Can I really be anxious for nothing?

He preached it on a Sunday. Do not be anxious. Then he confessed the irony of his growing apprehension as the Sunday deadline rushed closer. Even the preacher knows anxiety.

But he knows anxiousness is only a symptom of the deeper problem. The problem isn’t anxiety, he says. The problem is a distracted heart that strays from God and divides the mind. If you seek first God’s kingdom, the Spirit of God is able to refocus the heart on what matters because life is about more than what worries us. Seek first the things of God over the things of the world.

And now it’s my turn. It would be easy to spiral downward with these questions: Am I parenting right? Are the children learning everything they need to know? Do they know how desperately, whole heartedly, and unconditionally I love them?

Will we have enough money to retire? Should we be saving for college? Do we invest, pay down the mortgage, fix up the house, or just give it all away?

Will my third novel get picked up? Will the others continue to sell or tank? Should I write more or should I invest in more education?

God knows what my children need. He gave them to us. Therefore,  we are the right parents for these little ones. Will we parent perfectly? No! Can God work through our humble and sincere efforts to glorify Him and steer our children toward Him? Yes! How it is accomplished? Prioritize the things of the Lord.

When I consider the lilies of the field, how can I worry about our future needs? God cares for the sparrows, and He will care for me. Prioritize God and He promises to care for me.

And the book(s)? If my heart is truly in the proper place of desiring to glorify God with my ability, than WHATEVER He decides to do with my offering will be right and enough. Prioritize getting the message right, proclaiming His Word unashamedly and with boldness. God can take care of the rest.

Seek first the kingdom of God, and God not only provides what we need, He is delighted to give us the kingdom.

Seek Him first, in everything.

*from the archives

A Mechanic Named Jesus

We hit the road this week for a family holiday. We cross into another country. We spend the night at a hotel. On day two, a horrid sound grinds from the front right tire.

We exit. We find a garage. We get the estimate. We call our garage back home and might get some work covered under warranty.

We can be frustrated, or we can trust God.

Rewind.

We hit the road this week for a family holiday. We cross into another country. We spend the night at a hotel. On day two, a horrid sound grinds from under the front right tire.

We limp off the road and what do we see? A garage. They have time to see us immediately. We go out for lunch and wait. We receive the estimate and later learn some is covered under warranty. We wait in an air-conditioned, wifi-enabled area. Kevin naps. The kids watch Disney Channel (which is a real treat since we don’t have that channel). I finish my last lesson in Old Testament Narratives summer school. (I’m a 1/4 of the way through the course and it’s only June – whoo hoo!!).

We have dinner, get back on the road, and the song playing on the radio is “Blessings” by Laura Story. I sing along: “Maybe the trials in this life are (God’s) mercies in disguise.” We look over our invoice from the garage note that the garage manager, with whom we worked today, is named Jesus.

God’s fingerprints are all over this delay and just in case we missed it, he sends a mechanic named Jesus.

Paradox

Find by losing. Receive by giving.

Rule by serving. Lead by following. Live by dying.

Weakness is strength.

The first are last. The poor are the rich. The slaves are free.

We are saint and sinner, flesh and soul, old and new.

He lifts high the low. He exalts the humble.

God is one but three, fully God and fully man. He is far and near, beyond and within.

His Word is written by God, penned by man, and became flesh.

He was born to perish. He surrendered for victory. He died and yet lives.

Praise the Lord!

*from the archives

Dress for the life you want

My dad once offered me this advice. He said, “Don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want.”

I hit the work force dressed in attire that reflected who I wanted to become. This motivated me to act like the person I hoped to one day be. I went above and beyond entry-level responsibilities, working my way into a desired position.

This also applies to my life as a ministry partner and as child of God. READ MORE

dress-for-job2

Mother’s Day brings joy and grief – not just to mothers but also to some children

“Why would my other mom give me away?”

My heart breaks like it did when his sister asked the same question a few years ago. Raw emotion surges through me as I fumble to answer questions no child should ever have to ask.

But, she asked back then, and he asks now.

This is a hurt that I cannot take away. I feel incredibly inadequate. Overwhelmingly unable.

God is Good

We speak of God’s goodness and our broken world. We discuss God’s sovereignty, and how He takes what man planned for evil and uses it for good. We discuss a heart torn in two, between what is, and what might have been, and how our God is bigger than both. We affirm His love, His plan and how He never defaults to plan “B” because plan “A” ALWAYS works.

Like his sister did, he smiles, satisfied for now, and I tuck him in.

Then I cry.

God, you are my God, and You are their God. You created each one of my children in their mother’s womb. You knit them together and planned all their days before one of them was lived. I believe You have a plan for their life that is good. I believe that they can wrestle these questions down and that you will not leave them floundering. I believe that the answer to every question is You. May each one of my children turn to You. Make they seek You. May they find satisfaction in You.

Draw them near. Make their childlike faith come alive like never before. Reveal Yourself to them. You are enough.

Remove all fear and fill them with Your peace that passes understanding. Remove all doubt and fill them with certainty. May their adoption stories be bigger than their adoption into our family, but include their adoption into Your family. May they see this as beautiful and precious and part of your perfect plan. May Your truth penetrate their heart as Your glory meets their suffering.

And then I cry some more.

I am inadequate. Blessedly inadequate. But my God is more than enough. He is more than enough for me, and more than enough for my children. And despite wishing it could be easier, despite wishing I could carry this burden for them and take away their hurts, I submit to the will of One greater than me.

And it is well with my soul.

 

*adapted from the archives

Pray What you Mean and Mean What you Pray

Lord, cause my children’s actions to reflect the true state of their hearts so I know how to pray for them. Lord, open their eyes to their need for you. Cause them to grieve their sin and lead them to repentance. Lord, do whatever necessary to save them. Lord, give me patience and wisdom. Create in me an urgency to pray for my children. Do not let me fall into a slumber of false security.

Pray what you mean and mean what you pray

I meant these prayers. I meant every word. But I was in no way prepared for God’s answer. I wanted the victory without the conflict. I wanted motherhood to be a party when its actually a war. Raising children in the ways of the Lord is an all-in, no-holds-barred, the enemy-fights-dirty battle and eternity is at stake. Sometimes, even after suiting up in the armor, we get speared right through the heart.

Eventually, parenting gets HARD. Not every day. But some days. Sometimes days and days and days strung together. And you’ll have to decide what you’re going to do when God’s answers to your prayers don’t line up with your expectations.

“God’s answers frequently do not look at first like answers. They look like problems. They look like trouble. They look like loss, disappointment, affliction, conflict, sorrow, and increased selfishness. They cause deep soul wrestling and expose sins and doubts and fears. They are not what we expect, and we often do not see how they correspond to our prayers.” ~ Jon Bloom, The Unexpected Answers of God | Desiring God

Am I really ready for God to do whatever is necessary to save my child’s soul? That is a scary prayer – yet it is the one that matters more than many others that slip into its place. It matters more than health, more than physical protection, and more than happiness. It’s the kind of prayer that only God can answer. Only God can transform a heart of stone into a heart of repentance. Only God can put back together a heart broken by sin. But before the heart can be rebuilt, it has to be broken. Nothing grieves a mother more than watching her child break.

The urgency to pray for my children increases as I see the battle escalate in intensity. This too, is an answered prayer. There is no false security as swords clash in the spiritual realm and the kingdom takes ground in my child’s heart.

“We can feel like we’re going backward because we are not clearly moving forward. We cry out in painful confusion and exasperation (Psalm 13:1; Job 30:20) when what’s really happening is that God is answering our prayers. We just expected the answer to look and feel different… With regard to God’s answers to prayer, expect the unexpected. Most of the greatest gifts and deepest joys that God gives us come wrapped in painful packages.” ~ Jon Bloom, The Unexpected Answers of God | Desiring God

So, tonight, I choose to praise the Lord for answered prayer. I choose to believe He is moving mightily, and as I fix my eyes on Him and redirect my child toward Him, He will have his way in our family and in our home.

I’m am praying with GREAT expectation.