Today was wonderful. It started with breakfast, a great day at church, then shopping and dinner. I got some much needed shorts, and some perfume…ahh…it smells so wonderful. All day today was about mothers.
I think it’s wonderful to take a day out and acknowledge your mom for all the great things she’s done for you–like give birth, or clean up your puke or mop up your forgotten frozen beer in the freezer when you were too young to be drinking and the butt-whoopin’ you got for drinking too young to begin with. (thanks mom, but I still swear it wasn’t mine!) Mom’s do above and beyond for us. I know, I have a mom. I know, I am a mom.
Yesterday I was wondering what my family was going to do for me. Fear crept up at the thought that maybe they wouldn’t do anything. My husband works long, crazy hours. My kids are –well, they are kids. I convinced myself that if they didn’t do anything for me, that I would be okay with that. (yah, right! My husband is amazing!) Then this ugly feeling crept up in me. This nasty, too familiar feeling that can ruin you, than can rob you of all joy possible….this….feeling of ….
At the end of the conversation with myself, I convinced myself that I was entitled to presents, and doting and acknowledgement. That somehow, because President Wilson thought it was a good idea to make it a recognized holiday…or Hallmark encourages us to use their words to describe our love for our moms….or the flower industry convinces us that mom’s like already dead things that will continue in that process…somehow, I was entitled. I deserved it. Damn it, I earned it!
In that moment, those feelings of entitlement robbed me of the joy that comes with serving my family. I love taking care of my family. In fact, today, I found it difficult to not handle things. Probably because I”m a control freak, but that’s for another post. Even though I work hard to love my family, I am not entitled to anything. I serve my family because I want to, because I’m called to. Do I want to be honored and respected for what I do? Absolutely. But I want it to flow out of a natural love of God through my kids and husband, showered over me. And I want it everyday. Not because I deserve it, but because I find joy in showing that love to them, and they will ultimately find joy in showing it to me–and any other person in their life.
Mother’s Day should not be that have-to day when we painstakingly try and figure out what to buy a woman who already has everything. It’s a day to do a heart-check.
Are the things you do in your life for your family a natural outflow of God’s love?
Is your reservoir empty? How can you refill it?
Do your kids show a natural outflow of God’s love in their lives?
Love God first, everything will come easier!
You are loved,
Ever have a crappy, horrible, why did I get out of bed kinda day? Tuesday was mine. It started with lower back spasms and muscle relaxers. Then it turned into this:
“Mom, I have a headache.”
“Do you need me to come get you?”
“No, it’s okay. We’re on lockdown anyway.”
“Apparently there are kids with guns on campus.”
Meanwhile, my phone rings. It’s about the middle child in middle school:
“Your child is suspended from riding the bus for three days… “
And then when I picked up the youngest from Private Christian School, the teacher told me this:
“He can be such a good, loving child, but if I could’ve paddled him today I would have.”
So how’s that whole Parenting According to Amos thing going for me? I won’t even ask you, because most likely your children are close to perfection and you’ve just humored me in reading what I think God is saying to parents through the prophet Amos. Most likely your children get all greens or smiley faces on their agendas. Most likely your children live up to every single responsibility you ask of them. Most likely your children get all A’s on their report card (not even one ‘F’, not even one). Most likely you just pity me, looking down on me with a pierced mouthed smile, trying to let me know through your eyes that someday, I will be a better mother and everything will be okay.
But in the meantime I take this to heart–like God is telling me to straighten it up, to tighten the reins on my little family:
“Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you…against the whole family…”Amos 3:1
Oh and it doesn’t stop there either, because verse 11 says this:
“An Adversary shall be all around the land; He shall sap your strength from you, and your palaces shall be plundered.”
God was speaking of the Assyrians at the time, but now, I consider my adversary Satan himself. And yes, he is sapping my strength and yes, he is plundering my palace. My child was held in a classroom for 2 hours yesterday so the 10 police cars full of officers could search students class by class. (There were kids peeing in bottles in the corners of rooms–no kidding. I have photographic evidence, but I’ll spare you.) My boys are forgetting their manners, and what obedience is, and how important honesty is to our family, and to God.
But I am reminded that the Adversary is the real enemy, from the beginning of my life to the end of my children’s. I must discipline my kids, I must teach them a better way of life. I must teach them to fight from a place of Victory in Christ, because if I don’t stop the disobedience now–if we don’t teach our kids honesty, responsibility, respect–then one of our kids could be the one at school with a gun.
When God speaks of disciplining his chosen people of Israel in the book of Amos it’s because he knows the possibility of the outcome if he didn’t. We can’t ignore the possible outcomes in our own kids lives.
What are some ways you need to stand firm against the ADVERSARY and not allow him to sap your strength?
What is your worst day ever with your kids?
Share with me!
One of the greatest challenges it seems that comes with growing a church is not having your own builiding. My students are the ones who have suffered the most with our sense of homelessness. For the last year and a half we have bombarded the living rooms of parents, who had no idea what they were getting themselves into.
As those opportunities have expired, I find myself forced to reconsider the entire ministry. The easy way would be to find another living room and keep on moving forward in the same ryhthm doing the same thing, with the same perspective…same…same…same.
Jesus never did ministry the same. He constantly adapted with every new challenge that faced him. The foundation of his ministry never changed–it was all about Him. Our ministry will always remain all about Him. But in order for there to even be a ministry, I had to ask the students what they thought, what they wanted, how they wanted to learn about him. This is what they told me:
- We want a comfortable and hip environment.
- We want awesome and inspiring music.
- We want to minister to people our own age.
- We want to feed the poor and clothe the naked.
- We want to be heard and to make a difference.
- We want our own building.
It’s a tall order, but one that no doubt is possible, well except for the last one right now. This past weekend we started with “We want to minister to people our own age.” After grabbing Three Taco Parties from Taco Bell and loading the ice chest with gatorade we headed to the local skatepark to show the skaters some Jesus Love. We will continue learning and doing ministry in an organic way, focusing more on serving and loving others with sporatic times of intense teaching.
When buliding a ministry, we have to be moldable, willing to follow where the Spirit leads. So often in church planting we want to use a model, or mimick a local “successful” church. Our success depends on how we accomplish His will for His ministry.
Where in your ministry have you bucked the system and leaned into God’s creativity in your church plant?
“For three sins…even four, I will not turn back my wrath.”
My husband can be quite the funny guy. Sometimes, when the kids come home from school he will tell one of them that he got a call from the teacher and wants to know what happened. Whichever child he chooses to pick on gets a deer-in-the-headlight- look, obviously combing every memory of the day gone by to see if there is anything they possibly could have done to warrant a phone call. After a few moments the poor victim of the practical joke finally realize they’ve done nothing and everyone starts laughing. Except this one time, when my middle child was in second grade, he confessed to pushing a girl at recess. Even now, six years later, we all laugh about how what was intended for a joke turned out to be a time of confession.
We always have those moments with our kids when we really have to call them out on their behavior. To me, it’s the most dreaded time of parenting. In the first chapters of Amos we see God calling out the Nations of Israel sin by sin. Their sins boiled down to absence of worship of God and absence of justice. But the sins were many: violence, sending friends into exile, broken promises, lack of mercy, extensive anger, greed, disrespect, disobedience, stealing, mistreatment of the poor and sexual immorality. My guess if you really looked at this list, your family struggles with much of the same. Siblings hitting each other, friends being mistreated, anger issues among the youngest, disrespect toward parents and flat out disobedience of what you’ve asked to be done.
Most parents make excuses for their kids: they’re tired, they’ve had a rough day, they didn’t really mean it. We don’t want to see our kids suffer and most of the time it takes a commitment from us to follow through with discipline. Anyone who has ever grounded a child knows that it’s more punishment for ourselves than it is for the child. Who wants to deal with that?
But God dealt very seriously with his people when it came to their behavior. Time and again we see God deliver his message through Amos:
“I will not turn away its punishment”
God called them out on their sin, and explained specifically how he was going to handle it: I will send fire, I will cut off, I shall devour palaces, the strong shall not strengthen his power. God says, “I will punish you for all your iniquities.”
The word punishment has become taboo in the last decade. We should never punish a child, only discipline. Punishment has become a dirty word meaning violence and harshness. Discipline or punishment, whatever you want to call it, God was making himself very clear. He would not tolerate the Israelites behavior any longer. And it would require drastic actions to put his children back in their place.
Same is true for us. There are times we must be drastic in the way we discipline our children so that they really get the message and understand who is the authority. So many families, maybe even yours, are living out of balance because your children have too much power. What they want, what they say is what goes. This is what the Israelites thought, too.
God is clear with us, his children, that He is the authority and that he sets that standard. There is no grey area. And although God deals with us gently, he also deals with us with tremendous justice. We should desire to parent our children by His example to us.
Share with me:
Is God your authority and standard?
Where did you learn your parenting skills from?
Do your kids have too much say-so in your home?
What does the word discipline or punishment mean to you?
Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you. Deuteronomy 8:5
I am, on all levels, an every day ordinary girl. My nails always crack and my polish is always chipped. I love hitting the snooze button but hate bedtime. I leave drawers and cabinet doors ajar because I hate the sound of them closing, and it drives my very military husband insane. Sometimes I yell at my kids, and hide in the bathroom. I’m always late. Always.
I am ordinary. And so was Amos. Amos bred sheep–I breed sheep or kids, either one. Amos tended to the fruit of the sycamore tree. I tend to my little fruit loops and often am sick-of-more and more of their antics (ha ha, see what I did there). Amos was not from any priestly or noble decent. Even though at times I think I am some sort of princess, I’m just a girl from Texas. Amos was an everyday ordinary guy, and God used him. I like to think that God uses me.
During the time that God gave Amos a message to share, The Northern Kingdom of Israel was rockin’. They were in a place of economic prosperity. There was a sense of security and peace among the people and the nations. Times were good yet the people were smug about God’s favor. However, God was not happy because a midst their seemingly perfect world was a people dedicated to “moral decay and spiritual corruption.”
We all look at our families like that sometimes. Read More