Archives for posts with tag: family

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It’s Missionary Thursday and today I am praying for one of the missionary families our church sponsors: Ezra and Gioconda Rice in Costa Rica. They work with YWAM (Youth With a Mission), also known as University of the Nations. I didn’t get in touch with them for a specific prayer update for today, but this morning I was searching them online and found this inspiring video about some of the work YWAM in Costa Rica recently participated in related to food scarcity and loss of income during the pandemic.

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After watching the video and thinking with God about the family, here is my prayer:
Help us to be a people of greater generosity 
Help us to remember that generosity begets generosity
Open hands are more able to give and also more able to receive – help me to have open hands regarding all the resources you’ve given me.
Lord I pray for Ezra & Gioconda’s family, ministry, health, sense of purpose right now, and financial provision. Give them wisdom as they parent not only their own kids, but so many of the volunteers with the ministry, and those in the community who see them as spiritual parents and leaders. As so many kids are having difficulty adjusting to the pandemic way of life, I pray their kids would be able to make that adjustment. 

There is also a song I thought of in praying for them today, and I wanted to share it – it’s such a beautiful song, inspired by the blessing the priests were to pray over the people, as recorded in Numbers 6:22-27.

So that is the blessing I pray over not only Ezra & Gioconda, but also over our church and our transition right now: God is for us. He is faithful.

I have four beautiful, intelligent, creative, amazing children. I am privileged to stay home with them and care for them. I know many people do not have this option, and I am very grateful to God that I get to be the one to share in their life, day in and day out.

But sometimes I think if will go insane if I have to hear another “Mommy? Can I have… I don’t want… he did… she did… Mommy? Mommy? Mommy!”

Today was one of those days. It all started so well. We had a peaceful morning, and a fun playdate, and cleanup time went well, and we played a game together… but then the bickering ramped up. Oh, it had been going on all day a little here and there (as it seems to most days), but it escalated. I was in another room trying to get the baby to sleep, and once I laid him down, I thought, “We all just need to have a little alone time, and a little quiet time.” I announced it was time for this, and my oldest complied right away (because he has a threat of losing a sleepover hanging over his head based on something that happened a couple days ago). But the middle boy was hungry (which was legit), and the girl started whining and complaining and complaining and whining and attacking her big bro, and let me tell you, it was anything but quiet. They were all sent to rooms. They were released. But it began again. “We just need some quiet time!” I said, “I don’t want to hear fighting and whining right now” but it didn’t cease, and eventually calm but on the edge mommy became exploding mommy, as the four-thousandth “Mommy!” request came while I was trying to clean out a poopy cloth diaper in the toilet. Poop and whining and tiredness and too much noise just pushed me over the edge. Daughter was banished crying to her bedroom, middle boy finally went to nap, and oldest was left with baby (who didn’t stay asleep). And I went to my bathroom, sat on the floor, and cried.

I think perhaps Jacob and I have something in common. Our theme this week is family, and the reading for today in our Month of Dedication is from Genesis 37 and 50: the story of Joseph and his brothers. If anyone knew what it was like to have kids fight, it was Jacob’s family. At least, as I read these chapters, I can see, it’s not QUITE that bad… but it seems like it eventually could be, if this bickering continues. Older bros decide to sell the younger into slavery (downgrading from killing him or leaving him to die in the desert). Because they JUST. CAN’T. STAND. HIM. ANYMORE.

Either Jacob didn’t know what to do, or he didn’t realize what was going on (the thirteen kids did have four different mothers after all), but somehow the sibling rivalry in that very dysfunctional family ended up with a murder plot turned slave trade, with a big fat lie to Dad about what really happened. In fact, we don’t really know if Jacob ever found out the truth. But we do know he had a broken heart about the whole thing. The broken heart I can relate to, and dear God, I hope and pray that I can know how to parent my kids so that they don’t end up like these boys.

The sad truth is that many people have broken relationships with their siblings, or with their kids. I have a huge list in my mind of those who are estranged from at least one member of their immediate family. What a heartbreaking tragedy that is. If we can’t find love in our own families, it is no wonder we fail to find it elsewhere, though we endlessly search.

I honestly have no clue how to help my kids get along better, except that I try to keep pointing them to Jesus. I try to find those teachable moments. I try to say it in a way they can relate to. I try. I try. I try. I haven’t figured it out yet.

This afternoon, as I was sitting on the bathroom floor crying, I was at the end of myself. I talked to God, because he is the only one who understands, and he is always available to listen. I said, “I don’t know what to do… she is going to be the death of me.” And Jesus reminded me, in his loving way that only he can, “Yes, you can either die or you can go insane. Dying is the better option.” No, I don’t mean suicide, I mean — dying to self is the whole point. Only when I can die to myself, and let Jesus live through me, will I ever really live. Only with God can I ever have what I need to parent my kids well, or do anything that really matters.

So after I picked myself up off the bathroom floor, I went to my daughter’s room and we cuddled and talked and apologized and prayed. I don’t know what else I can do, but keep going to Jesus, and pointing my kids to Jesus, and praying with them, and thankfully, we keep forgiving each other when things have not gone well.

My husband got home and I was able to leave – this afternoon is my pre-arranged “Feast” day – and I am so thankful to have had an escape and a chance to talk to God and read about this family in the Bible that was also troubled.

As I read Genesis 37 and 50, I am amazed at Joseph’s ability to FORGIVE. I am so blessed in my family that I grew up in, that we all really get along well. I can’t honestly imagine what Joseph went through, being abandoned by his brothers in such a hateful and callous manner. I am astounded that he came out of the experience such a beautiful, trusting-in-God, forgiving person. Only God can do that kind of miracle! There is no counselor, therapy, or self-help book in the world that could come anywhere close to bringing about that transformation and salvation as we see in this story. God is truly amazing. I am in awe.

Jesus, I pray for families this week. I pray for my family. None of us have any hope without you. Teach us to love. Help us to listen. Help us each to die, so that WE might live.

“Truly I tell you, a kernel of wheat must fall to the ground and be planted in the soil. Unless it dies it will be alone – a single seed. But its death will produce many new kernels – a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this wold will lose it. Those who despise their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” – John 12:24-25

It is Saturday again, Sabbath begins this evening! I thought I would share a couple of reflections from last week, and thoughts to plant in your head for this weekend.

First, I loved my Sabbath last weekend. Was it perfect? No. But then, life never is, so that is just fine! I realized that if you are going to start a Sabbath way of life, it is much easier to start in the summer, when the days are longer and sunset is not until about 8:00pm! Then there is much more prep time to get everything clean and ready, so that was very nice.

We began our Sabbath earlier than sunset, with our very thrown-together family dinner, a little later than usual since we’d all be snacking a lot earlier in the day. We lit a candle at dinner to symbolize the presence of Jesus, and my husband and I read a short liturgy. I think I will rewrite that liturgy one of these days, to make it a bit more appropriate for my age 6 and under kids… I will post it when I do, both the original and my modified version.

I explained briefly to my kids what Sabbath is all about. It went something like this:

“We will be focusing on God and family for this whole next day. Sabbath is part of how God created the world, when he rested on the seventh day, and he wants us to rest, too. We light this candle as a symbol of God’s presence (they loved that because candles are very special and rare in our home!). There are a few things we won’t be doing on Sabbath. We won’t be having any screen time (frown… they know for us this means TV, movies, iPad, games on phones, and for mom and dad, the computers and internet). But we also won’t be cleaning (BIG smiles). And we will do things as a family, like take walks, play games, maybe go to the park, and we will end with dinner tomorrow.”

They seemed to be pretty on board, and really didn’t complain about the lack of screen time when it meant they had more of mom and dad’s undivided attention. (Though actually, we did let them watch Veggie Tales while my husband and I took naps on Sunday afternoon! That show has Biblical values, right? It worked for us anyway.)

We did take a walk, we did go to the park, and we did play Parcheesi together (my six-year-old’s new favorite board game). I went to bed early, because really, what else was there to do? It was Sabbath! It was wonderful.

Though Sunday morning church does involves some “work” for me, as Associate Pastor, my work is God’s work, and worship, and this week it was leading communion. After church we baked a pan of enchiladas I made the day before (totally worth it to prepare ahead!). I guess it wasn’t totally orthodox because my oven worked. Oh well. Sabbath was made for me, not me for a legalistic idea of Sabbath (Mark 2:27).

As I reflect on last week’s Sabbath and look forward to this week’s, I know it will be a bit different because we have a potluck after church (which I will have to “work”) and baptisms afterward (yippee!), then a gathering in the evening with the moms group I am in, and I have to go buy something for that which I promised I would bring and will not have time to get today. So it won’t be a perfect Sabbath, but I will keep it in my heart, and we will light our candle and say our liturgy and prayers and focus on God and family and ceasing from normal work and commerce as much as possible.

As you prepare to shut out the noise and distractions to really keep Sabbath in your heart, think about what Marva Dawn says in Keeping the Sabbath Wholly:

“Sabbath ceasing [means] to cease not only from work itself, but also from the need to accomplish and be productive, from the worry and tension that accompany our modern criterion of efficiency, from our efforts to be in control of our lives as if we were God, from our possessiveness and our enculturation, and finally, from the hum-drum and meaninglessness that result when life is pursued without the Lord at the center of it all.”