Monday, January 27, 2014

Generational prayers...

I love those nights when I dream dreams about my boys.  We don't get to hang out nearly enough for my liking, but either way, I know my Daddy loves me so much that he knows how I value my time with them that He'd give me fun dreams where I get to hang with them. Even in the moments where my heart aches from missing them, I know the day is coming where we'll be together for eternity.  At least that is my prayer.  My boys all know the truth of God's word, and that He is the way, the truth, and the life.  I'm sure every mom who knows Jesus Christ as their savior has had to pray their children will know Jesus Christ as their own savior and that their lives will be lived worthy of the calling that He has called them to purpose for the kingdom.  And I'm very sure grandparents who pray have even more of an effect.

You see, I have the most incredible grandmother in the world.  I don't get to see her as much as I'd like these days either, and it's hard to watch the effects of time bear weight on her health.  This woman was the one who made sure friends from church got to come over when I was little for slumber parties.  She'd let me completely wreck her hair playing beauty salon with her to the point she'd have to go the salon the next day to have it professionally fixed again.  She'd always encourage us to sing in church.  Never a day goes by that I don't remember how much fun and joy I've had at her house growing up.  I remember the more recent trials in my life, how she encouraged me by her example to live my life worthy of the calling God gave me.  I like to think I got my sense of humor from her, too.  I asked her one day how she shows respect to her husband.  She said, "Who says I respect him?" which made me laugh.  I know she loves Paul dearly and is one amazing wife to him. 

So grandma, I just have to tell you how blessed I am to be called your granddaughter.  I'm so thankful for your example.  I'm so thankful you let my daughters still play beauty shop with you when we come to visit.  I'm thankful for every holiday we have the honor of spending with you.  I'm thankful for the legacy of Christ that you left for me.  And more than ever, I look forward to spending eternity with you in your new, improved body.  I know God blessed me when he put me in your family line. 

I love you!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Missing the way...

So I was in a play at church as a teen (and some of you reading this may remember it), while Rolf and Debbie Kleinfeld were my youth pastors.  It was about a young girl named Alisha who had died and how all her friends and mom and dad dealt with her death.  The husband dealt with it by turning from God while the wife stayed faithful to God and prayed.  Eventually, the husband did return to the Father.

So I got the role of this wife, and I sang part of this song by Michael W. Smith.  So I pray you'll take a listen...

What I didn't know at the time was that it was prophetic of this time in my life.  And God has brought that song to my heart over this weekend for my very own Superman.  My husband is very much still a believer.  But his heart for God that I saw when I met him that caused me to fall very much head over heels for him, that fire that once lit up his life, it died somewhere along the way.  And I miss that fire and passion in him.

You are destined for greatness, my husband.  Don't forget that for one minute.  I still pray for you daily, that you can fathom how high, how wide, how deep, and how long is Christ's love for you.  He is calling you back to experience that passion, that fire, that love that you first held for Jesus Christ.  God told me he's got big plans for me, plans bigger than I ever dreamed.  He told me before we met that we would walk together in ministry.  So if God told me all that, I believe that God has plans bigger than you ever dreamed for your life also.  I believe His promises are YES and AMEN for your life as well as mine.

Even the scripture I quoted during that play holds my heart and hope for you.

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate you from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38-39

However my heart aches for you, I know Abba's heart aches even more.  He's missing you even more than I.  But I know that God still pursues you.  I know the time is coming that His consuming fire will burn again even more brightly than it did before.  And all those things that you've lost hope will ever happen in your life WILL happen because God will open those doors no man can shut.

You're so amazing, my Superman.  I can't imagine running this race with anyone else but you.

Friday, January 24, 2014

She'll be comin' 'round the mountain when she comes! Yee haw!

Ever remember singing that song in grade school?  I do.

Today, I have to really make a choice to be my husband's keeper.  My emotions would dictate otherwise.

Because even before we married, my husband has been going around this mountain.  Self-pity, it's really an ugly malady. Today, my heart is screaming to get off this ride because I'm weary of the mountain and the same views over and over again, especially when it involves a man that you adore and admire.  God has shown me on multiple occasions what a great man he really is on the inside.  But to watch my love be held in a prison of his own past... yep, I'd honestly rather jump off the horse-drawn cart off the mountain and head to the top without him.  I know what awaits us there.  And it's not that I want mountaintop experiences all the time... I just know that God has called all of us to live life, and have it to the full! 

So I'm personally struggling today in a great deal of frustration, wondering *when* he will allow that heart surgery to FINALLY happen.  There's so much more that awaits him!  I hate what the enemy is trying to destroy in this mighty man of God.  Greatness is in him.  I know it it's there. 

I stand grateful that I have an Abba today who loves me and shows me a lot of patience. I'm thankful for the 2:30 a.m. cries that really do refresh and give a new perspective.  I'm thankful for all things working together for my good.  Trying to remember that today, when it *seems* like things just aren't changing, as far as I can tell.  Thank goodness my Abba knows the bigger plan here.  Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.

So pray today.  Pray for my strength.  Pray that I can find the right words to encourage and lift up.  Pray that I don't become a tool to tear him down.  Pray that I'm unable to find a nice cast iron skillet to knock some sense into him with. ;)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Life as a Stepparent, It's not Easy, BUT...

So I came across this blog by one of my favorite authors of 29 Days to Great Sex, Sheila Way Gregorie.  And she posted about how a husband treats a stepchild.  Boy, did that strike a chord with me because of what I've personally been through over the last year.

Of course, I had to respond...

We have a his, mine, and ours situation. I won’t lie. It’s a struggle. So I guess I’ll share some wisdom I’ve learned along the way.

I came from divorced parents myself. And my mom, she’s been remarried 11 times. (That’s NOT a typo.) So that’s my background.

I came with boys who are now 15, 10, and 8. He came with two daughters that are now 12 and 10. We have our two, a girl who is 5 and a son who is 4.

We have my ex, who has been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder and it’s rough to deal with that. Big time. And his current wife who has her own issues. My bonus daughters have a mom who walked out of their lives completely. Hello rejection in their lives. And then we have our two together, and it’s been a fun ride with the two of them.

My three boys live with their dad. So we have my bonus daughters and my two bio kids all the time.
I will honestly tell you that it has taken me and a fervent amount of praying on my part to love my bonus daughters and treat them equally. I’ve spent hours in frustration because they both have educational issues and emotional issues going on. I have to fight every day to love them and to continue to show them God’s grace and mercy. Believe it or not, to this day I still struggle with wanting to hug them. (And I admit, that’s MY heart issue, not theirs.) But you know what? God specifically ordained that they would have a mom, and that mom would be me. I prayed for ten years for a daughter, and I got three almost all at once. I love working with kids, and God knew that even through many miscarriages and the death of my infant son born too soon to live, he would give me a quiver full of blessings and redeem my loss.

I see it as I get the privilege of raising two wonderful daughters who are so precious in the sight of God. And I laugh some days. I mean, God, you really entrusted me with two more kids to steward? Great sense of humor, there. :) I get to tell them that sex is something beautiful and created for marriage. It’s not something funny or to giggle about. It’s a great gift. That they need to protect their heart above all else and find their image in Jesus Christ first and not in a guy. I get to pray with them every night. I get to talk with them, laugh with them, and have girl’s days out with them. When we have the finances, I get to adopt them and they’re all mine. I get to be there the day they’re married and when they have children of their own. I have the privilege of being in their lives. I couldn’t say it was such a privilege five years ago when we first married. And I thought I could love with and work with any kids, because I really have a heart for kids.

My husband? It’s been a different story with him. I know he truly loves my boys and truly has a heart for them. He even knows what we’re fighting with their dad. My husband is still in the process of learning how to be the Priest of our home and how to be a great husband and dad and what true leadership is. My husband spent a lifetime being criticized and beat up by his own family, both mentally and physically. He’s carried that with him, and his anger went beyond yelling one day, and one of my boys got spanked and it left a nice belt-shaped bruise. That is abuse. He wouldn’t even admit that for a while. As you can imagine, that didn’t set at all well with my ex. But yes, abuse is abuse, even in a verbal or mental form. It has its effects! It even affected me on some deep levels.

Enter GOD. I had to show a lot of tough love and keep my own husband away from our family so God could step in and he could see his need for help. God had to work on me and my own heart in the realm of forgiving him. I didn’t want to. In fact, by the time the abuse happened, I had allowed the seeds of bitterness to turn into hate, then rage, then murder in my own heart. I wouldn’t have cared at that point if my husband died. In fact, I was pretty sure our life would be much easier if he did die.

Last year, we went through a lot of counseling. But God gave me the courage to forgive him and show him grace and mercy in spite of himself. I’m not a perfect wife, either. And God has now taken our marriage over a year later to a higher place than it ever has been. My husband is constantly taking the steps to make things right not only with my three boys, but with me and our children. He’s set himself up to be counseled by Godly men who are holding him accountable. And man, do I love, honor, and respect my Superman. He’s one heck of a great guy. But had I not stood to fight in prayer and made my own changes, none of this could have happened either. It’s been a painful but incredible journey. I am so proud of him for telling my oldest son when he was bad-mouthing his biological dad that his dad is still his dad, and he still needs to show him respect. (Yeah, I did a double-take because it really caught me by surprise!)

So I share all of that to background what I’m going to say now
1. You guys are a team. I hope all of your children have seen that. Kids are really great, especially in blended families, to set up one parent against the other, whether it’s bio parents or stepparents. You guys have to be on the same page no matter what, and you really have to back each other up.

2. I handle discipline with my bio children and he handles discipline with his bio children. And we back each other up. Again, kids are sneaky like that. Like if I say no, they’ll ask their dad and vice versa.

3. An environment has to be created in your home that attracts ALL of your children to the center. It’s happening in ours. My boys actually love being here again.

4. We have the personality clash dynamic in our home. Two of our children clash with my husband and the same two clash with me. But we are learning to look at those personality differences as gifts that God gave them, and so we’re determined to ask for God’s wisdom in how to bring out the spirit nature of those gifts, and not the fleshly nature of those gifts, which irritate us both to no end.

5. The tension is going to exist until you talk about it. Involve a third party if necessary. Believe it or not, guys have it in them to be great parents, but we gotta give them credit where it’s due. As a wife, you are going to be a loud voice to him. He needs your encouragement here. And like Ron said, ask your husband in a non-accusatory way what bugs him. For my husband, it’s respect of his boundaries. I make sure *I* know what the boundaries are for him, and I make sure that is relayed to my kids. And I enforce them with the kids. I’m sure your hubby is more than willing to express his feelings on the matter if he can do it without a verbal onslaught or fear of rejection from you. (Yeah, I am guilty of that sometimes.)

6. God really can do all things, especially within a blended family. God is all about adoption, and that dynamic works within a blended family as well. We’re not a blended family. We’re an adopted family.

7. There has to be a common ground your hubby and your son can find to bond on. Help them figure out what that is…

8. Lots of healing has to happen within their own heart. You as a woman can take to fervently praying, step back, and watch what an amazing God we serve can do!

Friday, May 3, 2013

My first love...

God has a way of confirming what He's told you over and over again until you begin to listen, hear, see, and understand.

Not so long ago, one of my dearest friends in the entire world gave me a book called "Jesus Calling." It's short, quick devotionals. Today's really hit home for me, and ties into my earlier blog post this week.

YOU CANNOT SERVE TWO MASTERS. If I am truly your Master, you will desire to please Me above all others. If pleasing people is your goal, you will be enslaved to them. People can be harsh taskmasters when you give them this power over you.

If I am the Master of your life, I will also be your First Love. Your serving Me is rooted and grounded in My vast, unconditional Love for you. The lower you bow down before Me, the higher I lift you up into intimate relationship with Me. The Joy of living in My Presence outshines all other pleasures. I want you to reflect My joyous Light by living in incresing intimacy with me.

(Taken from Jesus Calling, Page 130)

I'm sitting here this morning, kind of frustrated because the job server for my main contract is down. I have to complete at least 200 pages of transcription every two weeks. I'm way behind because life has thrown us some curveballs this week. But then this stark reminder. My first love. The lover of my soul, who longs to share intimacy with ME, his beloved daughter. What love this is that He has for me, and I must BE in that light. Wow.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

God's Lavish Love for me...

(Disclaimer:  You know, I'm not God.  I would encourage you to go to the Word of Truth yourself (AKA the Bible) and SEE for yourself what God has to say on marriage.  Don't take my word as His absolute truth.  These are only my thoughts.  Just a thought before you waste money on another marriage retreat, or a book, or what some guy has to say about marriage.  The answers really are in the Bible.)

As of late, I've been hit with a revelation about marriage.  Saying there is something wrong with your marriage is like saying something is wrong with God himself.  He created marriage, so it is already perfect.  What is wrong is there are two imperfect individuals, where the enemy begins to hide in their individual issues and secretly tries to divide and conquer a one-flesh bond because he knows the danger of this great mystery.

My issue?  I have idols.  An idol is anything that comes before God in your life.  And if you thought a man could be jealous for his wife if any man should try to hit on her, that pales in comparison to how jealous God is for your love, to be first in your life.  My idols are seemingly innocent things.  For example, getting caught up with what is going on with my husband and making his issues my issues.  Missing my three boys from my first marriage as a battle to even see them continues to rage.  Raising a large family.  Throwing myself into countless hours of working from home.  All of these have taken priority over my Abba, who is my first love. 

So today, as I'm hit with the very fact that it is time to make Jesus my first love again, I am drowning in His love that He has lavished on me, that I should be called a daughter of God! It's so nice to KNOW God all over again, to be in intimate fellowship with Him. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

From a Mother's Heart

Yes, usually this blog is about being a wife. But today, I feel a strong need to write a letter to each of my children.

Dear Chase,
I can't believe you're almost 15. Wasn't it just yesterday I heard your tiny squeak, rocked you to sleep, laughed every time I burped you and you sounded like a clucking chicken? I look now at the young man you've become. You are stubborn and strong willed, and you have an amazing sense of humor.  Never again can I walk to the front of our church as we pray over our tithes and offerings and not remember the moment when we got done praying and you put your hands in, saying, "Church on 3!  Break!" I laugh every time.  I love how your mind is so bent on science and the wonder of how God made things work.  I love to experience life with you.  My prayer for you is Proverbs 2:10:  For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.  Don't forget what you learned about God when you were young, and do not depart from it now. God is your ever-present help in times of trouble. You are so amazing, Chase. I'm so glad God gave me you as an wonderful gift!

Dear Abigail,
Your very name means "father's joy." You truly are your father's joy, both here on Earth and in Heaven.  You are my joy too.  You have grown into a young woman over the past six years I've known you. You long to please others.  And I pray that longing turns into a strong desire to please your Daddy God. My prayer for you is Colossians 1:9-11:  For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord,to  please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.  You have also a very compassionate heart for others.  I pray that this trait is grown in you.  You melt my heart every time you tell me you're praying for my boys to come home.  You see things and feel things.  I look forward to watching you grow and mature in Christ, my daughter.

Dear Hunter,
You, my dear son, are what is known as a peacemaker.  As Matthew 5:9 states:  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.  You are already a son of God.  I had the unique privilege as a parent to pray with you as you made the choice to decide for God and accept Him as your savior.  You are strong-willed yet you do not stand for injustice.  You have a spirit that draws people to you.  I never see you lacking in friends.  You work quickly to mediate and bring peace to any situation.  My prayer for you is I Timothy 2:1-6:  First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.  I pray that as God takes you before kings and all authority, Jesus Christ will flow through you as mediator.  I look forward to watching you grow and mature in all the knowledge of Christ Jesus.

Dear Rachel,
I never thought I'd be so blessed to have a daughter with my name. Funny how God worked that one out, huh?   Your very name means innocent lamb.  You are very innocent.  You are very caring towards others.  And you have a great desire to love and to be loved.  My prayer for you is Ephesians 3:14-19:  For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. I pray that you know this love of Christ through both your earthly dad and mom, that you are able to comprehend and accept that love and feel secure in that love.  I love that you persevere through so much and still manage to show love and compassion towards others.  You truly are a gift from God.  And I pray that one day, you will be able to accept me as God's gift to you as a mom.  I love you to the moon and back, kiddo.

Dear Caleb,
I love how silly you are.  I love every face that you make.  Your expressions are priceless.  I love that even at 7 years old, you still want to snuggle up with mom. I'll never forget the five million and ten times you've come up to me and said, "I love you, mom," with an awesome strong bear hug.  I also love that every time I see you, you just HAVE to tell me a knock-knock joke.  My prayer for you is Psalm 32:11:  Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones; And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart. May your heart grow and rejoice in the Lord! I am so grateful that I get to call you mine.  What a blessing you are!

Dear Hannah,

I know I've told you this countless times, but you are an answer to prayer of a desire of my own heart. I prayed for you for ten years.  God's grace and favor truly does rest on your life, even from the time you were conceived.  The docs told me immediately that you weren't going to survive.  And yet there you were, nine months later, screaming your head off when you were born.  You may be tiny, but you are definitely very intelligent already, and you have a very strong will.  I pray this trait will be used for God's kingdom and not by the enemy to destroy your life.  But you are giggle box at heart, and you love all things girl.  I can't forget all the stories about Sarah, your best imaginary friend, who lives in a sparkly purple house.  My prayer for you is 2 Corinthians 12:9:  And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  I pray that God's grace is perfected in your life through weakness, and that you always know that His grace and favor continually rest on your life. I love you, little one.

Dear Nate,

You are the only kiddo God specifically asked me if He could send.  I knew that if your dad ever had a boy, he wanted to name you Nathanael because of Nathanael in the Bible who saw angels ascending and descending from heaven.  Even at 3, you're always telling me that you see angels.  We have never talked much about angels other than in me praying over you at night.  But my heart is warmed because I know without a doubt that you see them.  I love all of your snuggles at night.  I love that you're learning to gain your own identity and independence.  I love that you're all boy and don't want anything to do with girly stuff.  My prayer is for you is John 1:49-51:  Nathanael answered Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And He *said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” I pray that you will always see greater things in life and in everyone.  You are indeed a great gift to your mom. I cannot wait as I watch you grow and mature.  I love you!