Not So Empty Nest Days

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

The Eyes of a Child pt I- Set Apart By GOD, Not Bullies

I was recently able to do a guest blog for a friend of mine and it gave me the idea of having a guest blogger. After having my kids read mine, the idea came to have them write one. So here is my firstborn, Makaila, telling her story. A hard one even now for me to hear, but for one God gave fight to at a day old, being 2 months premature and off the ventilator the next day… She has come a longer way than Virginia Slims.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; (2 Corinthians 4:8 NIV)

Bullying. A subject that hasn’t gotten that much attention until recently. You got celebrities like Lady Gaga & Taylor Swift writing songs about be bullied or anthem songs, as I like to call them. But does that stop anything? A movie called Bully recently came out which started a nationwide movement. But is it gonna stop bullying altogether?

I’d say it started in 4th grade but it actually started when I was in 6th grade. Up until 4th grade, I was the popular kid. Everyone wanted to play with me. Everyone wanted to hang out with me. I lived close enough to the school to walk home & we always had a huge group, my brother & I. After 4th grade, I switched schools & I was no longer the popular girl. I was the new girl. Which wasn’t so bad. I had friends. 6th grade however, was one of the worst years for me. I had 4 friends in my class. No one liked me. & I couldn’t figure out why. They would pick on me & call me names. One girl even stole things from my locker. I did my best to fit in, & it seem to always backfire on me. I never thought to tell anybody cause I kept telling myself that I wouldn’t see these kids anymore since we were all going to different middle schools. Graduation day was one of the best days of my life.

Middle school was okay. A handful of kids from the elementary school I graduated from, was there so it was nice to know some people. This was when everyone started to form their “cliques”. I didn’t know where I fit in so I just hung out with the “weird” kids. I still talk to a few of them today. This was when I started listening to rock music more. Nobody really made fun of me as much, not that I remember anyway. The one thing I do remember is this girl, who I had never spoken to in my life before, called me ugly everyday, for no apparent reason. I hadn’t spoken two words to her. At first, I would say some smart comment to her, eventually, I didn’t say anything at all. & I started to believe it. My best friend was moving so I had no one when I started high school. & the people I knew from elementary school were all going to separate high schools. High school….how do I describe high school. I hated high school. Freshman year wasn’t that bad. Sophomore year, however was the worst. For whatever reason, that’s the year everyone decided to bully me. I was called names, some girl tried subtly fight me in drama class. Drama class was mainly where everything happened. This group of kids, mainly black kids, would pick on me because what I wearing, my skin, my clothes, my hair, the music I listened to. They would call me ugly, & other horrible names & make up stupid rumors about how me & these other girls were having a lesbian foursome. I dreaded going to that class everyday, but it was one of my favorites. & as much as I dreaded it, I didn’t want to get on my teacher’s bad side cause we got points if we were in the drama club & were in the plays. Around this time, was when I was being bullied at church as well. I also hated going to church. I hated going to church as well. I would stall as much time as possible. I would hide out in the bathroom for as long as possible. When I was sick or we couldn’t go, I was secretly happy. My self esteem was at an all time low. I was depressed. I’m pretty sure that when my anxiety problem/disorder started. I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere. I would cry myself to sleep or stay up late, hoping I would oversleep & miss school. Yeah, I had friends. I still talk to them actually. But I felt so alone. & I started to think, that if I went away, all my problems would go away. I never actually attempted suicide. I did think about it though. Not a lot. Just enough though. So I started listening to a lot more heavy metal [which fueled the fire, because according to high school rules, black people aren’t supposed to listen to that. Especially black girls] I read a lot. I think I read most of the books in the library. I never thought I would make to the end of sophomore year, let alone my 16th birthday. But I turned 16, & 5 months later, sophomore year ended. & I was so thankful. I had thought about asking my mom to let me switch schools. But I stayed. Junior & Senior wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad either. I still got bullied, or called names, but this time, I just kind of let it roll, thinking to myself that I would never see this people again. I was still kind of depressed. But I threw myself into drama & photography & reading & the handful of friends I had. Graduation day was one of the best days of my life.
Then I went to college. I think that if I had some sort of therapy, my experience would have been different. But instead, I was 18. I was scared, nervous, going to a school I didn’t even want to go to. I had immediately written everyone off, saying it’s gonna be just like high school. My anxiety was always at an all time high. I hated being around the people I didn’t know, & I never ate in the cafeteria. I was too nervous, that everyone was judging me, or staring like I was a freak. I would always eat food my mom had brought to me. I only did a semester, because it was too expensive. [i’m STILL paying for that by the way]. I knew I wasn’t ready. I even told my mom but she thought it would be a good experience. Which it kind of was. I got to live on my own for 6 months, even though my house was a 10 minute drive away. But if I had to do it again, I don’t know if I would. I felt alone there. I did like my roommate though.
Now, I’m 22. My self esteem isn’t where I would like it to be. I still have my anxiety problem, I still get depressed. I don’t know if I’ll ever trust people the same way again. But it did teach me. It taught me that I had to keep fighting. Even if I didn’t feel like it. I’m learning that those people can’t ever bother me again & I have to keep reminding myself, one day at a time. It’s very hard though. I still have my days. But I know that God kept me alive for a reason. What yet, I haven’t figured out. I just know I have a lot of gifts & I want to use them. – Makaila

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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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When Is It Enough?

Raising kids is a hard, some times draining, sometimes discouraging always rewarding job. My question is when does the parenting stop?

I answer my own question by saying never. Parenting has seasons just like the weather, a job, friendship, and life. From birth until they leave the house, training, love, encouragement and discipline should be the season. Once they leave, the parenting takes on a new form which carries over encouragement, prayer and adds new elements such as gentle guidance. Over the entire 23 years I have been a parent, I noticed small changes in my children’s environment that forced or warranted changes in me. I sometimes ignored these changes that should’ve taken effect in me, and sometimes I went in fully charged, determined to defeat an invisible foe that threatened to pull my children from me, leaving the very ones I aimed and vowed to protect harmed after all.

We have been through depression, bullying, addictions, homelessness, moral failure and even incarceration together. My children have watched me be physically thrown out of our home because of my choices, depressed and abandoned by one I chose to stay with LONG after the rush subsided, and even seen up close and probably too personally the pain of breaking out of a shell built around me in my childhood. They have seen me struggle emotionally, physically, financially and spiritually as I sought one remedy after another to be comfortable in this world.

I have seen them be hurt, be tormented, be made fun of, be torn down, make choices that landed them in both emotion and physical jail and be ignored and cast aside by someone who should have been there to guide them paternally.

Now that we are entering this new realm of adult and independent teen kid phase, I look back sometimes and go over where I messed up, I even entertain the spirit of regret about poison I poured into them, which has stolen a few years by itself. But I have finally gotten to a place where I understand what my role is, what my duties as their mom is, what it really means to RAISE children to be adults. I’m not looking so much on the failures anymore, I can’t do anything about them anyway but mend any hurts, so why waste precious time.

I have decided in these last few, or whatever, years I would spend time with my kids doing things I only wished we could do. Taking trips where we have never gone, seeing places we have never seen and saying things I felt were too awkward to say before. I have decided to love my kids where they are and leave the transformation to their Father, my Father who is the only One who knows their beginnings and their end. I only pray I live to see the fruit of some of our “labor” together and that our bond remains in generations to come.

When do/ did you stop parenting? It’s never too late to pick it back up. Not until the last breath is gone.

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Seasons Change

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

We are now in our spring (life) season as I write this, even though you can’t tell with the snow still happening here, however, I can see changes in the once dead and barren trees, in the grass on my front porch that’s gonna need to be mowed soon, the colors that people wear. Changes are everywhere. Even in the house we are making changes. Switching from fall/ winter to spring/ summer clothes and menus (yes I try to keep a menu). I have things to plant this year that will wilt and die around the time it starts getting cold. My children are changing and I am too.

It seems like such a short time ago that I stare into this little creatures eyes, wondering what I was gonna do with 2 kids. Wondering if I had jipped his sister who only had me to herself for a short while and wondering would I be able to give them what I thought they would need and want.

Fast forward 20 years and today I now have three healthy, vibrant and scarred adult and teen kids. I have stepped, no been shoved into a new season. A season where marriage, children and ministry or life choices are on their minds. My youngest has two more years of high school before she graduates and fear chokes me when I think about them leaving. You see we have grown up together. Don’t get me wrong, I raised them, they didn’t raise themselves and run amuck. But I was stuck in the early 20’s I didn’t want to leave. I sometimes still have to remind myself that my 20’s were 20 years ago! And so to have them leave, live on their own and not look to me for what they need frightens me. I don’t have a husband to “fall back on” from motherhood and so I wonder sometimes what will I do with myself. That’s probably the 10% selfish reason my kids are still at home. What the other 90% you ask? It’s to give them guidance and instruction. I believe that letting your child “experience the world” is like letting them experience what it’s like to take poison or be burned by a consuming fire. I know that’s what my belief is however when it’s time, God will have me release them. I’m just praying when that “flying the coop” season comes, He gives me extra strength peace! Even as I am watching and may later watch my kids make choices I know are leading them away from God, I will have that peace to pray and allow God to move. It was a late start for some things but I have trained them in the way they should go, so I trust that when they get older they will not depart from it. I can admit that I don’t like this season of change. It seems dark and watching my son and daughters walk away for the things of this world is hard, but I trust God.

“Everything has a season,” is what we are told in Ecclesiastes but I can’t seem to move past the mama stage. I’m not stuck there, I’m stubborn. But still changes around me are happening and I don’t want to miss so a real down ensued this last 3 weeks. I told God I don’t want anymore changes. I don’t want to keep going forward, I want things to stay the same. I wonder if my mom and her mom and her mom felt this. And then I woke up this brand new morning with a brand new word and brand new mercy waiting for me. I saw the verse above about Jesus being the same. I have to do this so bear with me. “In a world, ever changing, ever changing season and ever moving forward, there is a God who never changes.” My Movie Man voice, anyway back to what I was saying. Jesus heard my cry yesterday and answered me! He never changes! I can focus on that fact as my body changes, my kids change, my circumstances change and seasons change! He NEVER changes! He is the same as yesterday and today and forever! You can rest in this promise as well!

Father, thank you for never changing. We change even our mind about loving and serving you but You never change. Your love never changes for us no matter what we do. And Your Word never changes no matter how we try to make to suit us. Help us to remember that this week. In Jesus precious name. Amen!

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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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I Know!

 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children.” – Hosea 4:6

 In today’s age, people are destroyed, or die, for lack of many things. Poverty brings along with it lack water, food, shelter, etc. People have been known to die in freezing weather because of a lack of shelter or the lack of warm clothing. In smoldering heat, people die from a lack of shelter, water and relief from the heat or air. People all over the nations are dying from a lack of food supply, or famine, and medical attention. Even here in the United States famine is greater than we would like to acknowledge. But the one thing we don’t here of as much is people dying from a lack of knowledge. The sad thing is, most of the lacks I named above, are hosted from a lack of knowledge. The knowledge that they can reach out for help to get food and water, a runner may die of heat exhaustion because of the lack of knowledge to drink plenty of water and seek shelter when overheated. That’s what we even sometimes do in our spiritual walk.

About a decade or more ago, there was a flood of stories in the news about children who had drowned in their own backyards. These seemingly innocent children were wandering out of their houses to go into their fenced in backyards, all safe, to gaze and even play in the pools that their families owned. Knowing how a pool can look when it’s ridiculously hot outside, I’m sure these toddlers and preschoolers only wanted to play in the water like they do in the bath tub, some out of curiosity and some out of relief. But somewhere between getting the latch to the back door open to walking outside alone to being hypnotized by the blue crystal like waves in the water or dropping a toy in the water, they reached in and stretched too far which allowed for them to fall in. Some screams were heard but for the most part they went unheard, being muffled by the overpowering water that seemed to rush over them. Now, I am going to be honest, in my lost state of mind, rushes of judgment came over me as I heard story after story. The questions, I’m sure not just from my mind, of “How could you let this happen?” and, “Where were you that you couldn’t hear your child drowning?” and even, “What kind of parent leaves their child unattended?” rang not only at the TV but also landing in each parents ears. What stemmed from that was a slew of safety devices and pool lock up systems but the most important thing, in my opinion, were the teachings of pool safety. We became aware of dangerous possibilities and even though most would tear up their pools and lock up their kids or chain them to their sides; this wasn’t how to keep them safe. I now know that the lessons, giving them the knowledge is what would.

We all teach our kids safety rules, even in their infancy stage. The word no, even though there was a period when that was said to be wrong, came out of each of our mouths when we saw our newly cruising or newly crawling baby reach for a certain danger. It didn’t stop there. We would then tell them “no” when they would put things into their mouths, try to pull things down from our tables via their new best friends, the table covers and when they were old enough to explore outside even be a few feet away, “stranger danger” was a lesson they were taught. Now none of these lessons were fool proof. Things still happened, accidents and mishaps still occurred, sadly there were children still abducted. But it wasn’t because of our lack of knowledge. And I am convinced that of all the things we could ever pour into, teach, or give our kids, knowledge is the most important. We give them knowledge of God, our love for them, etc. We are most certainly their first teachers and what we give them will stick like a steak and potato meal.

My youngest daughter, who is now 15 going on 35, has always been a little quick with her reach, not always paying attention to what she is reaching over or for. I remember one particular time when she was about 7, she was helping me in the kitchen, she was in love with Rachel Ray and had to make sure I was doing things right and reached over the front burner to grab something. Did I say this child is over-adventurous?! I immediately grabbed her little hand and told her sharply, but lovingly, “Naria don’t reach over the stove like that. Ask for help. You need to pay attention to what you are doing. You could have gotten burned.” I then kissed her, when what I really wanted was to strangle her precious little neck for the near heart attack she about gave me, and told her as she got older, she would be able to reach on her own without the danger of getting burned. Oh why did I say that to her? Did I also mention she is my child that must prove what I say wrong, every time? Time passed and maybe a year later, I was playing with her and noticed a dark mark on her elbow, the same arm that she had reached with. “Mama (my nickname for her), what is this,” I asked. “Oh that is a burn I got when I reached over the stove one time. See I was trying to get the salt (another killer in our family) and I didn’t know the stove was on.” I was flushed with guilt (where was I), anger (didn’t I already tell this child not to do that), and sympathy that she had to dress her own wound with no kiss or love from her mommy (even though that was because she had deliberately disobeyed me). I gave her a hug and told her I have rules to keep her safe and that I was sorry she had to be in pain by herself but to never do that again.

Isn’t that what God does with us His children? He lovingly teaches us, gives us a Book of instructions in black and white for us to read yet we still don’t have knowledge of Him. Wow! That reminds me, a writer once wrote an article for a prestigious newspaper concerning black people, “If you want to keep something from them, put it in a book.” That is profound, so profound that even though he WROTE that and it was published, circulated and even spread through email and other social networks, blacks STILL don’t have knowledge or even know that we can receive it. God wants us to have a full knowledge of Him. He wants us to have wisdom and clarity, read James 1:5 if you don’t believe me or Proverbs is filled with places where through Solomon, God is saying receive His wisdom and the knowledge of Him. Pray and ask Him to give you that today. Don’t perish another day because of your lack of knowledge. I have learned that it is not what you know, but Who.

Father, thank You for Your wisdom You love to bestow on us. Thank you that Your mercy is new every morning and we can start over seeking Your wisdom and the knowledge of Who You are again. Show us Your face, Lord in the midst of who we are. Give us that healthy fear of You and the wisdom and knowledge that comes along with it. In Jesus name. Amen!

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The Beauty in Nature

“God’s voice is glorious in the thunder. We can’t even imagine the greatness of his power.” Job 37:5

 When I was younger, I had a huge fear of thunder. I can remember jumping out of bed and either going with my brother or my parents just to be protected from this invisible being. Anything that was a decibel over a dull roll was too intense for me. I carried that into adulthood and frequently sought out someone who I felt could protect me from this menacing noise. I even, without knowing it, gave this fear to my oldest daughter. When she was younger she would venture into mine and my then husband’s room to seek comfort. I can remember one really bad storm in Omaha that produced thunder that could crack sense into a hard head all by itself! The day started out dark. It was a period when I was working after having my youngest. We had dropped the two youngest off at our friend’s house to watch them and Makaila, my oldest, at school. I remember noticing her slowly get out of the car to come give me a hug and saying to her, “Mikki, you are in a building that can protect you from the thunder, okay?” She made some mentions of the clouds being green (someone had taught her how to know when a tornado was coming, not so helpful at times like these) and what was she going to do if there was a tornado. I assured her that I was not that far away from her and her school had a plan in case such a thing happened, but that it wouldn’t. Well, there was a tornado that touched down that day, farther away from us, thank God, but the rain and wind howled so much that during the tornado warnings we had, our office had to seek shelter. Right after we were allowed to go back to work, I quickly called Makaila’s school and asked about her class and how she was doing (I love close knit, small schools). They assured me that she was fine and was back in class learning. She did inform me later on that night that she was really scared and just thought about what I had said to her, to comfort herself.

I think back to those days and wonder, if I had known this verse in the Bible, how much time I or she would not have wasted being afraid. But God isn’t only in the thunder. He is in nature itself. Society has made up this character named “Mother Nature” and she is used for several things. She is apparently the one who decides our weather, she is also the reason we have earthquakes and the like, you apparently don’t want to mess with her and mix up the order of her things, and she is also the one that apparently calls on women every month. Whew! She has a full load, doesn’t she? I am thankful that I can view nature as much more than some bipolar woman who lives in the abyss with different switches that decide whether we will have a nice day or bad one, whether it will rain or just be cloudy, all depending on her mood.

God has recently been showing me His splendor in nature. How only He can produce the colors we see at the exact time only to have them fade from orangish red into nighttime black skies or reddish orange into blue day skies or even more baffling, grey days. He is showing me the colors of flowers, the creation of things, even how our bodies work with nature. It is an incredible worship time for me and I take loads of pictures just to remember and relive that worship! He has given me talent, I am noticing, in photography and when someone finally gives me a Nikon D3200 camera kit or a Canon EOS 5D Mark III camera kit, or both, I will be publishing the pictures I take as I go from state to state. I will call it The Nature of Worship and it will be a book to remember and stop and wonder of such a God who could do these things He does!

Are you having a bad day? Are you going through a particular hardship right now? Stop and look at His wonders to allow Him to remind you of His love for you. These beautiful wonders are not for His benefit, He didn’t make them just because, He made them for us, so that we could behold His beauty and even in hard times be in awe of the greatness of His power!

God, You are the greatest Artist I know! Your artwork is something to behold yet we pass by it every day and take it for granted. Help us today to see You in nature, to stop and smell the flowers you gave us, to pull over and watch the sunrise or sunsets You don’t have to allow us to see, while we are still in the land of the living. Help us not to take You or Your power for granted. In Jesus name. amen!

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Just Ask

Just Ask

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:5-8 ESV

My daughter goes to a Christian school in our town called Omaha Christian Academy. She has been there for two and a half years now and my son went there for his last two years of high school due to bullying and bad influences. I am on the prayer team there with two other ladies and we get together weekly to pray for the school, direction, staff, families and kids. A big prayer of faith we have had recently started out as asking God to work in the heart of a potential donor. You see we need a bus for our kids to go on trips, scholastic and sports wise as well as other clubs. We started out saying that we needed to pray for the money to get the bus but then God reminded me of my own prayer holding to the promise that I will have a vehicle of my own and that He would supply it. So I told them this story and said why can God not so this for our school? He is a God of the impossible! HE can supply our needs and He can do without the help or reliance of others!

So anyway, I read devotion the other morning from Joseph Prince and although his devo was about something else, the last sentence in this first paragraph spoke something else to me:

“One of my heroes from the 1800s is a man of faith called George Muller. With faith in God, he built five large orphanages and housed some 2,000 orphans annually. He never asked a soul for money, but brought every need before the Lord. He literally prayed in millions of dollars throughout his life to keep those orphanages going.” -Get God’s Medicine Into You Joseph Prince

Here is an email with a prayer I felt led to pray that I sent when I forwarded this to my two prayer partners and another friend God introduced me to!

“YES!!!! Chew on the first part of this especially about George Muller!!! The first paragraph, last sentence!!!! AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!!! PRAISE GOD WHO HEARS AND ANSWERS!!!! We don’t need to pray for new donors per se as much as we do donations!!! And then open our hands and expect to receive!!! James 1:6-8 comes to mind to remember when we pray!! Not to pray and cross our fingers but to pray, with thanksgiving, in expectation of what He already has for us!! The picture I get is of a parent who has something a child is looking at in a store and the child, instead of asking the parent, stares and wonders and even doubts that if he/ she asks that the parent would say yes. But when they finally do look to their parent ask, IT IS GIVEN!!!! Oh I am so excited for what’s in store and how He will blow our minds view!!!

ABBA Father, thank You for this revelation!! Thank You for being so patient and kind while we figure this out and ask others or wonder and doubt!! Would You, Lord, increase our faith TODAY!! Would You prepare signs and wonders for our eyes to see and blow doubt out of the water as we step out of this constricting, limiting boat called comfort and on to the unknown waters You have called us to! Would we not look at our circumstances as our needs and cry out in anguish but look to You, Jesus, and cry out praises instead!? Fill us Lord with your strength to endure! ABBA, remember us with the favor that You bestow upon Your people! Conceive in us new fervor, new strength, new boldness and as our speaker said last November, new COURAGE to step out into the unknown because we know You!! You are a God of the impossible!!! Exceed our requests and expectations today Lord! In Jesus name! AMEN!!!!”

I don’t know what else needs to be said other than we believe we shall see the goodness of The Lord in the land of the living! Not only when He comes to take us Home but now!! I am believing for this bus to be donated just like I am believing for El, our Provider to give me the good and perfect vehicle He has for me!! Whether He uses this donor, Woodhouse, who give freely as the Word says, or He Himself hands it to us, I know that it is on the way!! I do NOT lack wisdom or waver in my prayers for this bus!! I thank Him for what we do not see and pray GOD HELP OUR UNBELIEF!! 

What are you believing Him for? What has promise has He made to you? Can I remind you that his Word will NOT return to Him void?! Stop looking for resources or relying on your own and trust in the Source who gave you those resources!! His bank is everlasting! He Bank is never closed, never goes bankrupt and always gives freely to those who believe along with some gifts of grace and mercy! Believe in His goodness and mercy, declare His promises for your life and watch Him deliver!! FEDEX can’t beat His timing!! 

Lord, I just want to thank You for Your goodness and mercy! Thank You for the lessons and trials You take us through to strengthen our faith! Thank You for never giving up on us and for blessing us in spite of ourselves! Thank You for OCA’s courage and faithfulness and how they care for Your children! Pour into us this week Lord as a school, and as a family! As we all get together to pray for this need, I pray that You would meet the needs of others through us and in us! Thank You for continuing to entrust these families to us and even bringing about more! Increase our faith as You increase our children and as needs arise like more teachers, a gym of our own and bigger space! Make Your Face to shine on us and make us a bright Light to this neighborhood, this city, this state and this nation! Thank You for Your perfect blessing of a bus and Lord, thank You for my perfect vehicle!! In Jesus name! Amen!

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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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Ultimate Loss

Yesterday was such a surreal day for me. Never in my wildest nightmares could I imagine the loss of a child. I pray I never have to. Can I be transparent? I used to cry when friends would leave for out-of-town because I wasn’t sure if I would see them again! Crazy, I know but my guess is the military moves since childhood didn’t help me either.

But the real loss of a child is so much larger than the loss of a friend moving. It’s much more definite than PCSing to another state or country. It’s, to some, it seems like it’s forever but to others it IS forever. And it hurts more than anyone will ever know, more than those of us with all living children could ever imagine.

I can remember earlier this year being on a Facebook stalk hunt and stumbling on a young cancer patient who posted regularly about her victories and encouraging others in their fights. The last post I remember from her was, “How cool. My birthday is on Easter this year!” I think the wording might have a little different and I might have added the exclamation point but you get the jest. I remember looking at that and thinking of all the issues this little girl has to face and she is excited that her birthday falls on the day we celebrate Christ being raised from the dead. How prophetic was that in hindsight because not too much later she had gone to be with Him! We will all see you soon Jessie Rees!!

I don’t know the order of events or how it even happened but not only was a child lost his life yesterday but his mom, dad, sister and other family and friends lost him as well. I walked into a hospital one way and walked out another. For me, that was a church service. Not because we prayed, there were no hymns sung or sermon preached, there was grief and mourning met with love and compassion. That to me is the epitome of Christ’s life! He met with people mourning death, poverty, debilitating sickness and pain, shame and hatred everyday that I know of. Yet he came with only compassion and love to give them, and they received it. The Griffin family could have yelled and told us to leave, curse us and point fingers for not being in contact more. But they showed us how easy it is to love. What a lesson of humility nd reality that day.

I left thinking about a lot that day. How that mom was going to make to tomorrow, how he was not going to see another sunrise or sunset, how his mom had woke up that day a mom of two and went to sleep with only one living. It’s mind-boggling how much goes on in your mind when death of a child hits close to home. You wonder if you are selfish for being thankful that your children are still alive,  you think about time already wasted and what you can do to make up. I don’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to lose a child, nor do I ever want to but I know the biggest lesson I learned that day was a verse I had read many times before in the Bible, “Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.” – Psalm 144:4. How these words rang through my ears and deeply into my soul as I listened to the sobs of a mother who had just lost her child.

I left thinking God why? How could this happen to her after everything else she had been through? I wish I was a healer right now.” But in all that, I still knew He is Sovereign. I knew He would get the glory no matter what happened. And that’s what He needs us to remember, but in the midst of that kind of storm, He hears our cries and catches our tears for us.

Cherish every little moment with your grown kids whether they are at home still or moved out. Don’t grumble when they come over to eat your fridge bare or use up all your hot water with their 4 hour shower or wash their clothes with your detergent. Why not nag when they dirty up your house? Because they made it out of their childhood, and somebody’s child didn’t.

 

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