The Other Voice

After weeks of staying at home, my soul feels like dry bones on an old corpse. The desert is my dwelling place and I am more parched than ever. I long for life, for connection, and for community.

The news reports tell me to be afraid, to stay at home, and to be socially distant. And so, like many Americans, I’m afraid, I stay at home, and I am socially distant. However, I wonder what psychological and spiritual toll social distancing will take. Is separation the answer to health and well being? We are in the midst of the greatest social experiment of our time. While Zoom is a wonderful tool, it can’t replace the presence and warmth of a human being. So I wonder, how much more social distancing can the souls of Americans take?

God Has Left the Building

Old Church, Steeple, Old, Church, Architecture

As our churches lay empty and dormant, I wonder if God has left the building. We certainly have. An eerie picture comes to mind similar to Europe where abandoned and repurposed churches dot the countryside. Will the American church survive? Or, will a post-Christian movement begin in this country after COVID-19? At the same time, I wonder if we really know what the church is without the building. Do we know who we are without the safety of our walls?

The players in the war on the corona virus are the doctors, scientists, and infectious disease experts. They throw around acronyms and phrases like R naught (R0), which is the average number of people who will contract a contagious disease from one person with that disease, TTI (transfusion-transmissible infections), PPE (we all know what this means!), and shelter in place. the president and governors hold press conferences and give out executive orders. The health care workers, nurses and doctors, grocery store workers, mailmen and women, and delivery drivers continue their work tirelessly led by the voices of science and fear. And the rest of us wait, like sheep, clueless and dependent.

I wonder what the church’s position is in all of this? Mostly, I hear silence. Conformity for the most part, and silence. How are we as Christians supposed to view this global crisis? What is our role in what God is doing in the midst of it all? Could there be another voice, or should we just take what we see on the news as gospel?

The Gospel of Science and Statistics

Across the country people are dying alone in hospital beds. Is this ever okay? And with the isolation that is more deadly than any disease, the souls of the masses are dying at home.

In human history, crazier things have happened than a pandemic, just crack open the Bible. The Old Testament is full of stories of crazy things happening. In fact, He gave us His Word for such a time as this. Are we as Christians looking to this source of life and encouragement for hope and answers? Or, have we abandoned the Good Book for the media full of science, statistics, and fear.

The older I get, the more questions I have and the less answers I realize there are. One thing I do know, however, is that we need each other. And we need each other like we need food and water. The encouragement we give to one another gives our soul life. In community, we inspire others and they inspire us. We pour what spiritual strength and fire we have into one another in the name of Jesus. But, what happens if we no longer can?

Different, but the Same

I have been starved for Godly community and desperately longing to hear the voice of God anywhere, or from anyone. In the midst of talking with a friend recently, I felt a tinge of life in me, a drop of water in the desert. Something, somewhere in me was awakened. A small blip on the heart monitor of my life. Why? Because I heard a different voice, a God whisper, if you will. She reminded me that while everything has changed, nothing has changed. While it feels like our world is falling apart, God is the same and our future in Him is secure.

At the same time, Satan’s role in this world is also the same. Satan’s most effective strategy in taking down God’s people has always been to divide and conquer. With all of this social distancing, are we playing right into his hands? I don’t presume to know the answers, but people of faith need to be having these conversations. What does God want us to do in this pandemic? What would Jesus do about social distancing? Will we trust God’s voice over science and statistics? We need to be asking these questions lest we risk being led astray.

Christians are still the light of the world. I am concerned about the focus of the Christian community in our current reality. Are we any different than non Christians? I believe the Christian community is dangerously close to becoming of the world. We have been set apart. We must remember who we are and shine the light of Christ in this dark world.

You have been set apart as holy to the LORD your God, and he has chosen you from all the nations of the earth to be his own special treasure. Deuteronomy 14:2

In addition to keeping abreast of the situation, I am going to start listening to other voices, to Godly voices. I am going to pay attention to the words I use and the conversations I am having. Are they 100% about the virus and its consequences? I admit, like anyone, I have been consumed with this pandemic. Let’s return together to being consumed by an amazing God who adores us and is still on His throne.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK138223/

https://www.healthline.com/health/r-nought-reproduction-number#meaning

Half Empty AND Half Full

Image result for coronavirus quarantine

The world’s gone mad. My husband and I went to the Starbucks up the road yesterday. It was empty and all the tables and chairs were put away. The sight of it was like a punch in the gut. With every day that passes, the landscape of our lives is changing. I never thought our country would be in this position. None of us did.

Yesterday I went to Target and Kroger and I could feel the weight of stress in the air. As I looked around at the few people shopping, I could sense the fear and shell shock. People would pass by and look at each other, but not know what to do. We all knew we needed to stay apart, but we also felt drawn to each other. The isolation is taking its toll.

The normal, comfortable life we once took for granted is gone. What will the next few days bring? The next few weeks? Months? No one knows. We are in uncharted territory. Our blessed society is in crisis. And when you think about it, we were due. Part of me thinks this is right where God wants us. Primed for learning, listening, and growth. Primed for depending on Him. God is good and we will get through this. But, how we get through this is another issue. Will we learn? Will we grow? Will we grieve the losses we may endure? Personally, I hope that I come through this with dignity and a hopeful attitude. However, feeling and expressing grief, fear, and helplessness are also a healthy part of the process.  

In uncertain times, it is important to remember that the glass is half empty and it is half full. The glass can never be just one or the other. A half full glass is also half empty and a half empty glass is also half full. Life is scary and uncertain. Life is also wonderful and full of blessings. To have highs, we must also have lows, lest we flat-line. We must feel our feelings, not avoid them. Don’t be ashamed to cry, vent, and acknowledge the uncomfortable situation we find ourselves in. It sucks. Cry out to God. He hears us. He sees us. He knows us. And he knows what we need.

Social Distancing not Social Isolation

While we all love it, technology has often been viewed as the enemy. It is a constant battle for parents to protect their children and regulate its use. However, what has been seen as the enemy in many ways in our society, is now our lifeline. Bizarre, isn’t it?! Studies have shown that social media fosters disconnection. It’s time to flip technology around. We must create a different kind of online community, one that leads to connection. The following is an excerpt from a paper I recently wrote for grad school.

God created human beings to exist in the context of relationships. Only within community can we achieve mental and emotional health. Humans were created for three levels of community. The first and most basic level is proximity. This is the space of physically being around and next to people. This includes working at Starbucks, going to a football game, or sitting in church. We all need people in our environments and our space. The next level is that of friendship and interaction. This level consists of people we know and interact with, such as our coworkers, family, friends, and neighbors. Most people who go to school or work outside of the home at least reach this level. However, very few venture beyond these often shallow relationships to the third level. The third and richest level of community is spiritual community. It is the leading of the Holy Spirit that sets this level of community apart (Crabb, 1999). In the power of the Holy Spirit, we celebrate and see the good in one another. We hope, dream, and grow together. Here we experience the safety of celebration, the hope of vision, the wisdom of loving discernment, and the power of touch (Crabb, 1999). However, this type of community requires brokenness and vulnerability. For this reason, spiritual community is rare. God created us to experience all three levels of community, unfortunately, very few of us ever do.

During this time of national crisis and mandated social distancing, isolation is the next critical threat. Pre crisis, the majority of people had the first and second levels of community. Again, pre crisis, most people interacted with at least a handful of people on a daily basis. Now, with social distancing, the bottom has dropped out of even the most basic level of community, which is proximity

We must use technology to connect and engage with each other. Is it possible to engage while texting? Is it possible to engage while commenting or liking someone’s post? Maybe. However, I often struggle even with texting in group chats. I usually can’t keep up, so I opt out. And I know I’m not alone. I really believe that online face-to-face interactions will be our salvation. While we can’t meet together in the same physical space, we need to have online group gatherings. Regardless of the state of things, I need to see your face and you need to see mine.

Practicing social distancing to the extent that schools, churches, and other gatherings are canceled is absolutely the right thing to do. Our best strategy is for everyone to stay home. However, we must not lose touch with each other in the most connecting and relational ways possible. We must get creative and be intentional. Try online chatting with your group of friends or church small group. Stay in touch with your people. Get as close to face-to-face with your people as you can. We must care for our friends and neighbors, especially those who may be more vulnerable. We must work together on a community level to make sure that everyone has their needs met. Take care of yourself and those around you. Practice self-care and be smart. Don’t isolate yourself. And ask for help if you need it.

2 Critical Connecting Resources

A beautiful friend of mine (love you Laura), recently introduced me to Marco Polo. This app has been life giving. Now I can interact with my friends and family almost live on my phone. And its really easy. For now, this resource is so much better than texting. Look for it in the app store.

https://apps.apple.com/us/app/marco-polo-stay-in-touch/id912561374

Zoom is a great resource for video conferencing. And it is free.

https://www.pocket-lint.com/apps/news/151426-what-is-zoom-and-how-does-it-work-plus-tips-and-tricks

——————————————————————————————–

Crabb, L. (1999). The Safest Place on Earth: Where People Connect and Are Forever Changed. Nashville, TN: W Publishing Group.

Filling the God Shaped Hole in Our Kids

 

Fireflies lit up the night sky in a sweet dance. The air was rich with the sound of crickets and tree frogs. I closed my eyes to drink in the warm, summer air that enveloped me like a blanket. Sipping sweet tea on the deck, my friend began to talk about the challenges she was experiencing with her teenage daughter.

We had always differed in our parenting styles. My friend would forgo punishments in the name of fostering a positive environment. Her goal was always to instill in her kids independence and a healthy self esteem. It was a more permissive style of parenting. And now, my friend’s young adult daughter is living contrary to what she had been taught.

“I think we were too permissive with her. I think we were wrong,” my friend mumbled through a blank stare. Her eyes were saturated with sorrow and regret. I have known my sweet friend since our kids were little, and I knew that she could not have loved them more.

The question is, What would cause a child who was dearly loved, to go completely off the rails?

This particular question begs more questions.

What does the most loving home look like?
What do the most loving parents look like?
What are the behaviors that lead to a fully-loved kid?

I believe the answers lie in this question, Where does the love a parent has for a child come from? Is it a biological phenomenon within human beings? If I loved my child with everything in me, would that be enough?

You can’t fill a round hole with a square peg.

I believe the greatest love we can give to our children comes first, from God. In other words, the greatest, fullest expression of love our kids can receive, is God’s love through us. To love our kids completely, our love needs to be God’s love.

Leaving God out of the equation of love toward our kids shortchanges them of being fully loved.

The best way to love our kids is with a Godly love. That means that we love them in a way that is consistent with the character of God. This type of love has limits. This type of love consists of nos. God has shown us what the most loving parent looks like in His Word.

Loving anyone with the fullest expression always involves God. Love, without Him, is lacking. Because the origin of love is God. Love is, at times, supporting, encouraging, and enabling. Love is also disciplining and saying no.

A significant part of the love a parent has for a child is in admonishing and denying. Some of the love our kids need from us can only come from disciplining or saying no. If we refuse to say no to our kids, they will miss out on the fullest expression of love that God meant for them to experience.

The greatest love flows from God’s goodness, not ours.

If we love our kids with a human understanding of love, instilling our morals and values into them, they will be lacking. We must love them in a manner consistent with the character of God. To know what this looks like, we must look at how God parents us. Is He loving? Merciful? Just? Does He say no? Does He discipline his children? There is no greater love than the love of God.

Say the love hole in our kids is shaped like a star. It would take a star-shaped love to fill it completely.Image result for star shape

Lets say that our human capacity to love is shaped like a circle.

Image result for circle shape

If we love our kids only with the human love within ourselves, we are only able to fill a portion of their love hole. There are unfilled spaces left. Their love hole is not full.

Untitled drawing (2).jpg

The love that comes from God through us is the same shape as the love hole in our kids. God made them with a love hole, and only He can fill it completely.

Related image

So, how do we give our kids the greatest amount of love? We go to the source. By tapping into God’s abundant love, we can fill our kids’ love hole. There is a God shaped love hole in all of us. And only the love from God is enough to fill it.

Thank you God for your great love.


Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids

I’ve seen it in your eyes. Christian parents have been watching their teens turn away from the faith for decades, and you fear your kids will do the same. It is never too late to tip the scales in favor of your kids developing a personal, passionate, and permanent faith in Jesus Christ.

$12.00

Surviving “Young and Stupid”

The gurgle of the coffee maker resonated from the kitchen as I hurried down the stairs. Evidence of the chaos of graduation and the open house was scattered throughout the house. The long list of things I needed to do was daunting, making my lack of energy all the more annoying. Bring boxes to the attic…put away open house stuff…clean and organize the extra bedroom. Instead of doing any of that, I sat down and stared at the blank computer screen. Exhaustion settled in on every inch of my body and mind. It was morning and my tank was already empty.

Having a senior in high school was exhausting. This past year was challenging and stressful on a new level. Seventeen- and eighteen-year-olds are completely different than younger teenagers. These semi-legal young adults, who were becoming independent and were once energetic, can suddenly become lazy and entitled.

And while kids’ brains aren’t fully formed until their mid-twenties, many of them are driving, voting, dating, and making major decisions. For those of us who have the full capacity of our brains, we know this is a recipe for disaster.

Last night I watched the movie, Jungle, starring Daniel Radcliffe. This true story is an intense tale of a young man fighting to survive in the brutal jungles of South America. However thrilling and action packed it may have been, all I could think about were the choices that were made that led this guy into such a mess. It was about Yossi, a twenty-something young man from Germany who wanted to go on a year-long walkabout to South America, something that his parents weren’t thrilled about. He was in the “young and stupid” phase, and after being approached by someone who wanted to take them off the beaten path into the jungles of Bolivia, it nearly cost him his life.

At every stage of parenting I have appreciated my parents more and more. I often wonder how my parents survived the stage when I was young and stupid. Thinking back to my late teens to early twenties, its amazing how I came out of those years relatively unscathed. Now, as a parent, I am just entering that stage with my kids.

My daughter recently had an appointment to get vaccinations that are a requirement for her to attend college in the fall. As the third stick went in, she mumbled, “I think I’m going to pass…” Then, lights out, she started to fall. Since this had happened before, I was ready to catch her. The familiar scene from a year ago when she had knee surgery played out in front of me like a bad dream. Her body was reacting to the pain, or the vaccine, and she convulsed and thrashed in her unconscious state. Minutes later, she regained consciousness. It took a while to get her back to where she could sit and then stand to get her in the car and get her home. Later that day as she slept on the couch, the thought occurred to me, both my daughters have passed out three times! What if I’m not there to remind my college kid to eat before getting a vaccination? What if I’m not there to catch her?

How does a parent of a seventeen- or eighteen-year-old survive what I call, The Danger Zone? It is the time in life when kids are old enough to make many of their own choices, and maybe live on their own, yet they aren’t playing with a full deck.

I recently met a friend of mine for coffee. After she let me vent a little about the challenges of parenting a soon-to-be college student, she asked about my oldest. “Does she want to go to college?” Weird question, I thought. I didn’t know the answer. But in that moment I realized it didn’t matter. She had to go. I knew I couldn’t live with her anymore. Parenting a child on the tightrope between adult and child is overwhelming.

My goal with my high school graduate is to get her into college. Yes, she has already been accepted. Yes, she knows where she is going. However, it is the one thousand little things that have to be done in order for her to actually be recognized as a student in the fall that stand in the way. Immunizations, orientation, financial aid and scholarships, housing and roommate stuff, and on and on the list goes. I’m finding myself stepping in with these important tasks. Not because she isn’t old enough to do these things herself, but because I need her to leave the nest. For my sanity. I know I shouldn’t be doing them for her, but I do them anyway.

I pray constantly for God’s protection over her life. I pray for the things that we have failed to teach her that she has to learn on her own. I pray that God would protect her until she graduates from the “young and stupid” phase.

 

 

 

Parenting Teens and the Ministry of Silence

It’s official. I am a parent of an eighteen-year-old—a legal adult. I can’t deny it anymore. Not that I don’t feel it in the air whenever we are together. It is a general rejecting of my parenting that I sense. I can feel her trying to relate to me as an equal. Her ears don’t hear.

How does one parent an eighteen-year-old? The only answer I can give with certainty is…very carefully. Parenting at this point is a dance of lavish love from a distance, fervent prayer without ceasing, and strategic, intentional silence.

I remember one warm afternoon when I was in my early twenties. I was home for the summer at my dad’s house. I stepped out into the warmth of the day, reveling in the sweet kiss of the sun. My stepmom wanted to go for a walk with me. She shared something she regretted from her past in an attempt to save me from making the same mistake. However, I was young and stupid.

I often wonder, Can anyone be young and NOT stupid? I think it would be an anomaly.

Needless to say, I didn’t heed her advice and continued whatever it was I was doing. I’ll never forget that conversation, however. How kind it was of her to pour her heart out to me so that I might benefit. As she saw me continue down the wrong path, I can now relate to how she must have felt. My ears wouldn’t hear.

As a parent, how does one watch from the sidelines helplessly as their child heads toward disaster? It must be desperately heartbreaking. I am grateful that my kids are generally good kids. As of yet, figuratively speaking, they have’t barreled into a wall at ninety miles an hour, or caused a train wreck.

My daughters are basically good kids and I adore them. However, being a lover of Jesus Christ causes me to want more for them. I desperately want them to know the love of their Heavenly Father. I want them to feel cherished, because they are daughters of the King. I want them to know without a doubt they are worth dying for.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. Ephesians 1:18-19

However, for a time, I have to watch my daughter find her own way. I have to stand by and watch her potentially be of the world, not just in it. Often, I have to be silent, and I dare not judge. I have to let her walk her path. I have to let her write her own story. Maybe she is not ready to give God the reigns in their life.

The amount of times during the day when she is home that I have to silence myself is countless. It takes a great deal of will-power, but mostly the Holy Spirit to be able to do this. I have to let go and trust God, trust prayer, and trust how God has used me in her life these last eighteen years. Yikes. That’s asking a lot.

I am praying for discernment like never before. I pray that God gives me wisdom to know when to speak and when to be silent. I pray the only words that come out of my mouth are His words. I pray that God would make me better than I am, more patient, and more loving.

When my stepmom took me for a walk that day so many years ago, she was depositing into my love tank. Regardless of whether or not I heeded her advice, I remember the love. That sticks with me. Love usually does.

Loving our teenagers well, even in times that require silence, is the key. Even if my daughter doesn’t listen to me, if I can love her well, then I have done my job. Teaching and instructing are an important part of parenting, but they can’t even compare to the loving.


Get Kim’s new book…

Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids

I’ve seen it in your eyes. Christian parents have been watching their teens turn away from the faith for decades, and you fear your kids will do the same. It is never too late to tip the scales in favor of your kids developing a personal, passionate, and permanent faith in Jesus Christ.

$12.00

Raising Kids to be Eternity Focused

The following is an excerpt from Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids.


When Jessica was about nine, she was holding our cat, Essie. Essie was squirming in her arms, and quietly let out a warning growl. I was cleaning the kitchen while listening to a podcast so I was only mildly paying attention to what was going on.

She has an attitude problem. Not my daughter, the cat. Essie can look at you from across the room and you know what she is thinking—I am going to kill you in your sleep! She’s a grumpy old cat. And our very existence annoys her.

I could tell that Essie’s patience was running thin.

“You’d better put her down,” I said. “She’s gonna scratch you!” Essie let out another soft growl. Jessica ignored my warning and continued kissing her and messing with her face.

“I’m serious, she’s gonna blow!” I pleaded one last time.

Then the last growl ramped up. Three strikes you’re out! All the muscles in Essie’s body tensed and her front paws and legs began to flail violently. The next five seconds were a mess of fur, claws, and growls. Essie swiped at Jessica’s chest and face as her body twisted to get free. Jessica screamed in pain as Essie freed herself and leapt out of her arms landing squarely in the dog’s water bowl.

Jessica stood there with tears in her eyes, blood on her face, chest and arms, and dog slobber water soaking her clothes. It was a sad and pathetic sight. Other than a trail of water on the floor through the foyer, no trace of Essie could be found. But she had left her mark.

As I went to comfort Jessica, I wanted to say, “I told you that was going to happen!” But the words were unnecessary. So I hugged her tight, wiped her tears, and cleaned her up.

Teaching our kids to think beyond the present moment, whether it’s five seconds into the future, five months or five years, is a difficult task. Kids tend to focus on the here and now. They live in the moment.

As followers of Christ, however, we live for eternity. We live for our glorious future in Heaven.

Part of our job as parents is to change the mindset of our kids to an eternal mindset. We encourage a Biblical attitude of focusing on eternity. This means that we must be focused on eternity as well and not be wrapped up in the things of this world. Disciples of Christ are eternity-focused, not culture-focused.

Human beings are eternal, not finite. Our souls live on after our bodies die. Heaven and Hell are real and we all will end up in one or the other someday. This earth will be gone at some point, so we must set our minds on eternity.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2

We must teach our children to think in terms of whether things are temporary and will pass away, or are eternal and will endure. Focusing on the eternal tends to separate easily what is and what is not important in this life.

Our children’s eternal future is the reason passing on our faith is so important.

Beth Moore wrote this eloquently in her Bible study, Entrusted, A Study of 2 Timothy.

What happens now matters then…Every present moment has future implications. This is not about your past. Not just about your present. This is about your future…Because what happens now matters then.[i]

Now I realize that I want to raise my kids to be disciples of Christ more than anything else (we will talk about what this means in Chapter 9). I want them to leave my house with the Great Commission front and center in their lives, and their eternal future on their minds.

[i] Beth Moore, Entrusted: A Study of 2 Timothy (Nashville: Lifeway Press, 2016), 148.

“Abandoned Faith” by McFarland and Jimenez: A Book Review

Several years ago, as I began writing my book, Pouring In, I talked to a mentor friend of mine who had three adult children. Deb was/is older and wiser and we have known each other since I was in high school. I wanted her thoughts on the idea of passing on faith to our kids. Deb is a godly woman whom I greatly admire and I fully expected her to say her kids are passionately following the Lord, or at least still going to church.

As awesome as Deb is, as much as she loves God, and even though I know she has modeled Christ in her home, the directions her kids were taking caught her off guard. She wrote of her dismay at her kids wanderings in an email to me. I didn’t know what to think. She loved the Lord like no one I had ever known. She probably did almost everything right. How could they stray?

In a recent study, LifeWay Research, and Fuller Youth Institute estimated that over half of high school graduates will leave the church and become disengaged in their faith. (page xvi)

As a result of much research, I am painfully aware that a majority of kids raised in the church leave the faith when they leave their home. With a daughter graduating this year, this reality scares the begeebees out of me!

Abandoned Faith is an excellent resource for parents whose millennial has walked away from theABANDONED-FAITH-BUY-NOW-1 faith and for those who are currently launching. This book offers parents encouragement and hope that they can still make a difference in the lives of their grown children. The voice of a parent always matters.

As I must entertain the possibility that either one of my daughters could walk away from their faith, I am starting to face the regret McFarland and Jimenez talk about in the book.

Living with a seventeen year old is difficult. I find myself in turmoil as the familiarity of life as I once knew it fades away. I grieve the fact that our family unit will never be the same.

There is a sorrow that comes as kids become young men and women. Sorrow because you miss those little people that adored you, and sorrow for the sinful, imperfect human beings they have become.

It’s too easy to overlook the pain of parents when all the attention is on the problems of their children. Yet, if we are going to win millennials back to Christ, we first need to win parents back to hope and healing. (page 9)

I remember when I was eighteen to twenty-something. I was young and stupid. Most eighteen to twenty-somethings are. We all know that wisdom comes with age and experience. It is what it is.

My eighteen year old daughter is beautiful, smart, kind, and loving. In the words of Aibileen from The Help, “she (you) is smart, she (you) is kind, and (you) is important!” She always did well in school and loved God. We couldn’t be prouder of her.

At the same time, I worry. I see the flaws in her character—flaws we all have. I see her trying to get away with things. I see her being uninterested in her faith. And I grieve the better person she would have been if I had been a better parent.

You can’t help but think, What went wrong? Even if the answer is, nothing. Nothing other than your kids had an imperfect parent, and they happen to be human. As a wise person once said, even Adam and Eve rebelled, and they did have the perfect parent!

The fact is, there is not one single parent alive in this world free of regret. We all have regrets and know other godly parents who do as well. (page 11)

As a parent, it is impossible to look back and believe you did everything perfectly—because none of us have. Hindsight is 20/20.

What do I regret? Here are some things, to name a few.

  • I regret not having a consistent prayer time as a model for my kids.
  • I regret that I didn’t start reading Scripture with them when they were little.
  • I regret not making my kids do band, choir, or a sport—they struggle to have a consistent friend group.
  • I regret not being more consistent with our discipline.
  • I regret not controlling their screen time/social media time better
  • I regret that we brought our baggage into our parenting

I sometimes wonder how much better of a parent I could have been if I had not brought myself into the mix.

Holding on to regrets prevents you from experiencing true freedom in Christ…Being tossed around by waves of regret is actually where Satan, the great Adversary, wants you to be. He doesn’t want you to let your regrets go. (page 13)

Satan wants our regrets to eat us alive. Abandoned Faith encourages parents to look at their mistakes, learn from them, and move forward to a better relationship with their child. We must stop feeling responsible for our young adult children. Did we make mistakes in parenting—yes. However, we probably did a better job than we realize despite the wanderings of our kids.

At some point, parents need to let go of the guilt from mistakes their young adult children make. At some point, they are no longer responsible.

Let there be no more regrets—only anticipation of the coming blessings. No more doubts—only hope in knowing that God has placed you in your millennial’s life for a divine purpose. God has uniquely equipped you to minister to your children. (page 19)

How are my girls going to survive my parenting? By the grace, immense love, and goodness of our God. When my parenting job is finally done, and it soon will be, I must put my kids in God’s hands—far greater hands than mine.

 

Ready to Launch: The Final Countdown

In exactly eleven weeks from today, my daughter graduates from high school. It is the spring of my daughter’s senior year, the final countdown. She turns eighteen on Sunday and she is so ready to launch. The question is, Am I ready to let her? The answer is—no, I’m not. Even though I must, I will never be ready to let her go.

Several months ago, I realized the time of my oldest daughter listening to me had mostly passed. She’s over it. She’s over me. And I have to live with the statistic that says most likely she will walk away from her faith, at least for a time. Ugh!

She is going to a state university, which means she will be surrounded by mostly non Christians. Her roommate isn’t a believer, and while her boyfriend is a great kid, he isn’t a believer either. Strike one, strike, two, strike three! She has stacked the deck against her faith. Is her faith strong enough to stand? I certainly hope so. Only time will tell.

As the clock winds down, the question is, What have I missed?

I am a procrastinator. I have always thought, I’ll have one more trip with her…one more summer with her…one more spring break with her…. And then I woke up one day to realize my last chance had already come and gone. I don’t have one more.

Do I trust God with my child? Do I trust a God who has given her free will?

Of course, I love the concept of free will—when I’m talking about myself or my peers. When it comes to my kids, not so much. However, God has given her, as he has given me, the opportunity to choose him, or not. It is a sobering reality.

When my girls were little, their dad and I held their “free will” in our hands. We decided religion for them. Their “free wills”  were in safe keeping with us until they were old enough. We took them to church, youth group and signed them up for VBS and summer camp. We tried to pack the knowledge of God and His Word into their little heads and hearts.

Eventually, however, the time does come to give them ownership of their free will. As uncomfortable as it is, we must allow them to have it. They must choose who they will live for and what they will believe about the world and truth.

Have I done everything I possibly could to pass on a strong faith in Christ to her in the last eighteen years? Not a chance. As parents, we always come up short. Daily I see things that I have neglected to teach her well enough. Don’t get me wrong—she is a wonderful kid—an awesome kid. No doubt about it. She will grow up to be a good person. But, I am setting the bar higher than raising her to be a “good person.” I want her to love the Lord and follow him.

My best is all I can do for my daughters. Yet, it isn’t enough. I know this. I grieve this reality. The only perfect parent is our Heavenly Father.

An excerpt from Pouring In . . . . 


Last summer Emily had knee surgery. As they were preparing her for surgery, I gazed at her face. It hadn’t changed since she was four years old. She was my sweet, freckle faced, beautiful girl. My girls are beautiful and precious. It’s hard to believe that I could love anyone as much as I love them.

I held her hand as the nurse secured her IV. Within a few seconds her eyes rolled back in her head and she was making strange sounds with her mouth. Her body convulsed in shock. I thought she was having a seizure. The nurses ran in to attend to her. She turned pale and grabbed her chest. What is happening? I thought! Panic swept through my body as I caressed her forehead and tried to soothe her. It was terrifying. Emily’s body seemed to be fighting something and I couldn’t do anything to help her. Jesus, please help my sweet Emily, I prayed.

The episode was short and she quickly regained consciousness. Color returned to her face as sweat dripped off her brow. Even though the incident was short-lived, and she was fine, those twenty or thirty seconds felt like an eternity.

There is nothing more terrifying to a parent than to see your child unconscious and convulsing. I thought about how much I loved my girls, and how losing either one of them would end me (it wouldn’t—God is good). These girls are my lifeblood. They are my beating heart.

The intense love a parent has for a child is a beautiful part of life. Love makes life worth living. The greatest job I have as a parent is loving my children. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s not.


After loving my firstborn for so long, letting go is hard. It’s like losing an arm or a foot. She is part of me. However, I have to remind myself that she was only on loan to me for a time. She was never really mine, she was always His. She is a child of God. And nobody will ever love her more than He does.


Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids

I’ve seen it in your eyes. Christian parents have been watching their teens turn away from the faith for decades, and you fear your kids will do the same. It is never too late to tip the scales in favor of your kids developing a personal, passionate, and permanent faith in Jesus Christ.

$12.00

Bump into a Tree and See What Falls

My husband gave me the book, Blessed are the Misfits, for Christmas last year. He knows me well. I have always felt like a misfit—in my family of origin and in most Christian misfits 2circles. This is my place. This is my role. Is it okay to be a misfit? I often wonder. How does God view misfits? That is the question.

In Blessed are the Misfits, Brant challenges the status quo of what we aspire to in our spirituality.

What if we don’t fit the mold of what American Christians believe faith should look like? What if we don’t get choked up with emotion during worship songs? What if we don’t feel God’s presence at church, or feel much at all? Does that mean our faith is inferior compared to those who seem to “emote” easily?

While this is not my issue, I cry at the drop of a hat, this message of reexamining our standards of how we judge one another’s faith is worth pondering.

If you can’t rely on your feelings, how can you tell God is there, working in your life? Jesus said if you want to judge a tree, you look at its fruit. Someone might immediately, like clockwork, break down in tears of genuine emotion at the first chord of every worship song. Wonderful. But that’s not “fruit.” —Brant Hansen, Blessed are the Misfits

How can you tell if God is working in your life? Brant asks. If you are having amazing spiritual experiences? If you speak powerful, poetic prayers? If you lead an awesome ministry? “Nope,” he says. It is all about the fruit. He uses the analogy of bumping into a tree and seeing what falls. Brilliant.

Bump into a tree, and see what falls . . . 
Sometimes it’s love and gentleness . . . 
Sometimes it’s jealousy, anger, and power plays . . .
Sometimes it’s lawyers . . .   
Sometimes it’s patience and kindness . . . 
Now you see what kind of tree it is.

This analogy gives us a simple image with a profound truth. It is the fruit of the Spirit in us that God desires. Brant points out that most of the teaching in the New Testament consists of instruction on how we should live. Christ, and later, the Apostles, talk mostly about how we should love, forgive, be patient, show mercy, and foster peace—not how to evangelize.

Hansen describes this largely overlooked fact about the New Testament.

You’d think Paul would have filled his letters to the churches with evangelistic emphases, commands, encouragements, and advice, but it’s just not there. Yes, Jesus tells His disciples to “Go into all the world . . . ” to make disciples (Mark 16:15), and the Twelve did exactly that. But Paul doesn’t seem to think this was a message intended in the same way for everyone. His letters to believers have almost nothing about this.

This book challenges the group-think of the Christian community at large. Within the church are many stigmas and stereotypes. We must accept and love, not judge and compare. In matters of discernment, we must always measure things against the Word of God, the ultimate authority. What does it have to say about who or what is most highly valued?

For those of us who don’t seem to ever measure up, this book is an encouragement. Are we buying into the “one size fits all” Christianity? There is no such thing.

Yes, God is at work, but if the Bible is any indication of how He actually operates, He’s at work on the margins, not on the stages. —Brant Hansen, Blessed are the Misfits

Those who mourn, don’t pray poetically, are evangelical failures, who struggle, and who don’t have amazing spiritual stories are God’s beloved, and are blessed. The unfeeling, wounded, depressed and lonely are some of God’s most powerful warriors.

Our culture values achievement. God values those who love him and humbly serve Him.

Children of God come in all shapes and sizes. Not just physically, or ethnically, but in personality and temperament. We serve a God who loves diversity. The body of Christ is made of many parts. Though some might not be as shiny as others, each has equal value.

Misfits, outcasts, or those who are just plain different will find comfort and understanding in this book. Learning about someone who is awkward, an introvert, and one diagnosed with Asperger’s, like Brant, and an influencer in today’s culture is powerful. It gives the rest of us hope.

Together with radio producer, Sherri Lynn, you can find him on “The Brant and Sherri Oddcast,” or speaking at groups, conferences, and churches. Check out his website at www.branthansen.com.

Thank you, Brant, for sharing who you are in Blessed are the Misfits. Because you are me.

 

 

 

 

 

Well Done Good and Faithful Servant

Billy Graham went home this morning to be with his Lord and Savior. A hero of the faith. What a long, accomplished, faithful life he led for almost a century. What a gift he has been to our world.

On the way to Bible study this morning my mind wandered to what that meeting in heaven must have been like. I tried to picture Dr. Graham standing before Jesus face to face. Would he weep? Would he collapse to the ground at Jesus feet? Would he dance and sing praises to the Lord? My mind could only wonder.

Billy Graham preached his first sermon when he was around nineteen—nineteen! As the son of a simple dairy farmer in North Carolina, and in the power of the almighty God, he changed the world. According to CNN, in his lifetime, Billy Graham ministered to over 215 million people in more than 185 countries. Stunning.

Almost one hundred years. That is how long this great man walked the earth. Spreading the gospel like a wildfire. So faithful. So obedient. So in love with Jesus. And, I would imagine, so overjoyed that he is finally home.

As I drove home from the post office yesterday, the emergency alert on my phone sounded. I was on the freeway so I couldn’t look at it. I noted that the sky was clear. It couldn’t be the weather. When I came to a stoplight, I glanced at it briefly. “Emergency alert for Westfield and Grand Park,” it read. As the light turned and I put my phone down, my heart started beating faster in my chest. What was happening? I’m sure it’s nothing, I thought. Please, Lord, Jesus, protect Emily and Jessica’s school. The adrenaline was pumping and my mind raced until I got home and saw it was only a test. Thank you Jesus!

The world is a scary place in 2018. My heart breaks for the kids from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and every other student who has been affected by a school shooting. We have failed our children. The enemy now runs right past us, to them. The young and vulnerable. How could we have let this happen—again?

We are shaken.

One might wonder if our nation can continue as it had before? Is it possible? So sad. So tragic. But, as author and speaker Tony Campolo used to say, “It’s Friday . . . . but Sunday’s a-coming!”

With the passing of Billing Graham, our minds turn to the hope we have in the risen Jesus. Once and for all we can look forward to putting all this behind us and going home to be with our precious Savior one day. That glorious day is promised to those who believe.

As I picture Jesus face to face with his Billy, tears fill my eyes. I imagine Jesus’ expression as that of a giddy child on Christmas morning and of a father seeing his son return home all in one. An expression of pure joy and delight emanates from the face of the Son of God as he welcomes his good and faithful servant home. With a warm embrace, this beloved evangelist can finally rest in eternal peace with his Heavenly Father. He is home at last.

I can hardly wait for that glorious day. My soul yearns for home. At forty five. How does one wait ninety nine years to go home? I can’t fathom it.

May I suggest you meditate on the moment when Billy Graham went home. Color a picture of it in your mind. Such a sweet moment it must have been. As your imagination runs wild, set your mind on the things above. And, set your mind on the things to come. Each one of us has that moment to look forward to. The moment we finish the race. What will your moment look like?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2

Thank you, Mr. Graham.