What We Speak Into Our Children

A while back, I discussed what we read to our children, that it probably has more impact than we realize, by sharing what my mom read to me as a child.  Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I speak into my daughter.  Words have the power of life and death.
For instance, Little A was two at the time.  And, to say that her twos were terrible would be the understatement of the century, (so take heart, mother of the two-year-old, you will live to see another day).  We were visiting her great-grandparents one weekend shortly after she turned that magic number, I should add here that her great-grandparents are two very godly, wonderful people.  We were trying to have breakfast with them one morning, and when I say “trying,” I should say that Little A was an off the chain, wild child that morning.
There would be no sitting.
There would be no eating.
And there would be no ceasing of the mouth to run.
And if my life had more comedic value, it would have been one of those times where I’d lean in and take her little face in between my hands and say, “Girrrl, you better check yo’self before you wreck yo’self.” Because it was just that bad.
And her great-grandfather, just paused for a moment, looked at her foaming at the mouth, half-in, half-out of her breakfast chair, and said, “She– is going to be an AMAZING woman someday.”
There you have it, the words of life, spoken in a moment of frenzy.
There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t remind Little A of what her name means, “Defender of Humankind.” Think she’s got a lot on her shoulders?  You bet she does.
We were in the bathroom one night getting ready for bed, and I felt a heaviness, I went into my regular spiel about what her name means, why it’s so important, etc.  when I told her that it was going to be very important for her to listen to God to find out exactly what He wants her to do in order for her to truly realize His plan for her life and it got very quiet and very serious for a few seconds, and I knew she was listening…
I met a little girl named Fadzwa in VBS last week, and I remarked to her, “Wow.  What a beautiful name.  What does it mean?”
“We are pleased.”
How amazing.
We are pleased.  Not overjoyed, not weeping with gratitude, not setting up the college fund with the hope of a future doctor.  We are pleased that God gave us this gift, entrusted us with this life and found this humble vessel worthy to raise up a child.
We ARE pleased.
I told her mom later how beautiful her name was and she explained to me that it was Zimbabwean.  She said, “That’s so interesting, we’ve never explained to her the meaning, she must just be listening when we tell it to other people.”
See what I mean?
James 3: 3-11
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
What truth can you speak into your child’s life right now?  Go ahead, step away from the computer screen and scoop ’em up and get eye to eye, because they’re ready. 

VBS, Exhaustion, and Playground Evangelism

I spent this past week helping out at VBS at my church when I wasn’t working.

Oh. My. Goodness.

I have to say that our staff and volunteers get about a gazillion gold stars.  This was my first time volunteering for VBS and it was great–and exhausting.  By the time Wednesday night church rolled around, all I could do is allow free play for a good part of the night and hope that most of the wooden blocks stayed on the ground while the other volunteer and I exchanged glances that were heavy with, “I’m just too tired…”

All that to say is that it’s an amazing privilege to watch kids soak up to word of God, retain it, and take joy in applying it.  And even before I got through the week, I got this sweet little reminder of WHY we do this.  I was at the playground early one morning and this little kid can up to me and just started talking at me a mile a minute.  I quickly found out that Jeremiah was five, it was his uncle on the cell phone sitting at the picnic table watching him,  that he and this kid, Karl, who comes to the playground in the morning have a love/hate relationship (sure enough, Karl came buy a few minutes later with his toy plane and basically ignored Jeremiah) and that he was expecting a baby brother  in a few months and really excited about the prospect.  I’m not sure how it came about, but I started talking to him about Jesus, it just kinda popped out of my mouth, maybe because he told me that his name was in the Bible, and that was my segue into how cool the Bible is and how it teaches us about God’s Son.  A few minutes later, Jeremiah said, “We learn about the Lord in my school, ” and proceeded to bow his little head, close his eyes and put his hands together and recited the Lord’s Prayer perfectly.  All I could say was “Wow.” with tears in my eyes, I thought to myself, “How can I get Little A into that school?”  It was  beautiful and for a few seconds I felt like I was standing on holy ground.  Fast forward to Thursday and I was talking and praying with two friends and they reminded me that that was Christ there, right next to me, on a park bench.  And when they put it into those terms and said, “Let’s pray for Jeremiah,” I realized what a privilege we have to witness the holy in the every day, the entirely sacred in the midst of the ordinary, all brought about by chatty little kid named Jeremiah.

Where have you witnessed the sacred amidst the the common this week?

Highlights from the week:

-In the middle of our story about Paul and Silas and the big ole earthquake shaking their jail cell, the church’s fire alarm went off and one of the kids was convinced it was an earthquake.
-Getting to have ‘nilla wafers with the kids at 10:30 am and not feeling guilty about it
-Brenda being totally stoked about memorizing Hebrews 13:6 and saying it over and over and over again 🙂

Big-Girl Pants and the "Like Me!" Syndrome

I’ll admit it, I suffer from it: the like me syndrome, the one that gets me in a tizzy whenever there’s bad feedback.  Like yesterday, for example, after being painted in the most unfavorable light possible, at first I took it to heart, I worried, I fretted, but as I read this one person’s words, I could feel the Holy Spirit settle down around me, almost like a tent, and whisper to me, peace I give to you, not as the world gives, but as I give. 
Later that evening, as I felt things bubble back up, I was reminded of this verse, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you.  Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” John 15:18-20a
What are we trying to prove?  Why do we need anyone’s approval?  If we have our eternal glasses on, then why are we trying to please in the temporal?
And I realized tonight, that my last post was preparing me for this very day, because I was buying into the lie of “Who I am isn’t good enough.”  But somehow, miraculously, by His power, I was able to refute these lies with the Word.
How we live our lives, the things that may seem ostensibly “crazy” will garner conflict, criticism, and indeed ridicule.  But we have this choice to put on our big-girl and big-boy pants and stand firm knowing that if we believe that what our heavenly Father says is the final authority, then it’s all we need.

Eat When You’re Not Hungry

                                                                                                   
This is one piece of advice a friend gave me when I asked her about preparing for running a race a while back.  Counter intuitive?  Yes.  Feels a bit over-the-top?  Perhaps.  But it’s really good tip, because while I was training, when I crashed, I crashed hard.  You would find me scrambling through my cabinets at 10:30 at night trying to figure out what I could apply peanut butter to (rice cakes circa summer of 2011? Perhaps) in order to satisfy my caloric cravings. 
Fortunately, we live in a first world where we have the luxury to eat when we are not hungry. 
We have lots of things at our disposal.
This advice got me to thinking, of course, how this might apply to our spiritual fitness.  There so many verses in Scripture that refer to preparation, one of my favorites involves putting on the full armor of God, starting in Ephesians 6:10, and the phrase that sticks right out to me is: “…with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”  What is this gospel of peace?  It’s that Jesus died, was buried and then resurrected in order for us to experience life eternal with him.  Fully realizing that peace takes surrender, it takes laying down our own defenses of selfishness and self-pride and the many other strongholds that we have allowed to control our lives.
Our world, from our weather to our international relations, is in constant turmoil.   Our earth is groaning. These are the birth pains of the church, too.  The time is now to bring peace into this world through a relationship with the Prince of Peace.
AND he wants us to prepare our hearts and minds for his work.  If you feel like you’re on the cusp on a completely different phase of your life, even if you’re not, get in the Word, devour it like you’re not even hungry and God will speak to you.  I promise.  Arm yourself.  We’re not talking about guns and bombs right now, but we are talking about principalities and powers and our defense is being able to quote, verbatim, the word of God back to the lies that try to threaten our defenses.  Lies that the world believes, like:
What you have is not enough.
Who you are is not enough.
The grass certainly looks greener on their side of that fence, doesn’t it?
I was going through an almost overwhelming trial back in the fall, and one of my good friends reminded me of this verse: Give thanks in all things (I Thess. 5:18) Really?  In all things?  Even the things that make me pound my fists into the kitchen floor and tell God that I hate him?  Yes, everything–and somehow, God understands it when we do those things, because, believe or not, those trials bring us back to Him, back to His faithfulness, and again, back to his Word.
Wasting your time on other things?  Don’t leave yourself unprepared.  Know that Satan is working overtime to distract you from God’s best.  Gird yourself with the truth, put on those shoes, and start training.
*photo by Creative Commons by daniellehelm