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Serving Jesus When You’re Covered in Spit-Up

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Jenny and Michael are going to Africa… again. They’re going to de-worm a million kids, build the area’s first university, nearly eradicate West Nile Virus, and then end it all by awkwardly bobbing to worship music while dripping in sweat surrounded by ever-grateful dancing townspeople. (Please excuse the gross stereotyping and ridiculous exaggeration- it’s all coming from a bitter mind.) The couple stand before us all now, sharing with the congregation what prayer requests they have and other stuff probably. I don’t know because now I’m standing over the bathroom sink vigorously scrubbing spit-up off of my shirt. Jenny’s off to save the world and I reek of sour milk. Score.

I hate this feeling. Jealousy gets me nowhere. Right? I know it doesn’t. But I just really love Jesus and really want to do stuff for him. Be his hands and feet you know? I’m actually being serious. Just a touch of sarcasm. I’m a very passionate person. My heart literally HURTS real pain when I read about suffering in the world. I immediately want to act. I can’t tell you how many other moms I have heard grumble about the fact that we want to go to Africa (or fill in your mission field here) too. It’s hard not to feel like a waste of space when your Christian counterparts are making huge waves for the Kingdom and you’re just trying to make it through the next wave of laundry.

Shrug shoulders. It’s just a season. It’ll be over before you know it. My time will come… So just suck it up and wait until then.

I’m calling bull.

The first thing the enemy wants you to believe is that you are not important for the Kingdom. Go ahead and get sucked-up in tummy-time, then lesson plans, carpooling, perfecting cookie-monster cupcakes… whatever. Don’t get me wrong, being a mom is an incredibly important job. But it is never our most important job. Our most important job always, is to be a disciple of Jesus.

The enemy has so succeeded in making us feel so lowly and unimportant that we forget that our sanctification (becoming like Christ) is numero uno. It’s not glamorous. It doesn’t get a spot light.

But when your kid gets cancer.

Or your husband has an affair.

Or your Mom has a stroke.

Or your community encounters a natural disaster.

Your heart is ready to respond. It’s ready to respond in a Christ-like way. You are grounded in His peace, love and wisdom- in the midst of the chaos.

In a way, even though we detest it, we see this season as a sort of “pass” to not engage deeply in the spiritual life. We know that God knows we are quite indisposed and can’t possibly serve the way others can. We know he gives grace. And he does. But there’s also this:

“We are saved by grace, of course, and by it alone, not because we deserve it. That is the basis of God’s acceptance of us. But grace does not mean that sufficient strength and insight will be automatically “infused” into our being in the moment of need. Abundant evidence of this claim is available precisely in the experience of any Chrisitian.” – Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines

How can we expect to respond appropriately to a tantruming two-year-old when we are disconnected from the creator of love, wisdom and peace? Obsessively reading parenting books, Christian or not, is not going to replace the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Ever. Our sanctification is the best parenting tool we have.

Beyond parenting, the Holy Spirit prompts us to serve in ways that are hugely impactful. Taking flowers to your neighbor in a time of need. Sponsoring (and actually corresponding with) children through Compassion International and other similar organizations. Crying with the woman who just lost her baby. Building meaningful relationships. Anytime we let peace, love, joy, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control shine through in our lives we are bearing the fruit of the Spirit. (Borrowed that thought from Jen Hatmaker’s most recent sermon) Don’t minimize your impact. Don’t let the enemy make you feel small. You are so important. Furthermore,  you have no idea what will come your way that will require supernatural strength and provide an opportunity to witness. I’m not talking about evangelizing, I’m talking about actually responding to a situation the way Christ would.

Engaging in sanctification is a gift anyway, right? It’s a gift I wish I would give myself more often. When I engage with Christ I get to dismiss (at times) house cleaning, meal planning, empty conversations, meaningless crafting, shopping, decorating… I don’t know it could be anything that doesn’t really matter. Engaging takes time, but it’s really the best way I get to spend my time. When I start my day with God, I center myself around His Kingdom, not mine. I literally plan my day differently. It’s the days when the cleaning or the shopping or the texting or the whatever overtakes me and I don’t just. stop. I don’t just trust that this time with Him will be well spent and nothing is more important.

It’s a slow process at times. I don’t get the “oohs and ahhs” from my peers or any “likes” on Facebook. There’s no stickers for this one. I have to pray that God will give me a desire to spend time in His word, aaand that He’ll help me to wake-up early (Caleb started me on that prayer- it worked!). Mostly, I pray that I won’t be overwhelmed with my desire to fulfill the “duties” of this world.

You know, there have been times when this dedication has really paid off… and then the times when my neglect is quite evident. His grace is so good, it makes us so loved and so accepted no matter what. But it does not magically make us like Christ. Your whole family can probably attest to that. Sorry, that was harsh, but I’m right a little, yes?

So, what do you do with this? I’m not sure what you need to do but my friend, Kimberly, and I have decided that the best thing we can do is create a discipleship group. We’re going to go through a book about practicing the disciplines and encourage one another. Would you like to join us? Grab another friend or two but try to keep it to 2-3 people because according to Kimberly, that’s when real growth can occur. (She’s kind of a small groups guru- check-out her site here)

Also, here are some books to help you along your journey:

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Another great resource is IF:Equip. They’re starting a new series on the Beattitudes, click on the image below for more info:ccfa405d-d04e-49fc-aa18-1c9e33393917

Please share whatever resources/insight/experience you may have! I’d love to hear it!

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Resources for Kids Who’ve Been Exposed to a Natural Disaster

Howdy from Texas,

As I’m sure you’ve heard, there has been devastating flooding here in Central Texas. There have also been several tornadoes. Being a mother and former therapist, my heart is breaking for the children who have been impacted by these events.  Navigating through trauma can be really difficult for parents. The most important thing is to let children process it. When our emotions are stuffed, they often emerge in our behavior. Anxiety, fearfulness, anger, violence, or emotional absence may occur as a result of unattended emotion. Help your child process and by all means, be a good example by processing this yourself. Here are some of the most difficult things to work through and some tools for healing.

Where is God when bad things happen?? Probably one of the most difficult things to navigate can be their faith in God. Many adults struggle with this issue so much that their faith hinges on it. Imagine how hard it is for children. Here’s how you can help:

Remind them that God is always the “good guy.” God doesn’t cause bad things to happen. When bad things like this happen to us, He is sad too. God has promised us that in the end of our story, He will make all bad things go away and never happen again. Have them think of their favorite movie or story. My little guy loves Frozen. There are scary parts in the movie but in the end everything is ok. That is what God promises us: that He is always with us, He loves us, and in the end He will stop all bad things from ever happening again.

Recommended Books:

For Toddlers

 

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For 4-7 year olds

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For School-Aged (About 7-10)– This has a wonderful Table of Contents and includes the question: “If God loves people, why do bad things happen?”

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For Your Pre-Teen or Young Teen: Chronicles of Narnia (A great metaphorical series of God’s love for us and surviving scary events)

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For Your Mid to Older Teen (Kids of this age can love to debate and work their logical brain which is really just forming. It would be helpful to give them a book that is also fairly concrete which is why an apologetics book such as this could be very helpful. It was for me as a teen.)

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For You

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Emotional Healing

Please do not underestimate the importance of this step. If it’s not dealt with now, you will pay for it later. Sorry, that sounds harsh. It’s true.

– First, learn to empathize. (Check out this AWESOME video on the difference between empathy and sympathy, it is a MUST see for parents and for anyone who is breathing really) It is so hard to hear your kid say they are scared or sad. I get that. But telling them to stop feeling the way they feel isn’t going to work. Instead, nod your head, put your arm around them and be honest that you were scared too. Tell them that you are sad that ____ happened. Be real. It’s ok to be honest. Once they feel heard, then you can say, “I want you to know that you are safe now and we will get through this together.”

– Second, recognize the signs of trauma. If you notice a change in your child’s demeanor or perhaps they have regressed in sleep or bathroom skills then they are most likely struggling. Be sure not to react in anger. Instead, work to understand their pain. Give them tools to work through their feelings. Depending on your child’s age, the use of play, books, art, journaling, prayer, yoga, breathing exercises, and counseling are all good options. Time-outs and other punitive forms of discipline should be put on hold during this time as they are forms of breaking relationship with your child and could cause an increase in anxiety. What they need most right now is to know you are there no matter what. You can work on character building later, now is the time for healing.

– Third, all children respond differently to trauma. What may seem small to us, could be very scary to a child with limited understanding of the world. Do not take this lightly and do not hesitate to provide counseling for your child.

Here are some book recommendations:

Toddlers- Pre-School

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School Aged (4 and up)

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School Aged (7 and up) Dealing Specifically With the Loss of “Someone Close”

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Tools for Coping with Emotions (4-12) There is also a YouTube video for this series that can be very helpful.

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Teens

Recommended for Grades 10 and up
Recommended for Grades 10 and up

Girls

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Boys- An inspiring True Story about Overcoming

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For You

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The most important thing for you do to do as a parent is to get yourself in a healthy place. Your kid needs you to be present for them and you can’t be if you’re still reeling from the trauma yourself. Let yourself grieve but don’t be swallowed by it. Exercise, eat properly, pray, cry with a friend, and seek counseling. Take time to play with your kids and have bonding time as a family. This is more important than any book: quality, connecting time. Go grab a Fro-Yo. Take a break for a dance-off. See a movie. LAUGH. Show them that life will go on and that this event cannot break your family.

You must know this deep in your heart: You are safe. You are loved. Someday, this will all be over. Trust that, and your children will come to also.

It’s Time to Ask You (and Check-Out our Adoption Profile Book!!!)

It’s official. Our Adoption Profile Book is out there, meaning that any day now we could get a phone call letting us know that we’ve been matched. I’m kind of freaking-out with excitement and also the anxious kind of freaking-out. So here’s what I have to ask you.

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Can you commit to praying over this? We desperately need a Prayer Team to hold-up our adoption in prayer. I would love to have at least 10 people who can commit to partnering with us in prayer on a weekly basis. I’m thinking that we should maybe have some kind of direction with this so we’ll send out a really short email each week asking for a specific prayer. It could be something like this:

Week 1: Pray that our hearts will be prepared for adding a new child.

Week 2: Pray that the first match we receive is the right match.

Etc.

Preferably, I will include a Bible verse but you know, we’ll see how on top of it I am.

So, who’s coming with us? We’ll start next week. Thanks friends!

Oh wait, I bet you want to see some of our Profile Book, yes?? Here are some pages from it!

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Cover minus the bright green text box outline.
Letter to the Birthmom
Letter to the Birthmom

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We used a 12×12 format from Shutterfly and I am REALLY happy with the results. Caleb upgraded it to the lay-flat pages and it was totally worth the extra cost. Good thing he had input because I’m a cheapskate. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need encouragement! (Special thanks BIG TIME to my friend Mindy of Finding Sunday, her Adoption Profile Book was a great source of inspiration. Read: We totally copied her.)

I plan on sending-out the first prayer email out on Monday. Let me know when you can! Thanks friends :)