Tuesday, March 31, 2015

From Protected to Projected: Part 5: They heard Jesus pray


John 17:15-19
“I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They are not part of this world anymore than I am. Make them pure and holy by teaching them your words of truth. As you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself entirely to you so they also might be entirely yours.”

Let’s take a deep look at John 17. Pause for a few moments, grab a Bible and read these very personal and heartfelt 26 verses. In the hours before, Jesus and the disciples share powerful, life changing dialogue about the great teachings Jesus came to leave with his people. The opening of chapter 17 says that when he finished saying all these things, he looked up to his Father and began praying and we are given the unforgettable opportunity to listen in to Jesus speaking to his Father about his most loved treasures- the disciples. Jesus begins by bringing attention to the fact that he received his disciples as a gift from God (vs.6-7) and moves onto verbalizing his discipleship training method in some detail. If we put it in a list format, it would look like this: 
  • Jesus mentions that he kept them and guarded them (v.12), 
  • Jesus told them many things (v. 13) and gave them God’s word (v.14), 
  • Jesus sent them into the world (v.18), 
  • Jesus told them God had sent him and loves the world as much as he loves him [Jesus] (vs.23 and 25), and
  • Jesus revealed God to them (v.26). 
Then, through close reading, you will find that Jesus has specific requests from God that he mentions on behalf of the disciples. Again, here it is in list format:
  • That God will keep them safe (v.15),
  • That God will make them pure and holy (v.17),
  • That the disciples will be one with other believers (v.21), and 
  • That the disciples will be with Jesus again (v.24).  
Do you see a connection between the two lists? Perhaps if blended together, the links between what Jesus did for the disciples and his requests for God to do for the disciples will be clear. Try reading them again, like this:
  • Jesus receives the disciples as gifts from God (vs.6-7),
  • Jesus mentions that he kept them and guarded them (v.12), 
        • That God will keep them safe (v.15)
  • Jesus told them many things (v. 13) and gave them God’s word (v.14), 
        • That God will make them pure and holy (v.17)
  • Jesus sent them into the world (v.18), 
        • That the disciples will be one with other believers (v.21)
  • Jesus told them God had sent him and loves the world as much as he loves him [Jesus] (vs.23 and 25), and
  • Jesus revealed God to them (v.26). 
          • That the disciples will be with Jesus again (v.24)

Perhaps, we as parents could use this skeleton of Jesus’ prayers for those he was in charge of training and preparing for the future (the disciples) and apply it as a guide to train, prepare, and pray for those we are given (our children). Let’s see if it fits. As parents, 
  • We are to receive them as gifts from God,
  • We are to keep them and guard them during training,
        • We are to pray that God will keep them safe and supply their needs.
  • We are to teach them many things and give them God’s word,
          • We are to pray that God will make them pure and holy.
  • We are to reveal God to them, and
        • We are to pray that God will provide other believers for them.
  • We are to send them into the world.
        • We are to pray that they can reveal God’s word to the world
        • And that one day they will be with Jesus again.

Let us notice a few interesting points about this passage. First, the disciples were present as Jesus prayed these things over them. They probably heard every word and felt his earnestness with which he desired these things for his loved ones. We can also see that Jesus had done his part and verbalized in detail how he equipped these followers for the task ahead. Reading beyond the final statements in Jesus’ prayer, we can see that Jesus met with God about his requests and kept moving further with the disciples. Waiting around was not an option for Jesus, he simply trusted that God was going to answer his petitions. 


So where do you and I fall in the line-up of Jesus’ model of equipping and praying for our “disciples”? With which techniques are we successful? Which ones can we check off the list as complete? 


Thanks for sticking through to the end. I'm thankful. Happy Easter week, friends!

Love,
Lindsay

Monday, March 23, 2015

Move Over Monday: The Cold Shoulder 7.20.2008


From July 20, 2008

Today, the term “cold shoulder” has been redefined for me…

You know you’ve become a mom when you’re ok wearing a t-shirt that’s been used as a snot rag and you’re not squirming your way out of it as soon as possible!

My little girl has had a runny nose today and now the left shoulder of my t-shirt is all gross. It gets even more disgusting…I grabbed a t-shirt out of my closet to lounge in the other evening. I threw it on and walked passed the mirror in my bedroom and noticed I had received the “cold shoulder” the last time I wore that shirt too. My only conclusion as to why it was not already in the laundry is because I was too tired to remember I had been used as a tissue that day as well! The joys of being a mom. ( I can’t believe this makes me smile!)

But you know, the more I think about this whole “cold shoulder” thing, the more I realize that God allows us to give him the “cold shoulder” too. Yes, we all give God the original definition of the “cold shoulder”. But have you ever felt so close to Jesus that you’ve made the shoulder of his t-shirt all gross and snotty? I’ve had hard days that ended with moments with God that were so real I am sure I left his shoulder pretty messy. Times that draw us so near to God that we are able to give him the snotty cold shoulder are tough, but what better place to find yourself than in the arms of Christ. He just lets you cry really hard when you need to.

Love,
Lindsay

Monday, March 16, 2015

Move Over Monday: The Broken Cracker



The Broken Cracker

Our smallest was crying in her car seat. Hearing that my offer of a cheese cracker seemed to settle her fears of starvation, I dug to the bottom of our snack sack and found the last package of peanut butter and cheese crackers, ripped open the wrapper, and tried to dislocated my shoulder by reaching directly behind my seat to complete the offer. The screamer refused my suggested peace offering muttering the words “it’s broken” between her manufactured sniffles. I knew trying to explain the fact that the cracker still maintained most of its value despite the flaw wasn’t going to be eagerly accepted. So as to not wake the snoozing sister, I quickly handed her the next cracker in the package after a complete inspection making sure it was perfect, complete, and whole. Enjoying the moment of silence, I muttered to myself, “just because it isn’t perfect doesn’t mean it has lost its value”.

Jesus thinks the same about us. Paul wrote a letter to the Ephesian church and reminded them that they were “dead in their transgressions and sins” – their imperfections. Our sin keeps us from being perfect. But, if you keep reading, you see that Paul brings a message of hope to a bunch of imperfect people. He says that “because of his great love for us (yep, the ones with the corners broken off- that’s us) and his deep mercy, [God] made us alive in Christ even when we were already dead in our sins.” Knowing his readers need repetition, Paul reiterates the phrase, “for it is by his grace you have been saved” a number of times. We need to hear that too.

Sometimes we just need to be reminded that our imperfections don’t cause us to loose our value in God’s eyes. He sees beyond the broken corner and still deems us the perfect choice for his purposes.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

From Protected to Projected- Part 5- NASA


Thanks for stopping by today. If you are new around here, you can find the previous 4 parts of this series, From Protected to Projected, by scrolling down and looking to the right or by clicking here

Part 5- NASA

A documentary reviewing the history of National Association of Space and Aeronautics or NASA during the time of the Apollo 11 projects uncovered, what I thought was an alarming statistic. The crew of engineers responsible for building, testing, repairing, and maintaining the equipment and vessels used during the 1960’s had an average age of 28 years old. Today’s crews for NASA engineers average 47 years old. This short dialogue in the documentary might not have jumped into the minds and hearts of many watching, but it is proof that we have babied our children into thinking they are not capable to be successful leaders until they are a certain age. We keep them dependent on us as their parents and prevent them- albeit good reasons at times- from walking through the plans God has for them at the time he has called them. 

Honestly, I would shutter to think that many of the potential professionals available for hire soon after college in fields as risky as NASA engineering might be assigned to the college grad who’s partied next door to my house every weekend for the last semester. My fears aren’t based on his inability to process complex engineering problems, but more on the trend of his peers and their inability to grow up- or better yet- his lack of opportunity to grow up. Our college students of today aren’t prepared for real life because mom and dad have taken care of all the details for them since they were drinking from bottles as babies. 

The Wall Street Journal reports that parents today are found to be still paying cell phone bills for their 29 year old adult children who are married and have dual incomes.This trend is so widespread, that the newspaper even suggested ways to gently ease the adult children off of their digital allowance to “make them start paying for overages, require them to manage the family bill, and pay for only one year after graduation.” (Lawton, 7/7/2007) I realize that parents just want to take care of the children and make sure they have all they need, but at what point do our good intentions become the very things that are keeping our kids dependent on us and never reliant upon their own ability to hear and follow God? 

Dr. James Dobson, Ph.D. writes that “we try to make all their decisions, keep them snugly beneath our wings, and prevent even the possibility of failure. In doing so, we force our young adults into one of two destructive patterns: either they passively accept our overprotection and remain dependent “children” into adult life or they will rise up in great wrath to reject our bondage and interference. They lose on both counts.”


There is a middle ground that we must find in order to raise our children with the intent that they become God-reliant and purposeful assets to the kingdom of God. Where is the middle ground? Where would you place yourself on the continuum of Parental Protection? 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Move Over Monday: My Face



Thanks for stopping by the blog today. In case this is your first visit, you've stumbled upon my Move Over Monday series. Each Monday, I pull a post from my old blog and bring it back to daylight. It's fun to re-read old things, especially when it's about the kids or life before kids.

My Face
My little Adi is learning to pull up these days. She is even standing alone for a few seconds right now. For the past few weeks now, she has become entranced with my face. Or anyone’s face for that matter. She wants to touch every nook, cranny, wrinkle, and corner of my face. She pulls open my mouth to discover what’s inside. She is curious about it all right now. My little sponge even has learned to turn my cheek so she can get a better view of which ever part she is investigating at the moment. She will work all her might to crawl across the room, over my legs, and into my lap just to look at my face. I often wonder why my hands or feet don’t offer such excitement to her. But again, this makes me think…

How hard must my little one have worked to get to me. I doubt she took into account the obstacles she would face as her little legs and arms quickly squirmed back and forth.
The toys.
The dog.
The big sister.
And the miniature recliner.

What would be our equivalent to her trek across the large living room? What would make us want something so bad that we aren’t even distracted by what’s around us?
The fun things.
The odd and furry things.
The noisy things.
And the comfortable things.

Oh, that my heart would want to work my hardest to get to Jesus and just explore his face. That I would dismiss the distractions around me just to turn his cheek so I can really look into his eyes and discover what he truly looks like. That I would take the time to learn about the wrinkles around his eyes. And that I would continually squirm to keep requesting more of his attention.

Hear O Lord, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says, “Your face Lord, I do seek.”
Hide not your face from me.
Psalm 27:7-9a (ESV)


Thanks again for reading today. Come back tomorrow to continue in the From Protected to Projected Series. Feel free to share any of these posts with friends and family that might find it helpful.

Love,
Lindsay

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

From Protected to Projected: Part 4- Our Most Prized Possessions


As parents, if we are honest with ourselves, we would probably say that we are more frightened by what the world has to offer our kids rather than our kids hunting down the evil for themselves. We fear that Satan and all his cronies will be lingering around every corner and snatch, harm, and lure our kids away from the truths that have been taught to them. Being a mom, I fear that my girls will be lied to and they’ll find themselves confused. Other parents fear their sons and daughters will not be able to stand up to the temptation offered by the world. These are all very real things that happen in our society, but they aren’t new. None of the sin that is in our world today is fresh. Satan has been around the block a few times and just reuses his strongest weapons over and over again. Knowing he is crafty at what has been done before, our families can be armed and ready to face the schemes he thinks will snare us. However, at this strategizing point of the battle plans, Christians often fall prey to fear and retreat. We run and hide in the bunkers of our buildings and safe havens. We find Christian shirts to wear, we use Christian lingo, and we surround ourselves with Christian people, activities, and teachers. Perfect!

Not so perfect, my friend. May I bring to your attention that this might just be Satan’s greatest weapon? If Satan can gather all the Christians that really love God and truly want to be Christ-like, and keep us all together in the same buildings speaking terminology that nobody but us understands, then I think he might have gotten a step ahead of us in our own battle plan. He has scared us stiff and we’ve all gone running away from the very people we are called to serve and share the message of the Gospel with! Our of fear, we use the “monastery parenting” approach, as Wyrtzen calls it and we try to build walls high enough to keep the evil out forgetting that the origin of the sin of this world is found within our very internal nature due to the fall in the Garden of Genesis. Jesus said “It is the thought life that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, eagerness for lustful pleasure, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All of these wile things come from within; they are what defile you and make you unacceptable to God.

The barriers we place around ourselves and our kids can’t be built high enough or bunkers deep and thick enough to protect against such snares of the enemy. These snares lie within our hearts. Yes, there are horrible parts of the world that we can, and definitely should, shield our kids from such as pornography, abuse, and the like. But we need not ignore that these things happen in our society and intentionally teach our kids about them so they are armed with the truth to fight the battles they will face in the same world we are called to love and serve. Wyrtzen goes on to write that the children that are raised in such “monastery” homes tend to be the ones that flea such sheltering and raise their own children with a no-rules policy out of desire for freedom and discovery.

So not only does living behind a barricade leave the child thinking that sin only lives on the other side of the wall, but often causes him to respond negatively simply because he so desires to discover what’s out there. When one is raised with this “bunker” thinking, life’s motto becomes “life is only about surviving and enduring our time on earth until Christ returns or we go to meet him in death” and not really about the instructions Christ left us found in Matthew 28:19-20 to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit".

My question to you, as a fellow Christian, is to what extent is the protection of the hearts, minds, and bodies of our children left in the hands of Christ? How far are we willing to let God take our kids before we pull the reigns of authority and cry “too far God”? Are we bold enough to pull parental rank on God’s call for the lives of our kids? Please don’t assume that I am encouraging you to throw caution to the wind and release your children into any wavering notion they come across in life. Don’t neglect to use the wisdom God provides parents. Sometimes the perspective of a parent can be just the footing necessary to ground the flighty thoughts of an excitable young adult. God has a trajectory planned for our kids’ lives and we need to be ready to release that energy that propels them into the correct flight pattern. 
Interacting with college students everyday gives me a chance to see the outcome of parenting strategies across the board. I’ve come in contact with healthy, strong, confident, able, and focused students and I’ve met worried, fearful, hidden, and unhealthy young adults. In most cases, there is a direct connection between the health- both spiritual and mental health- and the strengths or weaknesses of the parents. Not to say that mothers and fathers reproduce themselves, but simply that choices, goals, and motivating factors parents choose when raising their kids have a strong impact on the child. Some Christian students fear befriending the hallmate known for partying on the weekends for a few reasons, either they don’t want to be associated with such individuals for fear that others will assume they participate accordingly or they fear the lure of the temptation to party with such drinkers. In the end, both students loose the chance for growth- the partier doesn’t develop a friendship that could draw her closer to Christ and the Christian lives in fear of falling into sin or a potential strike on her reputation as living a pure lifestyle by not associating with such sinners. This type of timidity causes a false sense of pride and drives the divide between believes and non-believers wider. 

As Christians we aren’t called to love and obey God with just our own priorities, finances, and friendships, but with our most prized possession as well-our kids. Let us not fear releasing our children into the plans and purposes God has for them. Let us not fear training them and impressing upon them the scriptures we’ve found so true in our own lives. Let us not fear the work laid before them and do what we can project them onto the pathway marked out for them. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Move-Over Monday: Twenty-One Sleepy Shuffles


In honor of finally doing the hard task of sleep training my third baby these past seven days, this week's Move-Over Monday is a little reminder of when my oldest was a little, crib-sleeping baby. I have learned so much since these days mentioned below, but still find such strength knowing that God knows and cares for me. Please enjoy (and share ;)). 


Twenty-one Sleepy Shuffles

My determined march is only 23 feet, 5 inches long. My sacrificial stroll is the same difference from my computer to the fridge.

So why is this walk so hard to happily hike?

Not to be over dramatic, but these 21 shuffles often require more from me than my 45 minute cardio workout. Perhaps it’s because this nightly jaunt is not completed per my own request, but rather by the needy cries of another. As any young mom knows, midnight feedings, 3am feedings, or 5am feedings are probably the hardest part of serving a small being weighing in only slightly more than a bag a potatoes. It’s a constant reminder that my nights (and days, for that matter) aren’t my own. My eating habits, to-do lists, shopping trips, and priorities have shifted greater than any other time in life…and all for the purpose of one.

My brain has now been trained to filter every detail of our family’s life around the needs of our half-pint. Do we have a diaper bag packed? Have the warm pajamas been washed yet? Will the restaurant have a high chair? Are baby noises accepted at this gathering? Did I remember to change my shirt covered in kid-ooze? Yadda, yadda.


So why is this march so tough to complete without complaint?

All theatrics aside, it’s hard because my will is not my own. My time is not my own. My sleep is not even my own anymore. (Geez, this sounds so self-centered…) As a mom, you give up your right to be #1. You are now serving another. Ephesians 6:7 says to “serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men.” Truthfully though, this is not something I wanted to be reminded of at 3:37 in the morning when abruptly awakened and summoned crib-side. I remember many nightly walks pausing only momentarily to take a deep breath and whisper a quick, life-sustaining prayer as my feet hit the floor, when turning down the roaring baby monitor so my husband could keep sleeping or as I opened my bedroom door to cross the hall.

During these nights, I am obviously thankful that Jesus knows my name (John 10:3). But I always find more comfort in the fact that my God is so tuned into the details of my life that he thought to remind us that “he gently leads those that have young” (Isaiah 40:11). Did you catch that? In the middle of our sacred scriptures, is a short, powerful, loving, tender passage reminding us that he fuels the fueler. He resources the source. He guides the guide. He nurtures the nurturers. He leads the leader. He tends to each one of his flock. Even me, as I make the sleepy shuffle only 23 ½ feet from my bed. Even me, as I pick up my tiny one and hold my breath when my sit down in the cold rocking chair knowing the chill will only last a short moment. Even me, as I fight not to fall asleep while feeding the baby in hopes that I won’t get a permanently crooked neck. Even me, as I gently lay my bundle of joy back in bed in deep slumber and silently cheer that I might get a few more hours of precious sleep. Yes, God cares about me and my slow surrender to another. God cares about me as I learn to submit myself to the needs of someone else. Absolutely, God cares that I am tired and must continue to plod on. I’m just so glad God cares.

Thankfully, my little spud sack is sleeping longer these days…



Only slightly more rested, 
Lindsay