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.

MothersDayHurts2

When Mother’s Day Hurts by Jamie Jobe

I stayed home from church that day. I just couldn’t muster up the courage to go. It was Mother’s Day 2012. I had lost two babies in less than a year; one by miscarriage at 12.5 weeks, and another stillborn at 26.5 weeks. Even now, I question why I count the ‘half a week.’ I suppose it’s because to a mom, every day, every moment, matters. My children matter.

I remember telling my husband Brian that under no circumstances was I going to church that day. The last thing I wanted was someone greeting me at the door with ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ and a smile. They wouldn’t know my anguish. I was still heartbroken. It wasn’t a happy day. I wasn’t even sure if I would ever truly bounce back from this.

You may understand those feelings. They are not uncommon. In fact, they are possibly the most common feelings of grief and despair. The feeling that no one understands.

Countless women lose children through miscarriage or stillbirth each year. The emotional toll is horrendous. If you’re not careful, you may find yourself avoiding the one place, and maybe even the one person, that can help you the most. Jesus is the answer to your pain, and His church is what He uses to strengthen and restore His people.

We need Jesus, and we need a body of believers to help us when we are hurting.

Loss is emotionally and spiritually draining. You may never know why you lost your baby.  And even if you knew, it wouldn’t take away all the hurt. However, you can know for certain that your child is in heaven. And you can be certain that God has a plan for your healing.

Isaiah 40:13 (KJV) They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.

The same verse in the Hebrew actually says, “They that gather together before the Lord shall renew their strength.”

It’s important to be in church. Go to where the gathering is happening (your local church). Church is where you will find strength to walk through this. Strength to face your grief head on. Strength to heal. Run to where the strength is.

Is it scary? It was for me. I already told you that I skipped church the first Mother’s Day after my loss. It felt like more than I could handle. I had buried a child three weeks earlier and was in so much pain. What I didn’t know was that church was where the strength I needed was. I was fearing what God actually intended to use to help me.

The devil wants nothing more than to keep you away from church, and away from Jesus. He will try to tell you that no one at your church understands. He will try to tell you how awful it will be If someone unknowingly greets you with well wishes for Mother’s Day. He will try to tell you that no one has felt the way you feel. That’s simply not true.

Today, I no longer have a reason to grieve. I no longer dread Mother’s Day. God has carefully walked me through my grief and led me to a place of restoration. I found freedom and contentment in Him. I will see my kids again. So with my head held high, I choose to walk into church each Mother’s Day. I hope you will too. I choose to accept every ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ greeting, and I thank God for the kids I have the honor of raising AND for the ones I will one day see again. I thank God that eternity with my children is so much longer than life on earth without them.

Whether your children are in your womb, in your arms, by your side, or in heaven, YOU ARE A MOTHER.

This year with Mother’s Day quickly approaching, can I speak gently with you? Will you let me invite you to church this Mother’s Day? Will you be brave and allow the Word to begin to heal your heart? Will you allow Jesus to recognize, acknowledge, and honor you as a mother? Will you run into the arms of your Savior?

God knows how much the devil wants to isolate you. He wants you to know that He understands. He wants to celebrate you this Mother’s Day. Will you let Him? Come. Join me. Sit with me. Let me hold your hand. You are not alone. You are a mother, and you are welcome at church.

Rest

Rest Without Reservations

My daughter Sunny loves to be held. She’s the third child of the family so that doesn’t happen as often as she would prefer. But she seems to understand and just takes whatever she can get. If you want to make her night, just pick her up and carry her around with you for a little bit. Let her lay her sweet little head, full of wispy blonde hair, on your shoulder, and she will snuggle until she’s satisfied, or until you have to pull dinner out of the oven.

My son Gus is almost 7 and he’s figured out that he can pick Sunny up. Sunny has figured out that she doesn’t like it when he picks her up. He lifts her under her arms and she’s pinned to his body, facing outward, her arms flailing. He’s laughing and she’s yelling. I’m sure it’s pretty frightening for her. She gets that he’s just a 6-year-old boy and he really can’t be trusted to carry her around. He’s not strong enough, high enough, or calm enough for her to be able to rest easy on his shoulder. When 5:00pm rolls around and Sunny is looking for someone to hold her, she’s not looking for her big brother, she’s looking for mom or dad.

When Sunny lays her head down on my shoulder, it’s a picture of trust. She trusts me completely. She’s not looking down to make sure I’ve got a good grip on her or asking me if I’ve read any books on how to hold a toddler. She doesn’t have a single doubt in her mind about my ability to hold her. She puts her full weight into me without any reservations.

Many of us say that we trust God, because we are Christians, and that’s what Christians are supposed to say, right? But are we resting in Him, fully leaning into Him without any reservations?

If you could see your spirit man right now, what would you see? A spirit that is at rest on the shoulder of a loving, trustworthy Father? Or a spirit that is totally uncomfortable, arms flailing, and yelling?

I think sometimes when the going gets tough, we start to lose sight of God’s love for us, and we end up seeking comfort in something that isn’t strong enough, high enough, or calm enough to provide the rest we need. In turn we end up stressed out and overcome with fear and worry.

I John 4:16 (VOICE) We have experienced and we have entrusted our lives to the love of God in us.

We have experienced the love of God in us. If you are a Christian and you have made Jesus the Lord of your life, you have experienced His love. The experience part is pretty simple, God is love and you can’t have a relationship with Him without experiencing His love. It’s the entrusting our lives part that gets people.

Today, when you are tempted to stress over your ridiculously long to-do list, entrust it to Jesus. When you are worried about your health, entrust it to Jesus. When your 4-year-old is being extra challenging, entrust it to Jesus. Whatever is causing your spirit to feel like you are being carried around by a 6-year-old who isn’t quite sure what he is doing, take that and run to Jesus with it.

Let Him pick you up and hold you. Entrust every part of your day to the love He has for you. Lean into Him without any reservations. He’s strong enough, high enough, and calm enough to give you the rest you need.