Thursday, July 30, 2015

Can Fires be Helpful?

  As a home-school mom, I am always looking for fun and practical ways to educate my boys, inside and outside of the home. We love visiting museums and historical landmarks, but sometimes,conflicting schedules, sickness, and unexpected mishaps, keep us at home. So on those type of  days, we  watch documentaries.

      A couple of weeks ago, my boys and I watched  a documentary about Yosemite Park. It was all about the hidden secrets of  Yosemite. For someone who has never been to Yosemite, it was an  amazing spectacle, to watch! The cinematography was incredible, and it helped that we had surround sound speakers! It was as if we were right there, feeling and experiencing each moment of beautiful intensity, that nature has to offer.

The narrator explained about the effects that extreme weather has on the Park through the course of a year. The winter season brings lots of snow and ice which causes blizzards and avalanches. The fall season brings high winds and thunderous storms, accompanied by  lightning and flash-floods.The spring and summer season bring warm temperatures and dry winds that cause forest fires. The narrator stated  that every year there are many forest fires during the course of the dry season. But the interesting thing, is that not all the fires are harmful. In fact some are helpful. That statement intrigued me. How can fires be helpful, especially to a place that is known for its lush greenery and crystal blue streams? 
 There are special fire fighters that are trained to only fight forest fires in Yosemite. The reason is they need to be able to discern when to put the fire out and when to let it burn. One of the fire fighters shared that every year, new trees are growing from the ground. This can create a problem for the park because the trees are closer together, which can cause  the fire to spread faster. So on  warm dry days, the fire fighters let nature take its course and let the small fire burn up some of the trees and brush, to prevent bigger forest fires, from occurring.

What an interesting thought. Let the small fires burn, to prevent more damages in the future. I imagine to a trained fire fighter, it makes perfect sense. But to someone who is not familiar with fire and does not know how to control a fire, the idea can be terrifying!  As parents we are faced with this decision, on a daily basis. When to put out the huge fires, and when to let the smaller fires burn, to prevent bigger fires from reigniting  in the future.

For example, my two boys constantly pick on one another. My husband tells me that this is normal and that they will grow out of it. But as a mother, it is not fun for me to  watch them take each other down, as if they are two wrestlers in a ring. I have never understood wrestling. In my honest opinion, I think its foolish and I don't see any reason for it. But my husband and my boys share a different opinion on the matter. To them, wrestling is a form of communication. It is a way for all of them to bond and show who is the strongest and the fastest. It is a chance for them to show their bravery and display their warrior like skills. To say without words, feelings that can not be expressed in any other way, and fight to the death, so that they can become the King Of The Land!  Sometimes the "fights" can get a little heated and the wrestlers end up getting sent to their individual corners to cool off. But they always apologize and hug each other afterwards. These are what you would call "small fires".

Then there are the big fires. The fires that start with just a spark, and quickly  become weapons of mass destruction, devouring anything that crosses their path.  Drugs, Sex, Alcoholism,Suicide, Depression, Depreciation of Life, choices that lead to reckless living, etc. The list goes on and on. Unfortunately, the list has grown larger over the recent years and leaves me as a parent, feeling anxious and fearful for what lies ahead. I pray that I as a parent ,will never have to witness my boys suffer  at the hands of these destructive, life altering, experiences.I know that I can't predict the future, but what can I do to make sure they won't be enticed by the dangerous, beauty of the flames?
I can pray  and not flip out about what may or may not happen, and most importantly  teach them about fire safety. There are many ways that I as a parent can do this. Two ways that come to mind, are listening and praying with them. Notice I did not say TELLING THEM WHAT TO DO, or what I think they should do , but listening and communicating with them. Listening involves more hearing and less talking, and communication involves sharing, and understanding the other side. It is not a battle of the wills, but it is about seeing things from a different perspective. As a parent, I tend to take the leadership role and what I say goes. But as my boys get older, I realize that I can not be the only voice that they listen to. I need to teach them to listen to God's voice and know God's voice.

 How do they recognize God's voice and choose His voice  over others, or their own? I need to show them that I am not the destination but I am a road sign that ultimately points to Jesus, who is the final destination. John 10:27-29  says,"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish,neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand. My Father,who has given them to Me is greater than all;and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand. I and My Father are one." As parents we are commanded by God to share with our children about the truth and lead them in the right way. The first way that we do this is teach them the word of God and then lead by example. This is not an easy task but if we don't do it, then who will. There are many people who are waiting  to get their hands on our children and fill their minds with crazy lies and false hope. We need to fight for our children more than ever before! There is a war going on not just for their lives, but for their souls!  

The second way that we can share with our children about the truth is teach them to be fire-fighters.  Fire fighters are trained to not only fight fires but to recognize the signs that could cause a fire. They are taught about the dangers of fire and are commanded to take their job seriously. They rescue others from danger and they see on a daily basis the damages that fires cause.  They know that they shouldn't play with fire, because they will get burned. There is no magic potion, no exception. Fire destroys anything and everything that dares to cross its path. They also understand the cost of being a fire fighter and what it represents. They can not look at fire the same way that others do, and they know there are costs to being a fire-fighter. Most importantly, they realize there is more that they would be losing, then what they have already given up.

James 1:12-17 says,"Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has [a]been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted [b]by God”; for God cannot be tempted [c]by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin [d]is accomplished, it brings forth death. 16 Do not be [e]deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or [f]shifting shadow."

It is not our job to fill our children's minds with man's wisdom or to teach them to be Bible Thumpers'. But IT IS our job to teach them  to serve God and serve others, and to show  them how  to combat  the world's fires, with God's love.
 Jude 1:17-23 says," But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, 18 that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” 19 These are the ones who cause divisions, [a]worldly-minded, [b]devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on some, who are doubting; 23 save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh."
We need to show them what it means to have compassion for the lost, to love the sinner and hate the sin. We all are sinners saved by grace and that is the only thing that separates us from the world.

 Ephesians 2:8 says," 1And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them."

 I leave you with the words of Charles Spurgeon, " If sinners be damned,at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish,let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees,imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled,let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let no one go unwarned and unprayed for."


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Time of Weakness

Have you ever looked at your life and thought ,"What is my purpose?" It seems like such a complex question, but really, it is a  very simple answer. Let me explain. These past couple of weeks have been a time of soul searching for me. As you know, I teach home school to my two boys, Jonah and Evan, and it can get very mundane at times. I love my boys and there is nothing else that I would enjoy doing more, but life and circumstances tend to distract, and try to  pull you away from what is most important.
 I have been home-schooling my boys since they were in preschool. Looking back, I am amazed how I survived the first year. I was unorganized, impatient, tired and I had no idea what I was doing. Choices were made through trial and error, but at the end of the day, things always seemed to work out and every one was happy. Not much has changed over the years. I am still unorganized, impatient, tired and I still have no idea what I am doing. After seven years,  you would think that I would have mastered  home-schooling and  child training. But I still have so much more to learn. Every year has it's trials and bumps in the road, but it seems this year has been very difficult for me. I have been experiencing many challenges in my life personally, spiritually, emotionally, and I have realized  over the past few months, that I have  not been enjoying home-school or child -training as much as I use to. How could that be? I still follow the same schedule of a busy home-school mom, breakfast, family devotions, chores, and so on. I still remember to pray and have my devotions every morning. I try to be kind and compassionate to those who are around me, and if I sin against someone I am quick to apologize, and ask for their forgiveness. So what had changed?  My heart had changed. I was doing all the right things,  but  for the wrong reason.The Lord showed me, that  homeschooling had become difficult  because   I had     tried  to earn His  love,through good works. As a result, I had taught my children to do the same.The bible says in Galatians 6:7-8 " Do not be deceived, God is not mocked;for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life." I wasn't reaping the fruits of love and joy and peace, because I was sowing seeds of selfishness and pride. I had forgotten my purpose and what God has called me to do.So what is it that God has called me to do?  He has called me to serve. I am to serve Him and others, in love. (I Corinthians 13:1-13),(1 John 4:7-11)  That is my purpose. In fact, God has not only called me to serve but He has called us all to serve.  That is it.  A simple answer but not so easy to achieve.
So now that we know our purpose, what do we do now? We go do it. We may stumble, we may fall, we may get tired and and forget, but God never forgets. He is faithful and He  will lead us back. His love is true and will never fail.

Monday, April 15, 2013

From Little Boys to Young Men

Two weeks ago,  it was a very crazy time at our house. It all started when my husband asked me "What do you think about the boys sharing a room together?" My first initial reaction was utter terror! I thought of  late night trips to the emergency room, because of a need for my youngest to play Superman, and jump from the top of his bunk-bed. I then pictured in my mind, my two" angelic sons"fighting it out to the death on the floor, over who wants to be Batman! You may think that I am over dramatizing a little, but those of you who have two or more boys who are close in age,  are  laughing in agreement  with me. My youngest,( Evan) is nine and my oldest, (Jonah), will be twelve in a week, so there is a lot of testosterone and adrenaline pumping through their veins.

After I thought about it for awhile, I finally asked," Why do you think they need to share a room together?"
My husband replied," I think that it would be good for them. They are both getting older and they need to learn how to serve each other and get along. Another reason is I need my own office." He was right about needing his own office. My husband works from home, four days out of the week, and he uses our bedroom for his office.  I home-school our boys during the day, and  it tends to get a little loud at times.Suffice it to say, he has been very patient with us.We have lived in this house for almost three years, in the same space, and this is the first time that he has suggested having his own office. But I wasn't fully sold on the idea. I thought that Jonah should have his own room because he  was getting older. He should have his own space,his own time. The more I thought about that statement, the more I realized how foolish the idea was.

For years,I have been teaching my boys about loving and serving one another, but I hadn't given them many opportunities to do so. I was always the one reminding them to do the right thing, to think of the other person. Now an opportunity presented itself, and I was saying no? They both have had their own rooms, their own space, for almost three years now, and have they become less selfish, and more kind? The answer was obvious. No they haven't. If anything they have become more selfish. But they had learned how to become selfish, from watching me. All those times I said, " I need my time, my space", I was teaching them that it was okay to think of themselves first. As mothers, those words should not be uttered out of our mouths. God gave us husbands and children to take care of and to serve. It shouldn't be about us, we had our own time, before we got married and had children. When I was in high-school I used to dream about  being a wife and a mom, and I would pray that time would pass by quickly. Time did pass by quickly because I got married at the age of nineteen. But I waited six years to have children.

In those times of waiting, I never once thought about having my own time, my own space. I couldn't wait to have children, to hold them and play with them, to spend time with them. Now I am not saying that we shouldn't take time for ourselves. We still need to set aside time to rest and relax, but we should seek that rest from the Lord, not to satisfy our flesh.If we are starting our day in prayer and reading the bible, He will give us all that we need for the day.  Matthew 6:33 says, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." The word all means,everything that the Lord wants you to have.God knows what we need before we ask it, but He still wants us to ask.God was giving me a chance to stop this habit of selfishness in our house and  I was to lead by example. I felt emotional and sad about the change but I decided that Jonah giving up his room, was the best thing for all of us.

 The hardest part for me to handle with this change is,  my boys are growing up. They are no longer little boys, they are becoming young men. They are learning how to keep each other accountable, and are creating a connection that will last a lifetime. They will be closer with each other then they will be with me, or their dad, because they will have a bond as brothers. I look forward to  the future when they will be more like friends then roommates, but for now,  I will  plant the seed of servant hood in their hearts, and pray that I reflect the light of Christ in their lives.


Friday, March 29, 2013

What Is your Life Verse?

In a world that is full of passwords and technological gadgets, you may think I am referring to some secret code. I have many of these gadgets in my home and have about five or six different passwords currently, but I can only remember two of them. Every couple of months, I need to remember a new password to go with my new upgraded phone and then I have trouble entering my new password, because I can only remember my old password. If you are one of those who have a photographic memory, I applaud you. I however, have trouble remembering my own name at times.
No,I am not asking you for a secret code. I am asking if God has given you a verse from the bible that applies to you personally. I have a few life verses that God has given me during the course of my life, Philippians 4:13,"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me", and Philippians 4:6-9,"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving,let your requests be made known to God;and the peace of God, that surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely,whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you." I refer to these two verses quite frequently, because I am a control freak, and I worry. As a stay at home mom of two boys, I am always reciting these verses over and over to myself, especially when my youngest decides to run into the kitchen and slips and almost hits the sharp corner of the counter, or my oldest decides to ask me for the umpteenth time, what our plans are for the day. I have verses posted all around my house to remind me to stop and cool my jets, before I blow a gasket!

I remember when I was pregnant with my first son, and a friend asked me if I had a life verse for him.
She told me that she had a life verse for all three of her children, and each verse applied to them personally, and she would quote these verses over them, when she would pray with them at night. I asked if she would pray for God to give me a life verse for my son and God gave me Psalms 1:1-3," Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord,and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper." My oldest son is what you would call an "old soul'. he can talk to anyone and act as if he has known them all of his life. He loves to read and discuss the Word of God and has integrity.
My second son's life verse is Proverbs 3:13-18,"Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding;For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, and her gain than fine gold. she is more precious than rubies, And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her. length of days is in her right hand,In her left hand riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness,And all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy are all who retain her." My youngest son is very energetic and loves to explore and discover new things.He loves to sing and worship God and is
adventurous. They both love Jesus and love to serve others, but have different strengths and talents as we all do. Both of their verses refer to trees, which I find very cool, because I love trees and my favorite color is green. I love it when God does things like that. I have quoted these verses and prayed over my sons at bedtime since they were babies, and I have seen how God has instilled in them these attributes.It   also encourages me on the days when I tend to focus on my boys bad choices,  and forget that it takes time for fruit to ripen.
So now that I have shared with you our life verses, I would love to hear yours, and how God has used them in your life. That is what writing this blog is all about. Sharing our thoughts and prayers,encouraging and exhorting one another to keep fighting the good fight of faith, to not give up but to stand-fast. Hebrews 12:1-2," Therefore we also, since we ares surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight,and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

So Different, Yet So Much the Same

I love to read out loud to my two boys. I have been reading aloud to my boys since they were babies. As someone who loves to read myself, I find it can be an enjoyable and educational experience at the same time. Kill two birds with one stone, right?

Well, today I as I was reading I discovered that I was the one who was being educated more than the other two who were sitting on the floor, quietly building and stacking rocks, ( I mentioned quietly because that it is a rare experience that happens in our house, with two boys, maybe when they are sleeping, but that is another story for another time.) Anyways, As my two boys were listening intently to my words, I suddenly stopped paying attention to what I was reading. Have you had that experience where you are reading or listening to someone else speak but are not really focused on their words and your mind kind of trails off a bit? You are involved in the conversation with body language, and eye contact, but other thoughts are filling your mind at the same time. This is what exactly what happened to me. The book I was reading from today, that I am particularly fond of, is called "Ramona The Pest." I can remember reading it over and over when I was a child. I loved to read about all the crazy adventures and predicaments that Ramona would get herself into, page after page. I would find myself chuckling and giggling to myself, as I read and reread each chapter, page after page. Yet today as an adult, I found myself not laughing as much, as I was identifying with Ramona's mother, when she said, " How many times have I told you to keep your hands to yourself!"
 When you continue to say things over and over, like a broken record, it becomes less humorous, and more exasperating. When did this enjoyment of life and all it's adventures change? Why do I have such a hard time appreciating the little  interruptions that come with raising children, that could end up as a funny memory in my journal one day?
Many thoughts like these were flooding my mind as I continued to read with my mouth, but I found myself  somewhere else. Then Bingo, the answer came to me. Maybe the reason I have such a hard time is because I have focused so much on our differences as mother and sons that I have  forgotten how much we are the same. They are part of me, and they feel the same joys and hurts that I do. Though I have been commanded  by God to guide them and train them, I am no different then them. I struggle with the same sins and temptations that they do. We are told as parents that we should teach our children about love and respect, but are we loving and respecting them in return? Even now as I am writing, I am convicted by these words.
How many opportunities have I missed over the years of raising children, because I have demanded respect and obedience, but neglected to love and respect them as well? Philippians 2:1-4 says, " Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like- minded,having the same love,being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." I am grateful for these words because it reminds me that we all as parents and as children, struggle with this statement. The word of God is not meant to bring condemnation or guilt but is meant for building up and encouraging, and for instructing. I know that God sees my heart and is sharing these words with me in love and understands that though I miss opportunities He is always faithful to create new ones. So tomorrow I will read "Ramona The Pest" to my boys with a new understanding and a deeper appreciation for the little interruptions that come with training children. I will again laugh at the crazy adventures and silly predicaments that life brings to me, chapter after chapter and page after page.