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Can You Trust Me with your Children?

Guest post by Karli Reed, licensed minister with the Assemblies of God.

Parenting is one of the most honorable responsibilities given to us to discourage with grace and love. From the moment that they are born and take their first breath, we are scared out our wits – oh my word! What have we here!?! What am I doing and have I lost my mind? What do I do next? Next, we take a deep breath and say “Lord God, teach us each day every step we need to take to raise this one up for your Kingdom.

IMG_0214When each of my children were born, I would wait until everyone has left to go home for the night and then stand before the hospital window facing Spokane twinkling in the night. I would raise up each one and pray and give thanks for this promised child. “You gave me the vision of three children and you have kept your promise. Here is this one. Guide me to raise them for you and for the calling that You have destined to.” You would ask me if it was all piece of cake and I would say no it wasn’t. Each child you have is uniquely different and need to be raised according to who they are. As Parents, we will have moments we regret and wish we could do it over again but, we can’t. I just have to remind myself that parenting doesn’t end even after they’ve starting their family.

There is always an opportunity to change your parenting if necessary as long as we surrender it all into His hands. As we face the days ahead of us, it becomes necessary to teach your children how to walk and live the Godlike life. Teach them how to pray along side you so they learn how to communicate with the Lord.Teach them how to worship before God to learn intimacy with God.Teach them the word of God and how to read it, study it like a student with a Teacher beside you. Never underestimate your children. They can do it. Teach them ministry with you but be wise on how they can handle ministry and guard them from the harm done in ministry. Tell them about the hard stuff when they are ready. Let them see you walk it out and the teach them that it is ok to ask us about why things happen the way they do. Always keep Jesus in the center of everything you say and do.

The most important lesson to learn is this : “Can you trust Me with your children? Trust me enough to leave them in my hands so that I may do a work in their lives before I release them?”

Parenting goes through its different seasons and each season affects the next one. Each season has its sunrises and sunsets along with it changes. Parenting also goes through its storms such as bullying, suicides, death, rejection…..this list goes on. By trusting in God to carry us through the storms, we become seasoned parents ready to come along side with younger, new parents. Parenting is a life cycle with God walking beside you every step of the way.

Looking for a speaker?  view my profile at Christian Women Speakers or go to Christian Women in Media Speakers Bureau

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Out of Practice

Today’s guest post is by Deborah Thomas, Eye Sights BlogDebby with short hair

Everyone knows that practice is not optional if you want to get better at something. I just talked with a seasoned piano teacher about the possibility of teaching a four-year old to play the piano–can they do it? She said that to the degree that the parents make the child practice is how well they do. With discipline and regular practice, they progress solidly. But parents that do not require their child to practice see them struggle.

The same goes for any skill. I used to take private dance lessons to learn how to country swing better. I had no boyfriend so practicing alone in between lessons was almost useless. Line dancing practice a la solo worked better, as long as I did not forget any of the moves.

In Christianity, we have moves, also. I call this practice. If we are out of practice, today is a new day! Christianity does not end at conversion; that is only our birth. We must go on with Christ, a life time with Him. We need to get smart!

Whoever learns how to throw hardball while sitting on the sideline? Who learns how to suffer without bleeding or injuring a body part? Who knows grief unless there has been loss of some life? Who can swim well without practicing strokes or treading water a long time? Can anyone really practice being kind until they are shown unkindness in their face? The Lord is not going to hand these things to us on a gleaming platter. He wants us to practice and exercise our spiritual muscles.

1 Peter 1: 6 & 7 declares: “…now for a little while, you may have…to suffer grief, in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

Trials come to give us practice; if we practice, we prove our faith. God wants to know if our faith is the real thing. Authenticity matters. You cannot just say you are a Christian. Your life has to prove it. Practicing your Christianity brings forth outstanding results: praise, glory and honor to Christ.

I do not want to be out of practice, as I walk in faith before the Lord. Suffering? Grief? Unkindness? Trials? Yes, they are there all right. But they are just the backdrop on which we practice our instruments for Him. Amen?

To read more of Deborah’s posts go to Eye Sights.

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#WhenMomsPray: A Call to Moms to Pray for Their Daughters


By:
Erin Bishop

The world seems to be getting darker with each new generation. Kids are engaging in reckless behaviors and are becoming entangled in the enemy’s snares at an alarming rate.

None of our daughters are immune to peer pressure and temptations.

It can be daunting.

As a result, mothers can feel hopeless and weary. Exactly where the enemy wants them.

I know what hopeless and weary feel like.

I know what not wanting to pray feels like, too.

But a mother plagued by hopelessness and weariness is a distracted and ineffective warrior.

When we keep our eyes on God, not the storm, we have hope.

And hope is the birthplace of victory.

How do we get there?

On our knees.

When Moms Pray SquareYou see, a mother’s most effective battle position is on her knees before the throne room of King Jesus.

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:29-31)

Last summer, when the ALS Ice Bucket Challenges were all over social media I found myself wondering:

What if moms prayed for their daughters? Not just the quick ‘help her_________, Lord’ type of prayers, or the afterthought prayers I feel so guilty about praying, but really prayed? If all these people are willing to throw ice water on themselves to raise awareness for a horrible disease, surely there must be some moms out there who would be up for a prayer challenge.”

And I was right. Hundreds of moms from around the world joined us and prayed for their daughters every day of the school year.

As I was organizing the prayer challenge last year, I came across a verse in Paul’s letter to the Romans (1:8) that I could not stop thinking about. I still can’t.

“…your faith is being reported all over the world.” There is such significance in these nine words.

This letter is said to have been written around A.D. 57, and was likely transported by ship to Rome by someone Paul knew. This was long before mail, phones, email, YouTube, texting, Twitter and Facebook.

Yet, he wrote:

“…your faith is being reported all-over-the-world.

I just took a quick writing break to comment on a friend’s video that she took today in Israel and posted on Facebook. She replied to my comment within minutes. From Washington State to Israel and back. It’s astounding how much communication methods have transformed since Paul wrote to the Romans.

An Invitation:

“Whatever ground is gained for Christianity in one generation can be totally lost in the next if the former generation fails to impart passion for the things of God to their children. So parenthood is a great blessing-not only to us but to God as well-because through our children the hope of God’s people taking dominion and advancing His kingdom in the earth can live on, growing with each generation. “ Mike Shreve

Will you join me, and hundreds of moms across the world in praying over and activating God’s promises for our daughters? May news of our faith and intentional prayers for our daughters be reported all over the world.

“Once promises are known, believers do not need to beg God to
do those things He has already pledged to do.”
– Mike Shreve

This year’s prayer challenge will be launched on September 1 and go through June 17.

How it Works:

We make it easy to participate by providing you with daily, guided prayers for the duration of the prayer challenge. You can sign up to receive the daily prayer challenges emailed to you, by clicking “HERE”, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to view these prayers daily. You can also join our private prayer group community where you will receive encouragement and prayer.

Will You Share and Invite?

Please invite all the moms of daughters you know to join us in this sacred place. Let’s pray that the words Paul wrote to the Romans will be used to describe our prayer movement. The our faith would be heard of all over the world, and that Jesus’s name would be glorified for generations to come.

Recommended Resource:

65 Promises from God for Your Child: Powerful Prayers for Supernatural Results by Mike Shreve

 

Erin Bishop is the founder and president of the Whatever Girls MinistryThe Whatever Girls mission isScreen Shot 2014-06-17 at 1.34.33 PM
“intentional moms and intentional daughters”. They strive to empower teen girls to choose God’s best for their lives by exemplifying the pillars of Philippians 4:8. Erin lives in Eastern Washington with her husband and their two children.

 

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The Heart of a Father

Today’s guest post is by Barbara Hollace.

Barb-headshot14-2.76170342_stdYesterday (Sunday) Pastor Alice’s message was about “The Heart of the Father” – our heavenly Father and God’s love for us… so amazing the depth of His love for you and me.

This morning I experienced a visual demonstration of the heart of the Father. My friend Sharon and I were on our Monday morning walk in Mirabeau Park and as usual we were walking, talking, and praying while keeping our eyes open for what God had in store for us.

We had been in the park for less than five minutes when we saw two very small chipmunks (3 inch body plus the tail) running over tree limbs on a tree that had been struck by lightning a couple of weeks ago. They ran and stopped and then chased each other some more until they ran out of sight. We moved on.

Along the way we pointed out rabbits and magpies and other small birds darting here and there, we hadn’t gotten to the part of the trail where the quail and butterflies and baby dragonflies hang out. On the trail we caught a glimpse of the ‘regulars’ (walkers and bikers) and then many others who decided to take the opportunity to enjoy this second day of summer.

As we approached a turn in the road where the river is closer to the path, our silence was broken by Sharon’s voice, “Is that a rabbit in the fence?” I looked to my right and saw a rolled wire fence with 2 inch x 3 inch openings. There was a rabbit stuck in the fence. The front part of him had made it through but the back end and his legs were still on our side of the fence but his feet were not touching the ground.

My stomach dropped. “Sharon, it doesn’t look like he’s moving.” My greatest fear was that the rabbit was dead.

Sharon replied, “No, I just saw it move.” I could see that he was moving a bit. Likely trying to figure out how he could make it out.

I climbed up the small incline off the trail to where the rabbit was stuck, talking to him as I came up the hill. Speaking words of peace and that we wanted to help him. As I got closer to the fence, I could see how stuck he really was and the wire near his right leg was ‘cutting’ into his leg.

“Sharon, he’s really stuck.” At that moment I knew that if we couldn’t help him get free, he would die right there before our eyes. My tears began to flow as I felt helpless. A cell phone and keys and driver’s license and a $5.00 bill weren’t going to save him. I had no tools that would help this rabbit.

I reached out to the rabbit to see if there was any way we could get him free and the rabbit cried out in pain and distress. My heart was breaking. Without the right tools, any attempt by us would only cause more pain.

Sharon from the path below said, “We need to find someone who has some wire cutters to get him free.”

There was a house close by so Sharon volunteered to go get some help while I stayed to tend to the rabbit and watch and pray and speak calming words to this frightened creature. If he tried to fight the fence and get loose, he would only injure himself more.

Sharon walked down the fence line and then jumped over the fence that was about 5 feet high. Wow, was I ever glad I had such an athletic friend! She walked over to the house and I waited and watched the rabbit and prayed. His body shook from shock and fear. Inside, I wasn’t doing much better.

I reassured him that help was on the way and watched his rapid breathing. I saw Sharon keep on going past the house running down a driveway… the first place must have been a dead end. I watched and I prayed. I was afraid we didn’t have much time left since I didn’t know how long he had been caught in the fence. The rabbit shivered less and less. I wasn’t sure that was a good thing. I moved from one side of him to the other to see if his eyes were tracking with me. I needed to see some sign of life… some movement to know that we were not too late.

What seemed like a long time… but likely wasn’t, I saw Sharon coming back down the driveway with a man in his early 30s wearing a blue t-shirt, they were intent on their mission. As I saw them coming, I told the rabbit, “Help is on the way, they’re almost here.” Once more the rabbit tried to get free and then stopped.

Both of them vaulted over the fence and came to join me near the rabbit. Sharon introduced us, “Adam, this is my friend, Barb. Barb, this is Adam.” I greeted him with a smile of thanksgiving. I noticed he had wire cutters in his hand… yay! I’m not sure what his t-shirt really said, but I saw the word “Courageous” maybe it actually said ‘Cougars’, honestly, I don’t know. But God showed me “Courageous”.

Adam moved toward the fence with a calm manner like someone who cared about our friend in distress and also knew his way around fencing. He examined the situation and the rabbit was not afraid. He stayed where he was and Adam began making some strategic cuts. With one last clip and a gentle push on the rabbit’s foot, the rabbit was free. The rabbit jumped away from the fence and ran for freedom without a limp, as if the spot where the wire had cut into him did not hurt.

“I’m free! I’m free! Praise God, I’m free.” That’s the message I heard in my spirit. By this time, tears of joy were flowing down my face. God had sent help to save one of his beloved creatures. Adam turned to leave without fanfare. Sharon shook his hand and thanked him and Adam wished us well on the rest of our walk. I had no words, only tears. My heart was full and overflowing in that moment with the heart of the Father.

Sharon and I walked back down the incline to the trail below. We stood there for a moment and cried and held each other in a hug. What had we just witnessed? What had God called us to be a part of? We did not know. But we knew that God was there.

As we resumed our walk, we cried and prayed asking God what had just happened. I knew that we had witnessed the very truth Pastor Alice spoke of yesterday… the love of God the Father for us. The rabbit would have died without our help. Sometimes we are that rabbit. We are ‘stuck’ because we tried to go somewhere we did not belong and did not fit.

But it was more than that, we saw the problem and we wanted to help but we didn’t have the right tools to solve the problem. We too needed to ask for help, a willing soul who would help us to free the rabbit not someone with a cold heart that saw it just as the way nature works, some live and some die.

And God sent “Adam” – the irony of his name was not lost on us. Who else but God would send a willing soul to answer the distress call of a stranger? And he just happened to have wire cutters coupled with a heart of compassion for a wounded rabbit? Only God.

Three strangers came together to save a life… all of us were touched by the experience and I believe that the rabbit lives on. The Heart of the Father… my heart broke as I saw that rabbit stuck in the fence and knew that I might see him die if we didn’t get help. How much more does my heart break for my fellow-man who doesn’t know the Lord? May God break my heart for what breaks His. His heart breaks for people who are ‘stuck’ in life situations that will result in death unless they are set free and so should mine. I cannot do it alone and neither can you.

The empty fence was where the rabbit was set free. The empty cross is where Christ set us free. May the love of the Father live on through us. He who the Son sets free is free indeed. (If you would like to hear the message about “The Heart of the Father” (6/21/15) you can listen to the replay at www.spokanedreamcenter.org)

Barbara Hollace is not only a beautiful writer, she is also an amazing editor. For more information on Barbara go to www.barbarahollace.com

 

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Stepping Out In Unseen Faith

Stepping Out In Unseen Faith by Brenda L Yoder. MA

IMG_1886edcr Brenda roundThere’s a voice that’s been nudging me. It’s name is Faith.

I’ve heard it in a message about Abraham. God called him to sacrifice his son. Abraham obeyed, having faith God would provide or raise him from the dead. Abraham obeyed and believed in the unseen. That’s faith.

I’ve heard it from a friend who said her God’s bigger than circumstances that seem insurmountable.

I heard it from a small voice saying, “Do you believe me?”

Three situations for which I’ve been interceding. Each different. Each filled with pain that drives you to panic.

What will the outcome be? Each filled with fear.
What if?
Each filled with questions. What next?

I hear a small voice saying, “Faith is believing me for what you don’t see.”

I’m challenged by Abraham. The only thing he saw was his son, an alter, and firewood. There was no other option for obedience in sacrifice. He obeyed down to the final moment when God said, “Abraham! Abraham!” (Genesis 22:11).

He believed in God’s goodness even though the situation dictated God was playing some cruel trick.

Have you ever felt God was playing a cruel trick with your life circumstances? Have you ever held your hands on your hips and said, “Really, God?“

I have more than once, and more than once recently.

When anxiety creeps in and lies of the enemy invade my mind, I’ve had to take my thoughts captive, dwelling in scripture and believing what I know is true.

God is bigger than the circumstances. He sees the outcome. He desires good, not evil. His power is greater than my unbelief.

Do you need to hear that?

I do. I need to hear Abraham’s faith as he talked to his son – “God himself will provide.” In three situations, I’ve been taking small steps in faith, trusting God that He will provide. With each step, there’s nothing guaranteeing my faith. There’s no promise that everything will turn out “just fine.” There’s not a contract saying, “if you do this, then….”

But there is a covenant relationship saying, “I love you, just as I did Abraham.” It says, “If you believe I am good, you can trust what you don’t see.”

This week, I’ve been walking in faith into the unknown, casting out my fears and sending them to Jesus for Him to bear. He says He intercedes for us (Romans 8:34). He says He’ll carry our burdens (1 Peter 5:7). He says His power is perfect in our weakness. In our weakness, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:9)

It’s been a hard week, but I’m trusting God in new ways. I’m walking in confidence, as Abraham did, believing that God can do immeasurably more than I can ask or image (Ephesians 3).

Walking in faith, trusting in the unseen, taking God at His word.

Where do you need to walk in faith, trusting God for the unseen?

Father, thank you for being bigger than what we see. Thank you for allowing us to trust your character above all else. Thank you for loving us and fully working in situations we have yet to see. Thank you for being trustworthy. Amen.

 

A heartfelt shout out of thanks to Brenda for being a guest writer.

Brenda is a freelance writer and speaker with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She’s been a stay-at-home mom, teacher, and is currently a school counselor with a private practice. She was twice awarded the “Powerful Connection award for teachers.

She’s a parenting columnist for 10 To 20 Parenting, Choose Now Ministries, and Whatever Girls. Brenda has been featured in Chicken Soup For The Soul:Reboot Your Life and will release first book, Magnified, Finding Gods Best In Busyness in 2015. Her ministry, Life Beyond the Picket Fence, can be found at brendayoder.com where she writes about faith, life and parenting beyond the storybook image. Brenda is a wife and mom of four children, ranging from middle school to college-age.

Brenda is also active on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter and I hope take sometime to look at some of the many other wonderful things she has written.

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The Reward Will Come

By Traci Mertens

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 10.59.44 AMEver since I can remember I have wanted to be married, have four kids, a dog, a cat, and a picket fence. That’s every girls dream, well maybe not every girl but quite a few! I had it all planned out. I would meet my husband in high school or college. We would get married and have all of our children by the time I was 30. Guess what. My plans have not come to fruition! I turned 31 this year and have never had a boyfriend, thus no husband or children for me. I do have my precious cat Piper but that’s about it from my dreams so far.

When I am frustrated that my plans are not working out I have to cling to my life verse, Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans for a hope and a future.” God has me in the palm of His hand and He knows the end result of my life so I don’t have to worry.

It is so important to remember all the blessings that God has given you inScreen Shot 2014-10-13 at 11.06.31 AM life as you are going through the trials and the waiting. Trials will come to all of us, big and little, but we are blessed no matter what!  He cares about us more than we can even fathom.  Last year I had the word “blessed” tattooed on the inside of my left foot. I had been planning on getting a tattoo for quite a few years before I actually did it. I choose the word “blessed” because looking at my life I can see so many ways that God has blessed me. This summer I was working at a camp and heard a sermon on the Beatitudes in Matthew 5. The Beatitudes teach us that we can rejoice NO MATTER WHAT because our reward is not on this earth, but is in heaven and we get to go there someday!

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 11.14.22 AM

My next tattoo (for my right foot) will have something to do with “no matter what” because I choose to declare that I am BLESSED, NO MATTER WHAT. This will be a declaration that I will choose to be blessed no matter what happens in my life but also a tribute to one of my best friends and one of the strongest women that I know. My friend, Danielle, is fighting stage 4 breast cancer but her devotion and unwavering faith is the epitome of being blessed, no matter what. When I lack faith I just have to think about her and the battle that she is fighting and her example increases my faith.   I am so grateful for her example in my life. We are praying for a miracle but know that God’s plans are already made. He is doing great things through her.

I encourage you to look at your life, reflect on the blessings that the Lord has bestowed upon you. When the trials come, be blessed. When the good happens, be blessed. In all things, be blessed. Our Father is preparing our reward for us. Please, while you wait in anticipation for your heavenly reward rejoice in the blessings that He has given. -Traci

-This midlife domestic goddess is so blessed but the words of my sweet friend.  She has so many amazing gifts to offer.  I hope you have enjoyed what she wrote and that you will never forget that God has great plans for your life.  Hold tight in the promise that the reward will come 🙂

Please be sure to check out Traci’s beautiful work on Facebook at ABC Blanket company.  

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Taking Him at His word

20140901_141537Guest Post by Kari Villarreal

 

“Then [the remnant of Judah] said to Jeremiah, ‘May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act in accordance with everything the Lord your God sends you to tell us. Whether it is favorable or unfavorable, we will obey the Lord our God, to whom we are sending you, so that it will go well with us, for we will obey the Lord our God.’”       [Jeremiah 42:5-6]

So I read this passage a few weeks ago and cheered inside, thinking that God’s people had finally woken up to their sinful, disobedient ways. Here, they finally decided to seek direction from the Lord, and not only seek His direction but then vowed to obey whatever He would tell them to do, “whether it is favorable or unfavorable”! That sure sounded like renewed devotion to me! God responded quickly, speaking through Jeremiah and giving specific instructions to His people. He even went as far as to warn them of exactly what will happen if they did not follow His instructions. Pretty clear, no?

As the reader I’m thinking, “Okay people, how can you possibly ask for anything more? God answered your specific questions with specific directions and promises attached, to boot!” Apparently, their ‘renewed devotion’ was quickly thrown out the window. The answer they received from God through Jeremiah wasn’t the answer they wanted, so they chose to ignore it. Not only that, but when warned AGAIN about the idol worship that was angering God Almighty, this was their stubborn response (just two short chapters after vowing to obey whatever the Lord spoke to them through Jeremiah):

“‘We will not listen to the message you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord. We will certainly do everything we said we would: we will burn incense to the Queen of Heaven and will pour out drink offerings to her just as we and our fathers, our kings and our officials did in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. At that time we had plenty of food and were well off and suffered no harm. But ever since we stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have had nothing and have been perishing by sword and famine.’” [Jeremiah 44:16-18]

Anyone else exasperated by these crazy people?? The two passages above sound like they have come from two completely different people. This was their arrogant response: ignoring the Word and warnings of the Lord, they chose to look with eyes of flesh at their situation and draw their own conclusions (i.e. ‘we were so much better off when we were worshiping this idol’). How easy it was for me to sit back and scoff at the arrogance and ignorance of God’s people…but then there was that gentle and loving, yet firm and convicting stirring in my spirit, and it hit me. How many times have I done the same thing? Too many to count. In many different areas and contexts of my life.

Currently my struggle is with bitterness and un-forgiveness. It’s absolutely toxic. I didn’t even realize the extent to which it had begun to consume my heart until I asked Him back in June of this year to search my heart and reveal to me the things that were not pleasing to Him. May I just say, be careful and be ready if you ask God this question? Because He will, and when I did I was not at all prepared to see the blackness that had grown in my heart that I was mostly unaware of (or maybe just deep down, unwilling to give up). So for almost three months I have spent time digging deeper into His Word and praying through what He revealed to me. Seeing not much progress, I became discouraged and confused. “Lord,” I prayed, “I’m asking You each day to please remove this ugliness from my heart! It’s going to eat me alive! Where are you? Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it, I just want this gone!” (Sound at all familiar?) Looking back, I realized there have been times in my life when some things were “easier”, yet at many of those times I was spiritually dead or asleep-or worse, jut flat-out disobeying Him-ignoring His very Word, the bread of life, to worship my own idols (again, sound familiar?).

Then I came to chapters 42-44 of Jeremiah in my Bible reading plan and the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart: “My Word says that if I have forgiven you, what can you possibly hold against anyone else? It also says to get rid of all bitterness […] along with every form of malice. It ALSO says that love does not envy and keeps no record of wrongs. Haven’t I spoken? And I have spoken clearly and specifically. It’s all in my Word, you have the choice to heed it or ignore it.”

OUCH!

So I suppose I’m really not all that much better than those ‘crazy people’. Was this revelation an immediate fix to a deep issue that the Lord was (and still is) working out of me? Wish I could say it was, but this time the answer is no. Does God sometimes work that way? I definitely believe so. Ultimately, I have made the choice (through His strength alone) to let go and trust that this very painful, humbling process will bring me closer to my Jesus than miraculous deliverance in a moment of revelation. I believe that is always one of His priorities, along with bringing glory to His name and building His kingdom. My hope in sharing this personal internal struggle and the revelation through His word that He so graciously imparted to me is that it brings glory to His name. He is so incredibly patient with His kids!557_10202467181544508_1797414666_n His correction is accompanied with His gentleness and His loving kindness. He is always, always good. I know the outcome of this process will be worth the (delayed) freedom, versus ignoring it or putting it aside until I feel like dealing with it.

If there’s a heart issue you know the Lord has been nudging you to deal with, I encourage you to dig into His word and hear the specific instructions He has already given us, and ask His powerful Spirit to breathe those words to life and penetrate them deep into your heart. It will probably be difficult, but will be worth the outcome because He is faithful and completely trustworthy.

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Beautiful: My Story

Unknown-2

Thank you to “Photos by Heather”

By Taler Ray

Photo Credit: “Photos by Heather”

We all long to feel beautiful and somehow those 9 letters are the epitome of worth to most women around the world. Have you ever thought about how important in essence the word beautiful is? This word either empowers or destroys. How do I know this? Because I’ve been there, we probably all have and if we are honest we base our level beauty and worth by what culture says. Today we have social media, magazines, commercials etc. to thank for “idols” that clearly and visually, state clearly how little our hearts and passions matter.  Because to the world we are how we look the definition of who we are depends on it.  But friends….”beautiful” really isn’t an adjective that supports the noun. Being beautiful is a verb.

Beauty by social standard has destroyed and woman’s heart and I am a victim. 

Unknown-5Yes, I finally said it. I have been a victim of society and the media when it comes to feeling beautiful, but not until recently did I realize how deep these influences have affected my heart. For so many years I have tried to pretend I knew what it felt like to love myself, to feel completely confident and pretty-but I was so very wrong. My standards of beauty have been skewed by the world and the devil. He is always seeking to destroy. I have struggled with my weight and outer body image my whole life, but didn’t address it. Instead I allowed the devil to capitalize on my insecurities but worse was the denial that covered them.

I neglected the aching in my heart to feel beautiful and shoved my insecurity to the depths of my soul, hoping no one would ever find it

But, Jesus did. He found & revealed them. Jesus dug out my deepest insecurities and put them on display. Ultimately, he showed me that I failed to realize that my struggle with being beautiful was keeping me from being the truest version he created. I had been lying to myself for years, but lie I will no more.

Being pre-diabetic since high school, I have never really been healthy. Loosing weight was hard, no matter how healthy I ate. Returning from my first year of college heavier and more in denial than ever I was headed for type 2 diabetes which is hereditary. I knew that I had to make a change, but I just felt trapped in these chains of self-pity, guilt and frustration. I started baby steps and took the advice of my dear friend Claire and started approaching exercise totally different. As an act of worship. It was during one of my runs in early May that I finally surrendered my burden of self-image to Jesus. I surrendered the lies that Satan and culture. My chains were broken and set free through Jesus.

Being broken is not fun, and I am slowly beginning to be made “WHOLE” in the Lord. For so many years I had failed to understand that my body is a temple and when I neglect it, I neglect my relationship with Jesus. Following him means I must also honor my body; for it I do not I am dishonoring the Holy Spirit whom dwells within me. I’m learning that only when I surrender my flesh can I begin to be shaped into something new.  The new that is revealed through God’s glory and grace.

I love the message version of 1 Corinthians 6:19 & 20 which says

“Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.”

As I close I can admit that for so long I let my insecurities and society define me as unworthy of being a beautiful creation. But through the convictions, trials and triumph I can hear the Creator whisper to me, saying:

Beloved, you are my masterpiece.”Unknown-3

Choose to live life as a beautiful verb because we are not called to let others define our worth. We are called to live as he has defined us: beloved. 

In Christ Jesus,

Taler Ray

To read more of Taler’s awesome posts you can go to a New Adventure Each Day.  God has his hand on this young lady and I look forward to having her back again to share her wisdom.

Thank you to “Photos by Heather”  or on Facebook

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Five Great Summer Activities for you and your kids

By: Erin Bishop founder of The Whatever Girls

I had a great childhood and even better summers. I remember hot summer days, grape popsicles, walking to the Giant T drug store for ice cream cones, running through the sprinklers, building forts, and magical weekends at our family cabin at Priest Lake. Summer was perfect.

Now that I’m a mom, I want to recreate those magical summer memories for my kids. But, I have a lot to compete Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 1.34.33 PMwith. Kids today are never far from a handheld entertainment center, and mine are no different. All this time spent on technology leaves my kids feeling entitled to entertainment and sluggish imaginations.

My solution? This summer I’m mandating a once a week mom’s choice activity. My kids are going to get a taste of what summer was meant to be.

Here are five of my must do activities with my kids:

  1. A day at the lake: We are blessed to live in an area rich with beautiful lakes, parks and a river that runs through our city. There are endless adventures waiting to be had. We will pick a place we have never been, pack a picnic and spend the day playing in the water, building sandcastles and making new memories.
  2. Make a fairy garden: A fairy garden is a miniature garden complete with structures and actual living plants. It’s a tiny space created with love and imagination. All you need is a shallow planting dish, some dirt and some creativity. Check out my Pinterest board for some ideas.
  3. Go to a theme park: Each year my youngest earns a free ticket to a nearby theme park. We have yet to use it, but this year I intend to not let it go to waste. I like to avoid crowds, so I’ll have my husband take a day off from work mid-week and we will make a day of it. Be sure to pack sunscreen!
  4. Make s’mores: A lot of people have outdoor fire pits. We do not. We like to fire up our barbeque and go outside on a starry night and roast marshmallows by the fire of our barbeque.
  5. Backyard campout: I love not camping. But, for the sake of some late night giggles, special treats and fun times with my kids, I am willing to set up a tent in the backyard and go camping with my kids. Just remember to turn off the sprinkler system.

While these five things may not be a complete cure for summer boredom or our kids’ affection for handheld entertainment, I guarantee once your kids and mine, get a taste for what summer is really about, they will be anxious for the next adventure.

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Raising Spock

Guest post by Courtney Snailum of the “Passionate Pen”

Two weeks before Christmas, my 9-year-old son asks me, “Mom, can I ask you a question?”

“Sure”, I replied.

“Well,” he began, wringing his hands together and looking down at the floor, “I just wanted to say that at 6:00 am in the dark, I went into your room with the night vision goggles to look at my presents.”

“Oh,” I said, encouraged by his confession. “And how do you feel about that decision now?”

“Well, pretty sad, because they weren’t bright enough and I couldn’t see my presents.”

“Hmmmm, I see. And is not being able to see your presents the only thing you feel bad about?”

“Yep!”10322777_10203703873578610_1280731750506954340_n

Being a parent isn’t easy for anyone. I respect the challenges and situations that every mom and dad have to face when it comes to God’s highest calling, and I would never assume that our difficulties are any more trying than anyone else’s, they’re just different.

Our son, Samuel, has High Functioning Autism (or Aspergers) and parenting him comes with its own set of rules, most of which, we’re still learning.   But much more important than discovering our son’s practical parenting needs has been the lessons that God has taught my heart along the way. It’s learning how, not only to allow God to interrupt our plans, but coming to fall in love with those interruptions.

“’For I know the plans I have for you’ Declares the Lord” – Jeremiah 29:11

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps” – Proverbs 16:9

This journey hasn’t been easy, and it’s never going to be easy. Truth be told, there are many days where I just don’t know if we’re going to make it, and all I have left in me to do is cry out to the Lord for help. But trusting the Lord means allowing Him to write our story, even when we think we could have made the plot better, or we don’t see how He is going to tie it all together.

Holding my baby son, I had already written his story according to my desires: Straight A student, football, college, marriage, and grand babies. But God is the sovereign writer. He directs our steps in spite of what we think is best, then creates a masterpiece that is so much more beautiful than anything we could have come up with on our own.

The days of frustration may sometimes outnumber the days of joy, but they definitely don’t outweigh them. As difficult as Aspergers can be, there is also great wonder in discovering the world through Samuel’s eyes.

We have jokingly come to refer to him as Mr. Spock since he views everything through a literal lens, which has also made him a master loop-hole finder. This has caused us really raise the bar with our communication. Not just with Samuel, but with all of our children as a result. He has a gift of memorization and music that takes my breath away, and is always creating outside of the box.

Next year, we will be embarking on the adventure of homeschooling Samuel after having a very difficult time in public school. This decision started out of necessity, as the classroom is no longer a healthy environment for him, but the more I prayed about it, the more I began to see all of the amazing doors that this move is going to open up to him. We’ll be integrating occupational therapy techniques into the curriculum and will have every opportunity in the world to build and develop him in his unique areas of gifting.

And the best part is, we’re not going at it alone.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and it’s true. I believe it takes a Church family to raise a child with Aspergers, and we are so blessed to have ours. This is a group of people who have come around my husband and I and prayed with us, supported us, and occasionally taken our children when I just needed to take a walk and gather myself.

1017754_10203643551950607_947508421581739680_nA few weeks ago, Samuel received his first award at the school and we were so blessed to see such a large group from our church show up to cheer him on as the principal called his name.

I don’t know why God chose us to raise Samuel, but I am so thankful. He has an incredible plan for his life and we’re humbled to be given this responsibility. It takes a reliance on the Lord’s strength and careful listening to His voice to know how to tackle each and every challenge, but He has been faithful to give us everything we need to help our son, in the words of Spock, “live long and prosper”.

To read more about Courtney go to the Real Housewives of God’s Kingdom.  I was honored to write about her in one of my first episodes of that series.  Blessings 🙂

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