Monday, May 30, 2011

You Can Always Have The Food God Made

"Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare." 
Isaiah 55:2

"Mom, I am hungry!"  My momma's heart already knew that the cherubs were getting hungry.  Yet, as I prepare their meal, they often cry this out, "Mom, I am hungry!  Can I have something to eat?"  My response:  "You can always have the food God made."  In other words, if they need a little something to hold them over before I serve the next meal, they are always welcome to have a piece of fresh fruit or munch on raw veggies or grab a handful of nuts.  These foods are good and essential and won't spoil their appetite for the meal.  They can satisfy their hunger with nourishing foods that God created.  Sweet treats, such as ice cream or cookies, are enjoyed after I know they have eaten "the food God made" and a nutritious meal.  (They have been informed that God, though they are delicious, did not create Oreos and they can't be eaten before a meal.  Smile.)

Not only can our children have the food God made, they must have the food God made.  Our bodies need it and crave it.  The food He created is necessary for our bodies to grow and be healthy.

This truth with physical food is the same truth we teach our cherubs with spiritual food.  Our hearts, minds and souls must consume God's Word.  His Words are our life.   “Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law.  They are not just idle words for you—they are your life." ~ Deut. 32:46-47

As a parent, I am daily brought to my knees before God knowing that He has entrusted these two precious children to me and Jim.  It still takes my breath away that God, by His grace and mercy, has given me the gift of being the mom to our children.  And it is our responsibility as parents to teach them God's Word that they may grow in Him, abide in Him and nurture their own personal relationship with Him.    "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."  Deut. 6:5-9 

God's Word is life.  I have full confidence that His Word is truth and it will not return to us empty, but rather full and overflowing.  His Word is good, necessary and satisfying.  We must consume it daily.  He satisfies.  "He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things."  Psalm 107:9

I pray that as we teach our children to first eat the foods God created for our nourishment for our physical bodies, that they first know that daily feasting on His Word brings life to their hearts, minds and souls.  His food nourishes our bodies.  His Word brings life to our hearts and minds.   "The mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace."  Romans 8:6 

Just as eating food is necessary for our bodies, daily digesting God's Word into our hearts and minds is necessary.  It is not optional for our well-being.  It is required.  "I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread."  Job 23:12

Our Heavenly Father knows our hunger, our needs.  And He provides for us perfectly.  God wants us to eat what is good and delight in the richest of fare.  As a parent, I want the same for our children.  Oh, Lord, let it be that they always delight in, hunger for and thirst for Your Word, for You.  May the daily eat what is good and delight in the richest of fare.

"O God, You are my God, 
earnestly I seek You;
my soul thirsts for You,
my body longs for You,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.
I have seen You in the sanctuary
and beheld Your power and Your glory.
Because Your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify You.
I will praise You as long as I live,
and in Your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied
as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise You."
Psalm 63:1-5

Monday, May 23, 2011

I Am Not Taking My Toys And Going Home!


Proverbs 27:6

 "The wounds of a friend can be trusted..."  (NIV)

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend..." (KJV)

Leah, my oldest friend in the world (in tenure, not in age), and I would play jax for hours on end when we were young girls.  It was one of our favorite games to play.  We grew up next door to each other, and we spent long weekend and summer days playing Chinese jump rope, Barbies, kickball, hopscotch and cards. 
 
From time to time, Leah and I would have a spat and feelings would get hurt.  My childish reaction was to take my toys and go home.  This accomplished nothing and only contributed to a temporary division between us.  Eventually, whether 15 minutes or 15 hours later, one of us would go knock on the other's door and ask the other to come out and play.  Toys were happily shared again and the playing resumed.  Joy, conflict, temporary separation, softening hearts, restoration.  The cycle of healthy friendship.

Leah and I are still friends today. We endured the cycle of friendship and enjoy the blessing of calling each other "lifelong friends". While I don't get to see her as often as I would like, we keep in touch and she will always be extra special to me. Leah is the friend who invited me to attend her church's youth group, where I accepted Jesus and I still walk with Him today. Leah was God's vessel to bring me to Himself.  My life is changed eternally because of her.

Friends hurt each other. When my heart aches because of the pain one of our children is experiencing from hurtful words or actions of a friend, it seems almost unbearable to me as a mom.  My momma flesh can get the better of me, yet I must yield my heart to the Holy Spirit and respond maturely in such a way that honors Him.  But the greatest gift I can give our children in that moment of pain is Truth.  "A friend loves at all times."  (Proverbs 17:17)  The truth is that usually the friend's hurt was not intentional.  The truth is that we are all sinners and we will hurt even those we love.  The truth is we need to show grace and grant forgiveness.  Surely, we need the grace and forgiveness, too. The truth is a friend loves at all times.  We are not to be fair-weather friends.  We need to give each other room to grow.  Determining not to react childishly, we will not take our toys and go home.

Adult girlfriends hurt each other, too.  Our bristly thorns rear their ugly heads and we wound each other.  Yet, as we anchor ourselves in His truth and love, we are able to weather storms of friendship and life together.  Praying.  Seeking His truth.  Asking for forgiveness.  Showing grace.  Trusting Him to nourish, heal, grow and restore friendships. 

Friendships truly are a precious gift from God.  I am blessed to have treasured friends who I believe love me with a pure heart and who pray for me sincerely.  With reverence for and thankfulness to Him, my heart is devoted to the friends He has given me.  One of the greatest privileges in friendship is seeing each other through the seasons of life ~ joy, pain, rejoicing, sorrow, laughter and tears.  We do this by being there, staying, being actively involved and not taking our toys, going home and isolating ourselves.

When I am wounded by a friend, I lay it at the Lord's feet and give Him my broken heart.  "What do You want me to learn from this?  Do You want to change something in me?  How can I love my friend at this time?"  The wounds of a friend can be trusted.  I trust God to use those wounds to bring life and healing.  I am not taking my toys and going home. 

When I wound a friend, I pray that I will always rush to them to ask for forgiveness.  My heart grieves during that temporary separation, but I am not taking my toys and going home.  I am standing firm, committed to loving that friend even as I bear the consequences of my hurtful actions.  I pray they know that the wounds can be trusted because He is using them.  How beautiful it is that God weaves friendships together and uses us as sanctification tools in each other's lives.  Faithful are the wounds of a friend.

(Sadly, there are some friendships that turn out to be unhealthy for us, where most of the fruit from the relationship is spoiled.  At times, it is necessary for us to lay those unhealthy relationships at the Lord's feet and move on.  Though often grievous and heart breaking as we go through this, His pruning from each other's lives brings freedom and life.  We place our "toys", our hopes and desires that the friendship would have been full of vitality, at His feet.)

Childhood friendships and adult friendships are quite the same.  Our choice is whether we respond to hurts in childish ways or in God-honoring, mature ways.  I am thankful that, when I hurt my friends, they do not gather their toys in their arms and leave me stranded.  They stay.  They pray.  They love.  They share their toys, their hearts, once again. 

When wounded, I don't want to put my hands on my hips and scuffle my way home with my toys to isolation.  Rather, I want to outstretch my arms to God, offer Him my heart and ask Him for grace to respond like a big girl.

So, let's play!  Toss the jax.  Here's the ball.  I'd like you to go first... 

"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.   And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
1 Corinthians 13:11-13
 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Excellence

"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us."
2 Corinthians 4:7

"And in the greatness of Your excellence You have..."
Exodus 15:7

There is no true excellence apart from Christ.  "As for the Almighty...He is excellent..." (Job 37:23)  In His power and grace, He can accomplish excellence in and through us for His purposes and glory.  In His strength, He can equips us to serve Him with excellence.  
 
"I will make you an eternal excellence,
A joy of many generations."
Isaiah 60:15

 

Our sweet young lady ~ Gabrielle
Our heart and prayer for her:
"...you are a woman of excellence."
Ruth 3:11


This September, Gabrielle will begin her 7th year in studying and memorizing God's Word through the Awana program at a local church's Kids' Club.  Jim has faithfully served as a leader in Gabrielle's group the entire time she has participated.  This is a special, meaningful Daddy-Daughter activity they do together.

A few weeks ago, the Kids' Club hosted their annual "Closing Ceremonies" and honored the children's hard work in learning scripture with awards.  We are both proud and humbled that Gabrielle was the recipient of the "Awana Excellence Award".  Gabrielle and her dear friend, Emily, both received this award for completing more handbooks than any other participants and memorizing the most scriptures ever in the program at that church.  We celebrated with great joy and humility as these girls spurred one another on in learning God's Word.  (I can't think of anything better that girlfriends could do together!)      

Honestly, aside from regularly praying for my cherub, as Gabrielle's mom I have had very little to do with Gabrielle's accomplishments in Awana.  She studies, sets goals, works diligently without being asked and even completes projects and Bible studies with very little assistance.  We are thankful to the Lord for creating her this way and for placing these desires in her heart.  We give Him the glory.  "...all that we have accomplished, you have done for us....Your name alone do we honor."  (Isaiah 26:12-13)

Gabrielle is learning to sew God's Word into her heart.  NOTHING makes me more joyful, humbled and excited!  I pray she ALWAYS loves and obeys God's Word.  I pray both of our cherubs, Joshua and Gabrielle, always delight in God's Word, yield to God's Word, hunger for God's Word, reverence God's Word and see the bountiful fruit in their lives from honoring His truth.  May their lives, and our lives, reflect His grace and truth because they know Him and His Word.

A prayer for our cherubs:
Psalm 1:1-3, 6
"Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
 He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish."


 Gabrielle & Jim at the awards ceremony


Hannah (Emily's sister) holding Gabrielle's Excellence Award


Emily, Hannah, Gabrielle and Joshua ~ Rejoicing!


Jim with Gabrielle & Emily
I am so proud of all three!

As for God, His way is perfect;
the word of the LORD is flawless.
2 Samuel 22:31

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in Him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
Jeremiah 17:7-8

"Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord...that I may gain Christ..."
Philippians 3:8