Praying for our Children

I don’t know how these bloggers do it y’all.  Blog every single day.  It’s hard stuff.

We had a really busy weekend.  Jojo played in a football tournament all weekend.  On Monday, he was exhausted and not feeling great so he stayed home and got some much-needed rest.  I guess sometimes you just need a day.

But over the weekend and the last couple of days, I’ve done a lot of thinking.  I’ve thought a lot about my kids.  I feel like this huge burden has been placed on my heart and I don’t know where it’s come from.  Maybe it’s been there all along and I just haven’t been receptive to it?

At the end of our women’s prayer gathering a couple of weekends ago, we all came together to pray for each other.  For the prisons in our lives that are holding us captive.  PK had us take time to pray for our husbands and for our children.  For the prisons in their lives, because who better to know what our family is struggling with than us.  We are their wives, their mothers.  We know their struggles.

It was at that moment that I realized that not only do I have prisons in my life, my kids do too.  Yes, they are only 10, 9 and 6, but I can see it.  So many children are going through anxiety, panic attacks and struggling to deal with their emotions.  We’ve been through anxiety with our older two.  It’s not fun.  It is the hardest thing that I’ve had to experience as a parent.  Especially as a parent who has also struggled with anxiety.

I began to pray for my kids.  For their insecurities, their emotions, their feelings, their heart and their soul.  I prayed for their friends and their families.  I prayed that they would choose to follow Christ at an early age and would choose to love and serve others.  From that moment until now, this burden of praying for my children and my husband has been heavy on my heart.

I was a little behind on my reading, but truth is, I was right on time.  Isn’t it funny how God brings things to our attention at the right time?  In Church of the Small Things, Melanie wrote about how a student in their community committed suicide after being bullied and how the community was rocked wondering what they could have done differently.  She writes that she may not have all the answers, but she did know a couple of things.  I wanted to share them with you word for word…

“I know the darkness wants to come for our kids.  I know that evil is everywhere and looking for a chance to whisper to them that they are less than, that they’re inadequate, that they’ll never be enough, and that their lives don’t matter.” (Pg. 104)

“What if we teach our kids that true identity and security is found in the fact that they are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for {them} to do (Ephesians 2:10)?” (Pg. 104)

“What if we showed our kids what kindness and compassion look like?  There is never any weakness in showing mercy and grace because those characteristics are the very heartbeat of God.  Let’s live in a way that teaches our children the importance of loving our neighbors and that peers aren’t our competition.  When we begin to see our own value, we realize that no one else’s successes or accomplishments diminish our own but rather we see that God has a unique path for each of us.”  (Pg. 105) Can I get an AMEN on this one???

“What if we instill in our kids the words of the apostle Paul to young Timothy, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:70)?  God doesn’t want us to live in fear.  We can call on His power and love to stand up to the bullies in this world and, maybe even more importantly, to speak up for those who are too broken and have been hurt too badly to defend themselves.” (Pg. 105)

And here is what truly hit home for me…

“The Bible says, “Point your kids in the right direction-when they’re old they won’t be lost” (Proverbs 22:6 MSG), which means it’s our job to give them what is basically a road map for life.  It takes work and perseverance and dedication to raise our kids.  It takes sacrifice and commitment and dying to self as we spend eighteen short-let’s be honest LIGHTNING FAST- years pouring into them and equipping them to be responsible, productive, kind, and ideally, employed adults.  And make no mistake; our kids will model what they see much more than what we say.” (Pg.106)

I was speechless.  18 years.  My oldest is almost 11.  Am I preparing him for the world outside of our home?  Am I showing him to be kind and responsible?  What am I teaching him and my girls with my actions?

Last week, Mackenzie asked me something that left me thinking all weekend.  She asked me if she would have to weigh her food and weigh herself when she grows up so she doesn’t get fat.  And y’all.  This really left me thinking.  She watches me.  Watches me weigh and log in my food. She sees the pictures I take to measure my progress.  Is this wrong?  Absolutely not.  Not saying if you do this, you are doing something wrong.  And I’m not saying that one day, I will come back to this.  But right now, for my family, maybe it’s time for me to focus on something else.

Maybe I should focus on teaching her healthy habits like eating clean and working out.  Focus on health instead of outer appearance…  We do this now, but my actions were showing her something different.  Maybe lowering my body fat percentage is a goal to be saved for later.   All of a sudden it doesn’t seem important anymore because all I can think about is how am I teaching my girls to be happy with who they are?  To be confident and know that they are beautiful and that they are fearfully and wonderfully made, unique in their own way.  Our outer appearance doesn’t matter if our heart isn’t in the right place.  Am I teaching them that our security, identity and significance comes from the Lord?

What Melanie said is 100% correct.  Darkness wants to come for our kids.  The enemy will take whatever it can and use it against us and our children.  It will take their weaknesses and insecurities and blow them up in their face.

Joseph and I have talked so much about our kids and how it’s time to take back our family.  It’s time to place God in the center of our lives again and to fight for our children.  To intentionally pray daily for them and for their friends.  To battle for them.  And by battling I mean praying.  Because prayer is powerful y’all.

Will they mess up?  Absolutely!  But that’s where the lessons of forgiveness and grace come in.  And above all else lessons of love.  Love like Jesus so that our kids will know Jesus.  Am I loving them like Jesus loves me?

I know every family is different.  No judgement here.  Each season is different and our journey is not the same.  But right now, in my season of life, I am choosing to be more intentional.  To take my family back and protect them with everything I have.

And it begins with prayer.  Covering them with prayer every single day.  Praying favor over their lives.

This is a lesson from my daddy.  He prayed every single day for us.  Every morning before we woke up, he was on his knees in our living room praying.  And I know his prayers are the reason that I am who I am today.  Did I mess up?  Gosh yes.  Over and over again.  But I can say that I always came back to what I knew was right.  And that’s all I can ask of my children.  That they will know what is right and that they will always come back to it.

In the end, I want them to have a relationship with Jesus.  That’s what is most important.

“Start a youth out on his way; even when he grows old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Lord Jesus, I pray for the lives of our children.  For their hearts, their souls and their minds.  Lord, I pray that you will guide and protect their every step.  That they may come to know you at an early age and follow you all of the days of their life.  Lord that they will know that hard times will come, but that you will be with them every step of the way.  Lord, help us teach our children that their identity is in you.  That they are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Lord that they will know they are beautiful.  That they are smart and unique in their own way.  I pray that you will surround them with Godly friends who love you.  That they will love and serve those around them and be a light for you.  Whatever prisons they are experiencing…fear, anxiety, depression, insecurity, bitterness, hurt…Lord I pray that you will break those chains.  Lord that you will bring peace to their hearts and minds.  Lord help us as parents, love them like you love us.  Lord teach us to be patient and selfless.  Help us be intentional with every moment.  In Jesus name…

Oh Sweet friend.  I don’t know what you are going through.  Maybe you are dealing with a rebellious teenager or those toddlers have you feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.  Whatever it is, take it to Him in prayer.  He listens friend, He really does.

I love you guys!

-Maggie

We are Created for a Reason: Session Two

Good morning everyone!  I am so thankful for this week.  This video session spoke so much truth to my heart.  If you have not watched it, go watch it now.  If you didn’t sign up for the study, you can watch it too.  Let me know and I’ll send you the link.

I don’t even know where to begin.  Everything Melanie talked about resonated with me.  I love how she reminded us that we are God’s masterpiece.  He made us carefully and thoughtfully.  We each have a purpose in this life.  If you are alive and breathing, there is a reason you are still here.

We go through life wondering if we are significant, wanting to be accepted.  We spend our time looking for meaning and purpose in all the wrong things when we know that Jesus is the “thing” that fills us up.  All the other things only bring temporary fullness.  But with Jesus we are eternally full.

But life is hard.  And finding acceptance in the worldly things brings us instant pleasure.  Sometimes filling up on Jesus means being patient and going through hardships.  It’s not easy to choose Him over things that bring us instant gratification.  I know I’m guilty of it daily.  It requires discipline.

Sometimes it means going through a period of time where we find ourselves in the “pastures” of life.  Seasons where we feel lonely, forgotten and insignificant. Those lessons are some of the hardest.  Those seasons are tough.

Melanie talked about how God sometimes teaches us the biggest lessons through obscurity.  I looked up the word obscurity and it means unknown, unimportant.  How often do we go through life wondering if anyone even notices the things we do?  As moms, I know, this is big.  We do so much for everyone and at times it can be exhausting.  We go through life making sure all of our children’s needs are met.  Wondering at the same time if we are even doing a good job.  We have different things pulling for our attention every day.  Work, bills, laundry, lunches, homework, deadlines…

But friend, God sees you.  He sees you in those hard, lonely times.  When you feel lonely, unworthy and like you can’t measure up.  He sees you trying your best to balance work and home life.  God sees us even when the world has forgotten us.  And it’s in those seasons when God is preparing us for the big things in life.

God called David to be king.  He wasn’t even in the line up when his dad presented his other brothers to Samuel.  He was a shepherd.  He was ordinary.  To the world probably insignificant.  But to God he was perfect.  He would use this ordinary shepherd to do extraordinary things.

Before David became King, he spent his days as a shepherd in pastures.  Probably alone with just the sheep.  I’m sure he had moments of feeling forgotten, insignificant and alone.  Wondering if anyone even noticed him.  My sweet friend, it’s in those pastures of life where we grow and come to know God in a more intimate way.  If you are like me, I tend to pull away when moments get hard.  I pitch a fit.  I really do.  So this reminder was huge for me.  To know that God sees me.  He hasn’t forgotten me.  The Bible says that in this life we will have troubles.  We will.  But God tells us to find peace in Him.  He tells us to take heart because He has over come the world.

God has a calling for your life.  And no calling is insignificant whether it be public speaking to a sold out crowd or washing dishes and laundry.  He has a purpose for each of us.  Going about your day, working hard in your job, being nice to the new kid.  All of those things are callings.

But maybe God has called you to something that you are not quite ready for.  Maybe you feel that uncomfortable feeling.  That feeling of wanting to say, “no Lord you chose the wrong person.”  The feeling of wanting to run away and say, “why don’t you call so and so.  They would do a much better job.”  Or maybe you know your calling, but God is asking you to be still and wait.

And the waiting….oh the waiting is sometimes the hardest part.  Melanie said something that really stuck with me.  She said that we are called to be faithful and trust even when we don’t want to.  That was such a real and raw statement to me.  I know there are days when I just don’t want to trust.  I don’t want to be faithful.  I want to fix things myself because some days I feel that will bring a quicker result.  But then that would be settling.  Settling for something under God’s plan.  And if we settle sweet sister, think of all that we are missing.  God has big blessings for you.  But when we settle we miss out.  Our pastor said something on Sunday that has stayed with me this week.  He said that God calls us to aim higher.  God doesn’t call us to settle.  Aim Higher girlfriend!  Shoot for the stars.  Embrace the woman God has made you to be and aim higher.  Don’t settle.

This was a hard post for me.  I started writing it on Monday and just felt like it wasn’t finished.  I let it sit for a couple of days and God turned it in a completely different direction.  Maybe someone needed this encouragement today.  Maybe you are in a lonely, feeling forgotten season of life.  Take heart.  God is there.  He sees you sweet friend.

Or maybe God has called you to do something you don’t want to do.  Aim higher and do it.  Experience the blessings God has for your life.  And if you are in the waiting season of your calling, be patient.  I know that’s easier said than done, but slow down and be still.  Enjoy life, even in the waiting.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Take heart friends and experience His peace today.  I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday.

 

-Maggie

 

 

Hanging by a Thread

 Anyone else feel like they are hanging by a thread and about to completely lose it?  It has been such a crazy, emotional week in all aspects of life.  Weeks like these often leave me wanting to press the pause button on life, sit in a corner and cry. What’s crazy about it is that it’s not one big traumatic event. It’s just life. It’s the little things that can be so overwhelming.

I think about how we are about to begin a bible study about the little things in life and I know that it’s not a coincidence. It’s God. He is preparing my heart for all that He has in store for us through the next couple of weeks.

And as much as I want to throw my hands up and just quit, I am pressing on friends and I encourage you to do the same.

We’ve had some deep conversations in our home the last couple of days and it’s forced me to really examine my heart. To look at the small things like the laundry, dishes, carpool and packing lunches with gratitude verses looking at them like they’re a burden. They are ways that I bless my family and I am guilty of doing them with bitterness and resentment.

So today I’m asking God to do something big. I’m asking Him to change my heart. And I’m asking Him to help my unbelief because honestly I’m having a hard time thinking He can do it. Did I really just confess that to y’all?

Ugh. But it’s true. Do you ever feel this way? Doubt that God is strong enough to do something. I am working on trusting and believing. Will you join me? What can you ask God to do in your life that you don’t believe He can do? Ask Him to do it. Choose to believe.

If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed like me and you are ready to throw in the towel because the daily mundane tasks are weighing you down, I want to encourage you to stop.  Take a deep breath in and out.  Now name Five things that you are thankful for and think of someone that you can bless today and do it.

Being thankful and serving others always helps put my heart in the right place.

I hope you have a fabulous Wednesday! We’ve made it halfway. The weekend is almost here. Be encouraged my sweet friends. What you do matters.

“Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24

-Maggie

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

You know those moments when you feel like you have it all together?  When you look around and your house is picked up, laundry is caught up, the sink is clean, the kids are getting along and you’ve cooked dinner every single night?  That was me a couple of days ago.  I felt like I was finally getting my you know what together and winning at this mom thing.  I was wearing my supermom cape proudly that’s for sure.

<Insert hormones here>

We all know the drill.  Once a month those pesky hormones come in and completely ruin everything.  Am I right?  We are crying one minute and then raging mad the next.  Our pants are a little snug because bloating and all we want to do is sleep and eat chocolate all day long.  Sorry boys.  If there are any guys reading this post you may want to go ahead and click on the x button.

You have been warned ha!

I had a hysterectomy a couple of years ago, but because I still have my ovaries I still experience the hormones.  Some months are pretty good, but every now and then there is a month where I turn into an evil monster.

<Insert evil monster here>

I’m not even going to lie.  The last couple of days have been hard y’all.  I’m taking the mask off and I’m just going to be real.  My kids were awful.  I was awful.  I was angry for no reason and so unbelievably tired.

Jojo completely broke down on me because he didn’t want to go to basketball lessons which in turn made me break down.  I was crying y’all.  Crying.  Both of us in the car crying!  And then Mackenzie gets upset telling Jojo to stop stressing Mommy out because she is going to end up in the hospital.  What in the world?  Where does she get this stuff?

I almost skipped out on small groups that night because I had nothing left.  I was exhausted physically and mentally.

But I am so glad that I went because I needed that time more than I realized.  Through our leader’s story I was reminded of God’s goodness and how he takes us where we are and restores us.

I’ve mentioned that we lost my daddy two years ago.  My daddy was the patriarch of our family.  He was an amazing man.  As I left small groups I cried.  I realized that on top of the hormones I really missed my dad.  I longed for a hug from him that night like I’ve never longed before.

Death Sucks.  Cancer sucks.

The night was a little better, but I let my feelings of defeat as a mom take over.  I started to feel guilt over the way I behaved towards my kids and my husband and then those feelings ruled the following day.  Instead of waking up renewed and restored, I woke up feeling guilty and exhausted.

Hormones are inevitable but my actions are not and I let my emotions of anger, bitterness, exhaustion, defeat and guilt take over my mind.

Why do I do that?  Why do I allow my circumstances to dictate my day?  I laid in bed wanting to feel angry for no reason.  I wanted to wallow and pout.  There was a struggle in my heart and I was fighting it as hard as I could.

Since my dad passed away, I’ve had to work hard at believing God is good.  I know that may sound awful, but when you lose a parent it crushes something inside of you.  Especially to see my dad, a faithful servant of God who fought to glorify Him until his last breath.  A man who worked tirelessly for the Lord through sickness and health.  Why isn’t he still here?

Brick by brick.  The wall was going up.  What was I thinking trusting God again?

As I drove home I began to listen to the words to the song that was playing in the background…

“And His heart is good
He is always kind
With a cross He proved
He is on our side

We are the sons we are the daughters of God
No matter where we go
We’re close to the Father’s heart
And though we stumble He will not let us fall
We are the Lord’s and He will never forsake His own
We are the sons we are the daughters of God

When the lies speak louder than the truth
Remind me I belong to You
When I can’t see past the dark of night
Remind me You’re always by my side”

And then I lost it.  I was allowing the lies to speak louder than God’s truth.  I was shutting him out, closing up my heart and building my wall.

But the song is true.  God is on my side.  I am His daughter.  My dad is no longer here, but God is.  And the painful truth is that God is enough.  As much as I wish my dad was here, God should be enough.  And I prayed and cried and asked God to heal my heart.  To forgive me for doubting His goodness once again.

As women we are stressed, tired and busy.  Between making sure the laundry is done, dishes are clean, dinner is cooked, field trip is paid, homework is done, everyone is where they need to be, uniforms are set out, lunches are packed and kids are wearing the right thing for spirit week.  The house running in order falls on our shoulders and if something doesn’t go right, we blame ourselves.  Insert mother nature and hormones and then add in some hard circumstances and we have a formula for disaster.

It’s during those moments of feeling completely overwhelmed when we begin to doubt.  We doubt His goodness because nothing seems to be going right.  We let the lies take over our mind and we forget about God’s truth.

Girlfriend, you may not think He cares about you being overwhelmed about the laundry, but He does!  The bible says that even the hairs on our head are numbered.  You are so important to Him and He wants you to bring to Him the good, the bad and the ugly.

Whatever your burden is, take it to Him.

We are not alone in this crazy world.  He is with us.  The Holy Spirit is a gift to us.  It is the seal of God upon us to help, comfort, encourage, strengthen and empower.  It is God living in us.

He is the source of joy.  All we need to do is ask for it.  He carries our burdens and turns our sorrow to song.  He proved His love to us when He sent His son to take our place.  He loves us with a love we can’t understand.

Maybe those pesky hormones have wreaked havoc over you this week.  Maybe you are going through a difficult time of grief over the loss of a loved one or someone you love is fighting a sickness and you are so close to giving up.  I urge you to cling on to Him.  Remind yourself of His promises.  God didn’t promise us a life free of the hard stuff, but He did promise to be with us every step of the way.

We can live a life of freedom because He has overcome the world.

Stop bottling up those feelings of fear, guilt, unworthiness and confess them to Him.  Take every thought captive, the Bible says.  Find a girlfriend you can share with and ask her to pray for you.  Don’t fight this battle alone.  That’s where the enemy wants us.  Alone in the dark completely giving up on everything.

 Choose to trust God.  Choose to love and choose to believe in His goodness.  Because He is good.  He is.  And if we have a hard time believing it we can ask Him to help us believe.

Rest in Him today sweet friend.  Give Him the good, the bad and the ugly because He doesn’t care.  He loves you anyway.

For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” – Psalm 100:5

-Maggie

Lessons From My Daddy

***I wrote this a couple of years ago while dad was in hospice.  I went back this morning and read through it and thought of so many of my friends going through hard times. My dad was such an amazing man who could always see the good in every single situation.  Even in his death bed-he saw good.  Oh how I miss him, but I am so thankful for his legacy and all of the lessons he taught me.**

Waiting on the Wave

I stare at the blank page trying to find the words.  I type and delete, type and delete.  But the truth is, I have no words.  I try to put the situation out of my mind, but I can’t.  My dad is on my mind the second my eyes open in the morning and he is the last thing I think about before they close at night.
I want to thank all of our friends and family for your love and support.  Thank you for your prayers, encouraging words, texts, calls and financial support.
Dad’s health is deteriorating rapidly.  His hospice nurse has told us that based on his symptoms the cancer is now in his liver.  That’s not good.
Last night we watched some of the USA vs. Panama soccer game with dad.  He began to talk to us about seeing God’s miracles even in the worst situations.  As he spoke I watched how he wiped his forehead and pinched his nose.  This may seem like a weird observation, but it’s something that he’s always done.  Going through this has made me value even the things that may have seemed insignificant in the past.  His gestures, his mannerisms, his laugh.
Dad continued to tell us about God’s miracle for him that day.  He woke up in a lot of pain.  Pain so strong it scared him because he couldn’t figure out where the pain was coming from.  He begged my brother to not leave and to call the nurse.  Mom and Josh called the nurse and she instructed them on what to do.  It wasn’t working.  They called again and the nurse said she would be there within the hour.  She dropped everything and came to be with dad.  She helped mom get the pain under control and made him comfortable.  She did not leave until dad assured her that he was ok.  He said “That my children is the miracle from God.  That the nurse came when it wasn’t her day to come and she stayed with me until I was better.  Many in my situation would just look at the bad, but we can’t do that.  We have to see God’s miracles.”  He then told us that he feels hands on his shoulders and shared with us that they remind him of a song we used to sing at church.
“I feel His hand on my shoulder to let me know that he cares about me.  I feel His hand on my shoulder, letting me know that he is always with me.”
Even at his worst, my dad still looks for God’s miracles.  Even at his worst, my dad still quotes scripture.  Even at his worst, my dad still tells us how good God is.  Even at his worst, my dad encourages me.
He encourages me.
Dad has made me see what living for Christ looks like.  He has shown me that even through the worst of situations, God still loves us and God still cares for us.
I feel like I’m in the ocean staring at a huge wave that’s headed my way.  The sky is turning dark and the wind is picking up.  This wave is growing in size and strength and I know it’s coming, but there’s nothing I can do but brace myself for the hit.  I’m scared and I know this wave will take me under, but when it passes I know I will float back up to the top. Why?  Because I’m not in this storm alone.  I’m not swimming in the ocean by myself.  My God, My Lord is there and He will not fail me.  As the lyrics in the song Oceans say,
“Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now
So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine”
As I brace myself for what’s to come, I rest in the fact that if my dad can see the good in everything then I can too.  If he can worship and praise God even in his death-bed then I can worship and praise God in the darkest of valleys.  Even when the hurt is more than I can stand, I can rest assured that God still performs miracles in our lives.  Miracles that I may miss if I’m not seeing the good in every situation.
So this morning I encourage you to choose to see the good in all situations.  Rest in His arms knowing that He will not fail you.  He never has and He never will.  As the storm gets scarier and the wave gets bigger don’t let go.  Hold onto the One who will bring you back to shore.

Image 7

-Maggie