For Every Season

I love fall, and look forward to it every year! I love when the seasons change from summer to fall, the wind blows cool and I hear the crunch of leaves beneath my feet. It is time for pumpkin spices lattes, and sweaters and fall decor! I so look forward to this season in my life, because I live in Texas. Here, the only thing higher than the temperatures is the amount of humidity in the air. As I look forward to this new season in my life, I want to linger here and enjoy it. I want to savor each moment because it is all too fleeting.

 

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In Ecclesiastes 3 we learn that there are seasons in life. Seasons of good, seasons of bad. We learn that there is a season for everything.

For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven:

 a time to be born, and a time to die;
time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up; 
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

All of these verses have to do with time. We are given 24 hours each day to spend.

How are you spending your days?

Are you living well?

 Ecclesiastes 3:11-13 tells us, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live;”

Maybe we experience the difficult so that we appreciate the easy. Through all of the seasons, God is working out good in our lives, making our lives a beautiful offering unto Him. He has placed eternity in all of our hearts—a God-shaped hole that only He can fill.

My challenge to you today in this season is to be joyful and do good. Understand that there is a time and a season for everything. As you sip your latte and enjoy the cooler weather, seek the Lord while He may be found. Jesus longs to have a relationship with you, and through every season in life, He is there for you.

For more posts like this checkout Choose Joy! or Our Response to Suffering

Wisdom for Raising Boys

Recently, I was contacted by a friend about how to establish and nurture a healthy relationship with our boys. Over the years, she has watched the way we have raised our boys and has admired our ability to reach them.

There is no formula for raising boys! I wish I could say, if you do X, Y, and Z, then your kids will turn out perfectly, but that is not the case. Each child comes with their own unique set of abilities, personalities, and temperments. What works for one child may not work for another.

What I do know is that each child is a blessing from the Lord, and He knows our children even better than we do. Pray for your children. Pray for wisdom in reaching their heart, pray for how you may best nurture that child specifically. Pray for your relationship with him, and pray for his relationship with the Lord. One of the greatest joys that I have had as a parent is sharing the love of God with my children, and leading them to Christ.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. – 3 John 1:4 ESV

I once met a woman who remarked how similar my son was to her son. I knew her son, not as a boy, but as a grown man. I have a tremendous amount of respect for this man, and so I asked her what I should do with my son, so he would turn out like her son. I will never forget the response of this wise woman. She said, “Wear your knees out in prayer!” What great advice! It is not only our privilege and a joy to pray for our children, but it is a necessity. We live in a fallen and sinful world, and the enemy wants to destroy our boys. In John 10:10 we learn, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that [you] may have life and have it abundantly.” Praise Jesus! He came that we may have an abundant life!

Raising boys who become men who love the Lord doesn’t happen by accident. Having your son’s heart requires intentional parenting. Making wise choices about what our children are exposed to is also very important – cultivate a love of whatever is noble, true, and right. Expose them to good literature and stories about heroes of the faith. Be mindful of what they see on television, computer screens and video games. Emphasize purity of mind, and thought, and deeds.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8 ESV

I think a popular children’s bible song says it best: O be careful little eyes what you see, be careful little ears what you hear, be careful little hands what you do, be careful little feet where you go and be careful little mouth what you say.

Parenting our boys sometimes requires us to make unpopular or counter-cultural choices that are in their best interest. This is why prayer is so necessary so that we can know what is best for our family, and for each individual child.

Keeping lines of communication open is vitally important. Time spent around the family dining table talking about anything and everything is a great tool for discipleship. We talk to our kids about everything, and we have always encouraged them to communicate honestly with us. As our boys have grown, we have had many important conversations until late at night. I think a huge part of having your child’s heart comes from good communication. I want to make myself available to them, whenever they want to talk.

My friend indicated that she felt like she was missing the mark in reaching her 12-year-old son’s heart. Junior high can be a challenging age! Our once sweet little boys become full of testosterone and start to become men, and they begin to change. Our roles as mom change also,  as they pull away from us. It is our job to continue to love, nurture, and pray for them as they become the men God has created them to be. When boys hit junior high age, it is important for the father to become more involved in leading and disciplining his son.

Boys require hard physical work. It is good for boys to work hard physically, either in playing sports or manual labor of some kind. I always joke that boys are easy: just feed them well, put a ball or a shovel in their hands, and let them go. They need physical work, but they also crave purpose in their lives and should be challenged intellectually. This will look different for each of us, which is why we should pray for wisdom specifically for each child.

There are many good books on parenting. The most important book is The Bible – we must teach them to know and love the Lord and the Word of God.  The Bible is our instruction book for life. In addition to the Bible, listed below are some of the books that I have found helpful in raising my boys.

Created for Work, Practical Insights for Young Men – Bob Schultz

Shepherding a Child’s Heart  -Ted Tripp

The Power of a Praying Parent  -Stormie Omartian

The Ministry of Motherhood and The Mission of Motherhood – Sally Clarkson

Keeping our Children’s Hearts – Steven and Teri Maxwell

Hints on Child Training – H. Clay Trumbull

Bringing Up Boys – Dr. James Dobson

Prayerfully this will encourage my friend, and anyone else struggling to reach the heart of their son. What are some other things that you have found are helpful in raising boys? I would love to hear from you.

 

I Love My New Teapot!

I love my new teapot! It is a beautiful Mckenzie Childs teapot that I have had my eye on for quite some time.

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I don’t just love it for its form or its function. What I love about it is what it represents. If I am using my teapot that means I am at home, safely nestled in my sanctuary away from the crazy world in which we live. It is hard to find a quiet spot anywhere in the world. Read about the World being loud here

A proper cup of tea takes time to make, which means that I am slowing down, which is good for my soul. It refreshes me and brings me joy. Today the boys and I are enjoying our wonderful little cups of tea, enjoying the aroma of a beautifully scented candle, while we work and listen to Mozart. I am busy working on my Bible study, while the boys sit near me working on their school.

I am savoring this moment because I know that it is fleeting….

Psalms 27:11 ESV says, “Teach me your way, O Lord”

It is in these quiet moments in my home teaching my boys, that the Lord is teaching me. Teaching me to slow down, and listen to His voice. Teaching me to love them well.

Tomorrow we will be back in the car fighting traffic to get to the other side of town, and we will rush from thing to thing to thing. But today, we sit here in tranquility and civility and sip our tea.

What recharges you? I would love to hear from you! What do you do to help renew your spirit?

 

Don’t believe the Lies

When we were kids on the playground at school, we used to call each other names. Some were terms of endearment, others were not so nice. I can still hear echoes of voices from my childhood saying, “I am rubber and you are glue. What bounces off of me sticks on you.” As we have grown up, we internalize some of the names we have been called.

What names have been STUCK on you? What do you tell yourself about who you are? Which voices do you listen to?

Did you know that you have a very real enemy who likes to call us names and accuse us? In Revelation 12:10, John says:

“And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.'”

The enemy tells lies about us and he lies to us. He tells us that we are guilty, unforgiven, not enough. We can either listen to the voice of the accuser, or we can choose to believe we are who the Lord says we are.

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In the book of Ephesians chapter 1, we learn about some of the spiritual blessings that we have in Jesus Christ. He has names for us also, and because we are in Christ we are:

Blessed

Chosen

Predestined 

Adopted by Christ 

Accepted in the beloved 

Redeemed 

Forgiven 

Enlightened 

Given an Inheritance 

Glorified in Christ

Sealed 

Assured 

We have:

Faith in Christ

Wisdom in Him

Hope in Christ

Power in Christ

Ephesians 1 (ESV)

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Blessings in Christ

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it to the praise of his glory.

Thanksgiving and Prayer

15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Aren’t you so glad that we have the voice of truth? And if you are in Christ, then his character qualities are your real identity! Regardless of what names we are called by ourselves or by others, we need to be secure in the knowledge that we have inherent value and worth because we belong to Christ!

 

Learning to Show Grace to Myself

*** UPDATE 2017 ***

I posted this last year on Labor Day weekend. What a difference a year makes! In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, life, as we know it on the Texas Gulf Coast, is far from normal. Yet this post still resonates with me on this Labor Day Weekend, but for different reasons. I still need to show myself some grace, because as much as I would like for things to get back to normal, things are still a little topsy turvy right now, and I need more grace than ever.

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I am my own worst critic and tend to be very hard on myself! What about you?

My type-A personality drives me to accomplish much, and I have a difficult time relaxing. I set up very high expectations for myself and then feel defeated if I don’t live up to my self-imposed “righteous” standards. I put unrealistic expectations on myself and my family. I think my house should always be spotless, and that my kids should always behave and do what I think they should do. I drive myself to perfection, especially when I undertake any outside projects or events. I work myself up into a frenzy and push myself to exhaustion.

I believe it is a biblical concept to strive for excellence in all we do, and I get this from 1 Corinthians 10:31:

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

[ctt template=”2″ link=”4cYBr” via=”yes” ]It is a good thing to want to do everything to the glory of God and to strive for excellence.[/ctt]

However, if I am so hard on myself that I feel guilt or shame because I haven’t lived up to my own expectations, then I am only hurting myself.

 

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This week in Bible Study, we discussed our battle with sin and the power that we have as Christians to live a life pleasing to God based on Romans 8. The first thing we read is Romans 8:1.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

I don’t know why I expect perfection from myself—the only perfect person to ever walk this earth was Jesus. Not only that, but He came here to save me. He came to set me free from the bondage of sin and death, and He doesn’t want me to feel condemnation.

[ctt template=”2″ link=”p5WKw” via=”yes” ]I am beginning to learn to have grace with myself when things don’t go as I have planned.[/ctt] I am human, and I am going to make mistakes.

Romans 3:23, says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Most likely, I will continue to disappoint myself and others along the way, but I don’t have to feel condemned. I must choose to believe that I am flawed, but forgiven.

[ctt template=”2″ link=”GSNW_” via=”yes” ]Does anyone else struggle to show themselves grace or am I alone in this battle? [/ctt]

Today, I choose to show myself grace. Instead of driving myself to perfection, I elected to enjoy this Labor Day weekend with my family, and try to catch up on some much-needed rest.

I hope you enjoy a wonderful Labor Day weekend and find rest in God this week!