Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Fear Monger - What If?

There is a place in my mind where fear continues mongering. It spews relentless questions at me that threaten to drive me crazy if I do not take the time to hush them. It must be murdered for the villain it is within; it cannot be trifled with there is no room for it. It can be absolutely destructive if it is not killed off completely.

I know many moms struggle with this too.

  • Will my child return home after I give him the keys? What if an accident occurs?
  • Will my child ever be able to live without me? What if someone takes advantage of her?
  • Will my child be kidnapped? What if someone steals him?
  • Will these people I am entrusting with my child treat her correctly? Will they understand her? What if they crush her with their words?
  • Will my child be okay after another bout of sickness? What if I lose them to death?

     Fear has a way of mongering, dealing itself in unfair questions, stealing faith, joy and contentment that we should rest quietly in but fear grips us.

However, where is the fear-monger? Because these questions come in thoughts, how do we identify the invisible?  How do we do battle within the mind? First, this kind of fear is not from God, it is from the accuser of our souls or the depths of our own hearts. It exposes places where we fail to trust God's deep love for us.

When we are washed in His love, His perfect love drives out fear. Fear has to do with punishment. The enemy of our souls want us to believe this punishment or darkness of things that probably will never happen. We cannot no let our minds run away with fear of the future.

The truth we must believe and hold fast to is God's steadfast love for us. Any punishment that we do deserve was already paid for fully and completely on the cross by the One who loves us fully and completely. He took it all. Sure, life is hard and there is still trouble. We are in between the full arrival of the Kingdom but because of His death and resurrection we are free from the chains of fear and doubt. We can say with confidence yes, what if? but what if has not happened and I trust all things fully to the One who has my best and my children's best at heart; a heart of true love.

Let yourself be washed in His love; swim in it. Splash around and bask in it. You are fully loved because He chose you which in turn you accepted. That's all. If you are His, stop letting the fear-monger influence your thoughts and rob you of the joy and peace that are yours; they are sent by the Father, were purchased by the precious blood of Christ and poured into you by the Spirit. Let that truth wash over you and let the fear-monger fall to the wayside.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love (1 John 4:18).

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Being the Grace Recipient is Hard - A Lesson Learned at Starbucks

Today I was at Starbucks. That sentence should not surprise anyone. However, this day was exceptionally busy. The car line wrapped around and was congested so I took that as a cue to go inside to place my order today. I had my little guy with me who has problems waiting but today he did fairly well. We were discussing needs versus wants and the cost of things because it seems no matter where you are with kids in tow, they want to get whatever items are calling out around them. A great marketing ploy I say.

As we were there waiting for quite a while, the lady in front of us starting talking to us a bit. I was relieved because she glanced at us once or twice before this and I was thinking perhaps she was annoyed with us. Waiting in long lines does that to people you know. However, she started polite conversation with me and little guy. As we got closer to the cash register she asked Dakota what he would want out of the food case. I quickly replied, "oh no, he wants a kids hot chocolate and knows we cannot get anything out of the case today." I did ask him however if we did get something what would be your favorite thing? He pointed it out and I said good maybe next time.

The lady in front of us ordered her coffee and purchased a gift card. She turns around and hands it to little man and says, "Now he can get whatever he wants." I was overwhelmed. At a loss for words and pressured to put my order in, I took out the card and let little man get the cake pop and a hot chocolate with it. I thought it was only a few dollars but then ordered my coffee too. The card covered all of it! What a blessing.

Though now because it was so busy we had to wait with the lady. I felt embarrassed and obligated. I questioned in my mind how much was actually on that gift card. I was suspicious. I had little man thank her and I thanked her as well. She said we should come to the airport and see the planes sometime because it is what she works with. It was so kind; but awkward.

I cannot help but to wonder why? Why is grace so hard to receive? Little man seemed to have no problem receiving it. Oh to have that faith; the faith of a child. I however have lived life. I have trusted and received the crippling pain of deception and betrayal. I have lived enough to know life hurts. I have toughened my heart so to avoid this pain. Yet, a gift as precious, not earned, is difficult to receive. That is grace.

Grace is unearned favor from God; not that we can earn it anyway. The Father is different from human beings. Though we are created in His image we all are flawed and fallen. We all need a Savior to save us from this bent toward sin. I don't know the reason for this unexpected gift from this lady however I do know that every good and perfect gift comes from above; from the Father. The Father who never changes, never gives up on you, who chose you in Him before the creation of the world, who is delighted in you, who loves to the point of death on a cross for the simple reason of saving us. He benefited nothing from this act, it was purely grace; a free gift from the heart of our Father.

If I struggle with receiving a gift card from a stranger then of course I struggle with receiving His grace. I find it hard to believe that the unlovely and unloving could be loved in such a way. Maybe that is why I love the story of Beauty and the Beast. I see myself as the beast who let love change him. That is how the Father works. He pours His unstoppable love on us over and over again with the hopes of us trusting Him. It is that love that holds me and keeps me running back to Him over and over again. That is precious grace.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

More About the Broken System and Our Story - Part Three

There was a family in need. We heard word of it. We HEARD. Too many people out there do not have ears to hear because they are so self focused. I understand. This was me and still is me in many ways. However, we heard, we had a choice of how we would respond. We all have a choice. The response of entering into a broken situation would not be easy. It would not be defined by black and white rules. It would be messy. It would be hard. It would be painful. Isn't that all the things we like to run away from? I know I do. BUT GOD.....

Christ has given us a ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5). He is working to restore all things to Himself and when we are in Christ that is the ministry we are given. Above all, we as His ambassadors; are to be in the business of reconciling others to Christ. Bumping our way through this process; we did this. It is not clear cut how you accomplish this, yet I know you must keep your eyes focused Heavenward and keep Christ and His resurrection in the forefront of your mind.

The problem with the system is that it is secular in general. Motivations are wrong. The only thing that should matter most is what is in the best interest of the child but this is often not the case. Children need love, food, clothes, shelter, and stability. The system tries to give them these things but more often the needs of birth parents are looked at over the children. Perhaps it is because they are the ones causing the disruption in the the family. Services are thrown at them but sometimes these parents need someone to walk through the process with them as to how to accomplish the assigned goals. I remember having to role play making a simple phone call with a parent who needed assistance with getting her electricity turned on. The simple skills needed for this task; she was lacking. She needed help learning to take care of herself and the basic needs of her children.

Institutional care for children is not best or what God instituted. God is the Creator of the family unit. All children deserve and thrive best in the context of a family setting. Foster care systems have been established to mimic this but they are far from best. Now, let me clarify this statement, there are, in lower numbers, great foster parents and homes who make the kids feel secure and fully accepted as their own. There are foster parents who get into this to truly give children in need a home and love on them as they need. However, it is not best. It leaves children in limbo. They are not freed up to be adopted into a forever family so they live with a fear of placement changes, their foster parents discontinuing services, their birth parents instability, and other factors.

By the grace of God when we saw this family in crisis we were able to step in and help. We were able to meet with the family on a regular basis in order to try to mend the situation working through this ministry of reconciliation. Typically in the ministry of reconciliation people are not in a right relationship with God, this in turn affects relationships with others and with themselves and then this greatly impacts the situations they are in. The book, When Helping Hurts has helped me see this and I wish I had read it before we started the process we ended up in.

An example of this is as follows;
You see these people in front of the stores/parking lot during the Christmas season holding up signs that say they are homeless or in need. They are there daily for most of the month of December. If they are truly in crisis, giving them the immediate need is good then you go from there working out the true issues behind the crisis. This is where the ministry of reconciliation starts working out. The problem with the people holding up the signs is that many people will throw cash at them but not take the time to really walk through the true issues they may be having. No reconciliation takes place. The cycle continues.

How this translates into childcare is entering into a situation where a family is in crisis. When this happens it is an opportunity to walk with them in order to help facilitate reconciliation. In some situations this is possible yet in others it is not. It depends on if the family is willing to work toward that reconciliation. This process takes a long time. Sometimes it can take a lifetime. The question is are we willing to walk with them?

I understand not all people can take another into their home, but we can all walk with hurting people with the hopes of reconciling them to God and one another. More to be discussed in the next post. This one was quite long. Thoughts?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Book Review: Love and Respect in the Family by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

I received a copy of this book at no charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

I chose to review this book because I enjoyed the first book I read that the author wrote about love and respect in marriage. I thought this book would also be an interesting read and I was correct in that thought. This book helps the family see the crazy cycle it can find itself on if it does not take the time to really assess the reasons why. Every family has issues from time to time with all members feeling unloved or disrespected. This book helps the reader learn how to stop that from happening.

I especially love the chapters at the end of this book. There is a chapter on the differences of parenting male and female children. It tells how mothers should relate to their sons and fathers to their daughters. This is great information because we do not readily understand the opposite sex. At the end of each chapter the author offers additional resources on their website that can be accessed. I found this very helpful as well.

I think this book is good for Christian parents. It addresses issues we all face in families. It reminds us that we are parenting as unto the Lord and we are accountable for what we do unto Him alone. It reminds us that we must control ourselves not our children. Children have a free will to act the way they chose and we can only control ourselves. We must make it our best effort to parent as unto the Lord raising them up in His instruction. I appreciated those reminders. The book also reminds us that we need the strength of the Lord to do what He has called us to do. It also reminds us of the gospel and how despite the difficulties Jesus died for our sins because of His love for us. Overall I recommend this book.

To get a copy of this book from Amazon go here.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Advent In-depth Bible Study Resource from Refresh My Soul

If you are enjoying reading the advent devotions that you can find all around you at this time of the year, consider this, a more in-depth Bible study that explores the family line of Jesus. This study will take you deeper into the lives of the people that God ordained to be in our family line too now by adoption. God has grafted each one of us into this family if we are in Christ. Learn about these people and how they point us to Christ. Learn how God can use and mostly does use the most ordinary things to point and lead us to Christ. Be encouraged as you see bits of yourself in these people.

This is a study of that genealogy in Matthew one. It is a simple study. It was my favorite project and is dear to my heart. I would love for you to get it. It is featured for $2.99 on kindle, the lowest we could mark it. However kindle is just a convenient way to get it. As always our resources are always available free to you. I am more than happy to email you a PDF file at no cost. Just shoot me an email at angela [at] refreshmysoul [dot] com and I will get it right out to you.
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