Prayer People!

Prayer People!

Encouragement

IMG_20150502_185424848_HDRI sought the Lord, and he answered me;     
he delivered me from all my fears.
~Psalm 34:4

I have a big problem. I think it’s probably a common problem mothers have, but maybe I’m assuming? You’ll have to let me know.

My problem is I’m a human doing. I’m a doer. I do. I see a problem, and my brain starts churning up ideas on what I could do to fix the problem, help, encourage, etc, etc, etc… Then I start moving with all the ideas I have bouncing around in my head. And that’s all ok, but usually not that great. I can end up over worked, tired, mistaken in what I assumed was the right thing to do, and often frustrated.

Because sometimes people don’t want a solution, they just want to be listened to.

And sometimes my understanding of right is totally and completely off.

And because I’m not God (praise Jesus!), I cannot solve all the world’s problems (nor is God asking me to).

So for the hundredth time in just the past month, I had the feeling that I would be better off simply banging my head against a desk rather than trying to solve all the problems around me. And these beautiful words popped out of my mouth:

Maybe when these situations arise I should stop asking ‘what can I do?’ and start with ‘how can I pray?’.

I was so startled by that comment. I took a moment to look around and wonder who had said that. Because surely that was not me speaking, but the Holy Spirit. It was the solution to all the problems I have been juggling for over a month. My problem boiled down to me taking things out of God’s hands and trying to micromanage them all on my own.

Just who in the world do I think I am?????????

My pattern to date has been: dive in full throttle and try and fix everything myself, exhaust all possible solutions as well as myself and anyone who comes within a 3 ft radius of myself, and when I’m at my wit’s end, pray and let God do what He could have just done from the start.

You know the definition of insanity- I’ve been living it!!!

So new pattern for life: start with prayer, wait and listen, then move forward. After a few steps, stop and pray again. Repeat. Seriously, this is so simple it’s ridiculous that it took me [I’m not telling you how many] years to figure this out!

Prayer people!

Always start with prayer!

The end.

Drop the mic.

~Lindsay

Lord Jesus, you have solutions and answers waiting for us. You already have a plan, we don’t need to make one up, we just need to partner with you. And your work is not heavy or burdensome! Forgive us for when we have run ahead of You, or dragged our feet behind You because we haven’t been heeding your plan, but only thinking within our own limited understandings of how the world should be. Help us Lord, to lead with prayer. I know you are good and gentle and that your answers will always be kind and good. In every situation, let us look first to You and trust in You. In Jesus name, Amen!

 

Attention Moms!

Attention Moms!

Encouragement Inspiration

But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. ~Ephesians 4:15-16

IMG_20160403_160308748_HDRHey moms, it’s time someone sucked it up and told you the cold hard truth:

YOU. ARE. AWESOME!!!!!

Please go ahead and print the last three words in large type font, then hang them in every room of your house. Please. Because here’s the deal- your children are listening to your self talk. When you were talking about that extra baby weight you’re still carrying around, your daughter was listening. When you said you were no good at making new friends, your son heard that. When you said you can’t cook well, drive well, keep up with all the latest trends- the kids were listening. When you called yourself a ‘freak,’ they heard that too. And even worse, they probably believed it.

Now do me a favor- I want you to think of your bestie. You know that lovely woman you wish you were having coffee with right now? Tell me three strengths of hers. Go ahead. List ‘em off. Done? Great. Now tell me three strengths of yours… ?

[crickets chirping]

I have seen in my friend circles the ability to praise each other to the skies, but a complete inability to come up with even one strength about ourselves.

I am the same. I see all my friends’ strengths. I am blown away. I always think, Why can’t I be more like her? I’m even inspired – to be a better mom, wife, woman, worker. These women-friends of mine really have it all together! But here is the big secret- that amazing friend, she’s not hanging out with you out of pity. She’s thinking the same thing about you. You inspire her in the same way.

So here is your homework (yes, a blogger is giving you homework): you go ask that friend, sister, mom, random woman at church- “What strengths do you think I have?” In fact, ask more than one friend- and then write them down. Put them on your nightstand, reflect on them, pray about them! And if the woman you ask pauses and thinks about it, that’s good– because they are thinking deeply about the question. (I know if there is a pause, some of you are gonna be all ‘Oh no! She couldn’t think of anything!’ No, no, no. No more of that kind of thinking! I mean it. I will come and write Ms. Awesome on your forehead in permanent marker!)

We all have strengths- different strengths, and we all have weaknesses. But we need to take time to focus on our strengths. To let our children see our confidence. To let our children see what that looks like, how you live it out. To be an example for them. We really need to let our daughters gain some self-confidence about how they look. So I am begging you- enough with the fat comments. You aren’t 16 anymore. The freshman 15, it’s just real life. No one can be a bouncy teenager forever. We age, we sag in certain areas, but oh my gosh are we better for the years- we are better at life, better at forgiveness, better at blessing others, better at handling awkward situations (…sorta…?), better at applying makeup, better at driving- the list could go on forever. Do you really want to go back to middle school and do it all over again? Do you????

Don’t covet that friend’s strengths, cultivate your own strengths.

I always have to comment about the other side of the horse. This is not a call to puff yourself up with false pride (though I seriously doubt that will be an issue for most of you). Nor is this an excuse to not work on your weaknesses. We are ever growing, changing, and working our way towards Jesus. This is just a reminder to not focus on those weaknesses 24/7.

So go ahead, flex those muscles you have in hospitality, administration, kindness, listening, humor, learning, teaching, nurturing, etc, etc, etc… Be confident in who you are in Christ. Be confident in the woman God has made you, and even more in the woman He is making you into. And speak forth those things over yourself, and over your children. So that as you step out into the world, you are walking in love, confidence, and as someone who builds others (including yourself) up in the body, and in love.

Lord, thank you for the gifts you have sewn into my life. Please bless me to be more and more the woman you have created me to be. Open my eyes to the talents you have given me, my husband, and children. Help me to speak forth your blessing over our family and to proclaim your truths over each one of us. Help us to grab hold of You and your good things. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

Confession

Confession

Children From the Authors

Children’s children are a crown to the aged,
and parents are the pride of their children.
~Proverbs 17:6

free entertainment was provided by construction workers next door
free entertainment was provided by construction workers next door

Alright. It’s time. I mean, not just time to write a blog- if I was on any kind of schedule to blog, then it’s way past that time.
It’s time to come clean.

I’m a briber.

Yes, you read that right: BRIBER.

I bribe my kids. Today I needed to get that grocery shopping done in record time. So I told them if we made it back to the car in less than 30 minutes everyone would get a treat after dinner. My eldest actually pushed the cart, the youngest actually sat in the cart, and my middle child managed not to get run over by the cart!! (You have no idea!! This was like a Christmas miracle! If it had been a movie, the audience would have been crying at the heart wrenching beauty of this grocery adventure!) From the time I put the car in park, to the time we were driving out of the parking lot was exactly 20 minutes.

Do not underestimate the power of sugar.

I not only bribe my children, I bribe myself. I tell myself that if I am really reallllllllllly good, then I can get Starbucks. I’m an adult talking to myself, but it’s the truth. I work like crazy at the thought of earning a Starbucks.

Now ladies (or dads, if you’re reading this?), there’s a reason for my sudden confession, and it is this: We are not perfect. Oh my gosh, are we soooooo not perfect!!! So far from it! No one is!! (Well, Jesus, but you know… long side story we don’t have time for now. But He is the one and only exception!) So we need to stop looking like we are perfect and like our children do any little thing we ask of them out of the goodness of their hearts. They’re kids! They’re not perfect either!

Recently a friend asked me how I had gotten my children to work so well together (bear in mind she’d only been watching them interact for the best 45 minutes of their day). I had one word for her: BRIBERY. She was shocked. You bribe your children!??! And I realized she thought I was a ‘perfect parent’!  My first reaction was: Ha! Fooled you! Followed shortly by the more correct reaction: Honey, I am so very sorry! That person you were just describing… that’s not me. I don’t know any woman like the one you were just talking about. And what a disservice I’ve done you by making myself look perfect when I am not!

This kid is helping Daddy change the breaks on the van. Meanwhile his little brother was about to hammer a nail into a tire...
This kid is helping Daddy change the brakes on the van. Meanwhile his little brother was about to hammer a nail into a tire…

Yes, children should do what we tell them to do. Sometimes for their safety we even need them to*.  And that’s one thing, but children are going to make mistakes and misbehave. And we, their parents, have an arsenal of tools to try and strong arm them, nurture them, trick them, guilt them, encourage them, and any-other-thing them into behaving. So let’s just try to do our best, and then just let that be ok.

And here’s the thing, I don’t call what I’m doing “bribery.” It’s a reward. Do you know any adults who happily go to their jobs without compensation? And how many adults call their pay checks “bribery”??? You are rewarded for a job well done. It is okay to ‘reward’ your children too.

Don’t fall off the other side of the horse now- you don’t have to reward/bribe your child for every little act of kindness. And sometimes our words can carry just as much reward as sugar (but, I repeat, do not underestimate the power of sugar). I know I bend over backwards for a nice compliment. I have one child who is the same.

And when you do your best, when you are giving something all you got- it’s okay to fail from time to time. It’s great for kids to see us fail, and to watch how we handle it. It’s great for kids to see their parents ask for forgiveness. As we parent, we are building character in our children, but also in ourselves.

If you do your best, that’s good enough. You can rest in that. God knows who you are, He wired you a certain way. Your children are not a biologically random combination of genes- but a child planned and purposed for your family. A gift from God, to you.

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.
~Psalm 127:3

So good job! We applaud you! You’re amazing! You gave it your all today! You may have messed up, but you have the strength to get up and try again tomorrow. You have the ability to seek forgiveness, to encourage again, to wipe that nose one more time! You can do all of the mommy (or daddy (if you’re reading this?)) things!

You’re amazing! God says so!!

IMG_20161130_133441199
this kid is probably eyeing something full of sugar on the kitchen counter…

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
~Psalm 149:14

Lord, thank you for our children. Open our eyes anew to the gifts that they are to us. Likewise open our eyes to see how we are a gift to them. You created families, you have a plan for our family. We say yes and amen to Your Plan!! And we ask for your help in parenting these precious gifts. Help us not to judge our parenting based on our neighbor’s abilities, but to see our parenting through your eyes. We ask for help in the areas where we are weak or lacking, but pray that you will keep guilt and discouragement at bay. Protect our marriages, our family, and our children. Help us to build our children up into the men and women you created them to be. In Jesus name, Amen!

*quick aside- today while leaving the library I asked my eldest to grab the hand of my youngest, and he flat out refused! (See, not perfect children) So I did what every (not perfect) mother does and yelled his socks off. Then, after calming down a bit, I took the time to explain to him all the thoughts going on in my head. We were stepping into a parking lot, I was carrying a crate full of books  that probably weighed about 30+ pounds, cars were approaching, and I had no way to grab my youngest and make sure he didn’t make a dash for the car. I had 2 options: throw 30 pound crate at my eldest and crush him, or ask for help. Putting things into that perspective my eldest felt pretty bad. Which allowed me to (not) maturely say, “Sometimes you need to trust that your mother is not just saying things to annoy you, and just do them!!”

Emmanuel

Emmanuel

From the Authors

“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,img_20151225_095924089_hdr and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” ~Matthew 1:23

Emmanuel; God is with us.

Matthew 1 is pretty great. I know I didn’t always have an appreciation of the genealogy of Jesus. I just really liked the end of the chapter; the name Emmanuel- the thought that God came down to be with us. I always liked that.

But the story isn’t just about that 1 night in Bethlehem. It’s not even about the next thirty some years of Jesus life. (Though without Jesus’ life, the story wouldn’t have any point at all.) But the story starts way back at the beginning before there was time. God has always always been preparing and making a way for us to be together with Him.

And His Plan to rescue little ol’ us, proves his sovereignty. Look at that genealogy in Matthew 1! Was there ever a better list of screw ups and nobodies? And God chose them to bring about Jesus’ entrance into the world. He chose them, so He could rescue us. It was His great plan. If you go back and read through the stories, you begin to really fathom the grace and love of God.

One of my favorites in all the stories is Jacob’s dream. Not so much because of the dream, as amazing as that is. Mostly I’m always interested in the beginning of the story where he lays down and puts his head on a rock? Why a rock? Wouldn’t the dirt ground be more comfortable? Then he has his amazing dream and…

Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” ~Genesis 28:16

I think that will be us towards the end of our lives. We will look back at all that God has done and finally realize He was with us the whole time. And we will say, “Surely the Lord has been with us- and we did not even know it!”

Because the Lords’ love is greater than we could ever fathom:

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 8:38-39

So go to your Christmas Eve service, and hear the story again. And may you be blessed to find something new and fresh about who God is and what He is doing in your life!

Merry Christmas!

Lord God, help us to see you at work in our lives right now. We don’t want to be like Jacob, realizing you were with us only after the fact. Help us to stand before you open-handed and with open hearts, ready to receive all the gifts you have for us. We thank you so much for the most awesome gift you’ve given of Jesus. At this time of year we remember how good you are and rejoice. But we also know that Easter will come, and that there was a sacrifice that had to be made on our behalf. Help us to truly treasure the gift you have given- Yourself, and Your Love. Thank you, Jesus. Amen!

The Lost Art of Waiting

The Lost Art of Waiting

Inspiration

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. ~Psalm 27:14

The next morning, after decorating the tree. These two like to play musical chairs with the ornaments.
The next morning, after decorating the tree. These two like to play musical chairs with the ornaments.

We got our Christmas tree up! And as soon as the tree was up, the kids were asking every five minutes when we could decorate the tree. I explained how we had to wait. When asked why, I wasn’t really sure. I just remember Dad always saying something about letting the branches settle. My daughter watched the tree intently for a few minutes and then said, “The branches aren’t doing anything. Can we decorate the tree now??”

The next day (unable to take the pestering any longer) we decorated the tree. As soon as the tree was decorated, the kids ran to their rooms and disappeared for quite a bit- only reappearing from time to time asking for paper, a box, and some tape. My eldest was the first to emerge from his room with presents wrapped in printer paper that he’d colored on. A few minutes later and my daughter followed suit. They just couldn’t wait to put presents under the tree.

If you are a parent, you can already guess where this is going. “When can we open the presents!?” I was peppered with similar questions like a goose on waterfowl opener. I kept responding with, “We have to wait.” So of course they wanted to know why we wait, and I didn’t have a really good answer. I am just as bad, as soon as we put the presents under the tree I want to let the kids open them. I want to see those delighted little faces.

By the time my husband came home, I’m pretty sure I looked like I’d crawled through a bush backwards. The words, “Why do we have to wait?” were echoing in my head and I might have been drooling a little.

Why do we have to wait?

And maybe more importantly, why are we so terrible at waiting?

I don’t have to look far for an answer. My cell phone is sitting on the desk next to me while I type this. I don’t really think we wait anymore. Even if I’m at the DMV and need to wait for a half hour, I can email and make phone calls and get things done. I could even watch a movie or play a game. There is no waiting. No quiet time for reflection. Our society is a get-it-now, fix-it-fast society. It seems like a good idea… but…

If you want concrete proof that knowing how to wait is good, then google “The Marshmallow Test.” There was a study done in the late 60s, early 70s. Kids were given a marshmallow and told they could have that marshmallow now, but the adult would leave the room and if they waited until the adult returned, then they could have two marshmallows. Hilarity ensued. But the kids who were able to wait (“to delay gratification”) later in life did better on SATs and more. Interesting…

So partly because of these reflections, and also just because I need a little help- I’ve been making my kids wait (bwahahaha!)*. Instead of dragging them all out the door and into the car, I send them out first where they wait for me to gather the last of our supplies and then come out composed and happy (compared to the old version of yelling and frazzled). Just little things that help them work out what it is to wait for someone or something.

So, again I ask, is it important to know how to wait?

What does this look like for us, for our children? Is it important to know how to choose to be joyful instead of impatient? Is it important to know how to react kindly instead of selfishly? Is it important to know how to sit quietly instead of loudly complaining?

Because we can easily forget that we are a waiting people. Yes, Jesus already came and rescued the world, but we are waiting for his return. Our friends and neighbors are looking at us as an example of Christ. And we are walking through a world full of hurt and pain, and we are waiting for that promised future. So how do we want to show our friends and neighbors that we are a waiting and hopeful people? That we are trusting that God is who he says he is. That we believe in His Word.

How do we show that we are waiting, and full of hope and love?

Lord, this is not the season of presents and busy. This is a season for quiet reflection for what you have done. This is the season for hope and peace. The lights and noise can distract, the busy schedules can almost crush us at times. Forgive us for not having our priorities in order. And for those of us hurting through this season, who are grieving the loss of a loved one and missing those who are no longer on this earth- bring your comfort and joy afresh. Help us to seek out the only One who is going to really be able to heal and fill our hearts. I pray that our relationship with you would be like new, and we would be in awe of who you are and what you have done. In Jesus name, Amen

~Lindsay

*Yes, I laugh like that from time to time. Mostly when my parenting becomes ridiculous.**

**So pretty much daily.

 

Lessons From a 10-Year-Old

Lessons From a 10-Year-Old

Daily Notes Encouragement

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefor I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. ~2 Corinthians 12:9-10

another example of something I didn't think would work, but my husband was like, "Sure! Give it a try!"
another example of something I didn’t think would work, but my husband was like, “Sure! Give it a try!”

It’s Thanksgiving, so let me tell you what I am thankful for- I am thankful that we serve and trust in a God who is still speaking to us if we just take the time to notice.

A few weeks ago we were visiting family, and my beautiful ten-year-old niece took my two littles into the kitchen and made cookies with them. It was a totally new experience for my children. NOT because they’ve never ‘made cookies’ before, but because they had never made cookies before. When I make cookies with my kids I tend to take over. It’s easier if I crack the eggs. It’s less mess if I measure the flour. When they make cookies with me, they are basically waiting for the chocolate chips to come out so they can sneak a few. Otherwise they are just observers. And here is my niece, letting them measure. Letting them each have their own whisk to mix with, because sharing is hard. There was a mess, and there were extra dishes- but my children actually made the cookies.

I observed this and felt a small nudge. There was something for me to learn here…

Then a week later my husband was making eggs and my daughter said she wanted to make eggs too. And again, I watched someone else let her do the things I would not have allowed- only because I didn’t want the extra hassle, the extra mess. Not that I thought that way. My thought was simply it’s just easier if I do it. But my husband took the time to explain how to crack an egg, and then he handed it to her and stepped back. And crazy thing happened- she made eggs!

Again that small nudge. And now my wheels are turning, and I’m thinking about how I need to let my kids try new things…

So then I pick up my devotional and it talks about the importance of letting our kids fail. Because that is real life. In life they are going to fail! And how are we hindering them, and even hurting them, when we have never allowed them to fail in a safe and loving environment!

And I put my devotional down and just laughed. How can you not laugh when God repeatedly underlines a topic for you? Because I had just read a quote on social media that if you fail at something it means you’re trying. And my eldest son had asked me about a quote from a famous inventor who said, “Well now I know 49 ways that doesn’t work.” And he wanted clarification about what that might mean. There had been a theme in my life, and as the topic of the flip side of failure was repeatedly highlighted for me, I heard that quiet voice speaking gentle correction to my heart.

We have our own hens, and this happens sometimes...
We have our own hens, and this happens sometimes…

Failure is important! It teaches us to get up and try again- perseverance people!! I’m sure I could go on and on about the flip side of failure, about how we can teach our children through it. But I need to go make some peanut butter bars for Turkey Day. Correction! My daughter needs to make some peanut butter bars!

Thank you, Lord, that you speak through Children. That you are still speaking to us today. That you have your eye on us, and you are mindful of us. I love that You continue to teach us and bring us from glory to glory! Help us to notice the things you are saying. Help us to open our hearts to really hear Your Voice. And protect us Lord from going astray. I ask especially that you would open our eyes to where we might think we are doing the ‘right’ thing, but we in fact are missing the mark. Thank you for always being good and gentle with us. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

Ha ha!

Ha ha!

Children Encouragement From the Authors

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. ~Philippians 4:8

mom-downloaded-oct-10-174october-10-124When my eldest was only two he started saying, “Ha ha!” in response to adults giving him direction. Not laughing, but in a snarky kind of sing-song voice, “Ha ha!”

I would say, “Time to go to bed.” And he would turn to look at me and say, “Ha ha!”

“Do not throw that toy!” And he may or may not have thrown the toy, but he would look at me, and with more sass than an entire class of middle school girls, he would say, “Ha ha!”

It got to be too much! I was just dumbfounded- where or where did he learn such language? Who taught him to be such a stinker!? I think I bemoaned the situation for a good week. My husband heard all about it. My mother heard all about it. Anyone within a five mile radius of me heard all about my poor baby and this new ‘trick’ he’d learned that was surely going to be the death of me. Two-year-olds should not have that much sass. They just shouldn’t! Dimples, rolly thighs, waddling runs, giggles, and lisps- yes! Those they can have, and in abundance! But sassiness? Absolutely not!

It was a few days into this whole production, when I was driving with my mom. My dad, driving in another car, calls to inform us of his ETA. I realize we are going to beat him to the destination and in a sing-song-snarky-kind-of voice I said, “Ha ha!” And I froze. And my mom’s head slowly turned until she was looking directly at me and she said, “It was YOU! You taught him to say it!!”

And I realized it was me. I taught that precious little rolly polly toddler to say “Ha ha!” in a super sassy voice. I had bemoaned the loss of his innocence, but it had been me leading the way!

And how true that remains to this day! I say things without thinking, things that seem fine for a grown adult to say. And then those same words pop out of their little mouths and I am just horrified! They are like little mirrors that reflect back to us the wrongness of what we have said or done! They tattle on us to strangers! Telling the clerk at the grocery store how many cups of coffee we have had today, or if we maybe were speeding a little bit on the way to get milk!

And these are just the little things!

Thankfully I had the “ha ha” experience with my first child when he was only two. My husband and I reflected a lot on that lesson over the years. We realized that our children listened to us. Whether we really thought they were paying any attention or not. And our words affect how they perceive the world around them. If we are negative in talking about something or someone, they would simply follow our lead. Their perception of the world, our neighbors, or even a friend could be drastically affected by things that my husband and I said.

I quote the verse at the top of this page a lot to my children; especially when we get stuck in complaining or worrying. Or I tell them “Worrying is like running around during a flood with a fire extinguisher. It keeps you busy, but doesn’t help much.” *

All this to say- one of the best ways to protect your child’s innocence is to monitor the words of your mouth. And oh that mouth! We have been warned about it. (James 3) And even more, this is an issue of our hearts. Our hearts should be turned towards God, and filled with God. Because then we will really be speaking wonders into our children’s lives, and into their hearts.

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. ~Luke 6:45

Lord God, thank you that you came down to us. Thank you that you sent your Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts. Forgive us for being sassy, snarky, grumpy, worrisome, or down right cross. Turn our hearts again towards You, help us to search out your Word and your Truth. Fill our hearts up to overflowing with your love and peace, and please bless us to pour out that love and peace into our children’s lives! In Jesus Name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*I was told this was a C.S. Lewis quote? I can’t find the reference, but you can validate it on google if you really want.

 

 

This Moment

This Moment

Encouragement

While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher anymore.” ~Luke 8:49

Simg_20161011_160202o I recently read this story from Luke 8 to my kids. The story is in the midst of a very busy chapter. In Luke 8, Jesus tells the parable of the sower, and the lamp on the stand. Then he gets a visit from his mother and brothers, after that he calms the storm on the lake (no big deal), and heals a demon-possessed man. And still Luke 8 is NOT finished yet.

Do you begin to get the sense of what Jesus’ ministry was like at this point in the story?

When I read the last story in Luke 8, I had to pause. It’s the story of a father, desperate to save his daughter. I’m a mother; I can sympathize with those feelings. So this father runs to get Jesus, and they are trying to hurry back to his house before it is too late. And meanwhile the crowds are crushing Jesus. They want some of this Jesus too. I’m sure if I was that father, I would be shoving back and (probably) yelling for people to get out of the way. I can almost feel his anxiety, his desire to hurry- hurry!

And then Jesus stops and is like, “Someone touched me.” And all the disciples (and I’m sure this father too) are like, “Of course someone touched you! You’re in a huge crowd of people and they are pressing up against you!”

Now at this point in the story, I have always focused on the woman who believed that if she could just touch the hem of Jesus’ robe, she would be healed. The woman who was not supposed to be in the midst of that crowd- if she was bleeding (for 12 years) she had been “unclean” for twelve years. Unable to attend church, to be in society, to be touched… Yet she risks all just to touch Jesus.

That’s a great story of faith.

However, this time while I read the story, I remembered the father. Standing there, probably fidgeting with anxiety and worry. I hate to say it, but if my child was next to death’s door, I would not have cared at all about some random woman in the street. I would have probably thrown Jesus over my shoulder at this point and started running.

But in all the anxiety and worry, in the business and the crowd, Jesus is not anxious. Jesus is not rushed, or panicked. Instead Jesus makes time for the moment he is in. He probably got up extra early that morning and had spent time with God. And more than anything, during his time with God, he had probably been filled up with all those good things that come from God- peace, joy, love, and (dare I say it) PATIENCE! Jesus did not need to rush to the next thing, he did not have to rush to the rescue- because he fully trusted in God, and God’s timing, and God’s plan.

For the first time, as I read this story, I heard the words in Luke 8:49, and felt my heart break along with that father’s heart. “Your daughter is dead. Don’t bother the teacher anymore.” What hopelessness the world can bring us. What utter defeat. What heartbreak.

And what is Jesus’ response to these words that must have shattered that father’s heart?

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

If I were the father in this story, I wonder how I would have reacted? Would I have been angry at the crowd? At the sick woman? At Jesus for not hurrying, for not meeting my time table? Or would those words have caused those shattered pieces of my heart to start to join together again? Would the look in Jesus’ eyes have filled me anew with hope?

This story hit me because of the business. I confess- I’ve been sucked in yet again! We are told to run, run, run! Strive harder, do better, be more! Almost daily I feel the old lie creeping in: You aren’t enough! And I become afraid that those words are true. That I am not enough, that I am unworthy. And so I run around trying to prove myself worth. I worry, and I work, and I worry, and I become so busy…

And Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid; just believe”

img_20161022_133800And, of course, since this is Jesus we’re talking about- that little girl lives. She lives! He raises the dead to life! And I think this story might be hard for parents with sick children. But I hope you can let Jesus’ words raise your heart back to life. There is no fear in Christ. There is love, hope, joy, and peace! And yes, His answers to our prayers don’t always look like what we think is best. But we do not need to believe the lies, we do not need to be afraid, and we do not need to run on ahead in our own strength- striving to prove we are able or worthy.

I want to be more like Jesus in about a million and two ways, but this story highlights for me the need to be in this moment. This moment. It will not come again. I have this day with my children as they are. They are growing and changing. The world around us is always changing, but we have one constant hope that we can hold on to. One rock that we can cling to. One life preserving raft that will not sink or fail.

We can believe in Jesus. And then we can be brave.*

Lord, sorry for believing the lies of this world. Sorry that I have not trusted in your love, in your ability to see me. Help me to turn my eyes again back to You. Increase my faith, like the woman who was willing to risk all just to touch your robe. Bless me to be the kind of parent who enjoys this moment I have with my children. And bless and protect our family, point our feet towards you and help us to walk forward bravely and in faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*when I looked up an antonym for afraid, I was given the word brave. So if the opposite of being afraid, is being brave- if, when we believe in Jesus, we were to become brave– what would that look like?

 

 

What is the Question?

What is the Question?

Children From the Authors

img_20160918_154053For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. ~Matthew 7:2

A trap that I find all too easy to fall into is judgement. I’m not sure why we are so quick to give opinions and to even criticize others, but I see it happening all the time. It’s even worse on the internet, because there is an anonymity that might makes us feel safe and secure in quickly spouting off our opinions. Those kinds of statements- that are quickly and perhaps thoughtlessly given- are usually not our best statements. Especially if they are judgmental statements.*

So my eldest was playing with friends. And one friend wanted to play a certain way, and no one else did. So Friend huffed off to the side, and crossing his arms over his chest loudly and peevishly proclaimed, “You aren’t being any fun! I’m not playing anymore!” Mothers were there, and the situation was dealt with promptly and Friend is not the focus of this story- my eldest is. He, having very clear ideas of right and wrong, had some comments about Friend when we were on our own. Something along the lines of, “He’s not very fun, is he?” Part of me wanted to agree and leave it alone, but that is lazy mothering- so I dove right into the deep end and began another parenting marathon. I reminded my child that he’d said those exact same words not so long ago. He tried to argue that his case was different, and on and on we went…

until I finally asked him, “What can you learn from this?”

Because when we refuse to sit in a seat of judgement over others, and instead choose to look at ourselves and where we have been and what we can do- well it seems a lot more productive to me than stating our opinions. We ended up talking about how he could have helped Friend, and apply that knowledge to how my son plays with his friends in the future.

I’ve been applying this question almost daily in my own life.

“What can I learn from this?” has led to other questions like: What could I have done differently? How can I help? Was I kind and considerate? Is the other person hurting?**

Most of us don’t walk around openly advertising the struggles we are facing every day, so it makes it easy for others to make judgmental statements. For example, you might have recently met a woman at the grocery store whose children were apparently doing their best to reenact Tarzan (the woman may or may not have looked like me, but I will plead the 5th). It would be easy to make a few judgmental statements about that mother. However, if you knew she’d only gotten a few hours of sleep the night before, and had just come from a funeral, and that the kids (being kids) were simply acting out the emotions they couldn’t understand that were surrounding them and their family… Well, if you looked at that woman through those lenses, what would you do then?

There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. ~James 4:12

We have only one Judge. And He sees all those things that we, as people, cannot see. He sees our hearts, and knows what we are walking through. He is a good and capable judge. I know I’m preaching to the choir when I say, “Let’s stop judging each other.” But I did like the idea of having a way to stop those thoughts from fully forming- to instead ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?”

Lord God, you alone see the hearts of men. You know our inner struggles, and hurts, and you also know our strengths and gifts. Help us to call out the best in others. Help us to work through our shortcomings first, and to commit to becoming better disciples of Jesus. Help us to react in love and kindness. Thank you for being a good and just judge, and for your many, many mercies to us. Bless us to extend those mercies to others. In Jesus’ Name, amen!

~Lindsay

*This is not meant to be a condemning post, and I am so very sorry if it came across that way! It is more that I wanted to share the idea of how to talk with our kids about processing situations where making a judgement about someone might be the easy thing to do.

**Really these questions work in many situations- not just when you’re tempted to judge others. They work for when we are nervous, scared, when we feel like something didn’t go quite right, or if we are sad, lonely… anything really. You could even ask them if things are going well. I think it’s called being self-reflective. Which is apparently a new idea for me… [insert sheepish looking emoji here]

When adults try to playground...
When adults try to playground…
What Is Prayer For?

What Is Prayer For?

From the Authors

I was reminded today of something I had forgotten: what prayer is for.

I think we get so caught up in what we think we need, and what we think would be best, that we easily forget what prayer is really for. Or, possibly, I could say who prayer is really for.

Now there is not one answer to the question ‘What is prayer for?’. There are probably a million answers. But I’m talking about those moments where you are almost groaning out loud in frustration. When you are wondering, is it something lacking in me? Is there something more I should be doing? When you are searching for just the right words to move God’s heart.

Recently I have been groaning in prayer, racking my brain and trying to figure out how to move God’s heart.
Silly, silly me. I had forgotten:

My soul glorifies the Lord
    and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
    for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.
~Luke 1:46-50

I move God’s heart. Not because of big fancy words, not because I have been good (or bad). I move His heart, because God loves me. Just like my children can move my heart when they come to me, I am God’s child, and I move his heart.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! ~1 John 3:1

And while prayer is for praising God, for presenting our petitions to the Lord, for others, for ourselves- the one thing I forgot was that when I pray, something in my heart changes. I was so focused on trying to move God’s heart, I forgot that my heart is healed when I am connected to God. It’s as if the simple act of choosing to pray, turns my gaze- or even my entire being- towards God. And if I am looking at God, I am not focused on me. I am not distracted by the bad around me- instead my attention is being consumed by Him.

I’ve done it a hundred times. Ever have a situation that is so upsetting or frustrating, and then start to pray about it… and even before the situation is resolved, something in your heart begins to change? Suddenly you have more grace for those involved, suddenly you have compassion and can start to understand where the other person is coming from. When I pray, more often than not, the first thing to change is me.

Prayer is for me.

Prayer is for a million things, but first and foremost prayer is for me.

And it’s for you.

Even when walking through some of the most difficult and heart breaking situations in life- prayer is for you. When things are going well- prayer is for you. When you are heartbroken and alone- prayer is for you. When all is well- prayer is for you. When you aren’t sure you can even face the next day- prayer is for you.

If it’s a day that ends with the letter y, then prayer is for you.

I have a saying. Well, I have a few. But I have one that I say so often, my daughter picked this Coke out for me:img_20160827_115802387_hdr

And when I’ve walked through some of the harder times in life, I feel like this could be my motto for prayer. Because at some point I’ve used up all my resources, worked at the problem from every angle, reached the end of my rope and come up empty handed. I’ve felt defeated, and I’ve admitted that I was facing the impossible. In those moments, what should I pray for? It might be a little late by then, but it’s as good a time as any to pray for the impossible. Because when He comes through for you, then you’ll know that He is mindful of you. And if things don’t turn out how you imagined, your eyes might be opened to what He has been doing through it all. And there is something about praying those big impossible prayers, about casting all your hopes and fears on Him who set the world spinning around the sun, about knowing that you cannot do a thing, so you are going to have to rely on Him. As soon as I turn my gaze towards Him, already my heart is changing, already He is answering my cry.

God is faithful in prayer. He is faithful to you.

And prayer is for you.

Lord, thank you that you are faithful to us. That you are mindful to us. I ask for boldness in prayer, and discernment to see what you are doing around us and in us. Help us not to give up on prayer, help us to tune out the voices that bring fear, anxiety, and anger. Instead fill our hearts with your peace, love, and understanding. And thank you for creating prayer, for making prayer multifaceted and multipurposed. You are good, amazing, and so very brilliant. Thank you, Lord! Amen

~Lindsay