Monday, June 30, 2008

Is God in Your Schedule?

One day several years ago during our Bible Study time, the kids & I were discussing Psalm 139:7-10.

“Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me; your right hand will hold me fast.”

We discussed that it doesn’t matter where we are God is always there. One of my sons said, “Yeah, like He’s right here.”, as he patted the sofa seat beside him. Then he looked down and noticed that the sofa was covered with books, pencils and paper so he began moving it aside so that there would be room for God to sit.

We all had a good laugh out of that, but I thought later, “Have I made room for Christ in my life, what needs to be moved over or out so that he can sit with me?” We get so busy with our little ones and the daily routines of life that we gradually squeeze God out. Before we know it there just isn’t time for a quiet time or prayer.

The good news is God is everywhere we are. We can call on Him any time, any where. That is a great comfort to me to know that I can call on Him anytime of day and anywhere I am when I do find myself drowning in my day. But, I know that He is blessed when I go to Him first in my day. He wants to speak His blessings & wisdom to us before any attacks are thrown at us.

5 minutes of prayer with him can make a huge difference in our day. It won’t change what happens to us in our day, but it can help to change how we will respond to it, maybe in a more God glorifying manner. A few days of praying for the short 5 minutes will quickly turn into 10 minutes & then you will turn to the scriptures & before you know it an hour has gone by! I love when that happens! If you can’t find 5 minutes in your day then you are way too busy. Someone once asked me, “How do you get to know someone?” Well, by talking to them & spending time with them of course. That is how you will get to know the Lord, but it won’t just happen. You have to set aside time for it.

As you plan out your days and weeks ahead, don’t forget to make room for God in your schedule & plans. Give yourself a specific God time in your day. Your family will love you for it! Your family will be blessed by it.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Many Seeds

John 12:24

Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

This verse has been a great blessing and help to me so many times. There have been days when I was totally overwhelmed by my kids. In fact, I did not think they were blessings at the time, more like burdens.

My oldest son is a challenge to say the least. I have stayed awake at night praying for God to show me what this child needs. He has been a challenge since he learned to crawl! At 2 years old I caught him on top of my refrigerator. He has so much energy that I can not keep up with him or the trouble he causes. At the end of the day when he was younger (now he is 14) I was exhausted from of all the consequences I had to hand out to him.

God used this verse to show me that I am like that kernel of wheat that has fallen to the ground. I must die to the fact that I cannot teach my son anything without the strength of Christ. I believe that if my son is to grow to become the man God has planned him to be I must be obedient, get out of the way, and let God work. I am only an instrument in my sons’ life. My job as his mother is to seek the Lord’s guidance and be obedient in what He tells me to do. This is so hard because as a parent you want to control all that happens in our children’s life. And to an extent we are supposed to, but we cannot control what decisions they will make. We have to leave that up to the Lord. We must die to self as parents so that the Lord can use us to produce many seeds of fruit in our children. Easier said than done, I know because I am still struggling with it. I like to be in control & then I hear God say, “Hello? Who is God here?” God is so much more creative than I am. When I let him be God and listen to him when I am crying out in desperation he without fail gives me ways to deal with my children that I never would have thought of by myself. And the best part is that it works!

One particular day I was extremely upset with my son. I wanted to strangle him I was so mad.(of course I wouldn’t do that) I prayed and asked God what to do with him before I went to talk to him. The Lord told me to hug him. I said, “What? You want me to hug him? I don’t even want to look at him right now much less hug him!” But I did it anyway. My son didn’t want me to hug him but I kept my arm around him and told him that God told me to hug him. At that moment he stopped struggling and hugged me back. He told me he was sorry and he corrected his behavior. I never would have thought a hug could have been that powerful but God knew what my son needed. If I would have disciplined him on my own I would have missed a great moment with him & probably just made him even angrier.

My son and I hug almost everyday now and I see in him fruit that I know I didn’t plant, but that the Lord is helping me to nurture.

Family Garden

For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13

For three years, I made an attempt to plant a garden. I stress the word "attempt" because I haven't been very successful at it. I have a good friend who makes it look very natural and easy so I thought I should be able to do it also. After all, I homeschool so I should at least have a garden as a science project for my kids. What a project it turned out to be. The first year we planted corn, beans, okra, cantaloupe, & maybe a few others. Out of that planting we got a few beans and lots of okra. The corn suffered an untimely death by the hands of my son who mistook them for weeds. Everything else was eaten by the grasshoppers. The next two years we tried to plant a little more, but again we failed. Our “project” was quickly becoming, “How fast can mom kill our garden this year”. I would look out at my garden from my kitchen and wonder, "Why won't this garden do what I want it to. I plant the seeds, I hoe the weeds, I water, I do everything I know to do but still it is a flop.”

Have you ever looked at your children like this? You do everything you think that you know to do & they just won’t do what you think they should do. I love my kids and I love spending time with them, but some days....I tell them over and over and over and it seems as if they will never obey. I’ve even had days when I look at a particular child and wonder if God really meant for me to raise this child or was he supposed to go to another family that would better know what to do with him. But since God makes no mistakes then I know I am supposed to be this child’s mother. He can be my greatest struggle and my greatest joy all in the same day. The Lord is so good to remind me that if I will seek him and follow him then he will take care of the rest. If I will just love and nurture the seeds that he has given me they will bloom into beautiful plants. His timing is perfect and so is his will and plan for us. We live in a very hurried society today, we have a really hard time waiting on anything especially God, yet we still say, “God knows best." We take our requests to Him but if he doesn't answer or change that child in our timing we get anxious.

Our garden (family) will prosper when we call on Him. We will bear much fruit through Him when we seek Him with all our heart. This is one of the reasons that we are still homeschooling. Understanding that it isn’t always about academics, we want all the time and opportunities possible to love and nurture our children in the ways of the Lord. I also don’t want to miss out on seeing any new sprouts of faith or miss recognizing any weeds of sin. When it is about academics I still have to depend on the Lord for guidance. At times I wonder if one child will ever learn to read with out struggling or if another will ever remember her multiplication tables. How long can a child stay in one chapter of his math book? I think we are about to set a new record. Seeds of doubt begin to wash over me again and I begin to wonder if I am doing anything right. Are these kids really learning anything?

Then you will call upon me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” Jeremiah 29:13

He even cares about how long a child can stay in the same chapter of his math book and he knows why he is still there and what he needs to get out of it. Part of my role as his mother is seeking the Lord even when it comes to math. That is part of tending the garden.

I do not plant gardens anymore, it's not my thing. But the spiritual garden that the Lord is planting in my home is sprouting. We still have weeds to pull, but by His grace I know it will be a bumper crop one of these days.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Warning! Danger Ahead!


As mothers, it is perfectly natural to want to warn our children of any danger we know may be ahead of them. If we know of a way for them to avoid trouble, we let them know. It is of course up to them as they get older to heed our instruction. Either they will listen to us or they won't. And if you have more than one child, I'm sure that you have already noticed that one child seems to listen to warnings more than another.

If you knew that the building they were about to go into was to catch on fire, would you just sit by while they went inside? If you knew that the food they were about to eat was poisoned would you give it to them to eat anyway? Of course not. You would do everything in your power to keep them safe. You love your child more than you love yourself.

In 2 Timothy 3:1-5 Paul is warning the Timothy of dangerous people that he will meet. We are living in dangerous times, but this isn't a recent occurrence because Paul is warning Timothy.

I like how The Message by Eugene Peterson writes this passage;

1-5Don't be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They'll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they're animals. Stay clear of these people.

Paul is clear, "Stay clear of these people". Stay away! The NIV says, "Have nothing to do with them."

I'm sure you could name at least a dozen people you know who fit the description above. We all do. Also, as mothers our worst nightmare would be for our own children to become like this. These verses describe the world we live in today. Perversity is everywhere. It is accepted by most as just the change in times.

The other night, my husband was reading to me an article about an amazing, but very sad, ruling that took place. A Canadian judge ruled that a 12-year-old girl was "excessively" punished when her father told her she could not go on a school camping trip because she had broken rules for use of the Internet. Can you believe that? You can read the whole story on Albert Mohler's blog. Now we have children taking their parents to court because they thought the parents were to harsh & the judges are taking the kids side!

Spiritual warfare is everywhere and as Christian parents we must stay alert and on guard and teach our children the same. We must not be deceived in our thinking. We live in a day and time when there are people everywhere claiming to be Christians but they are dangerous! They appear to be godly, but they are lovers of self rather than lovers of God. They are on the TV preaching, they are in the churches preaching and leading, they are your next door neighbors. Do not be deceived!

We must stand against such people. Many take the the Great Commission as their excuse to be friends with these people. You don't have to be good friends with them or look for them hoping to save them from their sin. YOU ARE NOT GOD! Only God can save them. If He chooses to save them and chooses to use you, let him orchestrate the event. Don't seek these people out hoping to teach the Gospel to them. They will not hear it or understand if God has not prepared their heart or ordained for them to accept it. Many seek these people out for very good reasons, but in turn become sucked into the sin and selfish life. If God has chosen them as His own, they will believe. Listen to the Spirit and He will direct you. How exciting it can be to witness one coming to Christ with a broken heart! But we don't have to look for those opportunities...God brings them to us.

Warn your children. Teach them the Truth of Christ and the ways of God so that when they encounter the wicked they will know to run away.

We not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power and the wonders he has done. Psalm 78:4

Learn to be still. The literal meaning for be still is cease or stop. We don't like to be still. It makes us feel as though we are not doing anything. But God tells us to be still. This is when he speaks to us most fervently and clearly.

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

Stay alert and on guard. Evil surrounds us and if we are not careful it will not appear to be as evil as we once thought and we will accept it. Stay alert and see it as it is..not of God! Many will claim to be of God but only a few will be truly of God. No lovers of self will enter into Heaven, only lovers of God.

Jesus answered; "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ', and will deceive many. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. Matthew 24:4-5, 12-13

Lord Jesus, open my eyes so that I may see the evil for what it is and teach my children to stay away.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Is It Urgent or Important?

I've have been convicted lately of the difference of the important versus the urgent in my everyday life. As a mother, I see most of my duties as urgent. When the dryer goes off, it is urgent that I get the clothes out & put on hangers or they will get wrinkled.

Sometimes, I know I get urgent & important confused. My children are important, not the clothes in the dryer. My husband is important, not posting to my blog.

Do you get these confused also? We are not the only ones. This is an age old problem. The disciples of Jesus also had this confused. In fact, I think Jesus spent most of his time trying to teach the disciples that it was the people and the condition of their heart that was the most important, not the Law. They were still held tightly to the law of the Pharisees. This is what they grew up with & this is all they knew. Jesus did not teach what the Pharisees had been teaching for hundreds of years. They added hundreds of rules & laws to God's law and this is what the Jew was expected to live by. It was hard for the Disciples to change their way of thinking and understand what Jesus wanted of them. He wanted them to stop looking at people through the eyes of the law, but see them through the eyes of God, with love and compassion.

Jesus said, In Mark 10:13-16 parents were bringing their children to Jesus for a blessing. The disciples tried to get them to go away. Children were not worthy to be with Jesus. Jesus did not agree. He understood that these precious little children were very important and he told the disciples to stop & let the children come to him. I'm sure the disciples felt that there were much more urgent matters to attend to, not children.No one knew better than Jesus how precious the souls of these children were and how innocent their faith was.

I have become more conscious of the importance of the heart of my child these last few weeks. My youngest daughter was sick with a fever last week. I so badly wanted to get my laundry done & out of the way, but she wanted me to lay down and watch cartoons with her. I set my laundry down, knowing that it would take me a long time to get all of the wrinkles out, and laid down with her until she went to sleep. This was important to her for me to lay with her while she was sick.

Issues of importance are on a vertical scale. They deal with your relationship with God first and then your relationship with others. They are self sacrificing, they are private and often invisible. It is choosing others over yourself.

Issues of urgency are on a horizontal scale. When addressed they do not enhance a relationship with others. It is putting yourself before others even though we think we are doing it for someone else. They are often simply tasks to perform. There is a time & place for the urgent; but, our world has replaced the important with the urgent. Urgent things when done are usually very visible to to others. When I cook dinner, everyone knows it because they can smell it. When I check email, the sender knows because I respond. But when I pray for that sender, know one knows but me & the Lord.

Do you see the difference? It is the things of importance that really matter. Those urgent things can wait; really, they can. What is the worst thing that will happen if you read with your little girl and don't clean up the kitchen right after dinner? You might have to scrub that pan a little harder. But the reward is that you have filled up your daughter's love tank by stopping the urgent and doing the important with her.

I have never regretted putting aside the urgent for the important. I have always looked back and wondered why I put so much importance on what I thought was urgent and regretted it. I have missed wonderful conversations with my teens because I thought I just had to get that email sent out, or missed out on baby doll tea parties because I was determined to get the whole bathroom clean., evaluate your day. What is on your list that you would consider urgent and what is there that is important. Usually the important things are not on the list, they are hidden within the list. Don't miss them! Be mindful of what important things that God is placing in your day. You will be greatly blessed for choosing the important and I think you will be amazed at how you will still get the urgent things done also.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

chocolate truffles

Psalm 34:8, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

I love chocolate! It is my favorite food. I could eat it all day everyday. In fact I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t eat just a little. I have chocolate hidden in several places, so that I can slip a little bite when I’m in the mood. Plus, my kids love chocolate too, so I have to hide it or they would eat it all! Valentines Day is one of my favorite holidays --yes, because of the chocolate. The stores are full of it. I still have a little left so I dug into it the other day when I was at my computer. Hershey ® made a Truffle Kiss! Oh, it is wonderful. I popped the little kiss in my mouth & sucked on it a little & then I got to the filling in the middle. Wow! That was great, so I got another one & another one & oh, you get the idea. I love Hershey Kisses ® just plain, but now there is a surprise in the middle. That made it even better.

I see God and his scripture the same way. Just reading the Bible can be comforting and inspiring by itself. But when you begin to really dig into it is when you get to the really good stuff. Just knowing about God is good, but when you really begin to know him intimately and have a close relationship then you just want more of him. Just knowing about him is not enough anymore. Just reading his Bible is not enough, now you want to know what is behind the words.
If you are just tasting God’s word, that is good. But try not to be satisfied with just tasting it. Dig into it & study it. I have learned so much about God and what he wants of me as a wife, mother, & friend by digging into his scripture. It does take time. I can hear you already. “I barely have time to get dressed, much less pour hours into Bible study everyday.” That was my excuse for years. You know what? I was just settling for “tasting God”. I was not deeply happy nor did I experience much joy in my life. It wasn’t until I began to make the time to study did I find joy and happiness that wasn’t determined by my circumstances. You will be hooked once you take your first big bite and really savor the richness and delicate flavor of God through his words to us in the scriptures.
Psalm 81:10 says, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.”
Isn’t that great? He wants to fill us with whatever we need. He really wants to, but we have to open our mouth first. We have to ask for it. I love it!