Training Our Children for Spiritual Warfare

IMG_0565

My nephew turned six in June, and for his birthday he requested to fly to Florida to see his cousins. Accompanied by my sister and mother, he flew to Tampa to celebrate with our family. That beautiful Monday morning with the palm trees towering just under the sunshine, we loaded up the car and drove to LEGOLAND in Kissimmee, Florida to celebrate. While my sister and I waited with three of our kids for the Flight Lessons roller coaster, I did what all parents do at some point: I worried about the safety of the ride. The what if’s seemed to flutter in my mind.

As we climbed aboard the flight coaster, our feet dangling beneath our seats, I asked the worker, this doesn’t go upside down right? He assured me that this roller coaster didn’t. All the same, as the coaster began, I reached over and grabbed my son’s arm and held on tight. Let go mama! he politely squealed with excitement. No! I am holding on, buddy. As he wriggled his arm away for the second time with the biggest grin on his face, I acquiesced…but then later grabbed on again. In the event that something did malfunction, I am quite certain my arm would most likely have been a futile safety net. But it did wonders for my conscience.

Isn’t your child’s first (or maybe 200th) time on a roller coaster a bit of a foreshadowing of the rush of feelings we as parents have when our children approach adolescence and then soon after head out the door to college? We work to ensure that every precaution is taken, instructions given and followed, or restated, reinforced, and tried again. Then we send them out the door with friends, off in the car for the first time alone, or out the door to make their own way in life most hopefully in the will and admonition of the Lord Jesus. We watch with baited breath as they are given more liberty and freedom, subsequently tempted, and then wait to see how they will respond. Will they stay the narrow course? Will they detour? Will they fall?

To continue reading and for Five Ways to Equip Your Children for Spiritual Warfare, head over to iBelieve.

signature

Leave a Comment

A Brief Note to Parents on the State of Humanity

A Somber 4th of July

Today we deeply mourn the loss of life and the latest evidences to the degradation of humanity within our culture. These days we can wear our grief like a cloak never fully making it to the wardrobe.

We have turned on one another; which frankly isn’t new in human history. However, this turning against our brother at this scale and with this fervency is new in the course of recent history within our own particular sphere of the globe.

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream that little black boys and little black girls would hold the hands of little white boys and little white girls as brothers and sisters. I would argue that his dream has been realized. I am sure of it. I witnessed this dream in action only this morning.

Loading up the kids, we headed to the local zoo. Inside the zoo were a slew of children at the splash park area. Brown, white, yellow, and black children all splashing together in the same water. Oblivious to the hateful murders of the night, they played together in one accord. The children were busy laughing in the warm Florida sun, sharing space and time in the chlorinated waters of the zoo playground where a mere 60 years ago this would have been unlawful for those not white skinned.

The color of a man’s skin need not have been an issue in our past, and it most certainly should not be one any more. Yet, we can’t get away from it all together in the grown-up world. Lord Jesus save us from ourselves.

I do not briefly address the audience on this blog today with any semblance of answers that are easy, quick, or flippant. Nor do so with any intent to sweep away the violence and loss of life occurring as recently as last night. But I come to you today offering hope and a few words of encouragement as we pause and grieve, weep, repent, pray, and express thanks to those who serve and protect.

There is much beauty and goodness in this world if we will take the time to witness it, and to create it. Today, I witnessed it in the laughter and play of children all shades of btown and tan on a splash pad.

Deeply saddened for the loss of life and the loss of humanity we see in our country, we need to remember this: Change starts inside our homes and reverberates throughout our culture and world. Press on dear friends as we grieve with those who grieve and mourn deeply the current situation. Change is possible by the grace of Jesus and our homes are perhaps our greatest, though indeed not our only, conduit for revival. Our job as parents is not easy…it never has been. Our task is significant…it has always been. Our time is now.

Even so come Lord Jesus,

signature

Leave a Comment

Investing in Eternity

 

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.

(Psalm 1:1-3, NIV, emphasis mine)

DSC_9294

DSC_9219

DSC_9280

Investing in eternity. That’s what parenting is. We plant the seeds of God’s word, prune and trim our little saplings, and bring rain and sunshine with life giving words and consistent discipline. Indeed, there are days where our words pour forth torrentially, but most days are steady streams of sunshine mixed with necessary watering and pruning as the need arises.

Our second sapling, Joshua, turned six last week. Over the last six years, we’ve diligently laid down tracks we pray he will continue to follow in the future as we tend to and nurture the young warrior God has given us. One discipline that we wanted to initiate in his sixth year, and soon to be our daughter’s eighth year, is that of saving. We’ve preached and modeled giving to God’s Kingdom, then enjoyed encouraging their dreams of giving their money away. But we haven’t as consistently modeled saving money for future use or for unforeseen needs.

On Wednesday afternoon of this week, I taxied Emily and Joshua to the local bank to open his savings account. He decided to place all of his birthday money into the savings account, which I thought was a wise decision. As we waited for the banker that would be assisting us, the lead teller walked by and we told her of Joshua’s plans. She said, “That will make your money grow!” Joshua looked a me and said, “Really mom? Will it make my money grow?” I smiled and answered his question as simply as I could to a degree satisfactory to him.

Finally, our turn arrived to fill out the appropriate paperwork for Joshua’s savings account. We gave the banker the necessary documentation (for future reference, be sure and have your child’s social security number on hand, I had to drive home and get his) and waited for him to process the request. As the banker walked away to gather the account number, he too stated, “Are you ready to watch your money grow?” When he had left us, I sensed the Holy Spirit telling me to share with Joshua the ways in which we watch our money grow.

“Joshua, come here sweetie, I want to tell you something,” I coaxed as he hopped into my lap. “There are two ways to watch your money grow, one is to invest your money in a savings account or investments which will grow your wealth on earth. The other, is to give it away to missions, or the poor, and by doing this, you grow your wealth and rewards in Heaven.” He looked at me and nodded his head in understanding, I continued, “I am so glad you are starting this savings account, and I am also glad when you give your money away to God.”

As Joshua nodded and said, “okay mama, I understand,” I gathered that was enough of a money lesson for the time, but I could not ignore the weight of this teachable moment upon me as a parent. Each time we invest in teaching our kids about godly and biblical principles, we are investing in eternity. That moment it happened to be about finances, but it could have easily been something else to do with friendship, honesty, loyalty, or discipline. Each lesson waters the saplings our children currently are to enable them to become mighty oaks planted by streams of Living Water.

What are the teachable moments you have had with a young person or peer this week? How have you sensed the Holy Spirit prompting you to make a disciple? Please share your moment so that we can learn and rejoice with you.

signature

 

Leave a Comment

Your Kids Slow You Down… and That’s a Good Thing

DSC_9470

We all know kids take time, but do you ever feel as if your kids are slowing you down? Maybe you long to shop alone without the help of little hands? Or perhaps you wrap all of your Christmas presents at bed time because you know you can do it faster without the assistance? You are not alone! Please join me over at iBelieve to see why it is a good thing that your kids are slowing you down and how this points to the Father. Read this slowly here.

signature

 

Leave a Comment

The Meanderings of Motherhood

275

The anticipated birth-day of each of our children come. Then as we are wheeled out to the car with our new little bundles in hand it is strange the feeling of surprise that there are no oaths to take or more papers to sign to take our child home and raise them. After all, foster care and adoption require nearly a left arm and two quarts of blood. Furthermore, many of us depart from the hospital with thoughts like are we ready for this?

I think those are feelings shared by most responsible parents when their children first arrive into the world from the safe confines of the womb. We count the days, weeks, then months of our children’s age to find that the years add up before we grasp the time with our minds, much less our hands.

As the years pass, the diaper bags are placed in the Goodwill or yard-sale pile. Next, the pack-and-play too finds a new home and the toys that we once tripped over have been replaced with big-kid toys we continue to trip over.

That’s the season of life we are in now. Legos have replaced teething-toys, and baby dolls and books have replaced boppy pillows and burp cloths.

I don’t carry a diaper bag anymore, but I rarely leave the house without a few snacks and a water bottle. Even though my children are five and seven, I think they still equate sight of me with hunger. Just ask my husband or the grandparents. The kids could have eaten minutes before I arrive home and one of the first sentences out of their mouths is, “Mom, I’m hungry.” Really?! It’s quite laughable.

Like the meandering path of a river, winding, bending, and curving its way to the sea, so too parenting is not a straight course. Sometimes our children will seem to be independent and free of their need for us in certain categories of life, only to need us greatly in similar categories once again. Occasionally, our well-developed children will hit a bump in the road and need us more than we anticipated at different points throughout our lives together.

I think about the choices my children will make as they grow. These are the easy years–I’ve been told, and I agree. The decisions they make at five and seven are far less reaching than at 12, 16, 18, 21, and even 35. Jesus wisely knows that as the course of our lives wind and bend to our final destination, that we will be prone to worry–not about the bend in front of us, but about the possibility of a twist in the rivers flow a few yards, or even a mile, down. He guides our worry with these words:

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Matthew 6:34, KJV

Prayer and praises to Jesus today, and prayer and praises to Jesus in the morrow. So the saying goes, and is good advice based on Matthew 6:34, One day at a time, sweet Jesus.

Prayerfully, our faithfulness in this day reaps rewards in the days to come. Therefore, we need not face this day with worry for the next that has not dawned.

The most precious gifts I have been given in this life are a result of one of the best choices I made in marrying their daddy. I am so grateful for the choices that led me to Ron and for the gift of being a mom to two of the most remarkable people I have ever met.

Happy Mother’s Day to each woman with children of your own and to all women of spiritual children in which you have invested love, prayers, and guidance. May this be a blessed Mother’s Day for you.

Take heart and fear not the morrow,

signature

Leave a Comment

I Have Not Love

 photo (89) (1)

Jesus,

Help me. I have not love. At least not love enough.

Your Daughter,

Brooke

P.S.

I only love because you first loved me. Thank you…

How numerous the opportunities to kneel or to break by 10:00 in the morning! Today, the rare occasion in which the children awake me…at 6:00 no less; I choose to kneel. Sending daddy off to work; kneel again. A visit with Little E’s case manager, I kneel as the kids either obey the first time… or not. But wait, wait for it, here it comes…I bend…then break.

Crayons are given, coloring pages laid out, one book is read, and the starting of another. It is at this point it all comes unglued. I bend something mighty and the peace breaks into the very pieces which cannot be picked up.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.~John 13:34-35

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1

If I am in fellowship with Christ, then shouldn’t I demonstrate love in action? Even with the provocations of three children? Instead, I bend and so went the clanging pieces of broken people clashing loud… the absence of patient love.

photo (88) (1)

People are fond of quoting the verse, “God is love.” But, C.S. Lewis rightly questions the meaning behind these words. Are we misusing these words as mere semantics for the thought that every love people express is God? Here is what Lewis has to say in this regard:

But they seem not to notice that the words “God is love” have no real meaning unless God contains at least two Persons. Love is something that one person has for another person. If God was a single person, then before the world was made, He was not love. Of course, what these people mean when they say that God is love is often something quite different: they really mean “Love is God.” They really mean that our feelings of love, however and wherever they arise, and whatever results they produce, are to  be treated with great respect. ~ Mere Christianity, p. 151

God is love expressed in his three state relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and then to His creation. To sustain my relationship with others I require the love of God as infused by daily filling of the Holy Spirit. The filling that I should seek and lean into through prayer and the reading and memorization of Scripture.

In the church, love is the most needed as the culmination of gifts that God has given His people: teaching, acts of service, giving, admonition, etc., are utilized. Whether preaching the gospel in our home,  to the body of Christ, or to a lost world, love is the essential key for others to see Christ in us; for others to know that we actually believe what we profess.  I realize this  especially when I have chosen to stomp my feet, dig in my heels, and demand the obedience that is required from our children as their mom.

Jerry Bridges perfectly illustrates the effects of the absence of love in the following story:

I remember hearing of one university student of whom it was said, “He can lead people to Christ, but no one wants to room with him.” Whether he could, given that immaturity of character, truly lead people to a saving knowledge of Christ may be questioned by some. But whether he could or not, it is true that a great big dose of love was needed to make him truly effective. ~ True Community: The Biblical Practice of Koinonia

photo (87) (1)

After the kids had listened to the second story and sat there as quietly as possible in obedience I penned the note above. I need more of Christ because I need to love others more… I must choose to kneel.

signature

Leave a Comment

Broken and Overflowing

“Mom, I need to go potty.” “Okay, go on and I will come and help you in a minute,” I told our middle son, Joshua. I, as usual, hurried to complete a few tasks and forgot about Joshua being in the bathroom. That is, until I heard the water running.  With Little E close on my heels, I hastily made my way to the bathroom door, only to find that it was locked. “Joshua, don’t lock mommy out of the bathroom honey.”

I reached for the gym clip above the door. Joshy calls it my key.  After a few tries I successfully unlocked the door, unprepared for what lay on the other side…

Picture my two year old, hands splashing in soapy water as it filled the sink to the brim and overflowed onto the floor. Within seconds I turned the water off, pushed the lever so the water would drain, and quickly dried my son’s hands. Then I grabbed my camera as any self-respecting, American mom of the twenty first century; digital documentation of woes is a must!

As I began my verbal correction, the sound of breaking glass in the hallway quickly diverted my attention. I knew instantly what the sound was…the teacup nightlight, a wedding gift we had used for the last ten and a half years of marriage. Little E experiences a gravitational pull towards electrical plugs and outlets; certainly of which included the hallway nightlight.

There we stood, the three of us, with Ron and Emily barely out of our neighborhood to run errands: puddles in the bathroom and glass on the floor.

I cleaned up the glass and instructed Joshua to wipe up the water with the towel I provided. In my mind I pondered how events could take such a quick turn, and how on earth do moms I know with four boys do it?

A few minutes later the boys were splashing in the bathtub, giggling and playing like the two adorable children that they are. I kneeled on the cold tile floor thinking how thankful they should be that they are cute!

God would have me live just like that moment: kneeling, broken and seeking the overflow of His presence. He loves a contrite and humble heart that knows life is more than we can handle independently. God strengthens my weak knees and feeble arms. He wants me to live out of the overflowing measure of the Living Water, Jesus Christ himself, that is available to all who would repent and believe…to all who would ask for His filling in our lives.

I wonder, do you have broken places that you need to confess to the Lord today? Are there areas in your life where an invitation to the Holy Spirit to come and do His work, to fill you with His desires and wisdom, needs to be extended? I certainly have those. God works in our lives according to His will, however, He longs, as most parents, for His children to seek out His help on their own initiative. Run to Daddy today dear friends and let us ask Him to take our broken lives and fill them to overflowing with His presence.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. ~1 Peter 5:6-7

 

 

1 Comment

Harvesting Hearts with Principle


Every mom and dad likely agree that parenting is one of the hardest tasks of a lifetime. Tending the soil of little hearts, growing them into Christ-followers with convictions, character, and principles that will weather all seasons of life, takes perseverance and commitment. Even then, it is Christ and the choices of our children that will give the increase.

To do my part, I desire to memorize and convey to my children Biblical truths which teach the principles behind the discipline in our home.

Hebrews 12 teaches that just as an earthly father disciplines his son so too the Heavenly Father disciplines us for our good, “that we may share in His holiness (vs. 10)” Even when our little pumpkins have left the patch, they will not leave the strong, tender hands of their Father.

 

In the book, Help for the Harried Homeschooler, Christine M. Field writes a wonderful chapter on discipline and encourages parents to focus on “principles and relationships, not rules (p. 57).”

 A rule says, “Don’t kill.” The principle is “Love your neighbor.” A rule says, “Don’t be disrespectful.” The principle is, “Honor your father and mother.” ~Help for the Harried Homeschooler, p. 57

 

Here are 10 verses to harvest hearts with principle. Perhaps this will encourage you to write your own list that addresses issues specific to your children. Our children are still preschool age. With that in mind, parents of teenagers might add more verses about honoring God with their bodies and respecting their bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit.

1. “Honor your father and your mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise) “That it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” ~Ephesians 6:2-3

2. “Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.” ~Philippinas 2:14-16

3. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” ~Matthew 22:37-39

4. The Golden Rule: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” ~Matthew 7:12

5. “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”~1 Thessalonians 5:18

6. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” James 1:2-3

7. “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4

8. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” ~Colossians 3:23

9. Persevere “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”~Galations 6:9

10. Pray “I lift my eyes unto the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” ~Psalm 121:1-2

2 Comments

Pour Another Cup

 

Today as I pour my morning cup of coffee it is with the realization that number three is days away from making his or her debut. We have decided not to find out the sex of the baby; rather I should say we haven’t made preferences known. We were officially licensed for foster care last Thursday, September 27, 2012. It happened only minutes after we picked our kids up on our return from the Grand Canyon.

I half expected a phone call in the night on Thursday: foster care families are in high demand. An empty bed is a scarce commodity in our county and little bodies in transition ready to fill them are at all time highs. Thankfully, we made it through the night without a call.

I am certain that God has plans in this foster care/adoption journey and they begin and end with giving Him glory. In the middle is pruning and sanctification; both of which I and my family need.

As we prepare for baby number 3, I consider the sacrifices that parents of young children are called to make. Another baby will ground us more. It is only in the last year alone, our children were “old enough” to leave overnight for the very first time to go on mission to Honduras and just recently a GTD trip (click here) to celebrate 10 years of marriage. Trips like these may have to be revisited later than I would like. That is the hard truth we face as we begin to foster; however, equally true is the fact that the babies that will enter and exit our home are known and loved by their Creator God and He has chosen us to be a part of their journey.

I pray for these children, as I pray for our own, that in the time we are blessed to raise them (even in those moments I do not want to pour another cup of milk or change another dirty diaper) that their early years will have a lasting, visible effect as that seen in the life of Moses:

By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.

~Hebrews 11:24-26

We want all the children who pass through our home to have a Homeward focus because of being here and influenced by the living and active word of God: the Bible.

So we will ask the Holy Spirit to pour another cup of grace, mercy, provision, and wisdom into our hearts and minds through prayer, the Bible, and His people so that we may turn and pour Him into the lives of His kids.

Please pray for us on this journey. Thank you sincerely for reading friend.

1 Comment

6 Things I Said I Would Never Do As a Parent

What was it I said we would never do as parents? Oh yes, I seem to remember a few things.

I/we will never…

1. Have kids’ toys in our room.

2. Install DVD players in the car.

3. Allow our children to be unresponsive when people talk to them. I find this difficult to say with a straight face. 🙂

4. Let our children sleep in our bed. (Still only happens when Daddy is out of town.)

5. Bribery. (Didn’t make it two years before I began using this “disciplinary methodology.” I must say I try to use it sparingly.)

6. Homeschooling. I am not sure that I ever said I wouldn’t home school; I do know I thought it.

Let me give it to you straight. Today we are leaving to drive an hour and a half to our state’s home school convention. Our kids will watch DVDs in their portable DVD players that we bought them for their birthdays while playing with toys they probably grabbed out of our room prior to ignoring the neighbors who tell them they look so cute this morning. Then they will ask for the gum that was promised if they dressed without complaining.

Ah, confession is good for the soul. At the very least this may be therapeutic for fellow parents, right?

Be careful what you say you will never do for surely you will one day be given the opportunity to make yourself a liar.

Concerning these 6 Things I Said I Would Never Do As a Parent, I wouldn’t have it any other way my friends… okay, so I would have both my children respond when people talked to them. That is the only thing I would change for the present.

Enjoy your weekend and while you are doing so please read these fabulous, point on posts. They may just be the best ones I have read all year long.

Downward Mobility by Shaun Groves  click here

One Thing That Will Make Your Soul Explode by Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky click here

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Leave a Comment