I am going through Beth Moore’s study, Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit. I have been through this as well about three years ago, and I am learning new things and reinforcing others from last go around.

Beth is such a passionate speaker, and she has a love of God, and heart for knowledge and teaching that I didn’t mind doing this a second time, after all going through the first time I had an infant.

At the time of writing this the previous week’s study was on faith. I love how she highlighted that faith was not an action, but a response.

A lot of faith is refined through suffering. Being tried in the fire. But we have to have belief that God will do as he promised and be with us through the trials.

Isaiah 43:1-5 But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel:“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned,the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the Lord your God,the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransomCush and Seba in your stead.
4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,nations in exchange for your life. 5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;

She said that she has learned that when she can’t see his hand, that she has learned to trust his heart. This is hard for me because I want so much to see his hand, I want to understand, I want to know the next steps. But I can sit back and trusts my God who is the same today as he was yesterday and will be tomorrow. (Hebrews 13:8) I think about the footprints in the sand illustration that my aunt used to have on the wall.

Footprints-in-the-Sand121 source of picture, -Original author unknown

I also love when she said “Faith sometimes means knowing that God can, whether or not he does. He always can, my friend! If he choses not to, He has greater glory in mind.”


Spiritual Gifts

Romans 12 New International Version (NIV)  Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Also see 1 Corinthians 12 if you want to read more about spiritual gifts.

   It was truly a blessing to receive my gifts as a part of Disciple, the 34 week study of the bible. We talked about spiritual gifts and then we all shared with one another what we thought their gifts were and where we could see them serving. We were to write up a summary and intention of where to serve, and I thought that I would share.

I thought that I was a helper, and I do feel like I am in a good place with being a coach in the nursery at this point in my life. There, I get to hold precious babies, and I get a chance to listen to, and have conversations with a small group of women. I feel like I am in a place now where God wants me to be. I have been a co-leader of several small groups and none of them worked out, because I think that while God was pleased with my willingness to fill a need, it just wasn’t exactly the place he wanted me. Now, even with my social anxiety, I feel equipped to talk to the parents and interact with the sweet women who serve with me. I may worry some at home about what people think of me, and worrying that I never know what to say to others, but I totally feel the Holy Spirit take over once I am there.

Along with my social anxiety, I also deal with some other mood and pain disorders, and those, along with some bad relationships in high school and college have really warped my self-esteem. So to hear what my girlfriends had to say about my spiritual gifts was really from God, and I am glad that Sara had us to write something because I will always have these pieces of paper knowing what the people that God brought together to be my friends, confidants, and iron sharpening iron for these 9 months really think about me.

I heard that I am a good fit with the spiritual gift of helper, that I have great organizational skills, attention to detail, precision in note taking. With these skills they thought I might be good at fundraising, record keeping or scheduling/planning. I also heard that I was a healer, that I am stronger than I think. That I could use my testimony with my difficulties with Katie’s behavior and learning struggles to help other moms, to be a good listener to them. That I am sympathetic and empathetic and being open and sharing my story makes me relatable. That I could be a good resource to others who are grieving since I have been through the suicide of my dad, and helping my mom heal. I heard that I might be good at helping to lead teens/tweens or older kids.

I heard that I am a rockstar, not to doubt or discredit myself. That I am wonderful right hand woman. I was told that they overheard my kids really building one another up and encouraging each other, and that was an outflow of my example. I heard that I had a caring attitude, a sacrificial nature and that I am loyal.

Another suggestion was to help or form support group, possible foster parents, other moms with kids struggling at school, or others dealing with grief.

Based on what I have heard and felt led by God, I am going to continue to serve in the nursery. But I will be more aware of those who may be struggling with grief, depression issues, or kids having trouble at school, and be intentional with them. Being an ear to listen, as well as share the resources that I have compiled. I will be aware of needs for someone to help organize or record keeping and offer my assistance if I can.

   I would encourage you and a few friends to do this, because while it can be embarrassing, it is also invaluable to hear what others think about your strengths and the ideas they may have about where to use your gifts.

Trusting God more, from On the Road

My church, Hope Community Church has been doing a series called On The Road, it has been good, and you can listen here if you want.

Here are some of my take aways:

Groups: He has mentioned this most every study, that most church goers will fit into one of the following categories:
1. Exploring God, non Christians but learning and showing up. God is basically a stranger

2. Beginning with God… God is a friend, but not a whole lot of trust. I am still driving

3. Growing with God: Examples in a small group, learning to pray. God is a good friend talk and bounce ideas, ultimate control still with me.

4. God centered: living sacrifice. God a best friend. Rely completely, he is driving.

Driving message of new testament is God wants our trust and relationship. Greater the trust, greater the intimacy.

From session three: Motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. This really challenged me to think about the people that I surround myself with, and are they helping me to become more like God? Or are they driving me away?

From session four: God wants my time and my money. This makes me uncomfortable because they are my most valued assets. Money makes me feel secure, free and happy, but God messes with my money, wanting my tithes because he wants me to trust him more. He wants to be my main source of security, freedom and happiness. As for my time, it is a non renewable resource. Where I spend the most tells a lot about what I value most.

We were challenged with the 30 day challenge. Give him more time, if you don’t know where to start, you can find a plan for reading the bible. Start serving, give your tithe and then give to the needy.

On Disciplining my kids

So, let’s start with what the bible says:

Hebrews 12:5-12 (NIV) And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”[aEndure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

A few points I take away: 1) God is the role model 2) Discipline should be out of LOVE. With the goal to teach, and grow them in Godly character 3) As parents, we need to be in a relationship with Christ, walking by the Spirit, and allowing God’s leading with our kids. We need to be under God’s authority as an example to our kids.

Proverbs 29:15 (NASB) The rod and reproof give wisdom,But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.

There are several interpretations of this from the experts:

Grace Chou studied the passages in Proverbs after receiving a suggestion from her mother to stop spanking her son. She writes:

“I found the perfect example of grace-filled discipline in Jesus. [Author Rick] Creech notes that, ‘Some of the things of the Old Testament were done away with when the New Testament came into place. Take the adulterous woman in John 8:3-11 for example. The law of the Old Testament stated very clearly that if anyone committed adultery, they should be put to death. But Jesus did not allow the men to put her to death. Instead Jesus said to the men, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Jesus did not change the moral principle that was in the law, because he still told the woman, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” But Jesus did change the way that the requirement of the law was enforced. Jesus did away with the harsh physical punishment, but he still upheld the moral standard.’ I knew it was my job as a parent to do the same. 13,14

Nancy Hastings Sehested, pastor of Prescott Memorial Baptist Church in Memphis, TN, — a Southern Baptist congregation — referring to Proverbs 13:24, said in a 1995 broadcast:

“When you hear the word from this passage of ‘rod,’ what do you think of? Perhaps a stick for beating and brutalizing, right? But what happens – what happens when we understand the rod in this Proverb as the same kind of rod and staff that comfort in Psalm 23? ‘Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.‘ The rod and staff are the shepherd’s tools for comforting the sheep. It is for caring and protecting, never for beating them to death. A good shepherd delights in his flock. The shepherd will go to whatever lengths necessary to provide the finest grazing, the rich pastures and clean water. The shepherd will do whatever is necessary to provide shelter from the storms and protection from enemies and diseases that sheep are susceptible to.”

Jesus said, ‘I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd gives his life for his sheep.‘ This Good Shepherd’s rod and staff comfort the sheep. The rod is thrown out on a path to startle the sheep warning them that they are in danger of wandering into an unsafe place. The shepherd uses the rod to drive off coyotes and wolves. Being stubborn creatures, sheep often get themselves into ridiculous dilemmas, like our children. Children are in need of shepherding like sheep so that they don’t stray off into paths that will hurt them or destroy them.” 17

Robert R. Gillogly,  author and Associate Director of of The Villages, Inc., a youth residential care facility in Topeka, KS. writes: Keep in mind this is from an article called Spanking Hurts Everyone:

“The rod in the Old Testament was basically a wooden walking stick, a stout club, staff, or a tree branch used primarily for defense as in the Twenty-third Psalm, or for marshalling the sheep, or for thrashing cummin. Other uses of the rod included a scourge to inflict punishment or to strike a servant (Ex. 21:20). It was also used as a scepter of authority, the symbol of a king’s power, and an instrument of miracles, such as those performed by Moses and Aaron. But, essentially, the ‘rod of God’ (Ex. 4:20; 7:9; 12:19f.) was used for disciplining people, including children (see Prov. 3:11-12; Heb. 12:5-11). What better means for controlling the ‘folly … bound up in the heart of a child‘ (Prov. 22:15) than by using the ‘shebet‘ or rod. The ‘rod of discipline‘ will drive such folly out of children and make them docile and obedient; ‘the rod and reproof gives wisdom‘ (Prov. 29:15).

From the Hebrew: rod is shebet NAS Exhaustive Concordance

rod, staff, club, scepter, tribe
NASB Translation
club (4), correction (1), half-tribe* (22), rod (27), scepter (11), scepters (1), spears (1), staff (1), tribe (40), tribes (83).

So it is authority, is is guiding our kids, it can be spanking, it is definitely leading them.

Personally, yes I have spanked, I have doubted it. When they are toddler age, and still with preschooler, I pop her hand more than anything, but yes, I will pop her butt. I have a friend I admire who uses a wooden spoon. I have another friend also Godly who only does time out. So I think that it is a personal issue, but if you are going to physically discipline, make sure its in love.

We see Jesus welcoming, touching, hugging children, bringing them to him. Telling us we should be like the children, believing and trusting.

I have some anger issues having bipolar with hypomania. So the important thing for me in my house is space. If I am angry, I shouldn’t be disciplining. I need to make sure that the kids are safe, and I am safe. So a first resort since I also have a child with some mood instability is getting us apart, and giving us time for our knowledge to catch up with our feelings.

I let my older child (6) know that the mud room (with a bench and a pillow, that is also more separated from the main family places as well as her room are okay to go to. When she feels angry, she can go and if she has to use her hands to hurt, to do it to the pillow, not use her hands to show her negative feelings. I try to leave her alone in there, and neither of us talk until we’re calm.

Another big thing is consistency. This is a really hard for me because I have a chronic pain disorder that also causes some fatigue. And I know that all parents are tired, and there are times when it is easier to let kids bend the regular rules, or give more warnings and not backing up with consequences.

Along with consistency is having clear expectations. Ephesians 6:4 says Fathers [and mothers] do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

If the kids don’t know what the rules are, they aren’t enforced consistently or they constantly change, this is a way of exasperating (and being unfair).

6:1-4 The great duty of children is, to obey their parents. That obedience includes inward reverence, as well as outward acts, and in every age prosperity has attended those distinguished for obedience to parents. The duty of parents. Be not impatient; use no unreasonable severities. Deal prudently and wisely with children; convince their judgements and work upon their reason. Bring them up well; under proper and compassionate correction; and in the knowledge of the duty God requires.

Discipline should always be accompanied by an explanation of what they did wrong, forgiveness, and then LOVE. Let them know that once it is over, they are still loved. No matter what they do or say, they will be loved.

Bottom line: I want to bring up children who love God above all else, and I would also love to have a great relationship with them, which involves respect on both sides.

Happy Mother’s Day

Beautiful verse shared with me:

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40:11

I think that sometimes as parents we put too much pressure on ourselves, but nice to see this comfort. God knows how it is being a parent and he has patience, compassion and love.

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17 NLT

“On the day when I act,” says the LORD Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. Malachi 3:17 NIV

When Jesus was about to die, he thought of his physical mother and wanted her to be loved and spiritually cared for. John 19:26-27 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!”  Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

Paul gave a special shout out for Timothy’s spiritual upbriging. 2 Timothy 1:5 ESV I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

Also, a promise fulfilled: Proverbs 31:28 NLT Her children stand and bless her.

sweet note from Katie: To Mom, I love you always, I am with you surely to the end of the age (she memorizes Matthew 28:19-20 and that is what the Lord promises)

Stay at home mom vs. Working outside the home: Pouring yourself out for the Lord

I am blessed to be able to stay at home with my two girls. It is something I have always wanted to do. But it is hard. Some days I don’t feel like I get anything done, others I get stuck in the rut of routine. Other days we have amazing days, going to the park, or the pool. But I feel like one thing I am not is consistent.

It is my goal to every day bring up Jesus, showing them my love for the Lord and explaining spiritual things to them. But most of the time how does that look? A hurried prayer at dinner because I starve them. I mean really, who needs to eat three full meals and about half a dozen snacks?  Or bribing them to recite a few verses with M&Ms.

What gets me is that there are moms on both sides that look down at the other. I always feel like I have to word it carefully when I ask another mom I meet if they work outside the home, because I don’t want to offend anyone.

But both sides are doing what they feel called to do. Working moms, especially single moms tug at my heart because it is so hard to balance. Responsibilities in the home, the workplace and feeling torn between the two.

On my part, sometimes I feel like I am not making a difference. That I am not bringing money into the home so therefore I am not of as much value. There is a stigma on both sides. “I can’t believe they give their kids for someone else to raise.” “I can’t believe that they have a degree and they aren’t using it. What a waste” “WHAT did you do all day?”

But both have value. We need strong christian women in the work place reaching out to others, we need strong christian women in day cares caring for our little ones, we need moms staying at home to build into the other moms who stay at home. We all have eternal value.

We are called to make a difference where we are. Jesus wants us to look around and minister to the hurting people around us. To see others as people in need of a savior and he wants to use us to plant those seeds. Whether it is the woman in the cubicle next to you, or the precious child who needs to hear that Jesus wants to be their forever friend, or a lonely stay at home mom at the park.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9: 36-38

I heard Beth Moore talk just last night about in Isaiah 58 that God calls us to pour ourselves out and there are promises attached. I thought about a bible study leader who visits a nursing home every other week, or the food pantry in our community or some other opportunity with our church that can make us more others focused and a chance to do those works that God has prepared in advance for us to do.

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:6-11

We can make a difference, with God guiding us on what to do, who to reach out to, and finding those acts of kindness and goodness he wants us to do.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Ephesians 2:10

Determining the will of God

How do I know what God’s will is for my life? It is both an easy question, and extremely hard.

As for the easy– there are a few universal things that God wants for believers.

1) Salvation- He wants us to have a relationship with him, and for eternity

“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” 1Timothy 2:3-4

2) Great commission- He wants us to tell others about him. This is what he talked about after his resurrection from the dead but before He returned to Heaven.

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 29:18-20

But what about besides that? Into the extremely hard section.

I have a couple of friends who have fostered, and have both stories of having a child in their home who goes back to birth parents, and then also successful adoptions, or some that are on that path almost 100% sure. I feel like that is something that God has called me to, but my husband doesn’t. So am I wrong?

Here is what I try…

1. Asking God for wisdom: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” James 1:5

2. Asking those I trust and who live godly lives for advice: “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” Proverbs 15:22

I know his will is perfect, and in trying to hear from him I remember Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

3. Remember God’s timing. Mary and Martha thought he was too late to save Lazarus, but 4 days after he was dead was the time that God would get the glory in that situation. (John 11).

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

4. Not take matters in my own hands. Remember that God promised Abraham and Sarah a son, but Sarah thought it would be a good idea to help God since she was too old, and then gave Abraham to her maidservant Hagar. Though God took kindness on Hagar and blessed her, God still wanted his promise to be fulfilled through Sarah. And she eventually did conceive. (Genesis 18-21)

So, now I am waiting, trying to have patience, knowing that God has a plan for me and my family. He will change my heart or He will change my husband’s. But God will get the most glory from however it turns out.

That doesn’t mean that it’s easy. Or that my desire for another child in my family has lessened, but He reminds me that I get to help curb that need by my Sunday mornings, where I hold precious infants so that their parents may attend service or serve in another area.