Our Hands

Have you ever shown up empty handed? If you would have known, you would have brought something, but you were not informed. I hate that feeling of not being prepared. This morning while reading the scriptures, I read two accounts of empty hands. Samuel was giving his final speech to the children of Israel and he asks several questions. He is asking if he has wronged, mistreated, bribed anyone. The people tell him no. “He said to them, ‘The LORD is a witness against you, and his anointed is a witness today that you haven’t found anything in my hand.” (1 Samuel 12:5). In Samuel’s case, being empty handed was a good thing. Could people say the same thing about us?

IMG_0748Another scripture paints a different picture. “He feeds on ashes. His deceived mind has led him astray, and he cannot rescue himself, or say, ‘Isn’t there a lie in my right hand?” (Isaiah 44:20). Sometimes our sin is so blinding and our hearts so deceitful that we cannot recognize the lie we hold so tightly too. One of the biggest lies I see our world clinging to today is the denial of God. Who created minds that can even think this thought?  Who set the stars in the sky? Who gave you the color of your eyes? Who gave dogs the ability to bark? Who taught birds to sing? Who came up with the colors of changing leaves? Who gave peaches such sweet juice? Something other than human hands created you, me and our world. Why is it so hard to believe?

“This is what the LORD, your Redeemer who formed you from the womb, says: I am the LORD, who made everything.” (Isaiah 44:24)

This is so simply stated, yet not accepted as truth today. Open up the scriptures and you will hear words of love, direction, peace, comfort, healing, joy, sorrow, purpose, eternal plans, hope, what is sin and the list could continue. If Bibles were placed in empty hands and read, maybe revival would be stirred. It is the Holy Spirit that works on hearts and the Bible was written by men, inspired by the Holy Spirit. “All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16). It is  heartbreaking to see how little honor Bibles are given. We do not recognize what are hands are holding and therefore we go about living lives that are incomplete.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” (John 1:1-4). Keep reading to gain a bit more understanding. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14). Jesus is the Word! Do you realize what this means? These 66 books, divided into 2 testaments, that in America we can easily obtain a copy, is life to us. Why do we want to deny life? True life is found ONLY in Jesus and the Word.

Pick up a copy of the scriptures for yourself. Stop going by what others post on social media and claim it as your truth. You are holding a lie and don’t even recognize it. Empty your hands of these lies and reach out for life. Honestly, nothing is more exciting to me than opening my Bible, but this was not always the case. My hands were filled with empty lies and I did not not even know it. It was not until my eyes were opened and I was grasping to find life, that the Bible became life to me.  Friend, He can do this for you too.

I challenge you to open up your Bible, pray and ask the Lord to show you life and get ready to know love. Hallmark has never written a card nor Hollywood made a movie that compares to the love found in the Bible. If you do not know where to start, I recommend the books of John and Psalms. If you have questions, pray and ask God to help you understand. He may lead you to someone who can help guide you. Ask me and if I do not know the answer, I will pray and find the answer for you. One of my favorite verses is, “For your faithful love guides me, and I live by your truth.” (Psalm 27:11). How does that sound?

 

*Picture is taken from my Bible:)

 

 

 

 

Unfailing

“What a person desires is unfailing love…” Proverbs 19:22

I read this verse a few mornings ago out of a devotional book by Beth Moore. I pondered these few words for quite sometime. Such a short, simple statement of truth, but it holds so much explanation and questions too. When was the last time you sat down and thought about the things you desire? I have often found that in hard times, to even think about desires is painful. Will I be disappointed again? What if my desire is not sinful, but did not get met? What if in fact, the very opposite happened? Have you been there too? Are you there now? It is hard to not lose hope.

IMG_0619Here is the thing, unfailing love is only found in One place. If every person desires unfailing love, regardless of race, male, female, age, single, married, divorced, widow, saved or unsaved, why are we not running to the Source? I wonder if it goes back to the loss of hope and disappoints that seem to be never ending?

If I look back to my high school and college years, I see a girl who desired to be a wife and a mom so bad, that I could barely focus on school. For as far back as I can remember, what I am doing right now, is all I have truly ever wanted to do. Now that this desire is a reality, what would happen if I placed this desire to be loved with an unfailing love on my family? My husband would have an unrealistic pressure placed on him and my kids would never feel like they were enough in my eyes. Sounds to me like the makings of a home based on how I was feeling at the moment. Feeling like I was loved with a God like love? Happy, peaceful wife and mom. Feeling unloved? Misery and chaos to all in my path.

What about this, we do not have to look far to see this desire of unfailing love trying to be met by a list of substitutes. Drugs, sex trafficking, alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancy, total gender confusion, homosexuality, debt and the list could go on and on. So many things that appear to offer unfailing love or at least numb the unmet desire, even for a short amount of time. What do we do when we are caught in the web of consequences these substitutes require us to eventually pay? Do we just keep going because to actually repent and turn from our sin could not be possible, could it? Could the God who created each of us, actually forgive each one of us? He might have sent His Son to die for others, but did He send Him to die for me? The answer is YES!!!

The choice is up to us. Keep running to things that will not satisfy and play it off as acceptance, open mindedness, our right, love and freedom. Heck, get a lot of people to join in your sin view and now you are justified. Make some t-shirts, dress alike, form clubs, get some laws passed and liberation surely will follow. Oh what a lie satan would have us believe! We have let him blind us long enough! It is time to wake up! Just because a group of people keep getting louder and push sin, does not change the unchangeable Word of God! Sin is still sin!

Our entire world is suffering because of the choices we make to meet our desire of unfailing love. When we face this reality and run to the creator of unfailing love, your heart is forever changed, not to mention your eternity. How about we put down the imitation and choose a treasure that is true love today? It is not too late. Maybe today could be your Valentines Day. He has given us a love letter, called the Bible, that will make life more exciting than you ever imagined and you will know a love that at times is unexplainable. This I will spend my life declaring over and over. Unfailing love is yours for the accepting today! Hope in His unfailing love and truly live.

“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

 

 

 

 

 

Clutter

My mind wondered a lot as I cleaned out our clutter. I am struck by the amount of stuff we accumulated over the years! The only thing that makes me feel a bit better is when my husband reminded me that we have lived in this house almost 10 years. Things do tend to pile up over time and it is time to let go.

IMG_0235The thought often occurs to me that clutter and sin have so much in common. I can only speak from my own experience, but as I go through all this excess, I see a pattern of what I was trying to find my worth in. If I could just get my outside right, maybe my inside would be accepted. Such a lie I believed. Letting the truth of Psalm 139:14 sink in has not been easy. This verse says this, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well.” I am God’s marvelous work, fearfully and wonderfully made and so are you. Is that what you think when you look in the mirror? Is this what we are telling our children, family, friends and strangers? What would happen if we all believed this truth, stated very plainly in the Bible? I have often lived like this applied to others, but not me.

If satan can get us to believe we are not of any value, then we will spend whatever it takes to buy our worth. When I see this lie being lived out in one of our kids, it causes such a reaction in my heart. I quickly tell them that this is a lie and replace it with truth. The latest name brand shirt, new car or beautiful makeup will not give you what your soul is longing for. Do not get me wrong, I like nice things and I wear plenty of makeup, but these things do not give me value. However, I sometimes forget and so do our kids. As I look at our world, I see so many kids unaware of who made them and the preciousness of their very existence. Heartbreaking.

Just yesterday morning, things did not go well for me as I got myself ready for church. My outward appearance was not what I had hoped and immediately thoughts of self condemnation came to mind. We headed into church and the first song we sang was “Who You Say I Am”, by Hillsong. Oh, how these words just washed over me and refocused my thoughts. “I am chosen, not forsaken, I am who you say I am. You are for me, not against me. I am who you say that I am.” Another line reminds us that if we are saved then, “Who the Son sets free, oh is free indeed. I’m a child of God, yes I am.” I needed the reminder of who God says I am and felt the dark cloud lift.

As our home becomes free of clutter, I pray my heart does too. I ask the Lord the same words as King David. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my  anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24). It is not easy and is at times painful, but I ask the Lord to show me my sin. I do not have any desire to “hide” anything from Him. My heart is open to Him and anything that does not need to be inside, needs to be removed. I cannot be completely filled with Him if my heart is cluttered with sin.

In my heart clean out, trash bags full of pride, doubt, envy and hopelessness, to name a few, have been taken out. This makes room for the fruits of the Spirit to grow. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22). Just think what our homes would be like if we were all filled with these fruits! So many problems in our country would go away. This I am teaching to our children and in turn, will spill out onto those they come into contact with.

I pray that the Lord gives us open hearts and eyes to see where we have sin. May He shed light on our dark places. Lord, give us courage, endurance and love to stand for You in the midst of evil. Thank you for the reminder, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12). We do not have to live with hearts cluttered with sin that God wants to remove. Throw it out like the expired coupons in that junk drawer. It is worthless and taking up unnecessary space. Let God do a work in your heart and I promise you, you will never be the same!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear God

Dear God,

Sometimes the events that happen in our country just make me weep. Other days I do not have to look past our town and what is happening breaks my heart. I can only imagine how you feel looking at what you created. You knew how accepting and so proud of sin we would become, but you made us anyway. You knew satan would lie, steal, deceive, take captive and confuse the very people you made in your image, but you created anyway. You knew the cost of our sin would cost you your son’s life, but you loved us that much to make us anyway. Why?

img_0504You knew that New York would pass a law to end lives of babies. How your heart must break. What do we do? It can no longer be said that we do not know that stopping a heart is murder, but selfishness blinds many. Will churches in New York step in and help these carriers of life? Maybe a home will be created for women to go and instead of ending a life, they will deliver the baby and put them up for adoption. Maybe this home will make adoptions as affordable as an abortion. We would be first in line to adopt!

What about this confusion of gender? How can we help? God, how can something so simple become something to argue over? How can we love people that the enemy is having such control over? These precious people were created by you. “So God created man in his own image; he created them in the image of God; he created them male and female.” (Genesis 1:27) Why do we fight the very image we were created in? What is so wrong with being who you were made to be? We might have bad days and how we look and feel is not what we want, but we have taken this too far. Perhaps evil has been allowed to be inflicted and now hiding as another sex feels safe. God, please help the hearts of these hurting people.

God, convict us before it is too late. May the words you gave us in your Word ring loud. “Who is it you have insulted and blasphemed? Against whom have you raised your voice and lifted your eyes in pride? Against the Holy One of Israel!” (2 Kings 19:22) This is what we have done against you God. Our world, countries, states, cities and homes are in rebellion against you and I am not exempt. Everyday I do things that are outside the lines you have drawn for me out of love. I rebel and my selfish heart thinks it knows better than you who made me. Lord, forgive me again.

Maybe siding with angry sinners seems like the better choice because we believe the lie that we have gone too far for you to love us. If this were the case, then your son would have died for nothing. Your Word is full of sinners that turned to you and you worked wonders in their lives. Why continue in anger, fear and rebellion? God, open hearts to who you are and how powerful your love is.

Your words in Isaiah give me such hope! “Come, let us settle this, says the LORD. Though your sins are scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are crimson red, they will be like wool. If you are willing and obedient…”. (Isaiah 1:18-19). God, this is my prayer tonight for our world. Stir in us this desire to be willing, obedient and washed clean. We have remained stained far to long. Eternity is at stake and you do not desire for anyone to live apart from you.

“O for the wonderful love He has promised, promised for you and me. Though we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon. Pardon for you and for me. Come home, come home. Ye who are weary, come home. Earnestly, tenderly Jesus is calling. Calling, “O sinner come home.” (Softly and Tenderly by Will L. Thompson)

I love you,

Natalie

 

Faith

We keep our Christmas cards in a basket and the kids pick one out each night for us to pray for that family. Last night, one of the kids picked a card out of the basket and I was surprised to see that it was one of our family cards from 2012. It was fun to look at the beautiful pictures of the kids and see how much everyone has changed. I opened up the card and read, “Wishing you the gift of faith and the blessing of hope.” Who knew it was me that would need more faith and hope in the following years. I was given the gift of both and I am thankful. It has not been easy and I have wanted to give up often, but God had another plan.

img_0449Yesterday morning, hours before opening that card, I had read Isaiah 7:9 that says, “If you do not stand firm in your faith, then you will not stand at all.” I also read in 1 Timothy 1:4 where it says, “…God’s plan, which operates by faith.” These two verses both have the common factor of faith. Sometimes it is not easy to have faith. Goodness, some might even ask what is faith? Look at Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Faith is necessary for God’s plan and hope.

Can I ask you, where is it or who is it you are placing your hope? What are you standing on if it is not faith? Yesterday I read these words by Paul David Tripp, “Your life will be shaped by what you place your hope in.” This is such a true statement. For years I stood mostly on faith and hope in Christ, but I added other things in there that helped me feel worthy. And just like the Bible says, because my faith was not firm and my hope was misplaced, I began to fall.

Go back to the book of Isaiah and read chapter 42:8. “I am the LORD. That is my name and I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.” My sin problem did not go unnoticed by God and I am so thankful. He did not leave me to live any longer in this unbalanced state, with one foot in Christ and one foot in this world, that is so full of idols that promise worth. Freedom was found when my balancing act stopped working and I came to the end of myself. None of my go-to hopes were available and I was left with Jesus. Can I tell you that I have never been more full of love, joy, peace, freedom and faith than I am now. The emptying of self and worthless idols gave room for Him. Praise God!

The verse that follows, God clearly stating that He will not share His glory or praise, gives me tremendous hope. “The past events have indeed happened. Now I declare new events; I announce them to you before they occur.” (Isaiah 42:9). I acknowledge my sin. I repent of placing my hope and faith in all things other than the Lord. I have learned MANY lessons and know the lies the world flashes across our eyes and the whispers we hear in our ears, do not last. And now, I am more than ready to be told of “new events” and maybe you are too.

May the only One who came bring, plant and grow faith and hope remind you today of how much He loves you. And may new events be seen coming from His faithful, powerful hand.

*Picture by Corrimages

 

The Calm Home

Our new year is well underway and I have rediscovered something. Our family functions  so much better in an organized home. We waste less time, stress levels stay low and our home is calmer in general. When we know where to look for what we need and actually find it, a difference is felt. On the flip side, when we are headed out the door and expect our shoes to be in the cubbies and they are not, well stress rises. In our home, anger and frustration are the next emotions. Makes for a terrible start of the day. It does not have to be this way.

img_0324To go back to my childhood, I was raised in a very organized home. Everything had a place and you were expected to put your things back. It was a bit frustrating in my teenage years and college found me rebelling in this area. I piled clothes so high in my desk chair that I am surprised it did not break under the weight! Instead of not remaining diligent in putting things away, I became lazy and lacked self discipline. Looking back I can now see that this lack of self discipline or self control, spilled over in many areas, mainly my eating. Gracious, I put on so much weight! This did terrible things to my self image. Again, this did not have to happen.

I have no desire for my kids to have to experience this needless lifestyle, all because they lack self control. If that is instilled now in a healthy way, I pray they will not go down that road. Our home does not have a perfect feel, but more welcoming. It is not cold when you enter, but inviting. And other than the sheer number of people making noise, my hope is that it is a calm home. Chaos tends to make people feel uncomfortable and so does clutter. I do not desire anyone to experience that when they are a guest here and for that matter, any of us living here to live that way.

With all of these thoughts swirling around in my head, I decided to launch out and do something new. With the kids getting older and my time more free, I am launching a  new business. The name is The Calm Home and I am pretty excited! The plan is for me to go into peoples homes, look at the space that is causing them stress and organize it in a functional and stylish way. The other part is to help clients, who are ready to sell their home, stage it in a way that will appeal to buyers. Taking what comes easy to me and an eye for beauty, I am praying this is an opportunity to serve others.

I know I have said this before, but I get asked often how I am so calm with 7 kids. The answer remains the same, it is a choice. I can either choose to be calm or not. I can choose to have self control and not let my emotions of anger, frustration or whatever it may be, rule in the moment. This is only possible because the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of me. I want this for other people, especially moms!! So, that is the heart behind this new adventure.

Come check out the website and let me know what you think!

Website: http://www.thecalmhomefw.com

Dear Kids

As you all headed out the door for school this morning, I was left with a too quiet house.  It hit me how much I like you all being home. I do not like to share my family, especially with school. Selfishly, I want to hear your jokes, wipe your tears and answer your questions. I want to watch your face shine with delight when you finally figure out a problem that you have been struggling with. However, at this time, we do not feel like pulling you from public school and homeschooling is what the Lord would have us do. So, off you all went this morning.

img_0541If we brought you home, I would be delighted, but your schools would lose bright lights. You kids shine and stand out because of Jesus. Your schools would be a bit darker because you left and so you stay. And I give up my will for His again this morning. I ask for His kingdom to reign and not mine. I ask for Him to remain as King of my heart and I will stay bowed low at His feet. I will choose again today to trust Him.

As each of you kids are sitting at your desks and I am typing from my desk at home, I will pray this verse over you. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13). Lets be a family today, kids, that is filled to overflowing with hope, peace and trust, only possible by the power of the Holy Spirit inside of us, so that everyone we meet catches a glimpse of our God. You know who you are and why you are here, so shine on kids. Shine on!

I love you,

Mom

PS Cookies will be waiting for you when you get home.

 

No Record

We have a huge sign in our living room with words defining love, taken from 1 Corinthians 13, and I walk by it several times a day. It is a reminder for our family and something I desire for us. We also have big letters displayed that spell GRACE. Another visual for us to see that reminds us of the grace we have been extended and therefore we are to do the same. When I think about all that God sees and knows, yet loves me anyways, I am so thankful. How can I not respond with love and grace to others?

img_0035But can I tell you what the hardest part of 1 Corinthians 13 is for me? The line from verse 5 that says, “Love keeps no record of wrongs.” I do not sit around and think of wrongs committed against me, but at times they come seemingly out of nowhere into my mind. Or maybe it is something spoken that kinda presses on an old scar. Why is that I wonder? I want others to forgive me and extend grace to the wrongs I have committed, but am I holding myself to a lesser standard? I pray not. God has said that He has forgiven my sins by the sacrifice of His Son, so how can I keep a record of others sins? I want to have His heart for others and not one that is filled with their sins against me or someone I love. This does not mean that sin gets swept under the rug, but I do not want it to have a place in my head or heart. God sees and knows. I can trust Him with it all.

As this new year takes off, I want to stop often and read God’s definition of love. I want the words He knew we needed to be planted deep in my heart. I want love to be my first response and not only given at certain times, to a select few. I want grace to share in abundance too. If He could wrap up His Son and give him to us, then maybe this year I can wrap up more love and grace for others too.

With this in mind, I think I found a key that might help us be more loving and grace filled. Jenni Allen posted a quote recently by Andrew Murray and I quickly ordered his book! He wrote, “Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord, where I can go in and shut the door, and kneel to my Father in secret, and am at peace as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and above is trouble.” Doesn’t this sound incredible? Can I teach this way of humility to my children? For me, before I teach something, I have to first learn it and then practice alongside. I see the only way to live in humility is to live secure in God’s love and continually say no to selfishness.

As Christmas break winds down and the kids head back to school, I find a hit of anxiousness setting in. In our home, things are controlled in a sense. If hurtful words are spoken, action is taken. If untruth is heard, we replace it with truth. If there are questions, we find answers. The list goes on. However, as the kids are away for so much of the day, I am a bit out of the loop. I have to trust the One who created them each and everyday. They belong to Him. My job is to love them and to shape their hearts, as He has instructed. In this, I pray their foundations are being built to live outside of our home. I want them to live loved, secure, full of grace, to appreciate beauty, to run from sin and to be humble. I want the same for you and for me.

So, I will start tomorrow in my “secret place” with the doors shut and meet with my Heavenly Father. I will read His words of love, grace and humility and I will pray. It will be a waste of time if I get up and live the same. And for the places that my heart struggles and my mind remembers wrongs, I will choose humility instead. The verse that I will keep close will be, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing!” (Isaiah 43:18-19). I do not know what the new thing will be, but I trust the One who loves me. And as we prayed in church this morning, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10-11).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speak Words of Love

I reread a quote by Bob Goff in a forward he wrote for his wife’s book.  “Kind words from the people we love have the power to help us all understand who we are and what we want our lives to mean.” I found this so encouraging because I do love words, especially ones with shaping power. The problem is sometimes my words do not ring with love or help at all. They spill out in criticism and do nothing but tear down. Other times, I hear words that do the same. Sometimes I am so shocked by a conversation that I stay up long into the night reliving it. The result of this recently caused a fire to consume me and I determined to go another way for our family.

IMG_0138So, whose words do you listen to? Whose words do you allow the power to shape who you are? The words I listen to most come from the ones I love the most. God speaks to me each morning from His Word and I replay our conversations throughout the day. The Bible is shaping me, making me more into His likeness by changing my heart each day. I have a very long way to go, but I am closer today than I was yesterday. My husband and kids speak lots of words too and we laugh a lot. When we hear words that are not loving, do not build up or are untrue, we question the speaker. Sometimes the person speaking needs to go spend sometime alone and think about what is in their heart that is pouring out of their mouths. At times this is me. I come back and apologize and ask for forgiveness. When you see how you hurt people with your words by looking into their eyes, no amount of stubborn pride is worth leaving that look there. Do what you must to make things right now.

Sometimes words spoken sound like such bull. I want to shout, “I’m not buying it!” so loudly and one day I just might! Other times I want the speaker to keep talking and I soak them up like the sun. This happened recently when we got to catch up with friends that we haven’t seen in years. We met for dinner and I wished we had more hours in person together. This friend is one who loves Jesus with her whole heart, loves her family well and is trustworthy. We all need people like this in our lives. We can learn a lot from them. If you are running low on these kind of friends, pray and ask the Lord.

In the book of Ephesians, we read how we are to speak the truth in love. This is key. I listen when words are spoken in love. I close up when they are not. Also, it seems to not speak the truth is not loving at all. Why parents shrink back from truth baffles me. What are we so afraid of? Do we really think our kids need us to be their friend or do they need us to be their parent? I am siding with the parent role, friendship is there, but it is not the main part of our relationship. I have not seen this turn out well.

When we deny our kids truth, we deny them love in my opinion. To not share with them God’s plans, direction, promises, rules, love, who He created them to be and salvation, we lead them straight into the open arms of the world. Why are we so surprised when they have no purpose, believe whatever their professors tell them or get into trouble? Yes, their decisions are theirs to make and so are the consequences, but we could do so much more to lessen these if we would speak truth from the minute they are entrusted to us. This is what makes my heart race and a honest to goodness fire burn inside of me. This is what I want to shout from our roof to all that will hear.

Tell them, “Pay careful attention to how you live, not as unwise people, but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15). I want to raise kids who are wise, don’t you? Real wisdom is very easy to find, just open your Bible and it is right there in all 66 books. When they start to head down an unwise path, redirect them back to the path of the wise. We recently had to do this with one of our kids who started listening to some pretty bad music. The reason was that “everyone” listened to this kinda of stuff. We looked up lyrics to one of the popular songs and had this child read them out loud. The message of this song was discussed and then truth was put beside it. Just telling a child not to listen to certain stuff does not seem to work. Talk about it and see what God has to say about the matter. Do not make excuses for sin. That seems to be the most unloving thing we can do. It is as if we are saying, “Go ahead, head down that road straight to heartbreak and ruin.”

Tell them, “Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you…” (Isaiah 43:4). Tell them , “…everyone who bears my name and is created for my glory. I have formed them; indeed, I have made them.” (Isaiah 43:7). Tell them, “Guard you heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” (Proverbs 3:22). Tell them, “For a man’s ways are before the LORD’S eyes, and he considers all his paths.” (Proverbs 5:21). Tell them, “For He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.” (2 Chronicles  5:13). Even when we do not understand He is still good and His love remains. God sees it all, nothing is hidden from Him. Are they treating others with the knowledge that they too are precious, honored and loved by God who created them for His glory? Are we telling them this before they head out on a date?

There is so much to say here, but dinner needs to be made. We will sit around our table and talk about truth and in doing so we will be loving our kids the best way we know how. I can think of no better way to bring in the new year.

 

Tangles

Some mornings ago, the youngest took a bath and asked me to help wash her hair. She is learning to do this on her own, but still needs my help sometimes. She must have been washing more on her own lately because her hair was a tangled mess! We ended up sitting on the bathroom floor together and I used every detangler, leave-in conditioner and product I could find to try and remove the tangles. As easy as I combed, it still hurt and a few tears were shed. However, after awhile the tangles were gone and my sweet girl climbed into my lap and gave me a big hug and kiss.

IMG_0614Because I look for moments to teach or where I am taught truth, this seemed perfect. The tangles reminded me of when we try to live life on our own, using our own strength and simply living for ourselves, we end up with a life tangled in sin. It may appear unintentional and not that big of a deal, but I believe it is. And what if we allow our kids to be shaped with this mindset? How will they survive as adults? Will they repeat this same cycle in raising their own children?

When I look in God’s Word, He tells us what He expects and how we are to live. He tells us how we are to teach our kids. Why do we look elsewhere and take “wisdom” from the world? Look with me in the book of Jeremiah. “For I strongly warned your ancestors when I brought them out of the land of Egypt until today, warning them time and time again, ‘Obey me’. Yet they would not obey or pay attention; each one followed the stubbornness of his evil heart.” (11:7-8). We have been instructed. We have been warned time and time again, yet we still disobey. We still bow and worship other gods, mainly self. We make excuses for our kids and say “it is just a phase” or “everybody goes through this”. For me, I am not buying into this way of thinking or passing this on to my children. I am going another way.

“Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, love the LORD your God, obey Him, and remain faithful to Him. For He is your life…” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20). This is the way I am choosing. It is a choice, make no mistake. I want life and life for my children, don’t you? A life lived apart from the LORD our God, is not life. The world tells you otherwise and it is up to you to decide who you will listen too.

“…The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-7). With your heart and mind filled with the love of our God, there is no room for what does not belong. This is what I am teaching my kids that I have been entrusted with.

Might I also add, “Don’t you know that you are God’s temple and that the Spirit of God lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).  With the Spirit of God living inside of us, it is possible to have “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22). This is what I want my children to see lived out. This is the standard we hold up knowing it is possible. The one that sticks out right now is self-control. What if we started teaching our kids to ask the Holy Spirit, living inside them if they are saved, to help them have self-control? Then maybe they won’t have a long list of sin regrets when they get older. I believe with all my heart that this is possible. For those of us that are a bit older, can you honestly say that you are glad you made self serving choices to sin?

If you are like me, the list of sin choices sometimes comes flying through my mind and breaks my heart. Looking back my life seems like a tangled mess. I am so thankful for the grace that God showed me and how He allows me to come to Him. I come with my sins, which are many, and sit with Him. I sit and let His Word untangle the mess I have made. I repent and turn from my sin. He gently untangles it all and I hear words of comfort when it hurts and my tears run down my cheeks. Then the sweetest thing happens. I can turn back into my Father’s loving arms and feel like I have come home and know that I am truly loved. This is what I want for my kids too. May they always know where home is found, in the loving arms of God.

*I took this picture minutes after untangling Vivian’s hair. She fell fast asleep.