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.

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…

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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.

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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!

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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

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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

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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

 

 

Speed of the Leader

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Leadership…

Who comes to mind when you hear this word?

Government Officials? Military Generals?  Naval officers? Company Presidents? Corporate Executives?  Local Pastors or maybe even Little League Coaches?

How about Stay-at-home Moms?

Do you think of a Mom when you think of Leadership?

Do you think of yourself?

Why not?

Moms, you ARE all leaders in your home, and your TRIBE is watching you. Not only do you lead them daily as you help guide them through simple routines, but you are modeling for them how they are eventually to lead themselves. Yesterday I was visiting with a close friend, who has three young kids ages 5, 3, and 2.  She didn’t see herself as a leader, and I told her that YES she was.  She was leading those young hearts every day, and she was setting a Godly example to other moms of how to be a faithful wife, a caring friend, and a steadfast mother.  Then my oldest son shared a quote he had just read by Brene Brown, in her  best selling book, Daring Greatly…

“I believe a leader is anyone who holds her- or himself accountable for finding potential in others.” ~Brene Brown

Isn’t this the epitome of motherhood?

John Maxwell says that, “Everything rises and fall on leadership; the speed of the leader determines the speed of the pack.”

Recently, I was fortunate to be in the company of some amazing moms at a staff meeting for our local Classical Education program.

The director encouraged all of us to begin a personal enrichment plan in order to grow personally, academically, and spiritually.  We were each challenged to identify the types of activities which recharge us and work to implement those activities weekly into our schedule.  In order to grow as a leader, we need to develop ourselves in Body, Mind, and Soul. I recommend scheduling time every weekend to lay out what Stephen Covey teaches as the WEEKLY COMPASS, where instead of focusing on your to do list for the week, you first identify four different areas in your personal life that you can work to improve on, one thing at a time, followed by your 7 keys rolls each week.  (More on that soon).

If mom as leader is working to improve herself on a regular basis, be it running on the treadmill, memorizing scripture, reading good books, working on a political campaign, or even taking online classes, then each of these things communicates to her children that we never “arrive” on the journey, we are always continuing to grow.

It’s called personal development.  School doesn’t end at 12th grade, spiritual growth isn’t over at salvation, and health and wellness are a life style, not a passing phase.

I believe that anything worth doing, is worth doing well.

Including motherhood.

What can you do today that will recharge you?  How do you weekly work on adding value to your own body, mind, and soul?  Your children are watching you.

The speed of the leader determines the speed of the pack.

The hand that rocks the cradle…

 

 

 

Sowing in Marriages

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A couple of weeks ago on Valentine’s Day I was at the home of a friend of mine who was entertaining her five young grandkids for a week so that her daughter could travel on a much needed, long overdue anniversary trip with her husband.

This was no ordinary week with Grandma!

Those kids had more fun packed into one week than their mom admittedly can pack into six months. They spent a long day at the Children’s Museum, went to the park, a petting zoo, the movies, played outside all day, and even hosted a massive Valentine’s Party for about 30 young kids ages 12 and under. The party I attended with my five younger kids was loaded with sugar and sunshine, painting, go-carts, pizza making, and cookie decorating.

It was a perfect day, and her grandkids didn’t give a second thought that day to the fact that mom and dad were away at a resort in Mexico. When mom and dad came home, not only were their love tanks full from time away and alone, but their kid’s love tanks were overflowing from an action packed week with the grandparents.

This got me to thinking

If more of us set aside our own personal schedules and routines, and embraced the children of a couple in need of a long overdue get-a-way…

Maybe we wouldn’t see a 60% failure rate in marriages?

If more of us actively sought out a struggling young couple with small children, or teens at home, who might be in need of a long date night…

…maybe we could save just one marriage?

I heard on the radio a few weeks ago a powerful message from Andy Stanley, he was speaking to the Christian church who often have the mindset that we have a greater impact on the world when we host marriage conferences for hundreds of couples, or travel to the foreign mission field and preach to thousands of people, or when we give to causes that put water wells in third world nations and save entire villages, or traveling to orphanages to volunteer  for a couple of weeks sharing God’s love to dozens of orphans?

All these things are wonderful acts of service, but how many of us can (and will) drop everything and do something “BIG” for God?

Andy Stanley made a powerful statement that morning on the radio that I won’t forget,

“DO FOR THE ONE, WHAT YOU WISH YOU COULD DO FOR THE MANY”

Look around you this week.  Somewhere nearby, there may be a couple in need of alone time.

Perhaps a date night, a three or four day retreat, or even a week long get-a-way?

We reap what we sow.

Who’s marriage are YOU helping?

 

When They Leave

communion prayer

It was a normal Monday.  With the flu in the house, I wasn’t sure which child I would be up with in the early morning hours, but I knew someone would need something for their fever.

Up at 3am.

I had even beat my 20 year old Starbucks-early-morning-barista-daughter up.   She would be leaving the house at 4:30am.  The two year old wasn’t going back to bed.  She was up and didn’t know what she wanted exactly, but she knew it needed to involve momma right next to her.  There was no consoling her other than rocking her and singing softly to her as the Motrin took effect.  As she began to settle down, the kitchen was now calling.  Being up early with the younger kids allowed me a chance to make an early morning breakfast for my college student who was headed out to campus for a full day of summer classes.  As the day unfolded, I knew it was a good time to get into that school room and organize all those school papers and clean out all the backpacks before something started growing in them.  While the house was a flurry, little girls were drawing pictures for their big brother who was off at camp, my 16 year old daughter getting ready to take one of her sisters on that promised trip to the pool.

2pm: I grab a quick nap, my work-from-home hubby is headed to an appointment and we kiss goodbye.

It’s now 2:45 in the afternoon and I need to meet a student I’m tutoring at the library soon.  With the dinner instructions explained to the teen in charge, and the preferred chores requested, I head out to teach.

3:30 at the library, my student has arrived late and I get a text.

Cassidy:  Mom….Abby is being horrible. Will you talk to her?  She has been rude, disobedient, and back talking. She’s told me she hates me over 8 times and counting and she keeps screaming like I’ve been hurting her, when in fact I haven’t touched her.  She’s being SO dramatic!!

Me: Send her to my room and let her lay down. I will call her

Cassidy: I tried to. She won’t listen.

Me: I’m in the library and can’t talk yet. Please call dad. Try another approach with her. Just leave her be. Tell her calmly that her sister is resting and she needs to cooperate.

Cass: I’ve tried EVERYTHING. She won’t listen, when she goes to your room, she wakes up Charis!

Me (to my student), “Will you excuse me a minute?”  I head to the stairwell and proceeded to try and mediate remotely a household that has been recovering from the flu with emotions high.  I knew everyone was on edge and I innocently thought that a two hour trip away from home would be uneventful.  Boy, was I wrong.

The offender had her say, and finally calmed down.

Time to leave the library. I’m now headed to the bank.  So far a normal day.

Then it happened.

My oldest daughter called me.  She’s the one living at home, has just graduated college, soon to be married in one month.  I hadn’t seen her in a couple of days since she had met her fiancé at the airport and spent the day before with him.  She had worked a full shift that morning and was asleep when I left the house.

Beth:  Mom, are you coming home?

Me: Not yet, I have one more student to tutor.

Beth: Mom, he got the job.

Then I knew.

It hadn’t hit me till that moment.

She was leaving.

I knew it would happen, we have been planning a wedding for six months.  But for some reason, today…I wept.  Actually, I couldn’t stop the tears. They were flowing and would not stop.  I wasn’t crying because I needed her to fill some emptiness in me,

…I wept because I will miss her.  I wept just because…

I’m a mom.

Did I hug her enough? Tell her I love her enough?  Did I listen to her when she was excited about a new book she was reading?  Did I really try to make her comfortable in the home?  Were the years she was here a blessing to her, or something else?  Did we pray together enough?  Did I take enough pictures?  Did I tell her enough stories of her childhood?  Did we spend enough time together?

I cry because I am thankful. I weep because God is good.  He allows us to love as He loves…To draw from His well, His height and depth and width and breadth of unending, never failing love.  We love because He first loved us.

It’s true, and now I get it.  God really does just “loan” our children to us for a short season.

Then they leave.

Others have felt this way, my friends all warned me it would come suddenly.

And it did.

She’s my first.  There are seven more to follow.  I am hoping it will get easier.  It is all good.  Things are as they should be.  She’s marrying the right man.  She’s strong, independent, and loves the Lord.  My head knows that everything is good.

I’m just waiting for my heart to get the message.

Suddenly, those early morning Motrin runs, non-stop dishes and laundry, and interrupting text messages don’t seem so bad.

Suddenly, in that moment, I realize that I have one chance to pour into all my children all the time and the love and grace and forgiveness and scripture reading and worship nights and family meetings and coaching and story-telling that I can possibly give them.

I have ONE chance to get it right.

Before it all becomes a memory.

I love you Bethany.  I am so happy for you.  The tears may flow this month, but they are tears of gratitude and love.   You make me want to me a better mom.

To all the mommas out there, holding their babies right now in the middle of the night, one day they will leave, and you will be so glad you loved them deeply like you are doing right now.  One day, you will thank the Lord, for these late nights.   One day, you will look back, smile, and pray over the next generation who will carry the mantle that you have passed on to them.  One day…..