Posts Tagged With: prayer

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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Categories: parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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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The “What If” Game IS A Dangerous Game To Play

 

Saturday was a busy day. It was raining when we headed out to watch my oldest son compete in the conference Scholar Bowl tournament at a nearby school. In early afternoon, as his team finished and we left the school, it had begun to lightly snow. But we were on our way to another school so he could participate in a basketball tournament. As soon as this tournament was over, my husband left to take him to a third school where the high school varsity teams were playing (he keeps stats for the girls and boys team) while my younger son and I headed home.

By this time, it had been snowing for several hours. Snow was beginning to pile up. Road crews were out working but they just couldn’t keep up – it was coming too hard and too fast.

My son and I walked in our home and I fell on the couch, exhausted from the day but mainly from the drive home. It was stressful. My road had not been touched yet and I was slipping and sliding everywhere and my youngest son was in the backseat. What if I had slid off the road? He could have been hurt or even killed.

I’m so glad that my husband is such a good driver and is so careful that I don’t have to worry about him.

Then my phone rang.

It was my husband and he had slid off the road.

Another family that we knew stopped, picked our son up and took him onto the ball game.

But my husband was still stuck on the side of the road and needed help. I called a friend who lived nearby. He willingly and happily went to help my husband. Our friend was able to pull him out but within half a mile my husband slid off two more times. Finally, the friend just brought him home.

This evening we went to get our truck. It’s a small Ford Ranger without 4 wheel drive. Not much good in the snow. It took us nearly twenty minutes to get it out of the driveway he had left it in.

While driving back home, I couldn’t help but to notice the sides of the road. It was lined with steep drop-offs. Yet my husband and son slid onto level ground.

But what if they had slid off here instead?

What if the truck would have rolled?

What if it had crushed the cab with my husband and son inside?

What if… What if… What if…

Tonight as my son and husband went to sleep, I kept praying and thanking God for the protection that He had given to them. I thank Him for always taking care of my family when I cannot. And I just wanted to watch them sleep and hold them close, having been reminded of what a treasure they truly are.

But when it is my turn to go to sleep, my mind turned to the “What if…” game.

For me, personally, it is worse at night when I’m trying to go to sleep. That is when my mind really starts working and going crazy. I suppose during the day I can keep busy enough to not think about it. But at night, well, the night makes up for the day. That means more worry and less sleep. That results in a more tired and stressed mom/wife. Believe me, nobody in my house wants that!

You can probably relate. Maybe you haven’t been in this same exact situation, but you have probably been in some sort of a frightening situation. And you have been left wondering “What if…”

While I am certainly not proficient at this and still need lots of practice, I would like to make a suggestion on how to deal with the “What if…” game. Even though the weather was bad and my husband and son slid off the road, God still looked after my family. As much as I love them, God loves them more. Even as precious as they are to me, they are more precious to God. So instead of playing the “What if…” game, I am going to say to my mind, “No, I’m not going to allow you to go there. Instead I am going to thank the Lord that He did not allow that to happen. I am going to thank the Lord for His sovereignty, love, and grace. I am going to sing praises to the Lord.”

Playing the “What if…” game is a dangerous game to play. It totally discounts the Lord’s sovereign will. In the Lord’s sovereign will, He allowed our truck to slide off in a relatively safe place. He did not allow our truck to roll or the cab to be crushed. So why do we allow to let our minds dwell there? That is not honoring, glorifying, or praising the Lord – the very thing that we, as His children, are called to do.

Colossians 3:2 tells us “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Basically, that verse is telling us to think of things that are eternal and praise the Lord for them. It is telling us to trust God. It is telling us to think of Him in ALL things. Don’t worry so much about the “What if’s…” because those are not things that are eternal. He has already taken care of them.

We all have deep, dark places that our minds want to visit from time to time. If we allow them to dwell there, they can very easily lead us into a depression.

These are real fears. I’m not taking away from that. Yet, we cannot allow our minds to reside there. In fact, the Scriptures tell us not to. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “…Take every thought captive to obey Christ.” That verse is speaking of the importance of training our minds for Christ. And it sounds simple to do. But it is very difficult and challenging.

Consider this; we are all training our minds for something. So what will it be? Self-pity or admiration of the Lord? Praise and worship or fear and terror? Unbelief or praise? Fear and fright or trust of His faithfulness?

 

“But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” (Psalm 73:28)

 

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Because It’s A Special Time

 

“Mommy, are you ready to snuggle?”

Those are some of the sweetest words I will ever hear spoken. Since the time that each of my boys were very little, I’ve worked to establish the habit of taking time to snuggle with them, individually, as the go to bed for the night.

And it’s my favorite time of the day!

It’s the time when the secrets of the day are shared. It is the time when I get to hear about what is REALLY going on in their lives. This is a place where my boys feel safe enough to openly tell of their insecurities and concerns. There is a closeness and intimacy there that cannot be duplicated.

And I love this time.

But it’s better than that because they do too! That’s why they ask for it night after night.

And while I’m snuggling with my older son, my husband is reading books with our younger son. This is a special time just between the two of them. They cuddle together in their special spot, reading a pile of favorite books while they wait for me to come back up the stairs.

Because when I do, their time will be over and ours will be beginning.

Our son will give his daddy a good-night hug, and then I will lift him up and carry him into his room. We will spend some special moments together there, talking, laughing, crying, or whatever he needs. After a while, I will get up, kiss his forehead, and give him a final hug for the night.

I won’t come back until he’s asleep.

We have this routine for several reasons. First, I just like it and they do to. It is a special time just between us. It is not selfish to want to spend time with your children. They are a gift entrusted to us by our Heavenly Father. They are meant to be treasured and enjoyed.

Secondly, I want to spend time with them, individually. They, too, desire time alone with each of us. And as my older son grows and becomes involved in more activities, it is a reality that our time together is less and less.

And that brings me to my next reason, they will not always want me to snuggle with them. They are only little once. They are only little for a little while. And my oldest son is thirteen. I am dangerously close to being cut off from snuggle time. A time when he feels that he is too big to snuggle with his mommy every night. A time when he no longer desires it anymore. And also a time when we can’t do it simply because he is no longer living at home.

But the main reason I do this is because I want to hear about their day. I have an interest in their lives. I love them and care very, very deeply about them. I want to know what is going on with them. And not only because I care, but because I need to know how to pray for them.

So after they are asleep, I tip toe into their rooms. I am careful to not make a sound and wake them as I watch them sleep. They look so peaceful, so serene. I could watch them for hours. But that’s not why I go into their rooms. I go into their rooms, watch them sleep for a few moments before I place a hand on them, close my eyes, and begin to pray for each of them.

This is where I say my most intimate prayers. This is where I plead with the Lord for the salvation of my children. This is where I lift them and all their concerns up in prayer. This is where I praise Him for allowing me the awesome privilege of raising these two special boys. This is where I plead for wisdom that can only come from Him. This is where my lack of strength and His sovereignty is shown to me over and over again. This is where I place them in His hands.

I am not telling you this just to let you know of a routine in my house. For you to say, “Oh, that’s nice,” and go on with your day. I’m telling you this because I believe there is great value in interceding for our children. We ought to plead with the Lord for them. You love your child more than anyone else on earth. So if you don’t do it than who will?

As parents, it is our responsibility to shepherd our children. While it is true that we cannot do the work of the Holy Spirit, that is open their heart to Christ, we must teach them, illustrate for them, and show them Who He is. We must also plead with the Lord on their behalf. None of our children were born with a guaranteed entrance into heaven. This is when I trust in His goodness and trust in His mercy. This is when I ask for His peace that passes all understanding. This is when I am reminded of my dependence upon Him. This is where I place my most precious gifts in His hands and remember that ONLY HE can save them.

Thank you, Dear Lord, that their salvation is not up to me or dependent upon my obedience. Because I would mess it up. Thank you for being the sovereign Lord that You are. Thank you for You love shown to us on the cross. Let me trust in You.

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I Will Look Up

 

I will look up when he tottles into my room in the morning. Oh I’m not ready to begin my day yet. But he climbs in anyhow. He snuggles up close to me as I draw the blankets up over his shoulders. And it doesn’t matter if he’s happy, grumpy, sad, or whatever… My day begins now. But my flesh cries out for more; More sleep, more me-time, more quietness. So I will trust Him with each moment and I will look up.

I will look up in frustration when the new board I had cut to replace a split board on our bench is too short. I had even painted it to match and now I want to hit my head against the wall. How could this happen? I even measured it to make sure it would fit. I will feel my blood pressure rising as I fight to breathe, pray, trust. I will fight the feeling of failure and defeat as I reflect back on a day where nothing went as planned. With a deep breath and a whispered prayer, I will look up.

I will look up when he says those words to me. They are hurtful, wounding, and harsh. I wonder why he would even say such a thing. Does he really believe that or did he just say that because he knew it would hurt me? I take a deep breath and fight back tears that I can feel stinging my eyes. Slowly, like cold air seeping in, I feel insecurities and fears creep around me. But as I turn away I will remind myself of all the gospel truth I read that very morning, and even though I’m feeling shaken, I will look up.

I will look up at the amount as she rings up my groceries. That much? How can that be? I was so careful to choose only things that we really needed and things that were on sale. I can feel that tightening in my chest and trust is the only thing that loosens everything and makes me free. I will turn my attention to the truth tucked into my heart, and I will look up.

I will look up at the calendar and wonder where on earth these days went. The weeks go by faster and faster and is it really a new year again? Is it really 2015? And suddenly my parents are aging quickly and my kids aren’t so little anymore. Did I spend enough time rocking, cuddling, caring for them?  Did I really show them that I treasured them enough? What sorrows will the coming years bring? But instead of dwelling back there or up ahead, I will step into this moment, anchored to eternity, and I will look up.

I will look up at the woman in the mirror. Why does she look so tired? So old? Where did those bags under her eyes come from? When did she get those wrinkles around her eyes? I will look at her shoulders, drooping from the weight of responsibility, of letting many lean hard into her daily life. I will be tempted to despair, tired and overwhelmed. But I will receive His new mercies, call to mind His faithfulness, and I will look up.

As I look back on my childhood, I can see myself standing next to my mother at church, listening to and watching the adults around me sing this simple chorus:

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!

Morning by morning new mercies I see.

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided.

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

It is really that simple. The first and most important order of business, for life, is to look up. Consistently. Persistently. Continually.

I have read through the Bible, cover to cover, several times. For many years I have made the one small, simple, humble habit of looking up every morning. It is nothing big, spectacular or thrilling. It is just a long string a little obediences. It is a simple decision to rise and seek Him first. To spend time alone with Him and in His Word before the day begins. Before little ones. Before the phone begins to ring. Before the onslaught of life comes, unrelenting, my way. Before my conflicting desires pull me different directions. Above all and before all, I humbly commit to look up.

This one small habit has changed my life more powerfully than anything else.

When I seek Him first each morning He hands me the lens through which I see the rest of my day. He orders my steps. He calms my fears. He quiets the multitude of discorded voices in my head. He blankets me with His peace. He directs through His Word. He convicts me, lovingly, through His Spirit. He reveals His love to me each day.

I will make my aim clear: I plead with you, this year, to make a daily looking up habit each day. Read through God’s Word. Pray. Without this one resolution, all others will be out of balance. Without True North, all other goals and aspirations will be off course.

Because sin isn’t just doing bad things. Sin is also making good things into ultimate things.

Without looking up to Him first, we will look up to other things and make them ultimate things. We will look up to fear. We will look up to money. We will look up to other people’s opinions. We will look up to fitness and our body image. We will look up to our to-do list. We will look up to our children’s performance. We will look up to the tragedies and sorrows which threaten to crush us daily. We will look up to temporal happiness and fleeting flirtations with success as a source of our daily hope and joy.

 

My voice shall you hear in the morning, O LORD; 

in the morning will I direct my prayer to you, and will look up. 

Psalm 5:3

Categories: encouragement | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What about the difficult child?

 

To those who have been with me from the beginning, this may seem familiar. That’s because this was my very first blog published. But it is one of my favorites. Not that I feel that I’ve been blogging so long that it’s time to start reblogging, but it is a good reminder. One that I need nearly everyday. A reminder of the way my Heavenly Father sees me and my grotesque sin. Yet, he chooses to have mercy, grace, and show me his amazing love. This is not really meant to be a blog about parenting but one to remind us of His undeniable grace. With all that said, I hope this is of encouragement to you.

 

an ancient wheat threshing floor

I spoke with a mother today who has a child that she and her husband adopted, as well as a biological child. And the poor mother, I feel for her, confessed that she knows she favors her own biological child over the adopted child. She does not want to and fights the urges moment by moment to show favoritism.

As she spoke more, I got the sense that it was not so much the fact that the child was adopted as it was that he was just a more difficult child. So I asked, “What is it about him that makes it harder for you to love him?”

She thought for a moment, and then said, “He is rude. He is selfish and does not care about anyone else’s feelings. He is dishonest and disrespectful. He is not even sweet, cute, or the slightest bit charming.”

Ouch! I think she just described me. And you. And every other human.

Put like that, who could love this difficult child?

Well, to answer this question I am sent to the Scriptures.

I find myself in Judges 6:11 with the calling of Gideon. Gideon is threshing wheat in a wine press. Did you catch that? He is in a wine press! People did not thresh wheat in a wine press. They threshed wheat on a wheat threshing floor.

This is what it looked like: A wheat threshing floor was usually out in the open and on top of a hill. This was important so that the wind would assist in the separation process. The floor was generally made of flat rocks. Oxen would usually be driven around in a circle over the sheaves to trample out the kernel of wheat.

On the other hand, a wine press was a large hole dug into the ground usually square-ish in shape. The sides and bottoms would be lined in stone so that juice would not soak into the ground. The base would slightly slant to one side where a small basin would be dug into the floor to collect the juices. Grapes would be trampled by human feet.

So here’s the deal, Gideon’s people are being oppressed by the Midianites. Wheat needs to be threshed. But Gideon doesn’t want to do it in the open, on top of a hill, for all the Midianites to see.

So where does he go? Into a wine press. Is it ideal? No, but it is a good place to hide and get some work done.

I cannot find anything attractive about Gideon at this point. He is in there because he is hiding!  And he is doing the work that oxen usually do. That is not glamorous. Wine presses were not all that deep. So for him to be hidden he had to be small. He is just a small, somewhat cowardly man, doing the work of oxen.

Nope, not attractive to me.

Still, God looks at him there, hiding in that wine press and says, “I want you.” He saw Gideon in all of his weaknesses and still called him.

Hasn’t He done that with all of us who He has called to Himself? There is nothing attractive about us either. We are rude and selfish. We have been dishonest and very disrespectful to God. There is nothing sweet, cute, or charming about us.

Yet, He has called us, just as He did Gideon, to be joint heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17). That means He has adopted us to be His own (Rom 8:15,23, Gal 4:5, Eph 1:5).

I cannot comprehend His love. It is too perfect. How could He love someone so unlovable? But He did with Gideon and He still does with us today. I can understand how He could love Jesus, His only son, who was absolutely perfect. But us? And He even chose to adopt us? Wow!

So to the mother I spoke of above, and other mothers like her, I wish I had a perfect solution for you but I don’t. Instead, I would ask you to remember every time your child does something dishonest, disrespectful, and ungracious that you too are him.

Remember the love that He poured out for you on the cross. Don’t forget that cost. You are doing hard things. You might not have the strength inside of you to show love to that child. That is when you pray. Pray very hard for the Lord to give you love in abundance for that child. For Him to give you the same love that He has shown to you.

an ancient wine press

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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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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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