Shut Up Already

I remember my very first writing assignment in first grade. I had a cutout of a girl, who I had to color and decorate to look like me. Her body served as the place I would write a few paragraphs all about me–the things I liked to eat, the places I liked to go. Since then, I have been hooked on the 26 letters that can form new thoughts and ideas. Simple words that can make people laugh and bring people to tears.

I've been asked the question: If you could do anything in the whole world you wanted to and not have to worry about money what would it be?

Of course, for me, the answer is writing.

I have prayed over this desire of my heart. I have began three different novels, or maybe four. I have a notebook full of ideas–some I have seen written already by other authors. And God has blessed me with the opportunity…and now, for the first time ever, the motivation.

He gave me an idea…then His word to back it up.

Then during my fast…he slammed me over the head. Like for real. Like when you are playing with one of those bouncy soft, big summer balls with the kids outside. Somehow your son gets sidetracked and starts staring off into oblivion. You call his name, you call his name again. And then you realize you have the ball in your hand so you chunk it at his head to get his attention? No. That's just me?

So Jesus slammed me over the head with the ball, because I just haven't been pay attention. I may have been playing around with this writing dream, but I haven't really engaged in it.

In the midst of me fasting and praying–crying out to Jesus to give me a true purpose. And he did. My focus on writing was all wrong, it was about me, what I could offer and what I can write. When truly everything I do is about Jesus, and is simply an overflow of all he has done for me.

In my journal, I wrote these questions:

IS THERE WONDER & AWE AT WHAT JESUS HAS DONE?

ARE YOU ABSOLUTELY OVERWHELMED AT WHAT JESUS HAS DONE FOR YOU?

When Peter and John went before the Council in Acts 4, their goal was to shut up the Spirit led men so the message of Jesus couldn't go any further. Peter and John were warned–keep your mouth shut. This was there response:

“We cannot stop telling about the wonderful things we have seen and heard.”

I can just see them responding in the same way I tell my kids:

“I hear you. I hear what you are saying, but No, it's just not going to happen.”

Calmly, respectfully.

It's like what the council was asking was impossible for them. It's like they were saying:

Have you seen what Jesus has done? Do you have any clue how he has changed me, redeemed me, used me? There is no way I can shut my mouth about that, even if I tried.

And that is how I am trying to live my life. This is how I am planning on writing, with an overwhelming amount of compelling of the Spirit to tell all that Jesus has done for me. I pray that you can do the same. You will have an overwhelming sense of gratefulness of what Christ has done for you, and you just won't be able to shut up about it. Not to your kids, your family, friends, neighbors, people in line at the grocery store. If you know me at all, you know that I don't really shut up anyway–so this should be easy for me.

Do you need a word from God? Do you need Him to show you something? FAST WITH US!

JULY 1

JULY 2

JULY 3

He speaks when we empty ourselves. Comment and commit. Then invite 3 people you know to fast with us!

Ever felt like you just can't shut up already about Jesus? Comment and share! I want to know!

 

How To Live Recklessly: Lessons From A 3 Year Old

Anyone who knows me knows that I love me some kids. Adults can get on my nerves, with their well thought out opinions, thinking they know what they are talking about. Kids, most of the time, actually do know what they are talking about. Kids are so much better.

Yesterday I spent the day in the Fiesta Texas water park with my youngest and two nephews. For hours, me and this little were BFF’s.

Fearlessly, he ran through water, climbed up rope ladders and swam deeper and deeper. We walked into the pool, that gradually got deeper as you walked into it. With every step, his little heart raced, becoming more and more excited at the adventure that lied ahead. I wised up pretty quickly and rummaged through to find a small enough life vest. He moved his little arms and legs as fast as possible, not knowing that it was me who actually propelled him forward.

He was swimming.

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. ”

As we reached the shallower areas, he would just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. I would say, “Blake, put your feet down.”

He realized he could touch the bottom.

He would jump, jump, jump, letting his vest bob him along the shoreline.

Then off he would swim.

When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

After three hours in this pool we trekked to the wave pool–and for anyone who has been at Fiesta Texas and pushed a stroller from the bucket play area to the wave pool know the trek I’m talking about. Oh, my friend, I’m thankful to not have to use a stroller any more.

The waves encouraged a whole entirely new level of courage in that little person. He bobbed along, jumping, allowing the waves to push him in and out, up and down. The waves would get the best of him, and he found himself under the water. I would say, “Blake, you have to hold my hands.”

His little fingers would grasp tightly around mine, rebuilding his trust in himself, knowing I would not let him go.

The water would come crashing, forcing out giggles and wonder.

One little hand would surrender.

Then the other.

Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.”

He would bob along, and closely I stood, as he was determined to master the pool himself. The water would come crashing…and again I would gently remind him, “Blake, You have to hold my hands.”

Come,” he said.

Then he would see “the Guys” splashing and playing several feet away.

“Guys! Guys!” he would yell, quickly letting go of me, his safety, and “swimming” as fast as he could toward the big guys, ignoring the crashing of the waves that threatened to fall upon him.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

Oh I want to be like Blake, like the child Jesus wants me to remain.

I want to move my arms and legs as fast as I can, knowing Jesus is guiding me forward, closer to him, closer to fulfilling all he has for me.

I want to run as fast as I can, not even knowing I can put my feet down to walk.

I want to jump out of the boat when I hear the voice of Jesus, letting go of all I know that I know is safe, ignoring the crashing of the waves, recklessly ignoring what my mind would see as treacherous.

Everyday, I want to pursue Him so fiercely that I am completely exhausted from the joy of being in his presence.

Kids are so much better. Live Reckless. -Tiff

How to REALLY Fight For Your Kids

I caught her expression out of the corner of my eye. I was rushing to pile stuff on tables, and convince every person that my stuff was worth the $5 bucks I was selling it for. We were moving to Texas–suddenly. My three kids were in shock, but with some happiness. Except my daughter.

She would be leaving behind her friends.

She wouldn't be a varsity cheerleader anymore.

She sat there, in the chair, huddled with her friends, on her 16th birthday, watching me sell our stuff.

I will never, ever forget the look on her face. I tried my hardest to be positive. I had conversations with God and told him that I trusted him. But inside, as a mom, I was dying. I felt like a failure. I felt the worse sense of shame that somehow I was causing harm to my kids. I hated myself.

From that moment forward I hated everything about life and everything about how utterly helpless I was to change our circumstances. We moved to Texas and did our best to settle, temporarily at my brother's and then soon after into our own place. No matter what I have done, being in San Antonio just hasn't felt like home. I hated this place. And I convinced myself that if I chose to like it, then I chose my daughter's pain, and I couldn't own up to that.

Her depression was ruining her. Daily tears, hating her school, feeling utterly alone, feeling like she just didn't fit in. Our pain was unified, she hurt, and I hurt…I hated and she hated. I couldn't take it anymore. What happened to my independent,sassy, life-loving, joy-filled, fisher of men? She was slowly fading, with every tweet: I hate school, I hate my life, I hate people.

I told her counseling was inevitable, she was stuck without perspective and I could only encourage her so much. She refused, with all the stubbornness inside her. It only made sense to fast for her. I had to.

As a mom, I have certain control over my children's spiritual life. She is flesh of my flesh, and I have every right to approach the throne on her behalf. I have every authority over the principalities of darkness to fight on her behalf. And I did!

With every bite I denied myself, every Coke I passed up, my prayer was this: My daughter needs freedom more than I need this piece of bread. The pangs in my stomach are my spirit crying to you Lord to free my daughter and give her vision for her life.

And He did.

Her depression is lifted.

She can be sad about missing her friends without it controlling her life.

God has given her a clear vision for her immediate future. And she has been favored already as she starts her own business and blog. She no longer cries everyday. She no longer hates people. (However, she still very much hates her school).

She is seeking God's word, and has once again embraced her desire to conquer the world.

Although nothing has changed, everything has changed.

As parents we must go head to head with the enemy, refusing to allow anything to overcome our children. God entrusted them to us and it is our job to protect them, not just physically, but emotionally and especially spiritually.

A group of us are fasting

JULY 1

JULY 2

JULY 3

Join us if you have a child who:

  • Is overcome with depression
  • Needs a relationship with Christ
  • Is lost or alone
  • Is being bullied
  • Struggles with Addiction
  • Has a broken relationship with you
  • Just needs some breakthrough.

FAST WITH US!

FIGHT FOR THEM!

A leader of the local synagogue, who name was Jairus, came and fell down before him, pleading with him to heal his little daughter. “She is about to die,” he said in desperation. “Please come and place your hands on her; heal her so she can live.” Mark 5:22-23

Right away a woman came to him whose little girl was possessed by an evil spirit. She had heard about jesus, and now she came and fell at his feet. She begged him to release her child from the demon's control. Mark 7:25-26

One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son for you to heal him…” Mark 9:17

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch them and bless them….He said to them, “Let the children come to me.” Mark 10:13&14

Parents! Bring your children to Jesus…they will be blessed and healed, And you will have a grateful heart, an overwhelming spirit of thankfulness whenever you look at our child. You will have evidence of God's present day miracles in the eyes of your very own child!

Comment your YES! and stay tuned as we prepare our hearts!

Share this with 3 people who can fast with you!

And for those of you who are already committed, I am praying for you!!

LIVE RECKLESS

 

 

HOW NOT EATING CHANGED ME

At the beginning of May I entered into a 21 day fast. It was the second time I've done this crazy thing. But what I found even crazier is that there are people who have been Christians forever and ever and ever who have never ever fasted before.

Now I'm not super Christian who fasts all the time and does everything right and who is always obedient–in fact I'm quite the opposite. Just a few nights ago you could have found me fully clothed, sitting in an empty bathtub with the shower curtain closed screaming at God because he doesn't seem to be listening.

This was the very reason I began my 21-day fast because I needed God to listen, and more than that I needed Him to speak. I have been drowning in grief and confusion and every voice I heard was muffled and water logged, so I exhausted myself wondering if it was God speaking, or simply one of the echoes of my temper tantrums that daily emerged. I needed to empty myself…to empty my stomach…to remove distractions and caffeine and all the things I love so the sounds of my heart could maybe become audible.

This fast: no bread, no sugar, no meat and water only. Not quite as strict as my last one, but no less difficult–I love me some caffeine…I LOVE me some bread, I adore, absolutely addictively adore, sugar. I knew my soul needed Jesus more than my tastebuds needed anything. And so I embarked.

For twenty one days:

I prayed and prayed.

I read scripture.

I cried.

I yelled.

I discovered some really ugly…like really ugly parts of me.

And He answered.

Not every single thing in the way I hoped, or in the timing I wished for. In fact daily I'm still going before the throne and praying for a specific miracle. But I emerged with a new perspective, well..mostly.

With every fast comes the specific requests. Mine were personal and filled with hope.

Please lift depression from my daughter and give her vision for her life.

Please give me some sort of vision for my own life, because why do I wake up every morning?

Please please please break this financial bondage that we are in. Too many years, too much stress, too many curses.

Please just fill us. Empty our lives of us and fill us up with you.

God has answered my prayers for my daughter, given me a new hope in him, even though I hate it here still. He has filled us up, drawing us each nearer to him–however, we are still broke.

Fasting isn't realllllly about having Jesus wave his wand and bless you, answering all of your prayers because you so sacrificially deny yourself of something you love. What it's reallllly about is you becoming less like you and more like Him. He will answer prayer, but only if it's in your best interest. He will answer prayer but only if you have a heart change first. He will answer prayer but only if it transforms you–making you less and Him more.

Him more. In your mind…your heart….your thoughts…your requests.

I'm not hating because he didn't methodically check off my list of requests. I'm loving because I am free in a way I wasn't free on April 30th.

I'm a work in progress–and so are you

So plan on fasting with me.

For three days:

July 1

July 2

July 3

And the rest of this week I will convince you why …. I will show you how he worked in my daughter's life. I will envision you with the vision He gave me. I will explain the importance of obedience and fasting and obediently fasting. And we will do it together…Changing our hearts, and changing the World…solely for Him.

Are You In?

Comment and Share with me your emphatic or reluctant “YES!” And stick around the blog this week…

LG|LP Tiff

 

School Awards Can Suck It!

Two more days people. Two. More. Days. I am overwhelmed with excitement that summer break will be here before the week is over. Mom taxi is going in the garage, and the kids will have to take the city bus anywhere they want to go from today forward, I’m not even kidding.

Ok, maybe I’m kidding.

This last week or so of school has brought relief.  No more homework, easier pick up schedules because of testing. No forgotten backpacks, because they don’t need one.  And last week was official end of the year awards for my third grader. And all I can say about that is that:  Awards from school can suck it.

See this kid…the tall one in the back.

zac awards one

Look at that face.

 

zac awrds 2

Does he look happy? Does he look proud?

Oh yes, he did receive an award…for learning his math facts.  And every other six weeks, he’s received an award for A-B honor roll. He was so determined, and proud that he’s worked so hard, and just knew he was going to get A-B honor roll this time, too–and that meant for the entire year. But no…he made a 79 in math. To him, his hard work pretty much meant nothing.

Other kids got medals and trophies for attendance and reading. Not my kid. He couldn’t get those awards even if he tried. He’s took sickly to ever make it to school every single day for six weeks, so you can forget an entire school year. Then there is reading, let’s talk about reading.

My child is not a natural reader, and his first and second grade year in the Florida Public School system was disastrous.  He was barely on level when he left first grade, even though the teacher insisted he would be fine and just needed a little extra help.  By half way through second grade, his teacher labeled him and he was entire year behind in school.  He was belittled and ridiculed for being who he was.  We changed teachers, who punished him through her behavior system for missing spelling words.  We worked with him at home, even though he threw books at our faces. We yanked him from public school and enrolled him in private. His teacher was patient and loving, but taught differently than public school.  He improved and built some confidence. Then we moved to Texas.

We thought he might have a learning disorder. He was tested, and put in special groups and had one-on-one attention in order to teach him all that he had not been taught in the last two years. After a long school year of wondering and working and praying, last week I got a call from his teacher

“Mrs. Crawford, I want to let you know that Zac WILL be going to the fourth grade. I know that he has struggled, but we believe he truly is on track. He will be placed not promoted, so he will need Reading group starting the first week of fourth grade. “

She continued, “Looking back I realize that when Zac came to third grade he really, truly did not know how to read. And now, even though he’s barely on level, he’s made it there.  He’s improved so much!”

By the end of our conversation, I was in tears. He had overcome.  Zac had pushed through the difficulty, he had dedicated himself to doing his best. He overcame his fear, and all the voices in his head telling him he was stupid and couldn’t do it. He conquered something huge, and worked hard. And was not recognized for it by the school, not even for a minute.

So this face     zac awrds 2    this face is defeat and disappointment. 

Now I get it, there will always be those kids who are super smart because they are born that way. Sure, they should get a high five for being themselves. But I sat and looked at all those kids on the floor waiting for their name to be called and wonder how many of them accomplished some major feat this year at school and no one gave a crap because they weren’t there everyday, and they couldn’t collect the most reading points, in that race for “who is the smartest.” I wondered how many kids wished they could get a trophy like that or get a medal, but their mom was an alcoholic and couldn’t always get them to school, or they just absolutely hated reading.

LBR (Let’s be real) not every kid likes to read. So what about Art and Music awards? What about awards for kids that recognize the things that are going to actually matter when they get out of school like

Perseverance

Dedication  

Integrity

Helping Others

….and even Overcoming.

The American education system is whack and the older I become I wonder if it does more harm than good.  Zac left school, in fact, he’s leaving third grade feeling not enough. He’s received the message that no matter how hard you work, you coming to school every single day is more important than never giving up when things get hard. He’s learned that reading the most books is more important than learning to read at all.

So this weekend–I am giving my own awards to my kids.  I’m going to present them with the awards that matter to our family, that align with our values. We are going to cheer, and have trophies and eat cake.  We are going to celebrate hard work and commitment and not giving up even when the cards are stacked against you. And we might even scream really loud “School Awards Can Suck It!” 

 What do you think? You think the award systems are fair?  Has your kid ever deserved an award for something he/she never even got a wink for? 

Comment and SHARE! (and encouragements to Zac are certainly welcome!)

LG|LP Tiff  <3