Parenting

Proverbs 31 Ministries – How Many Times Do I Have To Tell You?

Proverbs 31 Ministries - How Many Times Do I Have To Tell You?

How Many Times Do I Have To Tell You?

A Guest Post at Proverbs 31 Ministries

I have a dare for you. It’s simple. But it’s definitely not easy. I believe it can be the turning point of your relationship with your children and with your heavenly Father.

Look at the list of things you say most often to your children. Do you hear your heavenly Father whispering the same things to you?

Be honest. Let the words sink in. What is God saying to you?

I’m over at Proverbs 31 Ministries today with thoughts on our words – what we hear and what we say. Hop on over and tell me what God might be whispering to you.

In His Grace,

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Your Name Here

Your Name Here

Your Name Here

Remembering names is not my gifting. I want to remember—really I do—but I’m not very good at it. I’m better with faces. Although I don’t like name tags, I need them. If we’ve met, and we see each other again, I’m hoping that grace will prevail. I will reintroduce myself and maybe we can share a laugh!

But God knows each of us intimately. Scripture talks about Him knowing the number of hairs on our heads. Perhaps more profoundly, He knows our thoughts, even our days. Those are things that I don’t even know about me.

My hair isn’t as thick as it once was, but I don’t know the exact number of lost locks. My thoughts often seem scattered and unfocused. And my days? Those are crazy (most of them)—not necessarily in a bad way, but full. And while I’m a planner, I rarely remember what I had for dinner yesterday. I’m glad God knows those things, but they seem impossible for me to know.

It’s the fact that He knows my name. This blows me away. And I think it is so wonderful. My name. Mine. The name my parents gave to me. The one my husband whispers, the one my friends call, the one my kids repeat. I’m not a number to God. You’re not a number. He doesn’t ever forget my name or yours. You are you, by name. I am me, by name.

It must have been startling for little Samuel to realize that God was calling his name, not Eli. God was saying, “Samuel, Samuel!” God’s voice, not just the priest’s. While Samuel listened to and obeyed Eli, while he wanted to be attentive, the sound of his name spoken by the Almighty had to be a powerful moment.

And what about Saul on the road to Damascus? Talk about a crossroads. Saul, passionate about upholding the Law and the traditions, led the charge in persecuting the Christians. He went door to door. He was actively imprisoning men and women. He stood in direct opposition to Jesus.

Then as he was on the road with his companions, set on finding more believers and punishing them. Jesus spoke to him from a bright light, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Saul was literally blinded by the light. Jesus called him out and gave him a new name, Paul.

The calling of the disciples is a part of the story that we often read as if it isn’t significant or substantial. Wait just a minute. Jesus called these men by name, and they followed Him without question or discussion leaving their work behind them.

Might there have been something different about the authority with which He said their names? Did He exude the qualities of a leader that drew them to His side: confidence, direction, charisma? If we could ask them, I would bet they would say they couldn’t quite put their finger on it, but there was something in the way He looked them in the eye when He offered the invitation by name with the words, “Follow Me.”

Jesus called Mary and Martha by name. This happened on two very different occasions, and in both instances He did so with gentleness and compassion. Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, “ when she had become frustrated with her sister about helping her in the kitchen. Mary seems blind to all that needed to be done and was just sitting and listening to Jesus.

Jesus wasn’t calling Martha out. He didn’t seek to embarrass her. He wasn’t intent on making her feel bad. No. Jesus softly spoke her name. He wanted her full attention. I’m sure He looked her in the eye. “Martha, Martha.” Jesus wanted Martha to listen to Him, not be distracted by what wasn’t being done around the house.

God knows your name. And He whispers in a thousand different ways. It’s in the wind of a storm, the quiet breeze at the beach. You can hear it when the birds sing or the soft rain falls. Sometimes your name is clear in your heart. And every time you hear it, lean in and listen. He knows your name.

#HMTimes Book Club Chapter 43 - There's nothing like the sound of my Heavenly Father calling my name.

 

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Be Still

Chapter 38 - How Many Times Do I Have To Tell You? Be Still

Be Still

 

What if our seeing all that God wants to show us isn’t about us looking harder or praying harder or doing more? What if it isn’t about us being more discerning or wise or focused? What if, it’s about us being less busy. Walking slower. Pausing. Breathing. Lingering.

Be still must be accompanied with be quiet, “Shh!” They go together. Being still without being quiet negates itself. Being still and being loud misses the point. The point of being still is being quiet, being stilled.

This is a soul stillness that few of us regularly practice. A stillness from the inside out. It’s a stillness that is manifested on our faces as a peaceful contentment. In our actions as selfless service. In our devotions as pure and lovely. Stillness.

It’s the Divine, “Shh!”

In a breeze or a sunrise or the bird’s song or the flower’s bloom. It says, “Hush. Pause. Breathe.” It urges. It insists. It encourages. It draws. “Shh.”

It isn’t harsh, but still halting. Not obtrusive but mild. Not demanding but rather inviting. It doesn’t require but instead welcomes.

Sometimes it presents in the middle of a storm, a tempest that rages and roars around us. When the world seems to be falling apart. When life shatters. When our wounds are raw, our eyes are red, our pillows wet.

Sometimes it echoes when panic surrounds and threatens us. When our head is spinning. When we flustered and overwhelmed, we’ve lost our way and we feel trapped. In the distance we hear it, “Shh-“.

“Be still” and “be quiet” go together. They’re inextricable. They go together. Impossible to separate. Being still means being quiet. Being still without being quiet isn’t possible. Many of us try to practice being still without being quiet. We hope that no one will notice.

We sit still but we aren’t really still. Physically we are motionless, every muscle unmoving. But spiritually our souls aren’t. And our minds are racing. We’re merely still on the outside. We wonder why practicing being still isn’t benefiting us, why we get up and still feel empty, stressed.

Really being still is not about being physically still. Being still on the outside, is an exercise in controlling ourselves physically. And as challenging as that is-more so for some of us than others-it’s being still on the inside that is the real challenge. And, it’s being still on the inside that makes all the difference.

My mind is constantly racing, lists of things to do, projects, calls, meetings, emails, dinners. ‘To do’ lists swirl with, responsibilities, dreams, and ideas. I think about conversations I need to have, notes I need to write. My mind runs and chases, stresses and configures, considers and imagines.

God’s invitation, His gentle, “Be still,” is a providential proposition. It’s a omniscient offer, a sovereign suggestion. He’s asking me to lean in, to quiet myself, to rest in Him. To trust Him. To allow Him to do what only He can do-His good, perfect and pleasing will.

In the Old Testament, in Exodus, Moses led God’s people, the Israelites. God had prepared Moses to led as a shepherd and he was well prepared for his task. (You can review the whole story in Exodus 1-14.) In summary, God had brought Moses to be the Deliverer of His people out of the bondage of slavery under the Egyptians.

God had worked wonders through the 10 plagues and in fact had caused Pharaoh to release the Israelites. But not long after they had left and gone into the desert, Pharaoh changed his mind. He gathered his forces and went after God’s people. It was at the edge of the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s army to their back that Moses said to the people, “Do no fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today…The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.” (Exodus 14.13-14)

Here is a perfect example of “Be still”. In a moment of crisis, with their enemies at their backs and the vast Red Sea in front, Moses essentially says, “Be still. God’s got this one. Don’t panic. Just watch and see.”

“Shh!”

Wow. When I want to panic, when all seems lost, when the odds are against me, when I’m lonely, defeated, and far from home. When I’m weak, worn-out and weary. When I’ve messed up again.

So, whose at your back? What are you facing? Does your situation seem impossible? Does it seem that there is no way out? Like all of your options are gone? Along with all of your hope? Do you feel like your back’s against the wall? That you’re between a rock and a hard place? Even out of wiggle room?

Me too.

I tend to want to try and fix everything, everyone. I want to make it better. I’m willing to apologize, and I do. I’m willing to make amends and I have. I do whatever I can to bring about peace and reconciliation. But sometimes it’s not enough. And He whispers, “Shh-“

Let’s dare to hear His “shh” and respond. Let’s dare to be still. To be quiet. To be stilled. Calmed. Silent. Let’s dare to lean into who He is. Let’s dare to be still when everything around us is spiraling. Let’s dare to be still when we don’t think we have time to. Let’s dare to practice His presence. Be still.

 

Chapter 38 - The enemy knows the danger to us when we become distracted by busy work. @RachaelCarman #HMTimes #HearGod #parenting

 

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How Many Times Do I Have To Tell You – NO

How Many Times Do I Have To Tell You - NO!

How Many Times Do I Have To Tell You – NO

Not only do we dislike saying it, we don’t like hearing it either. In fact, I used to think that growing up meant the end of “no.” After all, I would get to make the decisions, and I certainly would not tell myself “no.” I would tell myself “yes.”

I would tell myself  “yes” to Ding Dongs and Oreos and Twix. I would tell myself “yes” to the whole jar of peanut butter, the whole can of whip cream, the whole 3-layer cake. “Yes” to staying up as late as I wanted, watching whatever I wanted, sleeping in the next morning as late as I wanted. “Yes” to expensive shopping sprees and indulgent vacations. “Yes” seemed to be the ticket to freedom, to adventure, to excitement, to satisfaction. But alas, it’s just not true.

“Yes” isn’t the ticket to freedom, not really. In fact, habitual and uncontrolled “yes” without self-control and discernment, without wisdom and restraint, can actually be the road to slavery. It can lead to a prison of our own construction, by our own hands. While we may be free to say “yes” to whatever we want to say “yes” to, doing so doesn’t bring us more happiness. Actually it only leads to emptiness.

What if hearing “no” from our heavenly Father is not negative?

What if it’s not mean?

What if it’s not insensitive?

What is it’s not oppressive?

Is it possible that a sovereign “no” is actually beautiful? Could it also be loving, considerate, gracious, and merciful?

We’ve vilified the One who knows us best. He created us. He has a plan for us. He died for us. When He says “no” we often think that either He doesn’t hear us or that He doesn’t care. Neither are true. He does hear. He does care. In fact, He cares enough to say “No.”

Scripture tells us that Paul wrestled with an unknown ‘thorn in the flesh.’ We read that he asked God repeatedly to remove it. That’s a simple enough request for the God of the universe. Seems to me that Paul’s ministry might be stronger without the thorn. It’s distracting Paul, discouraging him. Paul was a bold and courageous minister of the Gospel. He deserved for it to be removed, deserved for God to say “yes.” Surely if God removed the throne, Paul would have testified of God’s goodness, compassion, and power. But God said “no.” Paul was assured that “My grace is sufficient; My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

God’s “no” wasn’t and isn’t flat or flippant. It was and is rich and multi-dimensional. God’s “no” is actually more like an invitation to go to a deeper level of trust, love, and faith. When He says “no” do we trust Him enough to know that He still loves us? Will you still believe that He has a plan for you? Can we dare to trust that He is enough no matter what the circumstances?

God is not the supreme sugar daddy. Nor is He our bellhop, constantly waiting for us to make a request to fulfill. Neither is He the highway trooper who lies in wait for us to mess up. He doesn’t carry some cosmic lightening rod ready to zap us when we mess up. God is good all the time; all the time God is good. But that doesn’t mean He is obligated to give us any and everything we ask for. He loves us more than that.

Besides, He has already given us everything we need for life and godliness in the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. We have forgiveness of our sins and the hope of life eternal with Him. “The joy of the Lord is our strength.” He walks with us each day. His Holy Spirit lives inside of us and guides us. He grants us strength for each day. He has lavishly given us all we need.

Here again, the “no” we receive is a lot less about us and a lot more about Him. When we hear “no” we take it personally, and often allow our emotions to get the best of us. We whine and complain when we get a “no.” For what it’s worth, we wouldn’t and shouldn’t allow such behavior from our kids. But we mope. We sulk. We pout.

Think about that for a moment.

What God says “no” they are a divine set up for His glorious plan, for His protection, for His provision, for His praise. God’s ways are not our ways. We base our plans on things making sense. We’re admonished, “lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.”

His path takes us straight to Him, straight through sanctification, straight to selflessness, humility, and love. His path takes us to the end of ourselves, through the valley of the shadow, through fire and water. On this side of eternity, it’s wonky, full of ups and downs. Sometimes we’re on the path, sometimes not. From this side, His designated path for us doesn’t look straight—at all! But from the perspective of eternity, it’s a straight shot. It’s the way we need to go.

“No.” It’s a little word filled with protection. “No” knows better. It knows that there are things we cannot see, things we underestimate, things we don’t think matter. God’s “no” says, “I love you, and I know what’s best for you. Trust Me. The answer is ‘No.’”

Chapter 34 - We need to respond to His "No" the way we wish our kids would - in complete trust & yes, even gratitude. @RachaelCarman #HMTimes http://amzn.to/23XG0w4

 

 

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I Love You

#HMTimes Book Club Chapter 13 - I Love You!

I Love You!

As discussed in the previous post, “How many times do I have to tell you?” God’s overarching message throughout the Bible is “I love you!” God’s common grace surrounds us in His creation, His handiwork, the clear evidence of the Creator of the universe.

God doesn’t offer us a formula for religion, an experience. He isn’t far off and away, uninterested or uninvolved or indifferent about us. Our heavenly Father offers us a relationship with Himself. He extends to us an invitation to us for intimacy. Not just an association or an acquaintance or an affiliation, but a deep and abiding friendship. God offers us Himself, to know and be known.

The relationship includes vulnerability on our part, a willingness to submit to Him and His will. Submitting is a beautiful act, it reflects a grateful heart. A grateful heart is a humble heart. A humble heart knows and acknowledges God and doesn’t seek to replace or supplant Him.

Submission trusts God to do what brings Him glory and us growth. Submission allows God to be God; it leans into Him and rests in Him. Submission isn’t easy or natural. But He is patient with us when we wrestle and even rage, when we ask questions or insist on our own way, He remains squarely on the throne, arms extended, love out pouring.

He is the Sovereign of the universe whether we acknowledge Him or not. Our rebellion to the great I Am does nothing to diminish Him. We are the only losers when we choose to reject or ignore or despise His love. His love to us is a free gift. The cost? Our arrogance, our pride, our selfishness and our greed. Death to self. That’s all. Not much, comparatively speaking. I mean we are like dust.

When we spurn His love it breaks His heart. After all, He sacrificed His only Son to pay our sin debt. Only the perfect Lamb of God-Jesus Christ- could pay our penalty. We can’t pay it because we are sinners. Every one of us. Sinners.

Even if I chose to die for a friend, in an effort to pay the price for their sin, it wouldn’t matter. A sinner dying for a sinner cannot pay the price. Only perfection can pay the price. Jesus was the spotless Lamb of God. His perfection qualifies Him to be the payment.

It was a price He paid willingly, not because anyone made Him or under compulsion, but because He wanted to glorify the Father. See, glorifying the Father was always Jesus’ focus. It glorified the Father for Jesus to give His life as a ransom for many, for you and for me. That’s love. Our Heavenly Father’s love.

The hymnist writes:

What manner of love

The Father has poured out on us

That we should be called the sons of God.

What manner of love indeed. That the Father poured out. Lavish. Abundant. Extravagant. Radical. Abundant. Beyond all we could ask or imagine. Beyond. This is the “I love you,” resounding from the throne of Grace, from the Holy of holies, from Heaven itself. “I love you. I’m your Father and I have great plans for you.”

Your birth. “I love you.”

His plan. “I love you.”

Your salvation. “I love you.”

His sacrifice. “I love you.”

Your sanctification. “I love you.”

His Spirit. “I love you.”

Your growth. “I love you.”

His glory. “I love you.”

He wants the best for you and me and the best for us is less of you and me, none of you or me in fact and more of Him. Trusting Him, Depending on Him, Following Him. Being kind and generous and diligent and forgiving. Those are the activities of His children and the behaviors of His children.

Jesus’ birth. “I love you.”

Jesus’ ministry. “I love you.”

Jesus’ death. “I love you.”

Jesus’ resurrection. “I love you.”

Jesus’ sure return. “I love you.”

 

“He (God) who did not spare His own Son (Jesus), but delivered Him (Jesus) over for us all, how will He (God) not also with Him (Jesus) freely give us all things?”

God’s message to you?

“I LOVE YOU!”  (In all caps, boldfaced, underlined, exclamation point.)

Chapter 13 - When you know someone loves you, it puts all their actions into perspective. @RachaelCarman #HMTimes #HearingGod #Parenting http://amzn.to/23XG0w4

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How Many Times Do I Have To Tell You?

#HMTimes Book Club Chapter 9 - How Many Times Do I Have To Tell You?

How Many Times Do I Have To Tell You?

Remember

From the throne: an invitation

Peter do you love Me?

I love you-

Things said in triplicate.

Thought question – name some consistently repeated messages in the Bible. You know, ideas or themes that run through all 66 books. Take your time and consider it.

What was creation all about? Who was Job? What about Noah and the ark? Abraham? Isaac? Joseph’s rise to power in Egypt? Moses’ last message to the Israelites? What about the lives of Jeremiah, Isaiah and Daniel? And Ruth, Esther and Bathsheba? The prophets, miracles, 10 commandments, plagues?

Why Mary and Joseph? Elizabeth and Zachariah? Who were the disciples? Why did Jesus come to earth? Who was Nicodemus? The blind man? The woman at the well? Why do their stories matter? What about Mary, Martha and Lazarus? What are miracles and what do they mean? Why did Jesus have to die? When did He rise again? When is He coming back? Who was Saul-Paul? Virgin birth, sacrificial death, resurrection? Justification, salvation, sanctification? Grace and mercy?

Don’t panic if you don’t know all these people or their stories or the events. Even some of the words can be confusing, but they can be understood. That’s not the point here. (That’s just an opportunity for further study!) The point here is that all of the people and events, the miracles and the trials are all part of one big story: His story.

Throughout the Bible God is repeating His message of love to His people, to us. All of the 66 books of the Bible share the same overarching theme: God loves. This is a message He repeats over and over again. He is intent on driving home the point.

Before the disciples went with Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter told his master that He was willing to die with Him. Jesus then predicted Peter’s denial. Peter, passionate, rash Peter.

Upon the initial threat of Jesus’ arrest, Peter draws his sword in an effort to defend Jesus, but instead of decapitating Malchus, Peter only manages to remove the man’s ear. Jesus asks Peter to sheath his sword, then proceeds to miraculously restore Malchus’ ear.

As the evening progresses, Jesus is tortured and questioned. Peter loiters in the courtyard just outside. And just as Jesus predicted Peter, strangers confronted him three time with questioning Peter’s association with Jesus. Peter flatly denies Him. In fact his denials become more and more vehement and indignant.

The rooster’s crow reverberated through the cool, stillness of the early morning.

Three times asked. Three times denied.

Peter wasn’t at the foot of the cross, only John and Jesus’ mother. Where was Peter?

At dawn on the third day, the glorious day of our Lord’s resurrection, we get to see Peter again. This time we see him running to see the empty tomb for himself. In the days that followed, Jesus made a point of restoring Peter, communicating love and forgiveness.

Jesus began, “Peter, do you love Me more than these?”

“Yes Lord; You know I love You.”

“Tend my lambs.”

“Peter, do you love Me?”

“Yes Lord; You know that I love You.”

“Shepherd My sheep.”

“Peter, do you love Me?

“Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”

“Tend My sheep.”

Listen to the grace here. Jesus is driving home a point. His question is the same each time, but He wants to make sure that Peter gets the point. The question is simple enough and it seems Peter answers casually, flippantly merely glancing Jesus’ way at first. In response, the disciple’s tone of voice communicates more than his words. His tone says, “Yeah, yeah, of course I love you.” But then Jesus asks again.

The second time Peter again answers emphatically, almost agitated, impatient, but the Lord seems to want Peter to be less passive with his answer. Jesus wants Peter’s total attention. Peter after being asked the same question and given two different, but similar answers, turns to the Lord, facing Him, eyes locked. By the time the Lord Jesus asks the third time He has Peter’s total attention. Jesus is charging Peter with leading, pastoring, and caring for the flock.

Jesus could have said, “How many times do I have to tell you Peter? Feed My sheep!” But He didn’t. He could have grown impatient with Peter’s disinterest. He could have become frustrated with Peter’s thoughtlessness, with his apathy. But He didn’t. Jesus had a message he wanted to communicate with Peter directly and clearly. He didn’t want Peter to miss it. Jesus knew that He was going to have to say what needed to be said more than one time.

This isn’t the only place in the Bible where the same phrase is said over and over. There are several themes and one overarching messages. In His grace our God knows the power of telling us over and over. God is constantly displaying His glory in creation. His message from Genesis through Revelation is the same: “I love you!”

And He patiently says it over and over.

Several years ago I had a friend who shared this story. She and her son were having another rough day. He wasn’t listening. With a desire to vent, she called her husband and recounted the frustrations of the day. As she was wrapping us her story she asked her husband, “I keep telling him over and over!” Calmly her husband responded, “That’s your job.” He’s right.

 

Here are a few of the phrases worth studying further which are throughout scripture: stand firm, do not be afraid, take courage, love one another, but God and remember. These are admonitions that God wants to make sure we hear, take seriously and act on. How many times does He have to tell us? Lots. To be honest these are things we simply cannot hear too many times. Our ears, our hearts need the comfort and confidence these words offer. I’m glad He tells me over and over aren’t you?

God grants us the opportunity to patiently repeat ourselves to our children every day. May we choose wisely those phrases and words which echo in our homes. May they be words of life, encouragement and hope. May we reiterate with love and patience. And may we never grow weary of our Father’s voice telling us about Himself, His grace, mercy and love many, many times!

Chapter 9 - God wants you to hear His voice and believe His message. #HMTimes @RachaelCarman #HMTimes http://amzn.to/23XG0w4

 

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Distracted

 

Distracted.

They were distracted.

I get distracted too.

distracted

Even though their every need had been met from the very hand of God. They missed it. Forgot. Their eyes wandered from His face to His hands. He wasn’t doing enough because He wasn’t enough.

Even though He has met my every need – not to be confused with want – I miss Him. I forget. I allow my eyes to wander from His face, to His hands. Sometimes I feel like He isn’t doing enough. I forget that He is enough.

They wanted more from Him. More things they could see, taste, touch.

I want more from Him. Lots more. Tangible things.

When His people were wandering in the desert, God wanted their hearts. He wanted them to look to Him. He provided for them even though they had disobeyed. They had chosen against trusting Him. Instead of striking them all dead, He had given manna in the desert.

As I’m going through life, God wants my heart. He wants me to look to Him. He continues to provide for my every need even though I disobey Him. I sometime choose against trusting Him and yet, He sustains me.

The price of whining and complaining is high. The cost of discontentment is staggering – dissatisfaction, malcontent, displeasure. Attitudes reflective of a heart condition, a deadly heart condition. These attitudes are the result of our taking a stroll on the dark side, of ourselves. These attitudes cannot be the result of walking in the Light as He is in the Light. These attitudes come from the pit of our own selfishness. These attitudes grow when we are distracted from His face by our own.

Ingratitude means we don’t get what He’s done. We think we have done it. We think we don’t need Him. His provision, His blessing, His grace, somehow we have come to believe we deserve them. That entitlement attitude equals ingratitude. Instead of praising Him for who He is, instead of thanking Him for what He’s done, ingratitude ignores and even criticizes both.

The Old Testament symbol of the bronze serpent in the desert, was a foreshadowing of Christ on the cross. God instructed Moses to fashion the symbol for the people to look at and be saved. When Jesus hung on the cross, God extended salvation to all mankind. Look to Jesus and be saved. “Look at Me!” Jesus says.

God’s desire is our hearts. His invitation – our attention. He wants us to look at Him, to seek Him, to depend on Him. He longs for us to run to Him in good times and in bad. Running to Him when we’re in a spot, when we can’t see a way out, when consequences overtake us, that’s when we wonder where He is, that’s when we call out, that’s when we tend to questions His faithfulness.

When we look at Him we are reminded of His sacrifice, His love. When we look at Him all fear is gone. Looking at Him puts all of our problems and issues and struggles in perspective. When we look at Him we gain strength and confidence, not in ourselves but in Him.

Focusing on Him makes all the difference. Looking at Him, and His glory, His faithfulness, His holiness, His truth makes all the difference. It doesn’t make everything make sense, but it grants us peace to know that He holds it all. He is in the process of redeeming it all, bringing it all together for His supreme purposes.

Nothing is an accident, nothing wasted. He uses everything our faith and our failures, our dreams and discouragements, our hopes and our hurts. Nothing wasted. Everything redeemed. In the worst situation, the most painful, the most overwhelming, the most hurtful, we can know that He knows, that He cares, that He is working it for our good and His glory.

Look at Me and be healed, gain strength, renew hope.

Looking at Him reminds us of the hope we have in heaven, in His immanent return. Looking at Him with tear-stained faces, when tired eyes and weary smiles.

He is trustworthy, He is faithful.

Jesus says,

Look at Me when things are crazy.

Look at Me when the world is spinning.

Look at Me when you don’t know which way is up.

Look at Me whenever you need Me, whenever you have a question, a frustration, a hope, a dream, a loss, a wound.

Look at Me when you’re tired.

Look at Me when you’re lost, under attack, feeling alone, blindsided, confused, broken, bruised, outcast.

Look at Me!

Not him or her or them. Look at Me! Not that or that. Look at Me! Not the problem. Not the storm. Not the crowd. Not the enemy. Not your friends or family.

Look at Me.

Focus.

Though tears blur your vision and stain your face.

Look at Me.

I am. Your Hope. Your Answer. Your Peace. Your Joy. Your Defender. Your Healer. Your Redeemer. Your Savior. Your Lord. Your Master. Your returning King.

Look at Me. I Am.

Look at Me.

 

 

I know. I get it. All the details, I understand them. The subtly, the nuance, the implication. I see you. I see them. I see through it all. I’ve got it.

Look at Me, just Me.

Let the cross be your focus. Nothing else.

Look at Me. Don’t get distracted.

Chapter 7 - My job is to get them to seek His face. @RachaelCarman #HMTimes #parenting #HearingGod http://amzn.to/23XG0w4

Dare To Reflect

Dare To Reflect - The Official How Many Times Do I Have To Tell You? Book Club

Dare To Reflect

How Many Times Do I Have To Tell You?

Parenting isn’t easy that’s why…

In my new book How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You? I write about how God uses those times when we are speaking to our children to speak to us. In the following pages, I present one part of a 3-part dare I present to the readers in this book. I invite you to dare to reflect, then pick up a copy of the book to help you reach your goal of having an even stronger passion for your family as well as stronger longing to grow deeper in your relationship with the Lord.

Love a challenge to do something you wouldn’t have otherwise considered doing?

Love the idea of digging down deep in yourself and demanding more?

Love the opportunity to grow and mature, to develop new habits, get rid of old ones and soar?

As kids we dare each other to touch something forbidden, eat something yucky or do something stupid all in the name of proving ourselves. When we participated we were driven by the desire to be accepted, respected, apart.  The Bible is a great big dare. God invites us. “Dare to trust Me, My love, faithfulness and sovereignty. Dare to live like I AM on the throne. Dare to live thirsty for Living Water, to feast on the Bread of Life, to listen and follow the voice of the Good Shepherd, to walk in the Light, to rest in Me. Dare to live a life worthy.”

When we respond, engage He is glorified. When we trust, when we act, when we don’t know or understand or see – He smiles. When we hide or shrink, He implores and draws us. He wants a relationship with us personally. Longs for us to dare to know we can rely on Him, that He loves us.

A dare confronts us, usually makes us feel uncomfortable, uneasy, vulnerable, insecure, even weak. We feel exposed and unprotected. Dares usually cause us to pause and wonder: who knows about it? Do I have to? What difference will it make? Where can I hide?

But taking on a dare invigorates us. We feel a rush of adrenaline, an anticipation of possibilities, the exhilaration of hope. Its as if a fresh wind blows and we can feel it in the air. Change. New.

 

Dare To Reflect

I’m inviting you today to a dare.

If you accept, you will be changed. Your perspective altered, your thoughts transformed. If you dare to allow it to, this dare will revolutionize your relationships with your children and your heavenly Father.

Depending on where you are coming from, it may sound daunting, unnecessary or pointless. Dare to do it anyway. Dare to try it. Dare to listen, to consider, to explore. It’s a simple dare really.

You are going to need to take some notes, so keep paper and pen handy.

(Tissues might be in order too.)

So – Download the Dare – Buy The Book – and Dare To Reflect!

Dare To Reflect      HMT Buy Now

 

 

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Character Quality: Articulate

Character Quality: Articulate with {free} coloring page.

Character Quality: Articulate

 

It is simply not enough to know what we believe, we must be able to communicate our convictions, our passions, and why we believe to others. Communicating is key to spreading the good news of Jesus Christ to others. The message of the cross is simple and life saving.

There are many things that we need to be able to communicate to others. Each of us has been given a voice. We need to use that voice to speak up. We need to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. We need to speak up for what is right. We need to speak up for truth, mercy, and honesty.

It can be scary to speak up, to take a stand, to interject our voice into a circumstance. It can be intimidating to dare to suggest forgiveness or even justice, to uphold truth and righteousness.

Teaching our kids to speak at appropriate times, with insight and intelligence should be a priority. Training them to listen first before asking questions and to think before they speak is an important part of child discipleship. It is imperative that our kids practice the art of conversation and even debate. They need to witness hearty disagreements, watch individuals defend their perspectives and opinions, and yet still love each other and keep the relationship intact.

The best way I’ve found to achieve the goal of preparing your child for conversations, confrontations, and conflicts is…drum roll please…everyday interaction. Most people would probably say that the flippant and random conversations they have with their children are pretty meaningless. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Whenever you engage with your child in conversation, you are teaching them. Every conversation they witness, they are studying and learning the rules of this complicated art form. They are learning from what they are personally involved in with your family along with what they are watching on TV and the movies.

So here’s yet another reason to make those family dinners a reality. It’s not just mealtime—nourishment for the body, but it is also nourishment for the mind and soul. It’s an opportunity to discuss the day, current events, and ideas. Some of these conversations will happen naturally, but others will take more work with intentional questions and planned topics.

Becoming articulate is a life-long skill that is to be constantly cultivated. The basics should be taught at home within the context of family all through the day and of course around the table.

Why do your children ask you a million questions? Because when they watch conversations and they notice that questions are the tools adults use to continue communicating. They are merely experimenting with what they have observed when they ask you questions. If you look them in the eyes and really listen to them, guess what? They will practice that also.

It is important for our kids to hear good questions, learn body language and good eye contact. But our kids are also listening to what we are talking about. What do we say? What are the subjects of our conversations? What is important to us? Do you major on the minors or do we talk about things that really matter? Being able to articulate our beliefs, ideas, opinions, and questions is very important. Our kids need to learn how to do this, and you are their example—hopefully life’s best teacher.

{Just click on the image below to download your free coloring page for your personal use.}

Character Quality: Articulate with {free} coloring page.

When The Going Gets Tough

When The Going Gets Tough

When The Going Gets Tough

Some days are bad. Some weeks are bad. Some months. Some years. Life is hard. Sometimes it’s just one thing, while other times trouble seems to come at you from all directions. Sometimes everyone knows, and sometimes no one even suspects. There are times in life that can only be compared to a wilderness experience, a lion’s den, or a fiery furnace. These are situations that challenge, if not shake, the core of your belief system. They demand your attention, your emotions, and your energy.

I have faced occasions like this before, but this time it was different. This time I wasn’t single. This time I wasn’t childless. This time it wasn’t private.

To say that unemployment can be tough is a gross understatement. When Davis lost his engineering job in April 2006, we tried to look upon it as an opportunity, an adventure. We couldn’t have been more right.

We thought we would land on our feet in a matter of months, certainly within a year. We thought that we might have to move—but hey, we homeschool, so no problem!

We thought we had the situation under control. More accurately, we hoped that it would be short lived. Friends who had walked this path before told us of long, arduous journeys that exacted a high cost, and we prayed that our experience would be different.

Our adventure turned into an odyssey, without an end in sight, but with plenty of mirages that tricked us into believing our destination was near. We seemed to be collecting broken promises and meaningless deadlines. We were constantly encountering incompetence and inaccuracy, but our inexperience was unable to identify it as such, which cost us dearly in money and time and opportunities and emotion.

Now, the point is not to compare our difficulties with those of others—that would be meaningless. When it comes to tough times, no one benefits when we enter into a competition of “My story is worse than your story.” Instead, we need to encourage those who are presently walking through tough times.

As we started to realize that our situation was not going to quickly resolve itself as we had hoped, we had to start finding ways to deal with the “temporary insanity” of it all.

When things are tough you start thinking, This won’t last forever. It’s just for a period of time, right? But what do you do when the sand runs out of the hourglass? What about when your financial, emotional, intellectual, and physical resources are depleted? What about when the questions significantly outnumber the answers?

Here are five invaluable actions we did together as a family that made all the difference.

Cry Together

At the beginning of a tough time, it’s easier to just keep on keeping on, holding it together and maintaining a stiff upper lip with squared shoulders. But time wears on everyone’s resolve, and determination dissolves into numbness.

The emotions started to build up as the roller coaster ride continued without a break. Our situation was overwhelming on several fronts. As circumstances became increasingly difficult, with needs we were unable to meet, my emotions came out to play.

I tried to hold it all in for Davis’s sake, for the kids’ sake, but finally the dam broke. I had to cry, and it had to be okay. And you know what? It was. It was more than okay.

There were days when I was just a puddle from the time I woke up. And there were other days when a silly thing would bring on a flash flood of tears. At first I felt guilty about crying. But you know what? My kids were feeling it too, and my crying in front of them allowed them to cry and acknowledge the stress of it all.

We would all just have a good cry together and admit how lousy the situation was and how we were not in control, though we knew that God was. Our tears and the freedom to share them not only began to heal our hearts, but we bonded over them as well.

Too often as moms we try to fake-it-till-we-make-it, but no one is fooled. Our kids deserve a safe place to admit what they’re feeling, and we must give them permission to do so by expressing our own emotions.

Laugh Together

I grew up in a house characterized by laughter, but for a long time I didn’t realize that my childhood experience was not typical of most homes. As an adult I am so grateful for the abundant heritage of laughter my parents gave me.

Consequently, the Carman house has been a house of laughter. I believe that laughter is so valuable that I serve it up many times a day. But somewhere in the midst of our trials, I no longer granted myself permission to laugh. The situation was too serious, the stakes too high, the investment too extreme.

But once I stopped laughing, so did everyone else. The kids stopped out of respect for me and the seriousness of our circumstances. Our house became something it had never been before—way too serious. Big mistake.

It seemed to me that nothing was funny anymore. Nothing. My mother saw the danger and suggested some funny movies, classics like Bugs Bunny—my favorite! We sat down with some videos, and I started by allowing myself a smile. Then a giggle and an occasional belly laugh, before I burst out in a take-your-breath-away, eyes-teared-up laugh.

Talk about a good investment! Just like seeing Mom cry gave my children permission to acknowledge their own stress, seeing Mom laugh gave them permission to live again, to enjoy the day-to-day again.

Live Life Together

Bottom line: We were all in this together. The great thing about homeschooling is that you do so much of life together. You do things together that other families rarely do.

You eat three meals together. You do your grocery shopping and meal preparation together. You clean house together. You do school together—including going to the principle’s office. You go on field trips together. You go on business trips together. You exercise together. You are sick together. You see each other at your best and at your worst. You celebrate and you grieve together.

And when the going gets tough, it shouldn’t change the “togetherness” aspect of your life.

During Davis’s unemployment, we did things together that we had never done before. We cut costs together. We shopped clearance racks together. We did without together. We watched God provide together. We anticipated His faithfulness together. And we celebrated His goodness together.

Read Together

Davis showed wisdom as he led us into the unknown of unemployment. He led us boldly before the throne of grace and continued to have regular Bible studies with us. We started in James and ended up memorizing part of Colossians. This time in God’s Word became invaluable to joyful enduring and faithful perseverance through our trial.

Davis and I also read several books together, including Heaven by Randy Alcorn and Joseph by Chuck Swindoll. These served to help us sustain focus in an ever-more-blurry situation. These times of Bible reading, memorization, and reading grounded us together in the truth that we needed as the enemy assaulted us with fiery arrows.

The children and I continued to read together, too. It was important to imagine faraway places with heroes and heroines, mystery, and intrigue. We devoured several biographies and some classics. These served as an escape from the everyday stress of the unknown we were facing.

Pray Together

In John 8 we are told that the enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy. And I believe his number one target is the family. The devil will stop at nothing to divide families, as he knows they are the foundational building blocks for churches and communities.

During our journey through unemployment, the enemy worked overtime to wreak havoc in our family relationships. Immaturity ran rampant as our circumstances worsened and emotions fluxuated. The storm raged around us, and panic began to set in.

The answer to panic is fervent prayer. When we respond with prayer instead of doubt or entertaining notions of to jumping overboard, we can know that the Prince of Peace hears and answers. Sometimes He calms the storm, as the song goes, and sometimes He calms His child.

Praying together as a family through the ordeal of unemployment was both the greatest and sometimes hardest thing we did together. Prayer is humbling. It levels the playing field. It lays the soul bare and exposes vulerabilities.

Just when I thought I might hold it together for the day, we would kneel as a family to pray and the tears would start.

Please understand that I am not talking about doubting, questioning, or blaming God. I am talking about openly admitting that the situation is tough and stressful. Simply put, I am talking about taking the mask off and being real before our children and the Lord. My kids have known for a long time that I’m not perfect. During this time they got to see Mom desperate for God, and it was a good thing.

Stress has a way of paralyzing us. It can sometimes inhibit reasonable thought processes. But God, in His infinite wisdom, has equipped His children to perservere through tough times.

Remember, overwhelming situations often bring tears, but it’s okay to cry together. Find something to laugh about together. Enjoy and embrace your life together. Read a good book together, especially the Good Book. And don’t stop praying together.

God is on the throne, and He will see you through.


Rachael Carman