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In Defense of the Children: Are We Protecting Our Most Vulnerable?

The world is on fire.  Our children are being sacrificed on the altar of tolerance.

According to WHO, every year in the world there are an estimated 40-50 million abortions. This corresponds to approximately 125,000 abortions per day. In the USA, where nearly half of pregnancies are unintended and four in 10 of these are terminated by abortion, there are over 3,000 abortions per day.  The rights of the baby, who has no voice are sacrificed for the rights of the mom.  Who decided that the mom’s voice was more valuable than the baby’s?

One out of 4 girls and 1 out of 6 boys will be sexually abused before they reach the age of 18 (a.).  Many more go unreported.

Recently the government decided to wage yet another war on our children.  They have invited every sexually perverted person out there to meet our children in the public restroom and have communicated to our children that they have no recourse.  What message is being sent to our kids?  That they don’t matter?  That they have nothing to say about the world around them?  That they are powerless?  That they are worthless?

Our school systems are failing.  Our kids are missing out on the joy of just being kids.  Play is a human right for children (b.)  Being able to ride their bikes, run, pretend, explore the real world around them, and not be hurried gives them a chance to learn in ways that work for them, which, in turn, helps them grow into healthy adults.

We are not the first culture to wage a war on children. For thousands of years, the children are the ones who seem to pay the price for each civilization’s foolishness.  They were the ones being sacrificed (literally) to the “gods” on the altar in cultures past.  They seem to be the first to be attacked and as developed as our country is, we are still not protecting our children the way we should.  We are sacrificing them on the altar of tolerance.

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Children are vulnerable.  They are depending on us to protect them and as a population, we are failing them miserably.

Here’s the thing:  children are NOT adults.  That means they are not ready for many “adult” situations.  Our culture is pushing them out in front of a moving bus all in the name of “progress.”

God has a very different view of children than the world does.  He clearly loves children.  He calls them a blessing.  He says they are of great value.

“People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.”

  — Mark 10:13-16

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

  — James 1:27

We are in a battle of epic proportions. If our children are led astray by sin and wrong thinking,  future generation will suffer greatly for it.

This battle we are facing is a spiritual one.  It can’t be fought with earthly weapons. (2 Corin. 10:4) The enemy of our souls comes to kill, steal and destroy our children and us, but Jesus said that we can have life and have it more abundantly.  Jesus conquered sin and death through his death and resurrection and the victory is ours.

When the final curtain is drawn, will we have been found faithful to have protected the most vulnerable?  Will we have done everything in our power to be their advocates, to defend the defenseless?

I encourage you to take some time to think and pray about what that looks like for you.

As a mom, I never, ever want to be found sacrificing what I know is best for my children in order to please the culture.  We need to be warriors in defense of the children…our children and the others that God places in our lives.  We have an opportunity to invest into the next generation.  Let’s do it and do it well because they are worth it!

a. a “Child Abuse and Neglect Statistics.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. 2011. Accessed: December 28, 2011.

b. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/119/1/182

Tears in My Crockpot

My morning was hijacked by a FB post. I found out that lead could be leaching from my Crock Pot and contaminating my carefully planned meals.  I couldn’t be sure whether or not said Crock Pot might, in fact, be poisoning my entire family, but I spent most of the morning gripped with fear.

So while I was working hard to purchase wholesome, preferably organic food, all my efforts may very well have been voided completely by a malicious Crock Pot.

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Welcome to the 21st century.  It’s a roller coaster ride of mad efforts to stay ahead of the latest information: are cell phones killing our brains and giving us cancer?  Does technology make us more or less smart? Are my kids getting the right food, exercise, sleep, stimulation, friends, teachers, education?  Is my marriage all it’s supposed to be? Am I really a good mom?  Are the candidates really who they say they are?  Who is lying? Who is telling the truth?  And just when we think we MIGHT have a few answers, the rug is pulled out from underneath us.

It’s enough to make a grown woman cry.  And I have. Again and again.

You see, in the midst of all this mayhem…all this pain of life, what our souls are really crying out for are peace and rest.   We NEED peace and we NEED rest.

So as I remind myself to breathe (because, yes, sometimes I forget to do that) and I let the tears flow, I realize this is not my home.  I was made for so much more. WE were made for so much more.

And we will only know peace when we take the time to sit at the feet of Jesus and just be quiet. We need to feel his hand brushing the tears away and whispering words of comfort…”Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you REST… Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find REST for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus said,”In the world you WILL have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33  He never said it would be easy, but He did promise that He would be right there in us to help us rest and trust and to show us what to do next.

The problem is that we tend to borrow trouble.  God told us in Matthew  6:19-34that we should not worry about tomorrow because it would be too much for us.  Instead He reassures us that He values us more than we know and that HE will take care of us.

Mom, you are precious to Him.  Your families are precious to Him.  Never stop knowing and believing that He is GOOD and that He LOVES you.  He has your best interest in mind and promises in Romans 8:28 that if you are called according to His purposes,  He WILL work everything out for your good and His glory.

And so that morning I shed tears over my Crock Pot, I prayed.  I named that lie that the enemy was trying desperately to get me to believe and I declared out loud that HE IS GOOD.  I asked God to protect our family, give us wisdom and I told Him that I trusted Him.

I found out later that my Crock Pot isn’t out to kill us.  But I can tell you that the enemy IS.  God says that the enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly!  Put on your armor, moms, and fight the good fight!  He is good and He is ON YOUR SIDE!

One Tough Mother

If you’ve been a mom for more than 10 seconds, you know it’s not for the faint hearted.  As I scroll through social media and the internet I see numerous posts (many of  them very good) about how hard it is to be a mom, but I find myself wondering if this is actually helpful all of the time.

I’ve been a mom for over 25 years (we have eight kids), so when I started this gig there wasn’t internet or social media.  Often that meant we learned the hard way, but we learned as we walked the journey out in our own homes…without the world looking on or hearing much about it.

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The internet and social media can be a great way for moms to connect, especially when it’s impossible to get out with the kids. We can find helpful information and encouragement to better equip us for motherhood and we are reminded that we are not alone.  But for most of us, it typically doesn’t stop there.  It can quickly become a distraction and keep us from engaging in the real battle that is going on.  The battle for our kids’ souls.

Our two oldest daughters are married with children of their own.  They have told me how hard it can be to get their own unique groove in motherhood alongside Pinterest, Facebook, blogs, etc.  We are inundated with more information than we really need to be a good mom.

While we are fretting over whether or not our kids are “keeping up” developmentally with other kids their age, we are losing the opportunity to be praying over their souls, asking God what HE has for their lives.   We sacrifice the chance we have to savor these moments of this specific season of their childhoods.  Instead of embracing what is…we are constantly grasping for what “should be” based on how others are living or we THINK they are living.

YES, it can be hard. Really.Hard. But can I just say it?  We aren’t the first generation to experience motherhood and the struggles that come with it.  For thousands of years, moms have been having babies and growing them to adulthood.  They have experienced the joys and sorrows that we are feeling and they lived to tell about it.  The real question is HOW are we going to walk this journey?  Are we going to feel sorry for ourselves over every struggle, trial and pain? It’s a temptation I have faced a thousand times over and often given in to.  It never ended well.

Motherhood involves a lot of grit and perseverance, but not necessarily in the ways that are often portrayed on the internet.  Being a good mom requires a certain amount of toughness.  These days, that toughness means that we have to be willing to forge ahead based on what GOD is revealing to us and stand against the strong cultural tides that are undermining God’s good plan for  our families.  It means that we have to tune out the other voices and tune into what God is whispering in our hearts concerning our children.  We have to be warriors…women who aren’t afraid to be the mom God has called us to be.  We have to be one tough mother.

When the kids were young and I had to do so much for them, the physical exhaustion was real.  Having teens in the house is a another season of exhaustion, but a different kind. It’s more emotional and mental.  I get a little less frustrated now with the sometimes monumental task of parenting.  I am slowly toughening up and realizing that all of these struggles are part of the parenting package, not a personal affront toward me.

In this culture of being easily offended, we can quickly slip into becoming resentful over the work it takes to be a good parent.  This is not God’s heart for the family.  He has so much more for us and we need to pay attention to His ways because, although sometimes hard, they are good.

I am all for validation, friends and hugs for moms who are in the trenches everyday, but as someone said, “It’s okay to have a meltdown, just don’t unpack and LIVE there.”  My concern is that going over and over and over every little nuance of motherhood, can quite often end up as a distraction and temptation toward self pity.  There is so much about motherhood that takes grit and perseverance and I can’t help but wonder if changing our thinking toward letting it make us stronger would be more helpful.

Here’s the thing:  Our kids will probably experience a world we never dreamed of, one where they will most likely be persecuted in some way for living out their faith.

Moms, we need to GIRD UP!! Our kids are watching and taking their cues from us.  What are we telling them by how we are living our lives?   Are we telling them to quit if something is too hard?   Are we exampling a weak, anemic faith or a robust, durable, sturdy, rugged, solid, long lasting faith?

Don’t let the culture keep you from being the mom has called you to be. Grow in your faith and walk it out in front of your kids. Train them up in HIS ways.  Let them KNOW that our God is almighty, sovereign, powerful and REAL!!  Be one tough mother.

How Does a Mom Become a Strong Woman of Faith?

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There have been so many amazing women throughout history who have been courageous, faithful and stood strong in the faith through severe trials and suffering. I’ve admired them and prayed that I could someday become like them.

Then God made me a mom.

I thought having children would hold much reward and gratification, and I was right. But what I didn’t realize was how much God would use motherhood to help me become a stronger woman of faith.

I’ve experienced the depths of sorrow as I lost 5 babies to miscarriage. I felt the height of joy and thankfulness as each of our eight children was born.  I felt the grip of overwhelming grief while walking alongside our oldest daughter as she gave birth to her firstborn and buried him a week later.  I felt helpless and out of control as our young newborn recovered from major open heart surgery, spending 2 months in the hospital with his life hanging in the balance.

God grew me during these trials, but He also used them to show me how He had already greatly increased my faith in the simplest of ways through motherhood. As I daily mothered our children, He used those daily struggles – the ones hidden from everyone else’s eyes, the ones He and I walked through together – to lay a firm foundation of faith that would uphold me and glorify Him when I walked through the fire.

God is in the big things, but He is also very much in the small, seemingly insignificant things.

Being a mom brings us to our knees for so many reasons: sleep deprivation, wayward children, struggling marriages, physical challenges, being “on” 24/7, physical, mental and emotional exhaustion and so much more.  The one thing we all have in common, though, is that we love our kids to the moon and back. We want only the best for them, but we realize about three seconds after they are born that we really don’t know exactly what that is. And so we run to our Father over and over and over again. He continues to lead us, one day and one decision at a time.

Our prayers are often simple, desperate pleas for mercy, for wisdom, for grace. They really are more childlike than “adult.” Why is that? Because our hearts are raw when it comes to our children. There is something so instinctive about crying out on our children’s behalf that we no longer care about fancy words or pretense. We are desperate and needy, and that’s exactly where God wants us.

In Matthew 11:25, Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.”

It’s in these vulnerable moments, when we come in childlike faith, that God reveals Himself to us. As that happens several times a day, for weeks, months and years, our crying out and God’s subsequent revealing become a way of life for us. In that process we become familiar with what Jesus meant when he said later in the same passage,

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Mt. 11:28,29)

It’s in this place that we become strong. The world tells us that we have to be strong, but God says that in our weakness He becomes strong. His mighty power surges through us when we are submitted to Him at our weakest point.

So relax, Mom. You don’t have to make yourself strong. You don’t have to be everything. You simply need take on His easy yoke and His light burden. Let God use your weakness to help you become a strong woman of faith.

Finding REST in a Frightening, Chaotic World

REST-in-chaos

As I was preparing to write this, there was yet another mass shooting in our country.  It has become clear that this is not going away.  Fear seems to be a blanket that is beginning to hang in the air like a thick fog.  It lifts every now and then, but not for very long.

It’s not just the shootings, it’s the response of Christians to each other, the lack of solid leadership in our country, natural disasters and more.  It feels like the world is on fire.  We fear for our children and grandchildren.  We feel helpless and deep down inside, we can’t help but hear the insidious voice of the enemy hissing, “Where is your God?”

I’m here to tell you that OUR GOD IS ALIVE AND WELL!   He is still on the throne, and He is sovereign and good and loving. (Psalm 62).  He loves his people and nothing touches us unless it passes through his loving hand FIRST.

But when we feel like everything is falling apart, chaotic, and just plain frightening, what is it that we are desperately needing, wanting, scrambling for?  REST.  And God says we will never find it apart from him.

So I’m giving you some tools for your tool box to help you find REST.  Practical.  Time tested. Unchanging.  We have very little control in this life, but we CAN choose to give God his rightful place on the throne of our hearts which in turn will give us the rest we so desperately need. 

R-Read (and meditate) on God’s word.

The times and culture changes, but Isaiah 40:8 tells us that God’s word stands forever. If we are going to anchor our life in anything, it should be something that will stand the test of time.

Hebrews 4:12 says that the word is living and active and  gives us discernment. Isn’t that what we need as wives, moms and as believers?

Isaiah 55:11 says that God’s word always produces fruit. So even if you are a busy mom who gets little snippets of time here and there in His word, God promises that it will be productive! I think he also has a very soft spot in his heart for each one of our situations. He knows the demands on our lives and he gently leads us with grace and mercy. (Isaiah 40:11)

Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom, get out your Bible and READ it! Psalms and Proverbs are solid and practical.  You can also use a topical study Bible to search God’s word for specific subjects.  I love using my journaling Bible and have a highlighter and pen handy for marking certain verses that stand out to me and making notes as to what God is showing me. It’s also easier to find them again if I want to reference them later.  Write key verses out on cards and hang them in places you will read them often.

E-Exalt Him.

I can’t tell you how important it is that we worship God. We are all created to worship and we are worshiping something or someone every moment. God created us to worship HIM and when we do that, we are not only acting in obedience to Him, we are turning our eyes toward Him and focusing on who He is. In that process, He becomes bigger and our problems become smaller. It changes our desires and aligns our hearts with his.  Turn on the praise and worship music and let it fill your home, your car, your heart and your mind.

S-Be Still.

This is a tough one, but absolutely essential to hearing from God. As busy moms, we often feel like we simply can. not. stop. The reality is that we actually can.   Maybe we cannot stay up a little later than the kids or get up a little earlier.  But maybe we could utilize nap time instead of trying to get more done, use quiet times in the car, take a walk, ask our husbands to watch the kids for 20 minutes while we sit someplace that we can be alone.  If remotely possible, I love to do this while taking a short rest or before I get up in the mornings (pretending to be asleep)!  Even if we only find ourselves with a few moments here and there throughout the day to pause and quiet our hearts before the Lord, there will be a good return!

The biggest help for me lately has been putting my phone in airplane mode. I wouldn’t call myself a phone addict, but as I’ve been more careful to make time to quiet my heart, I can see that I actually do spend  more time there than I should. The reality is that I am making a trade off every time I choose to be on my phone… even for 2 minutes, because it takes my mind a different direction.  I am suddenly way less intentional.

When we shut everything off and choose to wait on the Lord, carefully listening for His voice, we give him his rightful place in our hearts. We give him time and space to speak to us. Essentially, we say, “Lord, You are more important to me than anything else.”

T-Take your thoughts captive.

We are engaged in a spiritual battle every.single.day.  (2 Corin. 10:3-5) We cannot ever, ever forget that! Our battle is NOT against flesh and blood and the battle begins with our thoughts. In order to have victory over our enemy, we must keep a close watch on where our minds are. Have you ever noticed that when a feeling of unrest comes over you and you stop to realize what it is that you’re thinking about, it’s NEVER good? Our emotions can serve as a red flag that our thoughts are going places they shouldn’t.  (Phil. 4:8)

One of the best ways to combat anxiety and lack of rest is gratitude (1 Thes. 5:18).  “God asks us to show Him gratitude in the dark times of change because He knows that’s how we find Him in the dark.” (Kristin Strong)

Instead of being fearfully distracted, let’s be intentionally faith filled.

Our kids are watching us. We are showing them by example whether God is loving or not, whether he is sovereign or not, whether he is trustworthy or not.  Let’s show them that He truly IS all of those things.  Let’s leave a legacy of faith, for their sake and for ours!

To the Mom Who’s Forgotten to Be Kind to Herself

Be kind to yourself, Mom!

 

I sat back in my chair, exhausted. I closed my eyes and tried to take in the praise and worship music that was playing. Suddenly I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. Until that moment, I had no idea how burdened I was.

As moms we tend to do that, don’t we? We take responsibility for huge parts of our circumstances and relationships as we navigate our marriages, children, and ministries. Often it feels like more than we can bear.

As I talk to other moms along the way, the one thing we all seem to have in common is guilt and often a heavy dose of condemnation.  Moms with babies worry about things like whether they co sleep, or cloth diaper, or what they feed their little ones. Moms of young children wonder if they are getting an early enough start on school, whether or not their child is keeping up educationally with others their own age or whether they are over protective or not protective enough.

Middle school and high school moms question whether or not they are being too hard on their kids, or not hard enough, letting go too soon or not soon enough. We worry that our kids aren’t going to like us or if we will ever have a peaceful relationship with them again. We say and do things we never thought we would and sometimes, in the heat of the moment, things we regret.

And moms with adult children sometimes see gaps in character or lack of maturity and are painfully aware that it’s too late to be the one to fix it. We feel regret.

Maybe you’re the mom whose family is undergoing great trials…trials you never expected or maybe even ones that you feel that you’ve brought on yourself? Life is HARD. It’s not what you had pictured for your family.

And then it comes…the heavy, wet blanket of condemnation. It’s suffocating. It’s debilitating. It makes us feel hopeless and alone.

And that’s EXACTLY what the enemy wants. Yes, you heard me right. This isn’t what it appears to be. It isn’t about us being the perfect mom, the perfect wife, the perfect friend. This is a spiritual battle that the enemy wages on our souls to do what He does best…steal, kill and destroy. He knows if he can disarm us, or at the very least discourage us, he neutralizes our effectiveness for the kingdom of God.

It’s time to declare war! We need to be persistent in taking back what belongs to us. God said, “So there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” (Romans 8:1,2)

Did you hear that? NO condemnation. What does He give instead? He gives us His Spirit. He gives us FREEDOM. “So if the son sets you free, you are truly FREE!” (John 8:36)

Free to what? Free to trust God! Free to believe that what He says IS TRUE…”And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28)

God knows we are weak. He knows we are dust. He has more than enough grace and power to cover our mistakes. And at the end of the day, when we doubt our decisions, we need to bring that doubt to God, repent if we need to, and ask for His covering. God is the GREAT Redeemer. He can even take what the Enemy intends for evil and turn it into good.

Maybe these feelings are really signals to pray over those specific realms. We need to take those areas we feel condemnation and make them part of our prayer strategy!

And we really need to stop being so harsh with ourselves. We are going to make mistakes. We are going to sin. But the minute we forget that we are saved by grace and are called to continue to live by grace, we give the Enemy a foothold he should never, ever have and, quite frankly, has no right to.

Jesus paid a great price for this freedom we have in Him. It’s ours for the taking. He loves to see us enjoy this gift just like we love to watch our kids enjoy the good gifts we give them.

Be kind to yourself, because HE is. His heart toward you is tender and it is good. Rest in it.

Busy Seasons and Weary Souls

Busy Seasons and Weary Souls TBM

We’ve just come out of a very busy season for our family. I know there is an ebb and flow to life, but it’s starting to feel like our “busy” seasons are all running together. It’s all a blur.

There was a video going around Facebook of several older ladies saying what they would do differently, if they had “time” back again. They mostly spoke about doing less and “being” more. I actually found it quite irritating.

I’m a mom of eight kids, a nana to 3 grandbabies, and we are in our 20th something year of homeschooling (I don’t even remember). There’s a whole lot of “doing” involved in being a wife and a mom and as I’m watching this video, I’m thinking to myself, “Sure, let’s add ‘just be’ to my never ending checklist!”

I think that’s what happens in a “busy” season. Everything becomes about doing and “being” only happens when we just can’t do one.more.thing. I find myself curled up in the fetal position, mumbling, while the kids whisper amongst themselves and throw things at me to see if I will snap out of it.

And then there’s guilt. As much as we hate it, guilt seems to be our constant companion as moms.  We feel guilty when we are too busy. We feel guilty when we aren’t busy enough.

And so I find myself at the end of my rope. Again. I can’t help but wonder if that’s where God wants me. I don’t ever intentionally go there.  That would be dumb.  But somehow I find myself there A.LOT. Especially in busy seasons.

And yet, what does God say about weariness? He says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28,29) He is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort…He can do for us what no one else can and He is able and willing to meet us in our moments of need.

He also says, “Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”( Isaiah 40:30,31) He is just as faithful to all of his promises on our very worst day as he is on our very best day.

God doesn’t clearly tell us in his Word what is too much or too little when it comes to busyness. That’s something we each have to walk out with him. What He does tell us though, is that He wants us to be about HIS business…His agenda. In other words, to be led by the Holy Spirit. And when I find myself craving success, control, comfort, pleasure, and material things more than what He wants to do in my life, it’s probably time to step back and re think my priorities.

In other words, is my busyness causing my soul to starve?

If Jesus is truly Lord of my life, I need to make him Lord of my minutes, hours, days and weeks. Because all of those flow into years and become my story. And I want my story to be HIS story.

Now please excuse me while I go unclog the kitchen sink.

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Do you struggle with being too busy? How do you help keep it under control?