Two years ago, my grandpa died at the ripe old age of 90. Over those 90 years, he served in the Navy, raised 6 children, was married for 68 years, and worked as the post master at the local post office. In 90 years I’m sure he saw some amazing things, as well as many hardships and trials.
But toward the end of his life, he suffered from macular degeneration, a disease of the eye that makes seeing difficult and blurry. Watching sports and Jeopardy on TV became less enjoyable for him. And his hobby of collecting coins was virtually impossible.
No matter how well we see on this earth, we are always only seeing a part of what is to come. For believers and worshippers of Jesus, we see only a tiny picture of our Lord.
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"7 Strategic Prayers for Your Child's future."
I've been reading a book about worshipping God since singing on the worship team at my church is one of my favorite things to do. It's by worship leader and songwriter Matt Redman. The book is The Unquenchable Worshipper.
In the book, Redman points out that the more we worship God, the more unsatisfied we are likely to feel. Sure, we are filled by the Spirit when we spend time worshipping God. Because Jesus came and gave us the gift of the Spirit, now “Rivers of living water will flow from our hearts” (John 7:38, NLT). We know that the living water of Jesus is eternal; only Jesus can satisfy our souls.
But we are unsatisfied because we see only a glimpse of the glory of God here on earth. We “taste and see that the Lord is good,” and we want more and more of Him (Psalm 34:8, NIV).
Redman wrote, “We see only in part, yet what we see is enough to give us hope and purpose on our journey.” In worship we experience a taste of God’s glory that ushers us into our earthly version of what the throne room of God must be like. We are an example of the goodness of God when we worship Him in Spirit and truth. We demonstrate the worthiness of God when we come to Him with our whole hearts. We know that the best is yet to come.
Even though we see only in part, what we see is amazing. I think our human minds can only take in so much of God at a time. Just like when Moses was only allowed to see the back of God as He passed by, we see only a glimpse.
Oh, but that glimpse is wonderful! As the old hymn states, “Oh what a foretaste of glory divine!” (Blessed Assurance).
“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” -1 Corinthians 13:12.
I read these words at my grandpa's funeral. Grandpa is now seeing clearly, both with his eyes and with his heart, as he beholds the glory of Jesus in paradise.
Here on this earth, we see only a glimpse of so many things. We see only a glimpse of what the future might hold. We see only a flicker of the adults our children might become. But with God, we know that He is good. We can trust Him for what we cannot see, knowing one day we will see face to face.
I was walking out of a store with my 7 year old daughter. She had just been at a birthday party, so I was asking her about some of the girls that were at the party.
I mentioned a certain girl by name and asked her if she was nice to play with.
My daughter said, "Mostly. Sometimes she can be a little bossy."
"Oh," I answered. "That's okay. All girls can be that way sometimes."
She replied, "Yeah, I know. They are just getting ready to become moms!"
I laughed, but then I was like, what? Does she think I'm bossy? Does she think that is all that it takes to be a mom? Is she just being funny?
Well, I guess she's not totally wrong. Women kind of need a little bossyness to run a house and manage their kids. After all, motherhood is not for the weak.
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I must confess I'm guilty of being bossy. As the first born of 3 girls, I found myself in a position of "leadership" where I was bossy because I was older. Just ask my sisters. Then as a teacher, I got to be the boss of my own classroom. Now I'm the boss of my children.
It's okay to be organized and to run a tight ship. It's okay to keep our kids in line. But the Bible says we need to have one thing in order to be effective as mothers: Love.
"If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;a but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing." -1 Corinthians 13:1-3, NLT.
This passage of scripture is usually read at weddings, but I think it totally relates to motherhood.
Sometimes I feel like I am only talking to myself, making noise like cymbals clanging together. But if I speak with love to my children, they will feel loved.
Sometimes I wish I had all the parenting answers. I wish I knew just how to fix every situation for my kids. But even if I did have these things, if I didn't execute them with love, what good would they really do?
The apostle Paul goes on, explaining that even if he served others tirelessly and gave everything he had (sounds like motherhood, right?) and still didn't love others, he would have gained nothing.
I'm understanding what Paul meant in a new light. We can serve our children and our families, but if we do it out of obligation and not love, we will be drained and bitter. We will have gained nothing. When we serve out of love for our kids, and more importantly, out of love for Jesus, we gain joy, peace, and rewards in heaven.
I know our kids are not always easy to love. Some days, that motherly love does not overflow from our hearts. But those are the days that we must just focus our love on Jesus. For He said, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me," (Matt. 25:45, NIV).
If ever there is a word of encouragement for moms, that verse is it! Our children, especially when they are young, are the least of these. God knows being a mom is hard, but when we focus on Him, we can find the love it requires to serve our children, especially when they are difficult.
We can give orders, manage the house, and keep things organized, but if we only sound like clanging cymbals, we fall short. Without love, our efforts are just noise.
Can I be honest? There was a time when I was not all that happy with my life.
I did not fully embrace being a stay-at-home mom. I was not really satisfied in just taking care of my children.
Honestly, I was always looking toward the future, wishing away the time that I had with my children. I was waiting for the next phase, when they’d be older.
I write this now and realize how sad that all sounds. You see, I’m not there anymore. God broke through my blindness, and when I started this writing journey, I dedicated my words to one purpose. I’m on a quest for abundant life, and I want to encourage other moms, moms who maybe find themselves wishing away time or wishing for a different life circumstance. I want to help them pursue life abundantly too.
As I started out, God brought to mind a special verse, and it has become my theme verse. In John 10 Jesus explained why He came to this word. In verse 10 He said, “…I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (ESV). In other word’s Jesus’ purpose was to bring us a rich and abundant life.
For those that have followed Jesus for a while, we understand this to mean that we will have a rich, abundant life in heaven after we die. But that is not all Jesus meant. He wants us to have a rich, satisfying, abundant, joy-filled life now.
If I look back on those times I was clearly not filled with joy and abundance, I can see I was not living the life Jesus wanted for me. I began to search the Word and my own heart to figure out how I could live just as Jesus wants me too. For after all, that is why He came.
I’d like to share with you what I have learned over the past few years. And here’s something else about me: I like a plan. I like it when people tell me the steps I should take to achieve the outcome I desire. So, that is what I have put together for you, my friend. (And honestly, I need these steps too.)
Here are the steps to pursue an abundant life—the life Jesus made possible when He came to this earth.
Surrender to God.
Don’t you just love that word, surrender? I could have used another favorite word of mine: submit. (Insert sarcasm.) The truth is no one likes to surrender or submit to anyone. The word surrender conjures up images of weakness, and no one wants to be seen as weak.
But in God’s economy, surrendering makes you strong. The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 2:10 (NLT), “That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses… For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
When we surrender to God, we allow His mighty power to come in and work in our lives. And since our God made the universe, spoke light in to existence, and raised Jesus from the dead, I will gladly admit I am weak so His power can work through me.
Surrendering may also seem like we are subjecting ourselves to the rules of someone else. And who likes rules? But Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29, NLT). The word “yoke” does sound a bit harsh; after all, it is used to keep two animals strapped to something. But Jesus said His ways are gentle and kind. When we do life His way, we find rest and we find joy.
Spend Time with God.
When I think of abundance, I picture a fountain overflowing. Water spilling over the edges, not being contained in the pool that is meant to hold it all.
When we seek God we will find Him. And in His presence there is great joy. There is overflowing joy! When we read the words God wrote for us and to us, Jesus said, “you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” (John 15:11, NLT).
We can’t receive God’s joy if we never come to Him. To have an abundant life, we must allow Him to fill us so His love and joy can spill out of us, just like the water out of an overflowing fountain.
Settle into the Moment.
For me, this was probably the most important realization. I was not living in each moment with my kids. I was looking toward the future, wishing away the time that I had with them.
This is what I found: you can only experience abundant life in the present, for God can only be experienced in the present. We only have the moment we are given; the future is not promised to us. In order to live abundantly, we must live in the now.
For me, it was a lesson in contentment. I had to start viewing what I had around me in a different light. I studied what Paul said in Philippians 4. In verse 11 he said, “for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have,” (NLT).
If you read down to verse 13 you’ll find out how he could say this. He said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” (NIV). The secret to contentment is this: Christ is always with me. What else could I possibly need?
Each moment with our children is a gift from God meant to bring us joy in that moment. One of Satan’s best weapons against us is getting us to believe that tomorrow will be better. He tricks us into looking into the future instead of into the joys of today. He robs our joy, just like Jesus said in the first part of John 10:10. “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.” Live in the now. Don’t let the thief steal today’s joy.
When I realized these steps and how they were linked to a rich and satisfying life, my life changed. My kids had a happier mom, and my husband no longer called me “Grumper.” (Not kidding.) My eyes were opened to the life I had been missing and wishing away. I could enjoy my children just as they were. I began to view each and every moment as precious.
Yes, I found the secret. I have embarked on the pursuit for abundant life. Won’t you join me?
Adjusting Our Attitudes - How to Be Kind When My Kids Talk Back ****By Elizabeth Cravillion (guest post)
“Because I said so! That’s final!” My self defenses shot through the roof. If you could see smoke coming out of my ears, you probably would. “That’s no way to talk to your mom. Go to your room now!”
My kid ran off, crying, and I may have slammed a kitchen cabinet. I hate when my kids ignore or confront my authority as a mom. For years of my life, to keep the people in charge happy, I shut my strong will in a box. But when my kids argue with me, it flies back out into their faces.
But I want to parent my kids with grace. And kindness. God doesn’t slam doors in my face when I don’t feel like obeying him. I’m the most important picture of God to my kids. How I treat them becomes how they see God.
I used to believe that God was sitting up in heaven saying, “Because I said so!” when he told us how to live. But in reality, God created us and he knows how we function best. Loving him and loving others is for our good. Life simply goes better when we obey him. So instead of mirroring some kind of cold authority to my kids, I get the privilege of coaching them to humbly trust God, our Maker.
Shift my heart perspective
I often tell my kids that they are not the center of the universe, then catch myself acting like I am. When they argue with me, I react in anger because I feel threatened. Somehow, I don’t feel heard or seen, and the little girl inside of me screams, “Not today! I’m a grown up now and you’re going to listen to me!”
But we don’t scare God, and he doesn’t fear our negative responses to him. When I remember that I’m safe and loved by him, I don’t have to be threatened either. My kids may argue with me but I don’t have to argue back.
1 Corinthians tell us some specific traits of love:
Love is patient and kind. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love endures through every circumstance.
Am I truly loving my kids when I step into the power struggle? When they argue with me, and I demand my own way, am I showing them how God responds to me? When I snap and say, “That’s it. I’m done!” am I enduring in love?
How this works in real life
We can shut down our kids in two ways. Most obviously, we yell at them to prove we can make them shut up and listen. So they bottle up their feelings and bite their tongues to get us to stop yelling. It gives them no room to voice their disappointments, their struggle with how hard it is to do what we’ve asked, or their ideas of new ways to do things. We’re no longer coaching them, but controlling them.
The second, less evident way happens when we give in to them begrudgingly. Maybe we don’t feel like following through with them in discussion or discipline, so we say, “Ok, whatever,” and let them win. So we turn into the victim. We make sure they know we aren’t happy about it. When we do this, we shut down our child’s spirit, manipulating their emotions to make them feel responsible for how we feel. They got their way but still didn’t learn healthy ways of interacting with authority. It’s a lose-lose situation. I feel guilt for letting them trump my better judgment and they’ve lost the fun of what they wanted.
So how do we handle arguments in a healthy way, from a heart that wants what’s best for our kids more than we want the easy way out?
We live out of grace.
Grace recognizes that my way of doing things is not always the best, perfect or even right way. We can always, implicitly obey God’s leading because he knows everything. I try to model this for my children. But I am not God. And when it comes to asking them to obey me, I can be flexible and humbly open to discussion.
At times I’ll need to stand strong in a decision and they need to know that I’m dying on that hill because it matters. Eating their peanut butter sandwich at the dining room or outside for a picnic doesn’t need to be our final battleground. If they know I respect them and am listening to their needs, they’re likely to be more respectful when it’s a more serious decision.
Grace takes a breath and says calmly, “Can you try that again?” And then maybe says it again 60 seconds later. 9 times out of 10, this simple breath and question exercise chills us both us out enough to talk rationally.
It’s tempting to think that if our kids would just listen to us, we’d all be okay. But God commissioned us to raise godly, healthy adults, not just compliant kids. So I daily have to open my hands to God and ask for wisdom and take the more challenging path of grace that leads to connecting with my kids’ hearts.
A simple prayer when I’m ready to explode:
(Breathe in) Lord, I need you.
(Breathe out) You are here with me.
(Breathe in) Help me, God
(Breathe out) I stand in your grace.
****Elizabeth's Bio: Elizabeth lives in Kentucky with her student minister husband and 3 superhero kids. She's a light-hearted, book-loving extrovert, a recovering perfectionist, a rescued legalist and a lover of rest and grace. She blogs at ElizabethCravillion.com, where she shines a light on the hard places in life. She hangs onto the truth that she is God's daughter before she's anything else and that he's holding onto her.
Find Elizabeth at:
Hi, I'm Kristen! Just a girl who loves all things Jesus, family, music and food!
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