Living in the Moment

Big Picture Parenting / Teachable Moments

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With three children under the age of 5 most of my day is spent instructing, disciplining, and redirecting.  If I am not sweeping crumbs, wiping mouths, or changing diapers, I am disciplining.  It’s a never ending task. Much like the laundry…sigh.

My oldest son, who was four at the time of this occurrence, is my discipline challenge.  He is full of life and enthusiasm.  He is determined, eager and adventurous.  He is also stubborn, impulsive, and hot-tempered – easily frustrated when he doesn’t get it right the first time.

Recently as I was preparing dinner, waiting for my husband to arrive home from work and trying to keep the kids occupied during the “witching hour” – that time between late afternoon and when your husband finally walks in the door – my son needed my attention.  Because I was cooking, I was not able to give him what  he wanted and in an outburst of anger he screamed and told me “I don’t love you mom!  I wish you would go away!  I wish you would go to jail!”  Okay, I told myself, trying to calm my nerves as tensions mounted -  dinner simmered, the twins running through the kitchen playing chase, and now my son was screaming at me.   I have several options.  I can either run away and leave – go get in the van and head to Starbucks for a latte thinking “that will show him! He will miss me when I am gone.”  (I seriously considered it for about two minutes).  Or, I can handle the situation.  In that very moment, The Lord reminded me of Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

So I stopped what I was doing and walked over to my son and sat on my knees  so that we were eye to eye.  In a firm but gentle tone looked him right in the eye and  told him that no matter how much he wanted me to leave or go away, I would never leave him.  I would never forsake him.  I would always be here for him no matter what!  I explained to him that God created us for one another.  God created me to be his mom and he created Xan to be my son.  As people who love and obey God, we are to be like Him.  I was reminded that I am Jesus with skin on to my son.  I am his example.  I watched his face soften and his eyes fill with remorse as his four year old body fell into mine and I held him on my lap for a few minutes cradling him like a baby knowing that these moments will be fewer and farther between as he gets older and grows larger.  But for now, we enjoyed the moment of discipline.  A chance to reconnect and the opportunity for me to express my love to him.

This is exactly what God does with us in our moments of discipline.  He reminds us of who He is and we are reconnected to Him as He expresses His love for us.

If it were not for the prompting of God’s word and His reminder of how He loves me as my Heavenly Father and for His example in my own life,  I would have been at Starbucks drinking my latte.  Thank you Lord for speaking to my heart in that moment and showing me the way.

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Power Source ~ Starting with Self

Christian Life

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Hi there- Summer here. Weeks ago, after a meeting with Joy, Nicole & Brianne about the purpose & direction of this blog, I pulled an all-nighter…not by choice, but by God.  Literally, I was up all night.  You see, the Lord beautifully seeks us when our hearts and minds are quiet…and, well, for me, the nighttime is often the only time when my mind is at solitude.

This particular week, I had been praying for spiritual intervention & guidance about what needed to be written here…and, wouldn’t you know…the week ended up being a ‘busier than usual’ one.  Man…the enemy is sly & will stop at nothing to distract, disarm & distance us from the Lord when we so earnestly need Him.  Keep that in mind ;)

Anyway, that night, there was a resounding message from the Lord…clear and pronounced: There is POWER in MY Word! Words and phrases began to zip through my mind…like a spinning top…I didn’t want to miss it!  I knew I wouldn’t remember if I waited til morning, so I jotted them down at that moment.  The message taking shape was…’we walk according to the wisdom of God’s Word.’  It is the voice of God given to lead us.

Recently, my daughter was sick.  Now, in general, I’m conservative when it comes to treating illness.  Mostly, I feel pretty confident in being able to manage my child’s illness without calling the doctor.  This time…not so much.  It seemed to be a reaction I couldn’t explain & where I lacked wisdom, I knew I needed to seek a professional…someone trustworthy that knew my child’s history & would be able to shed some light on what was going on with her.  So, off to the doctor we went.  Makes sense, right?  YES.  I needed an answer.  There was no hesitation as to whom I would seek.  Now, chances are, the doctor is not going to give us a handbook on WHY our child is feeling the way they are (wouldn’t that be awesome if they did??!), BUT…their voice of expertise is usually enough to settle our minds and hearts at that moment…and for the most part, it’s usually a quick answer… an immediate explanation to soothe our worried spirits.  And, that day, it did.

But…consider this: in our day-to-day, moment-to-moment life experiences, where there is not a simple diagnosis or clear path to follow, we need wisdom. We need answers.  We need guidance.  We need revelation.  We need direction. We need a supernatural presence. We need access to a word that is not like ours – a thinking that is higher than our own.  This is our power source…the perfect handbook for life.  It’s God’s Holy Word.  And, the great physician of all our fears is Jesus.

So, we shouldn’t ever feel powerless as moms, right?  I mean, we have the perfect guide to praying over our children.  If we read enough Bible verses to them, surely they will end up okay…you think?  Back in January, during one of the very first meetings with our moms small group, I had a revelation…a HUGE one.  God is the builder of my home.  Not me.  I am merely an influence… an important one, for sure, but my labor is in vain without a clear connection to a greater power source…in God’s word.  The Lord used this verse to ignite this revelation:  “Flesh gives birth to Flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to Spirit.”  (John 3:6)  As a mom, I can impart values, stimulate creativity, develop compassion, modify weaknesses, and nurture strengths.  I can open up life to another individual.  And, I can open an individual up to life. (Jean Fleming, A Mother’s Heart).  Think of it this way…the values we impart, the morals we share, the goals we make are all directly influenced by our attachment to Jesus…His word, our belief of His word, & our understanding of WHO He is.  We cannot adequately disciple our children without being sharpened by the Lord’s Word…which means regularly studying it, meditating on it, & applying it.

I was UNDONE by this realization.  I mean, YES, I read the Bible.  Yes, I valued it & believed every word.  But, what impact did it have on my parenting?  Were my thoughts aligned with His?  Were my values His values?  Was I demonstrating the reliability of God’s word by sharing the POWER of it with them?  Was I leading my children into a deeper relationship with Him?  Was I teaching in a full-bodied, savory way that would whet my children’s appetite for God?  During that week, I considered my motives, motivations & methods.

Needless to say, a spiritual conversion began to take place.  The Lord tells us…”Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave…”(Matthew 20: 26-27).  What was my life demonstrating? Was I a servant for the Lord?  What were my goals for my children?  How did I define success?  How did I react to being inconvenienced?  Did my children see a “gentle, quiet spirit” in me…a heart that the Lord values? (1 Peter 3:4).

I meditated on this question specifically…Have I put myself under the authority of God’s Word so that I can teach it to my children?  The answer was NO.  You see, before this realization, I had justified my parenting as great…simply because I loved my children dearly, they were well-behaved (I took that as a sign that I was doing a good job), they showed evidence of spiritual conviction & demonstrated that, & they seemed to value what I valued…and since I valued the ‘right things,’ they would too…and they’d live happily & earn success in their careers, have an amazing husband and godly wife & I’d secretly feel good about myself, seeing them achieve and make a great name for themselves (and for me…ultimately).  What a difficult realization.  I was embarrassed seeing myself in such a self-serving light.  And, boy was I humbled! Ugly characteristics and ways of thinking were revealed that needed re-shaping by the Lord…and I knew that this would only be achieved through full reliance & surrender of myself to His word and teachings.  We will be “measured by nothing less than the full stature of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13 ~ New English translation).  The next few days/weeks, I felt as though I was in an identity crisis.  Insecurity had taken over & I was forced to rely on the Lord to get through those days.  I was questioning every single aspect of my mothering.  With time (and especially now), I was given a bit of clarity.  I saw that a part of me was ‘dying to self.’  Even though I was saved many years ago, the Lord was re-claiming this part of my life, which I had so strongly guarded…without even realizing it.

In thought & word & deed, the Lord’s spirit will renew us from within…this is true for us FIRST (because God is a God of the individual) & then for our children as His spirit gives birth to spirit (John 3:6…see above).  Unless we are attached to the vine (Jesus & His word), we cannot impart anything worthy of Christ to our children.  Every sacred word…will have a shelf life.  Nothing will stand for eternity…for the long view.  And, we will be exhausted, flustered, frustrated, and heavy-laden.

Moms, we need a spiritual reconstruction.  Are you with me?  We need a spiritual inventory.  We need to ask the Lord to reveal & dilute the ugliness of our hearts…to highlight the source of our motivations, to unveil the purpose behind our motives…to re-direct our hearts and minds in His name.  Let us be earnest in our request.  Let us be a credit to His kingdom.  Let us be qualified to pass the torch to our children.  Let us be forgiven everyday for our shortcomings.  Let us use God’s word as a prayer book for our children & our families.  Let us pray to this end: to share the sacred & TRUE word of God with our children so that “they may enjoy an abundant and long life (Deuteronomy 6:2-3).

God will never lead us any direction contrary to His Word. – Beth Moore

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Hide and Seek

Christian Life / Teachable Moments

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My 5 year old has an obsession with hide and seek.  He constantly is asking, usually when I’m really needing to fold laundry or unload the dishwasher, to come find him.

On this particular day I caved and walked away from the mound of clothes on my bed to go count.  1,2,3,4…..insert lots of giggles….5,6,7,8..ready or not here I come.  More giggles erupt from behind a chair in my bedroom.  “I found you,” I yelled. “Oh man!!” Count again. A reluctant okay. 1,2,3… More giggles.  This repeated itself for about 5 more times.

I quickly realized he was hiding in the same place EVERY time, and yet every time he is shocked when I find him.

After the 5th time I felt the Holy Spirit speak. He has a way of breaking into normal, mundane moments and totally rocking your world.  I felt Him say, Joy, I am always in the same place.  I never leave, I just ask you to make time to seek me out.

Wow. Oh the joy that awaits us when we walk away from the never ending tasks at hand and find Him.  Jeremiah 29:13-14 says ” If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me.  I will be found by you,” says the Lord. Every time, all the time.  He’s waiting on us to seek Him out.  No counting required.

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Raising the Light

Big Picture Parenting

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Raising the Light. It may seem like a simple enough phrase, but through it flows my passion. To me, Raising the Light encompasses my life purpose; my calling from God. I am a mother, called to bring my children up in the ways of the Lord.

I desire to see a difference in the next generation- the generation of my children.  I want my kids to not see the Bible as just a bunch of rules that hold them prisoner, but as the Book of Life that will set them free. I want them to know the love of God, not just the wrath of God, and I want my passion and my husband’s passion for the Almighty  to be passed on through generations.

As parents (and mothers specifically) we are called to train our children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6).  We are called to talk to them about The Lord and His ways throughout the day (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).  God gives us this direction as a game plan to set our kids up for success. So why is it so hard?

The Barna Group did a study in 2009 in which they found that less than .5% of American adults 18-23 have a biblical worldview. Less than half of one percent! And this number includes the Christian population! (Click here to see the study) No wonder the world looks as it does with so much darkness. But it also shows that following God’s plan for raising children is not the norm in our culture.

Personally, I did not see much passion for Jesus or the Word of God in my house growing up. We went to church on Sundays and prayed before holiday meals, but that was about it.  So often our tendencies are to parent the way that we were parented.  But that is not the way that I want my family to live; I want to do it differently. It is just not always easy. It means that I have to be in constant communication with the Father so that He can teach me.  I must be constantly learning in order to teach.  And I must consistently die to myself so that my kids can see life.

I want this to be a community of moms that comes together and shares; resources, ideas, struggles, success, and just everyday stories.  A community that learns to parent with passion together.

I want our children to be the light.  I want our kids to shine with the light of Jesus in a dark world and for them to make things a little brighter for those generations yet to come.

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