Tag Archives: prayer

I have a secret

I have a secret

I have a secret. Well, some people know about it, but it’s not something I tell everyone, nor is it something I discuss. Hardly ever. I can’t talk about it without detaching my self first, and sometimes that’s too difficult. It’s a pain that aches within me, and can be the fuel for sadness and anxiety if I let it.

My oldest son is a drug addict.

He’s not in recovery, yet, or in a program, yet. He doesn’t have any “chips” or long-term success stories to inspire you or give you hope. Right now, I don’t even know where he is. I do know that he’s been using again, and doesn’t look healthy. I know the people that have seen him lately, say that he doesn’t make much sense, and is in the worst shape they have ever seen him… I am just happy he is still alive, because as long as he is, there is hope, and that word “yet” is still alive…

He has been an addict since high school, when he took a friends’ prescription to help numb the pain of losing his father to meningitis. He came home from school that day, and told me! He begged me to take him to the doctor and get him that medicine, because he felt so much better! I did call the doctor and took him in, to only find out he not only took someone else’s meds, but he took more than the prescribed amount. He was basically high and hooked on the feeling.

Thus the secret nightmare began. Self-medicating for any issues that were just too dark to deal with became the norm… He has disappeared more than once. We put in a security system to keep him IN the house, not to keep intruders out. He has been in jail, and in programs. He has seen a variety of counselors and doctors. He has been on a plethora of medications as well, and still…

I’ve realized a long time ago, that there is nothing I can do. I can’t love him more, give him more, or say the magic words. I can’t make him listen, or work, or receive the help that has been offered. I can’t even make him remember the good – the happy, and the blessings that have, and still do, abound in his life. The only thing I have in my arsenal is prayer. Nothing else.

Prayer, to a control freak like me, seems so futile sometimes. Especially when I have been doing that – every single day of his life. It feels like no one is listening! Things get worse, not better! I have yelled and screamed at God. (He can handle it) I have laid on my face in puddles of tears, begging the Lord to save my son – from the grip of drugs and from himself, but still…

How do I cope? What do I do in those pits of despair? I read. I read the Word and meditate on God’s promises. I sit at the feet of the King of Kings and I trust. I let my tears fall into God’s hands, and I know he cares for me, and loves my son even more than I do. I remember too. I remember all the good….the smiles and laughs, and all of the good memories. I remember what my son’s sober smile and laugh are like, and I remember all of his many successes – the hugs and the deep talks and even the good tears. I also remember God’s obvious hand in our life over the years. (I have posted about these before)

I don’t know how people do this without God. When all earthly hope is lost, how can people still hold on the power of their own will? Isn’t that what is weak in the first place? I can let God grow my faith, and rest in Him, knowing that He is sovereign. Even over OUR prodigal son.

My oldest son IS a Child of God.  That’s the identity I pray he will walk in…

Drug addiction is a major epidemic in this country. It’s something that people don’t like to talk about, but keeping it in the dark is right where evil grows the best. I don’t want to give evil anymore help.

My son will be 32 next month. I will be praying for a birthday miracle.

Let’s pray together, shall we?

Thank you.

 

 

A Letter to the 22 year old me.

A Letter to the 22 year old me.

I wrote this a few years back, and while revisiting it this morning, I tried to think of what I would add… I have a 22 year old daughter right now, so it makes it even more of a reality than just a post of reflection.  I think I will add just a couple; 🙂

 

I’ve seen some blog posts lately that were the letters from the authors to themselves at a much younger age… The, “if I knew then, what I know now” wisdom posts.  So, to be a “follower”, and to impart some learned lessons, I thought I would have a go at it too…

At this ripe old age of 44, I can look back at myself at 22, and see a completely different person.  I’m actually amazed at the work God has done in my life thus far! If I could write a letter to myself at 22, I would say;

Dear Jennifer;

I know you feel like you have the world on your shoulders, and you can handle it.  I know that you think perfection is expected in this life of ours, and I see how you strive for it in almost everything you do. You worry too much, and care too much about things that aren’t going to last…  You clean too much, and expect too much from everyone around you.  The time spent trying to earn approval and love is in vain my friend.  So, to save you a few wrinkles, and a couple of prescriptions, I have some advice…

God loves you. Period.  He created you, and cares for you like no other.  He really is all you need – I know that sounds silly, but when you spend time with Him, you will see… All peace, comfort and joy – as well as acceptance, can be found in Him… So, open that Bible more, and get on those knees… heck, start talking to Him all the time!  HE hears you all the time and He cares… Don’t be too shocked when He answers you either – expect it.

Humans were never meant to be “your everything”… No man, woman, friend, parent or even your children were designed to fulfill you completely.  The only person that will complete you is Jesus Christ.  The sooner you grasp that, the easier the let downs and heart breaks will be.  No one is perfect, and don’t expect them to be.

Marriage isn’t about warm fuzzies and romance all the time.  It’s about commitment. It’s about remembering that the word love is a verb, not a feeling.  Your marriage can be more than warm fuzzies and romance, if you have Christ in the middle of it.  Seriously.  When you can pray with and for your spouse, it takes the marriage to a new level.  When you share the spiritual, as well as everything else – everything rocks…  When conflicts arise – and they will – take it to Christ – It’s pretty difficult to harbour resentment and anger when you hold hands before the Lord together… Really.

The Bible is relevant! Anything and everything is in there!  It really has instructions for life, from the Creator of life!  Don’t ever think you know more than the one who created you… His ways may seem restrictive sometimes, but it’s really for your own protection! You’re greatest blessings will come out of obedience… I promise.

The grass is never greener.  Just water yours and plant some flowers… Then yours will not only be greener, but it will be prettier and smell good too.

Pets are a full time commitment.  Dogs are even a bigger one…if you can’t feed them well, afford the vet or have time to walk them, don’t get one… It’s not fair to them or to you.

Don’t wait till you can afford kids to have kids.  That will NEVER happen.  When you finally have the kids, your priorities will change, and you will be amazed at how you will spend your money.

Enjoy your children when they are little! Don’t rush the walking and talking thing!  (Potty training – you can rush) Don’t hurry your babies through, and wish for them to grow up fast… I know it’s hard in the middle of the night, but try to relax and just ENJOY it.  This all will be gone in a flash – and parenting young adults is WAY harder…

You really don’t know it all.  I promise, you will be embarrassed when you get older and see how much you really didn’t know, but thought you did… Really.

Don’t drink too much.  It’s really a waste of good money and brain cells.  It doesn’t make you cooler or more popular, and it can be pretty dangerous for you, and for others.  Money is better spent on clothes, books, coffee… missions…

Life is short and no one makes it out alive … Try to think ETERNALLY.  What kind of legacy are you going to leave behind? Stop thinking you have plenty of time to do those “grown up” things… NO one is promised tomorrow.

Cherish Every Day.  Every single morning is new shot. A do over. A brand new shiny opportunity to try again.  Actually, every minute is new too.  We never get one back – time is the one fleeting thing that can’t be bought, borrowed or stored.  You have been giving this minute right now…

Everything matters.  People matter most – more than jobs, houses, entertainment, technology, sports and even shoes… When the stranger in the coffee isle starts telling you her life story, listen, because she matters.

Self control, patience and humbleness are a few of the greatest qualities you can have, so strive for those… It will bless your life, and be a blessing to others.

Wear sun block.  Just do it. Trust me.

Communication.  This is the key to all relationships. Knowing when to be quiet, or share the truth… Don’t assume someone knows your intent.  They rarely ever do, even those closest to you.  Be clear or be quiet – always.  This issue has never been more prominent than in this age of texting.  A text message doesn’t convey emotion, no matter how may emoji’s you use.

Date Intentionally.  Whether it’s intentional for marriage or for just friendship… those are the only 2 acceptable reasons.  Know someone’s spiritual identity, friends, family, temperament and goals before you even kiss… saves you from kissing too many Mr. Wrongs.  Sounds near impossible in todays culture right? Well, you were made to stand out, not blend in…

Last, but not least, Pray. Pray as often as you can.  The more comfortable you are talking to God, the easier it will be for you to hear Him answer you.

Growing up isn’t that bad.  You’re going to like it. Really.

 

What would say to the 22 year old you?

 

 

 

 

Top 10 Ways to Parent a Teenager

Top 10 Ways to Parent a Teenager

my gangAfter parenting 4 amazing kids, for almost 30 years, I thought I would share some of the toughest things I’ve had to learn (and am still learning) through the process…

Top 10 Ways to Parent a Teenager

  1. LISTEN and ASK questionsChill questions. Casual. Don’t act like Sherlock. The point is to ask questions that usually require something more than a grunt, and hopefully you’ve been listening and can come up with one that they will want to answer. A great place to attempt this, is at the dinner table or while they are trapped in the car with you. (This is tricky, and requires much effort and patience on your part.  Don’t get discouraged, it will get easier)
  2. Set guardrails a/k/a boundaries and rules with set consequences.  Rules or, as I like to call them, non-negotiables; such as lying, cheating, disrespecting you, getting a zero on a report card… I don’t know what yours would be, but I’m talking about the issues you will fight to the death for.  Those are in stone and set your family’s standards.  Everything else is a guardrail, which you discuss, explain and can possibly  alter under circumstances.  If these are in place, then you are parenting  proactively instead of reactively. (much easier for day to day drama) Really.
  3. Hang out with them.  Have a date night. A shopping trip or, a breakfast out.  Something my gangthat you regularly do with your kid – that’s different than the daily grind.  Be intentional.
  4.  Know your Social Media.  No excuses.  If your young person has any kind of an internet identity, then you better know what it is and how it works.  Period.  Take a class if you have to, but it’s the INTERNET. The ENTIRE world in the palm of their hands.
  5.  Know your kids internet passwords.  They don’t have a right to internet privacy. Seriously.  If the government and all the interfaces they are using, know their passwords, and activity, so should you – you, the parent and the person that is supplying all of that electricity, wifi and phone service.  If you both understand the internet, this point is valid.  Check their social media. Now that you know it, and have the passwords, every now and then, do a check.  Kids need parents and accountability.  Otherwise they wouldn’t be kids.  Man up and just do it.  It’s not invading their privacy.  Now reading their diary/journal is a completely different story. Leave that alone.
  6.  Make your home a place they want to be… and their friends.  Find a used ping-pong table or a basketball hoop.  Always have snacks in the pantry and something to drink in the fridge other than milk and water.  (Please don’t think I mean you should have all the latest video games, and let them do whatever they want)
  7.  Say, “I’m Sorry.”  Be an example of learning from your mistakes.  Especially when you lose your temper with them! Even if they have pushed you over the edge, freaking out is never a good idea. So, when you do freak out, (assuming you’re like me) be sure to tell them you’re sorry.
  8.  Encourage them.  They need it. A lot.  Encourage without sounding like you are babying them. Avoid pinching the cheeks and telling them how cute they are… especially in front of their friends.
  9.  When (not if) they mess up, and come to you, or even if they don’t come to you, never motmobsay, “I told you so.” Don’t even say, “I was afraid that would happen.” Consequences will be hard enough when they hit the wall.  Having you there to listen and love will be much better, and will set the foundations for the impending friendship that you just might have with them someday.  I’m not saying save them from consequences – Don’t do that.  That’s how they learn and grow. I’m saying to love them through it.  They already know they messed up. They don’t need us pointing that out again and again, or telling them what they should’ve done.  This would be a great time to implement #1 …
  10.  Pray with them. Pray for them. Share the Word of God with them in a real way.  It’s not the Churches job to train your kids up in the Lord.  It’s yours.  You can’t be too busy.  You can’t put busyness before that.  If you do, don’t be surprised when they grow up and are too busy for the things of God.  What you make priorities in your life, will probably be theirs.  I know… Ouch.

Parenting teens is hard.  They are emotionally driven, hormonal, men/women children under our stewardship! Thank God we have all of those sweet memories of their first steps and loose teeth to remind us how much we love them!  They are not always going to like us, and will most likely even tell us that they hate us.  (which usually means you’re doing something right) They are full of passion, ideas, hope and energy.  God help us.

This list is far from complete.  I could have made this a “Top 100”.  These are just the ones that were the hardest for me to learn.   I didn’t even address dating! That’s a blog post all unto itself. Really.

What would you add to this list?

 

Africa Update or Mama Smiles… Whichever you prefer

Africa Update or Mama Smiles… Whichever you prefer

If you’re familiar with my blog, then you know that my one and only daughter, Katie, is spending 2 months is Swaziland, South Africa this summer.  I posted about it HERE, when I was still nervous, and she was still fund raising.  Then I posted HERE when the fund raising was over… She has just passed the half way mark, so I thought it might be fitting to post about it…

I thought we would not be able to communicate with her, at least not often, but to my pleasant surprise, we have been able to “chat” on facebook about once a week.  Her team is keeping a BLOG, although they don’t get to post much, and one of the girls in her group has the international phone plan, that works occasionally, so I also get a random text once in a while.  This morning, I was blessed to get some “face time” with her because she was able to use an ipad and was in a South African mall with wifi… So, needless to say, my worrying has been at a minimum.

Her updates have been wonderful, and I can hear her excitement even in the words she types.  They are staying in a homestead in Swaziland.  There is no running water or any modern conveniences.  She has mentioned a time or two her grievance over not having real toilets, or showers.  They use baby wipes, and buckets of well water to clean with.  I’ve been instructed to have the tub cleaned and ready for her when she gets home.

She loves the people and her team.  The scenery is breathtaking and the children are her joy.  They work at “care-points” each day, feeding and caring for the children in the surrounding communities.  They have found several places to just help where needed, and they are always thinking of how to make a lasting impact.

She has been trapped in the shower shack (see the picture) by a heard of cows.  They have had some things stolen, by the cow herder.  He got caught, and fired, so everything was returned, but they woke to a dead cow in the front yard the next day.  So, since there is no refrigerators, they had the pleasure of watching the cow get cut up, and passed around.  Her exact words were ‘EW Gross!”

They went into a mental hospital, which was more of a hospital for the demon possessed.  It was the most terrifying thing she has ever experienced.  They managed to pray, and then get out, but it has stuck with them.  Katie told me today that she has planned a “Joshua” attack… since they can’t go back in the hospital, they will walk around it and pray till the ‘strong hold” comes down.  Prayers from here would be welcomed too…

They have been on safari, and have visited the mall.  They have fallen in love with the sweet bread that is sold through the jail-like bars on the windows of the stores throughout the area.  For the 4th of July they went to a party in South Africa… she said she hadn’t seen that many white people in one place since she got over there, and it actually felt weird. The food hasn’t been as bad as she feared and she misses chocolate more than anything…

One of the things she has learned is how simple sharing Christ really is.  She was preparing to say and do all the right things… And when it came down to it, she didn’t have to really say much, if anything at all.   She has been ministered to as much, if not more, then the people she is serving.

I must say, before she went, she had been living in a big city, doing the city life college thing.  I was concerned that maybe her heart wasn’t ready for such a big adventure.  Wow. I love being wrong sometimes.  Really.

Please keep her and the team in your prayers! Thank you!

 

 

Life Scales

Life Scales

Thinking about what to post this week was difficult.  There are so many things on my heart, but I never feel lead to share them – I usually write when I feel pressed upon – or pressured, whichever comes first.

I asked my husband what I should write about and he went off on the upcoming election… I just turned around and walked away.  I asked my college kid, and she said, “Broke college kids”… I said, no, so she said I should write about, “The increase of younger people getting married”… I responded, that I didn’t really know anyone that has done that recently.  So, then she told me to write about prostitution.  Really?  I then got a text from her, informing me that I was the blogger and I should figure it out myself.  My youngest son, in his obvious humbleness, told me to write about how wonderful he is….  I’m not going to ask anyone else.  I’m realizing that it probably wasn’t a good idea to ask them in the first place.

So, I figured it out on my own and here it is…

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my life “scales”.  One side being worldly, responsibilities, hobbies, entertainment, etc., and the other side, kingdom work.  Now, don’t go jumping on the “covered by grace” train, I know I can’t earn my salvation, (Eph 2:8) but I am called to participate in the work of the kingdom.  Wearing the Jesus Team jersey comes with responsibility.  (Rom 12) The reasoning for the work can’t be driven by the belief that your salvation depends on it.  It’s supposed to driven by the Spirit that you have dwelling within you, and your gratitude for salvation – and the love you have for your Savior.

I used a marriage as an example when I explained it to my kids.  If you marry someone, (enter into a covenant relationship) and you never spend time getting to know them better, (reading the Word) or doing anything they asked you to, (kingdom work), or even talked to them all the time, (praying), how good would that marriage be?  Makes sense, right?

Reading the Word isn’t as hard as it used to be.  I look forward to it.  I can’t describe the peace it has brought into my life…  Praying without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:17) has always been easy…If you know me, this shouldn’t be a surprise.  Sometimes I feel like that verse was put in there just for me, “Sure God! I will talk to you ALLL day!” I so got that one.

It’s the kingdom work that I stumble on.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to serve. But it’s more like, depending on my mood, or the need, time, location, energy level, schedule,  is it in my “gifting”?  Do I do it for the glory or for God’s glory?

I do believe that running our company with Christian values makes a difference.  Serving in our local body of believers is very important, (Rom 12) and just being pleasant, does shine a light for the most part. (especially while driving in the Atlanta area) I even try to scatter seeds by mentioning my faith often, and I offer to pray for those that seem to need it.  But do I do what Christ himself as asked me to do?  (Matt 28:18-20) Have I shared the gospel lately or served when it wasn’t so easy?  Ah… No.

It’s the going out and sharing the reason for my hope that trips me up.  It’s stepping out of the boat, when it’s not convenient, or easy, and maybe it’s even a little scary…But that’s when God will get the glory, because you couldn’t have done it without him.

We told our youngest son that he couldn’t have a fantasy sports team this week, because his scales were already too “sports heavy”.  You might think we’re mean, or too strict, but we are trying to teach him to manage his time wisely, and to be aware of the delicate balance of it.  As a young Christian man, he has the same responsibilities that I do in the Kingdom.  

We are never given a redo of time.  We will not wake up on Ground Hog Day, over and over again.  But even though days have passed, God, through His grace, gives us brand new ones.  With each tick of the clock, and breath in our lungs, we can adjust our scales (Pro 16:11) as often as we need to.  I’m putting sharing the gospel back on mine.

Do you know that Christ loves you so much that he died for you?

How do you make sharing the gospel a regular practice in your life?

Africa…Really?

Africa…Really?

My college student, and only daughter, will not be coming home this summer.   She has applied, and has been accepted, into a program through Adventures in Missions.  She will leave the first of June, for a 2-month mission trip in Swaziland, Africa.  Really…

My kids are all service oriented, and have experienced missions on local and national levels, and one of them has served in Mexico for 2 weeks… but none have ever traveled so far and for so long.  It is giving new meaning to “letting go” for me.   I thought sending her to a dorm was hard!  I think my, “Top Ten Ways You Know You Have a Child Going to College” list applies here for the most part… just substitute “college” for “Africa”, although I would add just a few…You know you have a kid going to Africa when…

  1. You dream of fund raising techniques …
  2. You spend excessive amounts of time googling common illnesses of the region. (not recommended)
  3. You get your own passport…just in case.
  4. Praying for safety has taken on a whole new meaning.
  5. You have mixed emotions of pride, humbleness, fear, and faith churning in your heart.

We have had a few folks ask why?  Why Africa?  There is so much need right here!  Spending lots of money and time to travel to a place that has no hope seems crazy!  The governments are never going to allow for real change, so why bother?  Well, that’s all true, but the people suffering in those places with no hope are still people.  One person can make a difference.  One life can be changed and we believe that one life is worth it.  Our faith tells us that Christ instructed his followers to take His message to the ends of the earth, even to the places that seem hopeless.  So, those that are called, go… My daughter has been called, and wild horses couldn’t stop her.

I share this with you for a few reasons; first, I covet your prayers.  For her, and those she will be ministering to…  Then, for her step-dad, and me, but especially for her father.  He carries enough worry for everyone.  Secondly, I want to share this experience with you, because that’s what good bloggers do… and last, but not least, I want to give you the opportunity to support her financially. (Refer to item 1 of my list)

You can click here to donate through Adventures in Missions.  She is going on the “Passport” mission and be sure to put Katie Moberly in the “Participant Full Name” space.

If you would like to know more about her, before you support her, here is her story in her own words…

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope you are all doing well.

 I am writing you this letter to share what has been going on in my life, and the new adventure that God has laid before me.

 Many of you know, two summers ago I went a mission trip to Charlotte, NC. I had several opportunities that summer to travel abroad, in which I was most excited, but as the time came for me to make my decision, I prayed that God would show me where He wanted me to go that summer and my friend invited me to spend a month in North Carolina. My heart was in Africa, so I wasn’t even worried about going to NC but God works in mysterious ways, and all of the doors leading me abroad shut, right in my face. So Charlotte was where I went. And that summer was the one that changed my life.

 Walking along side the children I helped there made me realize my passion is in showing the unloved, that they are loved, and not only by me, but by the Creator.

Now, I have started my first year in college and have been given the opportunity to, once again, go to Africa, and more specifically Swaziland.  And this time, the Lord as opened the door wider than ever. An organization called Adventures in Missions has welcomed me on a team traveling to South Africa, to help in an orphanage this summer for the months of June and July.

 I applied for the program, had an interview, was accepted, paid my commitment fee, and now I am in need of your help.

 First and foremost, your support in prayers is what I desire the most, but I am also in need of a little financial help. The total cost of my trip is $4,985. If you would like to support me, you can make a tax-deductible donation through the mail at: Adventures In Missions, PO Box 534470, Atlanta, GA  30353-447 and be sure put my name in the memo.               

 Thank you so much for your support, and I’m really excited to bring you along this new journey I’m stepping into!

 Swaziland Bound,

Katie Moberly

Acts 1:8

8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (NIV)

Have you had a child go off to Africa?  How did you do?

Serious Saturday…Have you ever visited a jail?

Serious Saturday…Have you ever visited a jail?

Have you ever visited a loved one in jail?  I have.

Here is my experience from this side of the glass…

 Jail is a place for all types of “criminals” no matter what the severity of their crime.  They are separated into different areas, but it’s all the same building… So, all of the visitors are in one area, waiting.  Some are going to see a drug dealer.  Other’s are waiting to see someone who can’t control their anger, while others are waiting to see someone who tried something, once, and got caught… The list of crimes is long and diverse.

The waiting area is a somber place to be.  There is always a mom or two, holding a little one, or two.  You can find people of all ages, races, and economic levels.  They all look different, except for their expressions.  Sorrow is the common ground.  No one looks happy to be there, and some can’t even suppress their tears.  No one chit chats, (which is hard for me, even when I am sad) Most folks don’t even make eye contact.  There is an overwhelming, oppressive cloud of hopelessness.

When the visiting time approaches, everyone must go through a metal detector, and then walk down a really, really long hall… The hall that I have walked seems like a mile long. Everyone walks fast, and silently.  The only sound besides the echos of the shoes hitting the floor, is the occasional sniffle.  Then you reach the window, sit in the hard plastic chair, and pick up the phone to speak to your loved one, from the other side of the glass.

I can tell you that it is not pleasant.  It’s a desperate feeling of total helplessness.

The few times that I have visited someone in jail, I wept, not only for the person I love, but for the realization that this is the place Jesus would go first if he were here in the flesh.  He wouldn’t stop by my church, he would be at the jail.  He would put his hand up to every window, and offer hope.  He would walk through the walls, and take each inmate in his arms, and offer them comfort and peace.  He would forgive them, and carry them though restoration, if they would let him.  Because He loves them.  Just as much as He loves me and you.

As hard as it is for us, on this side of the glass, it’s a million times harder for most of those that are now trapped by their own mistakes.  The consequences of breaking the law are long , difficult, and expensive.

Let’s not deceive ourselves that we are too good to be in jail either… How many on this side of the glass, are living out the consequences of a sin or lie, that keeps them in bondage?  Many people are trapped in a belief that keeps them in a mental prison, where there are no visitors…

The good news is that there is always hope.  Praise the God who allows all things, and always offers grace.  He is always there, with his arms open wide, waiting for us to come to Him.  Whether you are in a jail cell, or mental bondage, or just loving someone who is, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matt 11:28)

“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:17-19

When you have the love of Christ, there is no more bondage, no matter what side of the glass you are on. Really.

If you need prayer for a loved one, or for yourself, I would be honored to do so…

Serious Saturday…I Cried Today.

Serious Saturday…I Cried Today.

I cried today.

It all started while visiting a church this morning, and seeing that the first 3 rows on the left, were reserved for the deaf.  We sat behind those seats, and I watched with grateful eyes, as the interpreter signed the songs, and the pastors message to the inhabitants of those rows.  It was angelic, and touched the deepest parts of my heart to see people worshiping the Lord through sign language.

This might have touched you as well, as signing is a beautiful language, but I think it touched me because my youngest child has progressive hearing loss.

My son has spent 10 of his 13 years on the planet visiting the Children’s ENT of Atlanta.  He has had a couple sets of tubes, beginning at age one.  He has had his adenoids and tonsils out, not at the same time I might add.  He has had a “strep” abscess removed and another that dissipated through IV medication and a week in the Children’s Hospital.  He actually has a myriad of other health issues, but none as visible as his hearing aids.

The doctors have tentatively diagnosed him with “progressive hearing loss”.  What that really means is that they know he has lost many levels of hearing, progressively, and they assume he will continue to follow that pattern.  We have endured many tests, and are about to see a Genetics Doctor, to undergo more testing.  The cause for this hearing loss is still a mystery.  So, we go to the audiologist every 3 months for hearing tests and adjustments, and we see the doctor every 6 months, wherein we ask the same things and he gives us the same answers. There is nothing they can do about the ringing in his ears.  They don’t know why this is happening, and he could loose all hearing ability at anytime.  Or not…. Really.

We have gotten very used to this routine.  Almost numbly used to it.

When we were told that the time had come for hearing aids, I cried a lot.  Then I prayed, and gave it all to God.  Peace came over me like a wave, and I have been strong ever since.  That was a year and a half ago.  Today, out of the blue, I saw those radiant people, who could not hear the music, but were praising God with their bodies and hands, and I cried again.

A good friend of mine asked me once, why I wasn’t mad at my God for my sons health issues.  I cannot be mad because I know there is more to this life.  My hope is not in the flesh, but in the Spirit and the Spirit is eternal.  Being mad at anything you have no control over is also a waste of energy, and will steal your joy and hope.  I felt sad today, but not sad in a mad kinda way, but in a realization that my son might have to connect with God on a different level than me.  A level that I don’t understand.  Apparently, as a mom, that can make you cry… Do I ever wish that this cup shall pass?  Yes.  My prayer is for hearing restored, but if it’s not, I know I will be OK and so will my son. Really.

Serious Saturday…The Warrior

Serious Saturday…The Warrior

What is a warrior?  The dictionary defines it as 1. One who is engaged in or experienced in battle. 2. One who is engaged aggressively or energetically in an activity, cause, or conflict.

So, what does that mean?  A warrior knows the battle field and has a plan. A warrior is pro-active and reactive.  He is engaged in the battle completely, mind, body and soul.  A warrior knows the enemy.  A warrior has a good support team, and through constant communication, is making sure he is equipped with the right weapons and information.

In the Bible, God says in Psalms 127:4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.

According to this verse, parents are warriors.  Our children are arrows safe in our quivers. We take the twig, smooth out the knots, and sharpen the point, making it “ready  to launch” at the target of their future.  Wow! How do we do that?  How do we, as parents, prepare our kids for their futures, and, more importantly, for their own battles?

We must be primarily pro-active verses reactive. Are we involved in their education and interests?  Or do we just run them around, and try to have quick conversations between activities, homework, and friends?  Are your children’s teachers, coaches, and friends the biggest influences in their lives?  Are we just passively trusting in all of the activities, and people to shape them?  If this is your routine, keep reading…

If you are a parent, then you have been called to be a warrior.  The enemy is seeking to devour them. And you. (1 Peter 5:8) We have been given the battle plans, weapons, and armor in The Word, and we have the best support system in the universe through Christ. (Eph 6:10-18) We can be in constant contact with the creator of life itself, who has already defeated the enemy we face.  Do our kids know this?  Above all the lessons we can teach our children, these are the most important.  You will not always be able to be there for your kids, but Christ can.  You can’t completely restore them after they have been defeated in a battle, but Christ can.  You will not always have the perfect words to say to them… but The Word will always be perfect.

So, what advice can I offer?  After raising 3 kids with the 4th in middle school, I have had many failures and victories.  But keeping with my warrior theme, I will admonish you to teach them about Christ first and foremost.  Don’t think that an hour or 2 a week at Church will adequately counter the culture war zone we are living in.  I think about how many hours a day or week that they are exposed to things that aren’t on the target, and I am pro-active to the opposite.  Reading and discussing The Word and praying together daily is our smoothing and sharpening process.  Make the quiver a place of humility and grace.  Raising children is a battle.  It’s like one of those World Wars that last for years…There will be victories and miracles, as well as epic fails, and sorrow.  It’s an honor and a blessing to be called as a warrior…now go act like one.

 

A Serious Saturday Post… Discipline.

A Serious Saturday Post… Discipline.

Reader beware: This a Serious Saturday Posting.. Stay tuned for more light-heartedness later in the week..

Discipline.  Wow. That’s not even fun to type.

I’m motivated to write about discipline today, for two reasons.  First, I had to punish my youngest son recently, which doesn’t happen very often, and second, I just watched Toddler’s and Tiaras.. I know. I swear to you, I watch it with an open mouth and I even pray for those kids sometimes.

The word Discipline, by Webster’s definition is; 1. Punishment 2. Instruction 3. training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character. 5. Self control.. Now that doesn’t sound too bad, does it?  At least it doesn’t  sound bad for you.

It is summer break right now and being so, my kids are not jumping out of bed in the wee hours of the morning, which is fine by me, but.. they are pushing 10:30-11:30 on some mornings.  Besides the new chill approach to the morning schedule, there has not been much reading or calculating or even music practicing going on.. Our poor canines have even been left to the way side, as their normal 6:30AM breakfast and outing is now a no-frill brunch to lunch with not even a scratch behind the ear.  Laundry has spent more time in the baskets and I don’t think the beds have been made more than once or twice.  What’s wrong with that?  It’s SUMMER for crying out loud!  It’s time for all school-aged children to relax. chill. take a much needed vacation from the daily grind of learning…  Not anymore in my house. A new morning routine has been implemented.  Complete with a chart.  Yes. I am one of those mom’s…

I haven’t found in any parenting books, or in scripture where it is a suggested practice to have your kids work hard to the best of their ability, be responsible, seek knowledge and discipline and develop good habits,  but then stop. Take 2-3 months off.  If anything, all of the parenting books I have read have preached “consistency” and stressed the importance of learning to be responsible through loving discipline.  A big part of parenting, from day one, is preparing them to leave.  I know that sounds harsh, but it is reality.   They are going to leave and have to be responsible for themselves someday.  How ready are they (and you) going to be? 26 is the new 18, as personal responsibility and self discipline are traits now avoided… These traits are missing so much in today’s culture, like the cult of pageants and team sports, Disney sit-coms and MTV.  When did parents start thinking that athletic, social and beauty “discipline” trumped character discipline?  When did kids start telling parents what to do and when to do it?  And when did kids start knowing what was best for them? Really?  Seriously?

It builds character to seek knowledge and serve others.  Education is a privilege in this world, but taken for granted in this country.  It builds character to take care of an animal and have chores that you don’t get paid for.  It builds character to do something you know is good, even if you don’t have to do it.  It builds character to be told no or to do it again.  It builds character to loose gracefully and to win with humility.  How is this implemented? It is taught and caught by the most influential people in your life, that love enough to discipline.

So, what’s the point and what do we do?  If we really want the best for our kids, we need to seriously look at what we hope for them.  One of my favorite pastors, Chip Ingram, says to make a “to be” list instead of a “to do” list.  Whatever you want for your kids (or they want for themselves) you have to make opportunities for. I don’t mean, “be the best baseball player”, I’m talking about character goals, like “I want to be a good friend”… Parenting should be deliberate and pro-active, not just re-active.  You also need to pray for your kids. I highly recommend the book by Stormie Omartian – The Power of a Praying Parent.  She gives my prayers words when I have none.  Then you need to sit back and relax in the hand of God and know He’s on it.  The outcome is not up to the parent.  Control is a fleeting thing, influence you will have most of the time, but prayer, faith and love are yours forever.

Now go make your kids clean something and read a book.