The kind of friend I want to be…

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A few weeks ago, while spending time with friends, the conversation got gossipy and a little catty..catty towards a church. I participated in the cattiness. (James says “confess your sins one to another and you shall be healed.”…amazing how so many “secular” ideas has Biblical roots, “confession is good for the soul.” I am confessing here.)

The thing is, one of my friends attends that church.

That church was a place of healing for me. I dedicated my kids at that church. I have recommended that church to many people who didn’t want to drive to Austin to go to church. I had some frustration with that church but in general it’s a good church.

(It’s never okay to talk poorly about someone’s church)

For days after, I felt the sweet gnawing of conviction. (I thank God for His Spirit which brings conviction…).

I wished my friend had told me to cut it out. I’m not sure how I would have handled it.

I want to be the kind of friend who can be told, “it’s not cool to talk about my church.” (Or my family, or my friend…etc).

I want to have friends who love me enough to tell me when I am being “uncool”. It’s hard to be that friend. As I thought about it, I realized, I have been in the exact scenario…and I didn’t speak up.

I want to be the kind of friend who loves you enough to call you out. (General announcement here: it’s not okay to talk badly about my church.)

I want to be a better friend. I want to be a better friend; a real friend.

I did apologize to my friend. She forgave me (I think). I hope this leads us to a deeper friendship. That’s the kind of friend I want to be.

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Isaiah 59:19

So shall they fear
The name of the Lord from the west,
And His glory from the rising of the sun;
When the enemy comes in like a flood,
The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.

Graham Cooke said when you see the enemy coming in like a flood in your life, look around to see what God is raising up.

While this thought intrigued me it also lured me in. I started looking into it.

The book of Numbers describes each tribe in the nation of Israel had a banner or a standard that represented their tribe; it identified them. Each tribe camped under that banner; they went to war under that banner.

When the Word says, the Lord is lifting up a banner, He is going to war for you. That alone is powerful.  Or He is creating a place of peace (a place to camp) for you.

There is more there…

My parents came to know the Lord in a more profound way in their early 20s. They joined a Spirit-filled church when I was nine months old. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to live their lives for Jesus…well, for Jesus, their church and their pastor. The church had “standards” (translates rules) that were to be lived by. The standards were loosely based on the Bible (some poor interpretations and bad definitions). Basically, there were many “NOs” and very few “YES, do this”. At least from my point of view. For example…no tv, no movies, no short skirts, no makeup, no tattoos, no piercings, no jewelry, no alcohol, no, no, no…. The focus was on following the rules not on following Jesus. Somehow they made it through all of this with their faith in Jesus (they may have lost some faith in others). This is my backstory. A foundation of what was not allowed and fear of breaking those rules as my standard of who God is.

As a parent, I find I am often saying, “No”. I don’t like being the “No” person. (I am almost always the “no” person)  There are some things that are our standard of living. These things are based on identity not on DOs and DON’Ts. We learned in foster care training about establishing family values in a positive way. For example, instead of saying, “We do not lie”, we say, “In our family, we tell the truth.” It became about establishing our identity….we are truth tellers. There is no riding the fence about deception, we tell the truth. If you have a foundation of who you are you live your life accordingly. It’s not about not about “no”, it’s about “this is who I am and that doing this isn’t who I am.”

Webster’s Dictionary has several definition for the word “standard”. On of those definitions is “something established by authority, custom or general consent.” Another definition says, “a rule for the measure of quality, weight, extent, value or quality….the fineness and legally fixed weight of the metal used in coins; the basic value in a monetary system.”

Standards define value.

In our lives, God sets the value system or the standards in which we live by. There are some “DOs” and some “DON’Ts”.

As a kid, we vacationed in Colorado….several times.  We traveled in motor homes and with travel trailers up to the mountains near Durango; we stayed near a little town called Silverton, next to a river.  We are from Texas…in August, we experience hell-like temperatures along with the humidity of central Texas, it’s the pool or staying inside.  That’s when we escaped to Colorado for two or three weeks.  We tried going swimming in that river but the water was cold; that river was a result of the snow melting on the mountains above.  They still had snow up in those mountains.  When we setup camp, we dropped out hoses in river as our water source.  That water was clear, cold and pure.  It tasted like heaven. There was a purity to that water that felt incorruptible.   In order to maintain that water’s purity, we did not dump our waste product in the river.

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In America, we enjoy a certain level of expectation when it comes to our water.  As a country we have established standards of purity when it comes to our water. When we turn our faucet on in our home, we expect clear, clean water to flow.  Certainly there are exceptions to this but overall the standards we have set for water systems and enforced by our government have allowed us to live with an expectation of clean water.  There are “DOs” and “DON’Ts” for companies expelling used water; those standards are in place for our protection. There are some things in life that are better pure. Most things are better pure.

Let me throw out an example that almost everyone (especially you all who grew up in church) can relate to. When I was a teenager, the churches approach to sex was “don’t do it, it’s bad.” Many young people ignored this because it’s a lie. We heard rumors that it was super fun. The truth is, sex is great. God created it. He has some standards in regards to sex that protect us from harming our bodies, hearts and spirits. God’s standard is not “don’t do it” God’s standard is “do it, when you are married.” When we follow His standard we maintain a purity that adds value. On the flip side, we cannot put so much value on virginity that anything less is spoiled goods. We must also rise to God’s standard of grace and complete forgiveness; His standard of anything He calls clean is completely restored.

My goal here is not to throw out personal standards of holiness.  My goal is to change our thinking…if we know who God created us to be and what He says about us, so many of the “NOs” fall away and we see all God’s “YESes”!  His “YES” brings value, depth and quality to our lives.

What about the phrase, “Standard of living”?  Some people have a high standard of living and some people have a lower standard of living. Once you have achieved a certain level of living, you really do not want to go back to a previous level. That’s not to say you cannot go back or will not go back. You may be more willing to fight to stay at the level you are at.

My brother and sister-in-law lived with us for a few years. My brother-in-law works for Whole Foods; he’s a butcher. When Whole Foods would have a good sale on meat, he would stock our freezer up. When they had ground beef on sale, so be bought 10 pounds of beef, had them wrapped in one pound packages and put them in the freezer. When I cooked dinner, I would pull out what we needed. After a month or so of using beef from Whole Foods, I switched back to the cheaper version from our local grocer. When I cooked it, it stank; it smelled rancid. I could not stand the smell of it and wondered what was wrong with it. Moving forward, I began purchasing a grass-fed beef from the local grocer. My standard changed. I was no longer “OK” with the cheaper version.

When I look at this passage in Isaiah, I think about how so many times God allows us to go through things in order to change our standard of who He is. I did not know God as my provider until I was single and did not have a job in my field for almost a year. I didn’t know God as my provider until my electricity was shut off for almost two weeks. Once I went through that season, I could not unknow Him as the ONE WHO PROVIDES FOR ME….It became my new standard.

Once God has healed you, you know Him as the Healer.

When God says you are good daughter or son, you know Him as as Abba, Father; a good, good Father.

When God brings, healing, deliverance and freedom to your life, then He becomes who you look to for healing, deliverance and freedom!

When it looks like and feels like the enemy is coming in like a flood, look around for what God is doing. Look for what He is revealing to you about Himself.

Taking it a step farther….when you encounter a situation that you haven’t walked through, look to those around you because with God there is no partiality (Romans 2:11). That means, you can ask Him for the receipts. Let me explain. Shawn Bolz told a story about his family when he was growing up. One day, his dad and sister came home and she had shopping bags filled with new clothes. She was so excited about her dad taking her shopping for “no reason”. Shawn told his dad, “I want to see the receipts.” He dad asked, “Why?” He told his dad, “I know you are a good dad and whatever you spent on her, you will spend on me.” Shawn didn’t want clothes (he wanted video games). His dad laughed…he loved that his son believed in his goodness; he loved that his son knew him well; he wanted to bless his kids. Our God also is a good, dad. He wants us to ask for the receipts. If God worked something for one person He will do it for you. Ask Him. It may not look exactly the same, but He will work on your behalf if you rely on Him.

Have you ever wondered why you envy some people. Maybe it’s not pure envy. Maybe you are getting a glimpse of something God wants you get a vision for. Maybe He is trying to stir up a desire in you that He wants to fulfill. Maybe He is waiting for you to ask Him! Maybe He wants to set a new standard of living for you.

When the enemy comes in on every side…God is going to fight for you and reveal a higher standard of living in your life.

Momlog 2018: Night Terrors

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Usually the Momlog is light-hearted and funny.  Today I’m going to take on a more serious topic.

Preface this by sharing that our family is Christ-centered.  We are Christians.  We not only attend services on Sundays we pray, read our Bibles, teach our kids about Jesus.  We believe Jesus is real.  We believe that God has power today.   (Having said that, you are welcome to have your own thoughts, opinions, ideas, etc about this.  I welcome comments, questions, discussion and even disagreement…I do not welcome shaming, name calling, or putting down people. )

The boy has had night terrors on and off for a while.  At one point I noticed that it happened quite a lot when he had been over stimulated around bedtime.  Or when he was very tired.  We aren’t super rigid about bedtime but we keep a schedule.

Some of the timeline on these events were overlapping.  Our boy is 9 1/2 now.  I first noticed the night terrors around age 5.  He kept telling me about a bad “farmer” outside his window.  (I wrote about this in another Momlog).  It turned out he was trying to say “Transformer”.  My husband, is not as conservative about what he allows our son to watch: I am error on the side of conservative.  He had allowed our son to watch part of a Transformers movie.   It clearly made an impression on our son.  I prayed for him and ask that God would remove all of his memories about the show.

I monitor what our kids watch.  I do not allow shows that include witchcraft (think “Sophia the First” ), disrespecting attitudes (think Spongebob…I’m sorry, I despise this show or any of the teenie bopper Disney sitcom shows – I have strong opinions about how parents are portrayed in these shows), zombies (or any type of death culture).  Yes, I am conservative.  We do watch educational shows (think PBS, WildKratts, Odd Squad, etc).  There is something to be said for the saying “garbage in, garbage out.”  Kids will think about what we allow them to put in their mind.  In our home, we talk about self-monitoring and not watching things that mom and dad do not allow even when mom and dad are not around.  Yes, we have Netflix.  Yes, we have Amazon Prime.

We love going to the movies.  Most movies we watch before taking our kids to see them. Yes, this NOT convenient.  Parenting is not always convenient.

I wrote all of that to tell this story.

In the past 5 or 6 months, I had gotten a little relaxed on some of my own convictions.  I wasn’t watching programs with my kids but allowing them to watch some shows on their own.  I tend to like the Lego shows and Starwars show.  I wasn’t monitoring those shows.

My son loves Legos.  He had been asking me about some Legos called Bionicles.  In general I like Legos because they promote creativity and learning to follow directions and build things is good for young minds.  I looked at these Bionicles and thought, “Eewh.”  They are kind of creepy.  I’m not a big fan of children’s toys with skulls on them (see comment above…promotes a death culture).  He asked if he could watch Bionicles on Demand (I think it’s a Cartoon Network show).  I said “yes”.  At Christmas, He asked for Lego Bionicles.  Being that I’m his mom and he is a great kid who rarely asks for anything, I wanted to get him what he wanted. I found some on eBay.  I bought him one.

We had our Christmas a few days early as we were traveling for Christmas.  He was super excited about his Bionicle.  Two days later, by Christmas, he was having night terrors again.

No, I didn’t put any of this together until weeks later.

Here is what happened.  I woke up around 4 a.m. I could hear my son in his room screaming.  Normally, I would get up and go wake him up, sending him to the bathroom, basically breaking his REM cycle.  This night, I just started praying, asking God to send His peace into his room and calm his dreams.  Almost immediately, he calmed down.

When I was younger (in my 20s) I had serious night terrors and would wake up in a cold sweat.  Once or twice I would wake myself up praying.  Even in the past 10 years, on occasion, I have woken my husband up praying because I was praying in my dream.  When I have had night terrors, I have recognized a spirit of fear that I have somehow allowed in by something I read or watched.  I had somehow opened a spiritual door that allowed a bad spirit into my mind.

As I layed in bed praying for my son, I asked God, if we had any open doors that were causing these frequent night terrors.  IMMEDIATELY, I saw the Bionicle that my son had been carrying around everywhere since Christmas.  I was bummed.  How am I going to handle this?  Deep in my heart, I want the best for my kids and I do not want to have any spirits in my house other than the Holy Spirit (God’s Spirit).  As I lay awake, I decided to investigate these Bionicles (Thank God for iPhones and google).

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As I read the story behind the Bionicles (on Wikapedia), I realized there was a “spiritual” story behind the toy that does not align with the Bible or our belief system. It seems innocent enough…but is it?

I prayed, asking God for wisdom.  (James 1:5).

The next day I talked to my son about the toy and the show (he had only watched a few episodes).  We prayed as a family together later that day and gave our son some choice about giving up the toy.  I did agree to get him a replacement of some type in the future.  He gladly gave up the toy.  He had another dream a few night later…then I found the box to the toy and also got rid of that.  He has been sleeping soundly.

Some children are more spiritually sensetive than other kids.  Some kids just manifest differently.  (I banned Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” for a while because my daughter had been watching it over and over and then she was yelling at her dad – Ariel yells at her dad very disrespectfully in that movie.  As soon as she stopped watching it and we explained that her behavior wasn’t honoring to her dad, she stopped yelling at him. She’s sassy and doesn’t need any thing pushing her to be more sassy).

I am also thanking God that He doesn’t remember any of the dreams he had and he didn’t even wake up.

The Bible says this:

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.  – I John 4:1-4

We need not fear.  God in us is greater than any evil spirit.

Pray and ask God.  The good news is, God loves your kids even more than you do; He does!  He wants them to be  safe, feel loved, have confidence, grow in kindness and be a light in a dark world.  He doesn’t want thier minds filled with darkness.

I’m all for real.  My kids are adopted.  They know they are adopted and why…there is plenty of darkness in the world without adding scary movies, creepy shows and toys, ghost stories, zombies, etc.

If your kids are experiencing night terrors, there are certainly physical issues you can check out.  I’m not discounting all physical issues.  There are times when it’s a spiritual issue.

Questions to ask:

  • Has anything happened to my child recently (These can also be a result of being molested, bullied, fearful – prayer can also help with any of these issues but other steps may need to be taken.)
  • Have any new toys or shows been introduced? (check those things out)
  • Have there been any big life changes going on in my child’s life? (Are you in the middle of a divorce?  Has someone died recently?)
  • Have you moved into a new house? (spirits will linger until you pray and tell them to leave, in Jesus name.   John 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. “)

Talk to your child and find out if anything unusual has been going on.  Pray for them.  Take them to the doctor if you feel it’s a physical issue.

Remember, God made you the mom (or the dad).  God believes you are the best mom (or dad) for your child.  Those gut feelings are most often God communicating with us.

God Bless you and thank you for taking the time to read this.

 

Momlog 2018: So How is that “no TV” thing going?

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I knew y’all were wondering.  My four year old is very persistent and has been asking every day we can watch tv yet.  Not yet.  We will plan something fun (maybe going to a movie) around Valentines day.

We have listened to several books on Audible (app).  Our boy, used a gift card that he got for Christmas (Thank you, Aunt Margie) to buy a chess/checkers/tic-tac-toe game.  Dennis has been teaching him to play and he has been teaching his sister.  Last night she had a good cry because he killed her piship (bishop) and all her pawns.  It wasn’t fair.   As a family we have been playing more games (Uno is great for kids) in the evening including playing canasta with the kids (I ended up “helping”/playing for the girl).  The kids have been building with Legos…I believe they are building some kind of fleet.

The girl did tell me she doesn’t think it is fair that we get to use our phones and she can’t use the iPad.  She has a point. We are learning family accountability.

I ordered a this devotional. (Recommended to us by our pastors)

Growing up, my parents tried to do family devotional/prayer with us but wasn’t always successful. We mostly hated it. I’m sorry, dad. Our parents were not as well equipped as we are now. They didn’t have the same resources we have available today. My parents obviously did an awesome job as we are all Jesus-loving people. It’s great that we can have a family devotion geared toward our kids age level.

One thing we do that our parents both do that our parents did is we listen to preaching messages. My dad always listened to Chuck Swindol in the morning on the radio…I still love his voice, plus he’s funny. I didn’t always understand what he was saying but it was a great habit. We listen to Bethel messages, Gateway messages and Embassy Church. We are laying a foundation.

Overall, the “no tv” thing has been good for us. We might be ready for a device-free vacation.

Momlog 2018: NO TV

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Hey readers!  How has 2018 been so far?

Mine, pretty good.

In January each year, our church has a fast (interestingly, Webster’s doesn’t have a religious connotation definition… to abstain from food or activities for a set about of time).  This year, we decided, I decided and my husband has gone along with me, that our family is giving up TV for 36 days at the beginning of this year.  Why 36 days?  Because there are 365 days in the year and I wanted it to be a “first fruits” kind of fast.  36 days, is a 10% tithe on the year, we are doing it in January so it will be our “first fruits”.

I admittedly have become an Netflix junkie.  My daughter is not far behind me.  The Boy, he’s all about “Clash of Clans”, so I made it a “no device” kind of fast.  Yes, I am still on my phone but no games and cutting back on the social media (except for my business “stuff”).

What does this mean?  This means I have a 4-year-old following me around all day asking, “Mom, can I play ‘ebucational’ games on my device?” (yes, she calls it a device.)  She’s very animated with her hands while asking.  I keep saying, “no”.   Ordinarily, I would allow her to play a game because she does have some educational games and I am working on homeschooling and, and, and….bottom line….it’s easier for me.  BUT the Girl switches to a movie as soon as she can go hide in the tent in her room.  I am busy and do not track her down until five hours later when I realize how quiet it has gotten or she gets hungry.

Moms of preschoolers, admit it.  Four-year-olds talk a lot; A LOT!  I went through this with the Boy at this age.  I would tell him, “Mamma needs to think.  Your mouth is on a time out.”  He still goes through phases sometimes….yesterday, after 20 minutes of talking about Legos and Starwars Legos and which Legos his friends have…I was done.  I enjoy Legos, it is kind of like doing a puzzle with instructions.  However, if it wasn’t for the Boy, I would not be putting together Legos.  Mom’s of boys have to have quiet a few interests.  We have had to know about sports and aerodynamics.  Seriously, I find myself having to explain some pretty significant scientific questions.   Then there is the Girl.  I have put together a Frozen Lego set and many Dupulo towers but she wants to have a tea party everyday.   Last weekend, she hosted a tea party with Dad, brother and many dolls/stuffed animal friends.

Bottom line, this no TV thing boils down to us having to entertain our kids more.  This shouldn’t be my attitude about any of it.  Because really, it isn’t entertaining so much as spending time with them. Spending time with them shouldn’t be a chore but a joy.

I did order a family devotional that I have been wanting to do to teach the children about Godly character traits.  Hopefully, it will come in soon.  I’ll let y’all know how this goes with a four-year-old.

In the meantime,  we have played Uno and a memory game each night.  I’m longing for some adult interaction (this reminds me that I need to make actual contact with friends outside of Facebook.

Can we go 35 days including 5 weekends with NO TV?  No cartoons? No Criminal Minds (the kids aren’t allowed to watch this show, this is one of mine)?  We can do it!  Can we do it without going crazy?  Well, that’s a better question…and I’m not so sure.

I have already listened to one book on Audible and I’m pretty sure we do not have enough Audible credits for me to continue to run through books this quickly.   I have also started reading again.  I have always loved reading but I am pretty sure, I need reading glasses (thanks to my sister).  Which means I’m going to become one of those ladies who always has a pair of glasses in her hair because one set is for reading and one is for driving and she keeps misplacing them so she just wears them in her hair but feels she is “too young” for bifocals.

Have I lost my mind with this latest endeavor?  (I’m really asking myself).

The Difference a Year Makes

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When I find myself sharing a testimony a few times….it’s time to write it down.

This year has been interesting.  Last year, we attended a Kairos event in November.  Our goal was tmulti-fold. We took our small group and we had in our hearts to present Kairos to our church. And we also knew that God would continue the work of healing He has started in us.

Our family has had an ongoing situation of disfunction.  We have been praying for a family member for years that she would find Jesus, get sober and healed.  In addition to her actions we have been praying that her enabler would begin to open his eyes to the part he has been playing in the situation.  In November of 2016, I was done.  I had lost hope in any change happening.

Dennis says that Kairos has a way of re-calibrating us. That’s a great description.

I had a moment during a session titled “Appetite for the Eternal”.   I realized that I had believed a lie. At some point I began believing a lie…a lie that many have believed.  The lie said, ” They will never change”. Which led me down a path of losing hope.

One of my life verses is from Psalm 27.  Verse 13 says, “I would have lost heart, unless I believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”   I had lost heart concerning this situation.

The thing about losing heart is, it bleeds over to other things….all other things.

If you decide, God can’t handle this situation or this person; when God is no longer big  enough, strong enough,mpowerful enough, ENOUGH… Then He isn’t going to ENOUGH for any part of your life.

What they do not tell you when you join up is…Jesus is all or nothing.  You have to go “all in”.

My logic is that if one person is “too much” then I have to throw in the towel on my entire faith system.

That’s how easy one lie can lead us to lose our faith.

God’s truth, spoken over this situation is, “As long as they have breath, God can…”

I began to speak God’s truth over this situation.

What happen next is the difference a year can make.

A week or two after Kairos, she failed to appear for a court date.  The court issued a warrant for her arrest.  She was arrested.  Her enabler had already spent all the money he had availed to bail her out for the past arrest and since she jumped her bail, she was held without bond.  The judge sentenced her to a prison stint.  She was sent to prison in January.  SHE GOT SOBER. She was released after 10 months to a sober house.  We will see what happens on her spiritual journey but at this time she is as least sober to choose.

People have said  her life is over because she has been to prison but her life is just beginning.

God’s got this.

While my have believed that Psalm 27:13 is one of my life verses, maybe I need to expand that to include Psalm 27:14 which says “wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!”

Still learning to “wait” better.

How Big is your God?

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Sometimes I am a bit of a nerd.   (I don’t care…I’m cool with it).  Statistics about things interest me.   Since we have worked in foster care there are many stats about children that have been in foster care.  I’ve read the stats.

For example, there is a statistic that children who end up in foster care, will most likely have their children end up in some type of stint in foster care.

There are stats about everything.

There are times when we have to decide that we aren’t going to be a stat.

Maybe your stat is that your parents were alcoholics which statistically, you have a much higher chance of being an alcoholic.

Maybe you were abused…does that mean you have to be an abuser?

A friend of mine, who has adopted children was quoted a statistic.  Her children were victims and she was told they will likely become abusers.

I was thinking about this…what’s different in their situation?

God…God is what is different.

Do not let statistics be the lie you believe.

Our God is bigger than the statistics.  Our God is bigger.  If the God you serve isn’t bigger then you need to take this opportunity to magnify Him.  Make Him a little bit bigger in your eyes!  He can handle you, your situation, your pain, your grief, your anger.  He’s bigger than all of it!