Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Thinker

Drew set up a tea party for his little sister. He is such a special big brother who loves to dress up his sissy and drink tea!

For those who know Drew, is isn't shocking for me to say that he is my "thinker." I came home from the  Mom Heart conference with a renewed  vigor to model for my kids the joy and awesomeness of the Lord. We've been singing great hymns and songs about God and today we began a book about the great sacrifices Christian's have given for their faith. Sally encouraged us to give our children hero's - hero's who were passionate about God and who served Him with sacrifice. Hero's for my children to emulate.
My sweet Drew is so close to having a saving relationship with Jesus, I say "saving" because he has a relationship with Jesus, he just isn't quite to the point where he grasps the sacrifice and commitment that the Lord offers & requires. Having a personal relationship with Jesus isn't just a prayer and then you skip on your merry way, having "checked" that item off the to do list. To own a personal relationship with Jesus takes heart, sometimes death. A saving faith requires sacrifice and a sincere heart that is so in love with Jesus that you are willing to give up everything for Him.

So tonight we began a deep thinking book - a book about Martyrs.  I grappled with reading this book to Drew, but I figured it  can't be any worse than the Old Testiment - right? This book, Jesus Freaks,  I read in High School with tear stained cheeks right after I came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Might the Lord use this book again to draw my son's heart towards Himself? I pray so.

Drew is a deep thinker and I really want him to grasp the commitment we should all have in serving the Lord. God has told me that he has great and powerful, culture changing plans for all 3 of my kids. This is a season in their life when they are learning what it means to be a  follower of Jesus - what a hard job this is to convey daily to those 6 little eyes who watch me day in and day out. This is their time to learn and grow roots, soon they will go into the world as salt and light - unwavering and holding fast to their Christian ideals. Our home is a safe place for growing deep roots!

Today we were talking about the gift Jesus gives us when we fall down before the Lord and ask Him to enter into the very  being of who we are - the helper who is called the Holy Spirit. Drew was so excited to hear that when you ask to be on team Jesus you actually get Jesus living inside of  you. Later we were talking about why people do evil things, like kill Christian's for their faith. I shared that Satan is very powerful on earth and can work in the lives of unbelievers. Drew became very scared and asked if Satan could come into his heart. I explained that if your heart is possessed by the Holy Spirit, Satan can never have that kind of power over you again. Drew was so thrilled with that answer. He is so close. He asked me all the time how to be saved and how he will know that he is saved.

Please pray for the heart of my little boy - he is so close and has a soft and tender heart that is fast becoming more passionate about the Lord than I am. It is time for me to pick up my game too - as we read about the hero's of our faith I am convicted of my own shallow sacrifices. Drew asked me tonight if I would give up my life for Jesus - I told him "yes" and I believe I truly would. But, my flesh has a hard time going and truly thinking about that. I turned it around and asked myself - am I truly willing to live for Jesus without compromise - today when my day is interrupted by Jesus - will I obey and serve that neighbor or read another book to that child ? Yes, but I still pray for boldness like I've never experienced before. I pray my children would be bold and uncompromising too.

So - pray for my thinker! He is getting so close to asking Jesus Christ to come and live in his heart forever.

Here are some "I Am" statements we've been learning about as we journey through the book of John.


  • John 6:51:"I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever;"
  • John 8:23: And He said to them, "You are from beneath; I AM from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.
  • John 8:12: Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I AM the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."
  • John 8:58 Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM."
  • John 10:9: "I AM the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture."
  • John 10:11: "I AM the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.
  • John 10:36: "do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?
  • John 11:25: Jesus said to her, "I AM the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.
  • John 14:6: Jesus said to him, "I AM the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
  • John 15:1: "I AM the true vine, and My Father is the vine-dresser.
 Lord - may I passionately serve the great "I AM" the maker of heaven and earth, the creator of all things who deeply desires intimacy with a mother - a sinner - like me. Thank you for grace upon grace and the understanding I'm finally applying to my life - to parent in grace and bestow grace upon everyone I meet - especially bestowing grace upon myself. Give me the strength to parent as You would parent and provide me wisdom and patience to grow children with roots that grow deep into the depths of Hell to save a lost and dieing world. May they stand firm and not  be shaken by culture - may they hold fast to their Christian ideals.  Amen.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mom Heart Conference 2012

Again, I drove to Dallas, exhausted, weary, & broken. I needed to drink from the biblical wisdom of a woman who has gone before me, who has raised up a generation of leaders who have convictions and depth. I attended my 4th Mom Heart Conference and drank from the well of living water. What an impact Sally Clarkson has had on my life. She reminds me and encourages me of the truths laid out in scripture. She convicts my heart and brings up my pride as gently as anyone I know, then gentle moves me from that shame and covers me with a reminder of God's abundant grace.

I stood in awe and sang with a chorus of 800 women all walking through the same battle - captivating the hearts of our children. I  stood trembling as Sally shared a dream the Lord gave her many years ago when she too was weary of ministering. The dream showed a  newborn baby, laying alone on a white blanket screaming and flailing his fists. His lungs were screaming out and his face blue. Sally and the Lord were above watching the horrific scene of Satan and his demons hurl arrows at the  baby with words like "Pornography" and "Alcohol" and "sexual abuse." Sally looks at God and cries out "Why isn't anyone protecting the baby?" "Where are all the mothers!"

God then looks down with tears and says " They are not here."

I have a dream too - to start a community of mom's who come together and pray for our families and children. To band together as mothers,  sharing struggles and encouraging weary hearts to hold fast to God's ideals and to stand firm. I'll share more on that later!

I saw that vision in my mind playing out this morning as I choose to serve and bless my children with a full cup. I took them cocoa in bed with marshmallows and then we talked about how amazing God is to create such delights as hot cocoa and marshmallows! My goal was to capture their hearts first thing, to fill up their souls with the Word of God covered with hugs and cuddles and quiet spoken blessings. Then we tackled the day with grace and joy. Sally shared at the conference that my "... goal in education is reaching their heart, filling their emotional cup, teaching them moral foundations, capturing their vision for life for the kingdom of God, teaching them what it looks like to walk through difficult times while holding tight to the hand of God. "

I am raising a  generation for the Lord, He has equipped me with His Word and sweet Sally who writes books and whose children write music that feed the soul and spur me onward.

Lord - way I never surrender this post, keep me blind to the criticisms and frowns of others. Keep me on the path of righteousness, Thank you Lord for your grace to pick up this weary body and fill it with your Word and a vision for tomorrow. May the ideals and visions from you not become corrupted by culture, keep my heart pure and my eyes fixed straight ahead. Amen

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Give Them Grace

Am I really parenting my children as Christ has called me to? That is the question Elise Fitzpatrick and her daughter Jessica Thompson pose in the first chapter of her book, Give Them Grace. I've read books on grace before, like Tim Kimmel's book, Grace Based Parenting, which dives into the same question, As a Christian parent, how do I help my children fall in love with Jesus?  I must express that I picked up this book because I really am struggling with what my role is in parenting my children, how does the day to day squabbled and life's messiness lead them to the Cross of Jesus? Should I ask my son if he wants to accept Christ - I know he would say "yes!" but is saying yes, praying a prayer and being baptized all there is to it? I don't think so! I see far too many luk- warm Jesus proclaimers who go to church and maybe even join a church, but Jesus has no place in their Monday through Saturday lives. Jesus isn't a Sunday event, as our pastor reminds us, He is the event everyday and Sunday is the culmination of a week serving Jesus and an encouraging time to unity believers and prepare them for what is ahead.

I knew I was in for a different kind of book when I read, “God’s grace, lavished on us through Christ, ought to make our parenting radically different from what unbelievers do” (p. 21). That quote made me stop, does my parenting look radically different? It looks different, but is it radically different?  The book poses this question that hit me like a ton of bricks - if we come to Jesus, clothed in humility, aware of our filthiness and sin -- why am I trying to clean my child up and change his/her behavior, attitude and actions? Isn't that act of rule following exactly what Christ came to nullify - Christ came to nullify the law and give us the gift of grace. We are unable to ever get close to the feet of Jesus - our sins, from birth, prevents us from ever measuring up. There is nothing we can do, no rules we can follow, no "good enough," no check list I can follow,  that will ever get us close to Jesus and Father God. 

Apart from the grace of God sent through His Son Jesus Christ -  there is no hope.  There is nothing I or my children can do to be good enough, we have broken every law, committed every sin and are inoperable  and without hope. Yet, as a parent, I do believe based on past actions, that  I can shape the will of my child, I can teach them rules and make them "look" good to themselves and others (which Fitzpatrick nailed up as my own pride - ouch again!). This act is merely drawing my child away from the severity of their desperately sinful nature, instead of pointing them to the cross. The fact is, most Christian children will become so obedient and "good" that it is hard for them to fully comprehend the depravity of their sin - I for one fall into this category. I am a first born rule follower who hates to be confronted with my "big sins" but totally overlooks those minor ones that I shake off as "a personalty flaw."  This depravity of sin is what leads my own heart, and the heart of my children to repentance and eventually a full commitment to Jesus Christ through a changed life - not a perfect life. 

In section 1 Fitzpatrick penetrated my heart and  convicted me of my own need for grace. Grace - the unmerited favor of God that should dazzle and be embraced and radically change the way I live. It is through the imperfect act of my own grace that my children will embrace and be dazzled with a love for God.  There is such freedom is Christ, there is such good news, that Christ Jesus Came Into the World to Save Sinners - free of charge. GRACE.

 She also hits on the point that we're not promised "good parenting in, Christian children out." The Bible never promises such outcomes, it only asks that as parents we receive the grace of God, pray fervently for our children's salvation and then walk in faith towards a merciful and gracious God. I personally hate this part, I love control and in a very sinful and arrogant way, I do feel like I can bring my children to salvation - ouch! I can't believe I just wrote that, but the reality is most days I believe that lie. I could be the worst parent in the world and my child could still come to salvation - in  fact isn't that the way a lot of us came to Christ. Most women I meet these days didn't grow up in a Christian home. They found God on their way down and allowed Him to build them back up through their broken homes and broken lives.

Now just in case you jumped on the slippery slope, like I did, the rest of the book is dedicated on how to parent your children through the lens of grace. Fitzpatrick is not advocating not disciplining and training up your children. She is challenging the readers heart and attitude and giving tools on "how" to parent in grace. Fitzpatrick writes, “Parents are to discipline, instruct, train, and nurture their children. Only a cold detachment or a selfish disdain for children’s desperate need for direction would cause us to refuse to train them” (p. 82). She goes on to use the gospels to share with the reader how to daily apply grace into your parenting scenarios. It is through this training process that we lead our children down a path that reveals their own inability to change in their own strength but that they must trust in a merciful God who doesn't demand perfection but freely offers a free live in Christ - void of "have to's" and "do nots." Instead, as a freed believer, they comprehend Jesus sacrifice and desire to pour out  their love for God, because they truly see the sacrifice He made for them. This understanding of Jesus produces a supernatural change in attitude and behavior free of rules with their eyes fixed no pleasing Jesus, not because they are told to but because they want to. 

I'm very convicted and excited to read the next section in the book Give Them Grace, I'm excited to share with you how the Lord is speaking to my own heart. Especially as I mentally prepare for the Sally Clarkson conference next weekend! I always leave the conference refreshed and renewed -eager to apply all my fresh knowledge and biblical ideas.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

(Archives) Grace Begets Grace

From 1/31/2011 - a great reminder for me today!

"A thankful heart is constantly extending grace 
because it has received grace.

Love and Grace are uneven."


"Grace Begets Grace."

Paul Miller, A Praying Life Page 152

Grace ~ a word I thought I knew much about. From a young age I learned in church that grace was "unmerited favor."  Now, ask me to define that in my own words and I would have said something like, "I am unworthy of anything and God has shown fit to bless me with a relationship with Him." 

Over the last few months the  Lord has been speaking to my heart about living a grace- filled life. It  began last August with a Kay Arthur bible study on Spiritual gifts. I studied the word "Charis" (5485), it is Greek for grace and in the context I was reading meant "grace gifts or gifts of grace." I was slightly intrigued by this concept of spiritual gifts being gifts of grace. I never thought of spiritual gifts as an act of God's grace - only that Jesus' sacrifice for my sin personified grace. According to Strongs (G5485) grace has four definitions, it  is defined as:

a) that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech
2) good will, loving-kindness, favour
a) of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues
3) what is due to grace
a) the spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace
b) the token or proof of grace, benefit
1) a gift of grace
2) benefit, bounty
4) thanks, (for benefits, services, favours), recompense, reward

 My next encounter with the vast concept of grace showed up when I began reading A Praying Life by Paul Miller. I began to see that my lack of extending grace was masked by my sin of cynicism; An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others. This mask of cynicism was blocking the work the Lord wanted to do in and through my life. As I began to renew my mind, sometimes hourly, to transform my mind through the lens of grace I began to see life more through the eyes of my Father. This grace filled life forced me to look inward before looking outward. Often times, when I look inward I have no desire to look outward because my own sin humbles me. Instead of seeing faults in others, I see those same sins in my own life, repent, pray for more grace and then walk forward with a renewed sense of joy. It allows me to stop those thoughts of what I percieve people are thinking about me. That freedom allows me to walk with the Lord regardless of what I "think" others will think about it. It also changes the way I see people, it allows me to love just where people are without "spot or blemish." It opens doors to truly love people.

Finally, I picked up Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts; its primary focus' is to show how the giving of thanks within each and every situation transforms my mind and allows for Joy to be released within my life. Note that the final definition of Grace (#4) results in "Thanksgiving," Hidden within the word of grace is - Thanksgiving which is a bi-product of Joy.

So here are a few examples of  how Grace was practiced and utilized in my daily life last week:
  • As I rise early this morning I thank the Lord for the grace to get out of bed, my flesh desperately wants to go back to sleep. I know that without the Lord  -rising early to work out and get into God's word would be next to impossible. I'm NOT  a morning person. "Grace Begets Grace."
  • As I'm driving to the gym I meditate on the various "gifts" I've been given that morning - making a mental note to put them in my notebook when I get to Starbucks later that morning. "Grace Begets Grace."
  • My child wakes up and the first thing he asks is, "Can I watch a show."  My mind immediately thinks about how he is focusing his mind on an "idol" in his life, then instead of getting upset, I tell him he needs to wait. I think about the idols that are in my own life - the idol of pride or self  -wanting things my way, my plans, my schedule, etc. I confess this idol for what it is, ask the Lord to give me grace to be more generous and giving of my time. Then pray for my son, I write down Daniel 3:18 " But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”I then ask the Lord to shape my son with courage and self control like Daniel. I pray my son would not serve other gods and  that he would only worship the Lord. I'm becoming more aware of my child through the art of prayer, I'm seeing the natural bents towards the things of the world and praying that it be replaced with godly attributes. In the process, prayer softens me. I begin to realize that it is only through prayer that my son will confirm to the image of Christ. "Grace Begets Grace."
  • I see a mother who is giving her 3 month old baby apple juice, immediately in my mind I confess that I think I'm a better mother than she because I know that isn't a good thing for my child. The Lord graciously reminds me that I don't know anything about the situation, I replace those thoughts with truth - "she is a great mom," " She loves her child and I see that through how much she cuddles and cares for him." Later it comes out that her son has the flu and can only keep down juice. I thank the Lord for bringing to light my cynicism and allowing me to change the thoughts in my mind. I pray for her son's healing. "Grace Begets Grace."
  • I am weary and want to go to sleep, my husband gets into bed and I know that his neck has been hurting all day. I pray for grace to serve my husband, grab some bio-freeze and gently massage his neck.He is so grateful and feels appreciated - extending grace - a necessity to receiving grace. "Grace Begets Grace."
  • I'm in line at the grocery store, the woman in front is trying to  pay with a  check and is taking forever. My flesh urges me to get impatient, so I pray for grace and begin listing off areas of Thankfulness  like, "I have money to buy these groceries, the 4 free can's of soup in my basket, the fact that I'm shopping alone and my husband is putting the kids to bed, I am a blessed woman to have a husband who puts our kids to bed every night, He is such a wonderful man for doing devotions with the kids every night,  etc." Then I smile at the woman and she apologizes for taking so long. I comment to her that "I'm in no rush, don't feel bad, these things happen - especially to me!" She smiles back, relieved that I'm in no rush. She is blessed and feels lighter because of a few grace filled words and a kind smile. Grace received - Grace bestowed. "Grace Begets Grace."
The Lord is reconditioning my mind and heart through the lens of Grace 
which produces:

Thanksgiving
Joy  
Delight
Prayer
Bounty
Gifts
Strength 
Transformation Into The Image of Jesus Christ

Friday, February 3, 2012

Surrounded & Imperfect

I was reading through Genesis this week and just felt such frustration towards these men of great faith - like Abraham  and Noah and Isaac & Jacob. I see their stories unfold and all the trouble and sin they get themselves into. I then go to Hebrews and read about their great faith and how they are  beloved by God.

I stop,  look around at my children's hearts, their sin nature -- my own sin nature. I look at some bad choices they have made this last week and Satan subtly sneaks in and says "...they are broken, you are broken, God will never use you, your just a mess up sinner that will always make mistakes...."

Somehow I read these crazy bad choices of God fearing men and women and am encouraged. I am encouraged because God dealt directly with their sin and then moved on. He never brought up their failings and bad choices again. God dealt with the sin, he didn't overlook it, then pushed them on towards a mission. These crazy characters of old inspired me this morning, they refuted the lies of Satan.

The wisdom and truth in the Bible feed me manna from heaven this morning and challenge me to deal with my own sin, then the sins of my children and move on.  My sins do not define me - but refine me. In my sin I see the messed up person I truly am. A one who deserves to die in Hell, then I see my Father's love daily redeeming me from the pit with His ultimate sacrifice - His perfect and Holy son Jesus Christ. I am broken - that is no lie. I am a messed up sinner who will always struggle against my sinful flesh - that is no lie. But God will use me because I am redeemed, I am forgiven, I am in Christ, I posses the most precious and necessary tool - the Holy Spirit  and He has dealt with my sin today and is sending me onward to do great and mighty deeds in His Name.

Today Lord, I see Your greatness, I see your love, your chastising and your prodding. Your words whisper in my heart, nudging me to "... leave your sin behind and move ahead to the plans I have for you. I can and will use you, I have redeemed you from the hands of Satan and I remember your sins no more. Your sins were nailed to that cross with my Son, my most precious possession. Jesus' blood dealt with your sin, now go, walk in obedience and watch me do great things in My name."

Amen Lord, Amen

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thank Heaven For Big Brothers!

 Our little girly is in love with her big  brothers. She looks up to them and copies them and adores them. This week Drew had the best time dressing up his sister, he was  making her "beautiful" by doing her hair and dressing her up. He ingeniously used the ladder from his castle to make  a beautiful crown for her head, then took every bow he could find and decorated  her hair, Drew topped the hair off with two tutu's and her favorite pair of ladybug boots. Isn't she cute!

Oh yes, and Drew lost his first tooth (other than the two we had to pull that is). I just love my kids!