ChristianKids

Shooting Your Arrow By Faith

I love this time of year. Giant pencils hanging from the ceiling at Target, directing me toward the school supplies. Tax-free shopping for new shoes and skinny jeans, for my pride and joys. The anticipation of getting back into a routine.

On Thursday, my firstborn will have his first day of first grade. This time last year I was gearing up to send my little guy to kindergarten at—dun, dun dun—public school! I was kind of a wreck.

I grew up in public school. A big, 6-A public school. I was a Union Redskin from kindergarten until graduation day. I loved it and I turned out okay, right? So why was the thought of sending my son to public school so hard to wrap my mind around.

Maybe it’s because in 1990, when I started kindergarten, things were different. There were no 5-year-olds with their own iPads. Christmas break was called Christmas break instead of “winter” break. I could walk to school with my older brother and play in the front yard when I got home, even though my mom wasn’t home from work yet. School shootings were unheard of. No one knew what the Internet was and my teachers just stuck to the basics: reading, writing and arithmetic. There was no need to discuss same-sex marriage and gender-identity curriculum didn’t exist yet.

Don’t get me wrong, I was exposed to all kinds of things in public school, but times have really changed over the last 25 years and there’s no denying that Jesus isn’t welcome at public schools anymore. So how could I send my little boy into a place where Jesus wasn’t welcome? Well, I had no choice. Christian school, where we lived, was too expensive, and I didn’t feel like I was called to home school.

I really needed peace about this, so I brought it to the Lord, and He delivered.

In the second chapter of Exodus you can read about the birth of one of the greatest heroes in the Bible, Moses—and his amazing momma, Jochebed.

A few verses before we read about Moses being born, we read about Pharaoh ordering every newborn boy be thrown into the Nile River. Pharaoh was inexplicably evil, willing to murder precious baby boys so that the Israelites would not grow to outnumber his people.

Can you imagine the horror Jochebed felt when she delivered Moses and her midwife whispered in her ear, “It’s a boy.” You know for nine months as she carried him she hoped and prayed that she would have a girl, for a girl she could keep. But God gave her a son, now what was she going to do with him?

The Bible said she saw Moses was special. She could see God’s hand on this baby boy’s life, so she kept him hidden for three months. I have three children and let me tell you it would be very, very difficult to keep an infant hidden for three months. I’m guessing she never let him “cry it out” to get him sleep-trained.  She probably couldn’t let him cry at all.  She was probably with him every waking minute, and I’m sure her bond with him grew stronger each passing day, but the time had come when she realized she couldn’t hide him any longer. She made a basket for him, lined it with his favorite blankie, put him in it, and left the basket near the river in some tall grass.  She had to be terrified, right?  Wrong!

Hebrews 11:23 (NKJV) By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.

This verse tells us she was not afraid.  Moses’ parents hid him not out of fear but out of faith!  When Jochebed left her baby in the basket that day, she was showing God she trusted Him to take care of her son.  She stepped out in faith and God followed with favor.  God not only took care of her son, but He made a way for Jochebed to continue to mother her beautiful baby boy.

As a Christian mom sending my child to public school, I felt a little like I was putting him in a basket in the Nile River. I had to choose: fear or faith?

After reading about Jochebed, it was easy to choose faith.

Jochebed sent Moses into a land where God was not welcome and just think about how mightily the Lord used him! God had a plan for Moses; He has one for my kids, and your kids, too!

When I dropped my son off last year, I didn’t shed a tear. I wasn’t sad or fearful, but full of faith. I believed that like Psalm 127 says, he is an arrow, an arrow we had spent the last five years sharpening, an arrow that would go out and fulfill His purpose. I believed that the Holy Spirit would guide him and lead him when choosing friends. I believed that he would be a light and a leader. I believed he would have favor with his teachers. I believed God would protect him physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually and that no evil could befall him or come near him. I believed that God would use him mightily! Glory to God, he had a great school year! As we gear up for first grade, I am believing the same things.

Jochebed, a wife and a mother to three children, made a decision to have faith instead of fear, and her faith changed the course of history. Whatever your plan is for school this year—home school, Christian, private, or public—don’t be afraid. Launch your kids into their best year yet, full of faith in our great God!

SoundOfSilence

“The Sound Of Silence”

Remember when silence was golden?  Now I think most people think silence is awkward—and sometimes it is.  When you have new friends over to your house for the first time, conversation seems to be going well for a while, but then suddenly it comes to a screeching halt and no one knows what to say to start it back up—that can be awkward.  Or you sleep with a loud box fan right beside your bed, turned to its highest setting, and the power cuts off in the middle of the night.  That too, can be awkward.

Silence can be deafening, but it can still be golden.

Psalm 65:1 (AMP) To You belongs silence (the submissive wonder of reverence which bursts forth into praise) and praise is due and fitting to You, O God, in Zion.

I know for myself, there are times when I am overwhelmed by the greatness of my God—so overwhelmed that the words I use to tell Him just how great I think He is, seem so inadequate.   The Message version of Psalm 65:1 says, “Silence is praise to you.”

Silence is never awkward between my husband and me, because we have such a close relationship.  We don’t have to fill every second of our time together with chatter.  We are comfortable enough around each other to know that just because one of us isn’t saying much it doesn’t mean we aren’t having a good time.  The fact that we can be silent around each other solidifies our relationship.

The same is true with our relationship with God.  We can praise Him with our silence and He won’t think it’s awkward at all.  We can sit and just quietly think about how amazing He is and how worthy He is, and those quiet thoughts will burst forth into praise.

After the attacks on the World Trade Centers in New York City, there were moments of silence that took place all over the country.  There was so much people could have said to honor the lives of the people that were lost, but even the most eloquent speech ever given wouldn’t have been enough, so we honored them with silence.

Sometimes it’s good for us to have a moment of silence in honor of the Lord; to stop talking for a few minutes and just quietly reflect on the price He paid for us, the love He has for us, and how holy He is.  Yes, daily make a joyful noise unto Him, and yes, daily tell Him with your mouth how good He is, but don’t be afraid to let your silent adoration honor Him when you feel like you are at a loss for words. He can have that effect on people!  Your moments of silence will be music to His ears.

MoreMature

Why Your Child Might Be More Mature Than You

I John 4:18 (AMP) There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection].

The full maturity of love—how long do you have to be saved before you can reach the full maturity of love?  In America someone decided that when you turn 18 you are mature enough to be called an adult.  Even though I thought I was mature at 18, I was not even close. Maturity usually comes with age, but I don’t think age is a factor when it comes to reaching the full maturity of love that First John 4:18 is talking about.  You don’t have to be saved for 18 years, 30 years, or even 40 years to experience God’s perfect love—the perfect loves that drives out every trace of fear.

My son Gus asked Jesus into his heart only three months ago, but he seems to have already reached full maturity in God’s love.  He is nowhere near mature in any other area. He still gets food all over the floor at dinner, cries when he loses at the game Memory, and has to have his clothes picked out for him, but this perfect love of God thing he’s got down pat and because of that he’s fearless.

There is no fear in God’s perfect love and all Gus knows of God’s love is that it is perfect so he knows no fear.  He has never had to experience anything that would cause him to doubt God’s love for him.  Could it be the older we get and the more we see and experience, the less mature in God’s love we become?  We go through trials, loss, and hurt, and that view of God’s perfect love that we used to have seems like an illusion instead of reality. So we go back to being immature and welcome fear and worry into our lives.

If we want to be fearless, if we want to expel every trace of terror, every thought of punishment, we have to get back to that place that perhaps we haven’t been to since we were 4 years old like Gus.  That place where God’s love is perfect, no matter what.  That place where we are so aware of God’s love for us that nothing else matters.  That place where we don’t worry about anything, because we trust that everything is being taken care of for us.

We’ve all been through things we never thought we’d have to go through, but the truth is, God’s love for us never changed, it’s always been the same, it’s always been perfect. The only thing that changed was our perception of it.

I am not at the perfect place of full maturity in God’s love and I know that because I still deal with thoughts of worry and fear, but I’m so thankful to know that it’s not something I have to wait until I’m a certain spiritual age to achieve.  My son Gus has taught me that the maturity I want doesn’t come with age at all.  I want to be fearless like he is, so my prayer today is that the Lord would show me how to get back to that place where my view of God’s love was perfect, because His love still is perfect, it always has been perfect, and it always will be perfect!

FreedomUnveiled

Freedom Unveiled

Three years ago today, we were headed to celebrate the fourth of July with our families in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  We had the car all packed up and went to McDonalds for a quick breakfast, but before we drove out of town, we had an exciting doctor’s appointment to go to.  I was 20 weeks pregnant and we were scheduled to have a routine anatomy scan.  We brought along Gus and Beau with us, who were 4 and 16 months, at the time.  We couldn’t wait to tell them if they were getting a little brother or a little sister.  Little did we know, we wouldn’t find out if we were having a boy or a girl; we would find out that the baby we were expecting in November no longer had a heart beat and would have to be delivered stillborn.

Because of the way the holiday fell, the earliest we could schedule the delivery was three days later.  My doctor knew we were headed to Tulsa and said if we wanted, we could take the trip.  We decided it would be best.  We wanted to be with family.  We left the doctor’s office, set the kids up in the car with their movies and headphones, and started our four-hour drive to Tulsa.  I know it was God that we had that trip planned.  We had four hours to cry, to talk, to pray, and to cry some more.

The next day was July 4th and we wanted to keep things as normal as possible for Gus.  We went to a pool party at my sister’s, we took him to see the movie Brave, we hit up the firework stand and shot fireworks, and we went to see a firework show—all as planned.  I laughed and smiled and enjoyed seeing our families, but in the back of my mind I could only think about the little lifeless body that was in my womb.

I know that every year when it’s time to celebrate America’s freedom I’ll think of July 4th of that year—2012.  I’ll remember how unbelievably hard that day was.  I’ll remember taking a shower and completely breaking down when I saw my pregnant tummy.  I’ll remember the dread I felt knowing that in just a few days I would have to deliver a stillborn baby.  I’ll remember wondering when the tears would stop.  I’ll remember staying in the car at the firework stand so no one would see me and ask me when my baby was due.  I’ll remember sitting on the lawn of my brother’s church and watching fireworks shoot into the sky and wondering why this was happening to us.  I’ll remember all of that—and I’ll celebrate.

I’ll celebrate America’s freedom, but more importantly I’ll celebrate my freedom.  I’ll celebrate the fact that on July 3, 2012, when we received terrible news from the doctor, we immediately turned to God and He began to unveil more of Himself to us than we had ever seen before.

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NLT) But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  The Spirit of the Lord was with us when we found out, when we drove to Tulsa, when we watched fireworks that night; and He’s still with me today, setting me free.  Free from fear, free from sadness, free from doubt, free from confusion, free from sin, free from guilt, free from the curse of the law.  I’m not a slave to the things that Satan would love for me to become a slave to, after losing Felix, and it’s because I turned to the Lord.  I welcomed His Spirit into the situation, He came in and He brought freedom with Him.

Where He goes, freedom goes!  If you are in bondage to something, turn to the Lord, invite Him in, and let His Spirit set you free.

This year when I’m sitting in the itchy grass, watching the fireworks light up the sky, I’ll be thinking about all that God has done in my life since 2012 and thanking Him for setting me free!

QuietTime

As a stay-at-home mom to a seven, four and one-year-old, I stay very busy.  I usually don’t sit down to eat breakfast or lunch, and I usually eat as fast as I can.  I feel like I need to finish before the kids do and because I serve them first, they always get a pretty good head start on me. So I’ve learned how to wolf down a PB&J in about two minutes.  It’s more about knowing that I need to eat to stay alive, than it is about savoring each bite.  That is not always the case, though.  For instance, if my husband takes me out to a nice restaurant, and we’ve got a sitter for the kids, I’m much more likely to slow down and enjoy my food.

A few summers ago we finally got to try the Lonesome Dove restaurant in Fort Worth.  Dinner was amazing, but I’ll never forget the dessert.  Warm Ancho Chile Chocolate Cake.  It was the best dessert we’ve ever ordered.  This cake literally melts in your mouth.  No need to chew, just put a piece on your tongue and let it slowly dissolve as your taste buds thank you for letting them experience what the food will be like at the feast in heaven.

God’s Word is compared to food several times throughout the Bible, and this verse is one of my favorite examples.

Jeremiah 15:16   Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.

I think sometimes we read God’s Word like we wolf down PB&Js.  We know we should, so we do, but it’s more about just surviving than it is savoring. We read through it as fast as we can so we can check it off our to-do list, but God wants us to meditate on His Word.  He wants His Word to be the joy and rejoicing of our hearts and that’s not going to happen if we are in such a hurry to get through it that we scarf it down rather than letting it roll around in our mouths, tantalizing each taste bud.

I don’t remember what I had last Tuesday for lunch because I didn’t spend any time meditating on it, but I remember that chocolate cake and always will.  We meditated on it, letting it slowly dissolve in our mouths, and it changed us!  When you read through the Bible and don’t spend any time mediating on what you’ve read, you will not remember it, you won’t receive any revelation from it. But if you do spend time meditating on it, it will change you!

Slow down and savor God’s Word today.  If a verse, a word, or a story stands out to you, then dig into it, study it, talk about it, think about it, spend a few hours or even a few days meditating on it and it will mark you forever.

Joshua 1:8 (NLT) Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.

Confession

I Have A Confession

In 1989, five boys, ages 14 to 16, were arrested for causing trouble in New York’s Central Park.  While they were being held for questioning, a 28-year-old woman was found in the same park, critically beaten and sexually assaulted.  The detectives asked the young boys if they had anything to do with it, they all said no.  After hours of interrogation, the boys were professionally coerced into admitting they were the ones responsible for the awful crime against the innocent jogger, even though they were not.  The detectives had them convinced that if they would just make up a statement, they could go home. And they wanted to go home, so they confessed.

When the cases of the five boys went to trial, there was no incriminating evidence against any of them.  In fact, all the evidence pointed to the fact that they did not commit this crime.  No DNA from any of the boys was found on the victim and they were in another part of the park, causing trouble with a bunch of other kids, when the crime would have happened.  But a district attorney had their confessions on tape and because of those confessions (which did not agree with one another) they would each spend the next seven to ten years in prison!

I learned many things while watching The Central Park Five. The most important: do not confess things that are not true!

We make confessions every day.  We confess we are tired.  We confess we are stressed.  We confess we don’t feel good.  We confess we are overweight.  We confess we don’t like our jobs.  We confess we aren’t good enough.  We confess the wrong kind of confessions all of the time, and most of the time, we do it without even realizing it.

Hebrews 10:23  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

The word confession in this verse is from the Greek word homologia and it’s not referring to someone who just reads confessions or makes mindless parrot-like confessions, it’s referring to someone who has meditated on God’s Word and has it so down in their heart that it fills them with hope and when they open their mouth they can’t help but confess what God says about them.  They can’t help it, because they believe it.

When you hear people talk, or see their Facebook posts, about how they are dreading Monday or about how it’s going to be a realllly long week, you can be sure they haven’t taken the time to get in sync with God concerning those things. I know this because I know He isn’t dreading Monday and I know He’s not complaining about the long week.  He says, “This is the day I have made, rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

We have to pay attention to our confessions, because they matter.  Life and death are in the power of the tongue.  When you say things about yourself, your husband, your children, your day, your week or your year, that don’t agree with what God says about them, you are confessing things that are not true!  When those boys opened their mouths and confessed to a crime they did not commit, they changed the path of their lives forever.

Don’t let your circumstances coerce you into confessing a lie!  Get in the Word and let it sink down into your spirit, so when you open your mouth or update your status, you confess truth, hope, and faith in a faithful God!

InterpreterFacebook

The Root Of Relational Frustration

When I was in seventh grade, I went on a mission trip to Peru with a group of teenagers from my church. The native language in Peru is Spanish and, “Me no hablo espanol,” so if I wanted to communicate with anyone there who, “No hablan ingles,” I had to have an interpreter.

Interpreter: a person who translates the words that someone is speaking into a different language.

I can still remember our group’s interpreter, Liz. She had wavy, dark hair and wore red lipstick. She not only translated what we were saying to the Peruvians, but she translated what they were saying to us.

If she were ornery she could have really messed with me by misinterpreting some of the things I needed her to translate. I could have asked her to order me a hamburger and French fries and since I don’t recognize very many Spanish words she could have ordered me a plate of fried guinea pig and I wouldn’t have known it until the “delicacy” arrived at the table.

A few weekends ago I was at a women’s conference listening to one of my favorites, Pastor Jimmy Evans, when he said something that hit me like a ton of bricks. I pray as you read this it has that same type of impact on your life.

“Stop letting the devil interpret the people in your life to you.”

Satan is an interpreter. He will take words, thoughts, and actions, and translate them into a different language, his native language.

John 8:44 (NIV) When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

I’ve heard many teachings on how the devil will lie to you about yourself. He’s great at making you think you aren’t good enough, smart enough, or spiritual enough. He knows just what thoughts to plant in your head to make you feel inadequate. I’ve learned through the years how to recognize his voice and take those thoughts captive by meditating and declaring what God’s Word says about me.

I don’t let the devil interpret me to me, I am all God says I am, but what about other people in my life: my husband, my kids, my friends, my leaders, my God? When the enemy plants a thought about one of them in my mind, am I as quick to recognize that it’s a lie? Am I as quick to run that thought off by speaking God’s Word and declaring that the person Satan is interpreting to me is all God says THEY are?

Satan cannot be trusted as an interpreter. Eve learned this the hard way. In the third chapter of Genesis she has one conversation with Satan where she allowed him to interpret God to her. She doubted God’s goodness and His motives, all based on lies and misinterpretations from a conniving snake.

Satan loves to tear relationships apart, especially marriages. He is an expert at taking one thing your spouse said or did, or didn’t do, and translating it to you in a way that causes you to take up a great offense with them. Maybe it’s something as small as your husband not taking out the trash when you asked him to. It wasn’t a shot at you or a picture of his lack of love for you, but if given the chance, Satan will interpret that one action into a lie that causes you to resent your husband and then he will continue to build on that.

When you find yourself frustrated with the people in your life, ask yourself why. Is it, perhaps, because you have been letting a liar interpret them to you? Don’t stand for that! Defend your loved ones with the Word of God like you would defend yourself.

I Corinthians 13:6-7 (NIV) Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.