on raising world changers

Her little heart is soft.  So very, very soft.  And it’s not because of me, that I know for certain.  I can only surmise it has happened because God is walking next to her, whispering into her heart, and she’s choosing to listen.

Because when we listen…really listen…the voice grows louder.

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Last night we were driving the few quick miles to the small mountain church where 5 of our children will be taking part in a Christmas pageant.  Earlier, my husband and I had escaped with just the baby for a rare date that consisted of shopping for some simple gifts to slip under the tree.  We arrived home just in time to gather the children and usher them over to practice.  In a teasing mood as he so often is, my husband made mention of the presents we had spent the day purchasing when her sweet voice piped up, “You didn’t need to get us presents.  We could use that money to send to people who don’t have much.  There are even people who don’t have water they can use.”

We live on a modest budget and extras are typically only handed out on gift-giving occasions.  I know that and I know she knows that.  And yet she feels compelled to go without because she already has plenty.  The reality of her plenty is speaking louder than the desire for that new dress she asked for.

And she’s listening, so she hears.

Sometimes I am so humbled by these children He’s given me to raise that I plain forget He’s using them to raise me.  To show me the simplicity of simply doing the next right thing.

Because we don’t need to do great, big things.  We just need to do everyday small things with a great, big God.

Small things like she did the other day when she read and re-read a Christmas card we had received.  It certainly wasn’t the only one we’ve gotten and I had no clue why she was so drawn to it.  Even when she shyly came to me later with a letter she had written to the sender of that card and asked if she could have a stamp to mail it, I didn’t understand.  And after her little envelope had been secured with the proper postage and I saw her grab her coat and a flashlight, I still didn’t get it.

She was determined to get that letter in the mailbox, now.  That very night.   Not about to let her make the trip, in the dark, all the way down to the end of our driveway on her own, I joined her on the porch and she slipped her hand in mine.  Happy.  Because she was about His work and Mama was in on it with her.

And that’s when it hit me.  She’d heard Him again.  It wasn’t about the letter, or the stamp or the dark.  It was about obedience.  It was about changing her own little world one small action at a time.  That’s what it’s always about.

That’s what it’s only about.

I’m wondering now how many times I’ve rushed my kids passed true obedience because it didn’t look the way I wanted it to.  Maybe it was inconvenient or time consuming when I felt I had no time.  He’s working to grow me so He can use me to grow them.

And then, sometimes He grows them in spite of me.

Because I’m not raising world changers.  He is.  And He does it one next right thing at a time.

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because fear

becausefear

 

I’ll be honest.  My human nature–my natural tendency–is to worry.  And if I run out of things to worry about (as if!) just give me a minute…I’ll dream something up.  Yet I know it’s not only a waste of time but it’s also flat wrong.

Because you see, it truly is a human tendency to worry over that which we feel bound by responsibility to control.  By the grace of God, we’ve been equipped with a desire to provide for the basic needs of ourselves and our families.  And that’s a good thing.  A very, very good thing–but under one condition:  We must never lose sight of the fact that we can only protect and provide for those things He enables us to.  Anything and everything we accomplish is purely and simply because He allowed us to.

It’s a collaboration of our human will being willing to persevere with His infinite wisdom tempering our efforts for our very best good.  We certainly play a part but only because that’s how He designed it.

The wrongness of worry isn’t with the fear itself but what we do with that fear when faced with it.  Our response makes all the difference.  Take a quick drive through the sludge of current events and you’ll find yourself tempted to park where your thoughts are constantly feeding the meter of anxiety.

Consider it, instead, a no parking zone.  You have no business hanging out there and neither do I.

 

Ebola can’t take anything from me that He can’t redeem.

The enterovirus has no power of its own.  The body can become sick even while the spirit is gaining in strength.

The president–even of the United States–cannot take down a people or a nation unless it’s all part of the greater plan.

Terrorists cannot force us to succumb to terror unless we open the door and allow them in.  They can destroy buildings and shorten the days of our temporal lives but they cannot keep us from Jesus.

 

I’m inclined to believe satan (am I the only one who has trouble capitalizing the first letter of his name?) is in panic mode.  If we can sense and urgency and shortness of time, surely he can.  He seems to be working furiously to abduct as many souls as possible and his greatest and most effective weapon is fear.  If he can immobilize us and paralyze us and confuse us, he can control our minds and distract our hearts.

Our defense is simple:  Don’t be still long enough for him to capture you.

Matthew 6:25-34 tells us exactly where our focus should be and it isn’t on the preservation of this life.  It’s all about the next life.  The better life.  The life that will make all the trials, temptations and tears we face here fade away.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.         {Matt. 6:33-34 KJV}

Our focus should be on Him.  On eternity.  As we move through this life, we can and should do what we’re capable of to maintain health and well-being.  We’re to use the wisdom He imparts to us as we care for our families.  We ought to be taking measures to safeguard against illness and disease but even more so against moral and spiritual decay.  It’s insanity to battle a virus or bacteria with fear and trembling while giving little thought to what is going into our minds or those of our children.  THAT should have us shaking in our boots.

One of my very favorite quotations I’ve ever come across was one I found just this week.

“He gives most who gives with joy.  If in your work (for me, that’s motherhood) you have difficulties accept them with joy, with a big smile.  The best way to show your gratitude to God and people is to accept everything with joy.”

You know what I love about it so much?  That it gives me something practical to do.  Give with joy.  Accept with joy.  Show gratitude with joy.  Because a life well-lived is one lived with Jesus and with joy.

Purpose to show your children joy today.  Dig deep until you find it.  Hit your knees and ask Him for it.  Seek it out and share it well.  Do not live with a spirit of fear.  You’re only stealing your own joy and that of your family while denying God entrance to your heart.  Embrace each moment.  Savor the beautiful people you’ve been given.  Do not sit over them in fear you may lose them…determine to extract the joy from every moment you’re granted with them.

No more excuses.  No more validating your anxiety by saying it’s just your genetic makeup.  No more wasting today by worrying over tomorrow.

Smile–and seek Jesus with me.

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