Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Welcome Fall!

As the leaves on the ash tree in our backyard start to turn from green to yellow, and they start to fall; and as I start to see some bare branches peeking out of the tree top, there is no mistaking that the Fall season is upon us.

As I marvel at how the landscape changes ever so rapidly during this time of the year, it parallels the changes in routine for our family that comes with the Fall season. The change happens oh-so-quickly and 'just-like-that' --- school is in full swing for the children; music lessons and extra-curricular activities occupy the children's spare time; business and work pick up for both my hubby and me; different church programmes we are involved in charge full steam ahead; our Bible studies start up and my prayer group meets again.

Families today are busy, busy, busy! Sometimes it is hard to pick and choose which programme to attend or which activity to do, but I do believe that limiting the number of activities we do is a necessary decision to make in order for the family to stay healthy, not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well.

My Bible study group started studying 'Discerning the Voice of God' by Pricilla Shirer. As I did my homework for week one, I couldn't help but be drawn to this truth: to 'be still and know that I am God'. This truth caught my attention more than a few times as I studied God's Word this week. Could it be that God is trying to get my attention? I am most definitely a task-oriented person and I can not sit still! BUT, as the Fall season started this year, I have increasingly felt the need to 'slow-down' my pace (and my family's as well) in order to recharge and to refocus.

As I pondered on the truth of 'being still' before God and waiting for Him, these lyrics (from the song 'Power Of Your Love') came to mind:

And as I wait; I'll rise up like an eagle;
And I will soar with You; Your Spirit leads me on;
By the power of Your love.

Only when we are still and when we wait patiently can we hear (and discern) the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. What powerful truth!

"...the Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!"
---Isaiah 30:18 NIV

Friday, September 21, 2007

Prayer Group

I just came home from my Friday morning prayer group. This group started more or less five years ago because a bunch of us saw a need to get together and pray specifically for the local public school that all of our children attend.

While sitting there and praying with the group this morning, it amazed me how we have been praying together for five years now. The oldest of our children used to be little boys and girls just starting out in Kindergarten, and now, this group of children is in Grade 5 already! How time flies!!! I truly think that what makes this group tick is the encouragement and support that we provide each other through prayer, words of comfort and words of wisdom.

Why am I blogging about this today? I guess it is my way of giving thanks to God for orchestrating the formation of this group. It truly is a unique group because I don't think every Christian parent would necessarily have the opportunity to form a support group such as this in their own neighbourhood or community. It is truly a comfort and an encouragement for me personally to know that I will always have the prayer support of this group through Christian friends who truly care for my family.

"...let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another --- and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
---Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Dog Tags

These are my daughter's Dare To Be A Daniel dog tags. They came in the mail a few days ago. She has been eagerly anticipating their arrival for weeks now having completed the online training this past summer. She wore them to school the very next morning and came home at lunch telling me how a couple of her friends actually read the tags! That is exciting!

I prayed and asked God that morning that my daughter would get some interest when her friends see these tags dangling from her neck. I feel such joy knowing that my daughter is doing something about her faith; that she is living it out for her friends to see. It has actually been a great reminder for me --- that I need to be more intentional in my approach to sharing my faith with others!

The dog tags came with a 'Certified Junior Evangelist' ID card and this is what appears on the backside of it: As a member of the Dare To Be A Daniel Team, I purpose in my heart to honor the Lord Jesus Christ with:

My hands, as I serve Him;
My feet, as I stand firm for Him;
My eyes, as I look to Him;
My ears, as I listen to His commands;
My mouth, as I speak His truth.

That is my prayer for my daughter today. I pray that she will continue to 'Dare To Be A Daniel' and will forever look to her Heavenly Father for the strength to help her live out her faith on a daily basis!

You go, girl! I am one proud mama! :-)

"Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation."
---Mark 16:15 NIV

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
---Matthew 5:14-16 NIV

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Evening Grace

Evening Grace --- that's the title of the final chapter in the book Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel. This means that I'm finally finished reading the book. Yay for me! I must say that this has been an awesome read for me. I learned so much; have been encouraged much; and, have been blessed much by what the author has written on the pages of this book.

Here's a little bit from the last chapter:

"You have been singled out to do a favor for God. He is asking you to be His representative to a small but vital part of the next generation. He needs someone to be His voice, His arms, and His heart. He chose you.

When they (parents) realize that their job is to raise up children to love and serve God, they wonder how on earth they will do that. The answer isn't on earth. It's found in heaven. It's sitting on an eternal throne. He has many names, but among my favorites is 'The God of Grace'. You wonder: How am I to raise up children to love and serve God? The answer is actually not that difficult. You simply need to treat your children the way God treats you. If the only thing you get right as parents is His grace, everything else will be just fine."

What an encouragement! What a great tool we have --- to parent with God's amazing grace in mind and to pass on that great legacy to our children.

Monday, September 17, 2007

When Peace Like A River...

This past Sunday, I was on the worship band again. The worship experience was powerful, and so was the message that was preached. The closing song was the beautiful hymn, It Is Well With My Soul. It was sung with so much power and emotion, it was difficult for me to focus on the music in front of me. It was really moving!

This photo, which I took of my hubby and my daughter at a friend's cottage this past summer, although taken at a lake (and not beside a river), reminds me so much of that hymn's very beautiful and very meaningful lyrics. Here are my favourite verses from that hymn:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul. It is well, with my soul, It is well, it is well, with my soul. My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part but the whole, Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul! And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, The clouds be rolled back as a scroll; The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, Even so, it is well with my soul.

The sermon was on Hebrews 10:19-39 --- a call to persevere. Verses 35-39 says: 'So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised. For in just a very little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him." But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.'

What a glorious day it will be when our Lord, Jesus Christ, comes back to take us home with Him to eternity. I can't wait! Last Saturday night, we brought the kids to attend Heaven's Rehearsal. It was an awesome worship experience seeing sooooo many many people from different backgrounds and walks of life coming together to worship the Almighty God. Truly a one-of-a-kind experience! It truly was like a little sneak peek of what it will be like in heaven!!! So glad we went.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Obedient Parents

"Praise the Lord! How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying His commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed."
---Psalm 112:1-2 New Living Translation

That is the Bible verse from my devotional this morning. It is quite awesome to be reminded that my fear of the Lord and my obedience to His commands directly affects the success of my children. Get this --- 'an entire generation of godly people will be blessed' --- WOW!

I can't help but tie this Bible verse in to the book I'm reading --- Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel. Last night, I came to this portion in the book, which is sort of a summary of what the author pictures a grace-based family would look like:

"Grace provides equilibrium for a family. Where too many parents are concerned with how others view their children, grace-based parents are more excited with how God views their children. Grace-based parents avoid the silly preoccupations with arbitrary standards devised by evangelical busybodies. They keep their eye on the bubble in the level, which is their children's character. To them, keeping their children balanced when it comes to their faith, integrity, poise, discipline, endurance, and courage makes more sense than worrying about whether others think their children look spiritual enough (whatever that means). They don't make it a crime for their children to be different, to be oddballs, or to boogie to a different drumbeat. In the process, they encourage their children to find the unique individual that God designed them to be through an intimate and authentic relationship with Christ.

Grace-based parents realize that their children need security in their hearts, significance in their lives, and strength for the future.

Grace-based parenting is not a checklist for parenting; it's a lifestyle. It's a clear attempt to retrofit your minds to respond to your children in the same way God responds to you. Being different, vulnerable, and candid isn't something you do as a grace-based family; it's something you are."

May I be bold, intentional and courageous in my obedience to God, not only in striving to be the parent that He desires me to be, but in all areas of my life as well. It is my prayer and my utmost desire that, through my obedience, my children will reap the benefits of a life that is blessed!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Child Who Is Different

More on the book I'm reading --- Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel. The author discusses four different ways in which we can show our children how to find love, purpose and hope in Jesus Christ. These four ways are:

The freedom to be different.
The freedom to be vulnerable.
The freedom to be candid.
The freedom to make mistakes.

Grace-based families are homes where children are given all those four freedoms.

On the topic of 'the freedom to be different', the author said of his wife and himself: "Grace taught us that God cared more about the length of a child's character than He did about the length of his hair. Grace taught us that God was far more concerned about the song in a child's heart than the music coming from his stereo."

I learned that we need to allow our children to be different, to be unique, to be the person that God has designed them to be. Sometimes, it would mean having a child that is weird, bizarre, strange, goofy or quirky. As long as their 'uniqueness' does not compromise clearly stated precepts in the Bible, then I should allow them the freedom to express themselves. I also learned from this chapter that, most of the time, parents do not allow certain freedoms because they are worried of what others might think of them and their parenting skills or parenting style. In my opinion, that should be the least of our worries. Foremost in our minds should be that our children's need for love, purpose and hope are being fulfilled by the way we parent them.

Wow, loads to think about. But, the next time I'm tempted to tell my son not to go overly crazy or goofy...I should remind myself of this chapter. :-)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Grace-Based Parenting

I am currently reading a book entitled 'Grace-Based Parenting' by Tim Kimmel. It never ceases to amaze me just how much I still need to learn in order to become the parent that God intended me to be. It's been 10+ years into this journey of motherhood and each day still brings with it a new lesson on parenting --- that is what's awesome about it, I think.

This book has enlightened and blessed me much and I'm not even done reading it yet. It basically talks about the three driving inner needs of children: a need for security, a need for significance, a need for strength. Grace-based parents are to keep these needs in the foreground of their day-to-day involvement with their children, and everything else drops to the background. And the author literally means everything.

The book goes in depth into how we, as parents, can meet these three driving inner needs and it is by giving our children three valuable gifts: love, purpose and hope.

To meet their need for security, give them a love that is secure.
To meet their need for significance, give them a purpose that is significant.
To meet their need for strength, give them a hope that is strong.

Last night, I was on Chapter 5: A Strong Hope. A few paragraphs really caught my attention and I'm going to share them here:

"Children develop hope when they have loving parents ready to sacrifice to meet their helpless needs.

We instill a strong hope in our children when we curb our own wants in order to guarantee their needs. By living below our means and avoiding the tyranny of excessive consumer debt, we free ourselves to provide for these physical needs and keep our children from having to sense the helplessness of financial bondage.

God comes alongside us when we need it, not just when it fits best into His schedule. How we respond to our children's needs --- especially when they are helpless to do anything to meet those needs --- gives them a living example of what God wants to offer them in a much larger realm of their lives."

Wow, truly something to ponder about --- especially because we live in a society today that encourages us to move up, to get ahead, to accumulate materially far more than what we truly need, to keep up with the Joneses! I think the author hit the nail on the head with this: is the parents' pursuit of worldly wealth, gain and status robbing the children of precious time --- time that is much needed in order for parents to fulfill the children's need for security, significance and strength?

OK...I'm off to pick-up the children from school now. I can't wait to get into this book some more tonight!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Labour Day, Seven Years Ago...

Seven years ago, on Labour Day Monday @ 8:21pm, I gave birth to my little boy! I just can't believe that my baby boy is turning seven tomorrow and heading off to Grade 2. It literally feels like a blink of an eye! 'My Little Son' is a poem I came across right after my son was born. I really love the words, here they are:

My Little Son
--- author unknown
I loved you from the very start,

You stole my breath, embraced my heart.
Our life together has just begun,

You're a part of me, my little son.
As mother with child, each day I grew,

My mind was filled with thoughts of you.
I'd daydream of the things we'd share,

Like late-night bottles and teddy bears.
Like first steps and skinned knees,

Like bedtime stories and ABCs.
I thought of things you'd want to know,

Like how birds fly and flowers grow.
I thought of lessons I'd need to share,

Like standing tall and playing fair.
When I first saw your precious face,

I prayed your life be touched with grace.
I thanked the Lord from up above,

And promised you unending love.
Each night I lay you down to sleep,

I gently kiss your head and cheek.
I count your little fingers and toes,

I memorize your eyes and nose.
I linger at your nursery door,

Awed, each day I love you more.
Through misty eyes, I dim the light,

I whisper 'I love you' every night.
I loved you from the very start,

You stole my breath, embraced my heart.
As mother and child our journey's begun,

My heart is yours forever, my little son.

Happy Birthday to my little son! He is truly a gift from God, a joy and a blessing! My prayer, as always, is that he will continue to grow, touched with God's grace, into a man after God's own heart!