Monday, October 31, 2011

Pushing kids out the door or holding on tight to keep them home?

A friend recently commented on Facebook that he is packing up one of his kids, getting ready for that son to go out into the world.  He's both excited and nervous and this is my comment back to him:

As the mother of 8 kids, three of which ARE out in the world, I can reassure you, IT NEVER GETS EASY!  I know, you're thinking, "Great!  Way to encourage a dad!" But the thing is, if it were easy, there would be a question of our love for our kids...I mean, that's a piece of you leaving for the first time!  There will be a sort of grieving that occurs and that's okay! 
When my oldest son went to Boot Camp in the Navy, we couldn't call or talk to him for almost 5 weeks! It was the most difficult time for our large family since we had been so close.  What we didn't know was that two years later, when our son went to Iraq, we went several weeks without hearing from him, not knowing if he was out on a mission, had been attacked or if he was in trouble!  But the Lord is our reassurance that when we send our kids out into the world, even if WE can't watch out for our kids, God still sees their EVERY move!!

Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is older, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
 Don't you see that children are God's best gift? (Psalm 127:3 MSG)

Monday, October 24, 2011

What comes first?

As the youth pastor at our church, I make it a point to put my youth group kids first.  Many of them haven't experienced that sort of feeling in their own families so it's new to them to be offered snacks first or for me to pour their soda or for one of my kids to offer their seat to a new student.  I have driven to a hospital to visit one of my youth kids even though the hospital was nearly 50 miles from my house and I enjoy the freedom to go and pray or visit with my youth kids at a moments notice.
Recently, I felt inclined to apply for a job outside the home.  My current position at church is volunteer, and many things we do are at a cost to the students or myself.  As I contemplate my first day at work, I am conflicted though.  I know that the Lord has plans to prosper me and to give me a hope and a future.  So why am I so compelled to work somewhere that doesn't fit with my position at the church?  I've been praying about this all weekend, and the Lord brought a word from a wonderful 17-year-old girl right to me.  She is in music ministry with her parents and has been literally since she was born.  She is also an national championship shooter.  I asked her how she managed the shooting tourneys with being on the road.  Her reply rings in my head even now:  "Oh, my ministry comes first!  Anything else I want to do, I do when we happen to be home or when we have down time from being on the road."  MY MINISTRY COMES FIRST!  Those words are echoing inside and stirring up the things of the Lord.  Am I truly putting my ministry first?  Am I truly putting these kids first?  I think the message is one I will meditate on and seek the Lord's Will through and through. 
If you're in a similar situation, I can't tell you what to do.   But I can point you to the Word and to what God says about performing your ministry, your calling and let His words guide you.  I believe for each of us, He works all things for good and I also believe He knows the desires of our hearts and will set everything up to achieve His overall purpose in our lives.
May you seek, and find the answers to the questioning of your place in this world!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Who's working it out? God? or YOU?!

This week has been so exciting for me!  I got a job doing things I really enjoy: meeting new people; talking about a cell phone company I am particularly fond of; and getting to help (my husband in particular!) support our family.  When my husband and I began talking about me possibly getting a job, we discussed many aspects of what would have to come together to make that a real possibility.  The hours could not interfere with my homeschooling our children, the travel distance would have to be relatively close (A feat in itself since we live at least 20 miles from ANYTHING!), and the pay would have to be more than enough to cover my new gas bill and my husband's gas requirement to make it that much more effective.
Those following me on Facebook know that I had a job interview last week, and yesterday I signed all my paperwork.  Today, I received notice of my hours for the next several weeks and the times are literally perfect for us!  Plus, a preplanned vacation is already scheduled to be taken off as we enter the holiday selling season.  As I went into the interview last week, I knew the things my husband and I had been discussing would have to come together if I were to accept the position.  In God's perfect plan and timing, everything has worked out BETTER than I could have imagined! 
I am feeling so overwhelmingly blessed tonight, and I give God all the praise and glory for working all this out to our specific requirements and requests to Him!  Thinking back, I have to realize that none of this occurred because of things that I did to make it all work out for me.  The Word says Jesus is the vine and we are the branches.  With Him we will produce much fruit, but apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5).  I think when I try to plan everything out myself and workout payment arrangements, for example, that the favor of the Lord goes before me.  I believe that because in these crazy economic times, it has to be God working it out through the people I talk to; everyone wants their money owed to them yesterday!  Remember just who it is that is working all things to your good and His glory next time you think YOU worked that out well!!
"I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him."--Romans 12:3 (The Message)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Revealing the Illusion

This week I reveal just a little more about who I am; or rather, where I was and how I got to where I am to become who I am today!  I am not a super woman by any means, but I did not let adversity trap me and keep me from being an overcomer and a conqueror in life.  I invite you today to read my essay "More Than Conquerors" and be strengthened and encouraged that you CAN make it through whatever you are facing today!

Be blessed!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I love My Children

I love my children.  I think sometimes I want so badly to see them succeed and becoming great young adults that I often interject my own ideas of what their perfect little lives should look like.  I love them so bad that it literally hurts in my heart.  I watch each making choices that are close to 180 degrees from what I thought they should do or would do, and I cannot see anything else past this major detour some of them have taken.  I homeschooled my oldest three children through high school, and it seemed as though shortly after graduation, they became rebellious and lacked the very morals we instilled in them during our schooling years.  One of my adult children had a girlfriend and a wife at the same time; one put us in such a position with rebellion that we called the police after he had run away from home one night; and the last one seems to have found she likes the game of lying, deceiving or withholding information from her father and I.
As a parent, I feel as though I failed these three somehow.  I feel as though I did not give them the adequate tools they needed to maintain and stand firm in their faith.  I feel as though they are surely testing their new found wings as young adults.  I feel as though I need to fix what is broken in their lives.  I realize I can’t go back and fix things.  The one opportunity I had to give them the tools and reasoning they needed for life is gone.  It is one of the worst things to have my kids hate me so deeply.  What I do know about life, I want to share with them so that they can avoid mistakes, heartache and loss that I faced.  I want good…I want the BEST for them.  I realize their ideas of “best” differ from mine.  I don’t know how or when those ideas seemed to part ways, though. 
I love my children and I want what is best for them.  For now, that is to not have me interfering in their lives.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Seeing failure, seeking victory

After church today, we came home, and I was looking after our oldest dog, Jazz.  She is an 11-year-old miniature dachshund and she had been fighting with our 2-year-old doxie-min pin mix  (Belle) a few days ago.  Jazz sustained what I thought was a small laceration and I cleansed the wound and put antibacterial ointment on it.  Today, I felt the Holy Spirit guiding me to investigate the injury more closely, and I discovered the wound was much worse than I thought which made me feel horrible!  I questioned whether we should take her to the vet to get checked out, thought maybe she might need sutures to close the wound and wondered what I could have done to discover this issue sooner.  I felt as though I had failed my old dog.  The trouble was that Jazz wouldn’t let me look at the wound, so I could only see a part of the injury.  But I cared for her as though it were worse than I could see.  After reading a Website about wound care for dogs, I learned that dog bite wounds in animals are rarely, if ever, sutured closed because of the high incidence of infection.  What I read was that normal and usual treatment is to cleanse the wound daily, apply antibiotic ointment and possibly administer oral antibiotics.  I had 11 days worth of an antibiotic left over from Jazz’s recent dental surgery and I began giving her those pills.  Now, I feel like I am doing something to facilitate her further healing. 
Often, as with my dog, we as parents we don’t quite know what to do about or how to handle a certain situation with our children.  We begin by doing something that we think seems right and make adjustments from there.  This is absolutely what we should be doing!  Sometimes we only see failure as we try to grasp that one thing that has the answers to the issues we face with our kids.  We need to start doing something to correct, solve, answer or change the situation rather than sitting by and waiting for the right solution to manifest itself.  Prayer is the first step in this process.  It leads us to the Lord and the solution for what we need to do.  I felt as though the Holy Spirit was guiding me with the treatment I should give my dog, but had I not even begun that treatment, how would I have ever read and realized that what I was doing was right?!  With my children, I desire to correct and esteem them quickly so that they can learn from what they were doing right or what was a wrong behavior, attitude, decision, etc.  Once we begin treating the wrong, we can start building on what they are doing right.  This will lead us to victory over those strongholds of rebellion, selfishness, desires of the flesh and many others.  Through GOD we can be victorious in these areas because we walk by faith and not by sight and through faith we have victory.  So, next time there is a disagreement, a time when you feel you have failed your child, when all you see is failure, remember to seek the victory over the situation through prayer and faith!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Finding the new in the old and liking it

Finding the new in the midst of the old is often difficult.  At least I thought it was. 
As the mother of eight kids, I found out quickly that when it came to menus, I needed to find things that everyone, or almost everyone, would eat.  Get 10 people in a room and I’m betting they won’t all like the same things for any given meal, and this was the case of my family.  We have used the same staple dinners for more than 15 years now, but I was the one wanting something different!  I tried a recipe that called for, of all things, Beefaroni as an ingredient in the meal.  Tonight, we had chili-roni and it was great!  Just one missing item, that I didn’t even realize could be an ingredient, made our same old meal that much better.  I scored some points with my kids for dinner and my husband, who rarely eats anything like macaroni and cheese, actually liked what I made!!
Last Thursday, we ventured to the beach to celebrate my oldest niece’s birthday.  It was a wonderful day and adding some schooling when the kids didn’t even notice made it educational as well.  We played in the tide pools where we found little puffer-like fish, then we found some clams/mussels nearby.  Next, we happened on a crab claw and a purple starfish.  We splashed and played and laughed and soon our day was ending.  As we walked down the beach back to the car, we were blessed to find a small hammerhead shark that was lying on the beach.  It seems it was caught by a fisherman and left to dry out in the sun.  These small editions enhanced my children’s learning more than they could have ever received if we had merely looked at the pictures on the Internet.  They actually liked what we did for school that day!
I began thinking about my life as a Christian.  What would it be like if I added one ingredient like reading an inspiring book (“Mere Christianity” was my choice!) to my daily devotions and prayer time?  Today, I began to read Book One of C.S. Lewis’ famed inspirational work. The rules of what is right and what is wrong and our expectations of others with regard to our idea of right and wrong are quite interesting to me.  And I actually like what he has to say about the Law of Human Nature.
What I am finding is adding one simple thing to a meal, to my homeschooling day, to my Christian walk just makes it much better than each area was before.