So Thankful for My Teenagers

Sitting in the car on a cold November day while Jess was at her guitar lesson, I prayed, please, Lord, don’t let this put a wedge between us. Outside, the giant ornamental grass was waving back and forth in the wind as if it were mocking me. I looked out the other window at a mom and little girl who were getting out of their car. I watched as the sweet child followed her mother like a baby duck. And my heart ached a little. Gone are those days.

My oldest daughter and I had an argument just before we left the house. Leading up to this, we had been enjoying a few weeks of harmony in the house (sort of). I was feeling good about my relationship with Emily. Needless to say, we were due for some conflict.

The disagreement had to do with coloring her hair. I wasn’t telling her she couldn’t color her hair. I was telling her she couldn’t do it at her boyfriend’s house.

A couple months ago, she was gone all the time. She spent just about every waking moment at her boyfriend’s house. If you have had teenagers, you know drawing boundaries is not their strong suit. God created us to have boundaries. They keep us safe and they keep us healthy. The teenage years are the prime time to teach kids about boundaries.

My husband kept saying, “don’t worry about it, I was never home when I was in high school.” So, we let it go on too long. And eventually, we had to pull in the reigns. We sat her down and told her the new rules. She had to come home after school. She was not to shower, nap, or change clothes at her boyfriend’s house. And she had to be home after school until evening, be home one full day a week, and be home by five on Sundays. In other words, she needed to be reminded that she lived HERE. And that her home, where she lived, needed to be her home base.

The incident began when she mentioned she was going over to her boyfriend’s house to color her hair as she was walking out the door. After thinking it through, I texted her, telling her that if she was going to color her hair, she needed to do it at home, or with girlfriends. Not at her boyfriend’s house.

A text argument ensued until she realized she wasn’t getting anywhere, so she called me. As I paced around the house, debating with my seventeen year old, I felt as if I was walking a tightrope. The words, and my tone of voice had to be perfectly placed. Preserving the relationship was so important. I continued to say no in a calm and controlled manner, and explained why. After she gave up and our conversation ended, she texted the following:

“You can punish me, but there is literally no reason. If I was doing something wrong, I would feel bad, but I don’t, cuz I’m not doing anything wrong.”

It was such a perfectly teenagery thing to say, that I had to chuckle a little. This wrong thinking of my daughter is why she has parents. If it feels good it must be okay, right? Wrong. This age is the perfect time to teach our kids that feelings cannot be relied on, and that they must know the truth and stay connected to the vine.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 1:4

After the matter had been settled and she knew what the consequences would be if she disobeyed, Jess and I left for guitar lesson. I texted her something sweet, hoping to smooth things over, and prayed and prayed. And the next morning, we were okay. And I felt so very blessed. Emily and Jessica are the loves of my life. I never imagined how in love with them I would become seventeen years ago. I am so lucky and priviledged to be their mom. I am so thankful. Even in the tumultuous teenage years, I wouldn’t trade this time for the world.

I am so thankful for the family that God has blessed me with. I am thankful for a God who’s love endures forever and who died for me. I am thankful that God is good. I am thankful for the conversation about faith that we had with our kids the other night. I see God working in their lives. I see Him drawing their hearts to His. And I see wisdom and maturity growing. God is so good!

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

 

My Thanksgiving Resolution; WWJD

I am not big on New Year’s resolutions. I figure, if I want to better myself, why wait until January 1st? Why not not better myself on March 1st, August 24th, or today for that matter?

“But, it’s only Thanksgiving,” you may say. I know that it isn’t officially time for resolutions, but bare with me.

When pride isn’t blocking my view, the Holy Spirit convicts me of the many offensive ways in me.

As I pray the scripture, “See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting,” (Psalm 139:24) He promptly obliges. There is no shortage of material in that regard.

However, I choose to change on the Holy Spirit’s terms, not the world’s. Therefore, my resolution needs to start now, right before Thanksgiving. So, here it goes . . . .

I resolve not to be bitter this Christmas season. I resolve not to have a spirit of anger or judgment. I will not be snarky or walk around with a self righteous attitude. I resolve to shine with the kindness, love, and grace of Jesus Christ this Christmas season.

This is a tough one for me.

Each year I grow more annoyed with Christmas. Sometime in October, the soft, subtle sounds of jingle bells can be heard somewhere in the distance. And, once those jingle bells start ringing, we all go a little nuts.

I don’t have the shopping gene. There isn’t anything I would rather do less than go to a shopping mall. Especially in November and December.

I have nightmares of shiny and sparkly things. The scents of holly berries, apple crisp, Pumpkin spice, Christmas Cookies, and Balsam & Cedar candles mix into a nauseating odor. How do they know what Christmas Eve smells like anyway? Or Home Sweet Home? Or Sparkling Snow?

I dread being asked the question, “Do you have your Christmas shopping done?” With it comes pressure, so much pressure!

We are victims of Christmas. We are doomed to suffer; doomed to shop incessantly; doomed to bake candies and cookies unceasingly; and doomed to endlessly decorate our homes. We are gerbils spinning in our wheel, getting nowhere. Using up our usefulness on useless things.

It just seems like this is the season to celebrate anything and everything except Jesus Christ.

Okay, now it is out of my system. Whew! Sometimes changing starts with purging.

From now henceforth I resolve to see the best in people, not the worst. I resolve to show girl-prayingthe kindness and love of Christ no matter what goes on around me. And, I resolve to carry thankfulness in my pocket long after the leftover turkey is gone.

Why?

God has been so good to me. But more than that, it’s because God has given me life when I deserved death. How could I ever stop being thankful for that?

According to Priscilla Shirer’s Bible study, The Armor of God, “Trust fuels thanksgiving and thanksgiving activates peace.”

Trust is a choice. Having an attitude of thankfulness is a choice. And peace is our reward.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.  Colossians 3:15

Do I trust God regardless of my circumstances or feelings? Will I choose to be thankful among the chaos of the Christmas season and the seeming pagan worship?

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.  Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NKJV)

Jesus Christ is Lord and He has overcome the world. Even though everyone gets a little wacky at Christmastime, nothing has changed. God will be worshiped, and He will be victorious.

A tiny baby was born in Bethlehem who came to save the world. And, He did!

Our mission as followers of Christ does not change because we feel we have the right to be bitter and angry. Some of the callous ways that people treat Christmas feel like a slap in the face. However, we are told to turn the other cheek.

Let’s not be offended at something that is not an offense to us. The offense is to Jesus and He isn’t worried about it. In the face of insult, He responds with love, kindness, and grace. If He can do that, then so can I.

We must trust God with everything we have. We must be thankful always, everyday and in every way. And if we do these things, we will have peace this Christmas season.

The road to peace is paved with thankfulness.

Thank you so much for reading my blog post!

Praying with Power; the REESS prayer

Prayer is powerful. We can’t have a close relationship with God without it. We must spend time with our heavenly Father if we are to become like Him.  And, just like any other relationship, it takes time to build intimacy.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 Paul says,

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Many of us have heard of the ACTS prayer.

A – adoration
C – confession
T – thanksgiving
S – supplication

For me, I have found this way of praying nominally helpful, which is sufficient if I am content with a nominal Christian life.

However, I want a powerful Christian life. And this type of life requires powerful prayer. If true holy power is what I desire, I must take my prayers to another level.

Prayer is not simply ‘pray for what I need’, or shall I say, ‘pray for what I want’. Often, though, our prayers tend to get reduced to . . . .

  • be with the doctors as this person has surgery
  • please heal ‘so-and-so’ from their disease
  • give them safe travel
  • help me find a job
  • help me sell my house
  • keep our kids safe from harm

I am not saying that there is anything wrong with prayer requests. Jesus clearly tells us that we have every right to ask for these things.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.   Philippians 4:6

However, requests can’t be the extent of our prayers.

When we pray, the focus needs to be on Him. Requests should take a backseat, not be the star of the show. Yet, for many of us, our prayers are exclusively about requests.

God doesn’t need our prayers to do anything. It isn’t part of the equation that makes things happen. God doesn’t need . . . period. He wants us to pray because He wants us to know Him and receive His power. And, because He loves us and wants to be in relationship with us.

I used to be mostly a ‘casual prayer’. Most of my days were spent in and out of casual conversation with God. At home, in the car, and basically wherever I was, I could feel, and continue to feel His Spirit with me. 

“The Lord is near to all who call on him”   Psalm 145:18

Casual prayer is a good thing. It usually means that one is ‘walking in the Spirit’.

However, I started adding a time of prayer on my knees; a time of prayer that is more formal and focused. I’m not perfect and it isn’t everyday, but when I am physically and bodily in a posture of worship, I can really feel His power rain down on me.

When I focus on His holiness and His greatness and am on my knees before Him, it changes me from the inside out.

We have a God who is . . . .

. . . . high and lifted up!  Isaiah 6:1
. . . . greatly to be praised!  Psalm 145:3
. . . . mighty in power!   Psalm 147:5
. . . . the God of gods, and the Lord of lords!   Deuteronomy 10:17

And about Him, the four living creatures will say, day and night, ” . . . holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty!” Revelation 4:8

Jesus showed us how to pray. If we break down The Lord’s Prayer, this is essentially what it looks like:

Our Father in heaven, – respect
hallowed be your name. – exaltation
Your kingdom come, – expectation
your will be done, – submission
on earth as it is in heaven. – sovereignty
Give us this day our daily bread, – needs
and forgive us our debts, – confession
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, – requests
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, – sovereignty

the power and the glory forever. – exaltation

-Amen

It begins with respect, exaltation, expectation, submission, and acknowledging His sovereignty. These five parts have the place of the greatest importance. They come before our needs and our requests.

I always start with praising Him, talking about Him and His many attributes, or thanking Him for who He is. I don’t let myself pray about anything else until I have spent sufficient time focusing on Him and His glory.

Sometimes I find myself so focused on Him, that I never get around to praying for myself or anyone else.

My acronym for prayer is REESS.

R – respect
E – exaltation
E – expectation
S – submission
S – sovereignty

Focusing on respect, exaltation, expectation, submission, and acknowledging His sovereignty is the key to having a powerful prayer life.

If you want to become a powerful being, as an heir of the King, than you may need to change how you are praying.

Praying the REESS way, has allowed me to exalt God, and humble myself. And, I definitely feel more powerful because of it.

Prayer is for us, it is a gift, but it should be about Him. He is the source of all power and authority. It’s always all about His Glory.