I Am Not Called To Be My Kids’ Best Friend

My Duckies have some really great friends inside and outside of church. We celebrate birthdays and accomplishments with them, they have tons of fun when they play together, and sometimes they can get down-right rowdy. That’s when I have to step in and spoil the fun by reminding them to quiet down and be thoughtful of other people nearby. Not many people want to hear my kids going nuts or yelling as loud as possible just because they can. I love them. I don’t even want to hear the yelling, and there is always so much yelling. 

We have rules because the reality is that rules exist outside our home, and the penalty for breaking those rules can be much worse than a time out corner when they are grown. While the norm may be shifting to ‘just let them be kids’, we aren’t doing them any favors by allowing them to misbehave. It does them no good to have a rule, break it and have me tell them it’s okay, either. I have to stick to my guns when they break a rule or don’t listen to me. By being my kids’ buddy I am teaching them that I will be there to fix the situation so they aren’t in trouble, and that there is no authority. I tried that in our house and I got total anarchy! My kids need authority because their voice of reason isn’t fully developed. When I cave because my toddler is screaming, I am teaching her that if she screames long and loud enough she will get her way. That is just unacceptable and careless teaching on my part. When she is an adult and she tries to yell to get her way I hope she gets thrown out of a store by management because she shouldn’t get away with that. I hope to teach each of the kids how to despute without raising their voice and to bring a solid argument.

 Here is the society we live in: we want to stomp out bullying, but we raise bullys and teach people that throwing a fit gets you your way. My duckies will not be a part of that problem because I am raising them better. They will be able to accept the word ‘no’ at a check out counter without wanting to yell at a manager because I am conditioning them to hear ‘no’ when they are young. Am I saying they will never loose their cool? I can’t guarantee that, but I can tell you they won’t learn ‘temper tantrums equals their end result’ from me.

 I will add that if your kid is screaming and having a fit in a store and you aren’t giving into them then you are doing a great job! However, it is maddening to be put through 15 minutes of wailing just to see a parent cave in. Save our ears and don’t draw it out if you are going to give in. Plus, and yes I have done this, if your kid doesn’t want to leave a place and throws a fit don’t forget that you are bigger and can carry them out. I have been the mom with the stubborn kid screaming in the cart, and I have had to take my kid to the car while leaving my items there. Sometimes raising them is more important than the shopping list.

Another target I painted on my back was giving my Duckies chores. I make sure they are age appropriate, but yes my youngest Ducky can put away her own toys at the end of the day and my preschooler can make his bed. When I first brought the idea of chores in the house I felt like a drill sergeant having to constantly remind them to do a task. Those Ducks are stubborn and can drag out cleaning their rooms for days. After a few times of letting them know they missed a activity because they weren’t done cleaning their room they got the hint. Momma Goose doesn’t back down just because they really really really wanted to go to the movies. If they don’t learn how to keep a house now, there isn’t a magical adulting app for later. I am the one equipping them to take care of themselves. I don’t like it when they are mad at me, but they will learn to finish their tasks.  I had to learn over ten years how to keep a house. If I had started when I was a kid I wouldn’t have been so clueless and overwhelmed later. It is important that they learn to pick up after themselves.

We just moved to the country to start a new chapter in out lives as homesteaders. While my husband still works outside the farm, we will be utilizing the land as best we can. Trust me when I say that the duckies have plenty of ideas as to what kind of animals we can get. We are leaning towards Alpacas long term, but Ducky 3 still has his heart set on a Polar Bear. Don’t worry I will be sticking to no on the Polar Bear issue! Anyway, I agreed to let them get chickens as a start and the older Duckies are going to help build the coop and tend the chickens. It isn’t because of a lack of effort on my part, but more a desire for them to earn the right to get chickens. My eyelid twitches at the thought of all the nails I am going to have to pull back out, mistakes in levelness I will have to fix, or the arguments that are bound to happen. The reality is that the coop is going to be a great learning experience for them. They are going to know what it means to work hard for something they want, how to work together, and how to use a hammer. I want them to have the feeling of accomplishment that comes from finishing a project with their bare hands. If they grow up and work in an office that is great, but I want them to understand how hard manual labor is. Papa Goose works in a factory and tells me it is very easy to pick out the supervisors who came off the line and the ones who don’t understand the physical demand of the jobs they oversee.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been made fun of or even scolded because people feel I am being ‘too hard’ on my kids. I am not being their best friend all the time and deviating from the norm makes people uncomfortable. I stick to my guns and find comfort in Proverbs 22:6 ESV ‘Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.’ Now I get compliments on how well behaved they are, how quickly they step up to help others, or how great they are at doing what they are asked without talking back, rolling their eyes, or downright refusing.

Like it or not my Duckies are going to leave the nest. They are adults in the making and right now I am called to mold them not be their best friend. It is my job to be their conscience until theirs is mature enough to do the job. It is my job to make sure they are equipped with all the life skills then need to survive without me. When they grow into thriving, well mannered adults I will know they can soar and live their dreams because I taught them how. When I know that they have got what it takes to make it in this world only then can I be their best friend.

Big Questions from Little Hearts

 I cannot tell you how many times I have had all the Duckies piled into our car, jamming out to the local Christian station, when one of those little voices pops out a BIG question. Besides the akwardness of the ‘where do babies come’ from talk, they have a ton of questions about God, church and sin.
These questions range from ‘why do people go to church and still sin?’ to ‘what is adultery?’ Now those are some big questions for such small people, and kids always seem to be a never ending source of them. I won’t lie and say it was easy to explain adultery in a kid friendly way, but it happened anyway. The topic isn’t the most crucial part, but how I choose to answer them is beyond important.

I could say I will tell them when they are older, but the question has been laid on their heart in that moment. I may be hindering their spiritual understanding of the world if I put them off. I could tell them to wait until we get home and I will look up scripture to answer their question, but by then they will have lost interest in what we were talking about. The best way to handle hard topics with kids is to take a second to think your answer over, answer the question the best you can and then look it up in the bible together. If you get proven wrong by the word then explain to them that everyone makes mistakes but God’s word is always true and is never wrong. Not only do you get to show them how to look up things in the bible, but you get to help them grow spiritually and show them that they are important to God’s plan, too.

Everytime I get to answer them on a spiritual level I think of Jesus scolding his disciples when they tried to keep the kids out of the way in Mathew 20:14-15 NLT ‘but Jesus said, “let the children come to me. Do not stop them! For the kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.’

Kids are the next generation of our churches, the next to inherit heaven and they are the next to run the planet. So the way we answer them and foster spiritual growth is amazingly important. The examples we set now when it comes to their big questions about God also speaks to the importance we place on our kids themselves. Kid’s know when we value them over the other tasks in out lives, and that translates into how much we love them. Salvation won’t seem so out of reach later if we help them grasp the basics now, show them how much Jesus loves them, and teach them how big their little voices really are.

You may be wondering what to do if you really don’t know how to answer their question. That happened recently when Ducky 2 came to me  saying that she when she came forward at the age of four and was baptised she didn’t know if any of it was real or what it meant to her. In other words she was led through the motions but nothing clicked inside, and she didn’t understand the commitment she made. I answered her as best I could, but I wasn’t sure how to explain uncertainty in salvation to a child, so I turned to our Family Pastor, Eric, and he talked to her the next day. Even though I tried to explain it I let her know that he may have a better explanation for her and showed her it is okay to seek counsel from a wiser church member. After having a chat with him we determined that she has a basic understanding of salvation, but the repentance needs to be real and unforced. That will happen in God’s timing, but now we know to be ready. 

The most important thing any of us can do until the next BIG subject comes up is to study up on the bible. I can’t answer their questions about God if I don’t know what is in His Word, so it is kind of like studying for a pop quiz. There may be questions on a chapter I haven’t read yet and that is fine as long as I am willing to learn the answer with them on my lap. The last thing I want to do is say something that would lead them away from the truth. Studying isn’t just important for my soul, it is also critical for my kids’ souls. Our church just got finished with VBS this week, seeds were planted and now it is up to the adults in those kids’ lives to keep that fire burning.

Jesus warns us in Mathew 18:6 ‘but if any of you cause one of these little ones to sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and drowned in the depths of the sea.’ Teaching kids the Word of God correctly and raising them into powerful christians was something Jesus did not take lightly. We shouldn’t either! Now here is the BIG question for you: the next time a kid asks you a tough spiritual question will you be ready? If not then it is time to study up on the Word so we can better apply it when they do. 

God Bless!

Are We Statues or Pillars In Our Church?

James 2:14-18 NLT

What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you can say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing and you say, “Goodbye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”, but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see faith by itself isn’t enough; unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith, others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”

My favorite time period to study in Art History was always the Renaissance, and it was all due to the wonderful marble statues. When you look at them you can tell just how much time was poured into them by the master sculptors of that time. They are intricate and amazing pieces of art that are admired the world over, but other than being pretty they don’t do much. Their only function was to bring glory to the artisans who created them. Sculptors who are dead and can no longer hear the admiration they once did. Even though some of them depicted biblical scenes, when it comes to functionality they wouldn’t be of much use for day to day activities. 

I do remember trudging thru the chapters on Greek art history because nothing there ever did catch my imagination. Looking back at all the modernization and technological advances made during the time it is amazing what they accomplished.  The Egyptians also had amazing breakthroughs in all manner of ancient technology. People still can’t come to a definitive agreement on the history of the pyramids, but something the two cultures had in common was the use of the pillar. A pillar has two definitions 1: a firm upright support for a superstructure. 2: a supporting, integral, or upstanding member or pillar of society.

A flip back into any art book can show off some very ornate pillars, but these proved to be more than a decoration and they served a purpose. The craftsmen who fashioned these works wanted more than just beauty; they demanded functionality from their work over all else. What good is an ornate pillar that cannot support a roof?

Psalm 139:13-15 ESV

‘For you formed my inward parts in my mothers womb. I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.’

It is in these verses we get the image of God being the master craftsman, putting together flesh and bone creations that are all unique. He gives us all different talents to use together for His praise. God doesn’t just make us to be something to look down at and marvel. God has blessed us by creating us to be more intricate than the best Renaissance statues, and He made us with the capabilities to serve a purpose in His kingdom. James said it pretty plainly that faith without good deeds is good for nothing. 

If we sit by and don’t use our talents to further God’s kingdom then we are as useless as a statue. We may dress ourselves in pretty clothes on Sunday, but if we don’t serve then what good does it do? Churches are full of volunteer positions that need to be filled. We don’t need a special invitation in order to step up.  A special request for our services does nothing more than serve our ego and exalt us over God’s will for the church.

How many church events have we attended where we left thinking, ‘well if it only had _____? If it just had more songs, or lights, or comfier pews, or more activities, or more and more and more…. Did we ever stop to think that the missing piece to the prepwork on that event was ourselves? There are so many ways we can help our church, and all we have to do is humble ourselves and ask to be of service to it.

We hear of people being called pillars of the church because they rolled up their sleeves and got behind church leaders with their good deeds. These people see a need and fill it before anyone even asks. They make a commitment to be a part of something greater because they know what they sew now will be their harvest. 

Summertime means VBS is taking off like wildfire, and with it the opportunity to reach the heart of a child for Christ. We get the privilege to show them the love of Jesus and sew a seed of faith for later. 

This is just one example of how God can use us, but there are countless other ways we can use our talents. What we do with our time is beyond important, and it is the difference between being a statue or a pillar. So my challenge is to be more than a weekly ornament in our churches. Search our talents and serve the kingdom so that more people can know Jesus. God set the foundation for that kingdom. Now it is time for us to step up and be the pillars for God to build on!

Rainy Day Blessing

Psalm 103:1-4 ESV

Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. Who forgives all your iniquities; who heals all your diseases; who redeems your life from destruction; who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies.

Blessings come in all shapes and sizes. They can be perfectly times miracles, lessons learned with unanswered prayers, and sometimes they can seem so small in the moment that we do not recognize them until later. This weekend I get to experience a blessing. My two oldest duckies are going to camp out and I get to come with them.

It is also supposed to rain all weekend and that could prove interesting. Most people think of soaked tents, sleeping bags and bogged down spirits when rain and camping are mentioned. As the rain itself is a blessing from God to the forest floor, my heart will be filled with joy. No seriously it will and I will tell you why.

When these duckies were very little I was blind to a great evil that had come against them. I will not name anyone because I chose to forgive that person, and I only mention the evil to shed light on the wonderful power of God’s mercy. If you choose to look at the situation from a statistical standpoint my little duckies may not have lived thru that evil. When my eyes were opened to what was going on, proper legal steps taken, and the healing process for them began I was told over and over how lucky they were to have lived.

We have sat in counseling offices and helped piece our hearts back together. I have watched peace replace chaos in their lives and normalcy return to them. I have seen my husband take them into his heart and love them as his own. There is no step before dad in our book. I have had the joy of watching other people love them just for being themselves. It has taken years to get to this place.

This weekend they will be playing with friends, completing activities, and toughing it out in the woods in the rain. I have the blessing of getting to watch them make those memories with a heart full of joy. My blessing is in the fact that God has allowed them to thrive, and that they get to jump in the puddles.

No matter the circumstance you are in this week I invite you to focus on your blessings with me. No matter how small they may seem, count them and rejoice in our sovereign God.

The Second Day

Most of us who are Christian know the gospel. We know it from the birth, to Jesus working miracles, teaching parables, to his death and resurrection. We know that Jesus told his desciples of his up coming betrayal, that he would die, but he also told them he would come back and bring them happiness.

John 16:22 ESV

So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

Our faith hinges on the joy found in the resurrection. It is what sets Jesus apart, and without it we have no hope of eternal life. On the Eve of Easter Sunday I can’t help but wonder what the desciples must have been going thru on the second day.

They had just seen their leader, who they gave up everything to follow, killed by the high priests in Jerusalem. Not just killed but sentenced to death by an angry mob and publicly tourtured. They saw Jesus betrayed, rejected for Barabas, sentenced to death, beaten beyond recongnition, treated like a criminal, paraded thru town, nailed to a cross, and mocked thru the whole ordeal. I am sure the shock of everything that happened was still fresh in their minds. They saw evil men rally together the hearts of the unbelievers.

Peter was probably still ashamed of denying Jesus to the crowd. Mary’s cries of anguish for her child were still probably haunting their minds. The cries from the crowd mocking Jesus still echoing as they tried to process what had happened. The crowds were proud of themselves so much that they beat their chests as a sign of victory as they walked away from Jesus’ body on the cross. Their pride blinded them from the truth, and the desciples heart break drowned out the words Jesus had spoken earlier about joy.

John 20:19 says that when Jesus came to find them on the day of the resurrection they had the doors locked in fear of the Jews. I can understand thier fears because Jesus was proclaimed the son of God, and the crowds had no fear in killing him. They probably thought they were next on the list. I can’t say I wouldn’t be jumping at everything and leaving my door open.

It is easy to read the last few chapters of John and say that the disciples were acting silly, but we are reading that with the knowledge that Jesus rose. They hadn’t experienced that hope yet. Even though Jesus gave them a spoiler before the cross, those words were being snuffed out by the reality of the pain they felt at loosing him.

They were seeing life through the reality of what they had seen. That reality said evil had won. That reality said that Jesus had died. That reality said Jesus’ body was still sealed in the tomb.

Jesus shattered that reality when he rose from the grave, but it still took a while for the desciples to shift their view. Mary Magdalene found the tomb empty that day, but mistakenly asked Jesus where they had taken his body thinking he was a gardener. She didn’t realize that it was even Jesus until he said her name. She couldn’t believe it was Jesus and not the gardener because she had to transition into believing the impossible.

Jesus was still willing to help the desciples shift their thinking that extra bit. He showed them his hands and his side, so they would believe it was really him. Jesus sought after Thomas’ heart to be filled with the joy of the resurrection, even after he doubted the other disciples. Jesus allowed him to touch his wounds in his hands and his side.

John 20:29 ESV

Jesus said to him, “have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

The death of Jesus on the cross brought unimaginable horror, the second day brought shock and fear, but the third day sparked the new reality that hope conquered everything.

What day do we linger on in our walks with Christ? Do we get distracted by the tragedies of the world, or do we show the world a different reality of hope? Tomorrow we celebrate the miracle of Christ having risen from the tomb. We will also be celebrating with family and friends who may not have made the decision to accept Jesus as their Savior. I pray that we be their proof of hope with an attitude of joy. Not just for tomorrow but in every day we spend outside the doors of our churches. Amen.

(Photo sourced from


Trauma No Longer Lives Here

Palm Sunday is tomorrow and I was thinking of doing a guide thru the last week of Jesus’ life, but I can’t shake the feeling that I need to go deeper. I will admit that when I was in prayer this morning over what to write I didn’t start out thinking of trauma. Those that know me do know that I am no stranger to it or it’s lies.

If you look at my life from my teen years thru my twenties you will notice that overcoming sexual abuse is not something I am new to. I have seen my fair share of affliction as being that one person out of three, and helping loved ones out of the same place. I had struggled with the pain and scars left behind in my mind. I constantly felt useless, afraid, unworthy, and ready to end my life to stop the pain. That moment of suicide is what drew me to Christ all those years ago and what drives me so passionately to follow Him. Christ was not an after thought. If I had not cried out to him thru my pain in repentance I would not be alive today. The power of his forgivness is my all or nothing. 

I got swept up in the world in my later teen years, but I was drawn back to Christ when I had to bring someone else I love thru the same peril at the hands of someone else. Watching someone you love know the same pain you have known is heart breaking. 

I ended up renewing my faith in Jesus, but realizing that I needed to revisit my counseling for my past. I decided to go with a biblical counselor this time as traditional methods hadn’t worked. Why go thru that again? The painful process of putting someone back together after they had suffered such unspeakable terror made me realize I still struggled with my own traumatic experience.

I had buried that giant in the back of my mind, but not deep enough to keep it down. Thru helping someone else it had violently torn back up and tried to come back into my mind. It was raging with its fearful lies and harmful teachings that challenged my self-worth. My husband gave me the support and my counselor gave me the tools to destroy it with the Word. I will put a list of some of my favorite scriptures that speak to trauma at the end of this post. For now I want to stay in 2  Corinthians 4:7-18

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to dispair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, I believed, and so I spoke, we also believe and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. 

So we do not loose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Paul is no stranger to affliction. This man lived the latter part of his life proclaiming the resurrection of Christ. As a result of speaking the truth he endured beatings, rejection, persecution, was thrown in jail, and in the end lost his life at the hand of unbelievers. I like this passage of scripture because Paul was one of us and he knew how little power affliction held when compared to the resurrection. 

Paul realizes we are fragile vessels of God when he refers to us as’jars of clay’. He lists all the ways we can be brought down by this evil world, but acknowledges that God has kept us from destruction when we carry the hope of Jesus with us. We are followers of Christ so we are to manifest the teachings of Jesus’ life in ourselves. We are constantly given over to death, so people can see us rise thru adversity for the glory of God.

We know there is hope in our suffering because God will raise us to Heaven when we die. Our traumas are no longer alive in us when we open our lives to the power of Jesus! They fall and the lies born from them die. The evils that try to steal our worth can not survive the hope of the resurrection… hallelujah! We have the promise that our God will restore us with an eternal life in Heaven where pain is no more. 

Paul also encourages us to rejoice in spiritual growth. We need to keep our souls ready with the word daily, so that when our bodies give out we will be ready for eternal life. If I look at my trauma from the hope of eternity, it goes from a giant to a skipped heartbeat on an EKG. It is nothing in the face of Heaven.

Something to remember is that we live in a fallen world, so bad things are bound to happen. The marvelous truth of Jesus being risen from death is that now we have a choice. In our free will we could decide to dwell in trauma and wall ourselves up there, but Jesus offers a better choice.

We have the choice to replace evil moments, lies and fears with hope. I chose to pull out the weed of my trauma by the roots, and replant the vine of Jesus. I was renewed in my faith by replacing my past with joy, love, hope and the promise of eternal life.

Palm Sunday marks the week leading up to Christ’s death on the cross and urges us to remember the sacrifice that was given for our souls. We are that important to God. Easter declares that trauma no longer lives here because Jesus has risen despite the evils of the world. He won the battle against dispair, and thru accepting Him we can rise above trauma as well.

(Some of my favorite verses dealing with trauma)

Job 11:16, Psalm 91, Psalm 147:3, Jeremiah 29:11-14, Lamentations 3:22-32, Isaiah 40:28-31, Micha 7:8, Romans 8:18, 1 Corinthians 10:14, 2 Thessalonians 3:16, 2 Timothy 4:18, 1 John 5:4-5

Wiser Woman vs Wonder Woman

There is a new movie coming out this summer featuring the armor clad, lasso slinging, invisible plane flying heroine from a popular comic series. Growing up she was one of my favorite characters to immolate as I ran around in the backyard. I can still remember fake lassoing my friends yelling that I really did get them. To little kid me she was perfect from her armor to her strength. She could match the other men in the Justice League and still have her hair on point. She was beautiful, stylish and had a quick wit that I found intriguing.
Fast forward 21 years and I find her completely intimidating and out of reach. She is a shadow of an impossible standard that I never could live up to. Go ahead and ask me if I feel super right in this moment! I am frying up bacon on the stove. That’s a brave activity, right?! I’ll paint you a picture of my home right now if you will indulge me.
The Duckies are out on Spring Break this week so I have been constantly cleaning and cooking for my small army of four. It is 10:30 in the morning and I am still in my pajamas, my hair is defying gravity, and I haven’t gotten a shower to wash off the bacon grease pops. I am also starting to understand what a college dorm is like. My house has been ransacked by bored children and looks like it should be renamed Phi Ducky Kappa.
Let’s get back to the question of do I feel super in this moment. I feel like I could use a super gigantic cup of coffee right now, but no I don’t feel super. I feel something so much better than super. I feel blessed in the middle of all this chaos. How is this possible when I am so far behind for the day? To put it plainly, I am battling these thoughts of inadequecy with the wisdom found in the word. I know that God cares for me even in my un-sanctified state because he opens up an invitation to gain more Knowledge of Him.

James 3:13-18 ESV
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and vain ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest or righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

James 1:5 ESV
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Psalm 19:7-8 ESV
The Law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandments of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

Some aspects of Wonder Woman are pretty cool, but I am called to be greater than someone who chases after an unachievable goal. I am not a tall Amazonian with lustrous hair and super strength, but my husband thinks I am beautiful. I have gotten the chance to be a hero on a small scale to my children, but I have never fought off an alien swarm. I don’t own iron clad anything in my closet, but I daily put on the armor of God by studying and applying His word to my life.

Ephesians 6:10-18 ESV
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and as shoes for your feet having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplications for all the saints.

Here Paul is explaining the importance of the word of God. We cannot put on the armor of God if we don’t know the truth of the word. If we don’t daily study our Bibles we get complacent about what we accept as truth, and therefore end up with weak spots in our armor. This makes us easy targets for the devil. The word is our daily measure and the beautiful story of God’s love for us through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Most importantly the word keeps us on course with God. If we believe in Christ as our Savior, but choose not to study the word we are falling short. Ignorance is not bliss, but it is the mark of the foolish.

Outside of learning who God is the Bible gives us clues as to who we are as his children. It helps us do battle for our souls when the world tries to rob us of the joy we find in Christ. Despair will stop at nothing to come clawing into my soul from some invisible standard of man that I have failed to hit. This is when I remember my personal mission: To be a witness to others for Christ and to raise my children to follow him.

I chose to be a stay at home mom, and raise my kids from this perspective. I am not saying this is the right path for everyone, but I am saying that it is my reality. If I gave up fighting to find the joy in my choice I would easily drown in the lies that I am an unimportant failure. It all comes from learning about God and seeing this life thru the perspective that I every moment is an opportunity to shine His light and teach my kids despite what the world may say.

My living room has gone from a disaster area to clean about 7 times in the past 24 hours. Where some would see a failure to keep a constantly tidy home I see a learning experience. If my kids never make messes they will never know the work that goes into picking back up after themselves. This might seem like a small activity, but it is here that they learn the skills and work ethic it takes to keep a house. The long term goal would be for them to understand that I can’t clean up their messes forever. When those messes go from toys to relationships and even poor life choices I want them to be equipped to take care of the situation. I will offer them sound guidance, but they will need to have the work ethic it takes to better the problem.

Another situation is that the Duckies argue ALL THE TIME. The world would say they are just kids so they will grow out of it, but it is my job to teach them how to settle a disagreement in a Christ like manner. Right now they need me to be a mediator, but in the future they will need to know how to debate instead of just yell their point. I can tolerate a child’s temper tantrum because they are learning how their emotions affect others. Nothing is more irritating to me than an adult who throws a temper tantrum when they are trying to state their side of an argument. I can’t guarantee my kids will never argue. I can say with certainty that they are learning compassion, listening skills, empathy, and problem solving skills. If they don’t win the argument then they will learn to loose with grace, and the winner will learn not to boast.

Here is a shocker (pun intended) the Duckies in the house don’t always follow the rules. Who would have ever know that? God did. Children are adults in progress no matter how adorable they are. The Duckies know the rules and they also know the consequences when they break them. Right now the most feared punishment is no electronics for a certain amount of days. The world may say the famous phrase ‘Kids will be kids’. I know that it is my job to train them up in the way they should go, and prepare them for the real world. There are laws and consequences for breaking those laws. I would rather them be grounded now than to be in trouble with the law later.

I remember Ducky 1 breaking a commandment when she was four years old. She had asked for a small doll at the checkout counter of a local store. I told her no and was surprised when we got out to the car and she pulled the stolen doll out of her pocket. I explained that she had stolen it, she broke God’s commandment not to steal, and she needed to set it right. The world may say that she was only four, I had scolded her and that was enough. I knew it needed to be set right, so we went back into the store to find the manager. After I explained the situation to him briefly, he knelt down in front of her and asked if she had stolen the doll. Ducky 1 didn’t care when I scolded her, but when suddenly confronted by the person she had wronged she started to cry. He was very gentle, but explained why stealing from a store hurt the employees and customers. He also explained that grownups go to jail for stealing. He handled the situation very well, he offered her forgiveness when she apologized, the doll was returned and Ducky 1 has never stolen since. Had I not gone back into the store to make it right she never would have experienced putting repentance into action, or experienced forgiveness from someone she had never met.

Though each of these teaching moments can work my patience I find immense joy in my Duckies. I see the lessons being put into practice when they interact with others. I get compliments on how mature they have become, and how well they listen. The biggest moments of joy are found in the middle of the tying times because I recognize these moments as opportunities to show God’s love to them. Sometimes it is a tough love and sometimes it is being thankful that we have enough laundry to make a pile kind of love. These moments are just the plantings of lessons in faith, and decisions for them to grow in the knowledge and strength of Christ.

I still want to go cheer on my favorite childhood super hero when the movie comes out this summer, but I will go in the truth of God’s word. Who cares if I never measure up to that standard of heroine? Chin up! I am so precious to my King that he took my sins thru His Son’s death on the cross. He has called me to be one of his daughters and desires my presence for all eternity! That is huge! I will open my bible daily to put on my armor, in the joy that I am not perfect yet, and take up my role. I will offer the next generation a Wiser Woman who immolates God’s truth and light.

Pausing, reconnecting and recharging this week.

It has been a very long week. I will admit I haven’t slept very well at all since I was sick on Monday. My husband and I are taking some time sans Duckies to reconnect and recharge as a couple. I feel now is the time and both of these are good for marriage. That being said, I am not going to post tomorrow. I will resume with more blog posts next friday. While I am taking downtime this week don’t forget to pray, read the word, and find ways to open up your life to fully serving God!

If you would like a Bible Challenge then I invite you to dig into the book of James. Do your history on it before you dive in so you get the context. Remember to really look at what this book says about the characteristics of our God instead of just what it says about you as a follower. I would love to hear your comments on what verses stick out!

As my Father in Law would say, ‘Have a great day and God Bless!’

Beware of the Unchallenged Teaching

Everyday I see on social media an inspirational bible quote with a pretty background and hundreds of likes. They are almost always scriptures that are taken out of context, or put there as feel good fluff. Some songs that are Christian are truly phenomenal because they are grounded in the Word and take on a deeper teaching. Other songs are in the self serving business, speaking more of ourselves than of our Lord. It is okay to have a good pick me up song when you are feeling down, but I crave a deeper theology.
I didn’t start this walk with God hoping for butterflies and sunshine. In fact when I cried out to Christ in repentance it was an all or nothing call echoed from the darkest day of my life. If I had not found a solace that was deeper in that moment then I would have faced him the very next as a sinner.

This isn’t to say that I never fell into the “marshmallow” type of teachings out there. In our country it seems to be the norm. ‘I can do all things thru Christ who strengthens me’. Is an extremely popular scripture that is plastered over mugs, paintings, and a lot of the merchandise that is available to us as Christians. This is a very popular verse in today’s mainstream Christianity, but is it being used correctly? This isn’t a verse we are supposed to spout out before our morning run, or when we pull into the office parking lot.
If we take a look a few verses back it becomes apparent what Paul is teaching here when he speaks to the Philippians in Chapter 4:10-13:
‘I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’
Paul is talking about trusting God to meet his needs beyond his circumstances as he spreads the gospel. Paul knew that come prison, prospering or death God would provide for his soul thru Christ’s sacrifice. He isn’t saying to go out and do a thing because God’s got your back.

It is our duty as Christians to challenge a teaching that takes the word of God out of context. It is also our duty to search out more about God in the scriptures, and that isn’t being taught enough. I spent half my life using the Bible as a glorified advice column or road map for my life. Had a dear friend of mine not done a study by Jen Wilkin called ‘Women of the Word’, I wouldn’t have even caught this big mistake. The only way the Bible should be used as a map is as one that brings us closer to the understanding of who God is. I thought the Bible was about me in the sense that it was supposed to guide me through life.

The Bible does tell us how to live in teachings and parables against sin, but not so our lives will become automatically more blessed. These teachings are there so we will be closer to God by mirroring Him in our lives. I had used it incorrectly, but never challenged the false teachings I took as truths for a deeper understanding of God. I missed out at my own hand and took my view of God from Almighty Creator to a cheerleader, and I was walking dangerously far away from having the fear of God.

I started out craving a deeper connection to all that was Holy, so I took the wrong path and ended up doing what made me feel good about myself. When I made the Bible self-centered instead of Christ centered I robbed myself of that relationship and spiritual growth. This is what fluffy feel good teachings are great at. They satisfy the need for instant gratification that we crave instead of pointing out that life is a constant uphill battle for growth in God. If we skip over sermons and scriptures that prick our hearts, we cheat ourselves out of repentance for a wrong doing. Without the word to measure us, there is no conviction, without conviction there is no repentance, and without repentance there is no surrendering of one’s self wholly to God.

‘God can solve all our problems’ is another teaching floating around out there. There is a partial truth to this teaching, but just enough to misguide us. While it is true that God wants us to prosper, He wants us to prosper in spiritual things not Earthly things. God is able to provide for us while we shoulder a burden but he is in no way a magic wand. There is comfort in knowing that God solved the problem of sin on the cross thru Jesus, but many problems we need to solve with what we know about scripture.
Not to say that if someone is causing trouble for you that you should go deck them. We should remember that Jesus himself taught us how to handle conflict in Mathew Chapter 18:15-19 (ESV):
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained a brother. But if he does not listen take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

When we read this passage it should become obvious that God has equipped us to handle this situation because his own son taught us how, so we can apply that knowledge. Not so we can sit back and say, “Well yeah, but I will let God Handle that person.” In the last sentence Jesus says to treat them as a Gentile or tax collector which means to treat them as someone rebellious to God. So should we pray for that person? YES but not until we have put forth a great effort to reconcile with that person. Even then they prayer should be for their soul that they would hear the call of repentance, and enter into our family as a new creature in Christ. This shouldn’t be a quick mutter if they irritate us in the process of reconciliation, but a full on prayer for them to be spared from Hell.
When we start out facing a challenge with the attitude of God will fix it what are we missing out on? If we don’t go reconcile with our brother then nothing gets solved, we are acting contrary to Jesus’ teaching, and sinful assumptions can grow fast like weeds choking out the truth. Not to mention that if a person doesn’t personally know Christ we have not been God’s light in the world or the salt in action. We are being judged by non-believers everyday and they care more about our actions than they do our words most times.
We were warned about false teachers by Jesus in Mathew 7:15-20 (ESV)
Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? So every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruit.
Jesus speaks of the wolves in sheep’s clothing who have snuck into the flock with their sweet bleating of half truths and killed the Rams of biblical truths. We have not cut out the diseased teachings that give us bad fruit but have welcomed them into the grove to infect the entire crop. By allowing ourselves to fall into this trap we are falling into real danger. God will always be true in His word and if we do not line ourselves up with true teachings by digging past the self indulgent fluff, we are endangering our souls to bear bad fruit, be cut out and cast into the fire. We must learn to protect ourselves. Our very souls depend on this.

My Worship Experience: It Was Never About My Talent

If you have read my past posts then you know I have served quite a long time in a worship position. If you haven’t then I will just say that it has spanned over ten years at different churches. In that time I have played guitar, been a singer and even written a few songs. Somewhere along the line with all the glorifying it started to lose its luster and became dull. Not a good sign if you plan on worshiping around the throne of God for all eternity.
The problem didn’t lie with God suddenly becoming less awesome, but it was with my ego becoming so big that I didn’t leave room for Him in my heart. Worship became more technical and monotonous as time went on. I thought I was big stuff up on the stage being in front of everyone. This diva attitude was stemming from the sinful notion that because I had a history of worship being my talent, that somehow I deserved to be in that position. I had lost sight of God and it became the ‘ME’ show.
Philippians 2:1-5 (ESV)
‘So if there is any encouragement in Christ and comfort from love, and participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant that yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, as is yours in Christ Jesus.’
Proverbs 16: 18-19 (ESV)
‘Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. It is better to be of lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.’
The stage had become the bait and my pride was the snare. I twisted every complement so it brought more glory to myself than to the abilities my God had blessed me with. Pride was a sneaky weapon that sought to replace my love for Christ and his sacrifice with what I felt I deserved. The truth of the matter is that without Christ I deserve Hell.
Two years ago God did something that was the most painful, humbling, and exactly what I needed moment in my walk with him. He shut every door for me to worship him on stage. My husband still found opportunities to worship everywhere we went, and at the time we were searching for a new church home. I will point out that he has been wonderfully blessed on piano and bass, and has a vast knowledge of music theory. He knows his strengths in musical abilities, but he is wise to direct the praise he receives back to the God that gave it to him.
I spent an entire year in a place of being cut off from my passion. At first my pride had to be slain because I will admit to having vain, bitter thoughts as I was in the crowd about ‘I could have hit that note’ or ‘gotten that rhythm down better’. Horrible, bad, ugly thoughts born of jealousy and sin! I started taking those thoughts and immediately repenting of them because I had learned the damage that was being done to my soul.
We spent time in a church where the worship was heartbreakingly beautiful. Tears of joy for God’s grace flowed freely, hands were raised in exaltation, and the congregation would throw everything they had into praising our Heavenly Father. IT WAS AMAZING! This was the place that everything clicked in my heart. Worship may start on the stage, but it is meant for so much more out in the congregation. Worship is about proclaiming God for sure, but it is also about opening up a path for the Holy Spirit to connect with the crowd. In this current of praising and the Spirit pulsing into our hearts I found: hearts soften, pride dies, love ignites when our focus is collectively praising our Heavenly Father.
I finally got my revelation and it ripped me to my very core. Oh what a disaster I had made in the wake of my pride. How many times had I missed the mark and kept the Spirit from flowing freely? I will find out someday I am sure of that.
The door was opened back up after that when my husband and father in law were asked to play full time at a church we are now members of. After being there for a time I was asked to sing in the back up rotation, and then play guitar when the need came up. I promised myself that this time was going to be different because God was going to be first. The order I put worship in had changed drastically from me first. It is now like this: God first and the Holy Spirit, the worship pastor, the needs of the congregation, the needs of the band members and somewhere down at the bottom I could be on the list.
Our church is blessed with a Worship Pastor who also puts God first. In that I mean that he selects songs based on their biblical standing and content instead of their styles. Hymns or contemporary are okay as long as they make a biblical impact and are backed by truths found in scripture. The important part for me to remember (besides hitting the right notes) is that God allowed our Worship Pastor to be our leader. He is put in a place of authority. He is in charge of putting our collective talents to work for the greater good of the congregation. I am in charge of two things: respecting his authority and helping him achieve that goal by being as flexible as I can. I have no idea what God has put on his heart for the week, but I can trust his judgment and do what is asked of me. If that takes me off stage for a bit, in a different position, on a new instrument, or in a different key than I am used to playing then so be it. My duty to the greater good is to put myself aside and be accommodating.
Why for the greater good? As I stated before worship is a time for praising our God and for the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts. It calls out to our souls for what we need on a spiritual level. When we respond to that call we open our souls to let God go to work in us. We open our hearts to the message that is given to us, and we stay open to the call to prayer. I am beyond blessed to be a part of worship and to have learned the lesson that it was never about me in the first place.