Browsing Category "Spiritual Mothering"
18 Oct
2013

Jesus, Move Mountains for Me

20131018-084417.jpgProstrate, face to the ground, cupped hands to the heavens with pieces of paper in them, representing hours of work.

Jesus, I ask you to move mountains for me. Holy Spirit, please go where I cannot go, please do what I can do. Take these bits of paper and make them do mighty things for your kingdom.

Humbly, I ask You would receive my offering, and do what You desire. Feed the children that cry from hunger. Hold the motherless, protect the fatherless. Speak truth to the children who have never heard of Your great name.

Spirit of God, cast these mountains into the sea, and carry my prayer with You, be my arms and hands and feet for I have spoken it in the name of Jesus, and with faith that it will be accomplished. Mark 11:22-24

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5 Aug
2013

The Virtue of Faith, “I Believe, Help my Unbelief”

Swallowtail“…the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”  Mark 9:24

“…the wind blows where it will, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell from where it comes, and where it goes; so is everyone that is born of the spirit.”  John 3:8

A little while ago the Lord brought it to my mind that faith is a virtue, and as such it is a part of His goodness, His Character.  We cannot know Him unless we also know faith.  “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him”  Heb 11:6.

Faith is beautiful.  This is why so often the things of God are hidden, because with His cover of mystery He draws this beautiful virtue out of us; hidden things require faith.  Being all beauty and all good, He can do no less.  And faith is beautiful.

I wrote down the above verses to memorize and the Lord used this effort the very next day on two separate occasions.  My little 8-year-old confessed to me today that she wondered if God was real at all.  And that if He was not real, then our family must be “really weird”.  I knew she was struggling because over the last few months what once gave her joy now was dull, she has been uninterested in the things of God.  I was praying for her daily, that the Spirit would stir in her soul, and today I saw the fruit of those prayers.  I was so thankful for her confession and held her tight, reassuring her that I was pleased with her honesty.

And the Lord not only used those verses above for my little girl, He also intended them for Crystal, the Hardings worker I met in the parking lot today.  I was picking up some groceries for dinner and I was praying for open eyes and a ready heart, to speak to someone there about the things of God, as He permitted.  After introducing myself and inviting her to church, I asked Crystal if she had any questions about God.  Providentially, she told me that lately she was thinking heavily about such things and that she just really didn’t know if He existed or not.  I asked her what her church background was and she said she didn’t have one, but perhaps she should start there.  I asked her if she had a bible at home and she said she did, but that she didn’t read it.  I told her to start there, in the Gospel of John.

The Lord had prepared me the day before for both the conversation with my daughter, and the conversation with Crystal, my new friend from Hardings.  On the same day, the Lord used Mark 9:24, “Lord, help my unbelief”, as the call-to-action for faith that is wanting.  I explained to both Crystal and to my little girl what the Lord had just spoken to my heart the day before, about faith being a beautiful virtue.  “And these three remain, faith, hope and love.”  Faith is essential to knowing God because it is good, and God is all good.  Or, put another way, because faith is a virtue and as such it is good, so God would be less good if He could be known without faith.

Update:

Lately I have had to reduce the amount of time my daughter has been reading her Bible, she has been doing it so frequently other things are getting neglected, and I have been praising God for her new found zeal.  Faith is lovely.  It is the hope for things unseen, the beautiful life-giving things, the things of eternity.  Faith is essential.  Desire it. Long after it like a hungry man longs after food.  Then ask and you shall receive.

So how does one acquire faith when it seems so out of reach?  Ask.  All things are possible with God and He graciously gives us our desires.  If we do not desire God, He stays away.  If we do desire God, He provides.  But we must desire Him, and as already stated, faith is good, God is good, so faith is essential to knowing Him.  We can not ask Him to prove Himself so that we would have faith.  That is not faith in the least; it is cheap and quick and of the flesh and knows nothing of God.  We must really desire God, and so really desire faith, not the proud and loud ‘proof’.  It is so simple, yet many will never understand it.

2 Timothy 1:7

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  2 Timothy 1:7

The Lord spoke powerfully in our home for six days through His word.  If you’ve got a minute, please, pull up a chair… 

Day 1:  Saturday, September 8th, 2012

At a special women’s event at our church, the speaker wrote 2 Timothy 1:7 up on the board and had the group memorize it.  The group had it down pretty well in less than 10 minutes, perhaps less than 5.  I’d go into the teaching methodology but then I’d be bunny trailing, so that’s for another post.

Day 2: Sunday, September 9th, 2012

While my husband and I were getting the girls into bed, my 7-yr-old, who was not at the event the night before, told my husband she was afraid, and that God gave her the fear.  My husband, who was not at the event the night before, knew Scripture had something about God NOT giving us a spirit of fear, and so corrected my daughter on her false thinking.  I dropped in on the conversation to mention that we had just gone over that verse in my class at church the night before.   As my husband was looking for a bible, I was trying to recall where it was in Scripture (yup, mind like a steel trap), first suggesting Timothy, then decided it must have been James or Galations and ended with ‘oh, I don’t know’.   James got his phone out and quickly found the verse, 2 Timothy 1:7.

Day 3: Monday, September 10th, 2012

At the dinner table that night, my 17-yr-old son told us that he engaged in a long conversation about Christianity to a Muslim woman in a burka.   Really?  Well, tell us more.  He had extra time before his community college class began (dual enrollment), and overheard a Muslim woman tell another student that wearing the burka was the greatest thing a woman could do for God.  In the spirit of power, love, and a sound mind, not fear, my son decided to offer a bible to a stranger in a burka.  She said she already read the bible and asked if my son read the Quran.  Yes, he read the entire Quran.  Apparently surprised and intrigued, she then had many questions for my son concerning Christianity.   

After he told us his story, we prayed together as a family right then and there.  Having 2 Timothy 1:7 fresh on my mind from the two nights prior, I recited it in my prayer.  And it was a fitting verse because it certainly was power, love, and a sound mind that moved my son into action.   We then gave him an English/Arabic new testament, a tract entitled “Jesus and the Quran”, and some other literature by the Crescent Project (an outstanding ministry dedicated to sharing the faith with our Muslim neighbors) just in case he were to see her again. 

Day 4: Tuesday, September 11th, 2012:

Going through my email that morning, I notice an email update from the Crescent Project.  Though I only open such emails on rare occasions, I decide to open it that day and as soon as I do, guess what verse is staring nonchalantly back at me?  2 Timothy 1:7.  

“God has not given us the spirit of intimidation. Pray for Christ to plant deeply within you a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind when you think of and interact with Muslims (2 Timothy 1:7).”

The content of the email was also posted on Crescent Project’s blog.  

Day 5: Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

That afternoon, while we in the drive through at McDonald’s after our homeschool co-op class, I told the girls that when they think of something nice about someone else, they should go ahead and tell that person, because it is encouraging, and the Lord wants us to be encouraging to others.   My 5-year-old responded, “But I’m shy”. 

And so the verse became fitting once again, “Oh, no, sweet Bekkah, you aren’t shy!  That is a lie you are believing about yourself.  Always remember, sweet girl, you are a child of God because you accepted Christ’s free gift of salvation!  That means you have the Spirit of God living inside you, and God gave you a Spirit not of timidity (NIV), but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline!  Bekkah, you can encourage others because you have God’s Spirit living inside you! 

Then, later that same day….

It was our first night for our church’s Wednesday night program and it was amazing!  I am a newbie ‘Table Leader’ along with a friend and my 14-yr-old daughter.  We are responsible to encourage a table of second graders in the faith every Wednesday (one being my 7-yr-old daughter).  I considered that the Lord might bless us with yet another instance of this verse so when the song leader introduced the new song to the group, telling us that it was from “Second Tim…”  I anticipated what was coming next.  Second Timothy one verse seven.  I know Christ was in that room that night, with all those dear children, I know His Spirit was powerfully present.  I uploaded the song, lovingly sung by our song leader;  please rejoice with me as you hear this promise of God put to music…

 Day 6: Thursday,  September 13th, 2012

My 14-yr-old daughter went to a special event her school organized, in a town about an hour away.   Guess what verse one of the speakers quoted while addressing the kids?  You got it.  2 Timothy 1:7.  She came home and excitedly told us about it; she even anticipated hearing the verse that day simply because God brought it up 5 days in a row already, why not once more?  After she told me about her experience, I jested that perhaps this would be the last day, since God rested on the seventh.  And apparently that is what God had in mind, because this is the end of my testimony.

——–

Why did our family hear that verse 6 days in a row, each time at an unrelated event by unrelated people?  Why did God graciously move in this way?  All 6 of us recognized the hand of God; it was no coincidence. 

I imagine the answer to that why is unique to each one of us, and now also to you, dear reader.  God speaks through His word “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness” 2 Timothy 3:16.  Without the speaking of the word, without the hearing of the word, without faith to receive the word, I would have nothing to testify now.   

Whenever the word is opened, we must listen carefully; God is speaking, and the significance of His message is unique to each of us.  We must each ask ‘what are you saying to me, God?’.  I don’t know how God will use 2 Tim 1:7 in the lives of my children or my husband, or in your life right now, but God knows, and He has said, “Ask and it will be given to you.” Mat 7:7a

I understand the week to be a sweet answer to prayer.  For months now I’ve been praying that our home would abound in prayer and in praise; that we would be distinguished by the continual praise on our lips.  I pray that our knee-jerk reaction in any kind of trial would be prayer, and then praise.  And that our reaction to blessing would be immediate praise, that joy would fill our home for the glory of God. 

Now there is much to battle since Satan knows the power of joy and so loves to steal it by telling us that we have a right to the blessings, and that the hardships are meaningless.  Our vision is often clouded by these lies and so the joy of the Lord is not always evident in our home. 

But while we are often unfaithful, God is always faithful.  God graciously chose to make Himself evident to each of us during our 2 Timothy 1:7 week.  “If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”  2 Timothy 2:13   Indeed, He is a prayer-hearing God, close to us and within reach, who speaks to us out of His holy word.  How thrilling!  What love is this?  God: our maker, sustainer, and redeemer, is also our friend who listens and speaks?  Oh, what undeserving joy!  So, firstly, before asking what significance that verse holds for our family, might we linger long in joy and astonishment that God concerns Himself with sinners like us. 

The significance of the verse?  Oh, right, that.   I haven’t really been meditating on that yet because I’ve been just kind of wading in the goodness of God.  Perhaps the most significant significance is simply that.  Thank you, Lord, for printing that verse on our hearts; I know the significance of that imprinting will be applied time and time again by each of us, and by you, dear reader, as we continue to follow Him into eternity.

———

Okay, been meditating on the significance of the verse.  As stated above, the application of 2 Timothy 1:7 will be different for different believers; each of us should ask the Lord individually how best to apply this verse in each of our own lives.  As for me, the Lord seems to be weaving the following message into my heart:

Not a spirit of fear, but one of power, of love, and of a sound mind.  When I act, react, or not act at all out of fear, I lack faith; I do not believe God’s promise, I do not believe the truth of 2 Timothy 1:7, that I have the Holy Spirit deposited within me.  And the Holy Spirit is one of power, of love, and of a sound mind.  I must continually ask myself what is motivating me to action, I must ask the Lord in prayer to show me which path I am taking in different situations, am I walking down a path of fear, or one of faith? 

When my kids wake up scared in the middle of the night I tell them how I handle my own fears.  Basically, I think of the worst thing that could happen, and that can get pretty ugly.  Once I have that in my mind, I then give it over to God, trusting that if my fear were to happen, God would have a plan to make it good, even if I never saw that goodness until I got to heaven. 

And God would not only have a plan to make it good, as I trusted Him, I would grow in my faith by the trial (James 1:2-4), and be the better for it even here on earth.  And, on top of all that, God would also be glorified through the trial, which is my purpose while I still have breath. 

Faith is something substantial; built upon God’s promises, faith empowers and enlightens.  Fear has no substance, it is a bottomless pit, it is the lack of faith.  An old friend of mine has taken up a mental exercise while going through her day asking herself if she is choosing faith, or fear.  This is a noble pursuit; I can testify that the few times I have tried this exercise for myself has produced powerful effects. (I sound like a commercial).  

WARNING: Honestly asking if your motivation to do little things throughout your day stems from faith or fear can drastically change your life.  Little things you might do without thinking suddenly become a trial of sorts.  Wait, why am I doing this, or why aren’t I doing this?  Isn’t it really just out of fear?  If it is not out of faith, it must be fear.  Fear of what?  Oh, right, I’m afraid of __________(couldn’t possibly list all the fill-in-the-blank fears because the list is a bottomless pit).  Am I willing to give that fear to God, trusting Him through whatever consequence that might follow?  And you’re suddenly faced with all kinds of trials. 

But don’t retreat, you that are the redeemed of Christ, you who are invited to share in the wedding supper of the Lamb.  Stand your ground, you who will one day wear the “fine linen, bright and clean” Rev 19:8a.  Remember Revelation 19, recall who it is that wins and stay on His side, and turn now to hope and prayer. 

And my earnest prayer about the ‘little thing’ not only helps in coming to an honest answer, but also provides the strength necessary to follow through in faith.  Today, as I do each little thing, might I apply 2 Timothy 1:7 by asking this question to the King of kings and Lord of lords, in prayer, “am I acting, reacting, or not acting out of faith, believing You have given me a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind, or is it actually fear that motivates me?”  “Ask and it will be given to you.” Mat 7:7a

Tabitha’s Funeral

Designed & stitched by Beks (left) & Ana (right)

Today the Lord graciously gave me Acts 9:36-39, the life of Tabitha, that dear saint.

“In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor.  About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room.  Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!”  Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them. ”

What I find so exciting here, I think, is that the Lord uses and honors this woman who is just like you and I.  She has no means to go writing big checks to poor orphanages.  She can not change governments, or save people groups, or invent great inventions, or preach to the nations.  Tabitha was truly a woman who bloomed where she was planted.  She simply applied herself for Jesus, caring for those around her, with a special compassion for those thankful believers that couldn’t do what she could do for them.

She made garments for widows.  She is now eternally honored, her life story etched in the tablets of Scripture.  She practiced Titus 3:8 daily by maintaining good works till her end, “…those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works.”  How did she maintain this life of servitude unto the Lord, always doing good and helping the poor?

Tabitha saw a need, and met it with a thread and needle, and a heart for the Lord.  She could have invested herself in so many other things; the arts, education, socializing… all good things.  She found the thread and needle a far more worthy investment of her time.  “But the noble man makes noble plans, and by noble deeds he stands.” Isaiah 32:8

And how often do I see the list of sick believers on the back of the church bulletin (those with cancer, those in the hospital, those bedridden) and sit comfortably in my pew, unmoved?  When it crosses my mind, such as now, when the Lord places these passages in my heart, I think about how I have no time to make meals for other people.  I am homeschooling and I have four kids, and a house to keep, etc.!  How could I possibly fit in the needs of others?  And yet, the Lord calls.  The Lord reminds me that Tabitha had only 24 hours in her day, just like me.  It is likely that Tabitha trimmed many of her activities after the Lord called her to serve in this way.

Looking again at my kitchen, God shows me the potential, and it is so simple in concept.  I have three daughters that love baking and cooking, and we have a heart for the Lord.  I examine my schedule and see places that could be trimmed or even entirely thrown out, believing the Lord will ensure that my children are raised right even if I don’t focus all my energy on them alone.  In fact, the Lord reminds me they’ll turn out even more stable if I don’t fret about providing cutesy craft activities daily or excessive socialization or constant educational stimulation.  Tabitha would have concerned herself with teaching her children the names in the back of the church bulletin far more than the names of all the Presidents.

If Peter wasn’t around, and Tabitha lived in this day and age, I imagine our pastor conducting Tabitha’s funeral.  What would be said of her and who would be there?  “She was always doing good, and helping the poor.”  I bet it would be many people from the back of the church bulletin; the sick believers and widows whom she comforted with visitations and gifts.  I can picture this list of people from my bulletin, surrounding her grave, holding up her own works, be it coats or casseroles, praising the God she so fervently served.

And this sweet scene in my head inspires me to do likewise, laying what I have to give: my schedule, my kitchen, my daughters at the feet of Jesus.

P.S.  If you’re interested,  Matthew Henry’s commentary on these verses about Tabitha is incredibly inspiring.  He weaves together Scripture and speaks with such volume of soul, you simply must take a moment to indulge.

A Thousand More Smiles Than Yesterday

Today my 7-year-old Ana said something to me that shot right to my heart,

“If I went away from you, what I would miss is your smile, that one smile.”  She sweetly said to me while I was helping her wash her hair.

“Sometimes I actually cry because I think about how much I would miss your smile if you were gone.  Like if I were living at my friend’s house, I think of how much I would miss your smile and I actually cry!”

I was very touched by her tender words, and, of course, smiled at her. “Yeah, that smile!” she reinforced.

Oh what a gift that was from above!  I started thinking about the power of something as simple as smiling.  Mothers have it in their power to chose to smile consciously, generously, and sincerely at their children.

Each smile a wordless love poem, reminding them how precious they are, that they are unconditionally loved and accepted.  It is so easy, but smiling generously is not obvious; it must be done consciously or can too easily be neglected.  A mother’s hearty smile can change the atmosphere of the room from dismal to cheerful. “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.” Proverbs 15:30   And heartfelt, consistent & sincere smiles give glory to God in a way nothing else can.

I find the smiling women at church far easier to approach than those that do not smile very often.  One can certainly love Jesus without smiling all the time, but some have discovered the power of their contented smiles, and they use this power for the Glory of God.

There is an older woman at our church that really stands out from a crowd.  Wrinkles and white hair serve only to enhance her beauty and elegance.  What is it about her?  It’s her smile: frequent, contented, loving and kind.  Though I do not know her, her smile and twinkling eyes, coupled with her faithful church attendance and beautiful white hair, speak volumes about who she is.  This woman knows God’s faithfulness and is content in Christ.  “A happy heart makes the face cheerful…” Proverbs 15:13a  If I were ever in need of another older Godly woman’s opinion, I am almost certain that I could go to her though I have hardly spoken to her!  Smiling is that powerful!

It has been my conviction for some time now to smile more lovingly, more generously, more consciously, more.  I want my family to feel my adoration and approval and my community to see what overflowing joy results from following Christ.  It comes down to a desire to shine for Jesus with everything I’ve got!  If God is at all praised with my smile, then today might I give a thousand more than yesterday.

:)

20 Jul
2012

Praising God for Hornworms!

Today we’re praising God for Hornworms. We were done with our swimming lessons at the YMCA and walking to our car when we spotted a very little organic garden near the parking lot.   I often pray for opportunities to teach the children how to see God’s goodness in our everyday life and little patches of nature have yet to disappoint me as a great resource toward that end.

Today was no exception because we found a hornworm on one of the sunflower plants, diligently doing what God made it to do; eating everything in sight!  I was quite sure those who tended to the garden wouldn’t mind a bit if we kidnapped their hornworm since these guys are a gardener’s worst nightmare, so we found an old container in the car and off we went with our captive.  Each amazing feature has been lovingly observed by my children, including its blackberry shaped poops, and I have had the glorious privilege to praise God along with my children at each discovery.

Our next door neighbor, a 46 year-old woman who loves kids and critters, also delights in praising the Lord over the little things in life and the girls have learned that showing her their critters thoroughly adds to the fun because you never know what this she might do.  This time she excitedly plucked the 3 inch creepy crawly off the stem and let it crawl up her arm.  Ew!