Friday, October 17, 2014

The Ticket

He was SO excited!   Kendall almost knocked me over when I picked him up from church recently because he had been given a precious gift... a ticket to a FREE movie that our church is showing tonight.  He kept jumping up and down telling me that he had been given a ticket to movie night and what a prize it truly was.  In reality, every kid in the class got a free ticket that day, but in his mind, it was a rare treasure.... so much so, that even I (as his mother) was not allowed to touch the ticket!  He ran up and down the halls of our church stopping everyone he saw to show them his ticket and tell them about the upcoming movie night.  Oh, his joy became contagious!  I laughed.... as did everyone else he talked to that evening.  To be brutally honest, everyone is invited to movie night and the ticket isn't even needed to get into the event.  Yet, to my incredible four year old, it has meant the world... he is suddenly special, precious, chosen.

Friends, through the blood of my precious Savior, Jesus, I, too, have been given a "ticket" to a redeemed life where all my past faults and failures have been transformed for His glory and my betterment.  I have been given life.... but, not life as this world holds, life that is reflective of the one who has restored and given me purpose.  I have found freedom in Lamb of God who bore the sins of the world!  Yet, do I share it with the same conviction and excitement that my young son held for this movie?  Do I find such delight that I have to stop everyone I see to share this tremendous thing?  Is my joy about being a redeemed child of the one true King contagious to others?  Oh, dear ones, I feel deep conviction about this.... if I have been given SO much from our precious Lord, WHY do I fear sharing? 

"You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" (2 Corinthians 9:11-15 NIV)

Friends, we have been a gift- beyond our imagination and it is to be used for His glory to transform lives, bringing healing, and restore life!  Yet, we bury it deep within due to fear of offense or rejection.  Isn't it better to be rejected than to have never shared?  You have the ticket to life within- if you withhold it from others- you withhold life from them as well.  Oh, Lord, please don't let that be!  Also consider this.... He chose you to be the one to share His life-giving message.  All resources and possibilities are His and yet, He chose you!  Let that privilege not fall of deaf ears.  It is an honor that you were selected to carry His gospel to a world in need!  Will we share the freedom we have?


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Confessions of a Parent

Can I confess to you?

I often struggle with parenting.  I desperately love my kids and I long to do this thing right.  I want them to grow into mature, responsible, and productive members of society.  I want them to succeed and thrive in whatever place they find themselves in society, work, and life.  I long for them to discover love and marry precious daughters-in-love for me to spoil!  I want so much for them....

So, as their parent, I feel the weight of preparing them for living this life they have been given well.  Each small moment of discipline and instruction begins to feel mountainous as it all seems to have tremendous impact.  Sometimes, I feel like I am too easy on the boys and other times I feel like I am the mean mother who resembles more of a military officer as I  bark commands and orders at them.  On occasion, I am the mother who just wants to hide in the closet... with chocolate.  I love my children, but this endeavor we call parenting is HARD. 

More than anything, my heart cry is to see them fall in love with the Savior who gave His very life-giving blood that they might have life--- not this physical life, but life that extends beyond their last breath.  I long for them to know that depths that HE went to for them to have relationship with them.  I want them to seek after Him for their entire lives.  I think the reason for this is that no matter what else they face in life, if they have Christ, they will have all they need.  He is the resource of all that is truly needed in the life.

Sometimes, I just need a perspective check.  I will often fail in parenting.  They will never have perfectly creative and homemade Halloween costumes.  I may always burn the garlic bread.  I will sometimes allow them to have dessert for a meal.  On occasion, we will have fun instead of school.  They will, at times, wear there socks outside instead of shoes.  I have accepted that burping at the table will still happen, at times.

Yet, of all things.... please let them cling to the Father.  I want to live out a real active faith before them.  Moments of tearful praise followed by daily obedience.  Weakness transformed into strength by the unseen hands of a very real God.  Prayers answered and acknowledged in thanksgiving and praise of the One is the resource of all.  Please, Father, if I can get but one thing right in this season of parenting, let it be that they see YOU in me.....


Friday, October 10, 2014

Lost in Walmart

"Attention Walmart customers. Would customer Julie please come to the dressing room area?  Kendall will be waiting for you."

As you might already imagine, this was NOT one of my most stellar parenting moments.  Just minutes earlier, I had come across a huge clearance sale on several items and I wanted to look through them.  The boys grew impatient as we were at the store for a birthday gift for a friend originally.  So, Caleb asked if he could go to the toys area with his younger brothers since he had his phone, and he would be responsible for Kendall.  Caleb has really grown in maturity in this area and I agreed to his offer.  Shortly later, Caleb returned with Kendall who wanted to convince me that the toy he found for himself would be a good purchase.  When I did not agree with that, Caleb went to return the toy and Kendall -in anger- ran off.  Before I knew it, he was lost....

I searched through all the areas close to me and still did not find him.  The only thing I could think of was that he wanted that toy, and I quickly headed to  that section of the store where the older boys helped me search, but no Kendall.  My panic was nearly to capacity when I heard the announcement calling my name and that Kendall had been found.  I was relieved, desperately so- and more than a little irritated.

When I arrived at the designated pick-up area, I expected... nay, wanted to see a frightened little boy.  I wanted him to feel the depth of fear I had felt in that moment.  However, that was not what I found.  He was calm and happy.  The sales assistant couldn't get over how un-upset he had been.  He gave them all the needed information- my name is Kendall Boles and my mother is Julie Boles.  No fear.  No tears.  No anxiety. 

After I thoroughly hugged, kissed, and chastised him for running off, I asked him if he had been frightened.  "No," he responded, "I knew you would come get me."  Ugh!  Really!?!?  I was shaking, and he had no fear!  Later, as I processed this (and confessed all this to Reagan) (and Facebook) the Lord helped me to see two things:

First, he knew who he belonged to... and he knew his name.  Friend, sometimes I forget who I belong to- do you?  I am a child of the ONE TRUE KING!  I am His precious redeemed daughter.  His name is branded on my soul and I have taken His name--- CHRISTian.  He is my precious Father.  Why do I fret when the storms of life threaten?  Why do I cower in fear of the unknown?  Whom do I have to fear?  Oh, that I could know- truly, deeply, bone-marrow deep that I am His chosen child.... how different would my life look?

Second, Kendall knew me so well that there was no fear of my not coming to find him.  He rested in that knowledge.  Oh precious friend, if I just knew my Savior that well..... Sure, we all say that He is ever faithful, but when we are the ones being tossed about in the midst of the winds of change, conflict, and difficulty... are we as confident?  Sometimes we just need to be reminded of His faithfulness in the past to rest in His presence in the midst of an uncertain future.  His faithfulness endures and He never fails us!  I want to know Him that intimately.  How about  you?

Let that be the cry of our heart today- that we might know to whom we belong so intimately that all fear and anxiety is abated.  We can rest in HIM!!! 


Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Siren in the Night

You know that place of deep, peaceful slumber when you are fully and completely asleep.  If you are a parent, you know the absolute value of this treasure.  Some of you may not have experienced this in days, weeks, months, years.... a restful night is truly a gift of great value!  Last night, I was experiencing this wonderful thing when a brief, sharp, very loud, piercing sound startled Reagan and I both to alertness.  We quickly determined that it was a sounding from one of the smoke detectors in our home.  After much debate- remember we were very comfortable in bed- we decided that it was best to check out the situation.  (Yeah, I know we are sounding like great parents at this moment.... the headline here could be "Couple Waits Until Smoke Takes Over House to Get Kids Out"...)  We walked around the house and saw nothing that indicated a concern.  I bravely suggested that Reagan go check out the attic!  Nothing.  So, back to bed we went in hopes of additional slumber.  We had just settled into our pillows when the short and sharp sound went off again.  We finally determined that it was something with our electrical service since nothing else was showing up and our alarms are hard-wired into the electrical part of the house.

Sleep didn't come too quickly afterward.... I was on alert. 

Sometimes I wish my spiritual life had an alarm like that.  One that would sound as soon as I strayed too far from my security, my life source- Jesus Christ.  Perhaps one like the stores have here in the United States if the salesperson forgot to take off your security tag or like the sound that large pieces of construction equipment make when backing up????  That would certainly get my attention and make me think twice, huh?  Ha!  The truth is, our precious Father has given us an alarm like that called the Holy Spirit.  IF you are truly seeking a life after the Father's heart, you will notice a small uneasiness that pierces your heart when something has changed in your relationship.  There will be a nagging sense that something is "off" and the renewal and joy You experience daily in His Presence will dim.  This is an alarm, dear friend, a loud sounding in your soul crying out for you to return to Him and access the source of it. 

Recently, I experienced it for myself.  I had struggled with a growing distance in my personal relationship with the Father.  I even expressed to my husband that I felt like I was sinning against the Lord in some way because I sensed several things: a loss of intimacy with Him, a struggle to spend time with Him- reading His word or praising Him, an inability to do certain things that I normally felt His presence guiding and leading me through... namely, writing.  Several times in the past week, I found myself sitting in front of a blank computer screen with no hope of processing or expressing what was happening.

 In a serious of events, the Father gently revealed to me an area where I had not been obedient to an action and decision for our family.  Following my repentance, I felt as though the dam that had held back so much, broke.  I praised Him afresh with a renewed heart and mind.  I felt relief and the fear that had held me captive in my lack of obedience was replaced with hope and trust in Him.  My worship became real again- not just an act of solemn obedience- but a truly genuine outpouring of a thankful heart.  Words, suddenly started pouring forth from His heart into mine.  Renewed.  Restored.  Refreshed. 

I am thankful for the silent siren call through the Holy Spirit that drew me back to intimacy with the Father.  I am thankful that He is ever faithful to give wisdom and insight when we ask- mainly, I imagine, because He longs for that intimacy to be restored as well!  Where are you in your spiritual journey, dear friend?  Have you experienced what I described before?  Are you in a current season of "silent sirens" calling out to you?

If so, here are some things that helped me:
Find a place of quiet reflection, and pray genuinely to Him- asking Him to reveal what area of your life is "off" or not honoring to Him.
Listen.... listen to Him speak to you through the Holy Spirit.
When, He reveals something to you, repent and seek to be obedient in whatever ever He asks of you.
Praise Him!

Let me share that it took several sessions of "quiet reflection" for me because my heart was not ready to truly deal with that particular area of struggle.  That may be the same for you.... persistence, endurance, and continued seeking after His Heart through prayer will help you make a break-through.  I will be praying for you- my unnamed friend- and carrying you to the cross.  Feel free to make your needs know to me by e-mail ( ) or comment below. 


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

When the Toddler Tries to Clean the Table.... With His Tongue...

Last night, as an ode to the end of summer, we went to a local drive-in restaurant for their half price vanilla cones.  When the waitress delivered our cones, Reagan quickly surmised that sitting in our vehicle to eat them would not be a good thing.... for our car.  I mean doesn't that just scream insanity to give a four year old the leaning tower of ice cream and expect him to not get it all over the car ...himself... his brothers... everything!  So, we decided to get out and sit on one of the tables outside of the restaurant.  We had barely sat down when Kendall accidentally brushed his ice cream tower against the table itself.  I looked over to see him sticking out his tongue and leaning forward in the attempt to lick the ice cream off the table. I cannot express the shear terror of that moment.  This may, in fact, seem like an exaggeration, but who KNOWS what germs were on that table. 

I screamed, "NO!!!"

Kendall was caught quite off guard by my sudden reaction.  I mean, he was just creatively cleaning up a mess, right?  Oh, but I long to protect my children from so much- germs, are but a start.  Danger, heartache, pain, loneliness, illness..... the list could go on and on.  Yet, I can't seem to fully protect my adventurous bunch.  To be completely honest, I am learning- more and more- that it is best to not protect them from all harms.  Life, real life, is lived out in glorious seasons of both victory and defeat.  In fact, one can never fully grasp the joy of victory unless they have truly felt the despair of defeat.  Both are need, necessary, and important for growth and maturity in life... and beyond.

Our Heavenly Father allows us to experience both, doesn't He? Mountain tops, valleys and the climbs in between.... all are needed and necessary.  God never wastes your efforts.  All events that are woven in the tapestry of your life were planned and passed through the fingers of the Almighty.  The tears shed and the smiles savored were all a part of His glorious plan.  Victory brings us hope and encouragement while trials grow our strength and endurance.  Each are essential.  Yet, too often, we revere the victories as our own and claim our trials are His lacking..... yet, neither is true.   Our precious Father can do all things, but restrains Himself when, in His perfect knowledge, a greater lesson of perseverance is needed.  He loves you too much to allow you to remain a babe of the faith.... just as any parent longs for their child to grow and mature in a healthy manner.  He will constantly bring events into your life to grow you, mature you, strengthen you, and draw you ever more aware of your desperate need for HIM.

How does this change my parenting?  Of course, I am going to scream out in warning if my toddler runs out from my grasp in a parking lot, (or tries to clean the table with his tongue- oiy!) but I may hesitate and allow him to learn and grow when he struggles with a new skill... like tying shoes, writing his name, or making a new friend.  I am there- always- watching and giving guidance when the Spirit leads, but waiting and watching just the same. HE is doing the same for you, dear friend, so, you can find rest, peace, and joy in that. 


Are you going through a current season of victory or trial?  Do you trust Him as He parents you through it?  What area of this season is difficult for you?  What scripture are you clinging to during this time? 

Needing prayer?  Please feel welcome to comment with your need below or send it to

Monday, September 22, 2014


Fingerprints..... I find them on my refrigerator door, car windows, mirrors, light switches and doors.  I am keenly aware that there are three boys living in the house.... very actively living in this house, I might add.  I love my boys.  I love the way they keep me laughing, but finding yogurt covered fingerprints on my freshly cleaned refrigerator door does NOT result in a chuckle from me. Last night, I was almost asleep in bed, when Reagan called me into the bathroom finding some strange looking fingerprints on our bathroom cabinet.  He called it blood.  I decided to call it "dirt" since all three boys are alive and kicking and no one had brought to my attention any massive blood loss in the past few days.  :)  Sometimes,  in parenthood, ignorance may be a blessing in disguise.

I have decided that our Father leaves fingerprints behind too.... because I see Him in the midst of my day. I see Him when the perfect scripture for my current season pops up on social media, or when the perfect song addressing my feelings comes on the radio.  He is in the last minute delays, the forgotten meetings, and malfunctioning alarms that protect us from harm.  He is in the quiet calm of a beautiful sunrise and the rewarding rest of sunset.  I see His hand in the vibrant fall colors as well as the fresh green renewal of spring.  He is even in long summer nights and pure white of glistening snow in winter.  He is anywhere and everywhere and His heart is always reaching out to touch you... to draw you close and remind His children that they are loved, redeemed, chosen, and never forgotten.  Fingerprints of the master creator imprinted into the lives of His most precious creation- His children.  The creator still shapes and molds the lives of His creation.

To be honest, I see His fingerprints best when my life seems the messiest.  When my life seems to being going perfectly without the blemish of struggles or muddy confusion in the midst of trial, I see His prints less.... maybe I am not looking or maybe my eyes don't see them as clearly....but, they are there just the same.  However, when I am mired in the midst of a messy situation, I look ever so desperately for His hand... and He is always there. 

Maybe today, as I clean yogurt covered fingerprints off the refrigerator, they will serve a reminder for me to search for His fingerprints in my life. How about you?  How have you "seen" His print left on a situation in your life recently? 


Monday, August 25, 2014

To all mothers, today....

To all mothers, today, whether you just sent your babies off in a bright yellow bus or you are preparing lessons for your children at home.....

You are enough.

To the mother who spent hours, at various stores, trying to find pocket folders with brads and could only find ones in "ugly" colors or styles....

You are enough.

To the mother who got up early this morning to do final "First Day of School" preparations and still burned the toast.....

You are enough.

To the tear-stained mother who just dropped off her baby- and her heart- at Kindergarten for the first time today.....

You are enough.

To the homeschool mother who is silently worrying, "Am I preparing them fully?"....

You are enough.

To the mother who finds herself almost giddy at the thought of freedom for the next several hours....

You are enough.

To the mother who is juggling work as well as parenthood and marriage....

You are enough.

To the mother who just dropped off her baby for their "last" first day of school....

You are enough.

You are enough because God designed you for your children- just as He designed them for you- no matter how they joined your family.  You were given all the tools, wisdom, and abilities needed to guide and nurture them into the future only He knows.  Perfection is impossible, but growth and maturity grow best in soil mixed with victory and failure- we learn from both.   Flood your heart and mind with His words and praise...breathe deeply, rest in Him, and know- completely- that you are enough.

Monday, June 23, 2014

When God Fails Us....

I was in a sea of hands raised, all clamoring for my attention, last night as I assisted in the Bible lesson portion of our church VBS.  I selected several different children to take part in the activity before we continued, but in the minutes afterward, I noticed a scowled face looking in my direction from my second son.  He was mad.  I had not chosen him to participate in the activity.  Later, in the car, he commented, "My very own mother did NOT choose me."  He was hurt and felt betrayed. 

The truth is that I had thought about selecting him, but only a limited number of kids were going to be selected and I tried to select a variety of kids.  It didn't seem like that big a deal to me, but to him, his disappointment was very real.  Of all the kids in the room, he was suppose to the be the "special" one because his mom was leading...

The Father opened my eyes to how often I have viewed my walk with Him from that same perspective.  Have I not looked at the blessings of others and been jealous?  Have I not looked in frustration at my Father and felt betrayed because He chose to bestow upon another a treasure I had longed for?  Does this feel familiar to you, as well?

So often, as precious children of the Most-High-King, we begin to feel entitled to whatever we wish.  Yet, our Father is far more interested in developing a spiritually-mature faith that is hard core and marrow deep than trying to entertain us in order to keep us happy.  He knows us so intimately, as the knitter behind our frame, and everything that comes into our life is used to grow and mature us.  That fact is easy to accept when it is a blessing, huh?  What about when a trial comes or when circumstances befall you that literally knock the wind out of you?  A death....a betrayal....a crushed dream.... a desperate need.... is it easy to trust that He has purpose for THOSE events in your life?  Tis, often, a hard pill to swallow.

I read the following statement this morning, "We're all looking for a quick fix, but God is after lasting change.  He leads us to a lifestyle of Christianity." (Beth Moore, Praying God's Word Day by Day)  What He is leading us to is a real and genuine faith that has been tested and tried for the sake of its purity.  That kind of faith is rare and priceless to our King.  If you are walking a difficult journey, it is because He sees great potential within you for more.... more faith.... more purity.... more strength.... more love.....more hope.... more of all that reflects of His very own character.  It is love that pushes you to the limit of your own personal abilities and beyond in order for you to see HIM more clearly.  At the end of your life, what will have more value and worth?  The temporary reprieve or request that you so desperately want- or a purity of character in faith developed by our King of Kings?  What is the treasure you long for most?

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:35-39 KJV)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Yesterday, I had a sick one in the house- the ugly kind.  Caleb had awakened early in the morning with a sick stomach.  So, I had gone and purchased some survival supplies-- Saltine crackers, Gatorade, and Sprite. I had purchased plenty for everyone just in case the illness spread to the rest of us.

 Once I got home, my youngest son, who was not sick, wanted some of the Gatorade.  Now, I know my son.  In fact, I know my son so well that I was fairly sure that the Gatorade was not going to taste good to him.  So, I explained that the tempting red beverage was for his older brother who was sick.  Yet, he proceeded to cry and voice his frustration over being excluded from this privilege of drinking the Gatorade.  I decided it was best to allow him to have a taste of it rather than feel that he was being purposefully excluded.  Sure enough, one small taste was all it took to wrinkle his nose in disgust.  He didn't like the taste of it.

Truth is, I knew that was how he would react.  My decision to not give him the drink originally was from my deep knowledge of him and from the logic that it was not what he needed at the time.  Yet, he felt distrust and sadness as though I was withholding a treasure from him.  Yet, so quickly, he realized the mistake that he had made.....

My precious Father, spoke to my heart through this experience.  How many times has He- in His intimate knowledge of me- not given me something that I wanted?  How many times did I feel distrust and as though He was withholding from me?  Yet, all along, He knew it was not what I needed at that moment and time or that we still have something to learn or accomplish beforehand.  Our Father never withholds from us without purpose!  We may not have understanding for a time, and in some cases, not until eternity.  Yet, He is whispering to our innermost being, "Trust me." 

There have also been times when the Father allowed me to "taste" whatever I so desperately wanted only to realize that it was not all that I dreamed it to be.  I then could see that I had not been cheated out of something precious, but protected from a greater hurt or loss.

My friend, is there an area in your life that you feel He is withholding from you?  Do you feel as though He has failed you?  No lesson is harder than trusting Him when it goes against our very nature and heart's desire--- but, it is in those moments that the harvest within is greatest!  He willingly sacrificed Himself for the benefit of you; so, don't you think He would give you whatever you are struggling so desperately for IF it was what was best for you?  Trust Him.  Even when your eyes don't see Him, when your ears struggle to hear His call, and your feet are tired from the journey- trust Him!  He will NOT fail you! 

Are you struggling with trusting Him in a certain area?
Can you confess your distrust of Him in that situation?
Will you commit to walk through the challenging days ahead knowing that He will never leave your side?

Praying for you- blessings!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Phone Trouble

On Sunday morning, as we were rushing out the door for church, I had my arms full- literally and figuratively- as these past few weeks have been so hectic and busy.  Often, when you have your hands full, something gets "dropped".....  Boy, I can think of more than one thing over the past few weeks, but on Sunday morning, it was my phone that dropped.  My heart stopped, but I was relieved when I picked it up and saw no damage.  Feeling like I had dodged a bullet, we left and went to church.  However, minutes later, I discovered that it would not turn on.... not. at. all. 

If you know me at all, you must know that I love my phone!  I am never without it.  It is my Bible.  It is my GPS.  It is my internet.  It is my world at large- outside the walls of my house.  Now, I try to use restraint with my phone, but I admit that it is a slight addition.  Suddenly, it was gone.  Ugh!  Just months before, I had dropped my previous phone and the screen had shattered, but it worked fine.  I used that phone- with it's shattered screen- for two months before getting another one.  In order to keep my new one safe, I had purchased a nice "tough case" for it.... well, it looks perfect, but does not work.

The thought hit me how that description fits so many people in our society.  Some look "shattered" but are whole within while others look "normal" and are deeply broken from within.  Which of the two would you prefer to be? 

Another conviction that hit me was that my phone had become the ultimate "resource" for me, but that is what my Father wants to be for my life.  He wants to be my resource for answers, my guiding map, my relationship maker, and my communication tool- spiritually, of course.  Do I miss Him as intimately as I miss my phone?  Oh conviction! 

I need the Father daily.  I need His love poured in and through me to handle all that is needed and required of me each day.  I cannot walk the difficult days without His power and strength from within.  I hope that long after my phone is repaired, that it is a visual reminder of my true resource for life- my Savior from whom all blessings flow. 

     Is He your ultimate resource?  Do you look to Him or other people/things when trials come?
     When you look at society, do you see the "normal" but broken people that God places in your path?
     Do you strive to look "normal" but struggle within?  Is that working for you?


Monday, May 12, 2014

Open Vessel

Behind the locked door to our bedroom, the tears fell heavy and fast.  Exhausted from my own feeble efforts and retreating back from the defeat that seemed to mark my week, I whispered, "Father, I cannot do this anymore.  It isn't working.  I feel like such a failure." 

Can you relate?  Truth is, parenting is one of the hardest challenges I have ever been given.  I love my boys, and they are truly treasures that we have been entrusted with to grow and nurture.  Yet, they have their own mind and will that often does not reflect mine or that of the Father.  It has always been the desire of Reagan and I to correct, love, and discipline them as consistently as possible. The thinking being that consistency in love, correction and discipline would give us happy, loving, Christ-following children.  So, the recipe for our "good" kids has been follow through, follow through, follow through- day after day, day after day......  Yet, our children have pushed and tested us continually to see if we would be consistent in any and all parenting situations. 

So, at the end of my own strength, I found myself locked away- hiding from my "treasures"- exhausted and desperate for answers.  Hadn't I followed the "recipe"?  Who were these children and why were they testing me in every, possible, way? 

Through my brokenness, the Father spoke to my heart.... "You have been doing this all in your own strength and you need Me.  You cannot do this- parenting, homeschooling, housework, job, wife, friend- without ME." 

In His perfect timing, we are doing a great study by Bill Lovelace entitled, "Living Life Through a New Source."  The premise of this study is that we, as humans, are not designed to live the Christian life through our own efforts.  Instead, in total dependence on Christ, we allow Him to live through us.  It is the realization that our fruitfulness, as a believer, is based on our total dependence on Him rather than our efforts or abilities.  We often ask God to "help us" in situations rather than asking Him - in desperate dependence- to work through us in that situation.  This was not a new revelation to me- at least in my mind- yet, I realized just how much lately I was not living it out.  I had slipped into my old patterns of living life within the limits of my own strength and abilities.  How did that work for me?  Well, hiding from my children and desperate tears is NOT a good indication of success!

This morning, I started off in prayer asking God to use me as a vessel by which He loves my children.  In other words, Father, please love my boys through me.  Please pour Your perfect wisdom and strength into me as You train and discipline them through me.  I am but a vessel in total dependence on Him.  There is freedom in that- I no longer have to bear a burden that I was never meant to carry.  My sole task is to seek after Him and allow Him to work in and through me.  It also frees me from attaching my value or worth to the accomplishments of my children- whether good or bad.  Our children have their own choice.  Sometimes their decisions will bring great joy to us and other times, heartache.  Regardless, we cannot attach our value or self-worth to raising perfect kids.  Instead, our value has to rest in Him and being the most pure, open vessel by which He is allowed to love, train, and nurture them. 

Friends, I can never love, correct or discipline my children into perfection.  If they succeed in life, it will be because of the Father's grace pouring in and through them- not my perfect parenting.  When they fail, it is a result of their independent choices and I can only pray that they will learn and grow from the experience.  Let's be honest, life for all of us is a mix of the two extremes, isn't it?  Mountain tops and valleys are all a part of life, but when we live in total dependence on Him, all of it can be used for His glory in our lives. 

So, today, I am resting in Him and trusting that His perfect love will carry us all through the different seasons of life- He is sufficient when I am not.

     Are you trying to live life in your own effort or total dependence on Him?
     Is your self-worth tied to the success or failures of your children?
     Do you trust Him enough to work out all challenges and situations for His glory and for your benefit?


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Personal Love

Angry words and a thrown Hot Wheel car were the exclamation point behind the anger in my toddler's world this morning.  His wishes were not granted and His will was not enough to change my mind.  His anger- hot and fast- took over his actions.  My discipline was equally as swift and he stood rigid in the time out corner.  Soon following, when both his anger and resolve had cooled, he came to seek forgiveness.  Arms wide open in search of physical confirmation that our relationship was restored he came along with the words, "I am sorry Momma.  Please forgive me.  I was wrong."  This hard core mother's heart melted.  His touch caused a flood of emotions to spring forth.  He is my child... my precious son.... forgiveness comes so easily out of my deep love and his tender brokenness.

As I pondered that, I thought of the cross.  the moment that the veil tore from top to bottom so that we- you and I- could have unlimited access to the Father.  No longer would a priest have to stand in the gap between us and our Holy God.  Christ, being a living sacrifice, became the path all of us can choose to take to our Father... any time, any place, and any situation.  Suddenly we can talk directly to Him and fully embrace His forgiveness.  There is something precious about the one on one physical embrace, especially in matters of forgiveness....

 As I reflected on my exchange with my son this morning, I can only imagine that our Father feels similarly when we come to Him in tender brokenness.  He must flood with love and compassion for us as He fully surrounds us in His personal embrace reminding us that His love is real, true and deep enough to cover all shortcomings.  His love is personal and came at great sacrifice because He wanted to be the one we found when in times of need.  Not a priest in human flesh... but our Father with arms outstretched waiting on you.  The great I AM, Alpha and Omega, and Creator of All.... giving you unlimited access because His rich love is a deeply personal one.

What is holding you back?  Blessings!

Friday, January 31, 2014

He is There

A couple of days ago, we had a rough start to the day.  One son was standing in the timeout corner crying and upset while another was yelling at me from his room.  I felt tired and it was only 9 am.  Parenting is hard.  Most of long to be good parents, and a majority of us truly do the best we can to teach and train our kids.  Yet, there are some days when the thought of running away sounds good.  I even looked at the remaining son who was just watching the tears and insults go flying around the room.  I told him that I was glad he was not in such a mood as the other two.... if he went "off" I might have to put myself in the timeout corner.

Things calmed and the day ended well despite our tortuous beginning.  In the quiet moments of reflection of how I felt in those weak moments, the Father spoke to my heart and reminded me that He never runs from us.  No matter what we go through or how we respond in the midst of it, He is ever faithful to us....

Even when we choose to go against His wishes,
     He is there.

Even when our actions bring shame and harm ourselves,
     He is there.

Even when we yell in anger at Him for not doing things our way,
     He is there.

Even when the world seems to be crashing down around us,
     He is there.

Even when we cannot see how we can go on in the midst of a painful situation,
     He is there.

Even when the words won't come,
     He is there.

Always.  Faithful.  Present.  Active.  Alive.  Involved.  Committed. 

He is there.