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What Season Are You In?

This month’s preschool post is written by Lee Blackden, who serves on staff as the Childcare Associate. Prior to this role, she began ministry with FBCW as a volunteer Sunday School teacher, then taught in Childcare and Weeschool, followed by overseeing our IKids2 area on Sunday morning.  Lee is a proud Momma and Grammy.

Do you like having different seasons? I moved south to escape the coldness of winter only to find out that Georgia has winter. It may come through as ice instead of snow, and the temperatures might fluctuate fifty degrees from one day to the next during fall, but we definitely have all four seasons here. I find myself glad that I didn’t actually get away from the cold temperatures forever.  seasons

Seasons can be beautiful and refreshing when the changes take place, but the fact that they repeat over and over again reminds me that life has a rhythm. There are hard times in life when facing an illness or an obstacle to overcome. There are also good days —  like the days you watch your daughter and grandson play, and you are reminded of all of God’s blessings in your life.

There’s a season that has been replaying for me over the years that I hadn’t noticed until reaching the age where I tend to look back a lot. It all started when I got married. I remember the preacher asking me if I was willing to give everything to this marriage. It required my:

*** finances *** my privacy *** my plans *** and my heart ***.

I was willing to give all of me to this man.

Sometime later we were blessed to have a child, and I knew once again that I was being asked to give all of myself to this baby. The love a mother feels for a child is incredibly larger than I had ever imagined. Yes, I wanted to be a mother. It required my:

***finances *** my privacy *** my plans *** and my heart ***.

I was willing to give all of me for this child.

My pastor has been reminding us lately that there is one other person to whom I owe everything. When I asked Jesus to be my Savior, save me from my sins,  and allow me to be His daughter, I knew that meant that I had to acknowledge that I would be His. It required my:

* finances *  They are all His anyway, I’m just the steward of it.

* my privacy *  I am ALWAYS to shine His light, not just on Sundays or when I’m occasionally ready to shine.

* my plans *  God has a good plan for each of us.

* my heart * God loves us infinite times more than I could ever love my own children. Just imagine!

So, why is it that giving our everything to our spouse or our child comes naturally, but we sometimes need a reminder that God want’s our everything?

What financial season are you in? Are you in a season of tithing? Are you in a season of generosity, and you are being a blessing?

What private season are you in? Are you sharing what God has done for you with others in evangelism, in teaching, or perhaps with God’s children?

What season are your plans in? Are you following God’s plan? Are you waiting to see what God has planned next for you? Or are you making plans and asking God to bless them?

What season is your heart in? Are you loving God on Sunday morning, or are you rejoicing in His love throughout the week?

Are you a child of God? Do you give Him all of you?

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Water, Water Everywhere

scan0004I’ve had water on my mind a lot the last several months. I know I’m not the only one.  First, there was the fight with algae in our pool just about all summer. Turns out the fix had nothing to do with chemicals or weather or maintenance. All it needed was a tweak of a routine process. You’d think that between our years with the pool and the help of professionals, this would have been figured out around the last of May rather than early August.

Then there was an overflowing bathtub. Yep.

Have I mentioned the hot water heater that burst on the hallway where my office is at church? Water flowed like a mighty river.  Speaking of rivers, our vacation took us down a portion of the mighty Mississippi.

(Yes, I typed that in rhythm to M-ISS-ISS-I-PPI.)

I spent the last month interviewing aquatic services for the saltwater tank in the lobby of our preschool. I mourned the loss of our Puffer fish, who no longer swims in the water of the aforementioned tank.

I tried to drink more water. I’m still trying to drink more water. I will probably always be trying to drink more water.

Oh, and lest I forget. I worried over my family in Corpus Christi when Harvey came through; then right after that I worried about my Florida family when Irma came through. And, I hunkered down at home in Metro Atlanta for the tropical storm Irma. I was blessed to have only rain and no loss of power.  I know there were devastating losses during these hurricanes. I cannot fathom that loss. Then I wondered if my family in California, near the fires, were effected. The water there was a huge weapon against danger. In all of these matters, I think about the scripture in Isaiah 43:2: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they shall not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. I realize this isn’t necessarily about physical protection, but definitely about protection of our soul and spirit during frightening times.

God’s Word opens with water and ends with water. In Genesis 1:2 we see that the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the water during Creation. In Revelation 22:17 we read that anyone who is thirsty can come and drink freely from the water of life.

Consider some of the metaphors of water in the Bible.

  • God’s Word (Eph. 5:26)
  • Cleansing (Ezek. 36:25)
  • Troublesome times (Ps. 32:6)
  • Salvation (John 4:10)
  • The Spirit of God (John 7:37-39)
  • Good News (Pro. 25:25)
  • Physical Birth (John 3:5)
  • Blessings (Deut. 8:7)

I also think of water as a metaphor for the parenting journey.

  • The refreshing, cool stream of parenting.  We enjoy time with our children. We relish seeing their talents develop. We watch them learn new things. They make us smile. We begin to better understand how God the Father feels about us.
  • The raging storm of parenting.  Behavioural issues, a wayward child, a health challenge, custody matters, single parenting, grandparent-parenting, a hectic schedule, sleepless nights, and many other storms can come crashing in on us, making us weary or fearful.
  • The murky waters of parenting.  We make the best decisions we know to make. We step aside for a bit while our children learn to make decisions and live with consequences. We guide our children even when it is not convenient.
  • The flowing fountain of parenting. As parents, we go to our source, God and His Word to receive wisdom and help as we parent. We stay spiritually hydrated.
  • The raindrops of parenting.  These are both planned and unplanned times with our children. It may be a conversation in the car while riding home from school. It may be a question asked while you hover over them at bedtime.  Perhaps it is a moment where you have to teach a quick life lesson to a child. It might be a spontaneous hug or verbal “I love you,” from  your child. It could be the satisfaction of seeing a child make a wise choice.

Parenting has its moments of refreshment and its moments of high rising waters.  Just like we wouldn’t stop drinking water or showering because at one time water showed us its fierce side, neither do we get exasperated with parenting.  We hunker down during the challenging times. We splash and play in the easy, joyful times. We tend to parenting just like we tend to water temperature when we run a bath for our children. This means being intentional to stay focused on the long-term goal of parenting — a Godly adult.

Oh, another thought about water. I’m terrible with plants, but I do try to water them appropriately.  As parents  we should water the spiritual seeds we plant in our home. We read God’s Word with our children. We pray. We model the behavior we expect from our children. We respect one another.

If you’re looking for a good resource on parenting and discipleship in your home, you may want to check out Twenty Two Six Parenting. It offers some free resources and paid resources.

I close with this: Isaiah 58:11 “And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places. And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.

 

 

 

 

 

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Through the Eyes of A Child

I had a wonderful moment this past Sunday. In the midst of all the organized hub-bub of preschool families trekking our halls trying to find their child’s new class for the church year, I had a private, motivating, refreshing, glorious moment. I got to see a child’s joy at experiencing preschool worship for the first time. She’s curly-haired, big-eyed, and beautiful, but what stopped my heart was her smile, the sparkle in her eyes, the awkward hand motions and jumps and twirls as she sang and did motions to a worship song just her style. She, too, was surrounded by many people — fellow preschoolers all trying to participate, but she was having a wonderful, private moment of her own. To put it mildly, she blessed me!

I have no doubt that many passers-by and volunteers in the preschool hallway may have thought the room was noisy and, let’s just say it, busy. Perhaps it was organized chaos through grown up eyes.   Perhaps through the eyes of that child and me, it was a fun, meaningful experience in the place where God is taught and worshipped.

I encourage parents and teachers to examine life through the eyes of a child.  Get down on your child’svbs2 level in your classroom or home, and take a peek at what they see.  Watch a show or read a book and think about it from the child’ s perspective — with imagination and curiosity. Teach a Bible story from a child’s perspective and ask what it tells them about God and Jesus. Remind yourself of why you teach children and why you are blessed to be a parent.

Be aware of your five senses. Stop and enjoy God’s creation as though you were seeing it for the first time. Do your duty, but play and have some fun too.  Relish in your favorite things and colors.  Be comforted with the fact that your heavenly Father is in control of things. Let Him carry your cares and burdens.  Be grateful for little things in life.

I admit that the teacher in me is asking, “What are the practical points one can learn from this blog?” The child in me is saying, “Just have fun writing it.”

After all, this coming Sunday I may be cleaning up puke or handling an issue in the very spot where that sweet girl worshiped last week.  Because that’s what we adults do. And we are blessed to be able to do it — at home and in ministry.

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I Need. I Need. I Need.

Yep! I’m reviving my parenting blog. Blush. Blush. Here goes…

We often go back and forth with children about something they want, but may not need at the time or at all. Let’s be honest, even we adults battle our wants from time to time. Who among us has not given in to the HOT sign at Krispy Kreme — more than once! With all the wanting surrounding children, parents may easily find themselves distracted and less intentional to focus on the needs of their children. I’m not talking about the obvious needs such as food, shelter, clothing, medical attention, and the like. I am thinking about the more subtle, emotional needs that we sense more than we see. What are some of these needs? Glad you asked.

Children need respect. Look your children in the eyes when they converse with you. Acknowledge their ideas, feelings, and questions. When the matter is appropriate, ask their opinion. Let them make some simple, safe decisions. Respect is NOT about letting children take control or being manipulative. Parents are the authority in the home, not the children. However, they deserve to know that they are valuable to God and to your family and home.

Children need attention. Yes, you may say, I know! Again, I’m not talking about the obvious attention they need such as being fed. I’m talking about one on one attention. Spend intentional, focused time with your children. This may be planned or may be spur of the moment. Enjoy their company and companionship. Play with them. Converse with them.

Children need a good role model. Don’t place an expectation on your child that you are unwilling to model in front of them. If you expect your child to control their anger (and I hope you do), then model that for them and guide them on how to handle anger. My Pastor says that when they are young, children follow our advice. When they are older, children follow our example.

Children need boundaries. Set limits for your children. They are too young to set them for themselves. When my children were teenagers learning to drive, I couldn’t imagine them having no boundaries on the roadways and intersections. The experience was frightening enough with boundaries! A boundary may feel restrictive, but in truth, it is protective. Boundaries provide security.

Children need spiritual guidance. The home is responsible for the spiritual training of a child. This responsibility does not fall to the world’s institutions or even to the church. It belongs in the home. The church is to complement the training being done at home. And believe me, if parents don’t take the initiative to train their children spiritually, the world has plenty of substitute teachers waiting in the wings who may not hold the same spiritual beliefs or values you want to pass along to your child.

Well, I could keep going, but right now I have a need. It’s time for lunch, and I need to figure out what I want!

Thanks for reading.

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I”m Breaking the Blogging Rules!

Guilty! I am breaking all blogging rules by posting something out of my intended subject area, broader than my target audience, and perhaps alienating to some of my audience. So to those who are reading this, please don’t blot out my blog! I will return to normal in my next post. Ok– much ado about nothing and slight overkill on the apology. I am posting a lesson I taught 2-3 years ago to my leadership. I needed it then and I need it now in my current circumstance of life.

Are You Irritable or Spiritual?

That question hit me over my pious head as I read it in Oswald Chamber’s devotion. It got my attention because I was irritable! In my own life, irritability stems from selfishness – a form of pride. I am irritable because I respond negatively to a situation or circumstances. Although I can explain my irritability, I cannot excuse it. The Holy Spirit showed me that the Bible addresses all my irritating issues. With that in mind, consider some of the common causes of irritability.

Common Causes of Irritability

1. Fatigue.

• Although Elijah had just experienced a great spiritual victory on Mt. Carmel, he became weary in his work/ministry. He viewed his situation in an exaggerated state which led him to be fearful and irrational. Elijah needed rest and food. Often we may neglect the need to sleep, vacate, eat properly, and exercise all in the name of work or ministry. I Kings 18 & 19.

2. Frustration.

• Frustration and its companion, fretting, can cause a person to be irritated. Frustration comes from many inconveniences – waiting, having no control over a matter, being misunderstood, suffering an injustice, or impatience. Psalm 27: 13-14 speak to impatience.
• Psalm 46:10 instructs believers to be quiet before the Lord. Sometimes the best thing for us to do is NOTHING or to hush while praying and allow the Holy Spirit to direct our petitions.
• I John 5:14-15 promises that God hears prayers that are according to His will. This phrase is not meant to be complicated, but to simply remind believers that our requests should be made in faith from a heart that completely trusts God.

3. Disobedience.

• In the Old Testament books of Deuteronomy, Kings, and the Chronicles, God reminds the Israelites that they are not to worship in the “high places” established for pagan worship. High places are representative of things in our lives that are not acceptable to God. King Asa is an example of someone who was obedient in the areas of his life that were important to him, but not in all areas.
• Often, we may refer to our high places as strongholds or “little sins,” (anger, jealousy, bad habits, talking ill of others, unhealthy or immoral thinking, etc.) giving us some excuse to overlook them. Other times, we may recognize them as blatant sin in our lives.
• When the Holy Spirit convicts you of a high place, confess it. I john 1:9.

4. Jealousy
• Proverbs 14:30 tells us that jealousy rots the bones. None of us would knowingly swallow something that we knew would deteriorate our bones, yet we will allow jealousy to live in our hearts and minds.
• Psalm 18 is filled with expressions of how God feels about His children. To be bound by jealousy is to turn one’s back on God’s promises.

5. Waiting

• Waiting is especially difficult for doers and fixers! Ironically, people feel themselves waiting on God because we think in time increments. God does not think in time. He is always at work. Therefore, what we view as waiting is in reality God working. Sometimes when He works we see His movement. Sometimes we just have to wait. Don’t focus on the waiting; focus on the working.
• Psalm 40 reminds us that David waited patiently on the Lord. While he waited, he cried out to the Lord. At some point, God moves David out of his current circumstance. David then has a NEW song and a NEW praise for the Lord. After the waiting, David had a reason to praise God that he did not have before. On top of that, the way God worked in his life was a testimony to others.

6. Worry.

• Worry is the result of thinking about things that have not actually happened or things we cannot control. Worry is a lack of faith and trust.
• Worry differs from a burden. Worry is in the mind. A burden is in the heart.
• Psalm 116:7 tells our souls to be at rest, for the Lord has been good to us.
• Phil 4:6 tells us not to be anxious about anything.

Spiritual Responses to Irritating Situations

1. Hope.

• Hope is defined as the feeling that something desired is possible; to look forward to with desire and confidence
• Hope is confidence that God is in control by focusing on Who God is. (faithful, loving, kind, gracious, compassionate, patient, all-knowing, listening, trustworthy, etc.) See Psalm 145.
• Hope looks beyond the immediate and dwelling on the fact that God has and always will prove Himself faithful and trustworthy.
• Hope looks back at what God has already done and looks forward to what his character proves He will do and be in the future.
• Psalm. 62:5; Psalm 71:14; Hebrews 11:1; Psalm 145:14; Psalm 18: 28 & 29; & Psalm 25:21, are reminders that there is no reason to give up hope.

2. Trust.

• Trust is defined as confident expectation; firm reliance on the integrity and ability of something/one
• Proverbs 3: 5 & 6 tells us to trust in the Lord. The Psalms are filled with “trust” verses!
• Psalm 85:8 tells us that God promises peace to His people. Peace comes with trust.

3. Submit

• To submit is to yield to another’s authority. In Luke 22:42 we see that even the Son of God submitted to the will of the Father over his own personal desires.
• Although it seems contradictory, it is possible to submit while hoping and trusting because submitting could mean we do not get the outcome we “hoped” for. Our hope and trust tell us that the desires will somehow reconcile to God’s outcome.
• Rest assured that God has plans for us that are for our good (Jer. 29:11) not our harm. This does not mean that we are free of pain, trials, and difficulties, but we are free in them to stay focused on God.

4. Pray

• Pray without ceasing…anytime! I Thessalonians 5:17
• When you do not have words, the Holy Spirit intercedes on your behalf. Romans 8:26

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Little Lamb

The Lamb
William Blake

Little Lamb, who made thee
Does thou know who made thee
Gave thee life & bid thee feed.
By the stream & o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing woolly bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice.
Making all the vales rejoice:
Little Lamb who made thee
Does thou know who made thee

Little Lamb I’ll tell thee,
Little Lamb I’ll tell thee;
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb:
He is meek & he is mild,
He became a little child
I a child & thou a lamb,
We are called by His name,
Little Lamb God bless thee,
Little Lamb God bless thee.
This poem has been one of my favorites for a long time. I recall reading it as a child to my younger sister from one of her books and later teaching it to my high school students. Its beautiful message is wrapped in comforting words and soothing rhythms. Today as I read it, I cannot help but think about parents, grandparents, and teachers who can share  the love of The Lamb with the little lambs God sends to their field each week.

Isn’t it amazing that Jesus is the Lamb of God, sacrificed for our sins, yet He is also our Shepherd, guiding us to the right places for our life — nourishing, protecting, restoring, and reassuring us. We need it, because like sheep, we can be creatures of habit who favor the “spot” we want in life, whether or not it is a safe and healthy place for us to be. Sheep are totally dependent upon shepherds.

Think of the flock of little sheep — lambs — that God has entrusted to you. What is their condition? (Proverbs 27:23) What are they looking to you, their shepherd, to provide them in the spiritual field of your home or classroom?

God Bless Thee!

(If you have never read A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller, I highly recommend it — one of my faves!)

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Hold On — You Gotta Let Go!

collageHolding my newborn babies is one of the sweetest memories I have. The thought of that sweet little head and face against my neck still brings a smile to my face. The twenty year old scene of my husband holding our newborn son in the hospital and telling him in essence to grow up to be a good young man has collided with the present. We now watch him make major life decisions… and, yes, thankfully, he has proven to be a good, Godly young man.

Our role as parents is to teach our children  how to become independent. There is a leadership principle that demonstrates this equipping progress in parenting. “Show me how to do it. Do it with me. Watch me as I do it. Watch me show others how to do it.” Model the behaviour lifestyle you want to see in your children. My Pastor reminds young parents that “When our children are little they follow our advice. When they are older, they follow our example.”   First of all, as parents, lead by example.  Secondly, don’t just assume your children will become well-rounded independent adults in all areas of life without your intentional guidance. Thirdly, pray for your children!  This means parents have to progressively allow their children more and more personal responsibility, as difficult as that may be.

There are so many areas where we do this naturally. (Hopefully you do not spoon feed your 8-year-old!)   On the flip side, consider the following areas where you need to intentionally guide your children to independence, and then one day LET GO!

  • Earning and handling money
  • Personal Hygiene & Health
  • Care of possessions
  • Decision making
  • Relationship issues
  • Relationship with God
  • Meeting deadlines
  • Work ethic

Happy Parenting!