For the Bride

This devotion was written to my daughter who is preparing for marriage in a few short weeks.  It was written by her mentor and my dear friend Melana Hunt Monroe and read aloud yesterday at a bridal shower. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. My prayer is that this encourages someone today.

“Endurance IS the currency of heaven” ~Melana Hunt Monroe

 

My beloved Cassidy,

The day you got engaged you posted, “We are overjoyed and can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for this next season!” If I could confidently share words that would enable you to navigate marriage with all the joy and hope you have right now, I would in a heartbeat. But that wish reveals my tendency to shrink from thinking on a loftier, grander, heavenly scale.  I think I would be closer to God’s heart to share with you how He matures our love and joy and hope towards resembling His own eternal, unchanging emotions, through a million minutes of happiness, grief, dread, delight, terror, amusement, enchantment, disappointment, and ecstasy over scores of years.

 

Truth be told, we all deeply want this. No one wants to have the maturity of a twelve-year-old at the lovely age of eighty.  Your Father has a VERY specific plan to ripen your spirit, and He has designed every single step (every.single.step.) in a way that will give you the greatest, purest joy.

 

Though your journey will be entirely unique (because you two are unique and He’s designed your path for YOU), there will be common features of the terrain that His children recognize (remember Christian’s journey to the Celestial City).  I’ll share a few landmarks I’ve seen, in the hope that you will recognize and embrace them as they come along.

 

WAITING.

There will never be a time you are not waiting. Right now you are waiting (eagerly) for your wedding. You will wait to graduate, wait to find a house, wait to find out if you are pregnant, or with some, wait through months of agonizing infertility for repeated dreaded news, maybe eventually wait for delivery, wait to see if the baby is “ok” (I could write a lot on that one), wait for good news, wait for bad news; waiting can become agony. You will always be waiting for something, and sometimes that process is excruciatingly hard. God places incredibly great value on waiting well. Trust, hope, faith, dread, all imply that what we see ahead must be bought with intentional patience. Hidden in all of the hundreds of Scriptural admonitions to wait (even the whole creation is waiting eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God), is the key, tucked in the opening verse of Ps 62: For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. Then repeated in verse 5: For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him.

 

You see, my dear Cassidy, every desire of our heart, if it does not lead to waiting on God only, can quickly morph into an idol. The process of waiting reveals what we value the most at any given time.  When what we are waiting for consumes our emotions and energy, when it is what our mind boomerangs back to, it becomes the thing that – when fulfilled – will bring happiness rather than the Giver of every good gift Himself. And joy from an idol is hollow, frail, and temporal. I’ve found that God has kept me waiting until “waiting” becomes a friend. Waiting, as a true friend, leads me to Him, and is not just a (frustrating) constant companion. Here you can be a great helpmeet for Tad.  You will lean on each other to wait well, being strong when the other is weak, to intentionally keep your focus on God alone.

 

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. (Ps. 25:4-5). “Waiting all the day long” leads to:

 

ABIDING IN CHRIST

Do you remember Augustine’s prayer, “Command what You will, but give what You command”? When we apply his ancient wisdom to Christ’s commands in prayer, the commands become not only doable, but life-giving and hopeful (“hope is the present enjoyment of a future blessing” – quote from my dad).  It is strikingly evident when Christ Himself gives the ability to believe and obey His command to ‘Abide in Me.’ Faith is a gift; it is not attainable through effort, Eph 2:8-9…that’s why the perceptible presence of faith itself IS the evidence of things not seen, Heb 11:1) Many choices in married life are not ‘right or wrong’ or ‘black and white.’ Whether to eat this or that, live here or there, are not as important as the time in prayer together, searching, abiding in Christ with one mind.  This process can take a LOOOONG time. Which is why we have need of:

 

ENDURANCE

I think endurance can develop through three different situations. First, there is a kind of enduring where, though the trial is real, painful, and wearisome (even vexing), the outcome is visible and sure. An example would be these last creeping, slow days before your wedding, or the last agonizingly long month of a pregnancy. Even a terminal illness like my mother suffered fits in this category. The days are long, but the end is visible.

 

Second, there is a kind of endurance where the outcome is unknown.  The trial is long, and there is no indication or evidence that it will resolve, if ever. The fiery test has no expiration date; although we can ask God to resolve the issue, His concern is that we learn to be longsuffering, develop patience, resolve, trust; to study, learn, apply, pray, and ultimately simply stand until He says stand down. I’m thinking here of a dear friend, a lovely young woman in her thirties, who longs to get married, but has absolutely no prospects.  Other examples would be waiting for employment or for funds to come in, or for resolution to a horrible family relationship. There is hope for an end, but no timeline at all, if ever. The process is the terminus.

 

The third “flavor” of endurance is when we know for sure there will not be a resolution or end to the trial until He glorifies us after death. Here, your own dear father’s suffering, and my little Eve and Lissy are good examples. Embracing His strength in our weakness is the goal. We can even learn to see joy inside of the sorrow.  Every time I look at my granddaughters I feel both intense joy and overwhelming sorrow simultaneously.

 

I believe endurance is the ‘currency’ of heaven. It has such extreme value, Hebrews says that it was worth the horrific agony of the cross to pay for ‘the joy set before Him.’ Love makes endurance possible. Endurance does, however, have a limitation: we can only develop our eternal capacity for endurance here and now – what will there be to endure there? What will there be to be patient with in heaven? So if we earnestly yearn for an eternal weight of glory, sorrow and suffering will accompany us up our mountains, faithful companions to our Much Afraid. But remember that the Good Shepherd does change Sorrow and Suffering into Grace and Glory!

 

Back to your post. The Lord has in store for you great, massive, verdant meadows of great joy for frolicking. Some of that joy will come as a gift, from the Giver of all gifts, who simply delights to give you delight. Enjoy it immensely. He also will have you wait, agonizingly, to the point you can honestly say “And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in Thee.” You will abide together in Christ, so that “you can ask what ye will, and it will be done unto you,” and through abiding, together you will “bear much fruit” and your “joy will be full.”  And together you will endure pain, because your unity will become purer and stronger and brighter in the crucible. Everything “in store for you” is already planned for your good and His glory. Embrace it all. Jesus is Lord.

Advertisements

The Parenting Secret

sowwithvision


“Just wait till their teenagers!”

This was the common refrain we heard every weekend at the ballpark while cheering on our six year old athlete and chasing her three younger siblings around the bleachers.

I often think back at how I felt when I would hear those words: overwhelmed, fearful, confused, even sad. It was as if people were communicating to me, “One day you’ll be sorry for having all those kids!”

How sad

Here’s a newsflash

It is 17 years later….and

I’m not sorry

Recently, my husband was asked to give his #1 parenting advice.  If he could tell young parents one thing, what would it be? How does he raise such great kids? Without a second thought he spoke the most profound words…

Wait for it…

joey and cassidy

“NO MATTER WHAT IT TAKES

YOU MUST WIN THEIR HEARTS.”

He went on to say that one reason why our family is…

View original post 374 more words

A Quiver Full…Yes or No?


 

With every baby comes a loaf of bread under its arm … Ancient Proverb

Have you ever wondered if you should even have children?  Do you look at the world and think, “Why would I bring a child into this crazy world?” Or maybe you look at the bank balance and think, “There’s no way we can afford another child!”  You may have one child and you are not sure about a second.  When do you know you are “done”?

I firmly believe that only the Lord and your spouse can guide you in this decision. God showed us early on to trust Him with our future family size.

My journey is not unique, maybe my story will be yours.

quiver-etched-brass-and-leather-bowman-archer-gear

 

I’ve recently been reminiscing on my life as a child and how child-less my upbringing was.  In a few days, we will celebrate the 5th birthday of our eighth (and looks like our last) child.

She was born at home with five other sisters in the home awaiting her arrival.  The brothers were not too far off with friends that day.

When Adaya Mercy arrived in April of 2011, I observed all my girls just watch in complete awe and amazement at what God had given them.

A new sister…

With a three-year-old in the home they were familiarized with all the ins and outs of newborns.

Don’t mess with the umbilical cord, careful with her soft spot, only mommies can give baby a bath, etc.

What struck me like a hole in my heart and literally made my breath stand still those first few days of her life was the realization that I grew up having never – not ever, been around babies or even very young kids.

Looking at all my kids at their ages when she was born….3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 16, and 18….I had to think back of where I was at all those ages.

I was living a self-focused, self-absorbed, me-centered life.  I had no idea as a child, what it meant to just want to pick up a sleeping baby in order to smell her freshly washed hair and feel her cuddly newborn body up against my chest.

After she arrived, my kids would go out of their way just to find where the baby is and pick her up to feel her gentle breath on their faces.

I knew nothing of that joy as a child.

So I really didn’t miss it.  Not only that, but I realized, that no one I knew had babies. None of my friends had any younger siblings around.

Even our small church seemed to be void of a nursery (or at least I never saw it as a young child).  Growing up in the 70’s was like that, you may have had the same experience.  I never remember even seeing a pregnant woman, let alone any babies growing up. Of course I’m sure they were around, I just never noticed.

It was my sophomore year in college before I had even seen a woman with several small children, before I ever saw someone nurse a baby.  That mom’s name was Laura, and when I met her and her children in 1990, it was the first seed that God planted in my heart for having a family, a big family.  I say all this because now, at 47 I am humbled and awed by God’s decision to bless us with a large family.  This is a script I could have never written in a million years.

Babies were foreign to me.

As a teenager, I was selfish, and up until Jesus became the center of my life, I was headed to a life of careers and Lord only knows what else.  When I gave my heart fully to Jesus, I abandoned every preconceived notion and trusted Him with the rest.

Including my womb.

He really does know what He’s doing.

He really is the Sovereign one, and He really can make the right decisions for us and our body no matter what His answer is concerning having, adopting, or simply mentoring more children. By trusting Jesus with our future, we can live a life of no regrets.  Recently, my husband Joey looked at me reflectively and said, “What if we would have stopped at two kids?  Then there would be empty seats at our table!” If we choose to stop, we can’t even imagine all that we would have missed out on.

I know there is comfort in control.  That it is human nature for people to want to control their environment and by controlling a family size, it makes couples feel a sense of security.  It can be counter-intuitive and it requires more faith to have more children than we might feel comfortable with because it can mean we must surrender control. Trusting God with your family size is a faith walk because you can’t see what’s on the other side.  We can’t predict the outcome.

We must, “sow with a vision of righteousness.” Hosea 10:12

Whether you are a young mom and exhausted because you are chasing around toddlers, or maybe you are in the hospital having just delivered your second child and the doctor asks you if you want to be “done” with having kids, please take some time to prayerfully surrender to God’s leadership and direction in your family’s life, and let God choose your quiver size.

Finally, a wise mentor told me as a young bride that the two most important things you will ever give your child outside of introducing them to Christ Jesus,

is a strong marriage relationship

…and siblings.

Special Thanks to https://www.etsy.com/listing/123613905/discounted-price-archery-quiver-leather?ref=market

Sowing with Many Hats!

hats

My pastor is the one who really helped me the most with the idea of HATS. Dr. Ted Seago is one of my all time heroes because he is not afraid of getting involved in the lives of his people, no matter how messed up we arrive. Today he illustrated in his message the idea that we all wear many hats, and I wanted to repost this article from a few years back.

This is dedicated to him. I love you PT!

Roles and Priorities

When you think of the roles you play, it can often change from day to day, sometimes several times a day. How do we prioritize our days when we wear so many different hats? We are mothers, wives, daughters, friends, employees, citizens, volunteers, aunts, sisters, etc. By focusing more on relationships than on to do lists, we are telling the people around us that they are the most important thing to us because our ACTIONS will show it.

The Weekly Compass
The weekly compass is what Stephen Covey writes about in his book, First Things First. It is a method I have been using for about 7 years now to keep my priorities in order on a weekly basis. A compass gives your life direction and focus. It is different than the clock, which tracks the time and things we do within that time frame. My weekly compass helps me keep in focus the most important assets in life, faith, family, and friendships.

The weekly compass works like this:
Every weekend, usually sometime between late Friday afternoon and Sunday night I schedule a “meeting with me”. My family knows that when they see me pick up my red zipper Daytimer planner, that I’m off to Starbucks for a couple of hours to set my compass for the following week.

Sharpen your saw:
The principle of sharpening the saw comes right out of scripture
“If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success.” Eccl. 10:10
The idea is that if we are not growing as a person and continually working on areas of our lives to improve, we are not best able to give to others. If our cup is continually empty, then we won’t have anything to give others. In order to sharpen your own saw, pick ONE thing you will do THIS week to improve your life in the areas of
• Physical
• Social / Emotional
• Mental
• Spiritual

After you have identified those areas, then write down seven roles (or HATS) you will wear THIS week. The hats may change from week to week, but it’s recommended that you don’t put on more than seven in one week so you can FOCUS.
My ROLES for this week are:

Wife
Mom
Teacher
Writer
Friend
Daughter
Entrepreneur

The NEXT step is for me to look at each role and ask myself ONE question.

What’s the most important thing I can do in this role this week?

Pick ONE thing. Not three or four, just one. Write it down. This is what Covey calls, your BIG rocks. If you are filling up a jar with large rocks and small rocks and you first put all the small rocks into the jar, you will not fit the large rocks in. Your ONE thing you wrote down is your BIG ROCK. Put those in your jar first, then all the little rocks will fit into place. If you are intentional about adding value into the lives of others, then all the thousands of “to-dos” will fall in to place as needed.

Relationships are the most important things in life, with God and others. Take some time to write out your own weekly compass!

I would love to hear your results.

Sowing with Vision | Raising Sons

22728_10205543696085197_1158431768196213553_n

Today is a very special day.  Our first born son turns 21.  There is something very significant when one reaches this milestone.  Not only is it a milestone for him, but it’s a milestone for us as well.  Our son Cameron, is one of the eight reasons why this blog was started in the first place.  His life is a testimony to God’s faithfulness when you keep sowing with vision.

You see, he was my strong-willed child.

https://sowwithvision.com/2016/02/01/the-strong-willed-child/ .

And now, at 6’4″ tall, he is a full grown man, who both loves Jesus and family with all his heart.

I can’t help but tear up….

After years of constant movement and more energy than could ever be explained, now he is pouring his life into young kids.  Mentoring and shepherding them weekly, Cameron is more than a piano instructor, he’s also a life coach.  By rewarding his students each week for their bible reading, listening skills, and practice, he understands the value of teaching the whole child ;  the tangibles and the intangibles.   The discipline and habits he has built in are an inspiration to me daily as I listen in to his lessons from my kitchen sink.  I’m constantly challenged by him, without him even knowing, to reach higher.  Now at 21, he has met the 10,000 hour rule in his field of study, piano.   In the book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. He continues to sow in his field of study, while also teaching others.

As a mom, watching the Lord move through him, encourages and inspires me as I pour into the younger kids, and to  keep sowing with vision. Hosea 10:12

I encourage you today…to keep pouring out your life for your family.  You won’t ever regret it.

Happy 21st birthday Cameron True!

You are Loved

 

The Heartbeat

6:00 am.

The alarm and the toddler both wake me up.  I stumble to the coffee maker and reach for my cell phone to listen to the daily audible Bible, while loading a full dishwasher.

The morning was harried and stressful.  It was the first day back to our weekly homeschool program after a long Christmas break.  Each of my kids arise and are dressing for the day.  Still dark outside, the air was piercingly frigid.  We busily hunted for shoes, jackets, and backpacks while we frantically rushed to pack seven lunches.

7:30 am.

We arrive at our destination and start unloading the van.

As the kids make their way to chapel, I visit with other moms. So far, a normal day for us.  My reluctant toddler decides school isn’t for her today, so I’m dealing with clinging hands, trying to coax her into her room.

My class starts in a few hours, and I spend the next hours researching and going over my notes so that I can prepare to teach.

When all of a sudden, my ordinary day instantly turns extraordinary by the presence of the living God…

Through a simple text.

It is now a monumental day…

11 am

My adult daughter, pregnant with her first baby, sends me a text following her very first visit to the midwife.

“I heard the heartbeat”.

The tears began streaming down my face.

My GRANDCHILD’S heart is beating strong!

How can I put this feeling into words?

The realization that your first born child, is carrying your first born grandchild.

Pure Joy inexpressible.

By the grace of God, I’ve carried to term and delivered eight healthy children over the past 21 years.  I remember the posters on the wall of the doctor’s office where I was sitting when my husband and I heard my oldest child, Bethany’s, heartbeat for the very first time.  I remember how we celebrated and wiped away the tears because God had given us the desire of our heart.

I remember that day and I will always remember today.

This extraordinary day.

When a text told me, that new life is here.

The heartbeat means just that….a heart is alive, and beating.

My prayer is that this child’s heart beat, will inspire others to continue to beat.

…That this child will send a message on the value of human life, from their tiny home, my daughter’s womb.

“Let the little children come unto me, and forbid them not, for such is the kingdom of heaven.”  Matt 19:14

I wrote this story two years ago. In the summer of 2014 Temperance Chloe  was born. She was born on the one year anniversary of the passing of a very significant Pro-Life bill that had passed the Texas Legislature HB2, which my church family and friends were deeply involved with in prayer circles and in Austin the year before.  I believe the Lord will use this beautiful young life to speak to the nation about the sanctity of human life, and the value and worth of every heartbeat.

More good news!!! Today, March 22, 2016

I got another text….

“We have a strong heartbeat!”  Yes, Grandbaby #2 arrives in October!

hb2

Strength Made Perfect

4-ways-to-turn-weaknesses-into-strength

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ~2 Cor. 12:9

“Everyone has a disability. Some are just more visible than others.” ~JPL

What happens when a mom of many loses her voice completely?

What about when a pianist begins to lose her eyesight and can’t read the music?

What happens when an athlete is injured?

Or a musician loses his hearing?

What happens?

Recently I’ve been thinking about these questions because I have been battling a hard case of laryngitis. As the master scheduler running a busy bustling household, this has become more than just an inconvenience, but a major challenge. Using a pen and paper, I have discovered that I do not write near as fast as I talk! Not to mention those cute (non-reading) preschoolers having fun trying to interpret moms hand signals and facial expressions.

This past two weeks of suffering ‘muteness’ has caused me to really reflect on God’s plan in my home and marriage and all the ways God has used weaknesses to show Himself strong. It has quieted my soul, as well as my tongue.

We learn obedience through what we suffer….

Our family is no stranger to suffering. My wonderful husband of 24 years and father to our eight children was born with Cerebral Palsy which makes simple tasks like getting out of bed, putting on shoes, and walking to the car a daily challenge.

“How blessed is the man whose strength is in Him” ~Psalm 84:5

At 2.2 pounds 51 years ago, when Joey was born, the prognosis from the doctor to his parents was grim with a slim chance for survival. The news to his parents, still very raw from the loss of Joey’s twin brothers a few years earlier at only six weeks old, was almost more than they could bear.

For literally, 40 days and nights, the tiny infant lived in an incubator, while his creator ministered to his fragile body. Day by day he gained a little more strength…

Over that first year, the doctors told his parents he would never walk, never ride a bike, never go to school, and never even play a musical instrument.

But God had other plans. Strength was being perfected in weakness.

At the tender age of 3, this miracle child experienced another hardship, which would prove even more painful in so many ways.

He became a child of divorce.

His first 5 years of life were full of doctor visits and surgeries and finally, at age five, with the help of a very strong willed step-father, He learned to walk…for the very first time.

His mother decided that her son was smart, and he deserved the same chance as other kids. So she started her personal campaign to get her handicapped child admission into the public school.

He would be the very first disabled child in the school district to attend the public school.

Strength made perfect.

Public school was both a blessing and a curse. The break from the tensions of home helped him find peace, but the social pressures and school work at times became very challenging.

At the age of 8, after major surgery, he was placed in a full body cast. After every surgery he would learn to walk all over again.

The child loved sports more than anything, he secretly wanted to play baseball and would call out a memorized batting line up as he threw a tennis ball on his garage door. Loneliness became a way of life.

His German mother, who fought so hard to get her son into public school, was now on a new mission.

She would be the founder of the first and only handicapped baseball league. Joey would finally get to play. Making headline news, and finding support from local Houston Astros, Joey, along with his assigned “buddy”, would round the bases and experience the thrill of the game.

He was 11 years old.

Strength made Perfect in weakness…

But life was lonely. There were many questions.

Questions about life and God – questions his parents weren’t able to answer.

So God sent a man to their family, who gave Joey some literature about the gospel and the seed continued to grow.

Growing up, he discovered music in his loneliness, and has since been able to teach his children to embrace the silence of life, and to not be afraid of loneliness.

Strength made perfect.

As a father, he teaches them that you don’t have to be surrounded by people to find significance. It is in that very loneliness, that God becomes more real, more near. They learned that Jesus sticks closer than a brother.

He has modeled from the very beginning unconditional love and fought vigorously against a performance based love with his kids.

His natural talent as a musician was evident. During hundreds of hours of alone time, he would play his instrument. Through the sometimes lifesaving bi-monthly visits with his father, Joey began to play music professionally.

He was 15.

College at Texas A&M was not easy. He was on his own, and did not look back. Playing music for cash to get through school meant driving in to college station from Houston at 5am to make an 8 am class.

But this overcomer never quit.

With a turbulent home life, Joey poured himself into his music and playing.

In 1987, in a dirty hotel room, after a very successful gigging night, this broken man, found Jesus.

He was 23 years old.

His exact words were, “Lord, if I can’t live solely for you, just kill me now, because I don’t want to live without you.”

Growing in his Christian faith became a passion.   He served as a summer missionary in downtown Houston, as well as in Colorado. It was in April of 1989 that my life would be changed forever.

It was the day I met Joey.

Our BSU director introduced us, he said, “Joey, here is a gal I think you need to meet”.

All I could see was JESUS. His love and His light radiated from this man.

We spent many hours together talking about our mutual love for the Lord. And two and a half years later, we married. January of 1992. 23 years and 8 amazing children later, I am overwhelmed by the spirit of this man. His fearless attitude and overcoming spirit is contagious and permeates our entire home. He never makes excuses, and by example teaches us to do the same. He knows the source of his strength. He knows why we are weak…why God allows us to suffer…

to drive us to Jesus – the source of all our strength.

I have been so blessed to live with the most amazing, steady, loving, faithful, talented, visionary, passionate, and respected man over this past quarter of a century. The gifts and calling of God on his life inspire me more today than even when we first met. It is a tremendous honor and a privilege to be called his wife, to walk by his side every day. I am thankful for his love for me through all these years, and for how he has raised our kids with conviction and integrity and for modeling what it means to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.

Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, oh man, what is good, and what the Lord doth require of you, But to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

 

What happens when a wife and mom of many loses her voice completely? When she is unable to speak and teach, instruct, encourage, train, mentor, love, and edify the family???

…She finally writes that blog post

His Strength is Made Perfect in our Weakness