And this is the will of the One who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what He gave me… John 6:39a
In the true-to-life movie, Breakthrough, fourteen-year-old John Smith falls through the ice on a frozen lake. He’s trapped underwater for over fifteen minutes. Although all seems lost, his adopted mother, Joyce, will not accept that her son is gone.
She prays over his non-breathing body with a deep passion and a fierce faith that won’t quit, no matter who tries to tell her there’s no point. Her love won’t allow her to stop. Her love won’t allow her to lose what God gave her.
As things slowly open back up from the pandemic, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I want this next chapter of my life to look. I don’t want to jump back into the crazy-busy life I led before. Quarantine, and its slower pace, have taught me a lot. I want to implement those lessons, and be intentional with my time going forward.
One thing that will remain on my list will be quality time spent with my family. We did so many fun activities and games that drew us closer together. I don’t want to lose that. Yet, when I think about all the energy it’s going to take, I wonder: Where did all that energy come from during Quarantine? Dwelling in that question has revealed a lot.
I’m excited to announce I just became an Ambassador for Living Faith! It’s an inspiring and uplifting daily devotional with some of my most favorite authors (Sr. Bridget Hasse, Melanie Rigney, Kristen Armstrong, etc.). My even bigger news is I begin contributing to this amazing booklet this fall. I have 20 free booklets to give away. If you’re interested, email me at email@example.com and I’ll send one along. If you then want to subscribe, I can get you 25% off the $15 a year subscription rate.
Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” John 4:53
I recently did the Kendrick Brothers’ Bible study, The Battle Plan for Prayer. In it, they talk about being very strategic and specific about our prayer requests. They recommend using a Prayer Journal to list and date each prayer, being as detailed as possible in our petitions. Their point is: Our God is a Mighty God who wants us to go big with our requests. At the same time, He also cares deeply about the minutia in our lives.
As important as praying and listing our requests is, reviewing them is just as important. It takes doings so to actually recognize God’s hand at work.
Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” John 13:37
We are in the tween and teen years in my household. It’s no surprise that my kids care more about the outside world and its influences than they do about what I think and require. It’s all part of adolescence, and I’m trying not to take it personally. Yet, I still struggle with broken promises.
When my kids looked me in the eye and made a pledge, I always thought I knew them well enough to gauge whether they meant it, or were just placating me. But lately, even the promises that seem to be made with sincerity are being broken. I’m at my wit’s end. Then I read John 13:37.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
My fourteen-year-old son, Mason, surprised us all last fall when he announced he wanted to play Rec. soccer. He hadn’t kicked a ball since he was six. I soon learned the idea came from three of his good friends who were all on the same team. Apparently, if they didn’t recruit a few more kids, they wouldn’t have enough players for the season.
Of course, we wanted to support Mason and sign him up. But the protective side of me didn’t want him to feel badly about himself when he went out on the field with kids who’d been playing, year-round, since they were four.
I reached out to the coach to test the waters. Turns out, Mason’s coach was our neighbor a few streets over. In my relief, I shared the whole back-story, and my concern that Mason’s skill level was basically at a baseline of zero. As soon as he responded, I knew God had perfectly paired this coach with Mason.
“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5
At ten years of age, my daughter, Jocelyn, was desperate to be independent. She wanted to go out for a walk, going as far as she pleased, all by herself. She wanted to hop on her bike and pedal through neighborhood after neighborhood, all alone.
I kept telling her it wasn’t safe. It was a vague response, but that was on purpose. I didn’t want to describe, in detail, what could happen if someone snatched her into a van and drove off. She’s still so young. I wanted to preserve her innocence.
Instead, I kept telling her she needed to trust my judgment and believe my rules were about protecting her. She pushed and pushed, nonetheless. Finally, I felt I had no choice. I didn’t get too graphic, but I told her enough for her to wish she’d never learned about the evil out there in the world.
Jocelyn’s not alone in her desire to challenge the limits. It seems humankind has been pushing the boundaries since Adam and Eve.
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. Luke 15:1
Jocelyn and I were having fun playing a game the other night. After she did something she shouldn’t have, and I corrected her, she got quiet and withdrawn. I asked her why. She said that when she makes a mistake, I go on and on about it, and she absolutely hates that.
My immediate reaction was to defend myself, and explain that that was my job as her mom: to teach her a better way to react when she’s made a mistake. But I bit my tongue, apologized, and said I’d work on keeping the message short and sweet.
In that “perfect timing” way of His, the very next morning, God helped me better understand what Jocelyn meant.
Give a shepherd’s care to the flock of God that is entrusted to you: watch over it, not simply as a duty but gladly, as God wants… Do not lord it over the group which is in your charge, but be an example for the flock. 1 Peter 5:2-3
The Friday before February school vacation was a sunup to sundown day of packing for me. We were headed to Florida for the week. My husband had gone ahead to spend more time with his parents who snowbird there. I was left behind to prep our house for our absence, and pack for my three kids and me. Looming over it all was the 4 a.m., scheduled wake-up the next day to make our flight.
As all moms know, packing is overwhelming, especially if you’re a control freak like me. I tend to pack everything but the kitchen sink. I feel compelled to anticipate everyone’s needs, and have all the necessaries on hand to be the hero saving the day. But being a super-hero packer is endless work, and pretty much a thankless job. By evening, I was growing resentful.
So I called a Family Meeting that night, under the guise of reviewing the plan for the next day.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:10
I’m not quite sure what’s going on with me lately, but my kids have been hurting my feelings a lot.
I don’t think it’s them. Their behavior hasn’t really changed much. They are teens and a tween, after all. Obviously, they lash out as an attempt to separate from me, and to grow more independent. Throw in the sarcastic culture of our family, and the stinging comments and sharp barbs are almost common place. I do draw a hard line at disrespect, though, and they haven’t been crossing that.
I think the problem lies with me. Maybe it’s all this time spent together as a family due to the pandemic. Even wonderful things can get old when there’s not enough variety.
In my hyper-sensitive state, I find myself regressing. I’m becoming a moody teenager myself: holding grudges, withdrawing into myself, wallowing in the muck of feeling misunderstood and under-appreciated.
The response that grows out of this isn’t very Christ-like at all: I want to knock my kids’ heads together, and storm out the door. What I wouldn’t give to get in my car, drive to the airport, and fly away to some tropical resort all.by.myself.