Monday, August 22, 2011

The Jesus Dance

Zephaniah 3:17, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness.”

Psalm 147:11, “The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.”

For the past couple days I have been feeling discouraged as a mother. I have been struggling with 2 of my boys and trying to figure out the best way to handle their temper tantrums and whining, in a Godly, firm, but positive way. I honestly thought they would have grown out of it by now (4 1/2) but unfortunately these 2 have their mama's strong will and most days I feel like we are making no progress. Last night in church our associate pastor preached from 2 Chronicles 20:12 and it reads: "...We do not know what to do but our eyes are on you." And that was exactly how I felt at the moment.

This morning one of my boys was particularly grumpy and I spent the better half of the morning training, correcting, and praying for my boy and myself. I was about at my wits end and praying harder then ever on God to give me wisdom on how to handle this situation. We finally had a peaceful moment after lunch while we were playing play dough and it gave me the perfect opportunity to talk to my boys about how God wants his "Jesus boys" to act. I explained that God expects a lot out of us because we are his people, and he wants us to set an example to others. I reminded him how sad it makes Jesus when we don't obey, but thankfully God always gives us a second chance to do better, and he always forgive us for our mistakes. (Can I get an amen!?)

And then as we were picking up our play-dough I could see we were about to have another issue. Again, my little boy who had spent the better half of the morning in his room, was ignoring me and not helping with the mess. I started timing him (a race usually gets his testosterone flowing and kicks him into gear), but no luck. Just as I was about to reach for the trash can to start throwing play-dough toys away, God spoke to me: "Instead of telling them how sad I am when they disobey, show them how happy I am when they do obey! Teach them of the God that rejoices in them!"

So I focused on my two boys who were helping and told them that Jesus was watching them and he was happy! I said "I think I can hear Jesus up there just laughing and giggling and dancing, I think Jesus is dancing! He is delighting in you and how helpful you are being!" And then to really hit it home, I started showing them what Jesus was doing: I leaped up in the air, spun around and shouted "Yippee! I love those boy! They are so special and sweet and they are my Jesus boys!"

And guess what? That third little boy who had given this mama fits all morning started helping. And every time he put a toy in the basket I did that little Jesus dance for him. And you know what? I could feel God lift all that discouragement from me too. All my anxiety and stress at that moment was lifted as we all just danced and laughed in the fact that we serve a God who delights in us. And they can't wait to wake up from their nap so I can show them how happy God is that they took such a good nap!

Dear God,
Thank you for always coming to my rescue at just the right time. Thank you for your wisdom and encouragement as a mother. Thank you for delighting in us when we do your will, and thank you for always being there to pick us up and forgive us when we stumble. Help me to always rejoice in you, the way you rejoice in me. I want this family to be a family that makes you dance. Give my family hearts that desire to do what is pleasing to you. Make us always overflow with your joy and peace. Be ever present in this home.
In your precious name,
Amen

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Turning Worry into Worship

This is a very eventful week for us. My 4 year old triplets started back to preschool on Wednesday, and my baby, Henry turns one today. Yesterday, after I sent my boys off it hit me how quickly everyone is growing up. And I got sad. Really sad. I started crying and praying to God for my little boys telling him how thankful I am for them, how blessed I am, and how unworthy I feel at times to be their mother. I prayed for their salvation; that they would grow up to accept Jesus, to love him, to follow hard after him. And then it occurred to me, I wasn't crying so much because I was sad about my babies growing up, I was crying about who they would grow up to become.

I realized I have been thinking about their future testimonies a lot lately. I have been praying- no pleading with God to grow their hearts with a desire to love Him, follow hard after Him, and to walk a straight path all the days of their life that will bring Him glory. Just two weeks ago I started talking to Matt about rules we should set for them as they got older; who they could hang out with, where they could go, what they could listen to & watch, even thinking about what I will say to them when it comes time for the 'sex' talk (sorry boys- this mama loves you enough to embarrass you by talking about even THAT!). My heart has been so heavy & anxious for these dreaded teenage years that are quickly approaching, and we haven't even hit kindergarten yet. I want to follow them to school, parties, movies, the mall, to their friends homes. I know that most of these choices they make as teenagers have the ability to impact their futures in a big way, and I want to do whatever it takes to protect, guide, & lead these little boys on the path to Jesus. I don't just want them to be 'good' boys- I want them to grow up to be Godly boys.

But today I realized that my heart was not only heavy for my boys, it was worried for them. Flat-out-lock-them-up-until-they-are-forty-fearful for them as they grow up and start gaining independence. I know they will have to make their own decisions regarding their relationship with Jesus and it scared me. I remembered something I had read about worry being a sin because it meant you were not trusting God, and I realized that my worry was a sign that I was not trusting God with my children. Thankfully, instead of feeling condemned I felt relieved as He so sweetly reassured me that He loves them even more than I do, and he desires that they come to know him, love him, follow him even more than I do. I can't worry them into a relationship with God- that was something that was between them and God, and was in His hands. Later in the afternoon as I was reading my bible I came across this verse:

3 The God of Israel spoke,
the Rock of Israel said to me:
‘When one rules over people in righteousness,
when he rules in the fear of God,
4 he is like the light of morning at sunrise
on a cloudless morning,
like the brightness after rain
that brings grass from the earth.’

5 “Is not my house right with God,
has he not made with me an everlasting covenant,
arranged and secured in every part?
Surely he would not bring to fruition my salvation
and grant me my every desire
2 Samuel 23:3-5

This passage brought me such comfort. It was as if God was saying "I've got your boys. You do your part, and I will do mine." So I decided to turn my worry into worship. I found myself excited to watch them grow up, and thanking God for what I am trusting that He will do in their precious lives. I laid down my stress and anxiety and turned it into Praise for allowing me to play a part in their testimonies.

Lord,
I trust you. Thank you for holding me and my babies in your hands. Thank you for loving them with a perfect love that is so deep and unfailing that I cannot even comprehend it. I know that you have a perfect plan for their lives. You know them even better than I do, and you desire their hearts even more than I desire you to have them. I have faith in your Word and your promises to me and I trust that you have an awesome plan for them. While it may not be the path I would choose for them, it will be the one that can lead them closer to you which in the end is the only thing that matters. Father, I promise to do my part in raising these children. I will do my best to shelter them from evil and sin, and to teach them that they are called to be separate and holy from this world. I will speak truth into them, and I will keep you at the center of our home. I will remind them that they are fearfully and wonderfully made and loved by an awesomely big God every single day. I will lead by example and make sure they know how deeply I love you and desire to serve you. On days when they stumble I will teach them of your mercy and grace. Thank you for the gift of these precious boys, what an awesome calling it is to be their mother. Thank you for allowing me the freedom to not worry about them, but instead to place them lovingly and prayerfully in your hands.
In Jesus name,
Amen

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Broken Day

It's amazing in a home filled with small children how quickly the day can seem to just fall a part. Sometimes it's just one thing (i.e. a child is up all night throwing up and you pretty much throw in the towel on the next day before it's even begun). Often times it's a series of events (kids wake up in a bad mood for no apparent reason, juice spills at breakfast, dog pukes in the middle of the family room, baby spills my drink while I'm busy cleaning up dog puke, boys start fighting over toys....). You know those days; the ones where you have a lot to do, list made out, super-mom cape on and ready to tackle the day head one. And then life happens and by lunch time it seems like the day has just fallen a part, the day is BROKEN.

During bible study recently we were talking about how God desires our brokenness. He wants us to submit ourselves to his will, allow him to break our hearts so He can pick up the pieces, mold us into who He wants us to be, and then use us for his Glory. He wants us to be broken so that he can make us whole.

And then it occured to me... Maybe God desires my days to be broken days? I started seeing how much more of an opportunity God has to work in my life and my home when my days are broken. For instance, yesterday I had planned on using nap time to read my bible, pray, and have my Jesus time. But Ben had already been to sleep and woken up before Sam ever fell asleep. Sam was fighting his nap, and by the way he had been acting all morning he NEEDED that nap. I decided to use this as an opportunity of brokenness instead of an opportunity to get irritated that my day was not going according to plan. I turned the tv on for Ben, and I went to lay down with Sam. And that was where I had my prayer time yesterday; I closed my eyes and talked to Jesus all the while snuggled up next to my little boy who was too stubborn to admit he was tired (my son of course). God used my broken plan by giving me an opportunity to shower affection and attention on my son and set an example of peace and love to him.

And as the day went on I realized that when I have 'great' days, I don't rely on God as much. Yes, I praise him and thank him for an awesome day, but I don't need him and plead with him for his patience and love and mercy like I do on those broken days. It's on those broken days when I seem to be in constant prayer, when I use his strength to choose love over anger, patience over irritation, and peace over stress. It's on those days that God can really come and move in my life. Not only do I experience God more, but my children do too. What an awesome opportunity to be an example to my kids.

And while studying I found this little gem:
Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.
Hosea 10:11-13

He has to break up the dirt before he can plant his seed in us! He can't move in hard, rocky dirt- it must be tilled and broken to make it soft and ready to grow fruit!

Father,
Break my days. Do whatever it takes for me to get MORE of you. If that means more messes, more tantrums, more chaos, I choose that. I choose your plan for my day and your will for my life over mine. I know that my best laid plans will crumble if they are not in line with your plans. Good days are Good, but God days are better. I want every day to be a God day, to be an opportunity to feel your presence, to practice your love and patience and joy. Be with me today, on this broken day Lord. Thank you for always being right beside me to pick up the peices, always putting it back together even better than it was before.
Amen