Archive for the ‘encouragement’ Category
Rebellion is that all too common, yet little spoken of dilemma that many parents face. Few discuss it, as shame often surrounds it. Yet, it is real, it is happening, and it is often more prevalent than we want to believe or admit. It comes in many forms, but it basically boils down to a child making choices that are not in line with the types of choices that the parents would like to see.
It is one of the most painful things to experience as a parent. Parents often feel that they have poured out their very hearts and souls into the training and nurturing of these children, only to have it spurned. The heartbreak is very real and overwhelming, especially the first time it occurs! The shock, the horror, the questioning, the shame, the guilt, the mortification, the worry, the panic, and the sorrow all roll in like the tide, and the current attempts to suck us under!
But the story does not end there.
I once wrote to a woman that was struggling with her wayward teen. I said, “we trust our Father to be the best parent there is, and to draw our children to Himself, in due time. They are children that know the Word, and the Word will not come back void!”
I was then challenged by a different woman that questioned my statement with this, “the Word is also a two-edged sword, bringing some to God, and cutting some away. Having believing parents is not a guarantee for the child to be saved.”
Perhaps you are feeling the same sentiment. Wondering if your child will ever come to faith, or change his or her course? Maybe you are feeling like a parental failure, and blaming yourself for this unfortunate turn of events. Well, these are some of my thoughts on the matter.
Of course, none of us can guarantee the salvation of our children. That goes without saying. Having believing parents guarantees nothing eternally, and we must accept the Sovereignty of God. But that is also not the end of the story.
I do believe that we must continue to hope beyond hope. I take my cue from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8: “Love is patient, love is kind…it keeps no record of wrongs. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” I do believe that our children, born and raised in the covenant as children of believers and taught from the Word, will return. I will always trust and always hope, because a man that doubts is useless, and his prayers will not be answered, as is so clearly stated in James 1:5-6.
We as parents must believe that what we ask for will be done, when what we ask for is in the will of God, and God says it is not his will that any children should be lost. (Matt 18). However, I KNOW that this does not mean that all children shall be saved. So now what?
Well, what good does it do for a distraught parent to think her child is destined for hell? I think it is better to believe that the child will return, even if not until their death bed, because love hopes all things, believes all things, as I have already stated. We are to be an encouragement to each other, a hand and foot, helping each other in these trying times.
So I encourage you with the fact that we do not know if, even after our deaths, our children may come back and acknowledge all of the ways, and the Word, that they were originally trained in! What a wonderful thought! I don’t think this is living in denial either. I think that it is living in hope, and in the belief of the mighty power and love of God. If I die, and I am wrong and one of my precious children has been eternally damned, then I will be in heaven by then, where there is no pain and no tears. While here on this sin infested earth, I will choose to believe that God will draw in the children that are trained and taught in His word, in His time, using life to mold and shape them into the clay that is fit for His use.
While I live, I will hope for the best, recognizing that it is not a guarantee. I will also encourage other parents to continue to do their jobs as mothers, and to not give in to despair, or acceptance of their child’s waywardness, but to continue in hope and love and belief. This is better for their own mental health, as well as for the parent-child relationship.
I do KNOW in my head that not all are saved, but I CHOOSE to BELIEVE that He will not have His word come back void in regards to our children, even if they do not realize the error of their ways until the last moments of breath they have here on earth. This may not always happen in reality, but the hope will carry most parents through life, and will keep the relationship with them and their children moving in a positive direction, and keep the parents pleading the case before the Father. I see nothing wrong with having love and hope that believes all things, 1 Cor 13:7.
In regards to parental guilt, may I remind you of the several kings in the Old Testament that were godly, yet had ungodly sons? The Scriptures say the parents were godly, and walked in the ways of the Lord, yet the child did not. Sometimes, it really has very little to do with you, as a parent. This is not to say that we as parents are not making mistakes. Of course we are, but God, the Sovereign King of all creation, makes none.
I think sometimes we must go through some things in life before we get to the place of humbling ourselves before our Great King. Sometimes we don’t humble ourselves until we lay on our deathbeds, recognizing our need for salvation, and feeling all our regrets of a life filled with mistakes. Perhaps this may be one of our children’s testimonies, although we fervently pray for a better one!
I also think that people that have gone through more tend to have excellent counsel to offer others, and are less inclined to be judgemental, because they recognize that the process of life and faith can at times be ugly, long and drawn out. Those that have never been truly “tried” often have little compassion on the backslidden or wayward. In fact, they tend to have disdain only. That is ungodly.
The only way to help bring someone back as a human, in my opinion, is through love, because without a solid and loving relationship, there is no avenue to speak into their lives. This is why love is such a HUGE part of God’s commandments.
I think that the community that has no relationship with the wayward often does more harm than good, as relationship and love is key. Lip service is not enough, and being preached at won’t work either, without a loving relationship. Saying we love the brethren is one thing, but feeling it on both sides is another. If a shepherd/elder/believer goes after the wayward, but never really had a relationship of love to stand on in the beginning, I don’t see a lot of good coming out of it. The person must feel loved for who they are, not just expected to conform in order to be loved. They must feel that the concern is legitimate.
To better illustrate my point, the parable in Matthew 18 about the lost sheep talks about shepherds and sheep. The shepherd knew his sheep well, cared for them daily, fed them, walked with them, listened to them, tended to them, healed them, carried them, again I say daily. To be a shepherd over a sheep, lost or otherwise, you are in a close and intimate relationship. This is how you tend to them! Through your close relationship!
Jesus, at the end of Matthew 18, says treat the sinner as a pagan or tax collector if they don’t listen. Yet, pagans and tax collectors were often who He visited and dined with. I don’t think we are to completely shun them. He didn’t, he ministered to them regularly, and humbly, not as someone proud, and he always did so in love and gentleness.
Parenting wouldn’t be the adventure it is without all the twists and turns to keep us humble! None of us will ever have it all figured out, and that is okay with me. We may have no need of a Saviour otherwise. The story for me ends here. A parent must maintain relationship, hope and believe all things, and pray fervently with anticipation for the salvation and restoration of her wayward child. Right unto death. Who knows the final outcome? While I live and breathe, I say again, the Word that has been poured out, will not come back void. Amen! To quote my dear friend Aly, in regards to not seeing all your children in heaven: “not acceptable..no way did you have a babe from the Lord that won’t be with the Lord in the end. Absolutely no way.” I end with Aly’s quoted verse, Acts 16:31 NASB ” They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Love Michelle
I am sorry that I haven’t written in such a long time! It seems that the days can easily fly right by, and suddenly a whole season has passed! I never seem to find that true for those last ten weeks of a pregnancy though :D! Too bad! Any hints on how to make that time fly by would be greatly appreciated! I still fail at that, even after multiple opportunities to improve! Those last few weeks seem to take forever for me, but anyway, I don’t have to face that for awhile ……
December is always especially busy around here. We typically are trying to finish up our first half of the school year, while getting busy preparing special holiday food, and entertaining friends more than usual. Then, of course, there is the baking of the family favourites. This is a very arduous task, as everyone has their own special favourite. It could never be nice and simple – like the top three or something. No, there are about eight or ten items that are expected to be ready for inhalation! In fact, I was so behind on this particular portion of my holiday planning that I had to promise instead to make one of the more time-consuming favourites for Easter. It was those crazy cinnamon horns! They are a yeast type of cinnamon roll up filled with jam, or apple filling, and they equal my least favourite recipe to make. I am not patient enough for all of the rolling and cutting and filling and rerolling. That is why I do not make filled cookies, or perogies, or meat buns, more than once every few years. So my poor family has to wait until spring now for their cinnamon rolls!
I had been off to a great start in my preparations! I had all of the gift shopping completed by the end of November! A few of us had piled into our 15 passenger van and drove down to Fargo for a full 48 hours of shopping over Black Friday. The van was packed absolutely full as we sailed over the border back home. I was so grateful that customs didn’t haul us over to investigate. It would have taken HOURS to go through the enormous amount of purchases that the five of us had made.
How I managed to be so together with my shopping and so behind with everything else was beyond me. I really was feeling like Christmas was descending on me just like a thief in the night! Maybe it was because we took a week of family holidays at a lovely chalet in the first week of December. That should have had me all rested up and ready to tackle any job once I got back home, but instead, it put us all in holiday mode and it was just so hard to break out of it! Anyway, we managed to get the house decorated and the bulk of the preparations completed, with just a few things missing. It all turned out just fine in the end. It usually does, doesn’t it? Sometimes, our expectations need a little adjusting in order to meet reality properly.
The week before Christmas brought our family an early gift! The most precious one we could be given, outside of salvation! We discovered we would have another baby to join our lives at the end of summer, and this was exciting,exhilarating,overwhelming, and humbling all at the same time! We decided that we would wait until we got an early ultrasound and saw a strong heartbeat before we would share our news with any but the closest of family and friends. However, my body reacts instantaneously the very second that HCG hits my bloodstream, so I found myself having to keep my parka on at church and everywhere else. This was not very convenient. If I took it off, out popped my little belly, and that drew way too much attention.
When I started to receive congratulations from people I had not told, we decided to just announce it already! I will still have that ultrasound on January 12th, and I hope and trust that all is well. After losing two single pregnancies, and one twin pregnancy, we like the assurance that an early ultrasound offers. We are very much looking forward to seeing a heartbeat on the 12th!
I will be in Edmonton on the 12th visiting my sister and my mother, so this will be a treat for them as well. They will be able to join me at the ultrasound, whereas they usually have to hear everything over the phone, after the fact. This time, they can be along! I am thankful for that opportunity, and the Lord was very gracious to me by allowing me to get in for a scan on a cancellation, as I will only be in Edmonton for 3 days. I am just popping in for a quick visit on my way home from the Above Rubies Ladies Retreat in Surrey, BC. It will be so nice to see Nancy, and all of the ladies this coming weekend!
So far, I have been a part of organizing, or have organized completely, five Canadian Above Rubies ladies retreats! I have always had a nursing baby along, and I have been pregnant for quite a few of them too! The Lord sure knows what He is doing, because I tend to be very unmotivated when I am pregnant. It is a good thing that I didn’t know ahead of time that I would be in my first trimester now, or I may have succumbed to tiredness, and not bothered with putting one on this January! I am also already booked to bring Above Rubies Canada to four homeschool conferences this winter and spring, and one more ladies retreat. I did not get pregnant until all these events were all booked and set, so He must want me there! And He will provide all the necessary energy!
May He use these events to spread Above Rubies far and wide across our nation! Our culture is in such a desperate state, and we need to hear biblical truths regarding marriage and family! I suppose travelling with a nursing baby and a belly bump will help make the message even louder haha! In my weak and humble state, the Lord will hopefully speak to many, and the message that Above Rubies delivers will go to several new places! It should prove a very busy, and hopefully very productive, 2011 for Above Rubies Canada! May He be greatly praised!
I hope that you all have a wonderful New Year, and that you learn to trust our Father more and more! If He stretches you as He has me, then may you be willing to be poured out for His glory! What could be more gratifying than that? When we are weak, He is strong, and all we need to do is simply trust and believe that He will accomplish what we think we cannot. May we all be teachable, humble and willing vessels in His hands. In my own strength, I often want to say that it is too hard, I am too tired, I am unable, and unqualified. The Lord has heard all those types of reactions from us before. He even got that from Moses! However, we know that when we are on His mission, He provides all the necessary equipment! He will not let us down, He will provide all that we have need of, in all of our endeavours, at home and elsewhere.
Loads of love from Michelle
Every now and then, I find myself caught up in the sin of worry. I know it is counter-productive, in addition to being offensive to God. Yet, I can still find myself twisted up in its exceptionally tight grasp. Perhaps it is a financial concern, with the scales seeming to tip in favour of debt or shortage. Or, perhaps it is a pregnancy woe, with complications and potential loss looming. Sometimes it is over children that seem to be causing plenty of parental mental anguish. The list can become quite long as to what could be causing my wheels to spin in all the wrong directions.
Whenever I find myself in such a predicament, there is something I have found that works for me. I’d like to say that I just pray and then peacefully leave it all at the foot of the cross. However, that would not be true. More often than not, I grab it back, and fret over it some more. However, there is something that helps me truly lay it down.
Would you like to know what I do? Maybe it will work for you as well. Whenever I have a problem that is big enough to be occupying too much of my brain space, I do two things. First of all, I take a second to acknowledge that the problem may very well resolve itself the way that I hope it will, and then be over. That part is simple enough. Next, I play out the worst case scenario that the problem may cause, to the most horrific case imaginable. I then take a second to ponder that. I inevitably come to the same conclusion every time. No matter which way it goes, I consciously realize that either way, I will indeed be fine.
Even in my worst case scenario, I realize that God is still going to be sovereign, and He will still be in control, and He will still work out His purposes. I will truly be fine either way. I find this grants me a tremendous amount of peace. Instead of playing out all kinds of worrisome scenarios in my brain, I bottom line it out to my worst fear, and come to the conclusion that I will still be fine, either way. That is an affirmation I use regularly, and I find it very useful.
“I will be fine, either way!”
And I believe it too.
If you can take your problem, and see the worst part of it, or the worst place it may lead, and then realize that you will be fine, then you can truly move on. And we know that we will be fine too, because we know that moment by moment, God will walk us along, and that He will do His will. His will is infinitely better than ours anyway, so I find that within that, there is rest. Particularly, rest from worry.
Have a worry free day!
I find that one can learn a lot about life at an airport.
Like when you watch people just as they are about to clear customs to get to their gate. The tearful goodbyes that show just how significant relationships are in our lives. To love and to be loved are so valuable, and it can always be seen at airports. The tears roll precisely because we are leaving someone that has a prominent place in our hearts. Life gets crowded with many things, yet the bond of love between us and those that we love never loses it’s powerful grasp in our lives.
Speaking of crowding, something else that can be learned in an airport is the value of travelling light. There is nothing worse than lugging around heavy baggage, especially on long journeys. This is even more pronounced if you have a baby in tow. Then you realize even faster how nice it would be to travel light, and not be burdened with unnecessary weight on your shoulders. You could then be free to just snuggle your baby and get on your way. Unfortunately, many of us pack heavy and pay the price.
I have travelled both ways.
It can take forever to clear customs with a laptop, a purse, a stroller, a baby blanket, a full backpack, a full diaper bag and a bulging carry-on, and then there is the sweater, the camera and the cell phone in my pocket, and the bag with the small liquids and the boarding pass and the baby in my hands. And where are the passports? Frustration wins the day, and I feel my cheeks flushing with the stress of it all.
Clearing customs is a snap when all I have is the baby, one small purse which has a diaper and wipes in it, my cell phone, a credit card and my camera, and my boarding pass and passport. I feel light as a feather and my mood shows it!
Oh, if only I would travel light all the time!!!
This is so true in life outside the airport as well.
Often, we are carrying around heavy baggage that weighs us down and robs us of freedom we would otherwise enjoy.
Grudges, resentment and bitterness can feel really heavy. And then when we add to that unresolved conflicts, consequences to sin, and worry over things we have absolutely no control over, ugh! Pretty soon, the baggage is taking over, and it gets hard to feel free at all.
How much better to leave concern at the Lord’s feet, and deal with sin and conflict immediately, forgive and forget, and travel through the day/week/month/year feeling light as a butterfly?
Joy comes much more easily then. It seems the heavier the load we carry, the more burdened we are not only physically, but also emotionally and intellectually. We lose sight of the important things, and our mood becomes dark and dreary. Physically, our strength gets zapped just trying to deal with the weight of it all.
I try to remember to travel light, in every arena, as it reduces stress and grants the freedom that ushers in joy. Only the Lord can manage life’s burdens anyway, so why carry them, and let them defeat us?
Travel light my friends! Burdens weren’t meant for us to carry c=! Life is short, so enjoy every drop!
Okay, so I am not going to lie.
Some days are hard, and sometimes frustration and discouragement do win the day.
It happens. It’s life.
Life in a fallen world where things go wrong quite often. Life full of sinners, just like me.
Yet, despite this fact, there is joy.
Incredible and consuming joy that is regularly experienced.
I love it when it seems as though the Lord Himself comes down and gives you a hug. Do you know what I am talking about?
I was having one of those drab kind of days, where my motivation and mood both needed a fair amount of work. My energy and vibrancy seemed to dissipate the moment I woke up that morning. I struggled through the day, doing the next thing that needed tending to, in a spirit of annoyance with the world.
Yes, I do have those moods unfortunately.
There seemed no way out. I would simply have to ride out the day, and wait for the mood to pass. Devotions and prayer also felt rote, so I really was in a bind. And then…..
Something unexpected happened…..
There was a knock on the door….. which may have just been another annoyance given my state…
My cheery neighbour walked in, all smiley and happy, with…..PRESENTS!!! FOR ME!!!
Beautiful flowers and more!!!! Just because! She had no idea what kind of day I was having, or where I was at at that particular moment.
Well, I had just been hugged by the Lord, and I felt so much better!!
And that is just how HE works! By the hands and minds of regular people, HE hugs us and blesses us and lets us know HE is looking out for us! I know we may like to think it is just us coming up with these lovely things that bless others, but it is really the sovereign hand of God at work in our lives, willing us to do certain things. Divine appointments that are perfectly timed by God.
What a privilege - to be a tool of blessing in the hands of the Almighty.
May He hug you today, and in your hour of need!
I know He will!