Browsed by
Month: November 2014

Why Pray

Why Pray

It was not until I became a teenager that I began to realize the importance of prayer.  Even then, prayer was not a huge part of my life.  When I got married it became more important and when I had children the urge to pray grew even stronger.  With every passing year I am learning just how much prayer needs to be a tremendous part of my life.

Why?  Why pray?

prayer

When I pray at times I can literally feel the weight of the world falling off of my shoulders.  When I pour my heart out to God I find myself feeling that life is a little more bearable.  Praising God through prayer reminds me of how GREAT He really is!  Pouring my heart out to God reminds me of how much I need Him to get through each and every day.

As I lay my requests at His feet I am met with no judgement.  I can admit my weaknesses and He loves me still.  I can confess my sins and He forgives in that moment with no condemning words. He offers peace in the midst of my storms.  He offers grace even when I fail to offer grace to others.  He forgets my sins after I confess them and reminds me no more of them.  God is my safe place to run!

I can talk to Him about anything and everything.  I can talk with Him about my concerns for my children and desires for their lives!  I can intercede in prayer for others and take their burdens directly to the One Who can help them!  He is worthy of my trust and keeps my requests with only Him.  Through talking with Him, my life is changed!

Countless times I have seen Him answer prayer requests that only He knew about.  Countless times He has delighted in meeting not just our needs but so many of our wants.  He has picked me up when I have faltered, He has delighted when He helped give me victory.  When I communicate with Him I feel closer to Him than ever before.

Why pray?

The better question would be, Why not pray?

I Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray Without Ceasing”.

It’s The Holiday Season!

It’s The Holiday Season!

How can it already be the holiday season?  This year seemed to fly by just like last year!  In our home we LOVE the holiday season….. yet now that I have a baby who has a birthday the day after Christmas I don’t mind the holidays holding off just a little while.  I don’t want her to be 2 yet 🙂  Not for the reason of “oh no, the trying twos are coming!” because I don’t know that they will be trying at all, but more for the reason of, “Oh no, my baby is turning two!  I want her to stay little a while longer!”

As much as I would like the holidays to hold off, I know they are roaring in anyway!

As we prepare for Christmas and think about gifts for our children this year our goal is to have more of a toyless Christmas for them.  They will receive a few toys I’m sure, but mainly, we want to go toyless.  Why?  Well, toys can become all consuming, can’t they?  They can quickly pile up and without even realizing it they can take over the kids bedrooms and even the house.  More importantly though, we desire to teach our children even more about how Christmas is not about how much we can get.

I’m sure most of us have heard the verse found in Hebrews 13:5, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”  A great verse indeed, but I love how the book of Proverbs is also  filled with so many simple yet at times hard to grasp truths!

Proverbs 16:8 says, “Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right.”  The Bible is not saying we all need to go out and be poor and have nothing, but I think it’s important to remember especially around the holidays when spending can get way out of control, that true wealth and happiness is not wrapped up in material things.  We don’t have to prove our love for our children by spending hundreds of dollars on them because let’s face it, most of us do not have hundreds to spend 🙂  My husband and I desire for our children to seek their joy in life in Christ, not in earthly things.  As the verse above states, it is better to have a little with righteousness than a lot of earthly possessions without righteousness.

I think sometimes as parents we can breed materialism into our children without realizing it.  We teach them without using our words but by our actions that the more we have the higher up in “class” we are and the better we look to those around us.  Yet we know that isn’t true.  We know in our hearts that wealth does not bring happiness, but our actions are saying the complete opposite.

My husband and I have been trying over the last few years to teach our children that Christmas is not about how much we can get, but how much we can give to others!  We are always looking for fresh and creative ideas on how to teach them this.  So if you have ideas, please feel free to share them!

Around the holidays we begin coming up with ideas for gifts for those who have had an impact in our lives throughout that year.  People such as the children’s Sunday school teachers, our deacons, really, people who have touched our lives in various ways.  What better way to get our eyes off of ourselves than to put our energy into seeking to be a blessing to someone else?  That is the message we want to send to our kids.  So we make our gifts (thank you Pinterest for your mecca of great ideas on adorable gifts!) and then a few days before Christmas we load up in our van, with hot cocoa in hand, and as a family we hand deliver the gifts to the various people’s homes.  We take that time to just say “thanks” for making a difference in our life!  It’s been a family tradition for 3 years now and the kids have so much fun!!  They love to run up to the door with us and drop off the gifts and see the look of delight on the faces of others as they receive their gift.

Acts 20:35, “I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  That is what we want to teach our children as they grow.  Getting gifts is fun but giving gifts is even better!

That is just one of our traditions and attempts to teach our children to not be materialistic, what are some ideas that you have?  I’d love to hear them!

As we enter the holiday season I truly hope it is a wonderful time of year for you and yours!

Look Vertical Not Horizontal

Look Vertical Not Horizontal

We have seen God work in amazing ways and accomplish things only HE could do in our church in the last year.  We have been blessed to simply be here and watch His beautiful plan unfold for His church body.  He has added families to our church throughout the year and we could not be more thrilled!

As I have stood by my husbands side and watched the year unfold it has brought many joys and some struggles sprinkled in with it.

This is the first time I have ever been a part of a smaller church.  Growing up we attended larger churches.  Not mega churches by any means, but all of these churches run 350+.  So stepping into a church that was micro compared to these has been an adventure!

God has had to remind me that our church size is not what is most important to Him.  He has had to remind me that when some are not as faithful as we would love to see, it is not something to take personally.  It is not a rejection of us, because church isn’t about us, it is about God and ultimately it is an issue between them and God. That one can be a toughy to remember though!  I can promise you, the faithfulness of church members is a tremendous encouragement to the Pastor.

We have seen God do amazing work, and yet the enemy still tries to discourage.  His job is never done is it?  Always trying to get us to second guess where God has called us, always wondering if we are making enough of an impact in the lives of our church members and our community, always trying to get discouragement to settle in.

Satan revels when Christians compare themselves to each other.  Their gifts, their talents, their churches and church sizes.  Why would he revel in this comparison?  Because when we are comparing ourselves to others it means we have taken our eyes off of Christ, the One who has given us the gifts, talents, ministries He wants us to have.  We begin looking horizontally instead of vertically, right where the enemy wants our eyes to be.

So God has placed us in a church, a small but GREAT church.  A church full of people with a lot of potential to do amazing things for God.  Many people who want to live for and serve God.  People who need to cling to the grace of Christ just like everyone else. People who need to simply look up instead of side to side.  The Pastors family is no exception to the rule.

I love this prayer by A.W. Tozer, “Dear Lord, I refuse henceforth to compete with any of Thy servants. They have congregations larger than mine. So be it. I rejoice in their success. They have greater gifts. Very well. That is not in their power nor in mine. I am humbly grateful for their greater gifts and my smaller ones. I only pray that I may use to Thy glory such modest gifts as I possess. I will not compare myself with any, nor try to build up my self-esteem by noting where I may excel one or another in Thy holy work. I herewith make a blanket disavowal of all intrinsic worth. I am but an unprofitable servant. I gladly go to the foot of the class and own myself the least of Thy people. If I err in my self judgment and actually underestimate myself I do not want to know it. I purpose to pray for others and to rejoice in their prosperity as if it were my own. And indeed it is my own if it is Thine own, for what is Thine is mine, and while one plants and another waters it is Thou alone that giveth the increase.”

What a great reminder to keep looking to God to accomplish His will!  He gives the increase, He simply requires faithfulness and going out to spread the good news of His Word.   If His will is for our church to never become mega, that’s okay, because whatever His will is should be what I long for!  Numbers should not matter as much as just doing  what He wants.  It’s Him that gives the increase and the One that deserves all the glory.  It’s all about Him, not about us, something I needed to be reminded of.

Teenager is not a synonym for rebel

Teenager is not a synonym for rebel

I remember delivering our first child like it was yesterday.  How could I forget?  I thought I was going to be the first woman ever to be pregnant for the rest of my life!

If you have ever been a pregnant woman who has gone passed her expected due date you know what I’m talking about.  Each day that surpasses that “due date”, the date when the baby is “supposed” to come, it feels like a month!

My husband gently reminded me that no woman has ever been pregnant forever and though I doubted his confidence in that fact for an entire week, he ended up being right 😉  Our first child, a baby girl, was born one July evening.

I was a mama to a living, breathing, precious baby girl!

The journey of being a mama is a wonderful journey to be on!  With each year that passes I am amazed how quickly the time seems to fly.

The number of people who have told me, “Your children are beautiful!  Enjoy the little years because oh boy, the teen years are coming!” is countless now!  Just yesterday I had someone else tell me about the dreaded teen years and to keep my children on my lap as long as I could.

Can I share something honestly with you?

I don’t like it when people say that to me.

I really really don’t.

I have a secret.  Can I tell you what it is?

Down deep in my soul I don’t believe that just because a teenager is a teenager that they have to rebel.  The word teenager in the dictionary does not have the synonym of “rebel” right next to it!

Okay okay, stop picking up those tomatoes to throw my way and the rolling of the eyes I can see them from way over here.  But seriously though.  Why do so many people seem to think that the teen years have to equal rebellion?

I get it, I really do.  My husband and I have worked with teens for 5 years in youth ministry,  and I worked as a teen camp counselor for three years before that and we are well aware of how many teens do rebel.  But not all of them do!  Do you know that some of the most precious people I have ever met were actually teenagers?

From the day my husband and I found out that our babies were on the way we began praying specifically for them!  Every day our children hear us pray for them.  They hear our pleas to God for their protection and that they will see the importance of walking closely with God.  They hear us pray that they will never ever rebel and turn from Him.

Our children need to hear their parents pray that way!  They need to hear us praying for them and we need to pray with them!

The world preys on our children.  The world wants us to think that there is no hope for teenagers and that we just need to endure during those teen years instead of enjoy them.  The world wants to steal our joy of parenting and see us give up because they are just going to rebel anyway.  It doesn’t have to be that way!

Check out Proverbs 22:6, “ Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  That is a promise my friend!  Training up our children does not begin when they are teens, it begins when they are tiny!  Planting God’ Word in their hearts and lives from the time they are in the womb, God promises that His Word will not return void!  Isaiah 55:11, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”

Our children need to see how much we need and depend on God.  Children often mimic what they see others do.  If our children see our genuine dependence on God they will learn to genuinely depend on God.  If our children see us riding the fence, not making God the most important person in our life, they will not make God the most important person in their life!  When our children hear us pray they will learn to pray.

Deuteronomy 11:18-21 says, “Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates: That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.”

God needs to be a constant consistent part of our lives!  Not only clinging to Him when our road is bumpy and dark, but every single day we need to be depending on Him.  Calling out to Him.  Pointing our children back to Him.

I pray that when my children are teenagers they will be a shining example to others.  I don’t have this parenting thing all figured out, but I am clinging to the One who does.  Constantly calling out to Christ to protect the hearts of my children who will one day be teens and asking Him to help them see the importance of staying close to Him.

The teen years don’t have to be a horrible journey, and I’m anticipating enjoying them with my children!

So you think being faithful to church isn’t important?

So you think being faithful to church isn’t important?

I would like to challenge that thought process for a moment.  Church, the body of Christ IS important!  If it wasn’t Christ would not have said in Hebrews 10:25, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”  Have you taken a look around you lately?  My friends, we are in the last days!

According to research done I should be a statistic. I shouldn’t be where I am today living the life I am.  Instead I should be angry, rebellious, “living it up”, have nothing to do with God and blaming my parents for the life I had growing up.  But I’m not.  That is just how amazing grace really is!

My growing up years were not filled  with  lavish memories of joyous times together.  I remember going to church and wishing that my family could be like so many others I saw.  They seemed practically perfect in my childish mind.  Anything would be better than where the Lord chose to place me, I would often think.

As my family went to church week after week we were the “different” family.  You know the kind, all five of us kids wore hand-me-down or homemade clothing.  We had hardly any money, our home was quite humble, and it was anything but peaceful.  However, even though friends were hard to come by, my Sunday school teachers and youth workers made me feel so loved!  I looked forward to going to church just to see them!

I don’t often think back to life when I was a child, but for some reason those thoughts of the past have been in the forefront of my mind lately.  I remember one year my dad had left our family and when he did he drove off in our one and only car.  Leaving my mom with five children, alone and with no way to get anywhere.  Every Sunday and Wednesday though my mother would have all five of us dressed for church and she made us walk to church.  It really was humiliating at the time as we made the trek in our Sunday best and other families from our church would pass us in their cars on their way.  I was in upper elementary at the time and their opinion really mattered to me….. I could just imagine their conversations, “There they go again…. the odd family.”

However, now that I am an adult I look back and applaud my mother for doing that.  She was bound and determined that she was going to have her children in church no matter what!  That was not an easy time for her either, but she certainly was right to march her little ducklings to church.  Each time we arrived at church I would be on the look out for my Sunday school teachers and they never made me feel less important because of the hand-me-downs or the lack of my father present.  No, they extended a sweet love that really only ones with the love of Christ already in them could give.

God used those Sunday school teachers greatly in my life.  As a young teenager I began to straddle the fence, part of me wanted to rebel and part of me did not.  I had a youth pastor that the Lord had placed in my life though that refused to give up on my hardening heart.  Every time he would pray with me he would say, “Break her heart Lord”, which used to make me very upset! But one day, He did just that.  It no longer mattered what was going on in my home, I was going to not give in and rebel.  I was going to live in the freedom of God’s amazing grace!

The Lord took my life, a life that had been hurt deeply, broken, wounded and has been shaping my life into something He deems beautiful.  He allowed me to graduate from a Christian high school and took me on to a Christian college.  He brought a man into my life that is more than I could have ever dreamed a husband to be.  He has been so patient and loving.  My view of what marriage was, was so distorted but my husband has loved me and taught me so much about how beautiful marriage can be!  Yes, God’s grace is amazing!

He has placed this once broken vessel on His potter’s wheel and has continued to mold me, using His own children, the body of Christ, to point me back to Him.  He used the people in His church to help keep me from becoming a statistic and I am eternally grateful to Him for that.

Our children are watching.  Our children have been gifted to us by God Almighty Himself!  He has entrusted you and I to raise our children up in the way they should go.  Part of that raising involves being in church and surrounding our children with the teachings of Christ in His house!  Our children are well aware of how important church is or is not to us.  They know if we are hypocrites.  When I look back on that time in my life where my mom made us walk to church because we had no vehicle, that taught me just how important church, God, doing right, was to her.  It left an impression on my heart!  Those Sunday school teachers and youth workers left an impression on my heart!  They were used of God to help keep me on the path I needed to be on.

Yes, faithfulness to church is utterly important!  If it were not for my mom having me in church even in the midst of a very difficult time in life, I would not be where I am today because those people that were supposed to help me stay on the right path would not have been there to cheer me on if I was not in church!  I can promise you I would be a bitter and hardened woman today were it not for God’s grace and Him using the body of Christ to point me to Him.

It is by God’s grace that I am here today, joyful and complete in Him!  Thank God for His grace and for His CHURCH!

Staying At Home isn’t what America wants Mama’s to choose?

Staying At Home isn’t what America wants Mama’s to choose?

I read something today that got me a bit worked up.

It was about Mama’s who choose to stay home with their children and the quote was, “Sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. And that’s not a choice we want Americans to make”.

Hold on to your stockings ladies because that definitely rubbed this stay at home Mama the wrong way.

When I was a little girl all I ever dreamed of doing one day was staying home and raising a family.  A wife and Mama was a high aspiration in my mind!  It used to be the norm but it is actually a rare find these days.  It is a decision that every family has to make, will Mama work outside of the home or stay at home?  In our family it was decided long before we ever had children.

Staying home with my children is such a privilege!  Yes, I go bananas some days….  Yet, it is SO worth it to stay home!

We do not go on extravagant vacations, our clothing is not name brand, our home is modest, our vehicles are always bought used, and our needs are ALWAYS met!  God ALWAYS provides and we are content!  We have learned to live within our means, however big or small they may be and we make it work!

Staying home with my children is not a sacrifice to me.  I am completely content going without what the world would see as necessities.  Why?  Because what I have the opportunity to do cannot be bought with money.  When will we realize that wealth really has nothing to do with finances?

My seven year old asked me one day if we were rich or poor.  Oh honey, we are RICH!!  We have what so many are chasing after in all the wrong places.  Many view money as their way to happiness instead of God and they chase the dollar their entire life!  Yet, if they would just stop chasing and turn to Christ they would find all of their needs met far beyond just financial.  God has blessed us with peace and harmony in our home!  He has gifted my husband and I with a wonderful relationship, He has blessed us with meeting all of our needs and then some!

I could go out and get a job outside of the home, it would add cushioning to our bank account quicker, but for our family it would mean we would lose so much more than we would gain.  Building fiscal wealth is the only thing we would gain and in our family it is not worth it.  Investing my life into the life of my children is worth more than any corporation could pay me.  I refuse to hand my children over to someone else to raise when the Lord has gifted them to my husband and I to raise.  I will forgo the added fiscal wealth and instead will stay home and raise my children with Christian values.  Why would I teach my children that money is more important to me than time with them is?  That is exactly the message I would be sending to them because I know that God has called me to stay home with them.  They are young for only so long and I want to soak in as much of their younger years and teen years as possible!  Money cannot give me time back with them!

Can I be so blunt as to also say, I have seen how the “village” raises children and I politely say “no, thank you”.

So if this is not the choice this particular politician wants to see Americans make, I will make no apologies.  I’m a stay at home mama who works hard, prays hard, and thrives in my home!  I would not have it any other way!  Keep your money potential jobs outside of my home, I choose my children and I will always choose them over making a dollar any day.

*Note: This is in no way meant to hurt feelings of those Mama’s who do work outside of the home.  Please notice that I mentioned this is what is right for our family.  I realize that some Mama’s do have to work outside of the home, this is simply about our choice for our family.