Conferences

Confession…I worry that my life will not leave an impact on the world. I worry my past pain will have not purpose. I realize as I type the words, they are not true. I know in my head they are silly worries to have. I know that the small things we do have a lasting impact. However, I still have moments in my day that I doubt that truth.

I actually started writing this post early this morning and by this afternoon I had a small confirmation that God intends to honor my desire to impact this world in some small way. He reminded me that He intends to redeem the past pain.

It’s conference time at school and we often see many stories unfold. The one that touches my heart the deepest is the one that mirrors my story. The story of the kid who has challenges due to genetics, illness, abandonment, or trauma. My heart screams as I watch parents walk out unsure of what to do to help their child. My feet threaten to chase them to the parking lot as I watch them walk defeated to their cars. I fight my arms as they threaten to rise and hug the student who knows he’s broken and wants so badly to give what he feels incapable of giving. In  my job, I can’t do those things. It crosses a line, but what I can do is encourage. I can speak words. I can share information. I can pass on resources. I do it more than I probably ought to, but what would you do?

Today I had the honor of speaking encouraging words, hopefully, to such a family. I love being able to see sparks of hope as I remind them that even though their student isn’t performing to everyone else’s standards, said child is a tender-hearted person.  Something is working in that home. Schoolwork is just a challenge to face and hopefully overcome. I was thanked and it was nice to know that my words could help.

Today God reminded me that redemption is His business! The experiences we have had, He’s using them. The pain we thought would kill us, didn’t because He was there. The challenges we faced that we didn’t think would have a successful outcome, are starting to look less daunting in the light of how amazing He is. We still have a long way to go in this journey but we are moving forward.  The funny thing is, if I had not experienced that pain, I would have no idea how hard that situation is. I would have no idea how to encourage. And I wonder sometimes, if I would even care. That is a sad thought. I do not regret the pain and I do not wish it had never been. Watching God redeem it has been a great blessing.

Until another confession…

 

 

Broken Heart

Confession…something has been happening in my heart over the last two years. My heart is being broken for children.

Two years ago I reentered the work force, by taking a job as an assistant preschool teacher. I was just looking for something to do for a few hours during my day and that seemed to be a good investment of my time. Six months later, I took a job in the middle school which my children attend. What happened next, was not in my plans.

My primary job is mother. I love being a mother and it is something I take seriously. I am learning to be passionate about my role as a mother and love watching my children grow in character and faith.  Unfortunately, as I spend more time with kids I realize, not everyone values their parenting job in quite the same way. I could speculate on the reasons why, however, that won’t change the fact that our children are greatly undervalued in our society. I’ve known this for a while. I’ve seen it play out in the lives of children I know. And it’s always bothered me, but lately it breaks my heart. It moves me to tears. It ignites a fire in my heart that I cannot quench. I’m not quite sure how this will play out in our future, but I know that God is doing something in my heart and it’s a little overwhelming.

Until another confession…

 

 

Are You Doing Your Job?

Confession…I just got back from a children’s ministry conference and I learned SO MUCH!

My  mind is full of so much information right now that I think it’s just going to explode! There were topics covered there that were the traditional children’s ministry topics. However, I attended a few that were not so typical. I checked out sessions that covered how to tell interactive stories to preschoolers. I learned how to understand preschoolers (that was insightful). I even checked the worshiping with the children session. The not so typical sessions on gospel centered children’s ministry and ministering to children in a post-christian world were intriguing! Good stuff!

As good as all those things were, I wished they had covered the real need in children’s ministry:  How to call parents to teach their children the Gospel and Bible truths, and how to best equip them for that job. Now, this is going to be one of my soapbox issues so bear with me. But remember, you can always quit reading now and save yourself some time.

As parents, my husband and I take the job of passing down faith very seriously. We believe in God. Be embrace the gospel as our centering point. We worship God and we want our kids to see us demonstrate that in our everyday life. We don’t always get this job done perfectly, but everyday we set that as our goal. However, we were not always so passionate about that job. During the early years, we operated under the assumption that our church would cover that for us. We’ll send them to children’s church and they’ll learn about God there. We were off the hook. I’m not saying it’s right, but it is what we believed. Why? Where is that in the Bible? Where does it say that our church is supposed to teach our kids about biblical truths and we as parents take a back seat to the job.  Deuteronomy 6 tells us this about who is to instruct the children:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

The parents! We do the job! We read this verse and realized it is our job to pass our faith down to our children. It is our job to do. We took that seriously and began asking God to equip us to do this job well. Our church partners with us and we love using them as a resource. The kids are involved in a ministry geared toward them but ultimately, Sunday morning isn’t the only time they hear about God’s love for them. Sunday morning isn’t the only time they receive instruction on what gospel centered living should look like.

Now, I know what you’re going to say. “I don’t know how to do that.” “I never learned how to parent like that.” “My parents didn’t believe in God so I never saw that modeled.” You know what, I get that. I totally do, but please don’t let that be the reason you don’t try. I realize I’m pointing out a problem and I’m not offering a whole lot on solutions, but I really believe that where there is a desire to teach the gospel to your kids, God fills in the gaps you may have. It’s an ongoing job that never stops. It’s exhausting and brain draining. It will take a pride-swallowing siege on your desire to be comfortable and look like you know what you’re doing.  Children’s ministry can be an amazing partner to what you are doing daily, but it is not fair to ask them to be the only source of gospel input to our child’s heart.

So, help your churches children’s ministry out and ask yourself, “Am I doing my job?” If you are then KUDOS! Keep it up. If you are not…. well…why not?

Until another confession…

One Ambition…One Excuse

Confession…I have one ambition left in my heart, and for that one ambition, I have one excuse.

This ambition has been in my heart since I was a girl, and I began pursuing it fresh out of high school.  The pursuit became intense, and in the face of this intensity I quit. I will tell you that I quit because of money. I will tell you I quit because my health was failing. But the truth is, I quit because I was scared.

I had one lone voice cheering me on. I had a thousand voices telling me I would fail. I had a thousand voices telling me I wasn’t enough. I had a thousand voices telling me that my dream was not worth their effort. I had one lone voice cheering me on. I chose to listen to the thousand voices.

Now, before you get on to me about how I should have ignored the thousand voices, I’d like to remind you that you do the same thing. There are dreams left in your heart that you have packed up and put on the shelf. You have allowed the dreamer in you to die because, frankly, it’s expensive to dream. Worse yet, it’s excruciatingly painful when we fail to achieve those dreams. I mean, seriously, who has time for that? There are bills to be paid, hours to put in, children to raise, carpools to manage, marriages to fight for, and somehow we have to find a few hours to sleep. I get it. I really do.

I need you all to know that I love the life I live. I have an amazing family. I have an amazing community. It’s a great life.  But I still have to answer the question of what to do about this one ambition and this matching excuse.

You see, I have a problem. I tell my kids that excuses will rob you of your dreams. They will! And I see my sweet children making excuses for themselves from time to time. Could it be that I am modeling something to them without even realizing it? I don’t know! So, I have the opportunity to pursue my dream again. I am not going to lie, I have a thousand voices telling me I shouldn’t do it. I have one voice telling me to go for it. I take that back, I have a family of voices telling me to go for it. I think I’ll listen to those voices this time. As to my excuse, maybe by pursuing my dream, maybe by trusting that I have a God who is big enough to help me succeed, maybe I can erase that excuse. I’m kind of tired of it. I’d like to see what life without that excuse looks like.

Until the next confession…

LOSE THE LOVING FEELING AND COMMIT TO THE LOVE!

Confession: I HATE IT when people say “If I had a husband like yours…” It’s such a cop out and it lets people off the hook.

Okay, I think  I’m calm now. I met with yet another one of my friends who is divorcing to chat.  I’m so tired of my friends divorcing.  It’s deflating. And I’m sure the reasons are valid to you, but to me it’s difficult to process. However, when I hear someone say that if they had my husband they would be a better wife, it makes me smoking mad.  As if my husband is perfect and I have done something right to have landed such a perfect man. News flash…neither one of us is perfect. We are sinners and we found that out the first week of marriage. We have been married for 15 years and they have been 15 years of work, sacrifice, pain, and growth.  So don’t look at where we are now and think we started out this way.  We’ve come a long way baby.

As I was talking with my husband about this encounter (I talk to him about nearly everything that goes on in my day and vice versa) and as we processed through it we came to some realizations about how God’s gotten us to where we are and how we are going to allow God to get us to where we want to be. That’s the BIG IDEA…God is doing the work in us. If it were up to us…we’d check out completely and go on auto-pilot. Here they are:

1.   We both had to make a choice to love the other even if we never changed.  If you go into a relationship with plans to change the other person…you can’t really love them.  You’re in love with a version of who you want them to be and that isn’t fair.  You gotta love your spouse right where they are and not for where you hope they are going to go. If you submit to God’s Will in your life you can expect Him to change YOUR heart but don’t make the process about God changing your spouse.  Remember…you’re not perfect either.

2.   You don’t withhold love from your spouse until they become the godly person you hope they will be.  You love your spouse whether they are godly or not.  When did you ever experience someone love you more because you stopped behaving in a loving manner towards them? NEVER! It doesn’t work that way.  You’ve chosen this person to commit to….COMMIT.

3.   Finally, if what we believe as Christians is right and God wants to love this world through us then why don’t we love our spouse with that same concept.  It isn’t the love that I muster up for my husband that I offer to him, it is the love I ask God to give me for him.  I ask God to help me see my spouse as God sees him and then I ask God to help me love him with a godly love. The results are amazing.  There is no room for criticizing and nitpicking with that kind of love. God doesn’t wait for us to get perfect and then come into our lives.  He comes into the mess and chaos of our lives and works with us to move in a godly direction.  So maybe we can follow that example? Just a suggestion.

So, I know that was a bit of a rant and I don’t make any apologies for it.  I love my husband and I have committed to love him.  God has gotten to his heart and done some awesome things.  However, I would have loved him even if it took forever to get the work done.  Yes, it would have been challenging but I was committed to doing it.  Are you that committed?

Until the next confession…