Helping women realize their God-given calling and purpose as moms

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4 Ways to Overcome the Invisible Struggle that Every Mom Faces

4 Ways to Overcome the Invisible Struggle that Every Mom Faces

by Sue Detweiler

The Invisible Struggle

Every day there is an invisible struggle which can be intensely raging in the mind, and it will be seen on the outside through our emotions and actions. Galatians 5 describes the fight:

“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.”Galatians 5:16-17 NLT

What do you crave?

When we choose to satisfy the cravings of the flesh, we will sin. Most of the time when we think about sin, we think about stealing, lying, cheating, quarreling or committing an act of sexual impurity.  However, sin begins as a seed in the mind that takes root and grows into an attitude of jealousy, impurity, idolatry, hostility, and envy, among others. Sinful actions follow these attitudes.  Often the cravings of our souls come from lusting after legitimate needs and trying to fulfill them in illegitimate ways. The Spirit gives us desires that are opposite to what the flesh craves.

The Fruit of Anger

The craving to satisfy one’s own happiness can lead to anger and frustration. An emotion in itself is not good or bad, but how we choose to act upon it can be.  Anger is a normal human emotion that can fuel positive things. Jesus fashioned a whip in the temple and drove out the money-changers who were stealing from people and dishonoring God’s house. Martin Luther King focused the anger of African Americans into non-violent protests that led to overturning racist laws. Candy Lightner took her own devastation of her thirteen-year-old daughter being killed by a hit-and-run driver to found M.A.D.D. (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). These examples show that the human emotion of anger can be a righteous indignation that leads to positive change.

Most of the time, however, we become angry or frustrated when we do not get what we want. We have a goal that has been blocked. Anger out of control can become destructive. It can make you feel like you are at the mercy of a powerful emotion that is unpredictable and at times irrational. Anger can vary in intensity from mild irritation to intense feelings of rage. Anger is accompanied by physiological changes: heart rate and blood pressure go up. You also get an adrenaline rush, which is like gasoline to fuel our “fight or flight” response.

Uncontrolled anger can be devastating to a child. Anger tears down protective boundaries of self. Anger itself can be a weapon of control and manipulation. When a parent uses anger as a weapon, the children will grow in a fear-based environment rather than cultivating a culture of love and respect.

See your Reflection in the Mirror of God’s Word

Have you ever seen your own angry red face in the reflection of a mirror? I never knew I had anger issues until I was faced with the daunting task of potty-training a toddler. By the fourth mishap of the day I was pulling off her jeans with such force that I am sure I scared her. Then I screamed and caught sight of my face reflecting back at me in the mirror: ugly and red, distorted by rage, this was the face my daughter was seeing.

Seeing your reflection in the mirror of God’s Word brings truth of your own need to change. It is easy to point your finger and look at other people who have out of control anger. It is another thing to honestly assess how you personally deal with anger. Whether you express, suppress, or calm your anger is your choice, but anger is not an emotion you can ignore. Unexpressed anger can come out in passive aggressive ways, such as cynical comments, cutting looks, critical judgments, which contribute to broken relationships.

Our children can receive the brunt of our unexpressed anger. We may be angry at a situation at work and seem perfectly calm there, but come home and make life miserable for everyone we encounter. Children pick up on our hostility and blame themselves for it. An angry mother is the source of much pain for her children.

Here are 4 ways to overcome this invisible struggle that every mom faces:

1. Reflect

Jesus gave His followers a pattern to overcome temptation in the prayer that we often call the Lord’s prayer. In this prayer that is prayed across the globe as a model for daily prayer we find what we need to overcome the enemy on a daily basis.

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:9-13)

Just by setting aside in your day to read the Bible and reflect on God’s ways will change everything. When you understand that your role as a mom is bringing God’s kingdom into your very home. His will is being done as you follow Him and teach your kids about His word. Whenever you reflect on what His word says and what His will is you will know how to follow Him. As you pause to ponder, listen and reflect, your questions will be answered and you will receive wisdom that comes from heaven above.

2 Trust

You can trust that God will give you your daily bread as you seek Him. Your daily bread is not just a crusty loaf, it is a metaphor for everything that you need. Anytime you feel overwhelmed in the moment, focus on the fact that God will give you everything you need in the moment.

Earlier I told the story of how I lost my temper while I was potty training my oldest daughter. She is now 23, engaged to be married, and a nanny to 2 twins. The other day she was telling me how she feeds two newborn babies at once and I sat there amazed. Wow – how does she have the patience for this?  The grace to care for newborn twins comes from God.

You can trust God. The things that seem so difficult in the moment are really simple to the God of the universe. You just get to put your tiny hand into His. Like a child look into His eyes and trust Him to show you how to parent even as He parents you.

3. Prepare

Jesus said, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One.” In this prayer, He was teaching us to prepare for battle. Do mom’s do warfare? YES! Every single day you battle against the forces of hell who understands better than you do how you are on the frontlines. You are teaching the next generation how to love God and how to live in the world.

So everyday prepare for the battle. Ask God to lead you in His ways and to reveal the hidden traps. Get dressed in His whole armor (Ephesians 6) and His apron of humility. Let your heart be filled with the fruit of His love which covers a multitude of sins.

Every mom faces this same battle… you can overcome in Him. 

4. Believe

Let your mind and heart hope and believe in Him. Greater things are yet to come and greater things are yet to be done in your home. As you triumph over dishes, laundry, and potty training you are being trained to change the world through the power of God’s love. “The Hand That Rocks The Cradle Is The Hand That Rules The World” is a poem by William Ross Wallace. He praises moms for being world-changers and national-influencers.

Believe that God is able to use you to change history as you fully embrace the task of pouring into the next generation. Let your mind think thoughts of peaceful confidence as you enjoy your daily life as a mom. Reflect, Trust, Prepare and Believe – 4 ways to overcome the invisible struggle that every mom faces.

 

3 Ways for Moms to Live the Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12

3 Ways for Moms to Live the Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12

by Sue Detweiler

Mother Teresa was a tiny woman who transformed a continent. Taking a vow of poverty and answering the call within the call she began a movement of nuns who cared for those dying of Leprosy and AIDS. This feisty woman knew how to live the Golden Rule in daily life. This is what she said,

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.

If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.

For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

― Mother Teresa

Be a Mom that Changes the World

As a mom, you may never win a Nobel Peace Prize for feeding your children waffles for breakfast, but you can transform the next generation by following Jesus’ example and living your life by the Golden Rule. Even though mother Teresa did not have biological children, she impacted the next generation by the simple truth’s of her life. Her life was lived sacrificially.

The Golden Rule can be found in Matthew 7:12 where Jesus said “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets”. This Scripture has been called the Golden Rule because it is a summary of the Sermon Jesus gave on the mount and it is found in the teachings of many cultures. It is a standard that has helped form the moral code of society.

Rule 1: LOVE

Love is an active expression of your commitment to lay your life down for someone else. It is constant affection and unconditional regard. You are called to love your child as you would like to be loved. Sometimes you will feel the feelings associated with love… and sometimes you won’t. However, the biblical meaning of agape love is not based on emotion. You must love your child enough to disciple them in God’s ways, bringing truth to bear on every area of life.

Rule 2: Compassion

Compassion is recognizing the suffering of others and taking action to help. Teaching your child to have empathy towards another child’s pain is so important for their moral development. One way you can teach this is by taking time to be compassionate for how your child is feeling.

A wrinkle in your child’s sock will feel like nothing to you, but it may really bother them as they wear their tennis shoes. I made so many mistakes as a mom, by not recognizing and allowing my children to feel things. I would try to talk them out of their feelings and reason with them why they should feel differently.

It’s a tricky thing to validate your child’s feelings, and yet teach them about the bigger picture of the needs of children in other nations. A real change came for my daughter Sarah at age 12 when she and her older sisters traveled with Wayne and I and my mom to Brazil to adopt our sons Dre and Zeke. Being able to see poverty first hand and opening our home to boys that had been orphans for most of their lives changed my daughter from being an egocentric adolescent to care about the needs of others.

Ask yourself this question. Do you as a mom live a life of compassion that reaches across social economic and racial barriers? If you live a radical life of compassion, your children will see compassion in action.

Rule 3: Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a conscious choice to pardon the actions of someone who has hurt you. Although everyone’s natural instinct is to self-protect, forgiveness is a a gift of mercy and grace to someone else who has wronged you. Forgiveness is not a feeling, forgiveness is a choice. Forgiveness is an act of your will to extend to others what was extended to you by Jesus when He died for your sins. Forgiveness is motivated out of your obedience and love of God.

You can teach your child forgiveness by being a forgiving person. Do you hold grudges?  Does your anger or bitterness towards your spouse provide an undercurrent in the house that everyone can feel?  Forgiveness is not forgetting or sweeping things under the rug. but forgiveness is costly.

Be a mom of outstanding Character

If you are a woman who loves Jesus fiercely, you will obey His commands. His rule for you life will compel you to walk in love, compassion and forgiveness every day of your life. If you walk in this way, day in and day out, your children will learn the Golden rule directly from you. Even if your kid’s don’t seem to be “getting it” make the Golden Rule a standard of your life anyway. In the end, it’s between you and God anyway.

 

2 Keys to Unlocking Your Potential as a Mom

2 Keys to Unlocking Your Potential as a Mom

by Sue Detweiler

If being a mom were as simple as doing the right task at the right time in the right way, you would have self-help books that would make you an expert. The hard thing about being a mom is that it is not so much about what you do, but it is more about who you are.

Maya Angelou’s famous quote applies to moms, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This is true of how our children will look back at how we raised them.  If you and I are to be moms that truly connect with the heart of our child, we need to look at those wounded places in our own hearts that imprison us.

Raw Moments as a Mom

If you were to write about your most raw moment as a mom, what would you talk about? Most of the time we do not talk about our mistakes. We have learned if we keep these insecurities under lock and key, we will be more respected.  The problem is this lock and key also imprisons you and I to our flesh rather than granting us freedom in Christ.

Behind Bars

Unresolved issues can put us behind bars. A divorce, a miscarriage, abuse, addiction, disappointment are things that can imprison us in our past. Sometimes we shake the bars trying to get out, other times we just slump down in a chair giving up, believing the lie that we will never change.

How many times do we become trapped behind bars, unable to make progress: Ensnared in emotional jails, confined by financial struggles, or imprisoned in lifeless existence? Sadly, each of us have keys hanging around our necks, temporarily hidden from view, but available to each one.

The Key of Faith

The key of faith in God will unlock the hidden realities of heaven on earth. Jesus died for our sins, not so that we could be miserable until He came again, but so we could live the life of an overcomer. When you put faith in God, mountains move and prison doors unlock.

Martin Luther King Jr. said “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Your faith is in God not in yourself. The key of faith will unlock future possibilities. In order for you to be the best mom in the world for your child. you must be a woman of faith.

The Key of Obedience

To obey God is to make Him the highest authority in our lives. Obedience is to completely follow His Word, His will, in His way. We chose to follow because of our love for Him. We surrender or own short-term preferences, for His eternal promises.

We are called to obey, right away, without delay. Mother Teresa said “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” It is in our daily walk of obeying God in the small places in our lives that we apply this key to be truly free.

When we put the keys of faith and obedience in the lock of our jail, the very bars that imprisoned us will become rails of a bridge of breakthrough. This bridge will carry us to a new place of freedom, but it will also help our children as they follow along the freedom path.

Teaching Our Children Faith and Obedience

The best way for you to teach your children about faith is to be faithful to God Himself, to His word, to His will, and to walk in His ways. The best way to teach your children obedience, is for you to have an obedient heart towards God.

Yes, what you say and what you do as a mom is important. But the most important thing is who you are.

 

 

4 Ways to let the Hot Air OUT of your Anger

4 Ways to let the Hot Air OUT of your Anger

by Sue Detweiler

It’s the fourth of July and you want the fireworks that you experience as a family to be in the sky, not an explosion of anger in your home. To celebrate your freedom in Christ, lets talk about 4 steps to let some of the hot air out of your anger.

1. Laugh

I don’t know about you, but I need a dose of humor in order to be a good mom. It’s one of the things that as I look back at my mistakes as a parent, I wish I would have laughed more at the toddler mishaps. Experts say “a well-developed sense of humor can boost a person’s immune system, contribute to a more optimistic outlook on life, and increase self-esteem.”*

In tense situations laughter is good medicine – so laugh! Laugh at yourself and how intense you are. If you are too upset to laugh, take a break. Watch a fun movie to get your mind off the problem. Let the toxicity of the moment evaporate so that you are able to see the truth in the situation rather than the exaggerated details of your mind.

Bill Cosby said, “Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it. ”

2. Listen

When I become angry, usually it is a red flag that I am thinking negative thoughts that lead to irrational feelings. Usually I am putting myself and my goals before others. It’s in those moments that if I can silence myself and listen to God and listen to the needs of others. Even a cranky toddler can be communicating that they are tired and need a nap or hungry and need a snack. If I truly stop and listen I am more likely to respond in love rather than anger.

Become a good listener not only of words, but be a discerner of the deeper issues of the heart. Listen to find out what is really happening in the moment. Sometimes the words a person speaks is just camouflage for what they are feeling in the moment. Listen to the needs of others not just your own.

3. Learn

Part of walking with God is being a life-long learner of His ways. If we form a habit of regularly becoming irritable and angry even at the smallest issues with our families, we need to seek to learn a different way. We won’t learn if we continue to make excuses that “I’m a redhead and redheads get angry.” Rather, when we admit that we are wrong, confess our sins to another, we are on the path of learning a new way.

As a young mom when I was learning how to replace my anger with God’s love I would sit myself in time out. The girls were even cute enough to “pray for mommy.” I also began to talk about my anger as sin and to confess it openly to my husband, often in front of the children. I wanted them to know that it was not okay for me to respond in anger. Bringing my own anger into the light really helped me to get free.

4. Love

A mother’s love is unconditional. A mother’s love should not be based on whether or not your child followed all the rules. A mother’s love, like God’s love, sees the best in a child. Calls out the potential rather than criticizes their lack. A mother is able to draw out and encourage. A mother’s love is only able to heal the bruises and bumps of the world if it is completely anchored in God’s love.

Nothing is impossible for a mom who holds the world of her newborn baby in her hands. Love pushes over every wall of rejection and every fortress of rebellion.  Love conquers all.

As you laugh, listen, learn and love you will grow closer to God as you grow closer to your family. The anger of the moment will evaporate when you concentrate on walking in God’s fruit of love.

*http://kidshealth.org/parent/growth/learning/funny_toddlers.html

Every Mom Can Overcome Negative Thoughts and Irrational Feelings

Every Mom Can Overcome Negative Thoughts and Irrational Feelings

Have you every wish that you could push a reprogram button at the back of your head that would immediately erase every negative thought, calm every irrational feeling and free you from every sin pattern in your life?  Instead every mom that I know has unresolved issues that pop up at the most inconvenient times. If you thought you were the only one that still struggles you can rest assured that you are a part of a big company of people – called the human race.

The Day I realized I had an anger issue… Fall 1993

Tormenting thoughts battled in my mind as I drove to Saturday night worship.

“I’m the worst mom in the world…

“I can’t believe I blew it again…

“I hate life…

My knuckles were white as I gripped the steering wheel tightly. Strapped in back were two carseats. Tears streamed down my face and were reflected in the eyes of my three year old and one year old. Another baby girl was growing inside my belly and was strapped in by my seatbelt.

The conversation continued in my brain.

“What am I thinking- trying to be a mother…

“They don’t deserve this..

“God – ARE YOU THERE?’

The last question seemed to bounce off the soiled ceiling of my minivan. Somehow I maneuvered into a parking place and carried the car seat and too tightly squeezed the fingers of my oldest daughter as we walked into the church. After signing them in childcare, I breathed a sigh of relief.

I don’t think I heard the sermon that night. I just remembered communion. That is when I really began to sob as my screaming tirades flashed back in my mind.  Now my hands shook as I held a communion cup.

The fight intensified in my mind.

“Who do you think you are?

“You hypocrite…”

“You will never change…”

This last thought was interrupted by the pastor speaking from the pulpit. “I believe there are some of you who have believed a lie that you can’t change. The truth is that Jesus blood has paid the price for your sin and He has delivered you out of darkness. You are free – You just need to believe it, receive it, and act on it.”

It sounded so simple, so why was I so bound? The turmoil within me began to bubble up then calm as though the toxic thoughts had finally been neutralized by the truth of God’s word.

A new phrase began to take shape in my mind. It was an entirely different thought. In fact, it felt like a whisper from heaven that I was finally listening to.

“You are the best mom in the world for your children….”

“You have been called and chosen for the task of being a mom…”

“I will help you become the best mom for them…

Hope began to fill the deepest recess of my soul. For so long I had floundered under the  fog of the enemies torment that these words were like beams of sunshine bringing a multifaceted rainbow of His promise. His personal promise TO ME!

HE HEARD MY CRIES and His transformation is what has fueled my hope to be able to help other moms who have their own moments of hidden desperation. I hope to hear from you – I would love to hear your stories of pain, triumph and trivia of being a mom. Check back here tomorrow when I talk about some ways to replace your anger with His love.

Finding a Safe Place by Sue Detweiler

Finding a Safe Place by Sue Detweiler

 

Finding a Safe Place

When my four daughters were younger I made up a cheer that we would say at different times: “2, 4, 6, 8 who do you appreciate? Momma, momma she’s so great!” Of course we would cheer for the different children by name – but I had my own cheerleaders who gave hugs, kisses, and smiles. I actually felt like a good mom back then.

If we, as mothers, are not careful, we can begin to find our identity in our kids and their behavior. The behavior of your children is not the measure of your value and worth as a person.

A typical book on parenting includes a step by step guide on how to discipline your children. Often, the underlining promise is if one parents “by the book,” the results are perfect children and a predicament-free family.

The problem is that every child has choice, and you and I can’t control what our children choose. We also live in a problem-filled world where stuff happens. God is the only perfect father. He put His children in a perfect garden and still they chose to rebel. In fact we are still dealing with Eve’s choices today. She was the first mom who really had issues.

If you are following this blog, I hope it is because you want to be the most life-giving parent that you can be. You want to realize your God-given calling as a mom. That result is going to take more than a list of “do’s and don’ts.”

As we begin this journey together, tell me about yourself, your kids, your life. Let’s make this a safe place.

So What Are you Doing Today?

So What Are you Doing Today?

By Amy Ford

My husband and I were engaged in our daily, “So, what are you doing today?” phone conversation, and I rattled off my list of the usual chores before summarizing, “You know, a dozen other things that will take up my entire day, which no one will ever notice.”  The words escaped faster than I could consciously compile them.  As mothers, we know what that list looks like: organizing cabinets whose doors no longer close, changing printer cartridges, laundry, mail, diapers, dusting, the meal preparation, good golly, the meal preparation!  An endless busy progression of nothings.

The day continued, with the addition of phone calls and texts and an impromptu play date.  Three diaper changes and two time-outs later, it was 1:30 and I had neither eaten lunch nor accomplished most of my original to-do list.

Are You Willing to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone?

Are You Willing to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone?

by Kacey Randolph

Do you know what it is like to be outside of your comfort zone?   I am naturally a people watcher, I would rather help hold up a wall or hang out in a corner than be the center of attention. I certainly am not one to ASK to speak to a few hundred people on a Sunday morning. God sees me differently though. He wants to use me in a way where He knows I will be completely dependent on Him to complete the task – unless I want to fail miserably, trip over my own two feet and fall flat on my face. All of which I was convinced was going to happen before I even started speaking.

4 Ways to Be a Better Mom

4 Ways to Be a Better Mom

by Christy Hughes

As a mom who loves Christ, I set out to be the example to my children that I believe He wants me to be. By “example” I am referring to patience, kindness, gentleness…the fruit of the Spirit. Some days are great, some days not so great. But one thing I know is that everyday, great or not, they are watching…Everything.

My girls are such a gift. So when I need to look at what it means to follow Christ’s example in being a mom, I’m learning and being reminded of a few things:

Rest in Him

Rest in Him

There I am, once more praying that the baby will stop crying and fall asleep. Hoping I don’t have to go pick him up again since this would make the fourth time in three hours, I was exhausted. And I had it easy without the two year old this time as she was at Nana and Papa’s. — I can’t do this. — I honestly remember thinking that I could not continue in what I was doing, that I could not continue in what I was called to do at that moment, be a mom.

Prayerful Decisions

Prayerful Decisions

I was having a conversation with a friend a few days ago about the choices we make for our children – to homeschool, to not homeschool, to do one or two activities, eat this and don’t eat that. It can be so overwhelming sometimes!

When we think about the decisions that we make for our children, and how they will inevitably affect their own decision making skills, we are reminded yet again that we can not rely on our own resources. We must seek the guidance of our Heavenly Father and in our quiet time with Him,

Naming your Child

Naming your Child

Sue Detweiler: The first day that I met minister Tamyra and her husband pastor Eric, they shared with me their desire to have children. I love to agree in prayer for those desiring to conceive so I grabbed a bottle of oil and I anointed Tamyra and prayed with them. I am rejoicing with them as they are expecting Selah Rose this spring. This is a unique name so I asked Tamyra to share how they chose this name.

Tamyra Morris: “The Bible says in Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold.” A good name is to be chosen, not just given. As parents we have been given the great privilege to choose our daughter’s name. And not just any name, but a good name. A God inspired name. A God given name. A name that means something and stands for something. A name that has Biblical meaning. How exciting, right? And because of this great responsibility, we have been pondering our children’s names for years and had our daughter’s name chosen a year or so before she was ever conceived. And I must say that it was definitely God given and God inspired. The meaning of her name brings our hearts great joy.

The word Selah means, “To pause and calmly think about that.” Biblically speaking, when we see the word Selah in a Psalm or in Habakkuk 3, we should pause to carefully weigh the meaning of what we have just read or heard, lifting up our hearts in praise to God for His great truths. (See Psalm 66:4)

The word Rose is referred to the flower known not only for its exceptional beauty and fragrance, but also as an enduring symbol of love. In essence, when we look at our daughter Selah or even call her name, we will be reminded to pause and think about the goodness of the Lord and praise Him!

We praise and thank God for this wonderful blessing that we will soon meet face to face in the months to come. My husband and I are both honored to have been given the task to choose her name, but more importantly, to be chosen to be her parents. We look forward to the weeks, months and years ahead to share with her and be reminded of the goodness of God each day.

~Selah

Tamyra Morris        

Minister Tamyra and her husband Pastor Eric Morris lead the G Phi Nation youth ministry at Faith Life Church. With a warm smile and a winning personality Tamyra brings warmth and love on a weekly basis to the youth. Tamyra and Eric are expecting their first daughter Selah Rose in the Spring of 2013. 

Does God care?

Does God care?

by Christi Cole

“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy.” ~Psalm 126:5

Does God care that I am hurting this much?  Does He care enough to remove my reproach? I asked that question a hundred times in the months following the loss of our baby boy, Micah—a loss that rocked me to the core. During the subsequent deployment of my husband, Jeff, to Iraq, I continued to grapple with questions about God’s concern for my suffering in the most dry, barren place I have ever experienced.

Changing Seasons

Changing Seasons

by Kacey Randolph

With the beginning of a new school year and Fall approaching, I can’t help but to think of the changing seasons. Not only in reference to our weather but also in our lives. Recently, there have been circumstances in my life where I have wished I could put the world on pause so that I can have a few quiet minutes to pray and to figure everything out – what’s the right thing to do, the right thing to say….Have you ever been there?

I home schooled my oldest son, Ryder, for Kindergarten and this school year he is attending a public school. Changing seasons. While I believe this is the right choice for him this year it didn’t come easily and it is taking some time to adjust. Even though I believe this is the right choice, it is not the most comfortable. When God calls us to something, the directions to accomplish his call are not always down the easiest route.

School has only been in session a few weeks and already, the playground in particular, has offered several learning opportunities. Silly kids disobeying all for the sake of a good time, mean kids being pushy, ugly talk…you know, life. Ryder has come home with a slew of questions including how to handle the second grader who pushes him off of the balance beam. Like most mothers, the thought of someone pushing your kid around has the potential to make you crazy. As I listened to Ryder explain what was going on (which sounded more like a misunderstanding than a bullying situation) I prayed for the right response and how to direct him to handle things the next time. Do you know what I realized? God is building Ryder’s character. God is using this (potentially) pushy second grader to allow me to minister to my child. To teach him about right and wrong choices, to teach him about compassion and how to stand up for what you believe in. It’s not easy to think about your child being pushed but it IS comforting when you realize how God can work through the situation and turn it in to something good, for the betterment of your child.

As adults, we don’t have to be on the playground to experience situations like this. It could be a challenging employer, relative, or even a thing – like a dishwasher that always breaks down, or a new transition. In every instance we have to ask ourselves what can I learn here? How can God be glorified in this situation? How can I respond in a way that glorifies Him? It’s not always easy, but do we really learn when things come easily? Or do we learn best when we are tested and we are able to testify to how God has worked through difficult times?

Maybe your dishwasher breaks down so you take time to slow down and really appreciate God’s provision. Maybe the lady who received bad news at the doctor’s office did so because you were able to operate in boldness and pray with her and when she was given miraculous news the next day, God was glorified.

Life’s seasons will change just like the weather, sometimes faster. There will be times of trial and times of favor. We can make even the hardest of times easier when we look to God for not only comfort but also discernment and understanding.

 

Faith and the Paranoid Mom

Faith and the Paranoid Mom

by Amy Ford

“If I hear about one more baby left in a car, or accidental drowning, or mass shooting, I’m going to lose my mind,” I ranted to myself with all the hormones of a pregnancy in its eighth month.  The constant barrage of news stories such as these is enough to send anyone on a media fast, but with my second child on the way, I am nearer the point of gathering supplies, locking up my home, and huddling with my family for the next eighteen years like some paranoid doomsday prepper.

This, I know, is not rational thinking.  Sheltering our children does them no favors in life, as any pop psychologist will confirm.  However, I think all women who have carried  children in their wombs or gone through the long and difficult process of adopting cannot help but feel a sense of urgency to protectively cling to their precious ones when the possibility of harm arises.  “After all,” I think, “those are my babies!”

That’s when I hear the voice of my Father: “Ahem, your babies?”

Okay, so that still, small voice has to get abrupt with me sometimes.  But, He has a point.  I have heard, and repeated myself, that God does not have grandchildren, only children.  And these lives that have been entrusted to my husband and me are just that: trusts.  We are not owners outright.  These children in my trust belong to God first and foremost.

So what does that say to my mother bear instincts?  Of course, I am responsible for these children: their health, education, safety, and development.  But ultimately, I cannot choose their paths or their destinies.  The oft quoted verse comes to mind immediately: “For I know the plans I have for you…”(Jer. 29:11).  We all know this verse, we repeat it, we write it on baby shower and graduation cards, but do we take it seriously when it comes to our own children?  It is a question of faith.  Do we have enough faith to truly trust God with that which is most precious to us, no matter what God’s plans look like?

Francis Chan, in his book Crazy Love, poses the scenario of a group of people going on a mission trip.  As we send them off, the first thing we always do is pray for their safety.  It seems logical, but what if we changed our perspective?  Shouldn’t our goal be, on mission trips or even everyday life, to see the Kingdom advanced, no matter what?  Jesus tells us to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all else will be granted to us (Matt. 6:33).  Of course we want our missionaries, our children, our spouses to be safe, but I am pretty sure God knows that.  I am also pretty sure that God can get glory out of any situation, and sometimes, His name shines more brightly through adversity and trial than through an easy, comfortable situation.

Many pastors like to remind us of the story of Abraham taking Isaac to be sacrificed out of obedience to God, having enough faith that God would not break His promise.  However, I cannot help but think about what Sarah was doing while her husband and child were away.  Did she know what God had told Abraham to do?  Did she pace the floors? Did she sleep at all?  Did she walk to the edge of their property and peer off in the distance looking for a sign of their return?  I cannot imagine the heart-wrenching hours she spent, knowing or even suspecting what was happening, but not knowing the end result.  However, it was their obedience that shook the world, laying the foundation for every hope we have today.

It is this kind of faith that God desires: not simply acknowledging belief, but living with Kingdom perspective, placing God on the throne of complete sovereignty in our lives.  And every time I look at my son’s beautiful face or feel my baby girl flip inside me, I have to stop and say a prayer of surrender to the Lord.  He knows the plans for me and my loved ones, if only I will trust Him enough to let Him fulfill them.

Milestone Moments

Milestone Moments

by Jennifer Frank

A milestone has come and gone. Three days ago was my daughter’s first day of Kindergarten. As I presented her to her new teacher, her new desk, her new environment, I felt a bit lost in the hoopla all around me. There were cameras (including video), swarms of parents, and a general bustle of excitement and uneasiness. Where I felt lost was in my emotions. I glanced through the room and the hallways and noticed moms with tears in their eyes. Many were consoling each other with gasps of “can you BELIEVE it?!?!” As I quickly surveyed my internal condition, I realized I didn’t feel this way at all . . . then I was confused.

My daughter’s name is Zoe. Zoe means life. In fact, she will refer to herself as “Zoe full of life” and it is for good reason. Wide eyed and expectant, she is determined to make the most of this 5 year old life of hers and, well . . . Kindergarten is the next step. As her momma, I found myself aligning with her heart. She wasn’t sad, scared, intimidated. She was elated. Watching her, I was proud, excited and filled with joy at her expectation and wonder as she discovered all that this “5 year old” experience was going to be.

Later though, confusion started to set in for me. Every time I told someone that it was “Zoe’s first day of school” they looked at me like I just told them my dog ran away. “Are you OK?!”, they would ask, concerned for my broken heart. Um . . . “yeah” (???) Is that ok? I wondered.

For the last three days I have wondered about this. I have asked the Lord His perspective and, as it turns out, I’m pretty encouraged by what I feel like He has shared with me. God’s view is so different from ours. He sees everything in light of eternity. When you look at a moment in time (such as Zoe Frank’s first day of school) it is a minute component in the everything of God’s universe and His great and perfect plan. What I felt the Lord encourage me in, on the flip side, was that He was THERE! He was also very present in that precious moment, reveling and sharing in Zoe’s joy. Participating wholeheartedly in that “milestone” – blip on the radar screen of the universe though it may be.

Our joys are His joys. His joys are to be ours. Our Father celebrates our victories and shares in our sorrows – just as we do for our own children. I long to be so connected with the heartbeat of the Father. It seems to me, that for us, it would be good practice to “try this at home” with our kids. Heaven’s pictures are encapsulated all around us. Shadows and types of God’s heart and Kingdom are everywhere. As life on earth passes like a vapor, I pray that the eternal world of the God we serve becomes so real to us that we lay hold of His perspective and carry His emotions as our very own.

Jennifer Frank lives in Murfreesboro TN with her amazing husband of (almost) 9 years and 2 beautiful children (three actually – however their newest baby is of the dog species). Discovering God is her greatest joy and aspiration. Called to hear from heaven and transmit it’s songs, worship is her primary love – aside from Jesus Himself and stewarding this precious family God has given to her.

Teachable Moments

Teachable Moments

by Tara Treat Lenger

So, Treat was crying in his bed and I went and snuggled him for a bit. When I put him back to bed here’s how our conversation went…
Treat: “I want to ask God to help me feel better because I’m crying.”
Me: “well ask Him and He will.”
Treat: “Well I don’t want to cause I can’t see Him. Is He up in the sky?”
Me: “Well, He’s all around us and He never leaves you.”
Treat. “Well He’s already making me feel better!”
Me: “Good! Then we say “Thank you, Jesus!”
Treat: “Wait, did we read a book about that?”
Me: “um, the Bible?”
Treat: “Yes! The Bible”
pause. . .. .
Treat: “Is Noah going to help me feel better too?”
the end. 🙂

Tara Treat Lenger is a wife and busy mom of two kids and a piano teacher. She treasures teachable moments with her kids that happen on a daily basis.

Tales of a Lion Trainer

Tales of a Lion Trainer

by Sarah Seigand

The name of my oldest son, Judah, means, “Praise the Lord.” It also bears the imagery of a lion as Jesus is referred to as the “Lion of the Tribe of Judah.” Little did we know how fitting that name would be.

One afternoon with our Judah and just about anyone will pick up on his intense personality. From the first moment he tried baby food, to his first touchdown on a football team, every emotion—good or bad—would be written all over his face and expressed fully in as many words possible. That means he’s delightful and joyful, but he also struggles with anger and explosive reactions. Let me tell you how much fun THAT was when he was two.

I could tell early on Judah would fit the description of a “strong-willed child.” I had a very wise and seasoned mom encourage me one day when I hit a Mommy-low-point (you know, the kind where you amaze yourself with your own sinful reactions). This veteran mom said, “Strong-willed kids have a way of making you feel like a failure as a parent.” That may not sound like encouragement to you, but it was to me! I hadn’t pinpointed what was upsetting me (other than his behavior), but she was right… it was my own feelings of failure that really had me on the ropes, ready to give up. I was normal! What a relief.

The Purpose of it all!

The Purpose of it all!

by Kacey Randolph

There it was, staring back at me. My own name with the curser blinking beside it. Staring at me. I hadn’t had to send a “formal” email in quite some time, in fact I can’t remember the last time I had to and for some reason seeing my name on the screen was weird. What was even MORE weird was that is was weird! 

I’m called any variation of Mom all day long – Mom, Mommy, Mama. When my husband gets home its “babe.” My friends call and its straight into conversation because we all know time on the phone is limited when kids are running through the house. The more the curser blinked beside my name the more I felt God speaking to my heart. God lovingly revealed to me that I was compartmentalizing my life. I am a Child of God. I am a Wife. I am a Mom. I am a Friend. I am Kacey.

As women we carry a multitude of roles that require much of us. While my relationship with the Lord is strong, it takes relying on His strength to maintain all of the roles and relationships in my life. It takes putting all of my faith in God to help me maintain all that I am called to do within my family, with my friends, and within my God given purpose. It can be overwhelming at times and I find myself becoming task oriented and focused on getting things checked off of a list. While it is good to be productive, we have to put it all in perspective and know the purpose of it all.

Teachable Moments

Teachable Moments

by Kim Mozingo

My mother picked up my son at pre-school one afternoon and took him for a treat.  As they were enjoying their treat he asked, “So, Grandma, how was your day?”   “I had a great day, how was yours?” responded Grandma.  “You know Grandma, when you have one of those days…where things just don’t go.”  This was not a typical response for my son who always has a “great day” at school, something had happened.  Thankfully, Grandma had some time to invest in this conversation.  As the story unfolded, he had gotten in trouble at school and was quite upset with his teacher over the situation.  He told Grandma how it “hurts real bad down in here (his chest area)” and he did not like it.  He told her, “Actually Grandma, it’s called sin”.  

Adoption Story

Adoption Story

Adoption is not for Cowards. Adoption is difficult and draining. Adoption is costly. Yet God is the Father to the Fatherless. He calls us to place the lonely in families.

It is unusual to see such a large family in today’s American culture.  You may be asking, “Did you plan on having such a large family when you got married?”

The answer would be “NO!” 

In fact after having our oldest biological daughter, Rachel, I wasn’t sure I wanted to have any more children. I felt overwhelmed by raising a toddler.  When our daughter Rachel was one-year-old she was kicked out of “Mother’s Day Out” for biting another baby and drawing blood.  I was distressed at having so little help.

At a retreat, I prayed with another pastor. He kindly said, “Open your heart, God wants to give you more children.”

At first I was mad. Then we prayed together and sensed God’s call to open our heart to having a larger family. A month later we were pregnant with Angela and then had 4 beautiful daughters in a row.

We felt that our family was complete. Then God surprised us.

On three different occasions, Wayne heard about God’s heart for adoption in group settings. Each speaker communicated with passion how the early church was known for adoption.  During these evil days, the Roman society was known to throw unwanted babies into the trash heap or throw them into the river.  Members of the early church would watch and wait for babies to be thrown away, then they would watch the river and the dump for unwanted infants and nurse them back to health and adopt them into families.

Wayne was quietly moved by these stories, but did not share what he began to feel as a prompting until the third time he heard this call of adoption.  On the third time, I was in the same room.  My face went white as I began to weep.  I pictured myself being before the throne of God and hearing Him say “Well done, but I had more children for you.”  When there was a break in the meeting, I whispered to Wayne, “We need to talk.”  He knew what the conversation was going to be about.

Wayne was having his own conversations with God about the potential of adopting.  One day he was mowing the lawn, arguing with God in his mind.  “God, is it fair to bring children into our home, when I am getting older in life?”  Wayne had an impression of God saying “Isn’t it better for sons to have an older dad, than no dad?”

We sought counsel of our senior pastor who encouraged us to ask God the big question of whether they were called to adopt and then also to ask the specific questions of who they were to adopt.

We went away alone to pray.  When our family joined us we shared our sense that God was calling us to adopt to boys from Brazil. The girls began to weep and affirm their willingness to embrace God’s call to adopt.

When we mentioned the nation of Brazil, my mom Donna began to cry as well.  “Sue, do you realize that this is a fulfillment of my prayers?”  Over forty years earlier, my mom and dad were planning to go to Brazil as missionaries, until my mom became pregnant with me.  Fearing, that it would be too difficult to take children on the mission field, my dad chose not to go.  My, feeling a sense of unfulfilled calling began to pray over the child in her womb from Jeremiah 1, believing that her call to the nation of Brazil would be fulfilled one day. Now the day had come.

9 months later Alexandre Joel (Dre) and Ezequiel Paul (Zeke) were added to our family!