Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Precious Time

As a mom, you always face the build up toward certain events. With your baby, you prepare to start solid foods. Then you prepare your house for a crawler and then a walker. There is always excitement for the beginning of those things.

When your children get older, you face the inevitable start of school. For me, preschool was not that big a deal. My two oldest children went two days their first year and then three days their second year. They were only gone from my presence for 2 1/2 hours. In reality, that's just a nice little break for mom!

Then comes the big event. Real school. Kindergarten. I was actually just a little sad when my oldest started kindergarten next year. He was so ready and excited that I did not want to damper his spirits. I did get a little emotional, but that only lasted for an hour or so.

As the school year came to a close, I discovered something new. The end of things is way more emotional than the beginning! This was a big surprise to me!

Here I was, preparing for summer vacation. My son's kindergarten teacher sent home the cutest memory book on the last day of school, complete with a picture of him in a cap and gown holding a sign that said, "Class of 2029." Why don't you just rip out my heart, Mrs. K?

I looked through that memory book and saw all of the fun things he had participated in. I remembered how he acted and how much he knew when he started. Compared to where he is now, it is quite evident that my son is ready for first grade! His life is flashing before my eyes!

I spent a couple of days looking at this book with melancholy and nostalgia, tears welling up every time. The evidence of how much he had grown was right there before my eyes. It was just a reminder of how little time we really have with our kids.

And when we send them off to school, we lose some of our control over them and what happens to them. This is an illusion anyway. God is in control of it all. It's only our sense of holding it together that we feel we are losing.

This makes the time we do have with them so precious. Precious. This is a word I have found myself using more than I ever thought I would. It always sounded a little too feminine and girly to me. I don't know why, just my own connotation, I guess. Like, "Oh that precious little poodle pup, Fifi!"

But really. How precious are a mama's kids? I think you have to be a parent to really understand the word precious. And when our kids head off to school, and we see them growing up before our eyes, it becomes clear that we have got to be intentional about how we shape them. 

Not only do we shape them by our own example, but one of the other, and probably most powerful ways we shape them are by our prayers. We can be prophets in our kids lives. 

And what better prayers can we pray than to speak the Word of God over our children? Moms, Dads, if we are not praying for our children, who is? It is so important, and I'm learning it more and more every day.

So parents: I challenge you to find your verses that will help shape your children. Pray them over them, silently and out loud. What a confidence builder to your child to hear you pray scripture over them! The word of God is power! 

Here are some of my verses.

Verses I pray for all of my kids:
"I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called--his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance" (Ephesians 1:18, emphasis added. )

"Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth" (John 17:17)

For Myles: "May he grow in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man" (Luke 2:52).

For Madelyn: "May she be clothed in strength and dignity, and be able to laugh with no fear of the future" (Proverbs 31:25)

For Maxwell: "But you, Maxwell, are a man of God, so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a Godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness (1 Timothy 6:11).

Pray, parents, pray! We have precious little time with our kids. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Holiness Today...Is it Possible?

Holiness. Does the word conjure up an image in your brain? Maybe you are picturing a super old, stuffy, church with cathedral ceilings and candles and incense, and a priest waving it around...? Is this word just too old?

I grew up in a Nazarene church, and my parents always received this devotion book. Holiness Today. For those of you familiar with the Nazarene church, they follow a doctrine of holiness. Not a bad idea. They didn't just come up with this idea on their own as a way to "do religion."

God wants His people to be holy. It is actually His idea. And if it is God's idea, we can know that it is the best thing for us. It is for our own good.

So what does it mean to by holy?

Here are some other words for holy: consecrate, sacred, hallowed, revered, divine, blessed, religious .

To be made holy means, "dedicated and devoted to the service of God"(dictionary.com).

In the Bible, to be made holy or to be holy is also written as "to be set apart," "sanctified," and "consecrated."

God wants His people to be holy, for that is what He is. "For I am the Lord you God. You must consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy" (Leviticus 11:44).

This all sounds nice, maybe a bit antiquated, but fine. But how do we do this, today, in the 21st century?  Is it even possible to be holy?

You know, I believe it is, and it is something we are called to if we belong to God.

A good example of how to do this is the commandment to "Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy" (Exodus 20:8). It is not the day of the week that makes it holy; it is the fact that we set it apart from the rest of the week. We choose to rest a day because that is what God commands.

So, to be holy, we must set ourselves apart from the rest of culture. God's followers should do things a little differently than people who don't follow God. It is a choice we must make. It just doesn't happen. We don't just put on a white dress and decide we are holy today.

To be set apart for God means to be devoted to Him and His service. That is a daily choice we must make. In whatever we do, we can devote our actions to God.
"And whatever to do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus" (Colossians 3:17).
This verse is for everyone, even the stay-at-home mom! We can devote our daily routines and actions to God. When we do that, we are holy and set apart for Him!

What happens when we do choose to be set apart for God? He can use us in big ways because we are at His service. Also, Hebrews 12:14 explains it a little more clearly.
"Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord."
I believe if we are holy, nothing will separate us from seeing the Lord. This applies now, in our daily lives, not just when we die. We can see the Lord and experience Him in our lives now, if we walk in holiness. We will be able to see Him at work in our lives and in the lives of others.

This gives my mama-heart encouragement. If I devote my daily actions of raising my kids to God, I set myself apart as His servant, then I will see God do great things in and through my children. What an adventure and what a promise for this mom to cling to! What can be better or more exciting than seeing your children grow into who God wants them to be?

I will leave you with my verse for myself and my kids. When it comes to holiness, we do have some help. God's word. Knowing His word will enable us to serve and obey Him better.
"Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth" (John 17:17). 
We can do it, moms! We can be holy in this day and age. We can help our families live set apart too! Moms are so important. What a job we have!