Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Give them up to God

As Iv mentioned before my husband and I are working on writing a guideline for parenting counseling. Its something Iv always been passionate about and I enjoy with all my heart. In a book I was reading today a lady talked about how writing several blogs and articles on the subject is how she eventually compiled her book. So I figure my next few blogs will be on the subject of parenting. I'm very careful not to say Christian parenting because I don't want to dissuade people from reading the advise. To be honest the bible has wonderful principles for living life and if it can help you be a better parent then lets use it. I personally love Christ with all  my heart and know that He is the only way. And through His love I hope to help you love you children the way He wishes us to. Also I feel it necessary to mention although I write about these things with much confidence its not because I have accomplished it. (One of my favorite verses is Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.) The reason for my confidence is because I trust my God and I know it to be true and right. Just because we know something to be true and right doesn't mean we are able to complete it 100%. The key is to keep our eyes on Him and let him help us to keep or focus on the right track.

So today the topic is why should I give my children up God. The original topic which I had planned, was on giving them up,  but then I started thinking there may be some out there who would argue the why factor. I'm usually that person which is why I thought of it. So before I go into the how lets talk about why. 

First off a parents greatest concern is there child's future. How will he/she be when they are 20. Will they be successful, beautiful, handsome, be a great mother, father, teacher brother, sister, etc etc. This list could go on for ages, Ill stop now.  In Mathew 6:25-34 (below) Jesus talks about how we are not to worry. What I love about parents is they will actually tell you, well yeah that's talking about clothing and money, not my child. But in verse 25 it says YOUR LIFE. And almost any parent will agree that their children a huge part of their life. And really there is just no arguing with verse 27, how many minuets have you saved and how many problems have you solved in your life by worrying about your children. Worrying about their day, their week, their schooling, their future. Most often it just makes you physically sick or an emotional train wreck. I love how in vs 28 Jesus says they do not labor or spin. So often God has shown me myself in a vision laboring and spinning. Not long ago someone told me they saw that God was asking me to dance with him. I told God I do want to dance with you whats going on here. And he showed me my "dancing." Believe me a flower laboring and spinning is a much nicer way of putting it. In this he reminded me that he has and always will provide much more than what I need. And if I will just focus on dancing with him he will also dance with my girls. 
Worrying solves nothing and the only way to not worry is to check out vs 33. Seek him first. Don't seek the best collage, the most appropriate friends, the highest grades, again etc etc, you put your appropriate answer there. Sure some day you will have to help your child choose a collage, and guide them with their friends but the choosing is theirs. And if they are constantly pointed towards Christ and know to listen to the Spirit I promise you they will choose well. But how will they know to keep their eyes on Christ and to listen the Spirit if all they have ever seen you do is labor and spin. Children learn best by example and really its one of the few ways they learn for many years. Everything they learn in school can be forgotten but the emotional and spiritual lessons stay in the soul and spirit. If you don't believe me try helping a fifth grader with their math homework and see if you remember everything you learned in class. Then try and remember if you learned any life lessons in fifth grade. Ok so now it kind of sounds obvious that we are commanded to give our cares... our children up to God. Right?!?!?! Well if your not convinced I have more. 
25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your lifee ?
28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Here I have added Philippians 4:4-9 which is another Spirit given command to us. Verse 4 is easily an answer to how to give you children up to God and the following are the why. Verse 6 doesn't say don't be anxious about anything, EXCEPT YOUR CHILDREN. Not only does it say about anything but it goes on to repeat and stress the point with, in every situation. If there is anything that can rack the nerves more than children I don't know what it is. But this verse says in every situation. That includes when your trying to work and the kids need help with homework and don't forget to mention your three days behind in laundry and your floor hasn't been mopped all week... oooppp and someone just puked in the middle of the kitchen floor. Yep even in that situation. So how are we suppose to respond to this scenario again. By praying (giving it up to Him) and giving Him thanks. Thanks for the job you have that brings in some cash, thanks that your children are learning something new and that's why they have questions, thanks that you are there and you can help them, thanks that your children have enough cloths to dirty up and continue having clean cloths to wear, thanks that you have a house and a floor to mop .... well to be honest I'm having trouble thinking of one for the vomit situation. And then let God know, I need you to take this, help please. Here's the thing He wont enter until you ask. But in that moment you will start to feel his presence. He is always there but he will not intervene if you don't want Him to. If your sure you have got it all under control and that you can do it on your own. He will allow you that space. But if you seek him, if you thank him, if you just open up your heart and say I need You... just read verse 7. Take a min to meditate on that. Let it sink in. Have you ever felt that peace. If you haven't just ask for it. I promise its what He wants you to feel. I also promise you that giving up your children to him on a daily basis is how you will feel that peace. Something that is beyond understanding. That means that most of the world will look at you like your crazy. And ask you why your are not a wreck. I have a good friend who's son deals with a fatal illness on a daily basis. He wasn't suppose to live through being a toddle and he is 17. They continue with constant doctor appointments and surgeries but he also continues to jump out of trees and play soccer. She, according to the world, should be an absolute mess. But shes not, she has learned how to give him up to God. She has learned to trust her Daddy with her baby and let him grow to be what God has him to be. She is a constant reminder to me of this peace and why I need to continue giving my girls up to God. Something else that comes with this peace is grace. If you screw it up you can always fall back on the fact that God is the one raising your children. Believe me if you truly let Him make the decisions then you can truly fall back on the fact that even if you mess up Hes got your back.  The last thing I want to mention about this verse is another how. Its mentioned in verse 8. Keep you focus on the positive, on your advances, on your kids advances. We all screw up  but if you let yourself dwell on your screw ups the devil will have a hay day with you. Keep your focus on what is admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. 

4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Well I could most likely go on but I try to keep my blogs short. I hope this helped you to understand the importance of giving your kidos up to God and letting go. In the next post I will look at some scriptures that will help in the how. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Being well spoken and eloquent

Over the last eight years I have lived a journey I never knew I would experience. Learning a new language and living it is an experience which is ongoing and exciting. Although I can be very proud of my accomplishments to this point I certainly can not say that I am well spoken or eloquent when speaking in Spanish. This very idea has caused some slight issues over the last couple years . I am currently at an interesting point in my Spanish abilities. Where I can converse quiet fluently but there are still times that I may say something wrong which doesn't quite translate my feelings or emotions. Luckily most people I am in contact with know me well and know my heart and are able to "translate" my feelings and thought through what I have actually said. The problem comes in when the person I am speaking to doesn't know me well or wishes to use my words to their own personal use.
I am currently a teacher in a preschool/primary and a co-pastor at our church. My calling is to lead and instruct, to care and love, to guide and teach. Most of this calling is being done in Spanish. Many times the enemy has entered in and said, " How on earth do think you can do this. You are not even from here. You don't understand these people. They are saying things that you don't really get. You are only going to confuse them."  Etcetera, Etcetrea, I could go on for half a page with all the crap he tells me.
 I loved speech class in high school. It was one of the only classes I got good grades in. That and sciences. Even though I was a rebel child and was extremely disinterested in school, speech class was one of the highlights of my day. Any job I held since the age of 15 I was told I was a great communicator. That I was able to get my thoughts across and people could understand me well. As a nurse I worked a lot with the teaching aspect to instruct and teach and again I was often praised for a job well done.
All this to say that in my 30's God placed me in multiple positions of teaching and leading which I had to do in a second language. There have been times when I wanted to be like Moses in Exodus 4 and say.10Then Moses said to the LORD, "Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue." or  13But he said, "Please, Lord, now send the message by whomever You will." But any time I did start to slack off and let someone else speak for me a hunger rose up in me. I felt an urge to express the love or encouragement in the way God gave me to do it. Here is the thing, God can always find someone else, as he found Aaron for Moses, to do what he has asked you to do. But he has asked you to do it because he needs your stamp on  it. 
So when God speaks and says. 11The LORD said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? 12"Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say."  Then I say ok Lord I will go. But how many times do I fail, and stumble. It is still such a struggle and a punch to my pride that I can not be well spoken and eloquent in my speech. OHHHH!!! There it is my friends. God uses the our weakest parts for his work so that all the glory can be his, as it should be.
I was recently reminded of the importance of this when listening to a well known prophet speak. His name is thrown around often in our church meetings and to be honest I had never really listened to one of his sermons. The other day a friend of mine sent me one because it was speaking about a word I had recently received. As I listen to it I realized that he was a horrible speaker. This makes me laugh out loud because he speaks in his native language (English). I tell you this not to say I was judging him but just that without meaning to I had my speech teachers checklist in my head and he was flunking. And this was when God steeped in and said, " Your right, but he impacts millions of lives every day, he reveals my love and intentions for people using his gifting and using it in the way I see fit. And even though you feel like you have been failing people in your manner of speaking in Spanish, you are reaching their souls in a way no other can." Yep I'm crying now even typing this. My Papi has such a beautiful way of speaking to me. And the point in writing this blog is so that any of you who doubt what you are called to do just because you were not trained or raised to do it, my hope is that i can encourage you to stay steady. Don't be like Moses in this aspect. Trust God to give you your words and speak through your mouth. Don't wait around until he sends an Aaron. 
It is true that if you wait for your Aaron he will still reach hearts just like he did with Moses but it wont be the same. He wants you, he wants your weakness, he wants your errors, he wants your relationship. God taught me a lot about pride in my 20's and when he brought me to Mexico my pride was broke into tiny little pieces because had I held onto it I would have been broken into a million pieces. And even though I let it go, it still tries to peak its ugly little head in from time to time and say, " How silly you look, How silly you sound." And this is when I lean back on my Papi and say, " Let my words be your words, let your feelings be represented and not mine. Speak through me and let your message be clearly received." 
So now it is time to continue another week, to go and minister, with a microphone in front of at least 60-70 people in our evening service, to let the Spirit of Christ himself speak through my mouth. To guide children and to love them, to speak life into my coworkers, and express His love. And most of all to do all of this with confidence. Confidence in part in my self because if God says I can I am doubting him by saying I cant. And confidence in the Holy Spirit that he will guide me in all knowledge. 
So if you are doubting your calling or your gifting that may be a good sign. But what action you take next is the real key. Are you going to do as Moses and argue with God about it or are you going to say, " If you say so, I will walk in that." 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Thanksgiving in Mexico

Thanksgiving is a holiday which I didn’t really think much about before I came to. I mean sure I loved the get together and the turkey but that’s about all it was for me. I hardly remembered the whole story behind it besides that it had to do with pilgrims and Indians. I honestly didn’t even know how much I had taken the holiday for granted until my first Thanksgiving here in Mexico. This post is dedicated to all my ladies who are in their first few years her in Mexico. I actually don’t get sad at Thanksgiving anymore. It’s a fun time with good friends and my family. But this year I had some friends over who are in their first few years here and I was reminded of how hard it was before. I want you all to know I’m sending this blog out as a virtual hug to help you feel a bit better during this time of year which can be very difficult.
Flashback to November 2008, I was determined to still celebrate Thanksgiving and make it as much like home as I could. I had no idea how to make a turkey and hubby was working constantly. I think I ended up making a ham. Since I was fairly new to staying at home and not working all day the dinner and clean up didn’t seem to take as long as I thought it would. So this gave me an incredible amount of time to think. That is never a good thing. We invited the only family we had in town at the time. I wanted us to eat dinner around 6pm so we could have everything cleaned up and tidy for an appropriate bed time. For those of you that have been here form more than a few days may already be laughing. Of course six o clock rolls around and I have my daughter watching the parade over and over again on the computer. Food is cooked, hot and ready to serve. My husband comes in and is so thankful for all I’ve done. I’m feeling pretty good at this point. I mean even though we had mentioned that we would eat at six I had been in Mexico almost 6 months now and I knew they would be a “bit” late. Now its seven o’clock and I was getting a little annoyed. I ask hubby to call his family and find out what’s going on. Oh they say they would be here around eight. What?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? That’s when I gave up on my Thanksgiving being anything like in the states. Isn’t it funny how my expectations totally ruined my day? That happened to me a lot when I first got here. Next I fed Alana and put her to bed and Issac and I hung out until they showed up. Here is where it gets interesting. We heated up the food and sat down to eat, then came the flow of questions. Why do you celebrate Thanksgiving? Why do you eat turkey? When was the first thanksgiving? What happened? Why is the pumpkin pie so important? What’s your favorite part about thanksgiving? I of course mumbled and scrambled my way through explanations as Issac translated for me. But it made me realize how I hadn’t really thought of these things in a very long time.
From that year on I decided we needed to make traditions that help us to remember what Thanksgiving is about. And for me it’s not really about pilgrims and Indians. To me it’s about taking a day (or a month) to be sure and reminds yourself of all that you are thankful for. I know that we need to be thankful all year round and actually we are but how much better to have a day specially set out to celebrate what you’re thankful for with friends and family. The girls learn about Christopher Columbus and all that in October here so I just let them know that the original Thanksgiving was because the immigrants needed help and the people who already were there taught them how to survive and that is what they were celebrating. One of our favorite traditions is our Thankful tree. We make it and put it up at the beginning of November and anyone who visits is asked to write on a leaf what they are thankful for. My girls write a leaf almost every day if I let them. Here is a beginning and now pic of our tree this year. It looks a bit different every year and depends on what materials I have on hand. Last year it was made form newspaper. This year I happened to have large white paper so we used that. It’s a fun way to keep our minds and hearts focused in the right direction during a time when we could start feeling down and alone.

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

After 6 years

My last trip to Missouri was in October 2009 when my oldest was three and the middle one was only 6 months old. That’s insane!!!!!! But really it was necessary on so many accounts. First of all I think I needed the isolation from the states to help with the culture adjustments. I still remember the day I read Leslies blog when she said she hadn’t been back to the states for over five years and that she didn’t really miss it all that much anymore. I remember thinking I want that, I’m sick of comparing, I’m ready to be “at home” in Mexico. It’s not like I planned it really but I do remember reading that and thinking that. Then when my middle child was less than two years old number three popped out. (She really did just pop out, labor was less than four hours).  I had my hands full with little ones and the time just flew by. I started working, and really vacations time and money are two things that just don’t line up to often. About year four after my last visit I was just too nervous to try to travel alone with all three girls. The time I went before honestly it was a nightmare with a three year old and a six month old. Then there was the whole Canada fiasco. We were thinking maybe we should get there first and then it will be easier to visit.
 Ok so that is the end of all my excuses. I always feel like I have to give them because when I tell people I haven’t visited my family in six years I get dagger eyes from them. Once someone was giving a prophetic word to me about Lily and they said that she will do missions, but that it would be short term missions and that her heart and home would always be in Mexico with her mom and dad”. Then they added, “Unlike yours which flew the coop and never looked back.” It made me laugh because I hadn’t even told them yet how long it had been. 
So, the last couple months have been filled with a crazy roller coaster of emotions. God has shown me many images and I’ve had countless dreams about things that will go on while I’m there. So many things that right now seem impossible. I can’t quite figure out the logistics of how theywill happen. But over and over He has proven to be right when he speaks to me in this way so I have believed. Also fear has entered about being in the airport and going through customs with less than a two hour layover and three kids. Later I get excited because someone sets up a date where I will get to see them and hug them. And I remember how excited I am to see all the people I love and who have supported me in all this time. Then I remember that I hardly even go to the grocery store with all three girls and without my husband. Oh crap Im going to a different country with them and without him, WHAT WAS I THINKING!!!!! My sister then sends me a message about her vacation time and I start to relax and think about morning chatting over coffee and spiritual discussions. This makes me start thinking about how most of my family lives in the country and my girls are such city kids and I’ll have to be on top of them the whole time. So basically this is how I have been for a couple months now. Really this is just a small peak inside the insanity.
But guess what my Father God doesn’t want this insanity going on inside my head. He wants peace, patience, and good thoughts. He reminded me of that this weekend in our prayer service. I received word after word form people I hadn’t discussed any of this with. And of course He spoke directly to me covering me with a blanket of His love. He reminded me that he is so much bigger than all that other stuff. He reminded me that if He can stop a freaking hurricane from blowing up Mexico then he can help us get through customs without stress. He reminded me that I have given and continue to give my girls and their safety to Him on a daily basis. He gave me peace in my heart that even as I now write all those things above I laugh at them. I know that they are nothing compared to my Daddy in heaven. That the entire time the Holy Spirit will be there giving me, and my girls, His wisdom and His knowledge. And even now as I write he tells me he wants to heal people even in the airport. That this can be a mission trip and it makes me so happy and calm.

Now we get to the fun part. Now I am planning without fear. I am overly excited. I have gifts for my friends and family members. I have checked our suit cases to be sure we have enough. We are in the process of getting our consent letter printed and notarized. And the tickets have been ready for quite some time now. So here is and image of what we will look like in just 4 weeks and three days. My girls are going to be baffled by all that we see and do. SO EXCITING!!!!!!!


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Discipline, What does it really mean?

Today I am going to write about raising children. Yikes this is a heavy subject. I have felt inspired to write about this for various reasons. One of which is that my position in the church makes it necessary. My husband and I are in charge of the Pastoral Ministries in our church. Somehow God managed to implant the churches mission vision and DNA into our hearts long before we ever came to SOZO. The Holy Spirit is amazing in that way. That being said the things I’m going to write about are nothing new as far as biblical principles but they are often times ignored. Also they are often times spoken of without the aspect of grace (through which we have been saved and not through works). So soon I will be writing a counseling manual for those in our church who will be giving counseling to young families. My idea is to get some of my thoughts out here first to help me organize things. Hope you all enjoy and learn and grow in your walk of being a mother. As I have said over and over these principles apply to all moms Christian or not. They are laws written into the fabric of existence that no men can separate from. So if you are not a Christian (like many of my friends and family) read on and see if this helps you with any issues you may have with your kidos. In writing about this just like any other topic I write about I have to admit I am far from considering myself perfect or that I move in these principles 100% every day. But what I can tell you is that I try and I have seen the fruits of each one in the lives of my children. I know I’m biased but really my kidos are amazing!!!!! And to be honest I’m not the only one who notices. But really I can’t take a lot of credit for it. Ill speak more about this a bit later. 

I’m going to base this blog on Proverbs 23:12-26.  Normally I place the verses at the end but this time I’m going to put them here and discuss each one in detail. 

12. Apply your heart to discipline
And your ears to words of knowledge.
Ok mamas this verse is for you not your kidos. If we expect to discipline our children we have to discipline ourselves first. We have to be the example for our little ones, someone they can look up to. For those of you who do not have children and are not ready for this step, please wait. Our children learn by mimicking words and actions. Many times they don’t understand the meanings or implications of such words and actions but they understand that they "work" to accomplish something. Also we have to resign ourselves to be strong and stick to our words. This involves much discipline on a mom part. Many days it is just easier to clean the whole hose by yourself but if you have taught your children that they should be a part of that process it needs to be constant. How can we grow in our discipline? Well for me seeing results is what has helped me stay steady in discipline. The days when my girls come home and clean up without me saying so or yelling or acting crazy (yes this happens sometimes to), I know they are getting it and that I have been showing a good example. 
Now about the words of knowledge, recently there have been videos out about how everyone, including people you don’t know, wants to give you advice on child rearing. Ugg this is so true and especially here in Mexico. And lo and behold what am I doing in this very blog. The honest truth is that you can’t receive the ideas of everyone and think you can apply them all. First you have to decide what your principle beliefs are. If your faith is in God you don’t need to rub eggs on your sick baby or tie strings around their fingers. If you agree about the basic laws which God wove into creation then seek them and you will find your answers. This does not go to say that you shouldn’t seek help. Many times as mothers we run out of options and don’t know which way to turn. This can be a very dangerous situation. What this means is to seek words of knowledge. Look at the children in your life; are any of them how you hope to see your child someday? If so, seek out that mom. If you are in a church, seek out your leaders. And if you don’t like what you see in their kids, then simply seek out Gods advice. Read in your bible about what it says and let the Holy Spirit give you the words of Knowledge you need. You are never ever alone as mom. And if you feel alone please seek a knowledgeable voice for your life. There are tons of blogs, Facebook pages, ext. that can help to guide you. Just be sure to always filter what you are told through the bible and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If you dont have those two things to filter I’m afraid there will be some things that are just plain trial and error. 

13. Do not withhold discipline from the child;
If you [a]swat him with a reed-like rod [applied with godly wisdom], he will not die.
Here is the kicker. I know there are so many people out there today that want to say that spanking children is bad and will ruin them. But that is simply not the case. The version I am using is the amplified bible. I love this version because it returns to the original translation and writes out complete thoughts about certain words that just don’t translate. When you learn more than one language, you find that often times a word cannot be translated with just one word. You need a thought or a phrase to explain the word. Here they have placed in parenthesis around, applied with Godly wisdom. Wow this is so important. Later I will be talking more about anger but it has to enter in this part also. Spanking should never be done in anger. Children are born into a sinful nature once again due to laws set out since Adam and Eve. The thing is whoever thinks that children are innocent and don’t do intentionally do wrong, has either not had children or do not speak to their children. There is an amazing live stand up by Bill Cosby where he talks about exactly that. Here is the link for some good laughs. Bill Cosby Himself truthfulness of children
Child instincts are naturally not positive because they only think of themselves and what they want. This is not something bad it’s just natural. But they need to be taught and instructed on how not to be this way. Children are the best manipulators you will ever meet, and if you don’t believe this about your child you are most likely the victim of said manipulation. I am not saying you should spank your child for everything they do wrong but there are times in which it is needed. There are many situations where a time out is sufficient and in this you need to know your children and decide according to their personalities.

14. You shall [b]swat him with the reed-like rod
And rescue his life from Sheol (the nether world, the place of the dead).
This sounds so extreme, right? Save him from hell!!!! Well yeah in reality that’s what you will be doing. Children have to be taught that people are not to be manipulated, that the world is not only about them and that they should love other people.  How can they love other people? Love is an action it is a verb. They also need to learn obedience. Many of the world wide problems today are because people think they should always get to do what they want and not what they are told.  Clearly any environment is better when creativity and grace enter. But there has to be a balance. Learning to submit to leadership and guidance is such a hard lesson. It makes it even harder if children were never taught to do so when young. Although it may seem harsh right now while your child is five years old think about how they will be able to keep a job if they refuse to submit to a boss. Thinking of the most recent reasons my children received a spanking was because they were treating their siblings in a manner that is not acceptable or because they refused to clean their room. Was I angry and flying off the handle when I spanked them? Of course not!  As a mom you have to be sure that discipline happens before you reach your limit. This enters into the mommy discipline that I spoke of earlier. If you feel your tempeture rising take a deep breath calm down then apply discipline to the child. 

15. My son, if your heart is wise,
My heart will also be glad;
16. Yes, my heart will rejoice
When your lips speak right things.
This verse gives me rest and peace. It’s so true. Like I said before the results of self-discipline are what encourages you to keep it up. In the same way that our Father God looks at us and is glad, we can look at our children and be glad. This is not a prideful gladness because we know that really God is raising our children but a gladness knowing that my child will have successful relationships and a pure heart as an adult. A fullness that is worth every effort you have put forth. My kids teach me so much day after day. At times their wisdom throws me for a loop and I love to learn from them. 

17. Do not let your heart envy sinners [who live godless lives and have no hope of salvation],
But [continue to] live in the [reverent, worshipful] fear of the Lord day by day.

Sometimes my girls notice that other moms are not as strict or do not expect as much out of their children as I do. They have asked me before, why does so and sos mom let them act that way. Many times this has been a great teaching moment. I ask my girls how it made them feel when said child acted the way they did. How did it affect the activity or play that was going on? Should we cause that kind of feelings for other people? The thing is kids that throw fits and act out many times is due to lack of identity and love (which will be in another post). Discipline is an act of love. It gives children security and helps them have order in their world. By living a disciplined life and thinking of others we honor God because he loves those "others" as much as he loves you. His love is an unconditional love. So I help my girls to understand that is why I discipline them. I do it out of love, and so far they understand and accept this with great understanding. 
18. Surely there is a future [and a reward],
And your hope and expectation will not be cut off.
Ahhh there is that peace again. In the midst of the turmoil of being a mommy we can rest in the promises God has given us. There will be a reward. Somedays we don’t see it, but others it is so evident. Again the fruits of your labor should be shining through every once in a while to give you this glimmer of hope for the future. And of course once they are grown and have their own children they will be a daily example of your efforts and of the love God has towards them. I love how it says your expectation will not be cut off. Because those who have received promises brought to completion from God know that He always goes the extra mile. Your expectations fall very short of what God has for your children. His dreams and goals for them are HUGE!!! Your children have a life purpose so much bigger than you can even imagine. We should be their launching ground. At our church we speak of parents building a platform that can serve as a roof for their children until the children can then build even higher. We want them to excide what we have accomplished in life and in Christ.
19Listen, my son, and be wise,
And direct your heart in the way [of the Lord].
 20Do not associate with heavy drinkers of wine,
Or with gluttonous eaters of meat,
 21For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty,
And the drowsiness [of overindulgence] will clothe one with rags.
 Here we have to talk about the constant education and teaching that we need to be giving to our children. Since the age of two or three my girls have had a piggy bank which they save money all year long. Each Easter they are allowed to open their banks and spend their money however they wish. My husband and I give them ideas and make suggestions when they ask for them but otherwise we allow them to buy what they want and we never add to what they have. If they don’t have enough then they have to find something else. My oldest daughter is now 9 and you would be amazed at how wise her spending decisions are. We cannot just give, give, give and give to our children. When we do this we are teaching them that they can always get what they want. That even if they don’t have enough resources it will be given to them. Often times I look around and wish that my girls could have all the fun stuff I had as a kid. But also I know that because of all that stuff I had my mom went into debt. And I never thought I had enough. I got arrested for stealing at 15 years old and it wasn’t the first time I had stolen. The point is that going into debt to give your children everything you always or never had will not help them. My girls are happy yet sometimes they notice that other kids have things they don’t. But they also take care of the things that they have. They appreciate each and every gift in a special way. They have learned to make toys out of recycled items and how to appreciate those toys even more because they made them. I know I have a lot to learn here because often times my flesh sneaks in and gets envious of those moms who do give everything to their children. It’s a constant fight between my spirit and flesh but when I feel I’m not sure I remember to seek out the knowledge of God.
22Listen to your father, who sired you,
And do not despise your mother when she is old.

 How can we teach this part to our children? This is only taught but example. You cannot tell your children to respect you then speak badly about your mother... or mother in law (ouch). You cannot say listen to your father and then ignore any advice given by your own... or by your husband (your children’s father). Ok I guess you can do that but I promise you your children will notice the double standard and follow your actions and not your words.
23Buy truth, and do not sell it;
Get wisdom and instruction and understanding.
Ok so I have to admit this verse through me for a loop at first. I had to do some cross referencing about the words buy and sell. Because at first I thought well selling the truth would be a good idea right? If you do cross reference checking on the word used for buy in this verses it was often translated as seek, look for, search, or find. Ok so we need to be looking for the truth. This goes along with what we said before. It’s ok not to know everything and to seek out knowledgeable advice. And the word used for sell in other verses is used for gaining profit, for personal gain, or loving your own life more than Christ. Wow that is pretty powerful. We should not do all of this for our own personal gain. We need to do this for the love of Christ and for the betterment of our children. Child rearing should never turn into a selfish accomplishment. It’s something no one can do correctly without the guidance of our Father and to be honest this should be a relief. In this way we can also fall back on the Grace He has for us through Christ when we screw it up, which we will all do more than once. 

24The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice,
And he who sires a wise child will have joy in him.

25Let your father and your mother be glad,

And let her who gave birth to you rejoice [in your wise and godly choices].
 So first off as a daughter still one my favorite things are to call and tell my parents of my recent personal accomplishments. I know my mom will be reading this blog and will feel a since of pride that she has done a work well done. I know my parents were not perfect the same that I am not perfect. But they deserve my respect for what they did accomplish and for the things I did learn from them.  Quite honestly we went through some pretty hard times as a family but I look at all my siblings and can see that my father can be glad and my mother can rejoice. In this same way peace enters in during the most frustrating moments of being a mommy. I can give it to God and know that someday and really in small pieces every day I will receive this promise in completion.
26My son, give me your heart
And let your eyes delight in my ways,
This verse reflects something I mentioned briefly before. All of this is possible when you truly give it all up to God. It says give me your heart. What is in your heart? My heart is full to the brim with my husband and my girls. So both of them I have to give to God. This is something I have done over and over and over again. My flesh always wants to return them into my control and my wisdom. But then the Spirit helps me to remember that I am not capable. But in Christ I can do all things. This means that I need to give my decisions, my self-discipline, and my actions up to Him. When we truly do this life goes so much smother. There is no guilt because I know Jesus covers all my sins and already forgave me for this current screw up. I can once again say ok Lord I give them to you, help me make the right choices. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Self Evaluation... Dun dun dun!!!

Ok I need you to imagine the dooms day music in a movie that happens just before something huge happens. Dun dun dun dun….Here it comes… its gona happen… its inevitable!!!!!
Oh well that wasn’t so bad after all.
This is how many of us feel when it comes to self-evaluation. We sometimes view it as low self-esteem or being to self-critical. But really that is just an excuse to not do it. Why are we so turned off by the fact of reviewing our own actions and yet criticizing others comes so easy. Personally I believe there are a few reasons. These same reasons are behind many of our more complicated questions. One is due to our past, broken hearts, lies spoken over us, decisions we have made about who we are ext. The second is that there is a very clear spiritual war going on. The enemy (well my enemy anyway) knows that if we all turned our critical eyes away from others and made it constructive towards ourselves then his job in this war would be so much harder.  The last and most common are simply because we are lazy. It’s easier to point out someone else’s errors because we then don’t have to do the work to fix it. I say all this as we and us because I still do not consider myself to have taken hold of this concept 100%. This is why I’m writing about it. The subject has come up in a few studies I’ve been at which causes me to always analyze what the Spirit is trying to do in the church as a whole. (This is so I can intercede, another blog all together)
Christian or not you should always be looking for ways to improve yourself. Those who say they have nothing they can change for the better someone that will be stuck in a very sad place in their life. We should never stop learning be it for our jobs, how to be parents, how to love our spouses, how to drive better, or whatever you do every day. The point is that biblical principles apply to all whether you believe or not. They are laws set forth since the beginning of time by the One True God and there is no escaping it. This is why so many religions have the same opinions on many things. The biblical principle which gives the basis to this post is to work on your issues and try not to focus so much on everyone else’s issues. This topic ties in pretty closely with what I wrote a few weeks ago. But today I want to go more in depth on the idea of constant self-evaluation.
First off how is this going help me in my daily life? If you are evaluating yourself, often times you see changes you need to make before anyone else notices. Then if it is brought up to you it’s something you have already come to accept and maybe have even looked for solutions. Let me give you an example. Last Sunday one of the things mentioned by our Pastor Gaby was signs of a sleeping heart (you can see the sermon we were discussing here :________________). One of these signs was if you get offensive when a leader gives you constructive criticism.  When I heard this I said, “Oh I receive criticism from my leaders well.” And God said, “At church maybe yes, but is this true at your work?” Ugggg and as always he started showing me times that I had gotten offensive with my coordinators and bosses. “Ok Father, I know you don’t show me these things to make me feel bad. So I receive them and I ask you why did I react that way?”  We had a nice conversation for a few days about this. I even expressed it at a study that we have on Tuesdays. (Confession is a huge tool towards breaking walls of misunderstanding between your heart and your Spirit). So by Wednesday morning I had in mind some things I needed to change about my methods in the class room and the way I would respond to my bosses in the face of criticism. And low and behold guess what happened Wednesday at 1:30. I got called into a meeting regarding a teaching method I had use. It’s never easy to receive correction but I can tell you that the meeting didn’t hurt because it was a confirmation of all that I had already gone through with God. It was pretty cool because everything that was brought up was things that God had already discussed with me and I had already made decisions on how to change. I received what all they had to say, expressed that I agreed with them and explained how I plan to change it. Lastly I asked for and accepted suggestions, and most of all received their suggestions. Although God spoke into my life this doesn’t mean that he hasn’t put people in my path to do so also. These people have years and years of experience in this field and I should take their experience and let it help me to grow faster.Wow!! How quickly God works in us when we are open to it and when we let him flow. Again I’m not saying I am always so open to Him but this is a huge example of why we should be. So many times I have wrestled with God over silly things and every time I give in and let him take over there is so much less damage done to my heart.
There are many books written about self evaluation and maybe if you don’t have Christ in your life you may need to read them. I even suggest you do. The world will be a better place if everyone turns there “change for the better” focus upon themselves. But if you do have Christ in your life this means you also have the Holy Spirit. This is a huge advantage that we have over the rest of the world in this subject (and really in any other subject). The Holy Spirit was sent here to be our constant guide and teacher. He is the one that brings these things to my attention without bringing guilt or fear. This is what prevents things like depression and anxiety. When the Spirit shows me something I could do better he does it in love. And I receive it with my identity firmly planted in Christ. I know that in Gods eyes I’m already this pure person that the Spirit is guiding me to be. So I don’t have to feel guilty about how I acted. What I do need to do is repent and work on changing it. I urge you to sit and ask the Spirit what he sees in your heart to work on. If at that time you start feeling sad, guilty, hatred, or any other negative feeling it IS NOT the Spirit that is guiding you and most likely is your soul (which is usually very confused without the Holy Spirit). If this happens, you can say to yourself, “NO I don’t receive these bitter views of myself. I only receive what the Spirit is giving me.” Just wait a few minutes and see what happens.
Now after the Spirit brings you these revelations he never just leaves you there high and dry. He will help you through the process of change. He will remind you on a daily basis of the decisions you made with Him. He is very helpful in that way. I have also found some very helpful tools on how we can work on our character growth which I will be writing about later but for now let’s just focus on focusing on ourselves and not others. (This is talking about the critical change for the better eye not for other purposes.)
I left a short list of verses to help you further your biblical knowledge on the subject. There are actually a ton more but I don’t want to overwhelm. If you want more verses on the topic leave  a message and I’d be happy to send them to you.

Psalm 32:3-5
Philipians 2:13
Psalm 51:1 The whole 51 is an excellent prayer for your daily life.
Psalm 129:23-24
Mathew 7:3
Luke 6:41
John 14:26, 16:12-15

Sunday, October 18, 2015

What I believe.... (what I love)

Since I started writing again I knew my blog would be shifting in a bit of a new direction. I don't feel the need to change the name or the site because I feel history is important for any reader. I love to know more about the authors that I am reading so Im going to give my readers the chance to find out who I am.
My title for today if you only  read the first line would send out some groans for some people. Which is exactly why I'm writing. A lot of times people have felt that saying "What I believe is..." should be followed by lots of arguments about how people should act and think and move and conduct their lives. Its so sad to me that so many in the world can list off a million things that "Christians" believe and many of those things will be filled to the brim with condemnation. Sure I could fill this blog with things I believe are wrong but I don't believe that's what the Bible tells me to do. Plus a lot of them would be things that I'm working on in my own life. Jesus was clear about how we were suppose to live, he made things very black and white most of the time. He didn't beat around the bush. So yes if you say to me Amanda do you think this or that is ok. I will answer you honestly and say yes or no, but this will not change the way I treat you or love you. Last week we heard a sermon on Judas Escargot. I loved the sermon because it expressed so much of what I have always felt when reading the what I consider one of the saddest parts of the life of Jesus. Every time I read about Jesus telling him, "just go." I cry. I was always sure that Jesus was holding out hope until the very last instant that Judas would change his mind. I don't believe that Judas had to turn Jesus in. Jesus had many enemies in high places they could have captured him any time he was ready for them to. Jesus had disappeared on them a couple times but that is because he knew it wasn't time. Three years before he was sold by Judas, Jesus saw the hurt behind the eyes of a man and had faith that His Father could change that hurt. He spoke life and and purpose into the Judases spirit for three whole years. Clearly he also corrected him because correction is a form of love. But he never rejected him or gave up on him. He ate with him and slept next to him. He loved him!!!! He hoped and I believe prayed that Judas would open his heart to the promises God was giving. I don't believe that he constantly berated him, or geared all of his teachings towards the specific sins Judas was committing or would commit. 
Who am I, you may be thinking, to write about such an opinion. And its ok if your thinking that because I also feel the same way. But that is exactly the point. I am no one important to this world. BUT!!!!! To God I am his precious daughter, loved, and cherished. I am the moving, living, breathing, hands, feet, mouth and body of Christ.  I have lived what Im writing about. And I can tell you many of the "terrible sinners" I have loved and still love in this way are still living their lives the way they were before I met them. And yes this brings me to tears during my times of intercession with the Spirit. But guess what, many are not. Many saw something new, something loving, something they could relate with in the way I live. And those that are still sinning differently than me I know have a seed planted in their hearts. I know that, even if they bash the followers of Christ or just continue living in ways that Jesus clearly said would kill their spirit, they always know who Christ was and is. They know that they are loved by the one true God! How do I know that you might ask. I know because Jesus used my mouth to speak it into their spirits. This gives me the confidence that at some point they will begin to want to be closer and closer to him. 
I know I haven't quoted much of the bible here and this may all look like a bunch of opinion but at the end of the blog I'm going to post verses that explain what Iv been talking about. I don't feel the need to place a scripture behind each sentence because Id rather you look them up and let the Holy Spirit lead you to your revelation. So if you are at all curious about this topic take a look at the scriptures below and before you start reading speak to the Holy Spirit and ask for his guidance. Ask him to give you revelation. With out revelation the scripture is just another book. Please don't just take it from me. Its so important that you grow in your relationship with God and receive it from Him. This post is just a spark of a flame that I know He is going to cultivate in many hearts. 
This morning as I lay in bed discussing this theme with God I asked him to show where in my life I need to be speaking more life and less condemnation. As usually he asked me a simple question that I couldn't answer. Do your kids know what I love about them? Do they know what you love about who they are? My answer was, I hope so. So I asked my middle child. Shes the early bird and so it was just her and I. I said, "Honey, what does mommy love about you?" Her first answers were her hair, her eyes and her cheeks. This is all true she is amazingly beautiful. But it wasn't the answer I'd hoped for. So, I asked her, "what about you, about who you are, about how you act, what parts of that does mommy love?" She got all shy and couldn't answer.  I gave her awhile and tried to explain it in diffrent ways hoping that was why she couldnt answer. She understood the question but nothing came to mind. So I started asking her if mommy loved certain things. For example that she gets completely crazy sometimes and makes us all laugh till we cry. That she has an amazing singing voice and sounds like an angle. That she is creative. Her teachers have told me how driven she is.  Clearly her answer to all these things is yes those are things that mommy loves. What do you think my new goal is? Well I want those to be the items at the fore front of her thinking. My youngest is only four yet answered that she loves people and is nice. Both of which are true. With my oldest her answers were more along the point. She said the way I act because I am happy, that I am creative and smart and that I am beautiful. That I'm a leader. Interestingly she also said, "That I love you." wow that one was powerful. Here is  a thought for prayer time. Should one of our answers to Father God be, because I love you? Oh the things we can learn from our children.
My lesson out of this is that I need to be speaking these things into the life of my middle child. I love how gentle God is with me and my heart. Had this teaching come from anyone else,i may have taken offence. But because it came directly from the heart of my Father I'm excited to make the change.
To end this all and to finish the sentence in the title I want to say I believe that Jesus was a man born from a virgin who lived a normal life trying to please God. And he did!!!!!! He was able to live his life without sinning. I believe when he was obedient and got baptized the Holy Spirit entered his life and changed it drastically. I believe He has given me the same chance to have the same Spirit and to change my life drastically. (He actually expects me to do greater things than Him, Yikes!!!) I believe I sin (maybe different than you) and that all of us should be reaching for the goal of perfection. I believe that I love what God loves which includes you and everyone else. I believe I fail miserably in this aspect and that God continues to help me to get closer to my ultimate goal. 

John 13:18-30
Mathew 24:24
Mark 3:13_18
Mark 6:6_12
Mathew 3:17, 5:43-48
Ok this could go on forever but I think ill stop here. Last and not least: John 13:34,35