

And so I pray. I pray and I pray and I pray and I pray.

If only parenting weren’t so stinkin’ hard!

But here’s the problem, folks…  God is still in control. As much as I love my kids, He loves them more.

It’s true that I want to hold them, care for them, and never let anything bad happen to them. What parent doesn’t?

But my children are people too.

God is just as much in control of their life as he is in mine. To think that I am in control of any of this is just plain pride on my part.

Sometimes I need reminders to peel my death-clinching-grip off of them and to place them safely in God’s hands.

All I can do is to point them to Christ.

And what if I was always able to fix things for them? Well, they would never know their need for Him. They would never have a desire or hunger for His Word. For His saving grace. They would never get to experience the peace that surpasses all understanding or the great depth of His love. They would never know Him.

And if I, as their parents, never showed them their need for Christ, if I never pointed them to Him, reminded them of His sovereignty, then I would have failed as a parent.

And so I pray. I pray and I pray and I pray and I pray.

And I work on trusting Him with my children and rest in knowing they are securely in His hands. He is there all the time. I am not. I cannot.

And I find peace and comfort in that.

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior” – 2 Samuel 22:2-3

And, in case you’re wondering, my son did get voted in as president. But I was reminded to trust Him again when a teacher sent me a text saying, “Your son just gave an awesome speech!”

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Lessons From A Prayer failure

 

Today I sat down to pray. My prayer started off something like this, “Dear Lord, I thank you for the opportunity to come into you presence again today… Did I get that load of laundry started yet today? (No, no! Back to business!) As I was saying, I am in awe that You called me to Yourself and that I get to call you Father…  I really need to get this floor vacuumed. (No, no!)

Does this ever happen to you or am I the only Christian who has a problem with my mind drifting during prayer? Why is it so hard to focus when we pray?

While I have not found any great way to quit daydreaming, there are a few ways I’ve found to focus my mind better during prayer. In fact the reason I’m writing this today is because I need to be reminded of them myself.

The first and most simple way is to vocalize your prayers. I’m not saying that you have to shout them from your roof top or even say them loud enough another person could hear you, but simply moving your lips can help keep your mind focused. Even the amount of energy you will spend putting your thoughts into words and sentences will often be enough to discipline your mind and keep it from drifting.

One of my favorite things to do is to pray over the Scriptures. That means that you are connecting your prayers to your Bible reading. There are a lot of great strategies out there like the One Year Bibles. Just find whatever works for you but always read it slowly and carefully. The truths you will encounter could very well be the basis of reflective praying. You can also do this with some of the better hymns. I have prayed over “It Is Well” thousands of times. (Please know that hymns are NOT a replacement for the Scriptures but can be helpful in prayer life).

Another variation of this is to look through the Scriptures to find verses that support your prayers then pray those Scriptures back to the Lord. When I was petitioning the Lord for my youngest son, I remember praying a prayer that went something like this, “Lord, we desperately want another child. Your Word tells us that Sara, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth, and several other women were barren. Yet, you opened their womb and gave them children.” Then I would read the Scriptures that told the story of each of these women and end with asking Him to add me to the list with these ladies.

Something else that may be helpful, and my husband uses regularly, is to develop a prayer list. It can be quite difficult and daunting to pray faithfully for a large number of people and concerns without some sort of prayer list. Our church puts out a prayer list weekly as many churches do. This can be a great beginning place but certainly you will want to add to it other people and concerns of our own acquaintance. This is sure to be updated weekly as your church’s prayer list is updated.

Another excellent discipline in praying is to enlist a prayer-partner. That is someone that you meet with regularly, say once a week, go over prayer concerns together and then pray together. This will most likely prove to be a very intimate time with you and the other person. And intimacy in one area can very easily lead to intimacy in another area. So always make sure that if your prayer-partner is not your spouse, that it is someone of the same sex.

I have been fortunate in the way that I have been able to be pray-partners with a couple different ladies in my life. The first was when I was a freshman in college. Another young lady, who was a senior, invited me to pray with her. This quickly became a weekly meeting and continued on through the rest of the semester. I learned much more from her discipleship than words can express. We still remain very close friends today.

Prayer can be hard and frustrating. Still, a wandering mind is no excuse to not do it. How are we to have a relationship with the Lord if we never communicate with Him? I do hope that I am the only Christian that has a problem with a drifting mind, but I really don’t believe that I am. I have practiced each of these methods at different times and they each been of great help. I do pray that they will be of some help to you too.

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Because Loyalty Is Important

 

Lately, my family has been talking a lot about loyalty. It begins with loyalty to Christ, loyalty to our family, loyalty to one another, and loyalty to the body of Christ.

We, as the parents, must model loyalty to our children. We must set an example for them.

We start with showing loyalty to them. Every weird comment someone makes is a chance for me to show loyalty to my children. In public, many people make comments without even thinking about what they are saying or the little ears that hear the comment too. I work to respond to the comment by showing my loyalty to my children. A comment I hear a lot is, “Two boys. How exhausting!” I try to say something like, “Oh, they are so fun. I am very blessed to get to have not only one, but TWO boys!” The point is that my children hear over and over again that I am happy that they belong to me.

There is another much more sneaky way that I can show disloyalty to my children. Every gripe, moan, and grumble of discontentment about my life they may hear as disloyalty to them. When I complain about my post-pregnancy body, the lack of time alone, driving a minivan, making fun of my own social life, and in general talking bad about motherhood, they hear that I am complaining about them. They know that they are specific reasons for these problems. Don’t let your attitude be an attitude that insults them. Children belong with their parents. Let the message they get from you be one of overwhelming love, joy, excitement, and contentment.

Loyalty extends to our everyday life in how we deal with one another. We do not allow our boys to make fun of one another, tell embarrassing stories about one another, or choose friends over siblings. If my older son has a friend over, they must include the younger brother. This is an expectation in which the parents must live out first – we do not tell embarrassing stories about one another, making fun in unloving ways, remind one another of their shortcomings, or sharing stories about each other’s weaknesses. Loving one another as yourself should encompass your family, begin with them, and be demonstrated by them. This is also a wonderful way to instill loyalty in each family member.

There are a number of meaningless and silly ways that divisions are created in the family. For an example, we used to have a list of chores that each family member was responsible to complete. But we noticed that one person would see something needed to be done and not do it simply because it was not their chore. We did not feel that this created loyalty in our family, but division. It is now our rule that if you see something that needs to be done, do it. It does not matter if you made the mess or not. Everyone cleans up after everyone. There is no great injustice done if a child who did not shoot the darts out of the Nerf gun is the one cleaning them up. Because the child who did play with the Nerf gun will be cleaning your dirty dishes tonight or folding your clean clothes tomorrow morning.

Does this seem strange? Why should someone clean up a mess that they did not make? We desire our children to have a much larger view of themselves, one that includes the people around them. As they grow into adults, we want them to serve the church and community without calculating what they have done for whom. We want them to serve freely, openly, joyfully, and lovingly. We want them to serve without even thinking about it. And we might as well start here at home.

But the heart of what I want to say does not have to do with any parenting style or choices at all. It has to do with Christ. When I put Him first and keep my eyes focused on the cross, failure is completely avoidable. We will not fail our children, our spouse, church body, or community if we are obedient to Christ. Loyalty to anything or anyone begins with loyalty to Him. If I am loyal to Christ, I will forgive easily; remember how He has forgiven me even though I don’t deserve it. If I am loyal to Christ, I cannot be without joy. If I am loyal to Christ, I will gladly serve my church, community, and family. If I am loyalty to Christ, I will look for opportunities to encourage my brothers and sisters, especially when I notice they are struggling.

The truth is that my children do not really belong to my husband and me, they belong to Christ. He is just allowing us to raise them for Him. It is our job as parents to help them grow consistently and to never let them forget Who they really belong to. We want them to be loyal to Christ throughout their whole life. And only by God’s grace will we show them how this is done.

 

 

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Enjoy Today

 

I have noticed in the past several months that my son’s voice is changing. I guess it is to be expected. He is thirteen years old after all. But it’s still a change.

And he’s not the only one. Anytime I’m around any of his friends I can hear it in them too. We have a neighbor boy who is on the same football and basketball team as my son. His mother and I are taking turns giving rides. When it’s my turn, I purposefully ask this boy a lot of questions. Just so I can listen to his changing voice.

Things are physically changing in these boys. They are growing up.

And I like it here.

Sure, there are times I long for the days when my son would curl up on my lap while I read a truck load of books to him. Or we would see what we could create out of play dough. Or play in the sandbox together. Or snuggle until we both fell to sleep. There are times I miss the sweet, precious, tender times with my toddler and preschooler.

But on the other hand, I look forward to his high school years. I look forward to watching him play football and basketball. I look forward to the contest and projects. It’s exciting to think of all the opportunities that will be available to him. Oh, those will be great days too!

But great days are happening right now.

Today.

It’s true that my son’s childish voice that he had a year ago is gone. The voice he has now is not that of a teenager and definitely not that of a man, but it’s somewhere in the middle.

And it’s nice here.

I like picking him up from practice and him telling me about funny things that happened during school and practice. I enjoy packing a lunch for him every day, sneaking in a surprise once in a while, and hearing his excitement about it.

Because time goes so fast.

I’ll blink my eyes and he’ll be in high school. I will no longer be picking him up from his practices or school because he’ll be driving. I’ll no longer be packing him lunches because that’s just not cool in high school.

And then I’ll blink my eyes again and he’ll be in college. He will have developed the voice of a man. He’ll pack up his room and move away from home for the first time. He’ll make new friends. Opportunities will be opened to him that he didn’t even know existed. He may even meet his spouse.

Thinking about these times, either forwards or backwards, can exciting or despairing.

Remembering the times I shared with my son as a preschooler can be despairing when I think of a time that is gone that can no longer be revisited. Or it can be exciting to think of all the fun times we had together.

Looking forward, into high school and college, I can be despaired that he will no longer need me as much. To think that he is growing up and in a few short years, will no longer be living at home could easily cause me to despair. But it is also exciting for all the reason I listed above and more.

But time goes on ticking. Second by second, minute by minute, day by day.

Time doesn’t stop.

It is very easy to grieve for the loss of yesterday or so anxiously anticipate tomorrow that we often forget to enjoy today.

Psalms 118:24 tells us, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Today is a gift too.

I like to listen to my son and his friends talk so I can hear their changing voices. In a few months none of their voices will sound like it does right now. Today. It will be gone and never able to be recovered again.

So I’m going to soak it up. Enjoy it. Listen to it all I can. Because even though this is a short phase, it is a time created by God and given to me. And I will rejoice and be glad in it!

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Why Church Leaders Need Prayers And Encouragement

 

Sometimes I listen to my pastor on Sunday morning and can’t help to marvel at the knowledge that God has given him. I notice Elders counseling with various members of our congregation multiple times a week.

They have it all together, don’t they! Of course our leaders don’t fall into the same temptation that the rest of us do, right? They know the Bible forwards and backwards. They are the ones that we go to for counsel. They have a good knowledge of the Scriptures and put it to work. The time they spend studying God’s word is evident. The wisdom that they each contain and their desire to follow it is undeniable. They are men of God. They would never ever fall to sin, right?

Wrong! Very, very wrong!

First, let’s be clear about who the leaders of the church are. We often think of the pastor as the leader and that’s true. He is a leader but he, alone, is not “the leader”. When we speak of the leadership in our churches, that also includes the Elders.

Please remember that our pastor and Elders are human too. This is too easily forgotten. Sometimes we hold them in such high esteem that we forget that they too have a family with needs. They too have a wife that would like a little bit of attention once in a while. They too are tempted to sit in front of the tv instead of sit in front of their Bible. They are not above any sin.

We too often forget that there is a spiritual warfare going on all around us. Think about it, who would Satan love to see fall? Who does Satan target? Who can do the most damage to Christ’s name?

Someone in leadership.

And when Satan attacks these men, do you know where he most often strikes? In their families. Because if he can destroy the leader’s family, he can destroy his ministry and discredit any teaching that he has done. Ouch!

All too often we forget to pray for these faithful men. We may feel that they are so much above us that we mistakenly think that they don’t need our prayers. But nothing could be further from the truth. They need prayers as much as anybody does. Perhaps more.

Because right now, as you are reading this, Satan is attacking. He is scheming. He is planting seeds of discontentment in your pastors’ family. He is doing all he can to create discord and chaos.

If you have the thought that your leadership doesn’t fall into temptation, remember King David. He was chosen by God to be king. He was the first Godly king and was blessed greatly by the Lord. He is remembered as one of Israel’s greatest kings and is described as a “Man after God’s own heart,” (1 Samuel 13:14). But he fell into the temptation of his lust for Bathsheba. And Christ came from his family! Nobody is above sin. Nobody!

So what can we do to help them?

1. Pray, pray, pray!!! I cannot stress this enough. Pray that the Lord will give them strength, wisdom, and diligence with their time. Pray that God will give them rest. Pray that they will have unity with their wives and children. Pray for their whole family.

2. Encourage them. Sounds simple, right? Yep, it is. Yet it is something that few of us often do. It does not take long to write out a simple note letting them know of the appreciation you have for the time they have devoted to their ministry and invested in you.

3. Encourage their wives. Usually wives are behind the scene. But your leadership could not do their job as well as they do if their wives were not supporting them. Realize that they make sacrifices too for the sake of the Kingdom. And this sacrifice is often a loss of time with their husband. They choose to share their husband with you. And on occasion, I’m sure they would like to know you appreciate this.

4. Be respectful. Remember that your leaders are husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons. While they would really like to attend every function that the church hosts, every birthday party that they are invited to and visit with each church member every Sunday morning, they just can’t do it all. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. They MUST make time for their family too.

Please don’t misunderstand me, we ought to take advantage of their wisdom and counsel. To seek Godly influence and instruction is a good thing. No pastor, Elder, any of their wives or children would ever want you to feel like you could not speak with them.

It is a good thing to develop relationships with our leadership. They need friends too. Nobody wants to feel left out. This also gives us a window into their everyday lives so that we have a better knowledge of how to pray for them.

What I am saying is that they do have a lot of responsibilities. If you invite them over for supper and they decline, please don’t be offended or get upset. Just realize that it may be an opportunity for him to reconnect to his family. He is working hard to guard time with his family and not allow Satan a foothold there. Grant grace and be respectful.

While this post is meant to be about the necessity of praying, encouraging, supporting, loving, and being respectful to our leaderships and their families, the truth is that we all need these things. We all need to be prayed for. We all need encouragement. We all need to respect one another’s time. Truly, we each need to realize that Satan uses busyness to whittle away our family time. We must diligently guard against that and our church leadership is no different.

Even the notion that church leaders have it all together is an attack on their family. Because it is 100% complete deception. Just because God has placed them in a place of leadership does not mean that they are immune to sin. It means they are attacked more.

The reality is that church leaders are just like you and me, someone who is striving to model Christ. This month is Pastor Appreciation Month. So it seems fitting that this would be the perfect time to begin storming the gates of heaven for them, letting them know how much we appreciate their investment in us, and the sacrifice their families make for us. Let’s do all we can to encourage them and their family. Let’s show them that we support them, love them, and value them and their time.

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Worship Where You Are

 

Have you ever noticed that we, in general, are list makers? We get very caught up in them. And for good reason. We get busy with family, our jobs, making supper, church, getting the laundry done, that if we don’t write it down we will probably forget it.

Usually, at the beginning of my day, I will come up with two things that I really want to accomplish by the end of the day. And more often than not, they are still not done when I am putting my kids to bed for the night.

Life is just so busy!

Taking my son to playgroup in the morning. Catching a quick bite at some fast food restaurant.  Get some groceries. Buy some new socks for my husband and shoes for my son. Pick up a wedding gift. Drive home safely and unload groceries. Fix a quick supper before taking my older son to basketball practice. Then soccer practice. And on to his baseball game. Arrive home in time to drop in bed, exhausted.

And in the midst of all the chaos and busyness is God.

Sometimes we have this illusion that we must have a “quiet time” with God. And certainly that is needed. But that is not the only time that we have fellowship with Him. Our fellowship with the Lord is not codependent upon our environment.

To have quietness, peacefulness, and solitude is a good thing. Silence can be a great help to keep us from distraction when praying. God often uses quietness to speak to us through His Word. And time alone with Him is truly a gift. But so is the time when you feel that you’re the Ringmaster of a Three Ring Circus. So is the time when you find your toddler playing in the toilet. So is the time when you have locked your keys in the car after a trip to the grocery store and your children are overly tired.

God is sovereign in EVERYTHING!

Not just when we are worshipping on Sunday morning. Not just when we are singing praises or in a Bible Study. Or in our quiet time. But in every moment of every day.

Nothing, no nothing, happens without the Lord ordaining it. He is worthy of our trust and our praise in every moment of every day. No matter how difficult the moment or day may be.

It is often during these difficult moments that I am reminded how sovereign the Lord truly is. My son needs my help to complete a puzzle as I am trying to brown some hamburger for supper. Of course I want to help him, but I also don’t want our supper to burn either. And then I am humbled that God saw fit to ordain this moment. It is times like these when I am made aware of my sins. Of my own selfishness. Of my lack of love and trust in the Lord.

The truth is that we can have fellowship and worship right where we are. Even is the midst of the circus. Sure, it’s nice and lovely when it is solemn and serene, but that is not the only time when God is working for His glory.

A “quiet time” should not be just another thing on our to-do list that we don’t get done. We must hear the call to worship through our day. Use these opportunities to see evidence of God’s grace. Don’t forget that God is with you, ALWAYS. I know days can be long. I know the lists might not get done. I know it is difficult. But fix your eyes on Christ. Respond to His call with worship.

“The sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).

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Why A Mother MUST Be A Servant

 

It’s 5:45pm and my husband steps out of his office, shutting off the light and closing the door behind him. A visual sign to us that he’s done with work for the day.

Our boys immediately notice. They drop what they’re doing and run to him. I hear shouts from our boys, “Yay, yay, Daddy’s done with work. He can play now!”

He smiles, gives them each a hug, and then says “I need to talk with Mommy for a minute. But after I get done we can play a board game, baseball, football, go for a walk, or you can help me in the garden. While I talk with Mommy, you boys decide what you want to do.”

When he walks into the kitchen I can tell by the look on his face it had not been a good day at work. I ask him what is wrong. He just looks at me, then walks over and pulls me close to him, wrapping his arms around me. He hugs me tightly. But this is not a normal hug. It is long. Abnormally long. So I ask him again, “Is everything okay?”

It is. It has just been a long day. A stressful day. A day that he could not wait to shut down his computer. He was looking forward to being off work. He was looking forward to spending time with his family. He wants to be right here with us. Right now. And so I hug him back and hold on until he lets go.

I thank the Lord that my husband wants to be with us. That he excitedly anticipates being done with work so that he can spend time with his wife and children.

Why is this important?

Ever heard the saying, “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”? Me too. And while I’m not crazy about this saying, there is a lot of truth to it. The mom seems to be the barometer of the family. Whether I like it or not, I do set the mood in my home.

There is no compliment that I like to hear more than for my husband to tell me that our home is peaceful. Don’t get me wrong, there is always a great deal of noise. We do have children. And our house is very rarely tidy. But neither of those things have anything to do with peace.

What he is telling me is that he enjoys being home. It is not tense. He feels at ease. He can relax. I am not making things difficult for him.

This is important because I want my husband to want to spend time with the children and me. I want him to look forward to the work day being done. I want to see him smile when he walks out his office door. I want him to feel like he is able to relax when he’s home. I want him to know that he is loved and treasured by his wife and children.

This is not always easy.

I have bad days too. Stressful days. Days when nothing goes right. And this particular day was one of them. Grape juice got spilled on our white carpet. My son threw a fit because I would not let him light a candle. He threw another fit because I asked him to not ride his tricycle through my flower garden. Our neighbor’s dog pulled several pieces of clothing off our clothes line and chewed holes in them. My son threw another fit because I told him he could not throw rocks at our car. I forgot about brownies in the oven and burned them. And the list could go on and on but I won’t bore you with details from my life. Because that’s not the point.

Here is the point: A mother is a servant and must have a servant heart. She must be willing to put her own needs, wants, desires aside for the sake of her family.

Is it my son’s fault that some dogs chewed holes through my laundry? No, of course not. So why would I take it out on him? It may be his fault that he threw so many fits, but it’s my job to discipline lovingly. He is just a child. It is my job to train him. Not to yell at him, tell him he’s bad, or act hateful to him the rest of the day. If I did, how would that affect him? How would it affect our relationship? What kind of mood would that set for our home? Would I be modeling Christ to him?

If as soon as my husband walked out of his office I pounced on him with a list of chores I wanted him to get done, do you think he would look forward to coming out of his office? Probably not. Even though he may be done with work for the day, he may be tempted to stay in his office and read or play a computer game or do anything to keep from hearing my list of demands.

Of course there are times I want to ask him to please get the new seal put on the garage door, to cut the dead limbs out of the trees, or to take the garbage out. But would that be showing him how thankful I am that he is done for the day too? Would that be showing him that I value his time with our family? Or would that make him feel unappreciated and taken for granted?

So every day when he gets off work I try to meet him with a smile. And I listen to him and assess his needs. On this particular day, he needed me to hold him (one of my favorite jobs). Some days he needs me to get supper going right away. Some days he needs me to play catcher while he pitches the ball to our son. And some days he just needs me to smile and say “Hello”.

But every day he needs a joyful wife. One that will set a peaceful tone to our home. A wife that will make him and our boys feel loved, valued, and cherished. He needs a servant wife. And he needs one every single day.

 

For better instruction on how to be a servant to your family, please refer to Proverbs 31:10-31.

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What Is The Best Gift To Give Your Child?

 

Five years ago I ate lunch at school with my then-seven year old son. All the boys sitting around us were talking about games they play on their Wii, short cuts, how to do this or how to do that. And my son and I sat and listened. Because we did not have a Wii.

It’s not that we couldn’t afford one, it’s just that I am not thrilled with the idea of video games. I have known too many kids who have become couch potatoes. Bound and determined that that was not going to happen to my son, we were not going to have any gaming system. Ever.

But as I sat listening, my heart broke for him. Socially, he was an outcast. He had no idea what all those kids were talking about because he had never played those games. He hadn’t even asked for a Wii because he knew how strongly I felt about them. And that broke my heart too.

That year for Christmas he and my husband received a Wii. And I was a hero. For a little while.  And life was great.

But a couple years later, a Wii was no longer cool. It was a PS3. And then the Xbox Kinect. And then something else. And then something else. And I just cannot keep up.

I cannot give him everything.

So what is a parent to do?

I have thought about this over and over and over again. Trends change. Desires change. What is cool today will not be cool tomorrow. What my son likes today he will no longer be interested in tomorrow. And I do not have an unlimited supply of funds.

So what is the best gift I can give him? What gift can I give him that will not become stale? Well, there is one thing I want my son to receive from his father and me, to know who Christ is. To understand the love poured out for him on the cross. To know his Creator. To understand the gift that money cannot buy.

And really, isn’t that what it’s all about anyhow? One day my son, just like the rest of us, will perish. Two minutes after he dies, do you really think he will care one bit if he had a PS3 or not?

Suppose my husband and I were millionaires. Our children would want for nothing. We would be able to provide for them the best education at the most elite school. They would wear only the finest clothes and enjoy the finest dining known to man. We would go on very luxurious vacations all over the world. When our children turned sixteen, they would get to pick out their own car. Any one that they wanted. But if we did not share the gospel with them we would have neglected to give them the most vital gift to possibly receive. We would have failed as parents.

The Scriptures speak of this very thing. “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Matthew 16:26, Mark 8:36)

I grew up fairly poor, especially the first ten years of my life. I know there were things that my parents wanted to give us children that they just couldn’t afford. It had to have broken their heart. But that’s okay. Now, I really don’t care that I never received a Barbie Doll Dream House. My parents gave me something much more valuable: they introduced me to Christ. They talked about Him. We read Scripture together. We sang praises together. We worshipped together. They showed us how to live a Christian life. That is a gift that I will have through eternity. And the seed was planted by my parents.

I’m thankful that my parents did not just give me physical gifts. Gifts that can be stolen. Gifts that can rot. Gifts that mice will chew through. Gifts that will pass away.

My parents were not/are not perfect. They have made mistakes. If you know them, ask them. They will be the first to tell you that they fall way short. Yet, I cannot remember a time that I did not know who Christ was. As parents, I believe they did a marvelous job.

My parents are 100% stellar!

So I’m not going to worry about giving my son every single thing that he wants. True, I want to provide the best life possible to him. But the best life possible is not measured with dollar bills. It cannot be measured at all. And it’s not up to me anyhow. It’s up to the Lord. But there are a few things I can do to help…  Spend time in prayer for them. Plead with the Lord to do a work in their heart. Demonstrate grace, love, faithfulness, patience, forgiveness, and correction when necessary. Model Christ, always!

 

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I Am So Weak

 

My son began running a fever in the night. He is crying for me. He wants me to rock with him in the rocking chair. He asks me to sing to him. He throws up. He cries because his throat is sore. He cries because his ears hurt. He cries because he feels so lousy.

I want to cry because this is sixth time this has happened this year and I know what the doctor wants to do – extract his tonsils and adenoids.

Oh the weight of that decision!

I had a cousin who died from malpractice while having his tonsils removed.

What if the doctor makes a mistake?

What if he does not wake up from the anesthetic?  I know it’s rare, but it does happen.

I REALLY don’t want to have this procedure done.

But it’s time.

 

A month later my son and I walk into the hospital. I am working with all my might to compose myself in front of him. I remind him of all the yummy ice creams, popsicles, yogurts, and puddings we bought for the afterwards.

The nurse gives him a stuffed rabbit. He names it “Sign”.

The doctor comes to examine him and make sure he is healthy enough for a surgery. He is.

The nurse gives him a “drink” that will make him sleepy. He says it taste terrible but drinks it anyhow. I tell him that he is a Big Boy for doing that. Within a few minutes, this “drink” is clearly affecting him.

Then the dreaded words come, “You cannot go any further. You may wait in the waiting room and we will come get you when you can come back.”

Immediately I feel like panicking. I don’t want them to take my baby away. “Please, please, please let me go to. I promise that I’ll stay out of your way. Just let me be with him,” I want to scream. But of course I don’t. I knew this was coming. I just watch them wheel my baby away then go to the waiting room as directed.

In the waiting room, I pretend to read a magazine but I’m really forcing all my energy into keeping myself composed. I am thankful that I am not the only parent in here. There are several.

A doctor comes out to speak with another mother and father.

Oh my goodness… Their daughter was having open heart surgery!

I’m over here nearly hyperventilating because my son is having his tonsils and adenoids out and their daughter is having a major surgery on her heart. Her heart! And they seem so calm and collected.

Talk about putting things in perspective!

 

That happened eight years ago but I remember it like it was this morning. I remember every little thing. I remember the sound of wheels from the beds being pushed in the hall. I remember that time seemed to stand still. I remember wishing I hadn’t told my husband that I could handle this and he could go to work as usual. I desired his strength terribly! I remember those poor parents and the feeling of anguish that I felt for them. I remember the look of seriousness on the doctor’s face.

I remember them.

I do not feel that I had acted silly. After all, when it is your child having surgery, there is no small surgery. But I do feel that I acted foolishly.

Because here’s the thing, God is still God. He never changes. It doesn’t matter if my son is playing happily at home, if he’s running a fever, having his tonsils out, or having open heart surgery. God is still God. He is still sovereign. He is still on his throne. Nothing is going to happen without Him ordaining it.

And I might as well face it, the reason I was so anxious is because this whole situation was out of my control. Which points to the root of the problem, sin. To think that I am in control of anything or any situation is pride. And yes, pride is sin. Sin is a rejection of the Lord.

So what can an anxious Momma do? Storm the gates of heaven for their child! Talk to the Creator. He made your child. He knows exactly what it is that needs to be done to help them. Pray that He gives knowledge to the surgeons. I have never once had the Lord tell me that He was too busy to listen to my concerns. He is always there. Always!

Don’t forget to repent. Repent? Yes, repent. Because He just revealed a sin, pride, to you. Because sin is turning away from the Lord. Because you want to be closer to Him. A sin is a problem in all of our lives. Including you. And your pastor. And your son or daughter. And your next door neighbor. And the person who is typing this right now.

I remember that day so vividly not only because my son had his tonsils out. Or because of the revelation of my sin. I don’t even remember it because of that mother and father.

I remember that day because as I heard the surgeon speak with the parents, I began to pray. Not for my son, but their daughter AND her parents. While I did not know exactly how those parents were feeling, I understood the magnitude of their situation. The doctor left them and I continued to pray. A nurse came to get them and still, I prayed.

But something hit my hand.

I opened my eyes. There was a small folded up piece of paper lying on my lap.

I opened it up. It simply said, “Thank you for praying for us. We pray that your child is well too.”

I remember that day because the Lord reminded me of Who He is. He reminded me that nothing is too big or too small for Him. Encouragement can be found anywhere. Brothers and Sisters can be found everywhere. And when we are at our weakest, He is at His strongest.

 

“For we are weak, but You are strong,” 1 Corinthians 4:10

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Why Encouragement Is Important

 

Several years ago I went into a pet store for something. The clerk behind the counter was very busy working on a crossword puzzle. Another lady walked in shortly after me. She went straight to the counter and asked if they carried a certain kind of dog food. Without looking up, the clerk pointed and said, “It’s at the end of that aisle.” A few moments later, the customer returned, asking for more help finding it. The clerk very haughtily put down her puzzle, stormed down the aisle, and said in a nasty tone, “Open your eyes and look, lady. It’s right here!”

The way this sales clerk reacted was so hateful that I nearly walked out of the store and I didn’t even have anything to do with it! But then I noticed the customer walking up to the counter with the dog food. Wanting to see how this played out, I decided to stick around and watch.

Nothing eventful happened. The clerk told her how much she owed. She paid the price, was given a receipt, and turned to walk out.

But then she stopped. She slowly turned  around to the sales clerk who was already back to her puzzle. She walked up next to the clerk. And in a concerned tone said, “I really do hope your day gets better.”

 

I tell you that story because I have often noticed when someone is especially grouchy it is because they are in need of encouragement.

When someone, like the sales clerk I spoke about, treats you poorly it is human nature to want or even try to reciprocate. We want to get them back. We want to even the score. We want to make them feel as badly as they just made us feel. We have all felt it from time to time. I felt it that day and I wasn’t even involved in the situation.

Instead, I’ll challenge you to find a place in Scripture where revenge is applauded by the Lord. Because I have looked and I cannot find it. Not once. Instead I’ve found a verse were the Lord days, “Vengeance is mine” (Deuteronomy 32:35). And in John 15:12, Jesus says, “…love one another just as I have loved you.”

And how much did Christ love us? Enough to be betrayed, humiliated, mocked, beaten, tortured, crucified, deserted and separated from His Father. That’s how much!

Compared to that, do we have anything to get upset about? Do we have anything to be offended about? No, I don’t think so.

Still, times will come when we will be treated hatefully. Times will come when we will witness others being treated unfairly. They are coming. It is a certainty with life.

Let’s coat our minds with Scripture. By doing this we will learn how He expects us to react to such situations. This also helps us to train our minds to prepare for these circumstances.  But don’t forget to pray. Ask the Lord to give you words to say. Ask for His wisdom and true, pure love that can only come from Him. Ask Him to give you encouragement as you encourage others.

Like the lady who purchased the dog food, let’s encourage when given the opportunity instead of returning hate for hate. She could have easily given the sales clerk a piece of her mind. But she didn’t. She chose to speak peacefully, kindly, and humbly.

Nearly fifteen years later, I still remember this happening. I remember the sales clerks look of astonishment. I remember her mouth gaped open, not knowing what to say. And I remember the meek tone she spoke with when I went to pay for my item.

Such a huge contrast!

Did anything significant just take place? No, not really. Just one woman was faithful to seize the opportunity to encourage another woman.

I want to be like her!

I want to be known to be an encourager–to rise to the occasion, not allowing human feelings to cloud my judgment. I want to be a speaker and doer of kindness, demonstrating Christ to the world. I want to show love.

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