Effective Prayers

During a devotional time with my son this morning, we were talking about effective prayers. He asked what an effective prayer was.

My answer:

An effective prayer is when we are connecting deeply with God and seeking His will over ourselves, our situations, and the lives and situations of those around us.

An ineffective prayer is when we are trying to inflict our will on God for our lives and situations. An ineffective prayer is also when we are trying to point out the sins and flaws in other’s lives instead of asking God to convict us of our own sin and leaving Him to decide what work He needs to do in someone else’s life.

Then my sweet son and I started talking about filling up on God to be a light as we go through our day to day lives.

He said it’s like we are at a tea party and we are the teapot. But we are broken. But if God pours into us, then He heals us and then we can pour into the teacups around us. I’m telling you, this boy has a calling on his life. I don’t think we are all teapots, I think some of us are teacups. He’s a teapot, of that I am sure.

Until next time,
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Identity

Over the last year, I have found myself feeling like I really know who I am. And also whose I am. It is humbling and empowering to know the God of our universe had me in mind, created me on purpose, and has a plan for me.

I have come to a point where I am comfortable and able to kindly say I like this, I don’t like that, I want this, I need this. Instead of reflecting on time spent with friends feeling like I mirrored their sentiments, I am true to my own thoughts, opinions, and feelings.1561896982909_verse_image.jpg

Last October one of my sons tried to take his own life. While my heart broke and the pain I feel over all of it is deep, I have reflected often on the fact that I didn’t feel overwhelmingly distraught or desolate in the scariest moments of the ordeal, or the days that followed.

I did not feel as desperate as I thought I should. I found myself thinking a few times that I should be more distraught, more something. At one point I remember thinking, I should feel like the walls are crashing in on me right now. And then I wondered exactly who says I should feel that way and what good it would do? And then the clear picture of Jesus beside me, surrounding my son, and I was able to be thankful for so many hard things in my life that taught me that Jesus is the rock on which to build my life. Guilt likes to wiggle in and tell me I’m messing up or missing something by not being properly devastated. But the Word tells us that God will give us peace that surpasses understanding. I have dwelt in that peace more in the last 8 months than ever before in my life.

This peace comes as an answer to prayer – but not always my own prayer. Sometimes I don’t have the words to speak. But I have people standing boldly in the gap, praying for my son and for our family. We talk about community in church a lot, and it’s said that life is better together. Those first days, and the following weeks, really showed me how necessary it is to have people who love Jesus loving on our family in hard times.

I also realized that while I believe we were created for community and God didn’t intend for us to do life alone, He also didn’t intend for us to find our identity anywhere other than through Him. I think oftentimes we get the “we should feel/think/say/do” thoughts from finding our identity in our friend group, social media, parents, spouses, kids, work, you name it. Something other than identity in Jesus will leave our footing on shifting sand, “they said I should”, and being blown about with every shift in the wind.

Now for the hardest line to admit aloud – and I think this is hard to admit aloud because I don’t want it to be taken wrong. I don’t want to be judged. Here it goes…

1561897199618_verse_image.jpgWhile my son is absolutely important to me and I know he is a blessing from God Himself, my children don’t define who I am. Jesus does. My son’s choices are his own. I hurt when he hurts, from a place of empathy. I want his anguish to be relieved and I will do absolutely everything in my power to be sure he is getting the help he needs and that we as a family are also getting the help we need.

This isn’t about abandoning someone I love in the midst of their pain, or even boundaries, or rising above energy that doesn’t serve me. This is about wrapping my arms around him, praying for him, seeking the necessary therapy, and resting in the love and peace of Jesus as I do what is wise and necessary for my boy.

I’m doing my part. Not perfectly. Not without a learning curve and mistakes. I’ve had to ask for forgiveness. I’ve had to give forgiveness. And I’ll have to keep learning, every single moment of every day. And I’m going to keep resting in Jesus. It’s not that I’m confident about what the future holds on earth, but I have hope because of Christ, and for that, I am humbled and deeply grateful.

Until next time,

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If you or a loved one are struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts and need help, please reach out the the Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 – they are available 24/7 to help you and have been a help to our family several times.

Yes isn’t always the best answer.

I’ve been reading a lot of parenting articles in my motherhood groups lately. The focus seems to be on saying “yes” more to our kids. I was buying into a little at a time, slowly doubting myself in a new way, and thinking that I just shut the kids down too much, too often.

So “yes” started becoming my new mantra. Not to anything dangerous, of course. But I found it pushing bedtime back because my new question was, “What does it hurt?” And if they stay up a little late, they can sleep in a little, it’s summer. We homeschool. We’re on our own schedule.

“Yes.”

“Yes.”

“Yes.”

Every interruption that came, I was trying to meet with a sweet, “Yes baby, let’s do that.”

With 5 kids asking me for time, attention, snacks, activities, things to do, I started to feel overwhelmed. I was being pulled in more directions than I could keep track of, and I started to see the disappointment and let down of the yes’s that I couldn’t follow through on.

Is “yes” the best answer when the hours of the day run out and our children feel like we’ve broken a promise? Yes is like a promise to a child.

Today, as I was down to only a couple of the kids, and we were having special time together because I rarely have just the girls, it just kind of hit me – if God is wise enough to tell me no, why do I suddenly think I need to always tell my kids yes? Yes is not always the best answer.

I am limited. If I don’t guide my kids through how to manage my own human limitations and give them a solid example of choosing how we spend our time, then I’ll send out adults who run themselves ragged and don’t know how to say no. They have to hear no, have no be enforced, to be able to say no. If they never hear me say no, they may turn their backs on God when He says no.

“No” should not be a foreign concept to my children. “No” is disappointing, but not as disappointing as a yes that wasn’t followed through with. “No” teaches patience, boundaries, delayed gratification, selflessness.

See, if I’m crawling into bed weeping because the interruptions were too many and I didn’t allow “no” to protect my energy, then I’m eventually going to resent them. Or resent motherhood. I don’t want to look back on these days and only remember the exhaustion, overcommitment, and crawling into bed in tears because I wasn’t enough that day. But that’s easy to do in motherhood.

I would rather so no to some things, so I can say YES to the best things- as my Pastor Craig Groeschel says.

Today we did a face mask and painted nails, but I said no to writing a story. That was a hard one, anything that moves their minds is kind of my jam. But today was a good day for pampering and I also had chores to do, a personal project, and meals to prepare.

I have more peace about saying no to writing that story than I’ve had in the last several weeks of trying to say yes to everything.

I’ve learned that God says no when I’m not in His will, not looking the direction He wants me to, to keep me safe. I don’t always understand, and I don’t always like to hear no. But I trust that God has my best interest in mind, and I want to lead my kids to trust that He has their best interest in mind by showing them that I do. I also want to lead by example that it is okay to say no to some of the things that tug at our time and attention.

How do you feel about saying no to your kids?

Until next time,
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