Dangerous Prayers for a Mom

(Written by Melissa Fagan)

“Dangerous” prayers … have you heard this phrase?

I don’t know when I first heard it, but it was in reference to parenting …. “Pray that your kids will get caught,” I was told.

Sounds pretty good in theory, but guess what? When they get caught, your parenting job gets harder and messier. It requires confrontation and discipline and consequences. Which are generally no fun for anyone, especially Mom. For example, with medium kids (the stage between little kids and big kids), if you restrict them  from TV or electronics … you lose your “babysitter”… well, at least that was mybabysitter so I could take a shower uninterrupted or make dinner or maybe even read something without illustrations.

My kids are big now. And this prayer becomes even more dangerous because the stakes seem higher or at least messier.

 

So a few months ago I started to pray: “God, what are your trying to teach me in my role as a parent?

And guess what? He answered with a big challenge! Yippee…Not.

The trial was not with the kid I was expecting either. I knew there were a lot of adjustments when a college student comes back into the house. cause… rules! And a hierarchy where the student isn’t at the top or equal with their “roommates”.

However, God had a different lesson for my heart this month. When big kids make mistakes and get caught, it is harder on my heart. This particular incident included a premeditated bad decision that broke known rules and also… a lie … TO MY FACE!

My emotion was not anger, but sadness. Followed by an instinct to pretend I didn’t know what happened. I even said “I don’t want to parent this!” My husband and I could have chosen to let it go and not confront it. Pretend we didn’t know. My “feelings” were also complicated because it poked at old wounds of guilt and shame at mistakes I had made as a teenager. God uses this role as Mom, to teach and mold US. Not just our kiddos. And He calls us to discipline them.

“Discipline your children, for in that there is hope;” Proverbs 19:18a

So we confronted the situation and all the emotions. We went to bed with heavy hearts and a promise to work out the consequences. (I have learned through the years that imposing a impulsive consequence isn’t the best strategy. I suggest waiting until you are calm).

And Moms, I have to tell you that twice in this ordeal, God spoke to me with guidance directly from the bible. If you get any take away from this, I hope it will be to call on God and to read His word.

A few years ago, I started a plan where I read one chapter of the bible per week day along with other women. The morning after the confrontation, my assigned chapter was 1 Corinthians 13. I knew this chapter by number and always associated it with romantic love. When we got married 25 years ago, I did not own a bible. But part of this chapter was read at our wedding ceremony. cause …. it’s the Love chapter!! But today, the Lord shed a new light on it. In particular, verse 7:

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Oh my, God spoke to my heart and gave me his example for my parenting dilemna!

When I was feeling so wounded by the breach in trust, He reminded me that it can be repaired. There is Hope. Yes, there is discipline…discipline in love. And getting caught and persevering in the consequences is not only character building but a form of protection.

The story did not end right there. There was remorse and repentance. (and self-imposed deep cleaning of her room etc.). However, God was not done with our lesson. A week later, a ripple effect of a poor choice, resurfaced. And people outside of our family circle were hurt. Sin can be like that. And it was embarrassing and humbling and we all just felt miserable. But let me tell you, God showed up BIG in my misery…..
The next morning my reading was 2 Corinthians 2. I had tears in my eyes as I read verses 6-8.

The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. 7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.

I can’t tell you the peace this brought me. My daughter was suffering excessive sorrow. And God spoke directly into my situation! The pronoun was off but the message was clear! So clear that I texted it to my husband and later shared it with my son. Neither of them are bible readers but it was hard to say this was just a coincidence.

Praise God for His intimate love, guidance and discipline.

And to quote Matt Tutor from {The Gathering} this past June:

“Failure is Glorious. Mistakes are never the end of the world.”

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Intention Dare for Lent: Replace Stress with Joy

Originally published on MOMS at HOPE blog 2/27/2017

I have been a Mom for a little over 20 years. Parenting and my journey as a Navy wife (and I guess as a woman, in general) has been marked with times of poor stress management and sometimes full-blown anxiety. I am currently in a good season and I am managing my stress well. God has used these uncomfortable and sometimes downright sick times to mold me. To desperately seek comfort from Him and admit my need to others.

I think I could write a 10 part series on all the ways He has molded me in this particular area. And the setting of the first chapter is taboo in some circles – the potty. But we are Moms and “potty talk” is part of the conversation when you have small kids, right? My most visible sign of unmanaged stress is an irritable bowel. And when I would feel stuck in the bathroom with kiddos outside the door NEEDING me, the anxiety would escalate.

One of the first verses I memorized as new Christian in those young-kid years, was Philippians 4:6-7.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

These verses are so wonderful and I’d like to say I recite them and my panic immediately goes away, but when I am really feeling sick, I can’t think that straight. But I have learned to call out to God in my anxiety.

You know what works the best?

I just say one word: Jesus. Then breathe.

In less desperate situations, I have implemented the directives in the verses more elaborately.

Talking more specifically to God through prayer.
Being intentionally grateful.
Allowing Him into my heart to guard it.
Resting in His peace.

Allowing myself to be loved and even loving myself also reduces stress … my flawed, broken, beautiful self.

At Moms at Hope {PM}, Anne Floyd, Hope Church’s counselor, spoke on physical, emotional and spiritual self-care. She gave us a list of ways the we can love ourselves, because to love others we must first love ourselves. I have implemented most of her list over the years and it has been instrumental in molding me into a less anxious woman. I really shouldn’t put that in past tense. It is a daily endeavor. In fact, my Internist gave me a document when we were discussing medication and I was also concerned about someone that was under stress:

CAUSES All sorts of life events may cause stress. An event that causes stress for one person may not be stressful for another person. Major life events commonly cause stress. These may be positive or negative. Examples include losing your job, moving into a new home, getting married, having a baby, or losing a loved one. Less obvious life events may also cause stress, especially if they occur day after day or in combination. Examples include working long hours, driving in traffic, caring for children, being in debt, or being in a difficult relationship. (Elsevier Interactive Patient Education ©2016 Elsevier Inc, emphasis mine.)

I’m guessing you noticed “caring for children.” *wink* I think one of the best ways to relieve stress is exactly what you are doing here at Moms at Hope – finding community with other moms.

And today, I have a tool for you. It’s a perfect opportunity to jump on for Lent and reduce stress. I dare you to replace your stress with joy!

Lent, the 40 days preceding Easter, begins this Wednesday. Growing up, it was a time to give something up. I only recall being successful once. And it was a big one…no TV! For a 6th grade girl … home after school unsupervised… no Brady Bunch or Speed Racer! It was a challenge between my neighbor friend, Meg, and I. (Pre-teen girl competition can be effective accountability. Who knew?)

Last year, I was introduced to a new idea ——> reverse lent. Author Karen Ehman, blogged about this proactive spin and I loved it.  (You can read her challenge here.)

This year I want to be intentional in preparing to celebrate Easter.

So this tool that I am inviting your to “take on” for Lent addresses one of the treatments in my Doctors document, time management and setting priorities, while at the same time incorporating gratitude and prayer. It is “The 5 Minute Way to Start My Day” tool.

Here’s the format:
3 for 3 in 5 minutes ——-> 3 categories with 3 bullets each

  • Today I am grateful for:
  • Three things I want to accomplish today:
  • Who I am praying for today:

I invited friends to join me and it has been so helpful. So now I invite you!

“Embrace the awesome feeling of taking control of your day before a bad attitude or annoying mood hijacks your joy!” Nicole Unice on Instagram

Because I have embraced it. And replaced stress with JOY!

If you would like to join the Facebook accountability group CLICK HERE and request to be added. 

Click to download the 5 Minute Way to Start My Day Handout

Dangerous Prayers for a Mom

I was guest blogging at Moms at Hope recently. I wanted to include it here for my followers as well. It gets real.

[ M O M S at H O P E ]

(Written by Melissa Fagan)

“Dangerous” prayers … have you heard this phrase?

I don’t know when I first heard it, but it was in reference to parenting …. “Pray that your kids will get caught,” I was told.

Sounds pretty good in theory, but guess what? When they get caught, your parenting job gets harder and messier. It requires confrontation and discipline and consequences. Which are generally no fun for anyone, especially Mom. For example, with medium kids (the stage between little kids and big kids), if you restrict them  from TV or electronics … you lose your “babysitter”… well, at least that was my babysitter so I could take a shower uninterrupted or make dinner or maybe even read something without illustrations.

My kids are big now. And this prayer becomes even more dangerous because the stakes seem higher or at least messier.

So a few months ago…

View original post 704 more words

Intention Dare for Lent

I was guest blogging over at Moms at Hope this week. Check it out…

(written by Melissa Fagan) I have been a Mom for a little over 20 years. Parenting and my journey as a Navy wife (and I guess as a woman, in general) has been marked with times of poor stress management and sometimes full-blown anxiety. I am currently in a good season and I am managing my […]

via Intention Dare for Lent: Replace Stress with Joy — >>> MOMS AT HOPE

Parenting Lessons from a pair of sister wives

As most of you know I co-lead a Moms of Teens group. I am also part of an online group called Good Morning Girls that reads the bible together 1 chapter at a time. God has been teaching me many things as I spend time with him reading his Word. This month we are reading 1 Samuel.

The beginning of the very first chapter captivated me and I have been meditating on it for a few weeks. So much application to my own life and to my role as a Mom. I can put myself into the place of each of these characters.

I knew that we had chapters in our current Moms of Teens (MOTS) book that spoke on friendships and on eating disorders … I could see some of that in this pair of “sister-wives”.

I wanted to come right out and share each insight but truly felt God nudging me to not “teach” it but to simply guide others in reading it for themselves. And as we did that together as a group, I learned even more.

Some big revelations like … how we can sometimes try to make our kid’s problems all about us and try to solve things for them instead of listening (WHAT?!)  like Elkanah did to Hannah.

And we made some interesting observations like … beer is mentioned in the bible!

So if you are reading this, give it a shot. See what you can learn from this passage:

 

1 Samuel 1:1-20 (NIV)

There was a certain man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none. Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the Lord Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the Lord. Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb. Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat.

Her husband Elkanah would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”

 Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s house. 10 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. 11 And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”

 12 As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.” 15 “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. 16 Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” 17 Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”

 18 She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.

19 Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 20 So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”

 

Reflection Questions:

What can we learn from Hannah and Peninnah’s relationship? Have you or your teens ever felt like Hannah? Peninnah?

How did Hannah initially respond to Peninnah’s provoking (v.7)?

How did Hannah’s husband react to her (v.8)? Do you ever find yourself taking it personally when your teen is downhearted, weeping or not eating?

What did Hannah do in her deep anguish  (vs. 10-17)?

And how did it change her (v.18) ?

How can this help you in parenting your teenager?


 

These are my attempts at writing scripture prayers from the story. And of course, I added some photos to them too. (I didn’t really have photos of people provoking one another but I could recollect a few of my kids poking and provoking each other.)

Prayers for your teens based on 1 Samuel 1:1-20

Lord, I pray that ___________ would be a good friend and never provoke or intentionally irritate others. And if ___________ is provoked, that he/she would come to you in prayer.

 Just as Hannah did, I pray that ____________ would share his/her downhearted feelings and his/her heart’s desires with you. Remind ____________ that you remember him/her.

 

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5 Minute Way to Start to My Day

I have never written down resolutions. I often have positive intentions for change floating around my brain but I don’t generally want to commit to them because…

pressure!

And who needs more pressure !! It also seemed to have a year long commitment attached to it and that just seems too ….  long.

Some of those floating ideas are really expectations I imagine that others have of me.  If I told my husband what I imagined he expected, he would calmly and wisely reply “I reject that.” Because he knows much of it is not based in reality. This may sound dismissive but it has saved us from many arguments that are not based on anything true.

I realize that writing things down (or typing them out) helps me to clarify what is really going on. If I had to list some general resolutions (less commitment) I would say I want to be more intentional, more present, more grateful and leave space in my calendar to follow where God leads daily in my relationships. And leaving space on my calendar is so much better than the packed calendar I have strived for in the past. I have always loved a calendar. I have had weekly calendars and monthly sheets I created myself and hung by my computer. Now I have an app. But honestly, it only has appointments.

Many, many years ago (like over 20) my co-worker, Abdul, and I took a Franklin Covey management training class in San Francisco. I loved all the tools and books they handed out. It was full of organizational hope. A new beginning in an awesome planner (that we got for free! … well free to me, I’m sure our company paid for it). But honestly what I remember from this class is that Abdul didn’t go to lunch with me. It was Ramadan and he fasted from dawn until sundown!  For . A.  Month!  This was a completely new idea to me. I was fascinated and impressed with his dedication. Now that’s a resolution with commitment!!

Fasting isn’t one of the thoughts floating around in my brain (although I do have some fitness wishes) but routine is floating. And thinking back to my planner, I think I could benefit from writing down some goals. And if they were flexible daily goals … it might just work.  Sooo…. here is where I am going with this …..

Today, I listened to a Facebook live video by Nicole Unice. She is the author of the book I read with my Moms group in the fall and I had the privilege of meeting her in December. She was talking about resolutions and an idea she got from “Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers” by Timothy Ferriss & Arnold Schwarzenegger. It immediately resonated with me. I took notes and created a worksheet. This is going to be my resolution … to complete this worksheet each  morning. (Not in my first 5 minutes… I tried something like that last year … but my first 5 are pretty sleepy. I need eye drops, coffee, my people out the door and then my readers on).

Here is the idea:

3 for 3  in 5 minutes    ——->     3 categories with 3 bullets each

  1. Today I am grateful for:

  2. 3 things I want to accomplish today:

  3. Who I am praying for today:

Yes…. this is all me!! gratitude, purpose and prayer!!!

Woo Hoo! I am so excited to start this tomorrow! Want to join me? I’d love to share this and be accountable!  email me if you want me to send you the word doc.

 

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Update: This idea has quite a few followers. I have created a Facebook closed group for encouragement and accountability. We’d love to have you if you are interested. You can search for “5 Minute Way to Start My Day” and request to be added. A copy of the worksheet can be downloaded from the group.

Link to Facebook group

God is with us in … our inter-generational relationships and our decorations🎄

God is with us in our … inter-generational friendships and our decorations 🎄

The theme for the Hope Women’s Ministry Christmas dinner and the devotional series that followed was subtitled:

Finding Peace During this Christmas Season.

I prayed about this topic and each of these words. As I contemplated Christmas as a “season”, the vision that came to my mind was an Advent wreath of my youth; 4 candles orderly marking the weeks of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity (birth) of Jesus. {yes, I looked that up}
Which in turn brought up thoughts of decorating my house for the season. I do not have the decorating gift but I like to fill the house with decorations during December. I have several nativities and wreaths that are reminders of Jesus’ presence in this season. Oh and a gigantic pre-lit, fake tree. I sit and gaze at it in the dark with only the lights of the tree in the room. That quiet time at night is peaceful and filled with God’s presence as I gaze at ornaments representing so many memories. (side note: the tree is covered in souvenir ornaments from our travels, the kids’ handmade items, gifts from friends and ornament exchanges, hobbies and sports teams representations, mini nutcrackers collected by our son, etc. It is our knick-knack display to keep the house clutter free the other 11 months ;-))

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As I continue to think on this as a “season” of waiting to celebrate Jesus’ birth, my thoughts turn to the expectant Mary. I used to sing Silent Night as a lullaby to my babies and felt a kinship with Mary. I sang it year round along with another song, Baby Beluga (that ended nicely with “Good-nightlittle whale, good-night”). In retrospect, I may have really been inspired to sing Silent Night because it has the line “sleep in heavenly peace” and isn’t that what every Momma is hoping for in that nighttime rocker!
I opened my bible app and searched for the story of Mary’s pregnancy. I was looking for what brought her peace in this “season”. Having an Angel say, “do not be afraid” and tell you that you have favor with God (Luke 1:30) should be comforting.

BUT the virgin birth idea would have freaked me out!!

The Angel assured her that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and that nothing was impossible with God. And by her faith and obedience she seemed to be peaceful to me. How awesome is it that we also have the Holy Spirit in us as believers and we can find peace in the assurance that all things are possible with God!

I continued to read on in Luke 1. I was reminded of the relationship between elderly Elizabeth (pregnant with John) and her teenage cousin, Mary (pregnant with Jesus). They were not close in age but they were definitely connected in circumstance. I can imagine they shared a lot, especially because in verse 56 it says:
“Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.”

(Sidenote: That was way over the Ben Franklin limit we often follow  … “Fish and visitors stink after 3 days.” hehe)

I have enjoyed inter-generational relationships and found peace there (but I never moved in).

When I was in my 30’s, I was part of a formal “Titus 2” group. I was a younger woman…
Titus 2:3-5 NIV
3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God
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I now find myself loving the older woman role at this stage of my life while still enjoying my relationships with the older-than-me women too. I find peace in these Godly relationships. And the wisdom shared with me by the mentors in my life has been a way that God has shown himself to be present.

I have one particular example from the Christmas season that has stuck with me. My older friend, Cindy, hosted a potluck lunch for our bible study group at the end of a fall semester. I knew Cindy well as she was one of my original Titus 2 women years ago. But this was the first time I was back in her charming house since I had moved away for 7 years. Her house was decorated for Christmas. Cindy loves Christmas. She had shared many of her families’ traditions with us over the years. Our family collected nutcrackers because of her but I never quite mastered gingerbread houses like the stories of their elaborate family collaborations. (We have done a few of the premade ones from Walmart).

(Added interest: I just saw this on Instagram this week… Cindy now has grandchildren to continue the traditions with … another encouragement to me as my teens are “over” some of our traditions) img_5731

During the fellowship lunch, Cindy told us that she would like each of us to look around at her decorations and pick one to take home with us!! (with the exception of homemade items by her kids or grandkids).

She seriously was going to let us take whatever we wanted! In fact, she insisted!!

I was overwhelmed with her generous offer and impacted by her “teaching” that material things are not our treasures.

I selected a glass church ornament from the small tree in her sunroom. It is one of my favorite “memories” and is still hanging from our pre-lit, fake, non-decorator, knick-knack tree and I hope that I would give it to you, if you asked.

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God is with us in… (guest blogging at Hope Women’s Ministry: Can’t See the Forest for the Trees)

Hope Women’s Ministry is doing an advent blog: I was humbled to write some thoughts on the topic of  :

Can’t See the Forest for the Trees ~ Finding Peace During the Christmas Season.

God is with us in …

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http://www.hopepres.com/hope-womens

God is with us in the … shopping!

Let me just say it… I don’t like shopping! This may sound Un-American or you may be thinking I am putting on the appearance that I am completely free from the love of “stuff”.  But believe me our house is full of stuff, and yes, we do continue to acquire more. However, the process of going in and out of stores, of making decisions and then parting with my money is not fun for me.

But shopping IS part of our life. We need food, clothing and shelter, right?! In fact, one of my stay-at-home Mom friends once told me that the main part of her job description was: Procurement Specialist. Costco and Target have helped me overcome some of my shopping stress. Food, clothing and shelter (well, furniture and the decorative parts of the shelter) are all under one roof, for a fair price and can be easily returned. I can now fulfill the family role of procurement.

Until Christmas comes around… Somehow I get overwhelmed again trying to think of perfect, thoughtful gifts, put together beautifully, wrapped and mailed to family all over the country. I impose all kinds of expectations on myself. And I fall deep into the materialistic trap of what the entire month of December has turned into (and sometimes sooner… I felt a panic seeing Christmas decorations filling the Target seasonal section, the day after Halloween).
I need to take a step back and keep Jesus in this season with me. Cause He is the Reason for the Season, right?
In Romans 13:5 we are reminded:
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have…
Yes… I want to do this, I want to have this perspective, but it is hard!
The second part of the verse is so helpful to me…
because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Yes!! God is with us! We are not alone. He will never leave us! I can admit my struggles and issues and He will not leave me. And a couple years ago, He reminded me that He will even go shopping with me!

It was the week after the Hope Women’s Christmas dinner. Kim Hill had been the featured guest and I bought her CD: “Real Christmas” and put it in my only remaining CD player, the one in my car.
Kim’s voice took me back to my childhood and a memory of my Mom and I listening to Anne Murray on the Mike Douglas show! (that was long before Ipods or CD’s. I think it was even before my first 8 track tape player!). And Kim sang songs of praise right in my car. Songs like: Angels We Have Heard On High, O Come All Ye Faithful, O Holy Night, What Child is This?, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Silent Night, O Come, O Come Emmanuel.
Oh yes! Come Emmanuel (which is translated “God with us”). Hop in the minivan with me while I navigate parking lots and errands and shopping! And my new friend, Kim and I will sing to you.

The need to purchase gifts hasn’t disappeared. And I don’t buy everything on Costco.com and have it delivered. But I have continued the tradition of shopping with Jesus and singing in the car. It brings me peace, perspective and a renewed attitude.

——————————->

Hope only blogged words but if you follow me, you know I am a photo blogger!  So here is a pic of me when I met Kim Hill and she signed my CD! And a peek at my dashboard in shopping center parking lot …. this year… and I no longer have a minivan or that CD.

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Shopping

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But I still have God and I can get back to a good perspective.

Plus Pandora!!

I took it one step further than shopping … used it in packing yesterday! One of my anxiety triggers. I carried my phone around with me as I packed everything 😉 I need for 3 car trips, Christmas at the Grandparents’ house, and a ski trip with meals in the condo.

 

 

 

How to herd cats … or sheep

Have you ever heard the phrase herding cats?

Herding Cats… brings to mind activities like: elementary school field trips, toddler playgroups at the playground, taking Preschool VBS kids to the gym, pep rallies…

My friend Karen just shared this memory with me and my first thought was the chaos and noise of that bailey bear boogie pep rally .. in fact, I carried ear plugs with me after that day 

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and as a photographer… group photos.

In fact, I have an album on our Swim team site that I named Herding cats and other shenanigans… img_5566

 

Now sheep sound somewhat more peaceful, right?  … you know… those fluffy white guys you can count when you can’t sleep.  So Sheep herding should be less chaotic, right?

Have you ever taken a personality test or a spiritual gifts test?

Well, one of my gifts is Shepherding. Yep! Sheep Herding.

 {okay… i just went down a rabbit hole…I remembered that Hope Church used to have a test on the website… and guess what, It’s still there! so if you are interested… here is a link: Spiritual Inventory from Hope Church Memphis}

As far as shepherding goes, it does sound natural to me. I don’t imagine chaos. I love to gather groups of people. To connect on a deeper level. To care for one another.  That is my basic view of it.  Here is the definition I just found in the rabbit hole:

SHEPHERDING

The gift of shepherding is the special ability to nurture, care for, and guide people toward on-going spiritual maturity and becoming like Christ. The person with this gift enjoys spending time nurturing and caring for others, and enjoys giving guidance and practical support to a small group of people. (Ephesians 4:11-12, 1 Peter 5:1-4 John 10:1-1)

Yep! I do enjoy it!

Do you ever find yourself exhausted from nurturing, caring an guiding others?

I do!  I can get a little overwhelmed and worn out. Whether in parenting, marriage, extended family, friends or ministry. It happens.

But God has shown me some answers.

It started with me looking for something descriptive on the Hope website about Moms at Hope {pm}  (which is one of the groups that I enjoy… and I get to be mostly a sheep in there) but clear as day was another class that God had picked out as an answer to prayer after a long day of bearing others burdens…. this was the class description ——>

God’s Word and our own experience of the Lord’s Spirit, teaches us we are to “love one another” and “bear one another’s burdens.” This six-week seminar will give our Hope community an opportunity to understand and improve the quality of care we share with family, friends, neighbors, coworkers and customers. Understanding how to give care allows us to grow in our ability to reach out to others with Christ-like compassion.

Bingo…. I thought improving my skills was perfect… something I could DO!  But it’s not really all about DOING!  But it was still clear that this was where I was supposed to be.

Yesterday was the 2nd session and we were to read scripture and identify how Jesus showed compassion. Our group was assigned  Mark 6: 30-34  It is the beginning of the familiar story but these 4 verses had a different highlight for me.

30The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
32So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

Jesus makes clear:

  1. When we are weary, we need to be with Him in a quiet place and rest.

  2. The crowd is still there but we are equipped to show compassion and be a shepherd and/or a teacher after we “land”.

 

The picture He gave me was from that very morning. Before Moms groups begin, we have a leaders’ prayer time. 30 minutes in a quiet room in His presence preparing for the day. A time to breathe and lower our heart rates. At the final Amen, we have landed. We head across the hall to “munch and mingle” with the large crowd and His presence goes with us. And His love abounds.

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4 things I learned today about being a brave parent

Today I began the study of the book of Joshua. I must admit, I still have a New Testament bias and I have less enthusiasm for an OLD testament chapter.  I don’t like old in general… no antiques for me and as for my body getting old …that’s no fun either  (I have a milestone birthday coming up so I may have that on the brain…that is for another post.)

But once again God’s Word, even the OLD, has a fresh word for ME today. And maybe for you as well.

In Joshua chapter 1, Joshua is being given direction on leading God’s people into the promised land after the death of Moses.

I saw several truths that apply to the challenges of parenting.

For me, I am in the stages of: launch (college sophomore)  and prepare to launch (11th grader). But this could apply to many stages and challenges.

#1   ————–>

Be Strong and Courageous!

It is repeated 4 TIMES in this chapter!!  It must be important! Not just for the Israelites but for us too in our daily lives.  Being strong and courageous as we embark on the journey as Mothers. And as our kiddos become adults,….whew…  it can be a scary time of letting go. We want to have an eye on them.  A few days ago, a photo showed up on my Facebook memories from Jack’s first day of High School. I wanted to have an eye on him, I wanted to go out to the bus stop and take a photo, but I didn’t. I resorted to being a stalker Mom in a not so courageous fashion. Here is the photo to prove it:

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My letting go skills have improved but I’m still crazy about photos.


From verses 5 and 6

… As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.

Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.”
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#2

Trust God’s promises.

God promises never to leave us. (verse 5) And that means our kids too.  He has got them. He is present. He will not forsake us. …. I didn’t have a clear picture of “forsake”… here are some synonyms:

abandon, desert, leave, leave high and dry, turn one’s back on, cast aside, break (up) with

well then… not forsaking is even better than I thought because those are some of my fears/wounds.  In fact, yesterday, I admitted to my husband that I have mixed feelings about how to celebrate our 25th Anniversary that is coming up. My parents renewed their vows at 25 years and we threw them a party. It was a very happy day. But later that year, my Dad moved out. They separated. The word doesn’t sound as harsh. It sounds mutual. But it wasn’t mutual. The truth is, my mother was cast aside. It was devastating. And it wounded me. I have allowed God to heal the wound. But I guess you would say there is a scar. a reminder. And the words “25th Anniversary” poked at my scar.  And all these words are spilling from my fingers. …. Back to the promise….

People may leave us and forsake us but God will NOT!!

#3

We are to help in the right time.

from verses 14 and 15:

You are to help them until the Lord gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land the Lord your God is giving them. After that, you may go back and occupy your own land, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you east of the Jordan toward the sunrise.

But more specifically I got a picture of us helping our children until God gives them rest and He gives them their own “land”.  Albeit their own “land” may look like a cramped apartment with several roommates. But after that we can settle in our empty nest facing the sunrise!  And speaking of sunrise… I saw the most beautiful sunrise photo on Facebook…

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photo credit to: Jayne Manetz

These are girl scout seniors that were woken up early for a candlelight ceremony. And treated to this amazing sunrise. The sun looks like an eye. Yes, I believe God has an eye on these teen girls.

(the one in the football jersey is the daughter of old friends. I was there for her baptism when she was a baby, I have prayed for her, and see her live bravely and do her own thing.)

#4

Meditate on God’s Word and it will lead you to obedience

Verse 8:

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Yes…another reason I love day one of a reading a new book of the bible. It guides me in meditating on it.

…………………I took a break from finishing this post……..I was interrupted with life ….. I got a text from a Mom with a heartbreaking situation with her teen. And I felt a burden…. to pray…not in a nice churchy way…but in a cry to God way asking “Why?”  I didn’t have a nice encouraging reply to give to my friend.  But as I cried to the Lord with my head in my hands, I looked down and saw what I had been doing…meditating on the Word. It wasn’t specific to this situation but it is where God lead me.  His answer to my cry and my text to my friend:

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This morning I have been meditating on Joshua Chapter 1.

4 times he says Be strong and courageous!

Motherhood requires it.
I am clinging to the promise that He will not leave us and will be with us wherever we go. Even in our battles or our teens battles.

 

Things can get tough in parenting but we can be strong and courageous. We do not need to be fearful or dismayed!!! We are not alone! 

 

AMEN (and goodnight)

 

Here is all of Joshua Chapter 1 if you would like to read it.

“After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.’ ” But to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joshua said, “Remember the command that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you after he said, ‘The Lord your God will give you rest by giving you this land.’ Your wives, your children and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan, but all your fighting men, ready for battle, must cross over ahead of your fellow Israelites. You are to help them until the Lord gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land the Lord your God is giving them. After that, you may go back and occupy your own land, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you east of the Jordan toward the sunrise.” Then they answered Joshua, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses. Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey it, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!””
‭‭Joshua‬ ‭1:1-18‬ ‭NIV‬‬
http://bible.com/111/jos.1.1-18.niv