Prayers of Children

This past month instead of our normal Good Dirt talk each evening we made a commitment to pray for the persecuted church around the world. It was interesting. It is hard enough for Mike and I to identify with these brothers and sisters in Christ.  We have both traveled quite a bit and been to multiple 3rd world nations including some that are in governmental unrest. Nevertheless our kids who are middle class America, have never been hungry or never not had a Christmas or birthday present waiting on the special day. But we read stories each day from Voice of the Martyrs. We read stories of dads that had to flee from their homes on our daddy’s birthday. It made it a bit more real to them that while we participated in celebrating our very special guy, a very special guy to someone else had just lost his life only because he loved Jesus. As we discussed that where these events happen we could not even sit as we were and talk and pray and read about Jesus.

Our kids each in their special ways got it.

Isabella while she sits fully entrenched in her self revolving, 16 year old thoughts had a glimpse of losing everything she knows because of her faith. Did it strengthen her? I do not know. Did it challenge her? Yes!

My Kadin, in all his 5 year old innocence just knows that he “loves Jesus and everyone should love Jesus but I guess they don’t have to.”

And our Quinn who teaches us more than any long educated professor could, writes in his Revolutionary War paper for school that the ” colonists just wanted their independence so they could love Jesus without being killed in their own homes.” He cannot fathom a world without freedom. He knows no persecution or racism or judgement. He only knows freedom in life and in Christ.

I am not sure that any of us can truly understand what the persecuted church faces daily… But they do have a few more prayers coming from some young ones in Colorado.

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Do I really trust God?

We have teenagers…2 (Plus a little guy but he is still mostly just a fireball)! Teens are undeniably erratic and selfish. Life is usually fine and sometimes INSANE! When things are good we read, talk, pray, learn, listen, watch, play etc. When things are bad we cry and pray and yell and pray some more.

Recently things went from good to really really bad. I wept at the drop of a hat and prayed with my tears more than words. But I felt the intense embrace from the Lord during those few days. We encouraged each other and tried to not get short tempered with the 2 other ones not causing immediate pain to us and remember that they were in turmoil too.

In recent months with our small group we have read through the Psalms. It has irritated me that David writes so “whiney” and that he doesn’t seem to just stay within the knowledge and trust of God. Then Friday came to this home, and Saturday, and Sunday, and Monday where we cried out “WHY US? WHY THIS? WHY…WHY…WHY? BUT… we WILL trust in the Lord our God whose plans are for our and our children futures to be full of hope and life.” We did not distrust God even in our painful moments and  yet we felt safe enough that we could pray and cry out to him.

Today… I feel much more at peace with the Psalms. Understanding that David didn’t just lose his faith every time something hard happened, just that he felt secure enough to voice his pain is life giving to me. I did not lose my faith or my trust in my holy, heavenly God this past weekend…I depended on him to listen and take care of the situation in our behalf. I read this morning in Psalm 119 that “your mercies run into the billions, following your guidelines revive me…[I do not want to be one who] walks away from your promises casually!”

So when asked to” pause and imagine God’s love pouring over me” I can do that with joy!

(for those of you that know and love us… please know that all is well. No one is injured or in danger or in any issue that is life lasting. We still covet your prayers for coming days and weeks for things to smooth out but we are all healthy and together)

Beauty-Full

This weekend I attended an overnight retreat with some ladies from our church. It was a much needed breath of fresh air for me. It hasn’t been a glorious week or month or probably even year of me being gracious and kind to my closest people. The speaker at the retreat has written a book entitled “Pursue the Intentional Life”. This seems to be what God is his gentle voice is reminding me. To intentionally see… each person, each circumstance, each emotion, each pain, each pleasure-to be in the moment, whether happy or painful.

The theme verse was Psalm 90:12… Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. The inspiration for her book came from an epiphany that she had when she was 50 years old. She wondered what kind of old woman she would be. She realized that she would be the same kind of old woman as she is young(er) woman- only intensified. Making this assessment of my own life I definitely see some places I do not want to intensify as I age. I see some anger and walls that I have built to protect my heart that will only get bigger, thicker, tougher to tear down.

She encouraged us to intentionally think about the rest of our lives and how we want it to be. I want to be able to look back on my life and see a woman who lived for and loved Jesus above all else but loved others too. One who was encouraging and kind. One who was a positive person and more often than not saw the good not the bad in people. One who loved her husband, family well.

A favorite quote from her book is “God is not asking me to number my days to increase my pace but rather to examine my route, not to increase my efficiency but to see where I must make course corrections in heart, character, and actions. If I step back and take a look at my past days, I see a few places where I need to make a course correction if I want my epitaph to be what I want it to be.

Martin Luther defined beauty as a “Deluge of Grace”. I love that. I want to be a graceful woman of God. I want to be a grace-FULL woman of God. I choose to do the opposite in times of distrust and anger. I choose to speak and know truth in the presence of lies and deception.  I choose to keep my mouth shut when I am “right” and feel the need to be justified. I choose to love in times of hurt. I choose to not only see beauty I choose to BE beauty to others-to be a “deluge of grace”. I choose to pursue an intentional life in the kingdom of God and not “fritter away my life.”

Seasons

I learn best through metaphor… so bear with me.

I live in Colorado where our lives are governed by seasons. We pray for winter snows to water our desert land where we plant crops in the spring to harvest in the summer and fall. Our crops freeze a lot of the time. Not only is there nothing we can do about it, we have to wait later in the year for the fruits of our labor or “borrow” someone else’s.  We have a dry season, a tourist season, a slow season, a harvest season, an apple season, monsoon season, yard sale season, fire season, color season, hunting season, calving/lambing season, football/basketball/baseball/soccer season, wildflower season… I could go on and on.

Each of these seasons have emotion attached to them. We anticipate the tourist season so we can pay our bills without sweat and tears. We fear fire season and its destructiveness. We wait ever so impatiently for monsoon season where we revel in 12% humidity during the rain storm.  We love calving/ lambing season as we watch the newborn babies learn to play but fear that there is still so much cold left until spring. We turn our tv satellite service on for football season and fiercely proclaim our allegiance to the Broncos. We yell and coach and try to rest up for our kids sports seasons. We love wildflower and color season as the colors are so vibrant and creative. Again, I could go on and on. As with all things natural I try to apply it to my spiritual journey.

As I dread the coming of winter in my physical self I feel myself dread the winter in my spirit too. But as I have learned to see beauty in cute boots and new snow I am training myself to see beauty in spiritual winter too. Learning to breathe with the seasons of the church has helped in this. The ordinary time does not mean God is far away. It means He is in the ordinary just as actively as He is in the celebrations. In my winter season I use more of the contemplative disciplines to practice his presence. I read. I meditate. I am quiet (yes during winter basketball season when I am the crazy coaching parent in the stands it is hard to visualize this…haha). It is this season where I love “Yard sale” season of the soul. I take something of someone else’s and make it my treasure. During the “monsoon” season of the soul I take in the rain from heaven and store it away. For me this looks like worship services or retreats etc. Where I am immersed in God for a period of time.

There are some seasons I am in now and I keep thinking “will this ever change?” or “I hope this never changes!”. I remind myself that God is always faithful to bring the next season. Winter always follows fall. But spring ALWAYS follows winter. This season too will pass. I will soon look back and say “that wasn’t so bad and went so quickly”. I take great solace in Ecclesiastes 3… There is a season for everything under the sun.  I recently saw a quote that read “The difference between a good [season] and a bad [season] is your attitude.” I am praying that my seasonal attitude will be to see Jesus in all seasons!

Sabbath Moments

Our pastor is doing a series about the 10 commandments this summer. Our children’s curriculum is following that series so the entire family hears the same thing each week. A few weeks ago was our turn to teach the kids. We even got to choose which commandment we wanted to teach on. We thought teaching the Sabbath would be easy…but to children? As we thought about it…do no work…rest…take time to do nothing and reflect…we thought about our kids…WHO DO NOTHING! Haha… don’t take that the wrong way. Our kids have and do chores. They have animals that they care for. They maintain their own rooms. They do things for our elderly grandparents. But not without being asked. Not without direction to do so. If we let our kids just go for a day they will find random devices to play on or jump on the trampoline for hours or draw/write in their rooms or just plain play/waste the day away. It irritated me that I was thinking my kids whole lives are Sabbath!

So we thought and pondered some more.  This is not a direction given to adults only. My kids have relationships with God so it is as much for them as for me. So what did we learn in trying to teach kids about keeping a Sabbath?

1. It does not have to be a certain day.

2. Kids are great Sabbath keepers. They are not bound up in the busy busy American lifestyle. They live to relax and recharge.

3. I need to watch and learn from them…there is a time for everything. A time to play, a time to dance, a time to clean, a time to let it go!

4. During certain times of the year Sabbath moments are all we can get. My kids are busy during school and more relaxed in the summer…my schedule is always full but I can find a moment to redirect my thoughts to Jesus.

5. Sabbath is not just a relax and do no work day. It is a set aside (holy) time to reflect on Jesus and HIS work and worth in our lives.

6. Kids know how to relax but need to be trained (as we all do) to be intentional about focusing on Jesus.

7. Some of my favorite Sabbath moments are…

a. Late afternoon (almost) every day Mike and I sit down together and have a glass of something and just be…if only for a few minutes.

b. I love to hang out laundry. I have been known to work from the outside in on my round clothesline. It is peaceful and smells like Jesus in the middle of that circle

c. Music…dancing with my people…pretending we are the band…singing in the kitchen

d. Mowing the lawn

e. Going to the mountains, beach, forest, canyon, lake, anywhere natural where again you can smell Jesus and see just how creative he is

f. Just that 5 minutes before we fall asleep.

I could go on and on because this taught us to look for and appreciate those moments. Those moments where we can make it an intentional Sabbath. We want to teach our kids that “down time” can be productive in our relationship with Jesus and to the kingdom of God.  So Happy Sabbath Friday!

 

Today

Sometimes life knocks the wind out of me! I have had a few of those weeks recently. But as Elizabeth Elliott says “just do the next thing.” So we get up and go to work and fix dinner and laugh and play and cry. Then after some time goes by I see there needs to be more intentionality on my part to be forgiving. I heard Joyce Meyer say one time that “Bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.” Unforgiveness turns to bitterness in my heart if I don’t diligently dig it out. It becomes a cross to bear. It becomes a power trip I have to sustain. It becomes a noose around my neck squeezing the life out of my entire self. I see it affecting my life outside of my own body too. I see that my fruits are drying up. I see my relationships squelched. I hear my words become harsh.

So I go to the cross! I wait expectantly to hear from God and He never lets me down! So this is what I read…

Galatians 5 (paraphrased from The Message) 

“When you attempt to live by your own plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. You wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit…what matters is faith expressed in love! You were doing well…you let (unforgiveness) deflect you from the true course of obedience. This doesn’t come from God. DO NOT think this is insignificant. It only takes a very small amount of yeast to permeate an entire loaf of bread. … It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do (or think or feel or act) whatever you want to do and destroy your own freedom. Use your freedom to serve one another in love…that is how freedom grows. … Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. There is a root of sinful self interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit. So choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law dominated existence.”

Now granted that’s a lot of paraphrasing… but all in all it is saying to me if I choose to not forgive I am being selfish and binding myself to a feeling and choosing to remain in a position of hurt and anger, and it WILL infect other areas of my life. I may be justified… my pain and hurt is very real… but I can not use my freedom as an excuse to hold onto that because Jesus says to let it go! MY freedom is killed by MY right to hold it.  If I forgive then I am freeing myself from having to have any control over that pain or  issue. Forgiveness allows me to minister the fruits of God’s amazing Spirit.

To think of living freely, animated and motivated by God spirit reminds me that I can tap into an incredible force. The same force that created me and the world and frogs and stars.  Forgiveness is for me, for my freedom, for my relationship with God, for my interaction with others. I love the last line that choosing to be led by the Spirit is to escape the erratic compulsions of law domination. The law is full of retribution and consequences but faith expressing itself in love is totally opposed to that way of thinking. It is freeing to me because I don’t have to carry it. It allows me to be the best image of God that I can be while anything and everything goes on around me. It keeps me in perfect peace when my heart is steadfast.

So today…TODAY…I will forgive and leave those hurts with Jesus. Tomorrow I will do it again, until it is natural or until I meet Jesus face to face and it just doesn’t hurt anymore.

Spring has sprung!

This has been a trying season! We are small business owners and winter is never easy in that area. Mike and I are both dreamers and see that grass is greener elsewhere. We feel safe and together in our little living room or kitchen and just doing our thing, Cooking, eating, playing games, doing our family “bible study”. Sometimes outside of our walls the world is overwhelming.  Quinn is our rock, unwavering in his goals and dedication to his passions. Kadin is our comic relief, always a light! Isabella is our up/down/all around girl, quick witted and sweet. We wonder if our “crazy” is affecting them. We wonder if they will learn about God or know Him. Sometimes we even forget to pray for them that they will grow in their Christ-likeness. One of our mottos for parenting is “what is walked is caught what is taught is not.” What are they catching? Then fear creeps in and accusation that we are bad parents etc etc etc.

However, 4 times in the past week I have been blown away by my kids and reminded why we do Good Dirt.

1. Quinn heard about a friend that was sick and said to me “We need to pray for her!” I agreed and he said “NOW!” So we stopped doing our daily chores and prayed.

2. Kadin told me that during a birthday party at our house with 10 kids they stopped in the middle of the orchard in the middle of the game to pray for a friend that had broken his leg. I was amazed and blessed by their faith! Their instant faith in these situations.

3. Quinn said he would like to be baptized. Us not sure that he understands asked him why and what it means to him. He responded that “It is when you are poured into the water and blessed because Jesus loves you and you want to love Jesus.” Yet again I am blessed by his simple and profound understanding of God.

4. When we picked up Isabella from a week at camp and were asking about her time, she of course talked of the friends she connected with. This can be difficult for her. I probed further and asked what did God speak to her. She said that God wants her to be humble. That it will help her have better friends and keep them and to share about Jesus more and better.

These are things I attribute to our Good Dirt devotions. The training of our minds to look for opportunities to pray and see God in everyday life. These are the things we teach our kids (despite our “squirrel” tendencies) and they in turn demonstrate and teach us.

“I want my chore to be nothing”

My conversation with my Kadin (4 years old) went like this…

Kadin…”Why do I always have to empty the silverware from the dishwasher?”

Me…”Because it’s your chore.”

Kadin…”But I think I want my chore to be nothing. I want to just get to watch movies all day.”

Me…”But that doesn’t make you a better person or help you learn to be a good man.”

Then I hear God’s gentle whisper…”Do you hear yourself? Do you hear that sometimes you have to join in and do not just watch and let others do for you?”

WOW! I love when God speaks and I KNOW it. I have been pondering all day and actually for several days if what I have been hearing is God or me. There is a need at our church for youth leaders. I am not volunteering for that as I lead 3 youth already and am satisfied with my role. However, I have been questioning a quickening in my spirit that says I have something to say to the teen group. I thought maybe I was just feeling the need to be needed, or involved, or to feel important. But hearing this bit from the mouth of my boy and feeling a nudge from Jesus, I remember that I am not insignificant in his kingdom either. Just as my asking Kadin to help with chores, with his much older and experienced siblings, can be a pain and time consuming for me, it is worthwhile as it teaches him and makes him know that I love him and care about his future self.  God asks me sometimes to step out of my “I want my chore to be nothing” comfort zone and do… for my own sake.

1 Corinthians 10 says, ” Forget about self-confidence…cultivate God-confidence…He wants us, all or nothing…The point is not to just get by. We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well.” (the Message) I also am reading ‘Generous Orthodoxy’ by Brian McClaren and have had an epiphany of sorts as he discusses “personal” salvation and how sometimes it becomes all too personal and not enough relational. Jesus saves me and asks that I share that salvation with others. Not for my glory but for his. My chore of “nothing” just leapt to everything. In everything I do I want to share, show, relate Jesus and his love and salvation so that others can know him too.

I am still unsettled on how worthy I am to speak to the youth group. I feel like I am not educated enough, or exciting enough, or spiritual enough to have anything of value to say. But I also know that sometimes God asks me to do something for my own growth just as I ask Kadin to put the silverware away.

 

Mother’s Day

Motherhood did not come to me easily. Mothering does! My Kadin said to me today “It’s Mother’s Day! Don’t you remember?” My thought was of course I remember…How could I forget my 3 beloved ones. Every day is cherished when a battle is fought to gain something. My people that call me mom, mama, mommy are my joy, my strength, my weakness, my heartbeat! I LOVE being mom. It took me a while to feel worthy of the title though…I felt and sometimes still feel like I have to earn it.

However, I have so many amazing examples of mothers in my life. I have more friends than I can count that inspire me to be a better woman, wife and mother. I have women in my circle that have faced what seemed like insurmountable obstacles and continue to look to God as their strength, put one foot in front of the other and “just do the next thing.” I have birth mothers that I think are absolute heroes of sacrificial love and grace and adoptive or foster moms that choose to nurture in very difficult situations.  My own mom…she is full of contemplation and competition. She is steady and strong and always willing to help! My grandmothers who are great examples of family, unconditional love and strength. My sisters who are my role models of independence and creativity and fun. My mother in law who even in a weakened body was still full of humor and propriety and my grandmother in law that was the most determined woman I have ever known. My heritage of powerful praying women is unmatched. I am honored to be called their inheritance.

I am extremely blessed to be a mom but I am more blessed by the mothers in my life! I am inspired and encouraged and recharged with the role of being a mom.  Thank you Isabella, Quinn, and Kadin for making me a mama… for Mandi, Frances and Raegan for trusting me to fill your place…for Mike for helping me daily to grow and to God for allowing me to feel and experience your “mama” heart every day.

In the words of another nurturing mother from my life who is within days of opening her eyes in the presence of Jesus… “I just want to meet with as many people as I can in as many days as I have left and tell them that Jesus loves them.”

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY…to all not just moms!

 

Oh, how he loves us…

Easter is over… but some of our questions still remain.

All of our kids are adopted and we knew that someday they may want to know more about their story. Our daughter is 15 and very 15. She is fun loving and sensitive. She is searching and pushing. She is sad about some bad decisions. She wants and needs love. She does not want to talk to many people about her adoption. She is not embarrassed or afraid she just isn’t sure what she thinks, what she knows or what is right.

According to Websters dictionary adoption means to take by choice into relationship, to choose to embrace as one’s own. Adoption to us means family and inheritance. We have NO QUESTION that these 3 kids are our very own. They could not be more ours than if they looked like “Mini-me’s”. We do not question or wonder or doubt. We would lay our lives down for these 3 amazing beautiful people we call ours.

When we chose to adopt it was because we wanted a family. We chose adoption before any medical option for pregnancy. After Isabella came to us we never considered another route. She is ours. She is our 1st born. There are no doubts. So we wonder why would she question and doubt. Then I realize that this is a picture of us and God.

We are adopted by God. We are his chosen heirs with Christ. We search and push and wonder if God knows, cares or loves us at all sometimes.

These are just a few scriptures that remind us that we are adopted…

John 1:12 –But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.

Romans 8:14-16 – For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.

Galatians 4:4-6 – But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.

John 3:1-2 – See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!

Galations 3:29-And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

God has no questions, no doubts. We do. We wonder and wander and push and search. To HIM he just waits for us to realize that we are His and have been all along.

The David Crowder song “How He Loves Us” describes it well.


He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us, oh,
Oh, how He loves us,
How He loves us all

And we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If his grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
And Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about the way…

He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves.

As we walk through these questions of adoption and belonging with our kids we will remember that we feel the same sometimes. We question “WHY? WHY would God die for ME? Does He even know or care…” and then I think of  MY kids and know.

OH! HOW HE LOVES US!