Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Love and Like...

Last weekend, a close friend treated me to a Women of Faith conference. It's always fun to come together with friends to be filled up with the Word of God. It was a great couple of days, I was introduced to several new speakers I had never heard before and was also taken way back to some of my childhood favorites listening to Amy Grant and Sandi Patti. I was thrilled to hear that Mark Lowry was coming on stage (I know, weird for a women's event), and he did not disappoint- I had the best ab workout in a long time as I laughed until it hurt!

In the middle of my nonstop laughter, I had an "aha moment". He was talking about what a difficult ADHD child he was and the different ways his parents and he interacted as a result. Of course, being a comedian  he had tons of hilarious examples. Mark told of a teacher he had who shocked him one day with the news that God like him.
"I never heard somebody say God LIKED me before, I heard people say God LOVED me. You know, God HAS to love you, I mean, He's God! God is love, isn't that sort of what He does?...There is a difference you know. A lot of people I love, I don't LIKE...But, God LIKES us! God really LIKES you..." - Mark Lowry
Like: to feel attraction toward or take pleasure in, to care for.

Love: Strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties.

We all have people in our lives that we do love but we also tolerate them, and not necessarily like them - and their are people who love us but also tolerate rather than like us. 

When you tolerate someone, you avoid all the extras: coffee, nights out, phone calls, events, etc. But, when you like them you are choosing to go the extra mile giving of yourself over and above the norm.

That's what God does for us, he CHOOSES and wants to spend as much time as He can, he gives to us of Himself and blesses over and above the norm.

I know this sounds so elementary  but it's a big deal. I am not making the point to tell my girls constantly that God loves them and LIKES them and that I love them and LIKE them!

One other thing Mark Lowry mentioned that his parents did for him that had a huge effect on him. His parents always told him before he fell asleep that God had BIG plans for him and God was going to use him in a BIG way. He laughed saying that he didn't know if they believed what he was saying- but he believed it!

We have now added that to our bed time routine, after we pray and I lean over to kiss them good night I look into Tenly and Gianna's eyes and tell them, "You are so special, God has BIG plans for you and God is going to use you in a BIG way." I laugh that after I tell her, Tenly says, "Yes, Mommy, I know that!"

Oh, and sometimes I tell myself...I tend to need the reminder that God LIKES me, I am special, and He is going to use me in a BIG way because He has BIG plans for me....


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Controversial Debate...

Every year, October rolls around and the debate begins within the Christian community:
Question: "Should Christians celebrate Halloween?"
Dare I say that sometimes the "Halloween Debate" can get down right mean, ugly and judgmental.

Growing up as a "Preacher's Kid" we did not celebrate Halloween. As I grew older, I did understand why although I will admit to feeling a bit of jealousy and pity for myself as I watched all of my friends dressing up and eating candy. I do remember a couple of years that I conveniently found myself staying with a friend on Halloween just so I could dress up and have fun (The cats out of the bag if my parents read this, haha!).

The history and roots of Halloween are very evil and dark, and is understandably why Christians distance themselves joining into this type of celebration.

As I stated my own personal experience above, I also understand why Christians try to incorporate the fun of dressing up with friends in a more positive atmosphere.

I will not even try to push what my own convictions and thoughts are on this subject. Rather, my friend Ashton posted this that she found on gotquestions.org on Facebook the other day and I thought it represented both sides of the "Halloween Debate" very well. 

Question: "Should Christians celebrate Halloween?"

Answer: Whether or not Christians should celebrate Halloween can be a very controversial topic. Some Christians celebrate Halloween simply by dressing up in a costume and having fun, seeing it as innocent and harmless. Other Christians are equally convinced that Halloween is a satanic holiday established to worship evil spirits and promote darkness and wickedness. So, who is right? Is it possible for Christians to celebrate Halloween without compromising their faith?

Halloween, no matter how commercialized, has almost completely pagan origins. As innocent as it may seem to some, it is not something to be taken lightly. Christians tend to have various ways to celebrate or not to celebrate Halloween. For some, it means having an “alternative” Harvest Party. For others, it is staying away from the ghosts, witches, goblins, etc., and wearing innocuous costumes, e.g., little princesses, clowns, cowboys, super-heroes, etc. Some choose not to do anything, electing to lock themselves in the house with the lights off. With our freedom as Christians, we are at liberty to decide how to act.

Scripture does not speak at all about Halloween, but it does give us some principles on which we can make a decision. In Old Testament Israel, witchcraft was a crime punishable by death (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 19:31; 20:6, 27). The New Testament teaching about the occult is clear. Acts 8:9-24, the story of Simon, shows that occultism and Christianity don't mix. The account of Elymas the sorcerer in Acts 13:6-11 reveals that sorcery is violently opposed to Christianity. Paul called Elymas a child of the devil, an enemy of righteousness and a perverter of the ways of God. In Acts 16, at Philippi, a fortune-telling girl lost her demon powers when the evil spirit was cast out by Paul. The interesting matter here is that Paul refused to allow even good statements to come from a demon-influenced person. Acts 19 shows new converts who have abruptly broken with their former occultism by confessing, showing their evil deeds, bringing their magic paraphernalia, and burning it before everyone (Acts 19:19).

So, should a Christian celebrate Halloween? Is there anything evil about a Christian dressing up as a princess or cowboy and going around the block asking for candy? No, there is not. Are there things about Halloween that are anti-Christian and should be avoided? Absolutely! If parents are going to allow their children to participate in Halloween, they should make sure to keep them from getting involved in the darker aspects of the day. If Christians are going to take part in Halloween, their attitude, dress, and most importantly, their behavior should still reflect a redeemed life (Philippians 1:27). There are many churches that hold "harvest festivals" and incorporate costumes, but in a godly environment. There are many Christians who hand out tracts that share the Gospel along with the Halloween candy. The decision is ultimately ours to make. But as with all things, we are to incorporate the principles of Romans 14. We can’t allow our own convictions about a holiday to cause division in the body of Christ, nor can we use our freedom to cause others to stumble in their faith. We are to do all things as to the Lord.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Dreams and Prayers..

Dreaming...for my kids.

I think every parent wants to be able to give/provide everything for their children that they want/have need of.

Right now, the main thing my girls want is to go to Disney World. This is something that is a want- definitely not a 'need'- but a something that every child should have the opportunity to experience (Not sure Disney sees it this way with their prices.). It will happen....one day.

Besides Disney, I dream of my girls playing sports, dancing in ballet classes and recitals, being involved and confident in school and going to college. Our family is under some "budgeting constraints" at the moment, which are preventing some of these extras; sometimes that hurts this Momma's heart.

But, as I watch my oldest daughter struggle to find her "voice" while in school and overcoming fear, I find myself focusing my dreams...I mean prayers, on different things.

My girls will know God's Word for themselves to be true and powerful. Psalms 19:10

My girls will feel and know the confidence that comes from being a Child of God. 2 Timothy 1:7

My girls will be leaders. Romans 12:2

M girls will do what is right because it is right. Psalms 25:21

My girls will show God's love to each other and those around them. 1 Timothy 4:12

My girls will pursue the call and purpose that God has placed over their life. Psalms 138:8

I have struggled with confidence for much of my life and it has caused me a lot of pain and prevented me from pursuing many dreams- I refuse to watch my girls walk that road. That not only means that I have to declare these scriptures over them but also over myself. I hate to think that there are things they have seen in me that may be playing into their lack of confidence- but that is the reality.

The things that I want my girls to experience that are attached to monetary can bring them some smiles, fun and teach them some things- but I am quickly realizing that those things hold a strong second place in comparison to that list I just made.

We have always prayed scriptures over our children, but there is an even stronger emphasis being placed on doing so. I found myself so focused on all of the things we just can't do for our girls right now and it really had me down. Then one day after we had spoken with Tenly's teacher, it was as if the clouds parted and I was given a revelation of where I needed to focus my energy right now- not on what we can't do but on what we can do. To be honest, my girls need my prayers right now more than anything else and that is something I am extremely good at.

I have hung scriptures beside my girls beds, I want them to see first thing in the morning and before they close their eyes at night to know that according to 2 Timothy 1:7 "God has NOT given them a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

Friday, October 12, 2012

Laughing at "The Parent Rap"

Corny enough to make you smile...
Real enough that you can relate...
True enough to make you laugh at them...and yourself....

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

More of YES!!

"Just a minute.." 

"Hold on.." 

"Maybe later.." 

"In a little bit..." 

"Wait a minute..."

"Not now.." 

Just a plain simple "NO!"

These are all responses that I feel have been coming out of my mouth TOO much lately. I am thinking that "Yes" has been used less and less as a response to my girl's requests.

I mean, sometimes all of my first responses are necessary and valid. I am cooking dinner, in the middle of a conversation or meeting a deadline. You know, the times that they seem to make the requests just as you begin working on something or talking to someone.

But, there are many times that I am able to put down whatever I am doing and make doing a puzzle, reading a book, coloring or watching a movie while cuddling a huge priority! But, regrettably me and my less than perfect Mommy self has been saying everything but, "Yes!"

You hear Mom's with older kids and Grandmothers tell us all the time, "Enjoy these moments..", "Make memories..", "Spend time with your kids, everything else will still be there tomorrow.."

As true as these statements are, it is many times harder than that- at least it is for me. Even though it may difficult to stop in the middle of something- I still need to do it. My kids must know that they are more important than laundry, cleaning, phone calls and projects. There are times that they will have to wait, but that should be the "norm".

I have taken the first step in recognizing that my kids deserve better, and I am missing out on HUGE moments and memories by making excuses to do other things. But, it doesn't do any good to recognize the problem if I am not going to take the steps to change it.

I am determined to make "YES!" (And an excited "YES!" not a mediocre forced one) a very common word that comes out of my mouth to my girls.

All I have to remember is what a miracle those 2 precious girls are to me. When I think back to those doctors declaring that my girls would never even be here, it becomes easier to allow the word "Yes" to readily roll out of mouth enthusiastically.

Ephesians 5:15-16"Be very careful, then, how you live- not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity.."

PS: I finish writing this after a rough "meltdown" night with my oldest...well considering it's still going on a bit it's still not "after". Rough night at the Garica Casa.