Wednesday, June 29, 2011

You Are More

How true this is...  I watched this video with tears in my eyes.  This is a picture of grace.  You being remade.  And this can be you too.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Graceful Parenting

In the past year or so, something has happened to me.  Some scales have been lifted off my eyes, and I feel as though I’ve been brought into a place of new understanding about grace.  And I know that this is what it means to be sanctified - to be continually saved, to continually learn, to continually be made new.  I will never “arrive” and the work will be unfinished until I enter into the pearly gates.  But I don’t think until God brings you to this place, you will understand until your scales have been lifted off too.  Many of us as Christians believe that we do God’s work.  And in fact, God does use us to do His work, but He does the work.  Only He can receive credit for the work He does.  Many of us are misguided about kingdom work and how to be involved in doing it.  I can say that because I was once misguided.  Not that I think we should not ever volunteer at church, but when God calls you to do something, you are going to be involved in kingdom work and you are going to know it - His hand prints, not yours, will be all over it.

When it comes to grace and raising kids, this is one thing I’ve noticed:  It is easy for other people to pass judgment on parents when kids are not acting like people think they ought.  It is easy for people to sit back, wag their fingers and say you should have spanked him/her or even worse, they casually blame Miley Cyrus or some other well known figure for all children’s misbehaviors since so and so lets their kids watch whatever that show is that Miley was on.  It is easy to have an opinion.  Perhaps, less so easy to actually raise the kids.  When we judge, we condemn. 

How can we really know all there is to know about another person’s child unless we’ve tried to do the parenting of that child ourselves? 

When it comes to watching Miley Cyrus or not, some kids may be able to watch to their hearts content and be totally oblivious to the things they see and others may not.  You have to know your child and make electronic interface (TV, computer, iPod, gaming devices) choices based on what is suitable to their personality.  Honestly, I’ve made a lot of choices about those things that I’ve had to re-evaluate as I’ve seen the effects on my kids.  With my next statement, I am not saying that we should not censor certain things from our children until an age appropriate time.  But children will oftentimes be exposed to things like Miley Cyrus before we want them to be exposed to them.  As parents, it is our job to recognize exposure and teach truth when it happens.  This is what it means when the Bible says to talk to your children as you walk along the road and when you sit and basically whenever you do anything, you are to teach the ways of the Lord to your children.  Honestly, because I believe God speaks and cares about how I raise my children, I know He will correct me when I make a mistake.  He is the most loving of parents.

As an "other Christian", it is not your job to judge other’s parenting skills or talk about them behind their back.  To be a graceful Christian, it is your job to instruct clueless parents.  Instruction and correction must be done in love.  Raising a child is hard.  It is first and foremost the parent’s responsibility, but as the body of Christ, it is always our responsibility to give grace to the parents and grace to the children.  I hope to talk about generational curses and a picture of grace in our family life soon.

What does grace look like in your family?

Monday, June 20, 2011


Last week, I messed up royally.  Totally failed.  Sinned.  Perhaps I am more aware of it for the sheer fact that it is not a sin I commit regularly, or perhaps I am aware of it for the seriousness of it.  I'm not sure.  Because you know that the sins we commit every day do not weigh on us heavily.  The guilt not there yet.  The conviction not transforming us into something new.  But the weight of it was heavy.  Heavy knowing that I could not carry it on my own.  The guilt of my sin bearing down on me.  Closing in on me.  Suffocating me, like an elephant sitting on my soul.

Is this what it is like to need a Savior?  That He would lift the load of guilt separating us and allow me to breath again.  To be made new again.  I am not one to process things immediately, so it was a few days before I understood the guilt and then reconsidering the conviction, the area of which I needed to take to God to heal and set free.  Why God chooses to use us messy sinful people I'll never totally understand.  Why God chose to create us even though He would die to set us free?  Only Love.  A Love so deep and wide and high.  Deep.  Wide.  High.  Bigger than BIG.  Breathing it in.  Breathing it out.  There it is here in the moment.  A greatness and a mysteriousness.

I've always been one of those people intimidated by BIG statues, not really wanting to be in the presence of something so big, so larger than life, so real, and not real.  Ever reminding me that I am small.  And even smaller in comparison of the bigness and fullness of God.

It was only a slight slip of the tongue, my mistake so small in how it happened, so large in what I did.  SO crucifiable.  But I am covered.  Covered by the blood, and He has redeemed even this slight slip of the tongue.  This mistake, small, yet large and heavy.

Speaking of covers, I never fully understood how important they are.  I never totally understood the discretion of covers.  How I should cover up the mistakes of my children - that that is gentleness.  Oh, me, who is supposedly gentle is learning not to be a ruffian but to treat them with a gentle grace, like my Savior does for me.  Oh Lord, I drink in the Blood, the blood that covers me.  It satisfies me and quenches my thirst.  And tomorrow, new mercies and things to learn await.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Adopting Samuel David

What perfect timing - just in time for Father's Day - an adoption story.

"But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.  Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”
Galatians 4:4-6

If you are a child of God, you've been adopted by Him into His family to inherit all of all He has to offer.  If you need a family, then this is a great one to join.  Click here to find out how.  This adoption is a story of how He answers prayers and how He works.

Sarah asked me to write a post about a special baby boy she got to photograph, and I said it would be my honor and my pleasure.  Click here to read the rest of the post.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hidden to Covered

The Enemy is crafty.  I struggle and find myself unbelieving Truth.  Believing his lies.  Satan's lies are rooted in disbelief, in doubt, in believing that God is not who He says He is.  Even that God does not want us to be like Him.  As I grow and He works in me, I become free - free from insecurity, free from disbelief, free from lies.  But the more I grow, the enemy still seeks after me, albeit, he has to begin to work differently.  Relentlessly Jesus pursues me and never stops.  When I am at my weakest most condemning sinful places, I hide.  I want to cover my sin, my shame, my hurt, my fear, my humanity, my hopelessness, the lies I've believed from the enemy.  I fight, I struggle, and I hide from God most of all.  For it is He whom I fear will not really accept me.  It may be because I am broken or a relationship is broken.  I fear He will not accept me, the awful me that I can really be.  Everyone else may give up their pursuit of me.  He does not.

I like to hide.  I am a master at it, but He never stops playing the game.  He continues the pursuit.  He finds me.  He covers me and takes away the shame.  It is loving and tender and it brings me back to a relationship with Him.

What did Adam and Eve do in the Garden when they first sinned?  They hid.  They made their own coverings - covering inadequate to completely cover their sin and shame.  Their fellowship with God broken. 

But what did God do?  He looked for them.  Brought them out of hiding into the light.  He gave them consequences for their sin, yes, but He made for them proper coverings of skins, to hide their sin and shame.  Blood was shed.  Life was given to cover them.  And the work of restoration was begun.

Years later, Jesus was the once for all sacrifice.  He covers our sin, our shame, our insecurities, our hopelessness, to healing, restoration, and hope.

"But when the Messiah arrived, high priest of the superior things of this new covenant, he bypassed the old tent and its trappings in this created world and went straight into heaven's "tent"—the true Holy Place—once and for all. He also bypassed the sacrifices consisting of goat and calf blood, instead using his own blood as the price to set us free once and for all. If that animal blood and the other rituals of purification were effective in cleaning up certain matters of our religion and behavior, think how much more the blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out. Through the Spirit, Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God." 
Hebrews 9:11-15 (MSG)

Will you come out of hiding to the promised pursuit of Christ 
who covers you with His blood?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

In the Light

This is my all time favorite song. Every day, Princess has come home from VBS singing it this week. So I thought I would post it here too, as it encouraged me today.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Randoms Thoughts on Seasons of Women

I've been doing some thinking on the seasons of women as in my earlier post about which woman you are.  Although it was published on a Tuesday, I wrote it on a Sunday, and on Friday, I heard a radio program on Revive Our Hearts again about the seasons of women. You can check out the transcript here.

First of all, although I was quite happy to have a lot of interest in my Quiet Time for Little Ones post, I just want to point out that most everything I say here in regards to parenting in particular is not tried and true.  I am posting as I go along, and I don't know what all the pitfalls are or are not.  One thing that occurred to me after I posted was the issue of legalism.  What if your child gets up and does not want to have a quiet time right away?  I don't want a quiet time to be something that becomes a duty or a chore.  And although she started out quite excited, what happens when the excitement wanes?  I guess I feel a little hesitant to lead in an area that I am just learning and really know nothing about.  :)  I know that I have a few readers who have grown children who are grandmothers too.  To you, I ask you to please keep me humble and teach me when I am green.  Leave me a comment.  I would love to glean your wisdom, and I am sure the rest of my readers would too.

I am really enjoying having a friend who is single and I hope to make more friends in different life stages or seasons than my own.  I hope that more women of differing life seasons will take an interest in the classes we have at our church like the Titus 2:4 class (which I haven't made it to yet).  When I was single, for some reason it was taboo to have married friends, and when I got married, none of my single friends wanted to hang with me anymore.  I guess because at the time, we just didn't understand one another's lives and did not try to.  We just let the friendship die away.  Why in the world did we do that?  In the Revive Our Hearts program, a single woman named Carolyn said that she is not married but she is learning how to support marriage and family in the church.  One way she does that is by babysitting.  Hint hint to all my single and "married with no kids" friends out there....  But seriously, this got me to thinking about how I can mentor other women in different seasons to help them support biblical mandates for the institution of marriage, women as the keepers of the home, etc.  For example, when I was a single woman, I would have loved to have had someone teach me how to "keep house."  What a valuable tool for when and if I got married.

The other thing that I've been pondering is serving.  During this stage of life, life is mostly about caring for my little ones.  I have a hard time figuring out how to serve others if serving means someone must serve me by watching my kids.  There is not many service projects you can do with a 1 year old.  So at least for me for now, it seems like my most pressing ministry is my children.  But, I know I have readers who are more seasoned in mothering, having either older children, grown children, or are grandmothers.  If you have any suggestions about things I can do to serve in which I can take my children along, please leave me a comment so I and my readers can glean wisdom from you in this area.

How do you interact with and encourage women of differing life stages/seasons than your own?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Just as You Are

God loves you just as you are.  He loves you no more or no less today than He did when He created you at the foundation of the earth.

"For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will."  Ephesians 1:4-5

A few months ago, I had an ah-ha moment about boundaries.  I have always had an ability to see both sides of the coin and that has made some decision making hard for me, as I recognized the shades of gray.  However, some things I thought were black and white that were really gray.  Some things just seemed wrong to me because I had not learned that we come with personal God given boundaries via our emotions.  A minor example would be you choose to be a stay at home mother, but you send your baby to the Mother's Day Out program at church.  Your God given boundaries may say you need some space from your baby so as to be a good mother.  Not recognizing each person's boundaries could give one space to judge that person - "she's a stay at home mother.  Why would she send a baby to a mother's day out program?"

However, recognizing that people have limits (that I may not understand) helps me to be judgement free.  Whatever I would have wrongly judged in the past, I no longer do.  I do think God wants us to move beyond our own comfort zone of self limits and boundaries and widen our borders, our boundaries, like Jabez prayed, but until He does that, they provide protection and safety when needed.  God may be working on you to heal you, to bring you out of sin, but He loves you no less while you are in the midst of the sin than when you are set free from the sin.  Jesus was perfect so you do not have to be.  Yes, God may be in the business of perfecting you, but that's His business, not yours.  You just have to be willing, moldable, submitted to Him.

God loves you completely today, yesterday, and tomorrow.  You may be dirty and messy with sin, but you do not have to clean yourself up to come to Him.  He lives you just as you are today and always.  He does the cleaning, and we don't have to do His work for Him.  He is going to accomplish His work no matter what.

With that being said, I am learning to love people just as they are.  Messy.  Dirty.  Sinful people.  Sure, I am human, coming with my own set of issues, but I am learning to love like Christ does - just as you are no matter where you are in the journey.  If we are called to be like Christ and He loved people where they were, then I am going to try to do the same, and I know He will teach me.  After all, didn't Jesus hang out with the tax collectors and prostitutes?  If you read something that makes you feel judged here, ask yourself if it is the Holy Spirit convicting you of sin. Otherwise, it is a judgement free zone.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Which Woman are You?

I walk alongside the beautiful and the ugly, the heartbroken and the mended.  A few of the women I see:

The single woman.  She is beautiful and yet she is lonely.  She longs for the day she will meet her husband.  Her home is empty, and this is both blessing and curse.  Her time is plenty, and she can choose to fill it with fun and hobbies and friendships galore, but her heart aches for a family yet to be seen.

The divorced woman.  She works hard every single day.  She misses her husband, the idea of a helper to raise her kids and the chance to get a break.  She has kids, but it is hard to raise kids all a.l.o.n.e. with no one to h.e.l.p.  She does her best and at times her best is just not good enough.  Sometimes, she just waits for his weekend.  And yet, she has kids, something the single woman does not have.

The married woman, with husband and no kids - a womb that will not grow babies just yet.  Sometimes the painful empty house is more than she can bare.  And yet, she has a husband with love to grow.

The married woman with kids and a husband who hides, remains unavailable.  Her life is at times not much different than the single mom with kids.  She longs for his adoring embrace - his passion for her and the kids to grow and not wane.  And yet, she has kids and a husband, even though not fully there, occasionally his arms she does embrace.

The married woman with husband fully there, who has kids more demanding than she thought she could bare.  Special needs.  She wonders if when the rest of the kids leave the nest, this one will keep them a party of 3 all the many days left.  And yet, she has a husband, fully engaged, and kids to love her too.

The married woman with husband fully there, kids "normal."  The days of freedom and friendships changed and long gone.  Dreams unfulfilled, but can she really complain?

The married woman with empty nest.  Life has come and gone.  Kids have flown the coop.  Figuring it all out again was not what she thought she would have to do.  And yet, she is not alone.

The grandmother and husband who thought life would be fun, footloose, and carefree, now that the kids are gone, but unexpectedly, parents to the grandchildren they've become.  What?  Not me for such a time as this?

The widow whose husband has died before his time.  Her kids long gone.  She wishes for the days when her home was full.  A companion to keep her from being blue.  She cares for her aging parents and wishes she saw more life and less death.  And yet, she still has someone to care for.

The old aged married woman.  Her husband alive, whose mind has long since been dead.  Some days she wishes he would move on to the other side and be free, and yet, he still helps her plant the flowers in the garden she loves so.

We walk alongside each other every day, passing each other along the way.  In each mind we think they have something we wish we had.  We hope, we wish, we dream.  We cannot see the good thing that we each have believing the one passing by does not ever cry.  Some of us fill the longing with rebellion, some with addiction, and some are set free by Jesus.

Which woman are you?  
Which one have you seen today?  
Which one will you see?

No matter what life you have or what stage you are in - rest in Jesus.  
You are not forgotten.  You are loved.  You are longed for.  
And He sees.  He knows.  He loves.  He heals.  He sets free.  

Hug the brokenhearted today, and allow someone to hug you.

Jesus, give us eyes to see, and help us to be Your Touch for each hope and broken dream unfulfilled.

This post was inspired by the women who've intersected my life.  I cannot begin to imagine to walk in each one of their shoes, but I see their lives as a pieces of a larger whole - a fine piece of art which captures beauty and suffering in each individual and makes for an even more beautiful whole.  Sometimes, life is very ordinary, sometimes mundane, and sometimes, you just wish for mundane or ordinary.  But our lives are so very beautifully crafted by the God who sees for a purpose greater than you or I begin to understand - until He gives us eyes to see.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Quiet Time for Little Ones

Guac N' Roll said...
Hey! How did you go about teaching her to do a quiet time? I'm thinking about another dear friend who has a kindergartener in the fall... and I'm not sure how I would go about this for my own child - though that is a while from now!

How do I do a Quiet Time for my soon to be Kindergartener:

First of all, every thing is CD based, so that it can be her alone time with God and because she doesn't read that well yet.  This activity is mainly directed at Princess, but Speed Racer is joining in it too, because Princess is truly excited about it.

I have told her that this time prepares her to remember Him throughout the day, and she has told me how it has, although it is very much a discipline we are still working on.  For example, we are working on not telling lies, learning what lies are, and telling the truth.   So the memory verses she is learning are about telling the truth, not lies.  She clearly told me how the verses helped her make the right choice in playing with her brother to tell truth and not deceive.

In our house, generally, she gets up, gets dressed, and then has her quiet time.  One of the things I am trying to teach her is the importance of doing it at the start of the day.

First, she listens to a bible story.
Then, she listens to a memory verse song a few times.
Then, she listens to preschool bible songs or praise music.
Then, she is able to pray or draw a picture for God.  Art is her strength so I try teach her to use that to honor Him.

At preschool this year, she learned 26 memory verses, one for each letter of the alphabet.  She did not realize that she didn't just learn them for learning's sake, so I explained to her recently that you learn them to practice them.  For example, one of the verses was "Keep thy tongue from evil.  Psalm 34:13"  When she was not using her tongue correctly, I reminded her of this verse and told her that's why we learn verses to know what God wants and expects of us.  So she really seems to understand this now as we are learning.  At the end of this week, she already knows Psalm 119:10-11.  We are using, Hermie Scripture Memory Songs.

The good thing about this is that Daniel and I are charged as her parents to teach her spiritual truths.  What she learned at preschool was good, but it had not been made personal to her, which is our job.  So I see how going to a private school or even homeschooling could be good but still not good enough if I am not doing my job as parent in directing her in her need and making the Scripture relevant to her.

At night time, which is separate from Princess' quiet time, we have family bible time, and we use The Early Reader's Bible, but we've used many of the preschool bibles.  We cycle through them regularly.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Five Minute Friday: Every Day

I am participating in Five Minute Friday over at Gypsy Mama, where you are given a prompt, write for 5 minutes and do not edit your work. Today's prompt: Every Day.


Every day God's mercies are made new.  We wake up, and there they are, right there, ready for the taking.  Ready for the savoring.  Ready to grab.  Only we don't know which ones we will need, which ones will prepare us for the day.  Oh, but He does.  The Father knows.  He has seen.  And so we rise and we give him the day, and He takes it and makes it His.  Amazingly, He prepares me for the day in a way that only He could have known.

Every day is an opportunity to bless, to give.  Every day there are needs and demands and challenges, and there is love, and hope, and dreams.  And every day He walks alongside us blessing, giving, meeting, loving, hoping, and fulfilling dreams.

Every day is a chance to feast off of the moment, to savor the good presence of the love and laughter in my home.  To savor the tears, the fears, the grace, the forgotten moments, the failures.

Every day I get to breath in the Breath of Heaven and taste His daily bread.

Every day.

Every. Single. Day.


Set Free

Sometimes, as people, Christians or not, we get ourselves into messes.  We are not sure how we got ourselves there, and then before we know, we are panicking, trying with our own might to get ourselves out of trouble.

The more we struggle, the more we seem to worm our way further into the muck and mire.  It can be many things that get us there: our sin, our insecurities, our self lies, our doubt, our belief that the Enemy is right. 

But, we can ask the Father for help, and He will come running, and in His time and way, He lovingly works to set us free from our own trap and snare.  We can rest knowing that He is coming.  Our panic changes to relief and trust and waiting and hope.  And then He does His work, and before we know it, we've been set free.

Then we feel as though we can do nothing but bask in our glorious freedom and Praise the One who set us in His glorious Light of freedom.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Lessons from the Park

Yesterday we went to the park.  We didn't last long, because it is already HOT HOT HOT!!!  Princess went one way, Speed Racer went another, as has been the case most of their lives.  But when Speed Racer got lonely and bored, he cried, "Princess, Princess, where are you?"  And they would find each other and begin playing some sort of pretending game together.  And just like that he was not alone.  He had asked her to draw near, and she had.  So it is with God.  We feel we've walked away from Him, or we can't feel Him or sense His presence, and we get lonely.  But the bible says, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to You. (James 4:8)"

Doodlebug is 13 months now, but she still does not walk.  I can tell that she is capable of walking, but she is afraid to walk.  It seems so fitting that God would have us crawl before we walk.  He knew how fearful a people we would be.  He has begun redeeming our fear all along the way, teaching us not to be afraid.  Just as when we encourage Doodlebug to walk, we give her courage to negate the fear of falling, so that one day she will overcome it.  At the park, she was able to climb up the slide (basically she walked up it) but she constantly had something to hold onto.  At one point the other two experienced walkers followed behind her taking time to follow, but also helping when needed, and protecting her at the top.  A beautiful picture of the commands of the more mature believers to aid the younger believers.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bone Sticking Truth

You all know by now that my oldest daughter is going to Kindergarten in the Fall.  The World is scary and Big and the Enemy looms large.  And yet I know I cannot protect my daughter from the realities of the world forever.  However, I can and should prepare her for them.  So yesterday, I started teaching her to have her own quiet time with God.  She couldn't wait to wake up and do it again this morning!  The only thing that prepares me for the world each day is spending time with my loving tender Heavenly Father, so I must teach her to do the same as she enters the big bad world.  Hopefully truths will stick to her bones.  I know how God takes the ugly and makes it beautiful.  Sin will probably stick to my child too, but He will clean her up again. And I let go of the perfect path, and lay her on the altar for Him.

I am learning a new discipline to get up early and spend time with God.  You find out more here.

Repetition & Beautiful Things

Remember how I said that when something is important, God repeats it over and over.  Remember when I said that the compost pile is rotten decayed stuff that is used again to make something beautiful?  Well, this morning, He reminded me of a great song that talks about making beautiful things out of the dust.

And when I picked up my bible study I just started, it was about those verses in Genesis 3 again where man and woman falls into sin.  Why did Eve sin?  Because the serpent placed doubt into her mind about who God was, about whether He was telling the truth.  Isn't that always the way it begins?  We fall hard, sometimes from extreme heights, because the enemy made us believe that God is not who He really is.  And I don't know about you but I've believed the lie that "you can't teach an old dog new tricks."  It may be true of dogs, but friends, it is never too late to start again.  You cannot fix yourself, but God can and He will.  Won't you let Him?

Lyrics to "Beautiful Things"
All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make me new, You are making me new


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