Friday, March 28, 2014

Parenting in FAITH not FEAR (Teach Them Diligently Blog)

   I recently had the privilege of attending the Teach Them Diligently Conference in Nashville, Tennessee.  While I was there, God transformed my heart.  I was able to let go of old habits, throw away old fears, break old strongholds and bust old standards. 
     Nearly the entire time we were there, Holy Spirit worked on us, challenged us, transformed us, enlightened us and changed us.  From the way I teach history to the way I cook dinner, every aspect of homeschooling and homemaking was challenged.  God opened doors, closets and treasure chests for us and we are so grateful and overwhelmed by His goodness and His plan for our family that we’ve almost been unable to communicate it. 
     In an effort to share a little of what God taught me, I want to share a few notes, quotes and scribbles that my Father wrote on my heart.  I’ll share from one speaker or theme at a time, so make sure you read them all!

 

 

Parenting by Faith, Not Fear


Fear is a spirit that will torment you, manipulate you and drain you.

1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.”

2 Timothy 1:7 “God has not given us a spirit of fear.”

Worry is the opposite of faith.  It’s a choice.  You can’t choose them both.

Take authority over the spirit of fear.  Don’t be afraid to release your children to God!

Be a WARRIOR. Not a WORRIER.

Don’t forget it’s a spiritual battle. 

Let go of your fear of man.

There’s a difference in being alive and living.  (Francis Chan/Balance Beam video)

THE ENEMY RESPONDS TO FEAR.

Job 3:25 “What I had feared has come upon me.”

Trust God’s Word to preserve your children.  (But you have to give it to them!)

THE RIGHTEOUS ARE BOLD AS A LION!

Hebrews 11:6 “He who comes to God MUST BELIEVE that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who DILIGENTLY seek Him!”

Jude 1:24 “Now all glory to God, who IS ABLE to keep you from falling away and WILL bring you with great joy into His glorious presence!”

God’s Word is SOLID ROCK.  When fear starts creeping in, go to the Word and stand in faith, boldly proclaiming the truth!

Replace the world’s lies.  Constantly remind yourself that God’s Word will preserve your children.  Release them, daily, into God’s hand. 

Let your kids see you trust God. 

Freebie:  21% of family income in the Old Testament was spent on PARTIES.  Relax.  Enjoy life.  Quit being a baby.  LIVE!

-Ann and Jon Dunagan ‘Parenting by FAITH not FEAR!’

Mission-Minded Family (Teach Them Diligently Blog)

     I recently had the privilege of attending the Teach Them Diligently Conference in Nashville, Tennessee.  While I was there, God transformed my heart.  I was able to let go of old habits, throw away old fears, break old strongholds and bust old standards. 

     Nearly the entire time we were there, Holy Spirit worked on us, challenged us, transformed us, enlightened us and changed us.  From the way I teach history to the way I cook dinner, every aspect of homeschooling and homemaking was challenged.  God opened doors, closets and treasure chests for us and we are so grateful and overwhelmed by His goodness and His plan for our family that we’ve almost been unable to communicate it. 

     In an effort to share a little of what God taught me, I want to share a few notes, quotes and scribbles that my Father wrote on my heart.  I’ll share from one speaker or theme at a time, so make sure you read them all!



Mission-Minded Families


Goal:  Grow a heart for the nations at home. 


The Great Commission is in every Gospel, as well as the Book of Acts. 
Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:47-48, John 20:21
Acts 1:8 “YOU shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem…and to the uttermost parts of the earth.”
Jerusalem AND the uttermost parts of the earth, not THEN.  Don’t wait until you’ve shared the Gospel with every person in your city to move to the next.  You can share the Gospel with your neighbor, the homeless downtown, the cashier at the grocery store, and an unreached group in a jungle near the equator all in the same month. 

“You can only export what you grow at home.”
Be diligent about building the Kingdom at your kitchen table. 

“Peter left his nets on the most prosperous day of his life.” 
Don’t let blessings (“I have a really good job right now”) be the reason you don’t go. 

Read the Book of Acts.
Acts:  Church in ACTION.
Be aggressive in expanding the Kingdom of God!

www.harvestministry.org
www.daringdaughters.com



Don’t mistake “MISSIONS” for “AMERICANIZING” or “WESTERNIZING” the world. 
We are called to change culture, but not for changing’s sake.
Don’t just change the culture.  REDEEM IT.
Help humanity extract the bad and magnify the good for the GLORY of GOD. 

The righteous are bold as a lion. 
PREACH.
Like Gideon, it’s time to bust our clay pots and SHINE.
Preach.  Speak.  Shout.  Sing.  Publish.  Advance. 

“God’s mission is for YOUR family to expand HIS family.”

“You can only export what you grow at home.”

     Be intentional about growing hearts that care.  Talk about orphans at home.  Read books about missionaries and unreached people groups.  Take up offerings for projects.  Help a family in the community.  Sponsor an orphan.  Support a missionary overseas.  Open your home to missionaries at home.  “We have full closets and kids with empty hearts.” 

~Jon and Ann Dunagan, Harvest Ministry


Kingdom Builders (Teach Them Diligently Blog)

     I recently had the privilege of attending the Teach Them Diligently Conference in Nashville, Tennessee.  While I was there, God transformed my heart.  I was able to let go of old habits, throw away old fears, break old strongholds and bust old standards. 
     Nearly the entire time we were there, Holy Spirit worked on us, challenged us, transformed us, enlightened us and changed us.  From the way I teach history to the way I cook dinner, every aspect of homeschooling and homemaking was challenged.  God opened doors, closets and treasure chests for us and we are so grateful and overwhelmed by His goodness and His plan for our family that we’ve almost been unable to communicate it. 
     In an effort to share a little of what God taught me, I want to share a few notes, quotes and scribbles that my Father wrote on my heart.  I’ll share from one speaker or theme at a time, so make sure you read them all!



Kingdom Builder


*I am a “Kingdom Builder,” a “Room Preparer,” and an “Ark Builder.”*

     Culture has spent the last century trying to rob parents of their ability and authority to build the Kingdom of Heaven in their own homes. We live in a world where schools tell us when we can have our children, governments tell us what we can do with our children and society tells us how we should dress and treat our children.  Everything has changed  EXCEPT the power, call and provision of God.  If we’re still breathing, we still have the ability to build the Kingdom at our kitchen tables. Allow the Word of God to revive your spirit and renew your calling! Be diligent about marrying education and religion in your home.  Purpose in your heart to prepare your children, not just for the workplace or a college education, but to lead a life that satisfies their souls, glorifies God, and builds the Kingdom!

     Jesus told Believers that he was going to “prepare a room for them.”  I have been given the same ability here at home.  Each day, I get a chance to “prepare a room” for my kids and for my husband.  Every morning, my children wake up to a room that I have prepared (decorated, organized, cleaned, prayed over, enjoyed.)  Every afternoon, my husband comes home to a room that I have prepared for him (lived in, loved in, organized, raised his kids, cleaned, prayed in, spoken truth in, cooked in.)




     When given information by God that his family was at risk, Noah didn’t just pack a survival bag and make a few preparations.  He “diligently and reverently constructed and prepared an ark for the deliverance of his family.”  I believe that God has given us information that our family is at risk.  It’s time we look to Noah.  He discounted the wisdom of the world and put tools in his hand.  He was diligent.  He was reverent.  He constructed.  He prepared. 

-My notes from Zan Tyler’s ‘Mothers Are Kingdom Builders’



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

She's Only a Figment of Your Vain Imaginations



She's not real, you know?  She doesn't exist.  You continue, day after day, to measure yourself by her standard, but she's a fraud.  A lie.  A misrepresentation.  A vain imagination.

There are no perfect mothers.

There are no perfect wives.

There are no perfect homes.

Every mother goes through ups and downs with her children.  Every mother has deep fears that her kids won't "turn out" right.  Every mother wonders if she's doing as much good as she is damage.  Every mother worries that her kid is going to do something, someday that will be put on a public display, and effectively communicate to the world that the truth is, no matter how often she tries to prove otherwise, she just really isn't a good mom.

It's sad, because while each and every one of us are "that" mom, we simply refuse to say so.  Our Facebooks, accountability groups, Twitter feeds and Instagrams tell beautiful stories of God-honoring children that respect their elders and have grand visions for their futures.  And while those stories are probably very true, we only share half of the truth.  We run to social media when we're on a parental high, but I don't see anyone posting from the other pages in their books.

If we were honest, half of our posts would look like this:

"If my teenager stomps out of the living room mumbling under his breath one more time..."

"I was totally humiliated by the clothes my teenage daughter chose to wear out in public today!"

"Some days, I feel like my kids would rather be ANYWHERE on the planet than at home with their family."

"I don't like my children today.  I am sick to death of the rebellion and disrespect."

"When it comes to their Spiritual walk, my kids are all talk and no action.  It scares me to think of what kind of adults I'm breeding over here."


But that's not what our feeds look like at all, is it?  And because they don't, we do two very dangerous things.

First of all, we rob ourselves of the joy of having sisters come alongside us and hold us up until the good times come.

Second, and probably worst of all, we alienate every single mother on the planet.  We, by only sharing the good stuff, effectively write "failure" onto the mirrors of every mother that reads our version of "life" that we choose to share.

Have you been there?  Have you read  one more post from a super mom with beautiful, passionate, artistic, sensitive, benevolent, prudent, wise children and thought, "Lord, why can't I be more like her?"

Well, dear mother who believes that what goes on behind your doors never happens in other homes, I think you are more like her than you think.

We're in a pickle.  And we're in it together.  We live in a culture where our children's lives are on display (whether we display them or not.)  Gone are the days that "sin" could be handled within the quiet wisdom of a family.  Now sins, failures and shortcomings are on such display that mothers feel more like agents than shepherds or stewards of souls.  Culture tries to tell us that our real jobs are to cover up the failures of our offspring until they are "good" enough to unveil.  Culture tells us that our real job is to parade the accomplishments of our children so that our audiences are effectively distracted from the fact that our kids don't pray, give or say no to sin.  Culture says that it's okay if, after reading of the blatant rebellion of another kid in the community, you sigh a big sigh of relief because, after all, your kid is still okay.

Well, why?  Why do we do it?  Why do we continue to put our children on shaky pedestals and then let it destroy us when they totter?  Why do we say we love and support other mothers, but then only share enough of our lives to make sure that they feel like total and complete failures?  Why do we refuse to be vulnerable enough to help a neighbor with their kid, even when it means that their kid will ultimately influence our own? Why do we continue to believe that what people believe about us trumps what God knows about us?  Why do we read in the Bible that the confession of sin is the beginning of a changed life, and then do EVERYTHING in our power to make sure that our children do NOT confess sin?

Why?  Because we are our second worst enemy.  Our first-place enemy tempts us with a deep, thick, ugly pride that whispers, "You're only as good as they think you are," and we swallow his venom.  And we enjoy it.  Don't kid yourselves.  We enjoy those posts that make us believe our children are safe from the apples in the garden.  We enjoy that smug feeling when people tell us how good our kids are.  We even secretly enjoy that sick, slick confidence that creeps in when we're watching another mother wallow in the shame of her child's sin.

We love it.  If we didn't, we wouldn't do it.  If it didn't make us feel so good, we'd probably be spending our time searching the Scriptures to see what God says to do about our troubles.  If it didn't make us feel so smug, we'd probably be knocking on the door of a humiliated mom to give her a hug.  If it didn't let us off the hook for the things we know but don't show, we would probably be planning community meetings in an effort to save our children from one trap or another.  If it didn't make us feel so superior, we'd probably be on our knees, begging the All-knowing, All-seeing Father to break us and mold us into the people He wants us to be.

I will close with a confession.



I don't want to be the mom that uses the humiliations and failures of other moms to fortify my self-esteem.  I don't want to be the kind of mom that cares so much about what you think of me that I refuse to take an honest look at the relationships my children have with their Creator.  I don't want to be the kind of mom that has a terribly bad day with my children but tells you that everything is amazing.  I don't want to be the reason you feel like a failure.  I don't want to sacrifice the depth of my family's understanding of confession and repentance just so I get an invite to your party.  I, personally, want to be done with the pride that ensures our self-fulfilling prophesy of failure and destruction.

Lord, help me.




Friday, August 30, 2013

Today, LOVE.

You are at your wit’s end. You’re hanging on by a thread. You’re questioning everything. Gone is that great confidence you once had about raising and schooling your children without professional help. The house is a mess. Your oldest has developed an attitude problem the size of Texas. Your toddlers woke up believing they were trying out for a mixed martial arts bit in the town talent competition. You watched your middle kid purposefully knock over his drink just so he can hear you say his name. When your husband left for work, you almost asked him if he was planning on coming home. You can’t remember the last time you crossed off your to-do list, the doorbell is ringing and you’re not sure if you brushed your hair today. 

What do you do on the days you simply don’t enjoy being locked in the house with your children?

Where does your strength and conviction come from when the warm and fuzzies wear off?

How do you do the right thing for one more day when you’re mad at those you’re doing the right thing for?

I could give you volumes of “tricks” to try that might help you schedule your day, clean your house, tend to each child, grant immediate consequence for disrespect, build family morale, please your husband, lower your stress level, and check off that to-do list, but that’s not what our hearts need to hear. We’ve had it with good advice. What we need is someone to speak to that woman inside us who worries that she’s “messing up” her family. To that woman, I want to speak a gentle reminder:
LOVE COVERS A MULTITUDE OF SINS.

You can clean the house later. You can address the disobedience when you’re head is on straight. You can sit down with a notebook and a pencil with your husband and make some necessary changes tonight. You can treat yourself to a blow out at the salon tomorrow. Plan your family meeting, but not today.
Today, let that truth settle in your heart. LOVE covers a multitude of sins. Love, not rules, covers a multitude, not just a couple, of sins. 
Remember the last time you were in full blown rebellion? Tell me, was it yelling and screaming that brought you back? Was it threats? Was it a set of bold-faced rules plastered to the fridge? Or was it love? Was it the gentle love of the Father that broke through your spirit and called you back? Was it the sweet love of an honest friend who hugged you and cried with you and talked with you until you remembered your first love? Was it the faithful, loving prayers of your husband who didn’t know what you needed, but was intimate with who you needed? 

I am not saying ignore what you see. And I am not saying that your oldest, youngest, middle, husband and self don’t need to make changes before the actions get better. But I am saying, for today, go hug that teenager when he rolls his eyes at you. Today, run your fingers through your ten year-old’s hair and laugh about the spilled milk. Get in the floor and wrestle with those preschoolers. Clean the living room. Cook your man’s favorite dinner. Just for today, LOVE. Remind your family what they’re fighting for before you make them fight. 

Love.

Monday, August 26, 2013

All of Thee Above

We live in a multiple-choice society. We're raising kids that don't understand what it means to choose. Gone are the days that people had a singular favorite genre of music or one best friend or even a solitary home in which they raise their family. Drive-Thru windows, cable television packages that offer hundreds of channels, the scan button on our car stereos, and the frozen food section of our grocery stores have trained us well. So well, in fact, that anything that requires an actual "choice" confuses our senses and offends us to the core. 



Face it: We don't like to make choices. 

It's worse than that. We have such a heartfelt vehemence towards making solid, 100%, til-death-do-us-part choices that when someone hints that a definite choice is required, we raise a banner of defensiveness and start blogging our brains out about the "audacity" of people that require us to choose.
Don't believe me? Tell me our society doesn't have a hard time choosing a diet, choosing a friend, choosing a zip code, choosing a spouse, choosing a car, choosing a style, choosing a name for their cat. We struggle against the ink of anything that whispers of "forever" or "line in the sand." We have learned to eloquently dance around questions that require a definite answer. 
And sadly, our children are watching. I can tell they are because they are acting just like us. They can't choose a genre, a gender, a game plan or a god. They desperately want to be just enough of everything to fit in anywhere and not offend anyone or ever be backed in a corner and asked to make a choice that might alienate them from anyone. Anywhere. Ever. 

And yet, a single, solitary choice stands ready to define their absolute existence. 

I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior. (Isaiah 43:11)

Let that sink in. No savior. I can't fathom that for my children. Simply typing the words takes my breath away. 

No savior.

We must stop raising politically correct kids. We must show our children how to alienate themselves from crowds when it's called for. We must teach our children that it's okay to be the only kid in the room that says "no." We must teach our children that it really is okay to say, "I'm sorry, but you're wrong." If they are ever going to grow up to be adults that say, "As for my house..." then they absolutely must, as children, practice saying, "That's not what the Bible says." 

Will it make them lose friends? Absolutely.

Will they be called judgmental? You betcha'!

Will it get them into arguments that cause them to question their convictions? It will.

Will it mean that not everyone everywhere will agree with your child all the time? Yes. 

But it will also mean that the next generation won't sell the souls of their children for the thrill of popular opinion. It will also mean that the parents who raise our grandchildren won't be afraid to define the difference between right and wrong. It will also mean that our kids will know the difference in absolute truth and cultural relevance. And it will also mean that when given the choice of "savior" or "no savior," our children won't forfeit their forever while they wait on a multiple choice.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

All About the GIFTS!

       Christmas has been many things to me in my life. As a child, it was a wonder to behold.  As a young mother, it was a privilege to provide.  As a Christian, Christmas is a celebration of the beginning of everything that really matters.  As an adult, it is a portal to my past, to days when believing was easy and awe came naturally.  Yes, December 25th has been many things to me in my lifetime, but just like anything that truly has life, Christmas continues, even now, to transform into exactly what I need.
        Christmas, according to our culture, is all about the GIFTS!  I know that is offensive to many Christ followers, and I've shared in the disappointment of watching people I love trample strangers to get that perfect gift, all the while seeming to forget that the Perfect Gift had already been given.  It goes against what I believe to allow Christmas to be reduced to a few boxed treasures under a tree, so imagine my soul's surprise when I was reading the Christmas Story this morning, only to drop my Bible in my lap and whisper,

                            "Christmas really is all about the gifts!"




        

I don't know why it hit my heart the way it did, but this morning, I tried to "see" the story in my mind.  I'm so accustomed to the verses that studying them is actually difficult, but in trying to pay attention to the details I usually glance over, I found treasure.  My treasure wasn't in a conversation with the innkeeper, in the smell of the damp manger, or even in the cries of the Newborn.  I didn't find my treasure in Mary's response to giving birth to Redemption, or in the angels or even the stars that took notice of the Christ-child.  My treasure, quite literally, was found in the next few verses- after the family had traveled home, after the furniture had been rearranged, after the proverbial bow had been taken off of the mailbox.  My newly found treasure in the ancient story was found in the gifts given to the Giver.


"And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh." Matthew 2:11



The gifts.  I remember those from Sunday School.  I remember one time, someone actually bought me a bottle of  frankincense oil and I tried hard to imagine its worth in Jesus' time.  I've even taught children about these gifts and encouraged them to replace the gifts of Bible times with appropriate gift of our own time and imagine giving them as a celebration of Christmas.  But, in all my knowledge of this particular offering, I had (as we all do) lost sense of  Jesus in the story.

Remember, when the men of wisdom came bearing gifts, Jesus wasn't a grown man.  He hadn't performed any miracles.  He hadn't spoken life into the broken.  He hadn't looked at a sinner with eyes that I imagine were so full of compassion that one couldn't help but believe what He was saying.  He hadn't done any of those things yet, so the gifts weren't "Thank You," gifts or "You Are Worthy" gifts.    Jesus, at best, was a toddler when the wise men came.  He might have cried when the strangers approached.  Depending on the weather, Mary might have had to wipe His nose on her robe in their presence, and yet they still "fell down and worshiped Him."  
They didn't just bring a respectful gift of tradition and leave it at the door.  They didn't deliver a casserole.  They didn't bring a diaper cake.  They trekked across a nation to deliver goods worth a fortune, and when given the opportunity to give their fortunes away to a toddler, they "fell down and worshiped Him."

Oh, the lessons we could learn from those wise, benevolent men!  But, do you know what really crept into my heart this morning?  What really turned my soul?  What really brought me to tears?

Those men, however wise they proclaimed to be, had absolutely no guarantee that Jesus was worth the gift they were bringing.    Think about it.  We get to look at the Christmas Story though the eyes of history.  These wise men were looking at it from a completely different perspective.  How many times had they heard false rumors about the Messiah?  How many times had they allowed their hopes to raise, only to be disappointed?  Or, were they like us and after decades of hearing that He was coming, had given up hope that it would ever happen in their lifetime?  Putting trust in a Savior that is who He says He is and has done what He came to do is sometimes difficult for us.  Imagine putting trust in a toddlerNow, imagine putting trust in a toddler that lived with a poor family in an embarrassing neighborhood.  Now, imagine putting trust in a toddler that, even if he was being raised by the affluent, had little chance of living to his tenth birthday because the child mortality rate was so high.  No, imagine putting trust in a toddler whose survival chances just got a lot slimmer because someone important somewhere wanted His head.  Yeah.  That's tough, isn't it?

Now, imagine that you don't just say you "trust."  Imagine that you spend a lot of money proving it.  Imagine that you have to go the distance to make your faith known.  Imagine that, instead of getting to drop a few dollars in a plate on Sunday to thank God for what He's already done, that you have SO MUCH FAITH that you give a FORTUNE of wealth and the HOPE of your heart to a child who has done nothing to prove Himself to you.

They gave a deposit of hope.
          
They gave a fortune to a child.

They gave their hearts in worship.

They gave extravagant gifts to a babe who didn't yet know how to give.

 They gave, not looking back to make sure that the gifts had been well-earned, but looking forward, knowing that their treasure was more valuable in the nursery than it would have been in the bank.  They gave, believing in the Words they'd been taught, instead of the wealth they'd acquired.

They believed in the Promise of the Christ-child even though it made no sense.

We have a hard time believing in Christ, even though it makes no sense not to.  

They gave extravagant gifts because they fully expected Jesus to save the world.

We hold back our gifts because we somehow believe that we are in charge of our world.

They "fell down and worshiped" a baby because they knew God is a promise keeper.

We look for reasons to limit our worship because we are reputation keepers.

They knew in their own hearts that they would worship who they gave their treasure to.

We know in our own hearts that we will worship who we give our treasure to.

It's time to focus on that kid in the Christmas story again.  It's time to take a deep breath and try to imagine trusting That Baby, putting our hope in That Baby, giving our riches to That Baby, falling down and worshiping That Baby, because, after all, Christmas is really all about the gifts.

      
Giving has always been a FAITH issue.
             We tend to be WAIT AND SEE givers.
                                The wise-men were I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE givers. 

         How we give tells who we are.  What we gives tell who He is.