For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.
– Luke 19:10
Jesus came searching for me!
Jesus came to save me!
It was part of His plan when He chose redemption for the world.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
– Romans 5:8
Love was written all over our Savior’s heart.
His compassion is unmatched.
Jesus did the ultimate in pouring out; He gave it all.
This is the kind of love, compassion and sacrifice that I want to make sure my children place their faith in. This requires me to talk about my faith in God, believing who Jesus says He is, and how the Holy Spirit is our Helper and Counselor.
Our children are very receptive, and I’ve found that they develop an appetite for Jesus when we present the truth to them. When I live my faith for my children to see, they develop a yearning to know the Lord. They see our faith in action; how well we trust God. Once they develop a relationship with Jesus, they have just as much right to Him as we do as their parents. THAT is a great relief. All of the burden isn’t on us to be their El Shaddai.
The Holy Spirit Will Guide Them
Now, our children still need earthly parenting. We must never be hands-off with that. But just think of the dynamic partnership that we’ll have with them and God.
When solving an issue with a child, I’m learning to incorporate this phrase, “What does God’s Word have to say about this?”
It’s God that brings the solutions. They see it for themselves, and it bolsters their faith.
Whenever we’ve needed to believe God for a prayer to be answered, it’s God’s word again to the rescue. We find a Scripture promise that supports what we’ve prayed for (this is praying God’s will). When the answer comes, the children get to rejoice because they experience it first hand. It bolsters their faith. This also aids in long-term remembrance of how God answered them.
I’ve even seen this carry over into a married adult child’s life. She recalled the times that God answered our prayers of faith when she was younger which gave her a foundation for how she needed to presently pray for herself.
Mom, we won’t always bat 1,000, but we’ll hit some when we swing. I learned that I couldn’t leave their faith up to chance. It made me more aware of my own faith in Jesus, and what I truly believed about Him. When I live my faith I gain experiential knowledge that carries our family closer to God.
We can start today by asking God to bolster (support, strengthen, prop up) our own faith so that we can continue to lead our children in faith.
“I knew motherhood was going to be hard sometimes, but no one told me how mundane it would be.” Our married daughter, who is in the midst of raising a toddler and a baby, was sharing her struggles in this season of motherhood. Now mind you, she is the oldest of 8 kids, so she has experienced the baby stage all the way through high school as she watched each of her siblings join our family and grow up over the years. She’s familiar with motherhood.
Somehow when YOU’RE the mom, though, it’s so much different. You feel the full weight of responsibility for everything concerning your children. It can feel like a daunting task…and yes, often very mundane. Sometimes you feel like you may just lose your marbles.
Somewhere in the diapers, potty training, eating, sleeping, and cleaning up, over and over and over again you feel like you have lost yourself. Remember her? She was cute and fun and energetic and full of ideas and now the highlight of her day is to be able to pee alone. She was romantic and flirty with her husband, but now she is more attracted to him than ever when he volunteers to change a poopy diaper, brings home dinner or does the dishes.
I’m not gonna lie. Motherhood is NOT for the faint hearted. But what if I told you that the most mundane things you do actually COUNT for something? What if I told you that every small (and big) act of kindness and service you give to your family is an act of LOVE that matters to God?
“About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?’
Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.”
God loves and values children.
He knew that our children would be a humbling example to US in so many ways. Kids are honest, they are loyal, they are loving and they call things as they see them. Yes, they have a sin nature that we have to frequently address, because that’s what good, godly parents are called to do (Proverbs 13:24), but overall children are unpretentious, full of wonder, trusting and, for lack of a better term, organic in so many ways. They represent the opposite of what the world calls GREAT…they are helpless and vulnerable and yet Jesus calls this good and encourages us to come to Him LIKE a child and to embrace and love these children right here, right now as though they were him.
Luke 9:46-48 says:
“Then his disciples began arguing about which of them was the greatest. But Jesus knew their thoughts, so he brought a little child to his side. Then he said to them, ‘Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me also welcomes my Father who sent me. Whoever is the least among you is the greatest’.”
Did you catch that? “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me.” Another translation reads, “If you do this unto the least of these, you have done it unto me.” Every act of motherhood can be a sweet sacrifice to God as though Jesus were in the room and we were serving Him personally! Changing diapers, giving hugs, kissing owies, fixing meals, doing laundry, dishes…all of these are ways to LOVE HIM!
Many of the greatest acts of love are the ones that no one sees…and we all know that motherhood is FULL of those! Those secret, ordinary love sacrifices we make are a sweet aroma to God and are holy in His sight. It’s a special something we share just between God and us.
We can love because He first loved us.
Be encouraged. We can love because NOTHING ever separates us from HIS love…not sick babies, stubborn toddlers, difficult teens, mountains of laundry, a boatload of dirty dishes, or a never ending to-do list:
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
We hope this devotional series is blessing you in your motherhood and your walk with the Father. Please enjoy this printable coloring page, take a few minutes to dwell on the truth that every loving act of motherhood, no matter how ordinary, is, indeed, a sweet act of service to the Lord. Be blessed!
“The Lord inhabits the praises of his people.”
Since I first heard the “praise” theme for our devotionals this month, I haven’t stopped thinking about this quote. While it’s not exact scripture and more of a paraphrase of the rhythmic text in Psalm 22:3
“But You are holy,
Enthroned in the praises of Israel.”
I don’t know about you, but I need the Lord’s inhabiting of my life. I need His rhythms in my plans and steps. I need Him to abide with me as He promises. If the way to bring Him closer to me is by coming near to Him through praise, count me all in! I’ll be here, hands high, crying from the depths of my soul, the very inmost parts of my spirit, voice rising from the top of my lungs, “I need you more, come, Jesus, come! Inhabit my praises! Abide in me! I want You to be an atmosphere I carry through life!”
My first experience feeling the presence of God through praise was when my husband and I had a very rough season a few years ago. My pastor’s wife calls us, “the most supernatural couple she’s ever seen.” The Lord certainly healed our marriage supernaturally, inhabiting our praises. Through this season, I could’ve chosen to withdraw and especially be angry with God. Instead, my husband and I both chose to draw closer, raise hands higher and praise Him, moment by moment, praising, worshipping and thanking Him right through tears.
Since then, I’ve really learned, and chosen, to recognize and feel God’s abiding presence with me day after day. I seek for places to give Him glory, in all I do. I remember that old Bible school song,
“Praise Him, Praise Him. Praise Him in the morning, praise Him in the noon time. Praise Him, Praise Him. Praise Him when the sun goes down.”
No matter our circumstance, it is with head held high and eyes lifted up that the Lord abides with us. Mamas, our families and our children take note of these praises and can’t help but be affected by the indwelling of our sweet Lord and Savior with their mom. You know, it will rub off and get soaked deep down in their beings and some day, they’ll too recall the songs, words and praises their mom sent our Savior, just like I recall those Bible song lyrics. Through my prodigal years and all the way back around to being sold out, on fire, arms high for Jesus, He surely took note of those sweet praises of my youth and has blessed me, and my family as He dwells among us, and you, through our praises.
Here are a few practical ways I praise Him morning, noon, and night.
I don’t even get out of my bed in the morning before I talk to my Papa.
I praise Him, I thank Him and I ask Him for strength for the day before I even roll out of bed, make my coffee, walk the dogs, open the app with my Bible reading plan or even kiss my family good morning.
My day becomes an active conversation with God.
As a busy wife, mom, blogger, travel writer, homeschooler, volunteer, board vice-chair, all of the hats that I wear (and I know you wear, too)… it’s hard to set aside time to “pray without ceasing” as Paul says. But don’t we know our God knows our schedule, too? My prayers become constant and active conversation with my best friend. I speak, and expect Him to answer, and He does. In thoughts, words, through people, surroundings, and experiences. When I had the blessing of traveling to Greece last year, I learned something significant about Paul’s preaching to the Corinthians. He did it in the marketplace. His praises were raised and messages were given to the people right in the center of town, right in the midst of craziness amid the chaos of every day life of grocery shopping, trading wares, and entertainment. There was Paul, shouting out his praises to our Lord. I want to be like Paul, in a constant and unashamed state of praise.
Worshipping Him in the Minivan.
The car rides as a busy mom seems to be never ending. So, let’s use that time as just part of our day to invite him to inhabit our lives. Turn on the worship music. Singing out loud, our hope in Him affects the minds and hearts of our children and, hopefully, will stick with them as long as that Bible school song has stuck with me. I love Seeds Family Worship because their songs are simply scripture set to music. (I think personally I’ve memorized more verses this way than any other!) One time, we had VBS songs on in the car while we were transporting a construction worker! I’ll never forget the look on his tattooed face and can only pray God’s presence of our praises rubbed off on him!
Praise Him Publicly.
Last week, I was at a theme park with a group of seven kids and before we ate I said, “Ok, who’s praying?” Some of the kids said, “I prayed in my mind.” I said, “well, we praise Him aloud.” And that’s just what we did, holding hands, right there, in the LEGOLAND diner. We pray every time we eat out. I want my kids and those I influence and encounter to know He is worthy, at all times and in all places. I hope my simple example of prayer at the theme park can leave that mark in each mind and heart.
Whatever your way of praising Him morning, noon, and night, I pray that He comes to inhabit your lives, hearts and families more than ever before and you recognize and feel His presence through your praises. Maybe there’s some things I haven’t thought of that you do, too?
I want to take a little break from all the serious talk about That Child. Don’t worry, I still have more insight to share about raising That Child, but I think it’s important for us to keep laughing and understanding that God has a sense of humor even in the midst of all the hard stuff. At the end of the day He’s always trying to do two things glorify himself, and grow us. It’s really good for us to use the gift of laughter that He’s given us, to create a little levity in what can be very overwhelming circumstances with “That” Child.
So I just want to go through this little list, I actually have eleven items, and i’m hoping that at the end of this you will be able to add your own items in the comments below. I’m sure there’s a lot of other ideas that we could all add to this list, let’s start with these:
You might have a “That” Child if…
#1: You might have a “That” Child if they demand all of your attention.
Can I get an amen?! If you have “That” Child, they demand all of you, they demand parts of you that you didn’t even know you had, they demand the exhausted and the tired and the overwhelmed parts of you. The spent parts of you, the parts of you you don’t know what to do with. They demand it all, and they demand it all the time. Yes they do.
I’m here to tell you that when my oldest “That” Child was still at home, I used to go in at night and just watch him sleep, cause he was so still and he looked so innocent. Laying in there in the bed he wasn’t demanding anything of me. And then I would just go cry.
If you have a “That” Child you know exactly what I mean. They demand parts of you, and so much of you, and the glorious part of them demanding so much of you is it means you need that much more of God. See, the blessing of God sending me “That” Child, more than once was that it caused me to have to lean into Him. I knew that I needed Him, because of how much my “That” Child needed me. And when I ran out of me, I needed God. That was the blessing of it.
#2: You might have a “That” Child if their mood is completely unpredictable, moment to moment.
If you have “That” Child, you don’t always know who’s gonna wake up in their room in the morning. They might be totally agreeable and joyful and cooperative and you will want to know who woke up in their room. And they might be that way to breakfast…but after breakfast, you don’t even know what happens, it completely changes. “That” Child’s mood is all over the map, as are their interests, and their curiosity, and their attention, it’s all over everywhere.
“That” Child they can change, and turn around on a dime, and you keep trying to figure out “What did we do to get the cooperative, and what did we do to get the not cooperative”.
Here’s one thing I’m going to tell you over and over about “That” Child for all those times we’re thinking “I don’t know how to do this, this is so hard, this is so tiring” I want us to take the opportunity to pause, and consider what might it be like to be “That” child.
I’m going to propose this: it is hard to be “That” Child. It’s hard for their emotions to be all over the map. It’s hard for them to not know what they’re interested in, or how to pay attention, or how to focus, or how did they get on this, that, or the other thing? They’re wondering all that too.
It’s not just us.
And they deserve more than a little bit of our compassion as they navigate the intersection in those pre-teen and teen years of not just their “That” Child wiring but also those hormones when they kick in. They don’t know themselves – so we could stand to be compassionate and more caring with them.
#3: You might have a “That” Child if you cannot hear them, you know you must find them.
I had two boys before I had any daughters, and I had friends who had girls first and I remember going over to one of my friend’s house who just had daughters and I was like “Uhm, where are the girls?” And she said “Oh they’re in their room playing” And I thought to myself, Wow, what must that be like? My boys, If I couldn’t hear them I needed to find them, and I needed to find them quickly because you know what? They were probably doing something, that they shouldn’t be doing, and that’s how it is!
Not necessarily sneaky, not necessarily deceptive, although that was certainly true, but I’m talking about doing things because they were just so curious. Things they shouldn’t have been messing with. It’s truly what they needed to do. They needed to chase their curiosity but I needed to be around them when they did, giving them permission to be curious.
“That” Child is very curious, “That” Child wants to know things and investigate things, and if we can give them permission to do those things when we’re with them it cuts down on their need to do those in a sneaky way. But you know what I mean, “That” Child is not generally quiet, so if they are, ya need to find them!
#4: You might have a “That” Child if their thinking rarely precedes their actions.
Yes, you know what it’s like. You’ve told them a thousand times, you know you’ve told them, you’ve trained them, you’ve intentionally interjected truth in their lives, and guess what they do? Not what you say.
But it’s not because you haven’t said it, it’s because they aren’t thinking.
Many many many times I would say to mine: “Wait, think. Were you thinking? You need to pause and think. Make sure you’re thinking.” See, they just rush into action. But the good news is, they’re home with us and we can teach them!
If we can have the patience of the holy spirit over and over again we can teach them the power and the importance of thinking before they act.
#5: You might have a “That” Child if graduation seems really far away.
On The heels of one of our most difficult years with “That” Child as a homeschooling family, we went to our state conference in May. We had just been through 9 months of really challenging character issues and self control issues. I’m not even sure how much we actually accomplished in school that year because we were constantly dealing with these issues. Anyway, it got to May and we went to our state homeschool conference. Our state conference offers a senior graduation and I went in to watch it because I felt like I’ve just gotta get some inspiration, it just seems impossible that we are ever gonna make it to graduation with “That” Child.
So I’m sitting there, by myself, and there was this woman behind me and I began to cry and in her compassion she put her arm around me and she said “Which one’s yours?” She asked this as they filed across the stage and I said “none of them, my oldest one is twelve!”
But as I was looking at those graduates I was like “Oh please God, can we get to that? Can we make it to that? Would you give us what we need to make it to that?” On that day, that graduation seemed really far off.
If that’s you today I wanna encourage you to hold on, God’s got this. You’re on a journey, He’s got a plan, hold His hand, and take one day at a time.
#6: You might have a “That” Child if nothing seems to work.
Yes, it’s difficult with “That” Child. I went through all the books, I read The Strong Willed Child, The Sensory Sensitive Child…I mean I read everything I could get my hands on. I was looking for something that I could actually do to help. If they gave me any indication of time out, or putting them over here or doing a chart or whatever they said I was like “Ok we’re gonna try this”
And I tried, and I tried, and I tried, and I tried, but nothing seemed to work.
And I felt like “My goodness, what am I gonna do?” But again, I wanna tell you, the fact that nothing worked made me again, lean into God, made me go to God. The numbers of times I was on my face just trying to call out to God and say “What do you want me to do? I don’t know how to do this, I don’t know how to train him, I don’t know what to say.” And I would go and God always provided. He always gave me some creative Idea of something to try, He always gave me discernment and the wisdom I need as he dried my tears, and he bonded our hearts together as I leaned into God for that.
So even though it felt like nothing worked from what the world was offering, it gave me an opportunity to go to God and ask God “What do I do for “That” Child? For this specific “That” Child, what do you want me to do?” And He always answered.
#7: You might have a “That” Child if you worry about the effect they’re having on your other children.
This is one of the more serious ones on the list, and I had this in spades when we were going through this really intense time with our oldest, who was “That” Child. I remember just crying out to God and saying “I don’t understand, you sent me 6 more after him, how is it possible? He needs everything! I don’t even know how to do this and I don’t even know if I talked to this child today, I don’t even know if I hugged this other child today and I know I didn’t read to this other child today.”
And I would just cry and cry and cry.
I want to tell you, all of these years later one of the things that we would say to the kids when our “That” Child was having so many problems and one of the other kids would come up and say “What’s wrong? I don’t understand. Why does he have to get so angry? Why does he have to argue with everything? Why does he get so mad?” And we would talk to the other children about this and I would always encourage them to pray for him and we would always pause and pray for him and obviously we prayed with him many many times. Today I can tell you that my kids don’t resent it, that’s not how they remember it because you know what?All of my kids have had issues and we’ve had to pray them all through different things, that just happened to be his thing.
Look, I’ve said this before and it’s very valuable, I wish I knew who to credit with this saying because it is so poignant: “What defines you as a person, is what you believe about God.” And everybody will know that by the way you live, how you give, what you do, and what you don’t do, what you watch and what you don’t read, ok?
What defines you as a family is how you deal with your weakest link, whether that link is a behavior problem today, or some sort of a physical issue, or a mental disability, or an illness, you know like, at your house when somebody is sick at your house it doesn’t mean that you carry on as usual, you tend to the needs of the ones thats sick. And if someone has a learning issue, you tend to the needs of that learning issue.
So, as you’re dealing with “That” Child the rest of your kids are watching and they’re seeing how you deal with that kid, and it is ministering to them, you’re giving them an example of how to deal with their weakest link when they grow up and get married and it’s all about compassion and patience and love, and love, and love, and grace, and grace, and grace.
So the effect it’s having on your children is they’re getting to see God intercede in your family and in you, and do something amazing, as long as you keep pointing everyone to God. The effect on your other kids can be amazingly positive.
#8: You might have a “That” Child if you’ve cried yourself to sleep.
Night after night after night I remember my pillow being just soaking wet cause I just kept feeling like a failure. And you know what? My enemy wanted to keep me in the place where I felt like a failure, he wanted to keep me under condemnation for the days I lost it, for the days I did not allow the Holy Spirit to come and fill me with patience, for the days when I was frustrated and I let him know it, for the days that I didn’t handle it well in a God-honoring way, for the days, you know what, I didn’t wanna ask God, because I knew God was gonna ask me to be patient and I didn’t wanna be.
I would cry myself to sleep, and cry myself to sleep, and ask for forgiveness, and ask for a fresh new day, and you know what? God always gave it.
I wanna tell you, God, in our brokenness that is where He meets us. Over and over, and over in scripture it’s in our brokenness and our desperate need that He meets us, and He comes and does something glorious.
As long as we think we’ve got it, we don’t need Him. But when we know we don’t got it, that we need Him, that He is glorified and we get to grow in our dependency on Him.
#9: Yes, you Might have a “That” Child if you know they know all of your buttons, and they know how to push them all at the same time, regularly.
Yes, My “That” Child was able to find buttons that I did not know that I had, and he was able to consistently push all of them at the worst possible moment. Again, I really believe that the God of the universe, sovereign over all things, has blessed you with “That” Child. This is not a burden, it’s not payback, it’s not a curse, it’s a blessing that God has given you “That” Child To show you your need for God and the opportunity he’s granted you to grow this child into somebody that will glorify his name.
Pushing all your buttons is a blessing!
It’s a blessing to find weaknesses, and failures, and faults that you didn’t know you had, or in my case, I had covered up so well I had learned to ignore. I’m glad that I’ve had that child to point out the issues in myself that I really needed to work on. And that was again when God came and began to heal.
#10: You might have a “That” Child if discipline dominates every day.
Now, I used to have a thing with my “That” Child and when he would disobey during the day I would take away his favorite toy for that day. So let’s say that it was this little train, But, I wouldn’t just take it away from him and put it away, I would take it away and put it somewhere where he could see it and want it, but not be able to get it. And so my husband could walk in, and within five minutes of being in the door he could look at the mantle, and assess how the day had been.
I was looking for creative ways to get this child’s attention all the time. Whether it was putting him in time out, taking away things that he wanted, not allowing him to go and participate in things that he wanted to do, I had charts and graphs going, I was constantly trying to discipline him. Because with these kids what I know is they thrive in consistency but I fail at consistency.
So the discipline was not just disciplining him, but it was learning to discipline myself. The discipline of spending time with God every morning, of praying, of choosing to glorify and focus on God, even in the midst of a really lousy day, just going “Ok God, I’ve blown it. But I Praise you. Thank you for sending me this kid. I thank you, and I praise your holy name for the plan that you have, even though I don’t know what it is right now.”
That’s what it means, everyone of these issues gives us an opportunity to lean into God, or, we can choose to continue to lean into ourselves.
#11: You might have a “That” Child if giving up is really tempting.
I want to encourage you with every ounce of my being, don’t. give. up. Don’t give up on you and your ability to allow the Holy Spirit to work through you and to bless “That” Child, and don’t give up on “That” Child. Too many people already have.
When I started doing this presentation a couple of years ago, I actually called and talked to my “That” Child who is now a college graduate, married with my first grandchild, and pursuing a master’s degree. I called him and asked his permission to continue telling our story, and he said “You know what mom? Tell our story, and tell the moms this: don’t give up on us.”
That is the message from my “That” Child to you as the mom of “That” Child. Now, your “That” Child may not be able to say it to you right now, and it may seem like they’re screaming at you right now to give up on them. But I am begging you, don’t. give. up.
Determine that you are going to trust that God has a plan, and that God has in them a mighty warrior for His kingdom, that He’s given you an opportunity to raise for His glory, and yes, to grow through your junk.
God has a plan.
Remember this mamas: you might have a “That” Child if God has blessed you abundantly, and I pray that you will hug “That” Child, and you will seek God, and you will lean into Him.
In His Grace-
If you would like to read more of my “That Child” series, click here.
It’s easy, when you are facing That Child every-single-day, to get into a place where you feel so incredibly alone.
When you are just sure that you are the only one who had that kind of day with that child.
Dear That Child Mom, you are not alone.
I’m glad you’re here.
I want you to know there’s a whole bunch of us out here.
And we all need each other!
I’ve had a couple of those kids come through a household with seven children, and my current one was just wired today.
Could not sit still.
Was asking the same question over and over and over…
You get the picture.
You completely understand what I’m talking about.
So, Yeah. It was one of those days.
I assure you, if you’re coming to our discussion today, and it’s been one of those days…
Welcome. And you are not alone.
I gave a presentation a couple of years ago where I was sharing about my That Child to a group of moms in Minnesota. And before I even started, I looked into the middle of the crowd, there must have been seven hundred moms in the room, and this woman just started crying.
I hadn’t even said anything yet.
I can remember while I was being formally introduced to the crowd, I was actually praying for that woman saying “God, just hold her, I don’t know what’s going on… but she needs you right now.”
I watched her.
As she sat and cried.
The entire presentation.
After I was done she started coming towards me, and I was thinking…
“Oh sweet Jesus, give me the words of encouragement that I need for this mom in her brokenness and exhaustion!”
She came up to me and said “You have no idea. Just sitting and looking around this room at all these other moms and to realize I wasn’t the only one, was so powerful for me. The enemy had me so convinced that I was the only one and no one understood.”
Look, you’re not sitting in a room with me presenting to seven hundred moms right now, but maybe you will someday and I look forward to that time with a lot of hope that I can actually give you a hug.
But for right now…. from this computer screen, I want to assure you, you’re not alone.
You are joined by thousands of moms across the country who are in the everyday battle that you are.
To maintain your sanity and find a way to love That Child that God has sent you.
If you have not read my confession about my first that child, I encourage you do to so.
I think you will quickly see I’m right there with you!
Lots of us are.
Join us for the rest of this series as we discuss, vent, and pray over our own version of That Child.
I hope to challenge your perception and encourage you in your mothering.
I pray that you will be blessed as we lift each other up and mother These Children.
Every Thursday at 3:00 pm Eastern, I’ll have a new live discussion on my Facebook Page about That Child. Meet me there! Bring your questions. Bring your struggles. Bring your heart. I’ll meet you where you are and do my best to help you work through this very challenging stage.
In His Grace –
“Look. At. Me.”
How many times have you said that today?
We say that all the time as moms.
Often when we say it to our kids, we’re flustered or frustrated and we say “Look at Me! Pay attention!”
When I want my kids to look at me it’s because I have something REALLY important and serious I want to convey to them and I want to make sure that I have their total attention.
With no distractions. I want them to tune everything else out, and look at me.
I want them to look at me because I feel like when they’re looking at me- I’ve got their heart.
I feel like I can tell if they’re really listening when they are looking at me. But I can’t tell, If I don’t have their eyes on me.
And I want to tell you a secret… I now have four out of the house and only three at home. But a mama’s ear can tell when they’re not looking at you.
When they are distracted…
Even if they are on the phone! I sometimes catch myself saying “Look–are you listening?” because I can’t actually tell if they are looking. But I can usually hear it.
That practice of imploring your children to really look at you and listen is something that we establish when they’re home, so that when it is the phone call or even Facetime, we still have the privilege of asking them to look at us.
But you know what?
Lift your eyes up.
See when I get distracted it’s because I’m not lifting my eyes to Him.
I’ve forgotten about Him, who alone, sits on the throne.
I’ve become distracted by the things of this world that just don’t matter.
I have let my eyes and mind get distracted.
And I have to admit…
Sometimes, like you, my kids are actually looking at me when I’d really rather they were not watching.
Like sometimes when I may be scrolling through the internet for a few more moments than I need to be.
Or maybe I’m watching a television show that I don’t need to be.
Or maybe at the checkout I’m looking at all the headlines in the rag magazines by the checkout and I don’t need to be.
Or maybe I’m even in the middle of a bad habit that I hope nobody else notices.
And those are the times when unfortunately, I had my kids’ full attention.
Just like you, our Heavenly Father whispers in those moments “Honey, look at Me, Look at Me!”
The key to overcoming those distractions, the key to overcoming those terrible habits that we find ourselves in (because we’re caught up in a sinful world) is to keep our eyes on Jesus Christ.
To focus on our heavenly home and to continually be looking to Him.
Today, I bet you’ve said “Look at me”. While you were saying it to one of your little ones, did you perhaps hear God whisper to you “Look at Me”?
See when we look at Him, all of our stuff, even the things that seem so huge, pale in comparison to the sovereign King who sits on the throne.
I want to invite you to look at Him, especially when we’re so incredibly focused on our kids focusing on us- I think we can say that with more honesty when we make sure that we’re looking at Him.
I remember when we would go to Poppy’s house when we were first married and we would go over and paint the barn or bury a cat or plant a rose bush for Poppy. And on Saturday morning when we would get there I wouldn’t see Poppy reading his King James Bible, but I would see his King James Bible, open on the table as evidence, of where he’d been that morning before we even arrived.
I have a question for you…. When do you want your kids to look at you? What is it you want them to see you doing?
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,
It Doesn’t Matter What Everyone Else Is Doing
The fashion industry depends on it, as do many magazines and talk shows. Certainly ‘reality’ television needs it. I’m talking about voyeurism. Watching how other people live and wanting to live just like them.
The right jeans.
The right car.
The right hair style.
The right house.
The right job.
The right glasses, dinner entre’, and exercise class. All these luxuries are predicated on what everyone else is doing.
Arguably it was the worst in junior high. I mean the worst. We all wanted desperately to just blend in with each other. No one wanted to stand out. Standing out was bad, even scary. Whatever was vogue or cool or hip—that’s what we wanted. We wanted to be accepted, liked, and included. We wanted to prove who we were even though we didn’t really know yet. And we hoped no one noticed.
There is only one person you and I are called to be like. Only one—no one else. In fact, the ultimate goal of the life we have here is to be conformed to His image. To take up His cross and follow Him, to reflect His glory, testify to His goodness, to point others to Him. We are charged with walking in the Light and abiding in Him. To transform our minds, not grow weary in doing good, to stand firm, and be on guard.
It really doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing.
It doesn’t matter even as our culture continues to shift away from God and more toward the individual. Culture encourages selfishness. It advocates for relative truth. Today we see individually defined and lived out loud. It rejects God’s ways and commands, refusing to see them as loving and kind.
Everyone else’s behavior isn’t supposed to set the bar for our standards. God does. And His bar is higher. It’s the cross bar of Calvary. The cross bar of Calvary says come, follow Me, learn of Me, rest in Me, trust Me. The cross bar of Calvary demands sacrificial love, sacrificial living, sacrificial service. The cross bar of Calvary challenges us with these thought: What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and yet lose his own soul, and the first shall be last.
Humility is the way.
Serving is the way.
Honoring is the way.
Dying is the way.
Jesus told us that the world hated Me and it will hate you, too. We don’t like that part. We like the parts of the Gospel where people were healed, the blind see, the deaf hear, and the lame walk. We like lepers being restored. We like sins forgiven. But the part about taking us the cross, about washing others feet, about humbling ourselves—oh, and the part about being hated—we skip over that part.
But that part is what it’s all about. We are here to live a life that matters. Living a life of obedience. Fixing our eyes on Jesus and keeping a hope of heaven. We are live in such a way that our example points other people to Him. We are here as aliens and ambassadors. This world is not our home. We were made for more than this. This is just the preparation for Heaven with Him. Eternal life with Christ and God the Father is what we are made for, perfect fellowship that will last forever.
We keep trying to fit in with the world around us instead of allowing Him to fit us for service above. Fitting in shouldn’t be our goal. As daughters of the king we should stand out. Not obtrusively. Not obnoxiously. Not in a rude or gaudy way. We should stand out because we are standing on His promises. As we live, we are to let our light shine wherever we go because we are children of the Light.
It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing, but rather what He doing through me and in the lives of everyone else around me.
That is what matters!
Now Is Not The Time
“God’s timing is perfect.”
People tell us that when we are exhausted from waiting. They tell us when we don’t think we can take another step or when we feel like giving up all together. When it feels like the trial or the discipline will never end. When our prodigal still hasn’t returned. When a job is allusive, disease is overwhelming.
The God of the universe Who exists outside of time, interjected Himself into time on time. He wasn’t early. He wasn’t late. He was right on time. Jesus, born of a virgin, in a ‘stable-esk’ setting, to young, weary parents, was right on time.
In Psalms 90:4 and II Peter 3:8 we are told that God is unhindered by time. God is timeless. He doesn’t work on a clock. He’s not running out of time. He doesn’t miss appointments. He is never late. He is only, ever on time, every time.
Our aggravation with time, feeling like there is not enough, like the clock is working against us, like it’s our enemy, is the reality of being created. God’s creation. He set the clock when He put the sun, moon and stars into motion. He set the week with the days of creation, complete with the institution of rest.
And our time is limited. We don’t have forever here. We have forever there, somewhere and for eternity. Only two options: Heaven or Hell. Both are real. Both last forever. One is with God. One without Him. Endless fellowship or endless aloneness. Ultimate Joy or ultimate grief.
God’s word, the Bible recounts instance after instance of His perfect timing. Never early, never late. To the characters in the Bible and to us, He regularly seems like both. We often accuse Him of being late, of being unaware of the time-our time. But He’s not working on our time. He’s working outside of it.
Hannah thought that God wasn’t listening. It’s common for us to think He cannot hear us when He doesn’t answer our prayers, not at least in the way we wanted Him to answer them. We blame Him for being deaf. Or we blame Him for not caring. Or we blame Him for being unable or unwilling.
According to our clocks He’s late. According to our schedule He missed an appointment. According to our alarm He forgot. Nope, not true.
What is true is that He is working on different time table. God is working on a grander scale than we can imagine. He is listening. He is aware. He is busy. Matthew writes that Jesus told His followers that He was going to prepare a place for us. We can know that since His return to the Father’s right hand, He has been busy preparing a place for us with Him where we will join Him outside of time.
That is one aspect of eternity that we don’t often discuss. Here in time the tick-tock, tick-tock enslaves us. It is a cruel master. There never seems to be enough tick-tock for all the laughter, for the rest, for the relaxation. And way too much tick-tock for the waiting and the wrestling. Way too much for the struggles and stress, for the separation, loss and hurt. Way too much. Tick-tock. Time races when things are good. And it stands still, doesn’t move, when the hard times come. Tick-tock echoes.
The Psalmist felt this. “How long, Oh Lord?” David wrote. How long indeed? The moments here sometime feel like forever. Forever since we didn’t hurt. Forever since we didn’t miss. Forever since we weren’t alone or tired or afraid. Forever. “How long?” our hearts cry out. How long?
We are introduced to Hannah in I Samuel. We are introduced to a woman longing for a child. Longing. Tick-tock, time marches. Tick-tock. No child. Tick-tock. No child. Tick-tock. No child. At the doorpost of the temple, she laid it all out. She wept bitterly. I Samuel 1:11:
11 “She made a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.”
His timing humbles us. His timing draws us. His timing molds us. Hannah was humbled by her circumstances. She needed God. Hannah was drawn to God, knowing He alone was able. She desired God. Hannah was molded by God, changed; she no longer wanted a son for herself, but for God. She loved God.
God’s perfect timing had a purpose: to glorify Himself and to grow Hannah. Her desperate waiting killed her selfish desires. It focused her on God. It taught her that her son wasn’t hers, but God’s. It gave her purpose as a mother: to raise a son to give back to God. Hannah knew that Samuel wasn’t hers. God’s timing and Hannah’s waiting. His perfect timing and her humble waiting.
I’m betting that like me there’s something you’re waiting on. Reconciliation. Forgiveness. Healing. Employment. Rest. Maybe you’re waiting for a friend, a house or a test result. You may be waiting for an answer to a question or a problem that’s years old. You might feel like your drifting without a direction or maybe you are in a storm so intense that you don’t know which way is up.
You cry out. You shed tears or maybe you’ve run out waiting. Know this: When your Heavenly Father whispers, “Now is not the time,” it isn’t because He doesn’t care. It isn’t because He is unaware of your pain, your heartache, your brokenness. And it’s not because He’s late, unaware of the time. His ‘now is not the time’ is perfect time. It’s an invitation to lean further into Him. An opportunity to trust more, to stop trying to hold it all together and just rest in Him.
Allow your Father to hold you. You with all your tears and questions. With all of your frustrations and even your anger. Let it all out in His lap. Know that He is big enough. He is strong enough. He is faithful. He is good. Know that He is outside of time, but aware of ours. He is never late. Never. Rest in His perfect timing. He’s got it.
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.)