Tuesday, July 27, 2010

You Make Me Want To Be Brave

Joshua - #48

"He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the LORD is with him."
(1 Samuel 16:18)

We will be celebrating Joshua's 10th birthday this Saturday. Joshua's first decade of life has flown by, causing me to pause for reflection.

Joshua's miraculous birth changed my life forever. It rocked my world in wonderful, unexpected and fiercely challenging ways. Labor and delivery were two of my greatest fears. Yielding my will and my body to the necessary rigors of birthing a baby brought me to new heights of faith and bravery. After being in labor over 16 hours and only dilating slightly, Joshua's heart beat suddenly disappeared from the monitors and they rushed me into the operating room for an emergency c-section. Joshua's cord was wrapped around his neck. By God's grace, mercy and protection, Joshua was delivered safely and beautifully.

Little did I know that living out parenthood moment by moment is where the real acts of bravery and faith are authenticated. Labor and delivery have already proven over and over to be the easy parts of motherhood.

Through our children, God has ushered me onto new paths of growth and trust in Him. God is so wise. Motherhood plunged me into His Word like never before. I soak it in daily. I hunger and thirst for His Truth unceasingly. I am completely dependent on Him. My relationship with my Heavenly Father is the healthiest co-dependency ever! The depths of love for my children are inexplicable. My desire for them to walk with the Lord and in His truth anchors my love for them.

The joys, heartaches and challenges of motherhood have stretched and exercised new muscles in my heart (and my body!). Joshua and Gabrielle make me want to be brave.

As we celebrate Joshua's 10th birthday, I am palpably reminded daily that Joshua makes me want to be brave. From his emergency birth, to his colic as a baby, to his sweet heart in not wanting to be separated from his momma for any reason as a pre-schooler, to his all-boy energy and athletic prowess now as a young gentlemen, I've had to be brave. I've had to hold my nose, close my eyes and jump into some deep waters. Spiritually. Emotionally. Mentally.
And many moms I know, respect and love have been called to much deeper levels of bravery than I.

My personal "CLIMBS" may not be physical. My "CLIMBS" may be more spiritual, emotional and mental. But I am climbing to new heights with bravery from the Lord that is required for motherhood. "The Sovereign LORD is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights." Habakkuk 3:19

"My salvation and my honor depend on God ; He is my mighty rock, my refuge."
Psalm 62:7

Happy 10th Birthday, Joshua.
You make me want to be brave.
I love you. I respect you. I'm so proud of you.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Specifically For Gabrielle

"Give us each day our daily bread." Luke 11:3
Me and Our Butterfly

Gabrielle helping her young friend to see what's beyond the wall.

Gabrielle getting equipped to climb the rock wall.

Like all Christian moms, my heart's desire is that our children abide in the Lord and walk in the truth every moment of their lives. I am completely dependent on God, His strength and His Holy Spirit. Motherhood keeps me humbly on my knees. Parenting is heart work. As a girlfriend of mine always says, "Motherhood is the hardest job you'll ever love."

If I have one success in motherhood, this may be it: One thing I am teaching our children clearly is that God meets us in His Word every time we open the Bible and seek Him there. And really, that success has little to do with me and much to do with His perfect provision and faithfulness. He is faithful to daily give us our portion when we make and invest quiet, generous time to read His Word. God gives us the exact scripture we need every day as we take the time to seek Him. I try to demonstrate this truth and tell it to our children every day. I do believe our children are getting it.

[Gabrielle has given me her permission to share this to share how God specifically met her with His Word.]
Our sweet Gabrielle demonstrates a refreshing blend of courage, caution and sparkle. She likes to try to new things, has more athletic ability than I ever did and can call on determination when she wants to accomplish something. Her desire to try new things often ends in success, but sometimes the results are disappointing.

Recently during a family vacation to Camp Of The Woods in the Adirondacks, Gabrielle tried a few new things. She met the challenge of the rock climbing wall will enthusiasm. Harnessed in and being cheered on by family and friends, Gabrielle climbed to new heights. Water tubing at invigorating speeds behind the boat had Gabrielle giggling with delight as she enjoyed a new recreational activity to its fullest. Success at the rock climbing wall and with water tubing.

Then came disappointment. Water skiing...a totally new sport to Gabrielle. Again, she met the challenge with enthusiasm, but after spontaneously trying only once and not getting up, she stopped trying. To be fair, they weren't best conditions for water skiing for the first time. The water was choppy and Daddy was elsewhere in the camp when she spontaneously gave water skiing a whirl. I think had her strong Daddy been there to help her, she would have kept trying. Had Jim known Gabrielle was going to try skiing, he would have been on the beach for that moment. But her flare for adventure and spontaneity got the best of her, and she didn't wait for Daddy. (Can we apply some spiritual truths to that about us not waiting for our Heavenly Father's direction and help? Oh yes! Another post for another day.)

She came to me as tears rolled down her face and we quietly retreated to the cabin. Her heartache cry was breaking my heart, but I kept speaking the truth as I comforted her. It's rare for anyone, especially a child, to get up on water skis the first time out. Another child in our group, who is physically strong and determined, tried over a dozen times without getting up. Gabrielle needed to keep trying and keep working at it when she was ready. She perked up after we prayed together, but I knew her heart was still tender.

The day we were home from our trip, Gabrielle came to me while I was having my quiet time at the dining room table. She said, "Mommy, look what God gave to me today from His Word. Look what He gave specifically for me in my devotional!" She read from her devotional "His Little Princess" by Sheri Rose Shepherd. The devotion was titled "Try, Try Again". The scripture reference was Proverbs 24:16

"Even if good people fall seven times, they will get back up. But when trouble strikes the wicked, that's the end of them." Proverbs 24:16

Try, Try Again (by Sheri Rose Shepherd)

Dear Daughter: Never be afraid of trying again just because something is hard to do. Sometimes it take more than one try to learn something new.

Whatever you face in this life, I will always be here to take care of you. I will be with you as you learn to grow and explore. And I will help you get up again every time you fall or fail. Love, Your King who is here to catch you when you fall

The Prayer - I Will Trust You

Dear God, sometimes it's hard for me to try new things. It's especially hard when I try a new thing and cannot do it the first time. Thank you that you will always help me to get back up when I fall and to try again. In Jesus name I pray, amen.

As Gabrielle read this to me, tears streamed down my face. God met her "specifically" with what she needed. She sought Him and He met her with His Word and with encouragement. He reached down to the tender places of Gabrielle's heart. The scripture and the devotion were perfect for her heart just at that time. God met Gabrielle specifically where she needed it. I'll always remember her words "specifically for me". She's getting it. He loves her that much.

God gives us our portion every time we seek Him in His Word. Every time. Specifically. "One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple." (Psalm 27:4)

Climb, Gabrielle, climb!

You are my portion, O LORD; I have promised to obey your words. (Psalm 119:57 )

I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread. (Job 23:12)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's All About The Climb

"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."
Joshua 1:7
I am not a thrill seeker. I am a "keep-my-feet-on-the-ground" type of gal. I can be a lot of fun, don't get me wrong. As a matter of a little-known fact about me, in my senior year I was one of four gals nominated as "Wittiest" in our senior class, with a senior class of over 900 students. That's pretty witty, isn't it? And in my mind, that translates into "fun"!! But I like being witty and having fun with my feet planted firmly on the ground!! I hold the bags and take the pictures...and I am quite content doing that. Y'all go be adventurous, but my feet are staying on the ground!

This truth about me was confirmed over and over the past few weeks as we vacationed at two different destinations with two different groups of wonderful families and friends from church. From the beautiful, turquoise Caribbean waters in Turks & Caicos to the majestic Adirondack Mountains of New York State, my appreciation of safety had many opportunities to shine!

Since becoming a mommy, my caution comfort zones have been stretched and stretched and streeeeeeetched!!!! Our children not only enjoy swinging and sliding on the backyard play set, but they also enjoy climbing to the top beam and jumping off. Gabrielle whizzes across the monkey bars in a flash. On our front porch, Joshua pogo sticks up and down the steps. Gabrielle blazes through the neighborhood on her California Chariot. Joshua tears into the cul-de-sac on his rip stick at speeds exceeding the residential limit. While I often just have to close my eyes tightly and pray, I want them to go and ride and jump and run!

I want to encourage my children to use the gifts and talents God has given them, to try new things, to use their young wings, to fly (carefully of course), to grow. I don't want my feet-on-the-ground contented bliss to define them, but rather to guide and shield them. I am thankful they are both adventurous and interested in athletics.

Camp of The Woods Christian Family Camp, where we have vacationed the past seven summers, has a great zip line in the thickly wooded mountain on which the camp rests. This summer, Joshua was old enough to give it a whirl. The thought of zipping down the line excited Joshua. We were not sure how he would feel about climbing the towering tree, tethered by a rope and with only short spikes in the tree trunk on which to step.

As the families we were with made the hiking pilgrimage to the zip line, I quietly prayed for the Lord to give Joshua courage and to build him up in Himself through this experience. After being prepped with all the necessary equipment for the zip line, Joshua's seemingly fearless friend, who was also doing the zip line for the first time, asked if Joshua would please go first. With several people looking on, Joshua stepped up and approached the base of the tree with courage fueled by the belief of his family and friends that he could do this.

With determination and strength, Joshua climbed the tree without hesitation. Pausing only a few times to strategically find the next spikes in the tree that served as his ladder, he kept looking up and reaching higher. Step by step, spike by spike, reach by reach, pull by pull...he never looked down (except when I asked him to smile for a picture, of course). Knowing his friend was looking to him, and hearing the cheers of his family and friends, Joshua just kept climbing until he reached the platform. Through his body language, my "mommy heart" knew he was quietly rejoicing with the Lord for his accomplishment of making the climb to the platform. The climb is more precious than the ride itself. "...all that we have accomplished, You have done for us." Isaiah 26:12

Joshua reaching the platform after his climb. Really, the rest was gravy!

As his parents, that moment of him completing the climb and reaching the platform was more thrilling to us than the subsequent zip across the mountain. It's the courage and adventure of the climb that was the real thrill. Though he hasn't said it in so many words, Joshua would agree. Was the zip line ride fun? Yes, it was a blast for him. But it's the climb, and all that represents, that really matters. Trust. Courage. Determination. He humbly and happily led his friend by example. He enthusiastically encouraged those who climbed and zipped after him. He makes me want to be brave. 1 Timothy 4:12 is one of our favorite memory verses with our cherubs, and it kept ringing in my heart: "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." And in courage in making the climb for the zip line (smile).
God is good.
My personal climbs may not be physical. They may be spiritual, emotional or mental. Still, it's all about the climb and the treasures of His life and truth we discovering while persevering and reaching. Our children inspire me to climb, reach, grasp and grow.

The jump!

After zipping across the mountain.

We truly rejoice and give thanks to the Lord when challenges and new adventures are met with courage and success. "In everything he did he had great success, because the LORD was with him." 1 Samuel 18:14 He allows our children to spread their wings and grow. He builds them up in His strength. He is with them when they climb. And after all, it's not about the ride, it's all about the climb.

So climb on, cherubs! Momma will be here with her feet on the ground, cheering you on, taking pictures, holding all the stuff, and lifting up prayers for you!

"The Sovereign LORD is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights." Habakkuk 3:19

"Now, my son, the LORD be with you, and may you have success..."
1 Chronicles 22:11

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Touch The Mountains, O Lord...

"Part Your heavens, O LORD, and come down;
touch the mountains, so that they smoke."
Psalm 144:5

"Exalt the LORD our God and worship at His holy mountain, for the LORD our God is holy."
Psalm 99:9

"For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him."
Psalm 95:3-4

"He waters the mountains from His upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of His work."
Psalm 104:13