Monthly Archives: July 2012

A New Season

There is an appointed time for everything.  And there is a time for every event under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

By: Jennifer Clark

Today I send my little boy to daycare for the first time….

My husband and I had always planned on me staying home for a while with our son. Of course, we never really defined what “for a while” meant. I knew for sure I wanted to stay home with him while he was a baby, but I really had no idea of when I would try to return to teaching. Whenever I suggested that I might never go back to work, my husband’s face turned a sickly green color one usually associates with the stomach flu.

I am not a natural born homemaker. My cooking is mediocre, and my housekeeping skills are questionable.  I would rather chew aluminum foil than iron, and I think smudges on widows add character to the house.  I am not crafty, and I have never had the inclination to attend any kind of party that sells cookware. Now, all of a sudden, the house was my domain. Joy.

Still, the time I have spent at home with my son is precious to me. I was there with him every day as he progressed from rolling over to crawling to walking to running (and he rarely stops running).  I fed him his bottles, read him stories and rocked him to sleep before naptime. To be sure, I have made plenty of mistakes. I have place panicked phone calls to the doctor over spit up, and lost my temper, literally, over spilt milk. And don’t even get me started on potty training. At this point, I am amazed that any of us learn to successfully use the toilet. But I can only trust God that my love for my son will overcome all the times I have failed. I didn’t always have the patience I should have, but I was there with him, loving him every day. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

However, as the saying goes, the days go slow, but the years go fast.  Before I knew it, my son was no longer a baby, but a toddler. I began to think about going back to work. I will make a confession. Strictly speaking, I don’t have to go back to work. We can pay the bills on my husband’s salary. There isn’t much money for extras, and we live modestly, but I don’t have to work to feed my family like so many women do.  Honestly, I want to go back to work. And I feel guilty about that.

I love my son, but I miss my job. I don’t think I ever realized how much a part of me it was until I resigned to stay at home. So many wonderful women are cut out to be stay at home moms. It’s what they want to do, and they are good at it. That’s how God made them. It’s not how God made me. I became confused over which path to take.

I’ve always identified with the story of Gideon. Even though God told him very clearly what He wanted Gideon to do, Gideon wanted a sign. In fact, he wanted several. I prayed to God for guidance, and asked others to pray as well. I am not one of those who hear an audible voice from God. But I did feel like I was supposed to look for a job. For a while, I was a nervous wreck. I wanted a sign, like Gideon. So I prayed a simple prayer that the right doors would open (if that was God’s will) and the wrong doors would close. I would love to be able to claim that all my worries melted away, but that’s not true. Even though the Lord has provided for me over and over again, I still struggle with faith.

There was a particular job that I wanted, a wonderful opportunity. I decided to put it God’s hands. If I got the job, I would return to work. If not, I would withdraw my applications and wait another year. It was my version of Gideon’s request to see dew on the fleece, I suppose.  I wanted to know that I was on the path that God intended for me. I prayed, and when my faith was weak, I asked others to pray for me.

In the end, happily, I got the job. So this week, I am returning back to teaching and putting my little boy in daycare. My son is very social, and I know how much he will benefit from being around other children.  I am happy to get back to the classroom, but part of my heart is broken. As much as I feel I am doing the right thing, I know how hard it will be to drop him off and drive away.  Right now, it hurts to think about it.

There has been a lot in the news lately about the Mommy Wars.  As someone who has been on both sides, I can’t help but wonder- why does it have to be a battle at all? God made each of us with different skills, talents and abilities. How much better this world would be if we could support each other instead of feeling defensive about our choices.

The bible says there is a time for everything.  Today, my family begins a new season of our lives. As it says in Ecclesiastes, “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.” Amen to that.

Can You Hear Me?

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”  Mark 1:35

By: Sarah Smith

There’s a lot of background noise in the life of a mother.  “Mom, where are my shoes?”  “Mom, what’s for dinner?”  “Mom, I need poster board for my school project…it’s due tomorrow!”  “Honey, can you go to the store?”  “Darling, we need a date night.”  And then there are the voices in our heads – “The house is a mess, no wonder we can’t find anything.”  “bread, milk, eggs, cereal, poster board.”  “What is for dinner?”  “Date night?  I’m way too tired.”  “Wish I could be scrapbooking.” “I need to exercise more and eat healthy.”  Oh, I could go on and on.  I didn’t even mention the TV shows playing in the background or the phone calls or facebook posts  or the list of volunteer duties or jobs.  WOW, it’s noisy!

I would like to extend an invitation to all moms reading this.  It’s an invitation from God to meet him for some one-on-one time.  It may be at a Women of Faith event or maybe a retreat with your church’s women’s ministry group.  Here’s the thing, you get to pick the where and the when.  God will take care of the how.  And, the why?  Because you need to block out the noise and listen to what He might be saying to you.  Most of our mountain-top experiences happen when we are away from the chaos of home.  Even Jesus himself needed to get away once in a while to pray.  Luke 4:42, Luke 6:12 and Mark 1:35, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”

You owe it to yourself and your family to take time out for you.  Jesus recognized when it was time to get away.  I think maybe He needed to ‘refuel’ so he could be a better Jesus.  (I know, sounds weird) Remember, He came to serve. Mark 10:45 says “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  You will be a better wife and mother when you spend time with God and sometimes, it’s best to focus only on Him for a day or two.  He may be speaking to you right now in the midst of the everyday as I shared in my last post but I promise, when the distractions are set aside, His voice will be even clearer.

John 10:27 says “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.”  After listening to God and truly hearing what he has to say, then we will know where he is leading us.

For those who attend my church – remember Fall Retreat is right around the corner!  It’s time to register for that now. (Non-members are also welcome to attend!  Contact me for details!) There are also Women of Faith events in Kansas City, Dallas and Oklahoma City this year. Consider getting a group of women together to attend one of those. (or the spring Extraordinary Women event in Tulsa)

Who Do You Trust?

2 Corinthians 12: 9-10   “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

By: Sarah Smith

I can think of several times when I can say God spoke to me. (When I say “hearing” the voice of God…it wasn’t necessarily audible, but I heard Him loud and clear.) And, I just realized that in each and every one of these times I’m sharing, it was when I was at my weakest!

I remember clearly ‘hearing’ the voice of God when my husband Brian was fishing.  He wasn’t back by the hour he said he would return and I was worried to the point of being so afraid that something horrible had happened to him.  My first husband had died and I was certain that it was going to happen again.  All of a sudden, an unexplainable sense of peace settled over me.  “Worry won’t prevent it from happening but if it does happen, I will be there with you as I was before.”  These words comfort me now. “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow.  It empties today of its strength.” – Corri Ten Boom And my strength comes from God…I will not let anything empty today of my God.

(the man still likes to fish…and on this trip to Alaska with no communications…I had to trust)

About 4 years ago I embarked on a very successful weight-loss journey (wish I could find the map today).  After several weeks of absolutely NO chocolate I had just started to allow myself to enjoy one or two Dove dark chocolate Promises, you know, the ones individually wrapped with a message inside.  Well, on this particular day, I was driving home from the grocery store with my bag of chocolates beside me.  I had already mindlessly eaten five or six and had just pulled out three more when a voice said “One more is enough.”  I had already eaten that ‘one more’ so I said back “OK, we’ll compromise!  I’ll have two.”  I opened the second piece of chocolate and read the message inside.  “There’s a time for compromise.  It’s called LATER.”  I calmly wrapped that chocolate back up in its wrapper and drove home with both hands on the wheel.  I kept the wrapper but that chocolate was thrown away!  Compromise with God?  Who was I kidding?

Another example happened less than a year ago.  Soon after my son got his driver’s license, it was time to let him venture out on his own by taking his brother to the driving range on the other side of town.  I was on the golf course with my daughter and my sons were going to hit a few buckets of balls at the driving range.  I told them to text me when they got there, text me when they were ready to leave and text me when they got home.  But, do not text me while driving!  They let me know when they arrived at their destination but after the first hour, I checked my phone and noticed my battery was very low.  All kinds of thoughts went through my head. “What if my phone dies?” “What if something happens?” “How will they call me if something happens?”  “What if something happens?” “What if I hear sirens and I don’t know if they are ok?”  “What if something happens?” “Maybe I should tell my daughter it’s time to go?”  As I stared at the dead phone in my hand, I once again felt that familiar sense of peace settle over me and I heard “Do you trust that cell phone or do you trust Me?”

 (Yes, I took a picture as he drove away for the first time.)

That first experience of hearing God reminding me to trust him happened over 20 years ago.  I wish I could say that it stuck the first time but as you can see, it didn’t.  What has stuck is that God is there each and every time I am at my weakest.  Even those times when I’m drowning in my sorrow and forget to reach out to Him, He’s already there.  Even those times when I think I can handle it – just 3 more pieces of chocolate – He’s there to remind me I need His strength for I am weak.  Even those times when I am consumed with love and worry for my children, He’s there to remind me that they are His and He is there with them.  He will be with them as they grow and learn that they, too, are weak.  My job as a parent is to show them and train them to know who to turn to in those times of weakness and all the times in between.  I must teach them God is listening to our prayers.

One of those teachable moments happened when my middle son was about 5.  (He had just begun to notice that there were people speaking Spanish in the stores – an important detail)  I shared with my children that we needed to pray for a family member over a reoccurring health issue.  My son sweetly asked me, “Does God always answer our prayers?”  “Of course,” I replied “but sometimes it’s in ways we just don’t understand.”  “You mean, like in Spanish?” he asked.

I invite you to pray with your children.  Pray to God and ask Him to reveal Himself to your children so they will see that He does indeed answer prayer.  I prayed with my son (at his request) one time that we would see a deer while we were with his Grandpa and Grandma.  Well, we didn’t see just one deer…we saw a whole herd of deer!  Talk about a faith-building answer to prayer!

Thank you, Lord, for my weaknesses, for the insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties in my life.  If I had none of these, then I and others would not see Your strength.  Thank you for the presence of the power of Christ.  Help me to be an example to my children and others around me; bring them closer to You, Lord, so that they will trust, not in their own strength, but in You and only You.

 

 

Help, I Need Somebody- Part Two

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” Romans 12:1

By: Kerri Young

On Monday I shared how my oldest son taught me at the beginning of the summer (and probably at least several times a week since then with the same type of situation) that I don’t always like or joyfully receive God’s timetable or plans for me. Today I want to share another example of how the Holy Spirit used my daughter to teach me a lesson about obedience and God’s purpose played out in my daily life.

One day last week I was attempting to make dinner during the “witching hour”. You know, that hour of the day when everyone is exhausted and ready for the cavalry to come home to the rescue. My littlest man was crying and scratching at me to pick him up, my two older ones were whining because I wouldn’t let them watch another episode of “Yo Gabba Gabba” on Netflix, and I was just trying to get the ingredients to make our dinner out of the refrigerator without knocking the crying little man over. (Getting things out of the fridge and placing them on a counter on the opposite side of the kitchen becomes an Olympic sport when a one-year-old is standing up and clinging to the back of your legs with his scratchy, razor-sharp fingernails for dear life.)

In a moment of sweetness, Big Sis came walking into the kitchen and said, “Mom, can I help you with something?” For about three seconds I heard angels singing and thought, “Wow! We’ve arrived! She is showing empathy and wants to help!!!” But when I responded with, “Yes, you can help me…. Please take little man into the living room, find some toys, and play with him while I try to get dinner ready”, the needle scratched on the record. (For all you young ones out there who never owned a record player, that means my moment of joy quickly evaporated.)

“But, I don’t want to do that. I want to help you get dinner ready!” I heard my pouting, almost seven-year-old whine. With all the compassion and grace I could muster as my sweet baby was screaming and digging his talons into my knee pits (what are those called, anyway?) I uttered, “The best thing you can do to help me make dinner right now is entertain your baby brother, please.”

Her reply? “I don’t want to help you do that!” as she stomped off without my little dude, who was still scratching patterns on the back of my legs. Watching her huff into the other room angry at me for not letting her help me the way she wanted to help me, I had another one of those moments—seems like they happen to me quite frequently—when God uses my children as a mirror for my heart. Seems like if I’m honest with myself I have been saying the exact same thing to God in my heart about something He is asking me to do instead of letting me do what I want to do. Ughh!

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

I think I know exactly how I can help God the most and use my gifts for His glory. It’s all well-intentioned and I come up with great plans to make things happen, sometimes totally ignoring what God is clearly asking me to do because I just don’t think it will have as big of an impact or be nearly as important as what I want to do. Yes, I’m kind of (prideful) that way. But God shakes His head and says, “No, not that. This is what I have for you and I want to use you to be a great blessing if you will let me. My plan is best and will bring ME the most glory, so stop trying to do your own thing and listen to what I have asked of you.”

Is there something you’ve been fighting with God about doing and He keeps saying no? Are you looking for something more glamorous or, perhaps, less glamorous but God is telling you what He’s asking is for your good and His glory? Maybe there is something God has been asking you to do lately that you just don’t have any desire to do? Is He asking you to reach out to a neighbor who is unlovable? Maybe He wants you to volunteer for something that is beyond your comfort zone?

When you examine your heart, do you find you have reacted like me and like my kids… with frustration and defiance? If so, I want to encourage you today. Just like I lovingly encouraged my son to focus on emptying the plates and not the silverware the next day (and the next day….), and just like I gleefully picked up my littlest man, made silly noises, and spun him around to make him and Big Sis laugh while carrying him to her in the other room, God will not give up on you and He will give you all the tools you need to obey. Ask Him how He wants you to “help” Him. Tell Him you want to be about His business today and ask Him for the strength and the humility to yield to whatever that may be. I promise sweet freedom from surrender and obedience will eventually take over any frustrations you might have, and you might just find that what He wants you to “help” with is actually worth smiling about and leads you to the foot of His throne. =)

 

Help, I Need Somebody – Part One

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” Romans 12:1

By: Kerri Young

At the beginning of the summer I implemented some “chores” for my two bigger kiddos. One of those responsibilities is helping me empty the dishwasher once (or sometimes twice) a day. Big Sis gets to unload the silverware basket and Little Bro gets to put away the plastic plates that belong in a shelf down where he can reach.

The first day we had a bit of a battle because Little Bro wanted to help with the shiny things, not the boring, round plates. A fight broke out between brother and sister that resulted in Big Sis walking away and allowing Little Bro to attempt putting the rest of the silverware away.

What ensued was a big mess of spoons, forks and knives all over the place and Little Bro falling off the chair he was standing on and bumping his head (because our counters are super high and neither of them can reach or see clearly enough to put things away without a chair or stepstool).

The next day when it came time to unload the dishwasher, Little Bro said he wanted to help put the silverware away again. Now I’m all about giving my kids a chance to try things that are challenging and really don’t care if the silverware isn’t perfectly put away, but I am not keen on allowing them to endanger their well-being by letting them do something that has already harmed them once before. (Especially when there is something else they can do that I know they can do well and without injury.) I gently thanked him for wanting to help and encouraged him that he had done a great job with the plates and should stick to those for now because he wasn’t quite big enough to put the silverware away yet. As you can probably imagine, that did NOT go over well. “But I want to help with the silverware and I AM big enough!!!” he whined.

As he trudged away angry because he thought he was ready to help with something he really wasn’t ready to help with, the Holy Spirit whispered to me and illuminated some grumbling in my heart about having to wait to do something I wanted and thought I was ready to do… NOW! Ouch, Lord!

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

How often do I respond to God the same way my son responded to me because I think life would be so much better if I could do what I want to do when I want to do it? I think I’m ready, but God says, “No, not yet. It’s not what’s best. You aren’t equipped and there are other things you can do more effectively for now. I want to use you here, in this, and there is beauty in the growing and in the waiting for what’s coming next.”

How about you? Are you grumbling about something that God hasn’t let you do yet, or about the thing He has told you to do instead? Stay tuned on Wednesday for another example of how God used my children to teach me that I want to do what I want to do and when I want to do it, but also how His timing and His purpose and plan are best.