God

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The first of this year has been a rough one already. I have friends that have experienced unforeseeable tragedy, and I hurt for them. Just today, I heard of another tragic happening affecting a family I love, and I have been reminding myself all day that we don’t have the answers or understand why, and in this fallen world, filled with evil, God is still present.

This is my sermon from this past Sunday, and I just feel like I should share it today.

Take a listen and let God’s word bring you hope today.

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MOB-LinkupPrayerBadge

Some of you may remember that the in month of October, I committed specifically to pray for Ty for 21 days using the Praying for Boys: Asking God for the Things They Need Most and the MOB (Mothers of Boys) Society Blog.

Well, I did it. Some days were better than others, but I did it.

The book was a great resource, and in addition to reading the chapters and praying through the provided prayers, I typed up the prayers and taped each day’s onto Ty’s door, so as I walk by, I can read a prayer or two.

But as with anything that you are committing to do, whether that be prayer, exercise, eating right, keeping your house clean, etc., it is in these moments that you will find yourself most challenged.

October was a rough month with my son. Fifth grade is kicking my behind. A new lack of responsibility has popped up, along with a sometimes super-emotional boy that I have never seen before. Disrespect and disobedience has reached a previously unattained level. Focus is a rare occurrence, and the desire for self-indulgence rather than self-sacrifice is rearing its ugly head.

There have been days when I just wanted to bang my head against a brick wall because that is what it feels like I am doing all of the time.

But, what I am realizing through all of this is the fact that when I take up the work of praying for my children in a more concentrated way, there is going to be a battle in the spiritual realm for their hearts. And I plan to win that battle with the Lord’s help. I will not give up. I will not allow these things that are trying to grab hold of my son to get a grip on him. I will continue to pray. I will continue to work with him. I will continue to fight for his heart and soul to be fully overtaken with the Spirit of God and not the spirit of the evil one.

It may not be easy, but it is necessary.

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I know I finished my 31-Days of Parenting posts on Friday, but the evening before that last post went live, our community was touched with tragedy.

As I dropped my kids off at school that morning, with a heavy heart, this song came on my iPod. It is from the upcoming album by Garth Brooks.

Send ‘Em On Down The Road”


He didn’t ask
He didn’t pry
He just held the ice that covered my black eye
And when that girl
She broke my heart
We just threw that baseball back and forth ‘till dark
And when I started playing guitar
And didn’t have a clue
He wanted to protect me
But somehow my father knew, that

You can cry for ‘em
Live and die for ‘em
You can help them find their wings but you can’t fly for ‘em
‘Cause if they’re not free to fall, than they’re not free at all
And though you just can’t bear the thought of letting go
You pick ‘em up
You dust ‘em off
And send ‘em on down the road

A little kiss
On a skinned up knee
From playing soccer, riding bikes and climbing trees
When bad dreams
Filled their heads
I chased the monsters out from underneath their beds
I guess I always knew those days would end
But the hardest thing I’ve ever learned has been, that

You can cry for ‘em
Live and die for ‘em
You can help them find their wings but you can’t fly for ‘em
‘Cause if they’re not free to fall, than they’re not free at all
And though you just can’t bear the thought of letting go
You pick ‘em up
You dust ‘em off
And you send ‘em on down the road

You can cry for ‘em
Live and die for ‘em
And even though it’s gonna break your heart, you let ‘em go
You pick ‘em up
You dust ‘em off
You pull them close
And you pray to God
To send ‘em on down the road
Down the road
Down the road

Our kids will hurt. They will lose family members, friends, and acquaintances. We may even lose our children. Letting go is hard, because what we want to do is hold them tight and never let go. But we have to let go, and let God take care of them.
Our prayers go out to those in our community impacted by the tragedy of Thursday evening.
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Confession time. Again.

I wrote yesterday’s blog post and was feeling pretty okay about how we have chosen to handle discipline with our children.

And then in the night, just 6 hours before the blog post was scheduled to go live, I once again found myself face to face with one of my children about an issue that I thought we had taken care of previously.

In case you were wondering, that was at approximately 2:03 a.m.

I then laid there for the next who knows how long wondering what exactly I am doing wrong in parenting this child and why what we are doing isn’t working.

It was in those moments that one word came to me: grace.

Yes, I have to give grace to my children, the same way that God gives grace to me, but more importantly I have to give grace to myself.

Parents, we have to give ourselves grace.

A friend of mine defines grace this way:

Grace is when we get what we don’t deserve.

Another definition is:

the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.

In other words, giving ourselves grace is letting things go and not punishing ourselves like we think we deserve.

We are not going to be perfect parents. We aren’t even going to come close.

We are going to mess up. We are going to snap. We are going to have moments that we think will likely send our children straight into counseling for their entire adult lives.

The minute we think we have the parenting thing down-pat, there will be an event that makes us question our ability to keep ourselves sane and alive, much less raise children.

In these moments, we have to remember that we aren’t called to do this parenting thing all on our own. We have a God who is right there, ready and willing to help us as soon as we ask. A God of grace.

Rest in that.

Keep doing your best, with God’s help, and allow yourself grace when you think your parenting skills are lacking.

 

 

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Beautiful

Let’s start with the obvious.

It is hard to be a woman in today’s society when it comes to our looks.

Body image. Models. Photoshop. Exercise plans. Get thin quick hoaxes. Diets. Songs that project a standard no woman can reach. Fat. Skinny. Chunky. Bulky. Ugly. Beautiful. Quirky. Pretty. Cute. It is too much. And I propose we switch out all of these words and standards for a different word. Yes, just one word.

Created.

All of us were created in the image of God. That means that no matter what we look like, what our body-type is, how our hair looks, how tall, short, fat, or thin we are, we are beautiful because that is the way that God created us. Psalm 139 says he knit us together in our mother’s womb.” I knit. It isn’t a quick thing. It takes time. It is a process. He took the time to work on us and make us to be exactly the way He wanted us to be.

And all of our daughters (and sons) need to hear this. I focus more on daughters, because most often we are seeing women portrayed in a certain way in our society. You have to be this or that if you want to be popular. You can’t be this or that if you want to be accepted. Photoshop has scarred the way women see themselves.

News flash – no one looks like the women on the magazines, even the women on the magazines, without lots of work, much of which happens on a computer screen.

Navigating this with our daughters is tricky. We want them to feel good about who they are. We want them to make healthy choices with their lives. But we can’t allow them to hear that they don’t look good enough, or that so-and-so is prettier, or does their hair better, or dresses better, etc.

We have to be the ones who remind them that they are beautiful, because that is exactly how God created them.

Period.

End of story.

No hairstyle, clothing item, diet plan, photo angle, or anything else can make us more beautiful than the beauty of being created in the image of God.

Let’s start making sure that our girls are being taught, shown, and told this daily. Let’s figure this out for ourselves so that we are able to believe what we are telling our daughters. Let’s embrace who we are created to be and help our girls embrace who they are created to be.

You are beautiful.

Because God created you.

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Faith Priorities

Faith. From the time I was two, faith was a priority in the life of my family.

We went to church every time it was open – Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night.

My sisters and I have been examples in Dad’s sermons more times than we can count.

It didn’t matter what we did on Saturday night or how late we stayed out, we were at church on Sunday morning.

When I went off to college, needless to say, I wasn’t as faithful in my church attendance. I didn’t quite understand the necessity.

But it wasn’t long before I changed my tune and began attending regularly again.

And then I became a parent and I realized exactly what my parents realized all those years ago.

As parents, we set the priorities for the home. Strong faith and a relationship with God through Jesus Christ has to be at the top of our priority list. One of the ways we do this is by making it a priority to be in church regularly for worship.

In this day and age, there are so many things that are vying to be at the top of our list of priorities, and what I have seen happen in the church is sad. Ball games, tumbling or other sports meets/competitions, camping trips, and even late Saturday nights are taking priority over worship attendance. Somehow a shift has occurred and instead of making worship a priority, we have started making our children’s “success” in other areas a priority.

The problem with that is simply this: if they don’t learn early how to make the Lord a priority in their lives, then He may never be a priority in their lives.

And for a parent who loves the Lord and loves her children, that would be a devastating tragedy for my children.

So in addition to other things we do at home, we will be in worship each Sunday morning on a regular basis. This is a priority in our lives. And as parents, we will show our children that it needs to be a priority in their lives as well.

 

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