Why is Prayer a Last Resort?

Why_Is_Prayer_Last_ResortThere seems to be a trend amongst parents commenting on our recent blog posts. Prayer is something we all agree needs to happen, but is often not the first thought which comes to mind when a situation arises. Why do we use prayer as a last resort, when we could be accessing the most incredible resource available?

In our home, the Lord has shown us some unique ways in which to incorporate prayer into daily life. Join us as we review how prayer should not be the last thought which crosses our minds, but the first.

I need to be praying for each child individually. I pray for my children; all the time. At times, I will even pray for a specific child. What I don’t normally do is pray for a specific child all day long. The Lord is prompting me to do just that. Become a prayer warrior for each child individually.

I need to be praying for them on a specific day. If I don’t set myself up on a routine, I can forget what I am supposed to be doing and fail to accomplish what the Lord has set before me. I need to pick a day and dedicate that day to each of my children. For example: Trinity is going to be Mondays, Noel will be Tuesdays, and so forth. This way I form a routine and don’t leave things up to my memory or chance. It is scheduled and therefore it will get done.

I need to be praying for specific things. Each of our children have specific needs and
areas the Lord is showing me needs prayer. Through this dedicated prayer time, I need to be lifting these before the Lord. Here are some of the areas of my children’s lives about which the Lord is prompting me to pray:

  • Their walk with Him. (Never assume our children are saved or walking right with God.)
  • Their relationship with me. (That our relationship would stay strong and God-centered.)
  • Their relationship with their siblings. (That they would speak with love and kindness, putting the other person first.)
  • Their current struggles. (That the Lord would give them wisdom to know what to do, patience to help them work through it, and grace to understand we all fall short.)
  • Their maturity. (That Lord would grow them and make them sober-minded.)
  • Their future. (That the Lord would make their paths in life clear. That they would always serve Him and bring Him honor.)
  • Their future spouses. (That the Lord would be working in that other person’s life. Directing them and protecting them.)

I  need to be praying for my marriage. One of the best things we can ever do for our children is have a loving marriage that is Christ centered. Our children will learn more about life, love, and forgiveness from us, than from anywhere else. Praying for my marriage is essential.

I need to be praying for my husband. Praying for my husband is not the same as praying for my marriage. Praying for my marriage is important, but so is specifically praying for my man. He has his own struggles, dreams, and needs. Those too need to be lifted before the Lord.

I need to be praying for my outside ministries. We serve in a lot of different areas. In order to best serve those ministries, it’s extremely important to be in constant communication with God. If I am not in prayer, I risk overburdening myself and disobedience to the Lord. I need to constantly remember that He is the one leading those ministries. I am only there to help, which I cannot do if I am not listening to Him speak.

I need to find creative ways and times to pray. Through the experience of others, the Lord is also showing me creative ways to pray throughout my day. I tend to be very busy, so it helps if I can pray while I attend to the responsibilities He has put before me. Here are some ways that the Lord has opened up some time for prayer.

  • I pray while washing dishes. (Lord clean the heart of —–. Make them pure before you.)
  • I pray when I cook. (Lord feed —–‘s mind and spirit. That they would hunger for you.)
  • I pray when I clean. (Lord remove anything from —-‘s life that doesn’t need to be there. Help them to be organized and have a clean heart.)
  • I pray while I fold laundry. (Socks: Lord keep their feet on your path. Shirt: Lord touch their hearts. Etc…)
See, this could go on forever. There are many ways we can find in which to be creative about our prayer times; we just need to look for the opportunities.

I have begun to notice that as my children grow older and life seems to get more complex, I have a tendency to take on the struggles of life instead of leaving them where they belong; at the feet of Christ. My family belongs to the Lord. When I humble myself and give them over to God, I can have peace knowing that He is in control. Will you join me in spending dedicated time in prayer for our families? Trust me, you won’t regret it.

“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”
~ Psalm 145:18

Your Turn!: Do you have a tendency to use prayer as a last resort? What helps you remember to use prayer first and not last?

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Growing Greener Grass

Growing_Greener_GrassIt’s well manicured, lush, green, and expands to all ends of their domain. Their seemingly perfect grass sits there mocking your scraggly, practically brown, over-grown, meager patch of yard. You jealously compare the two and thoughtfully wish your space looked like theirs. Well, perhaps, my friend, there is a reason for this. The grass is always greener, where it is cultivated.

It is all too easy to look at the people who surround us and compare ourselves to them. Is our marriage as good? Are our children as well-behaved? Is our home as well-kept? Do we accomplish as much?

One truth I have discovered is that while I am looking at other peoples “green grass”, mine is beginning to whither. Instead of spending my time growing my “yard”, I’m slowly killing it off with bitterness and doubt. I need to refocus my gaze and start managing the space I can change. But how do we go about helping our “grass” to grow?

Get Rid of Pests – How many things are in my life I just don’t need? Worse, how many things are actually hurting me? First and foremost, I need to remove those items which are preventing me from further accomplishment. Be it television, certain music, friends, or responsibilities. All things which prevent me from accomplishing the goal of living a life pleasing to God, need to be removed if I am to progress.

Pull the Weeds – While “pests” are surface problems which need to be removed, “weeds” are a little harder; they often run deep and are a reflection of my inner heart. Is there bitterness in there? I need to uproot it and kill it off. Am I angry all the time? Yank it out and throw it away! Once the weeds are gone, I have a better ability to start growing. We accomplish this with tons of prayer, some good Bible reading, thankfulness, and proper application of what we’re learning.

Plant – Now that the damaging parts of my “grass” are removed, I want to start adding some good stuff. Prayer and Bible reading will definitely help, but now we need to add a few more good things. Quality family time, Bible study, and purposeful couple time are all good places to start.

Fertilize – No seed can grow without a little help! Surrounding myself with like-minded friends will help me flourish. People who will not fill my ears with flattery, but who will give me the truth; friends who encourage me to grow closer to Christ.

Water – Quench Spiritual thirst with a good family church. Our minds and souls are like sieves, we leak! We need to constantly be refreshing ourselves with the teaching of the Word and the encouragement of worship.

Manicure – Once we start the process, we will occasionally need to maintain our “grass”. If I am doing things according to God’s will, my life will begin to flourish. My relationships are going to blossom and, while life will never be perfect, it is certainly more “green”. This doesn’t mean, however, that every once in a while, I don’t need to do a quick status check.
Has anything snuck in which shouldn’t be there; a stray weed or pest which needs to be exterminated? Perhaps I have left off planting seeds and building? Is my grass becoming withered or needing an infusion of vitamins? Failing to manicure my life can be very dangerous; left unchecked, my life could easily become the mess it was previously and be a hideous example for the world to see. There is very little which is sadder to observe; a once lovely life, now turned stale and ugly.

A Note of Caution –  This is not a guarantee all of life will suddenly be “coming up roses”. We aren’t talking a quick-fix for getting everything you want. This is a heart check. If we focus on serving Christ and living lives for His glory, the size of our “yard” or the house which happens to be sitting on it, won’t matter. The purpose is not to magically convert our lives into exact replicas of our neighbor, but to be thankful for the one God granted to us and to make the most of what we’ve got. It’s not the size of the “yard”, it’s what you do with it that counts.

Wouldn’t it be great if all we had to do was wish our lives were perfect, in order to make it happen? Wow! People would dream up large homes, endless budgets, and gorgeous fillings for their estates. Our relationships would be just as well off; happy marriages, obedient children, and endless amounts of friends.

Unfortunately, life isn’t a long wish list. Often, you get out what you put in. So, instead of me looking into other people’s yards, I want to spend more time cultivating my own.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
– Matthew 6:33

📢 Chime In!: How is your yard looking?

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I AM A Failure

Not living up to my own expectations is quite a challenge. I admit it, I tend to be extremely hard on myself. Some have speculated whether or not this is part of a complex known as OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). I would argue that it’s pride. I’m a failure, I just need to accept it.

Being a perfectionist is a pain. One of the most dangerous aspects of being a perfectionist is the inability to accept failure; mostly, in ourselves. This goes beyond a mere disappointment in our performance and jumps straight to obsessive occupation of the mind. We can’t seem let go the fact that we didn’t do as well as we would have liked.

As an adult this is hard enough, now imagine you’re a child. How do we teach our children that it’s okay to fail? And, just as importantly, when to get back up and try again?

Remain Calm – Don’t add to the situation by getting frustrated and emotional. Take a breath, pray, and then move on.

Take Stock of the Situation – Every situation offers something to learn. While we may have ‘failed’ at our initial (or subsequent) attempt at this current goal, each new attempt offers something to learn by.

Focus On What’s Important – Don’t lose sight of what your true purpose was in this endeavor. Stay focused on the main goal and keep working.

Don’t Compare – You are not other people. Don’t worry about how others could have or would have done better. You are you; do your best and keep trying. What more can anyone ask?

Move On – Not all situations need to be tried again and again, despite popular opinion. Assess each situation and decide which would be best. If trying again is what’s needed, then do so. However, don’t be afraid to move on to something completely different, if this goal no longer becomes important. It is okay to walk away from some goals.

Perfectionism can be a good thing, if managed properly and kept in perspective. We just need to remember that we’re all human and failing is just another important lesson in life.

Time to Chime In: Do you have children who are perfectionists? How do you help them through moments of failure?

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Walking Partners

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I AM the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

John 8:12

Mini-RetreatThis past weekend, our church hosted a women’s mini-retreat. Instead of going away for the weekend, we ‘camped out’ at church for teachings on Friday evening and all day Saturday. This year’s theme: Walking Partners!

While attending the retreat, the Lord showed me so much. The love of Christ was evident everywhere, even amongst the various minor complications which arose. It was a remarkable few days in which much was learned.

The theme of this year’s retreat was ‘Walking Partners’; encouraging us women to find other ladies who will keep us accountable and edify us. During the weekend one main message struck my heart. The Lord was clearly pointing me in a similar direction… we need to be our children’s walking partners!

So often we view ministry as ‘outside responsibility’, something done for our church groups, our neighbors down the road, and people in foreign lands who need to hear the gospel. Are we putting as much into our own children as we are into others? Are we so busy trying to encourage others that we fail to do so with those closest to us, our children?

Workshops!

The Lord was showing me that our children need to come first, before we step out our door to help others. If we are relying on the church to train up our kids, we are failing to do our job. If we are relying on an occasional Bible study to teach our children the Word of God, we are in the wrong.

I would encourage all of us, including myself, to take this thought seriously. Before looking to help others, look to your family. Find ways to ‘walk’ with your children and minister to them. Discover who your children are and make a point of reaching their hearts. Learn your children’s ways and make a point of studying them. Love on your kiddos as much as possible, even those who pretend they are getting too big for hugs.

Our children need someone to hold their hand and disciple their hearts. Our children need us to help them, direct them, train them, and love on them. There is not a moment to lose and never a bad time to speak to our children about the love of Christ.

We need to be our children’s ‘walking partner’ through life. If we don’t hold their hand, the world certainly will.

Mini-Me

My 'Mini-Me'

It was pointed out to me that this is the exact face I make!

She was doing it again. That thing that just gets under my skin. The look, the attitude, and the unspoken message were being communicated loud and clear; she was not happy. My first inclination was to train her, but then I heard a soft voice remind me, “She is doing what you do.” (sigh) It’s true; my children are mini versions of me. The poor little dears…

As much as I would love to portray an image of perfect parenthood, the truth is I am human. Just like everyone else, I too make mistakes. This is most apparent when my children act out. As does a mirror, my children reflect back to me all the ways in which I need improvement.

Parenting has taught me so much about myself and not all of it good!

The most important lesson I have learned from parenting is that mercy and grace need to abound. While I have a tendency towards being overly firm, sometimes a gentle hand is what is needed.

If I could go back in time, I would tell myself to pay attention to those moments of frustration that these children are experiencing. I would encourage myself to listen carefully to the underlying message this little person is trying to convey. I would remind myself to be patient, humble, and gracious. Most importantly, I would tell myself that these are lessons from God for me. The Lord is using these situations to shape me and mold my character. Through my children, God is showing me areas which need improvement and giving me the opportunity to change.

This is the same advice I would offer others. When your children act like mini-replica’s of yourself – and not the best versions of you, either – consider this a wonderful teaching moment for you!  Don’t be quick to judge, but seek to restore that child back into a proper relationship with the family.

Having our children be miniature versions of ourselves can be a little frustrating at times, but it is also a blessing. Besides showing us personal areas of needed improvement, we have a unique ability to understand the struggles this child is experiencing. We’ve been in her shoes and we know what she needs to move forward.

The next time you’re faced with a ‘mini-me’ moment, consider this a wonderful learning opportunity, for both of you!

Time to Chime In: Which of your children is your ‘mini-me’ and what has the experience taught you?

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:4

Counsel of the Holy

The principal of our PSP, and a personal friend of our family, recently shared this devotion with our group. With his permission, I want to share it with all of you. I pray you are blessed.

……

I was recently in a discussion with a young man who had, as we all have at one point or another, lost his sense of direction, and found himself needing a spiritual course correction. As our conversation progressed, he asked how he had gotten off course. I have at times asked the same question.

In truth, I have never met a person who woke up one morning and determined that they would back-slide that day, and I have yet to ask myself how I could deliberately sabotage my walk with Christ; but if we are not careful, we can easily find ourselves compromising in one area or another, which leads to a slippery slope in our daily walk. I believe that just like sheep happily munch on the grass with no attention to where they are going and can find themselves far from the flock, if we are not frequently checking ourselves, our hearts, and our sources of input, we can find ourselves having moved in a direction we didn’t see coming beforehand.

Psalm 1 states: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful;”

I believe that a progression is shown in this verse. It begins with ungodly counsel, and ends with far worse. It also shows how our walks with God can be slowly over time eroded and changed. It begins with who and what we listen to, the counsel of the ungodly. This is done as we walk along. What do we listen to, who do we take advice from, and what is our focus in life?

I am very glad that we chose to home school our children. There is a trend amongst traditional public school kids which is also somewhat mirrored in private school kids; namely they go to their peers for advice and counsel. This is disturbing to me, and should be to most parents. If my 13 yr. old is struggling with an issue, I really don’t want him soliciting counsel from someone else as clueless as he. Most kids in public school that I talk with speak in monosyllables when talking with an adult. Perhaps this is due to spending hours at a time herded with a bunch of same-aged classmates, but if asking for help, the shepherd would be a better choice than another sheep. Of course there are always exceptions, but home schooled kids tend to be more willing to talk with adults than their public-schooled counterparts.

Read with Me

From whom do we solicit advice? Scripture admonishes us throughout to seek wisdom. That is usually found in those who are at least beyond the current stage of life we find ourselves in. Solomon’s son Rehoboam chose to listen to those his own age, ignored the advice of those older and more experienced than he, and the nation of Israel was split as a result; hardly what he planned all along, I am sure.

The next step in the backward progression is to stand in the path of sinners. We listen to ungodly counsel as we walk, then suddenly we stop walking and stand still. While we are not admonished in Scripture to avoid catching our breath, or to seek shade for a few moments to cool off, our relationship with God is described as a walk, a journey that requires forward motion. The Israelites spent 40 years meandering around in the desert when they could have taken about 12 days. How much heartache could we avoid if we maintain our focus and don’t go off on side trips? The longer we stay in one place, the easier it is to forget which direction we were going in before we stopped.

The next stop in our downward spiral is to sit. Whenever we stop moving forward and stand still, it becomes easier to sit down and stop moving altogether. Just as a sheep taking a nap is separated from the flock that keeps moving, so we too can find ourselves in a place where we don’t want to be simply because we were never supposed to camp there in the first place.

We can hardly blame Jesus if we walk with Him, sit down when we aren’t supposed to, take a short cat-nap, and then wonder where He is and how we lost sight of Him. We are encouraged to stick close to Him for that very reason.

The next verse gives us the alternate and more desirable option. If the downward spiral begins with ungodly counsel, the living, vibrant, productive walk begins with the counsel of the Holy One. “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.”

If I want to be fruitful, then taking in constant nourishment is the only way to be healthy. Eating once a week is a poor way to maintain health, but eating good food regularly is going to help us maintain a healthy body. The word used is delight: “His delight is in the law of the Lord” (emphasis mine). When we truly pay attention regularly to what God would counsel us to do, it becomes a delight to walk with Him. His words become refreshing, satisfying, and pleasant to hear and heed. It follows up with a description of a tree planted in the best place, near and constantly nurtured with food and water for growth.

If I wait for Him to stop, letting Him choose the choicest most refreshing rest stops available, I become a growing, green, fruit-bearing tree in His garden, rather than a spent, dried-out, withered tree that couldn’t produce fruit. I would rather be used as a source of fruit, shade, and rest for others as I walk with Him. That being the case, I need to be constantly filled and fed by Him, not only taking in His counsel, but meditating on it, mulling it over in my mind, and making it the counsel I not only hear, but heed.  As Peter put it so well, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68)

Happy Trails….

There is No Condemnation

If someone offered me the opportunity to turn back the hands of time and redo my life, the first answer to reach my lips would be a resounding, “NO!” It’s not that my life has been bad, but I am happy with where I am; I have no desire to return to my immaturity and learn life lessons all over again. However, on occasion, there are certain aspects of life I wish I could have done better, namely parenting.

Even before our marriage, I was determined to be the best parent I could be. I wasn’t going to yell; I wasn’t going to over-indulge; I was going to keep things in perspective and live according to God’s Word. Being human, I quickly found the biggest obstacle to being the parent I wanted to be, was me. 

I still do my best not to yell; I am definitely not the over-indulging kind; and I try to live according to God’s Word. However, there has been a sickness in my parenting which has previously gone undetected; the disease of condemnation.

The Divine Conspiracy

Somewhere along the way, I got it into my head that I was to be my children’s conscience. When they did something wrong, I was supposed to straighten them out and make them see the error of their ways. I was going to help their little consciences along with a good dose of judgement. In other words… make them feel bad for what they were doing.

 

Recently, I was re-reading an incredible book by Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy. In Mr. Willard’s book, he addresses the issue of condemnation.

“Condemnation always involves some degree of self-righteousness and of distancing ourselves from the one we are condemning. And self-righteousness always involves an element of comparison and of condemnation.”

Ironically, he explains that the result of condemnation is for us to be attacked on those very same terms. When we reproach our children for using harsh words toward their siblings, they condemn us for not being respectful toward our spouses. He reminds us that this behavior very rarely produces the results we are looking for and instead leads to greater harm.

Through reading this section of Mr. Willard’s book, I have come to realize something vital. In correcting my children’s behavior, I am to offer restoration. It is not my job to humble others, that is a job for the Holy Spirit. When I address an issue of discipline with my kiddos, the goal is to bring them back into a proper relationship with everyone else; I am not to ostracize them further.

So, how should I correct my children? Mr. Willard lays out a few steps which might help all of us. First, we need to decide what the problem really is. Second, I need to make sure I am the correct person for the job. Perhaps I need to step aside and let my man handle this situation. Third, I need to not straighten them out, but restore them to the family. Fourth, we need to restore with the mindset that we are all humans who sin and I too have issues that need repair.

You see? It’s not that the problem is being dismissed, but it is all in how the issue is handled. We are still working toward the same end goal, but with love, grace, and humility. I do not need to make my children ‘feel’ the weight of their mistake, but to offer them grace, forgiveness, and restoration. The Holy Spirit is the only one who can speak to their hearts and do the real work, I am just here to help bring that about.

Does this mean there are no consequences for my children’s actions? Of course not! Discipline needs to take place. However, our children will see that the consequences are a direct result of their own actions and not the lashing out of an angry parent. This is not about attacking them as a person, but working together to help them avoid future failure.

As a parent, I need to understand that my children are a gift. They are not merely physical, but spiritual beings. They are not responsible to me for their actions, but to God alone. It is to Him they are accountable and to Him they should be restored. Who am I to condemn?

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,…” – Romans 8:1

You Complete Me

Marriage can be a bit tricky. While we are one with our spouses, it is just as important to realize that our spouses are not our everything. If we are looking for the other person to make us happy or to “complete us”, we’re bound to be disappointed.

I love my husband, truly I do. However, I am setting us both up for failure if I expect him to complete every aspect of my life. It is not his job to “fill the whole in the middle of my heart”. Wow! That would be a daunting task for anyone, wouldn’t it? My poor man would need to spend large chunks of everyday simply trying to figure out what I need, then he would have to devote even more time to making it happen, only to figure out that he couldn’t possibly do it all anyway. It’s not that I’m a difficult girl, I’m pretty low maintenance (seriously, go ask!), but, if I’m going to be honest, there are some issues only God can work out.

It is not my kids who are supposed to complete me either. I have heard many a young, frankly naive, young lady who thinks having children is going to fulfill her life and offer up someone to love her completely. Wow! No child should have to live with that burden. What will she do when her child acts out or doesn’t live up to her expectations?

You Complete Me

Sure, you might not rely on people to make you feel complete, but what about that fancy career? What would your life mean, if somehow you lost that important position and were now in limbo?

Here is a tough one for me…. Does my role as a homeschool mom “complete” me? (Ouch!) If somehow I could no longer homeschool, would I feel like less of a person or insignificant in life? How much of myself is wrapped up in what I do and not in my value as seen through God’s eyes?

 

Yes; we should want our spouses and our children to love us. Yes; in a sense, things may be fulfilling. However, there is a huge difference between finding something fulfilling and relying on that bond to complete us. The only relationship which should complete us, is the one we have with Christ. It is in Him and Him alone we should find our happiness and contentment.

As a friend once stated, “I am always going to disappoint you. I am always going to let you down. Don’t rely on me. Rely on God.” Now, that is one awesome statement.

What advice would you give to someone who is co-dependant?

“So you also are complete through your union with Christ,…” – Colossians 2:10

The Grass is Always Greener….

It’s well manicured, lush, green, and expands to all ends of their domain. Their seemingly perfect grass sits there mocking your scraggly, practically brown, over-grown, meager patch of yard. You jealously compare the two and thoughtful wish your space looked like theirs. Well, perhaps, my friend, there is a reason for this. The grass is always greener, where it is cultivated.

It is all too easy to look at the people who surround us and compare ourselves to them. Is our marriage as good? Are our children as well-behaved? Is our home as well-kept? Do we accomplish as much?

Dessert Scene - Vegas

I do NOT want my “grass” looking like this.

One truth I have discovered is that while I am looking at other peoples “green grass”, mine is beginning to whither. Instead of spending my time growing my “yard”, I’m slowly killing it off with bitterness and doubt. I need to refocus my gaze and start managing the space I can change. But how do we go about helping our “grass” to grow?

Get Rid of Pests – How many things are in my life that I just don’t need? Worse, how many of things are actually hurting me? First and foremost, I need to remove those items which are preventing me from further accomplishment. Be it television, certain music, friends, or responsibilities. All things which prevent me from accomplishing the goal of living a life pleasing to God, need to be removed if I am to progress.

Pull the Weeds – While “pests” are surface problems which need to be removed, “weeds” are a little harder; they often run deep and are a reflection of my inner heart. Is there bitterness in there? I need to uproot it and kill it off. Am I angry all the time? Yank it out and throw it away! Once the weeds are gone, I have a better ability to start growing. We accomplish this with tons of prayer, some good Bible reading, thankfulness, and proper application of what we’re learning.

Plant – Now that the damaging parts of my “grass” are removed, I want to start adding some good stuff. Prayer and Bible reading will definitely help, but now we need to add a few more good things. Quality family time, Bible study, and purposeful couple time are all good places to start.

Fertilize – No seed can grow without a little help! Surround yourself with as many like-minded friends as you can. People who will not fill your ears with flattery, but who will give you the truth; friends who encourage you to grow closer to Christ.

Water – Quench your Spiritual thirst with a good family church. Our minds and souls are like sieves, we leak! (laughing) We need to constantly be refreshing ourselves with the teaching of the Word and the encouragement of worship.

Silly Girls

Now, this is what my “grass” ought to look like; complete with happy kids.

Manicure – Once you start to get the process going, you will sometimes find you need to maintain your “grass”. If I am doing things according to God’s will, my life is going to start to flourish. My relationships are going to blossom and, while life will certainly never be perfect, life is certainly more “green”. This doesn’t mean, however, that every once in a while, I don’t need to do a quick status check. Has anything snuck in which shouldn’t be there; a stray weed or pest which thought it could find its way in? Perhaps I have left off planting those seeds and building? Is my grass getting withered or needing a little infusion of vitamins here and there? Failing to manicure my life can be very dangerous; left unchecked, my life could easily become the mess it was previously and be a hideous example for the world to see. There is very little which is sadder to observe; a once lovely life, now turned stale and ugly.

A Note of Caution –  This is not a guarantee that all of life will suddenly be “coming up roses”. We aren’t talking a quick-fix for getting everything you want. This is a heart check. If we focus on serving Christ and living lives for His glory, the size of our “yard” or the house which happens to be sitting on it, won’t matter. The purpose is not to magically convert our lives into exact replicas of our neighbor, but to be thankful for the one God granted to us and to make the most of what we’ve got. It’s not the size of the “yard”, it’s what you do with it that counts.

Wouldn’t it be great if all we had to do was wish our lives were perfect, in order to make it happen? Wow! People would dream up large homes, endless budgets, and gorgeous fillings for their estates. Our relationships would be just as well off; happy marriages, obedient children, and endless amounts of friends.

Unfortunately, life isn’t a long wish list. Often, you get out, what you put in. So, instead of me looking into other people’s yards, I want to spend more time cultivating my own.

How is your yard looking?

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – Matthew 6:33

A Change of Plans

The grand plan was all written out in my head. I knew what my routine would look like, what my goals were, and what to expect in the coming weeks. Then… the Lord changed everything.

Isn’t it funny how sometimes we think we’ve got everything figured out, only to discover we are just getting started? One minute we’ve got this lovely vision of things to come and the next minute the Lord is redirecting us to something even better.

Recently, I found myself in this position. I had signed up to participate in a particular event. I was ready to go, excited to be a part of something incredible. The first week, the Lord was  trying to communicate something to me, but I just wasn’t hearing it. The second week, the message was unmistakable. I was not supposed to be there.

The event itself was a great experience and the women there were truly incredible. There was nothing wrong with the event, the Lord was just trying to convey a message and I was being hard-headed.

So, what was the message? It was simply this… “Now is not the time.” No shouts, no demands, nothing outstanding; just a basic message which had a world of weight to it. This event was a good thing, but it was something which needed to be put on hold. Perhaps sometime in the future this might be something to consider, but now is not it.

I felt quite guilty about quietly sneaking out of the event. (Yes, I snuck out. How terrible of me!) However, the minute I reached fresh air and returned to my car, I felt a wave of peace come over me. I knew I was doing the right thing. The entire drive home, the Lord gave me a new plan. I now knew what I was supposed to be doing.

Why did He allow me to begin something He knew I shouldn’t be a part of? I think it was for my benefit. If I hadn’t been allowed to proceed, I would have second guessed my choice or wondered if I was making the right decision. By allowing me to proceed, He was showing me the path I could choose and allowing me to grow. Sometimes we have to see the wrong path (not bad, just wrong for us) before we can choose the right.

My vision has been changed; my plan for the next several months slightly altered. Nothing dramatic from an outside perspective, but in simple ways which will make a larger impact. While I didn’t see this change of plans coming, I know it was the right move and I look forward to seeing what it brings.

How do you handle a change in plans?

“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
– James 4:13-15