Not So Empty Nest Days

Cherishing the days past while moving towards the days ahead, BHG

Set Apart

A short blog i wrote about on 11/3/2013 and never posted. Enjoy!

What an interesting revelation this morning!! In the picture is a cup of plain water (Living Water) and oil (the world) was added. Here’s what I got as I went to go demonstrate to my son, because we are both very visual.

1. The water by itself quenches everyone’s thirst. But because of it doesn’t have color or a distinct flavor, it is not the choice of many.

2. When the oil (world) is introduced, even though it cannot mix with the water (Christ follower) no matter how hard we try, it lands on top of the water and contaminates the water so that it cannot be used to drink from (useful in the Kingdom). How contaminated are you?

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Transparent Pressure (reblog)

This is a repost from my blog TransparenMe. Thank you to all those that prayed for my daughter yesterday during this trial. If you get a chance, go over and read some of those! Blessings! http://transparenme.blogspot.com/2014/03/transparent-pressure.html?m=1

“We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—” 2 Cor 4:8-9

This week has been a doozy! I have been in some form of spiritual attack for a while but March 1st seemed to have intensified and magnified each feat the enemy brings my way.

This last one, I thought might crush me because it involved two of my children at the same time! Anyone that knows me knows that is a way to get to me, a “weak spot” of sorts with me.

Last summer, GOD led my oldest through a trial through her job that tested her and showed her some areas of concern such as fear of man and harboring anger. As much as I wanted to step in, I knew that I could not. While I guided her as much as I was allowed, it was not my fight but that didn’t stop me from being angry at all involved.

This time around, it’s my middle and youngest being attacked and that same anger and helplessness has bubbled back up to the surface. I know that this trial is not just for them but for me as well as this is bringing up muck in me that GOD simply cannot use and wants to file away in the File 13 far away from my, and their, hearts. This verse is and will be instrumental in this victory of ours.

My son has the desire to be a teacher/ track coach/ youth minister. That is not a desire manufactured by him or his surroundings but given him by GOD. His life, on the other hand has not really afforded what one would call or see as an exemplary life that would lead to such a high calling. Thank GOD there is no man on earth who is GOD! My son has had his prodigal son moment and still has some residue being removed but has been given a new robe by GOD. During his prodigal walk, he had isolated himself, had compromised and is a father in waiting. For man, this is looked at as unacceptable for his calling and some would have him not only reminded constantly by man made consequences but also deter him to another calling that is not as high up. In this instance, is leadership in the place where he has chosen to help out with track. Through others eyes and words, he has been deemed unfit to help coach without even so much of a personal conversation, just judgment. He was “hard pressed” but not crushed and I reminded him of that. Although leadership did not take the biblical stance when having something against a person who has sinned, my son will be. Am I angry, yes. I trusted this person and because they are Christian I held them to a higher standard and forgot (just as he has done with my son) that we all fall short. Stamp this one as lesson learned.

My daughters attack has been on her health. She had what we thought was back pain, mom-diagnosed as sciatica but not because of physical strain but a spiritual attack. This entire weekend has been a tiring strain for both of is as she struggled to get comfortable and even pleaded that she only desired to sleep. Yesterday I found out differently. She had an incredibly large boil that had manufactured, it seemed, out of nowhere on her backside. I felt that anger rising up again but this time was ready! I had already that morning been in communion with GOD and renounced the spiritual root and was ready for battle. I had no idea it would be so intense. The day started with me leading her in prayer to renounce the same and to be released of the harness of burdens she was not to carry (she is a burden bearer) and she had a good day! And then we started home. An obnoxious smell (anyone with knowledge of a boil knows) filled the car and we went in search of it relentlessly but it wasn’t until my daughter got out and we saw a wet stain, did she search herself. I hope somebody got that. A spiritual boil is just as painful as a real one. To get rid of it can be even more painful as pressure needs to be applied after a cut (double edged sword) is made. There is an offense (smell) and it will need to be searched out if you are unaware of the source of your pain.

Well we found the source was this boil. I was instructed to send her to ER and more rose up in me. I hate ER, I hate germs and I hate being around sick people that don’t take care to block others from their germs (I’m being honest). But I had to get over all this to get my daughter the help needed. What a battle this was in my head! I won’t go into details of the pain and agony my child was in as they got rid of this thing as I sat with her helpless to end her pain and crying. No, I wasn’t helpless. I could have stopped them. I could have said never mind or no more. But I knew this was for the greater good.

Isn’t that how GOD is with us? Isn’t that how He was with Christ? He doesn’t sit idly by wringing His hands. He is with us, comforting us, encouraging us, never leaving or forgetting about us. One thing my daughter kept asking was “where’s nana?” I wondered why she didn’t ask where I was but then it dawned on me. She KNEW I was there! She knew I wasn’t leaving! THAT’S how GOD wants us to be! He wants us to be that confident through our trials. He reminds us of this much like I reminded my daughter in her morphine induced state of what her favorite (life) verse is… and she still knew it! John 16:33…. Which reminds us that we WILL go through things, that we can be sure of. But we can also be sure that Jesus has overcome this world and that GOD will NEVER leave us!

My daughter is still working at her job and has overcome the challenges of hiding from those who seem to be after her. My son is no worse for the ware and will nevertheless teach, coach and spread the GOOD News that Jesus can use and call anyone no matter how rugged their paths have been. My youngest daughter is coming down from the morphine high, still in pain but getting back to herself. Me? I have learned that I can’t save my kids all the time, I have hidden anger and offense and that healing is not always easy. Sometimes it comes from pain.

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Hard Battles (and Choosing Them)

There is a song that solidifies where I am at this point. Tenth Avenue North is an awesome singing group!! I love how plain and necessary their words are! How they seem to relate to what’s going on with me personally although I know they didn’t write each song about just me. Do you feel that way about a song? I call those battle or storm songs. Even have a place on my dumbPhone for them. Well their song Worn is where I’m at.

I began writing this post in June, at the height of the issues with my son and just could not go any further than the first sentence. A lot has happened since then. I’ve several break downs with GOD about my kids and pleading for Him to “make it or them right.” The most recent battle has been a spiritual one for my kids…. It seems I’m being tag teamed against because one will just get over something or seem to be okay and another one will act a fool… so to speak, of course! There were even a few moments when I wondered why they were given to me or cried about my failures when they were little (wrote a post about that earlier). I am seeing that this road to adulthood is marked and paved with non announced construction, forks in the road, dips, hills, valleys and even some deep potholes. I am sure we have had several “flat tires” during this journey but after tending to it, our Driver seems to keep right on going! There have been pit stops where at least one child has decided they don’t want Him as a Driver anymore and wanted to take on their own course and drive themselves because of a relationship. *Sigh* Or another who can’t seem to develop that rapport with our Driver or anyone that He sends to help or fellowship with us on this “train”. And of course my trio wouldn’t be complete without the child who is stubborn, determined to do it their own way when they are old enough! Goodness!! It seems the ride inside has been as bumpy as the road! Oh the sickness that has been on the train because of all the road issues! Am I the only one that has wanted to scream, “I WANT TO GET OFF NOW” or “NEXT STOP!!!!”

Well, again, I’m writing this as the song Worn runs trough my head. The lyrics that keep replaying are, “I’m tired, I’m worn… My heart is heavy, from the work it takes to keep on breathing.” What a perfect description! But I’m not here to complain or tell you all the stuff going on. Or how my son can’t seem to climb out of this pit or come out of his winepress, or how my daughters don’t know a whole lot about being an adult or wife yet (one is already an adult). No, in the midst of this storm, I am writing to let you know that the “Eye of the storm” is where you want to be! Jesus is that Eye. Psalm 121 assures us of that just as Jesus does in John 14:27.

I am at a place of peace because I have given my kids to Him as well as their burdens I was trying to carry. The latest one? My son’s ex girlfriend being pregnant. That was a hard one to release because I kept sensing that she might be and kept giving warning of please stop or at least be careful to no avail. It’s heart breaking to say the least but I love my son regardless, am learning to love his daughters mom as she so desperately needs that (no matter how hard she fights to “take my place” in his life) and of course his daughter! Meanwhile I am having to teach my oldest things I was unaware I needed to (don’t know how I thought she would learn them) and develop my youngest’s burden bearing heart she has for people that was misdiagnosed by doctor mom as “drama queen”.

Jesus told us that in this world we would have trials but to take heart (be of courage) because He has overcome the world! That means we will too! He also told us to give Him our burdens and take on His easy one. Why can’t we do that? Why is it so hard to put down our burdens that weigh is down for an easy and light one? Because we are used to carrying them and we don’t trust anyone, not even Jesus, with them or because we start to feel “guilty” not carrying our “own load” as the world suggests we do. Well I’m pointing out that Eye in the middle of your storm for you. He is peace when there should be none! He is joy when that car should be emptied. His love is never ending! I never got that before. People would tell me that He loves me when I was struggling but now I know why! It’s because of that Love for me that I can rest in the storms of life. And so can you!

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Child Academy Part II

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

When I started this two part blog, I quickly got choked by life and the trials of my kids. But now, as I sit in my room with peace and quiet, as two lay asleep an one at work, I can see the lessons I learned since the first part of Child Academy.

I have learned my part as the mother. I have learned that parenting is not merely about popping somebody on the back of the head in church when they act up or sending the “evil eye” look their way to get them to straighten up when you are not close or are in company. It’s not about their faults and how you deal with them. It’s not even 100% about training them, not all of it anyway. Yes, all of that may be included depending on your child’s personality (I have three) but LOVE should be the first part of that equation.

I quickly learned that discipline doesn’t, shouldn’t come from anger. It shouldn’t be the “silent treatment” as we may have been used to. That’s the best time to show love! Merely saying “I do this because I love you” does nothing for the sore butt or bruised ego or angry stares as you “ruin their lives,” yet again by canceling plans. I have personally had a struggle in that balance. Knowing how to be angry and yet show love. And, I might transparently add, I was having a hard time turning to God’s instructions to change it.

This verse, Ephesians 6:4, is one of the ricks God used to smack me gently upside MY head during this struggled season for me and my kids. I almost ignored it because it simply says “fathers,” moms were not included. But as a single mom, I took up both jobs much like a person with a two man job would do when one was missing for that day. Here’s where I go off trail on a mini tangent.

Single moms (and dads), do not waste your time talking about complaining about or trying to fix your “singleness” in parenting. I did that for many years, all three, and it was as said in Ecclesiastes “toil under the sun.” It’s useless, it’s vain (because your focus is on your needs) and it speaks loudly to your kids that they are the cause of your troubles. Yes, it’s harder. Yes, it’s more of a burden in you to have to do two jobs, but if God didn’t know you capable, you would not have gotten this important job as a parent.

Okay, tangent dispersed and back to the subject, bringing your child up in The Lord. Most parents, I would think, know the obvious things not to do to ignite anger in your child when it comes to this verse. But what about the hidden and unspoken things? Just this week, my heart was broken to even think one of my children could hate or be sick of me. That is NOT my intention at all! Now I do inderstand that taking a way a phone, tv and game system, freedom to go with friends or places, can all play apart in angering a child. And for disciplining reasons, I frankly don’t care about that anger. However, my goal is not to “chide” or “provoke” my child to be angry. I don’t walk around yelling or cussing at them or belittling their opinions by laughing at their anger. No! That’s obviously not the way! But what I was shown that I was doing was snide remarks, ignoring them, walking around angry and not speaking in love but dryly, even talking to friends or Facebook about their mishaps. These all qualify as provokers.

This is where that grace I was speaking about in the part I comes in. Grace in the moment is needed 96% of the time in my home and if God wasn’t so giving of His grace, I would almost think I was abusing the privilege. But grace is needed. It’s not to be held in the back pocket until after the verbal lashing or silence forcing your kids to tip toe around the house on egg shells or slamming doors and snapping in anger because they aren’t doing what you want! No! Grace should be your first stop before even dealing with the issue. Much like the sink should be your child’s first stop before going to your fridge or table, much like the first stop should be a bathroom before easing out on a long road trip. I am getting into the habit of praying, not always yet, before addressing any new or reoccurring issues because if I don’t pick up that grace God gives me, then all my kids get…. is me and I am NOTHING without Christ.

Next time you have an issue that makes you boil over with your kids, close your eyes, take a deep breath… and let it out, pray then address it. My kids know when my voice goes quiet, I am over the top. It’s time to give mama some space and when I reenter the scene surrounded by grace and mercy, then we can address it because of my robe of grace.

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Child Academy PT I

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

The Old Testament is full of armies and fighting and even killing. It reads like an action packed movie at times! When I walked outside the gates of His Presence, instead of in His Presence, it was always harder to answer those who are not in the faith when they would ask why God had His people so violent. This verse in particular always threw me for a loop. Why were we training kids? What were we training them for? And then it seemed to be so obvious! I was to teach my kids right from wrong and the right way was the only way! The only issue with that is that I didn’t know the right way all the time. So I started giving them my version which was really watered down poison. I still saw troubles and rebellion, in fact it was growing. My son, my only son, even had a stint in the youth facility. I began wondering if training them in the way I thought they should go was really what’s up. It didn’t seem to be working. So I became really passive and listened to other authorities on children, like when divorce is in their past they have a hard way paved or angry kids need space, mess like that. I wasn’t willing to give up all together and let them raise themselves, I knew better than that, somehow. But for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. The other Christian moms I saw had it all together. They were planned, they seem to have order and even though their kids were a little more hyper, they seemed to have a grasp on the chaos. Little did I know, peering in the little dusty window of their lives, my view was worse than distorted. Or it was just a front to seem like everything was in control.

My kids have always been hyper and entertaining. Give them a few minutes in a room and they would have everyone laughing with their made up song and dances, jokes galore and even the repetitive memory lane stories they constantly tell anyone who will listen. When they were younger, I didn’t harp on them about running inside my house or being really quiet. I thought that was the dumbest thing I had ever heard of! They were young kids for goodness sake! There was a missed training event, to teach them there is a time and place for everything. I didn’t really start out with them being young teaching them to pick up after themselves, it was much easier for me to do and then when I did start it was pick up your own stuff, if it’s not yours then leave it. There was a missed opportunity to give a helping hand to others. When they got in trouble, although my love didn’t stop for them, I didn’t show any love. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure they are more loving on the street then how I was sometimes. It’s a wonder the streets didn’t come calling for them and take them away, no, it’s God! There goes that lesson on loving one another as you love yourself. And let’s not forget the Golden Rule. Heck, I had no idea what that even was! So they treated others as they saw fit and still expected to be treated right, much like their mom. I can really say for certain that the old adage, “Do what I say and not what I do,” is NOT a virtue that works! I never said it but showed them more than I was telling them, and to boot, they did not line up with each other.

Now, don’t get me wrong. My kids are awesome, in fact they are just figuring out how awesome they are! They are perfect as far as I am concerned even with all their flaws. And there are some good things I am convinced the Lord had me pour into them without my knowledge. None of them have any babies, none of them are on drugs or drink alcohol, none are drop outs or hang out on the street as an occupation as is the general rule of thumb for most youth where I live. And most importantly and thankfully, none are past hope, in other more definite words, none are dead. I’ve had at least two contemplate suicide, be addicted to porn or other unhealthy ways of life, one who conversates better with animals and the tv shows watched than humans, one who worships the ground their significant other walks on, a child that has been married and divorced to at least twelve different celebrities, two who were in college and for one reason or another have not finished yet and all three think my world revolves around them (yeah right!). But they are the kids God has given me, and even though they are older, they are still my children. I can still train them UP in the way they should go. It comes more subtly now because they are older and I have to fight back tears and frustrations. I even may have to send one with their dad because I need to stand by my word and my rules to keep peace in my house, I wouldn’t change one character about them. God gave them their character and that’s not what I am supposed to be focused on training.

Training has to do with dedicating them to the Lord and teaching them His way, not the “right way,” there is no such thing as the right way if the path you are on takes you further from the Lord. As we train our kids, we should be pouring love into them, honor, respect, discretion, grace, forgiveness; generally the Fruit of the Spirit. But in order for that to be poured into our children, it has to be in us. We can’t teach our children how to be doctors or lawyers or teachers if we have no idea how to be that ourselves. Why do you think homeschooling only goes up to the 12th grade? We only teach our children what we know. Not in our heads but in our hearts. If you only know how to be loud and obnoxious, disrespecting your parents and husband all the time, guess what your kids are going to do. If you only know how to be withdrawn and depressed, hiding from family and creditors when things get rough, guess what your kids are going to do. But if Christ abides (lives) in you and you live in accordance to that (if people can see your light), your children will do the same. I don’t know anyone who has Christ yet still does exactly the same things they did before surrendering to Him. If so, you are malnourished and need to get into His Word and a Bible teaching church pronto before spiritual death comes! I have been in both places. I have poured out poison, concentrated and watered down, into my kids. The only things I knew to teach and automatically showed them. I have also, much more recently after my surrender, taught and been teaching God’s truths for their lives. What I am seeing now is that the poison I had poured in previously is surfacing. At first, I was frustrated because I had switched up and changed, why weren’t they? But I see now, revelations even today that the surfacing of that poison equates to someone sucking the poison out of a snake bite or siphoning gas from one car to the other. The poison doesn’t go further down when this is done, it comes UP! My new form of training, God’s curriculum, is bringing up that old settled in poison so that grace can take up residency in its place! Whoa God! You mean I am going to see things I don’t like in my kids?! What do I do when they are defiant and disrespectful? Wait, I stand my ground with grace in my hand?

Part two is coming, so stay tuned…

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Watch Your Mouth

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits. Proverbs 18:21

Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

Watch your mouth!” This is not something I ever had to hear as a child, nor have my own children heard it. What I have heard from time to time when crazy takes over and even my kids who succumb to that crazy mind is, “watch your tone.” That was usually in a warning tone that I guess is handed down to parents for each generation! But who is telling us parents to watch ours? Who told my mom and dad to watch theirs, not because they cussed or talked inappropriately, but because of the negativity that flowed so easily from them. No one told me to watch my mouth when my negative words slapped my kids in the face, things I thought they should know as truths. Who is telling you to watch your mouth?

I can remember my kids being younger and seeing a mom with her preschooler in the doctor’s office. Her son was not listening at all and she warned him a few times and asked to sit down a couple of times. He was on a mission to each try his mommy until she snapped or wreaks havoc in that office, he succeeded with the second. But as the mother, once again, called his name and told him he needed to sit down, she followed it with counting to warn him that she was no longer playing around. To everyone in the office’s surprise, he began to join her in counting as if to say, “Whatever lady, you say that all the time!”

There are so many points that I wanted to follow up with this post but I decided to ball it into one big point. We as parent have to watch our mouth, and we do that with God’s Word. We can go all our children’s lives without cussing and using a certain tone and even intentionally being positive. But those become just words if we do not mimic our Father’s encouragement, words of wisdom, warnings, love, and even discipline with our kids. We train up our children in the way they should go. This is on earth and eternally as well. We pour into our children poisoned water or life water but when we try both, the poison water is what stays. Think about it, it I have half of a glass of clean water and then pour dirty, muddy water into it; what happens to the clean water? Would you fill up a jar of poisoned ice cold water for your child when they come in saying they are thirsty? I hope everyone said no! You would not because you love your child. And although we try and teach them that old irritating saying of, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” if we think about it, words are the worst weapon a loved one or close friend can use. Even a stranger if the wound is already open can hurt with words.

Proverbs 18:21 says that the tongue holds the power to give life or kill. The tongue is such a small… muscle! It’s not even a vital organ! Without it you don’t die! Without it you won’t need to be kept alive on life support. It’s made up of tiny strands of tissue, making up your taste buds and other sensory factors I paid no attention to in science class or health. But this small muscle can give life or kill? Let’s do a kill check. How many times have you bluntly said to a friend or family member, “Your gonna wear that?” or “What’s wrong with your hair?” How many times have you had someone confide in you a new venture they were going to step out in and you answered with, “Don’t do that” or “That’s crazy, you aren’t strong enough for that,” or my favorite, “God hasn’t gifted you in that area.” Let’s go into the daily life with the cashiers, store managers, people who cut you in line, teachers who your child got in trouble for something small with, the teacher that didn’t do what you asked when you asked as if you are the only parent in the school, the bill collector who was only doing their job when you weren’t doing yours, the customer service operator who got a lashing because the company you chose didn’t deliver what they promised… shall I go on? Don’t worry; this is NOT a judgment call! I have been in these positions, which is why I chose some of them! But nevertheless, these are killing people, their days, their joy, their confidence and most dangerously, if they are aware you are a believer, their choice to choose God. Let’s face it, if you go to a church with just one person who has lied, cussed you out or been nasty to you in anyway, are you gonna get anything out of that sermon or choose that person’s God?

This is how it is with our children. We forget that home is where our love is put into practice. How can we love people on the outside with authenticity and our families not feel it? How can we “train up our children in the way they should go” and assume they will stay serving the Lord when they were met with ridicule, angry words or even just condescending tones and sarcasm? We as parents need to get our tongues in check as James 3 states. We need to WATCH OUR MOUTHES!

Father God, we come asking forgiveness for the reign our tongues have had on us and boldly take back that power and train it to be used for our good and Your glory. We repent of idle talk, gossip, vile words that come out of our mouth directed towards the children You have entrusted in our care. Help us to mend the wounds we have opened at home and dug into even in our surroundings and daily lives. Thank You that Your mercy is everlasting and for each mistake we make, You are waiting for us with open arms. Help us today Holy Spirit to speak only life! In Jesus name. Amen!

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