Happy Mother’s Day

You either "is" one, have one, or both!

Happy Mamas Day! Flowers! Confetti! Crowds cheering! Ma-ma! Ma-ma! You’re so awesome!

Mother’s Day is coming up! For me and some South Americans it’s May 10th, for most North Americans it’s on Sunday.

Regardless of when and how you celebrate it, here’s the deal, you either “is” one, or you have one, or both! 😜

If you “is” one:

Motherhood, as a friend said, is the toughest job you’ll ever love. And boy! Was she right! Seek God’s design for this role and engage with it. I am amazed at the simplicity of His design and all the help He provides so we can fulfill our role well!

Our daughter Audra.

This tough job has moments of dark and disconcerting valleys and moments of sheer elation. Mama, the Holy Spirit is with you alllllll the way and will gently lead you and wisely guide you. He’ll point you to answers in Scripture. He’ll send people who are wise and willing to come along side you in the journey. He’ll put great resources across your path. Trust Him. Receive from Him.

Don’t take the valleys or zeniths very seriously! They don’t mark whether you’re being successful or not.

When your kids respond to your training and teaching from their own heart with some measure of consistency, then you know you’re on track.

Take the time to enjoy your kids and the fruit of your labor.

Mom and I enjoying Chai Tea for our birthday.

Now to those that “isn’t one”… you have one!

Who’s yo’ mama?

Most of us have a mama. Someone who brought us into this world and threatened once or twice to take us out of it. Ahem! Someone who sacrificed and did the best she could with where she was at the time. Let’s take the time to appreciate her and tell her what she means to us. Let’s honor her!

If for some reason you don’t have a mama, know that God fills that void in you with Himself and provides mother figures in your life. He loves you!

Psalms 68:6 says that he sets the solitary into families. Pray for a family you can belong to!

Our last trip to Guatemala to visit my grandmother.

There are grandmothers who stand in for mothers. There are adopted mothers, step mothers and spiritual mothers. All of them have a role in our life. Think of all their influence! Now let’s drop them a line and tell them!

Question: Who’s yo’ mama and what will you say to honor her? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Carving Out Time

Intentionally Connecting With Those That Matter Most

Hi There! Thanks for stopping by and having coffee time with us today! Coffee time is a special, guarded time Brad and I have carved out earrrrrrly in the mornings before our day gets away from us like a team of thundering horses. We wanted to share why and how we came to having Coffee Time. Maybe we can be that little voice you needed to remember that:

The quality of our relationships heavily influences the quality of our life, so we must intentionally connect and stay connected! God designed us to thrive when we are interdependent and have strong, healthy relationships.

Question: What one thing will you decide to do today that will help start or strengthen a life-giving relationship? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

PS: I’m not sure how this ended up being the first frame on the video… but it is hilarious! Ahhh… we live and learn.

PPS: I first published this as a short video clip, but some readers had issues opening it. It’s now a normal blog post… thanks for your patience as we work out the bugs!

Hi There! Thanks for stopping by and having coffee time with us today! Coffee time is a special, guarded time Brad and I have carved out earrrrrrly in the mornings before our day gets away from us like a team of thundering horses. We wanted to share why and how we came to having Coffee Time. Maybe we can be that little voice you needed to remember that:

The quality of our relationships heavily influences the quality of our life, so we must intentionally connect and stay connected! God designed us to thrive when we are interdependent and have strong, healthy relationships.

Question: What one thing will you decide to do today that will help start or strengthen a life-giving relationship? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

PS: I’m not sure how this ended up being the first frame on the video… but it is hilarious! Ahhh… we live and learn.

Oh Those Messy Corners!

Internal spring cleaning at its best.

It’s springtime! We want to shake off the cold and inactivity of the last few months, get outside in the sun and get the fresh air in the house! Want some fresh-squeezed lemonade?

You know how everything might be picked up and tidy, but there’s little piles of paper or miscellaneous stuff in the corners? They just sit there and sit there and sit there. They are not urgent. They blend in with the decor. They become the norm. They TAKE OVER.

The amount of stuff that somehow makes it into our life is unfathomable. If we let it, it steals our time, our peace and our joy! As with every other area of our life, we must be intentional about how we approach “things” and ask why? This is a good documentary Brad and I watched and really enjoyed. As usual, it’s very good food for thought!

Anyway…

Once in a while I shake myself and tackle all the corners. It is so refreshing to go through the house and deal with stuff! Ahhhhh, peace, calm, rest.

These piles also exist in the corners of my soul. The Un-Dealt-With stuff. The attitudes that aren’t congruent with the fact that I’m a child of God. The Stinkin’ Thinkin’ that holds me back from doing the good works God has prepared for me. The fears that still shackle me even though Christ has paid for my complete and utter freedom. Well…

I’m doing a spring clean of the corners of my house and of my soul. I’ll get those non-essential plastic junky items purged, those out-of-season clothes put away and those attitudes and thoughts back under submission to the knowledge of Christ.

How do I clean the corners of my soul?

By reminding myself who God made me to be. I read the Epistles in the New Testament and I ask the Holy Spirit to guide and help me.

Ahhhhh, peace, calm, rest!

How about joining me? It’s always better to clean with a friend!

Talk soon!

Do you know why?

On rare occasions, Brad writes a blog post. He prefers video clips and audio recordings, but this time he wrote some compelling thoughts for us to ponder. Written by Brad, posted by Celina… that’s how we work as a team!

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you already know that I love to ask the question, “Why?”

Why do we do what we do?

Where’s that idea coming from?

What’s the history or initiating factor behind this way of thought?

 

All in good humor, I’ve been accused of being very analytical, which is funny to me because I haven’t always been this way.

I’ve been warned against the ‘paralysis of analysis’ and I understand the concerns behind the warning. If analysis leads us to inaction or exaggerated hesitation, then we must remember this is the leading cause of road kill! 

However, if our analysis inspires us to take action, especially bold, out of the norm action, maybe we’re using our God given intelligence for His glory.

Our Father weighed the sand and sea in His hands. He then measured the universe with the same hand. God looked down the corridor of time and saw mankind’s decisions, yet He still choose to create us and to save us. This analysis-based decision shows that God believed we were worth the trouble and that His love would overcome.

Our Foundation:

I remember hearing that over 50% of pastors in our churches failed a biblical worldview test. That statistic shocked me!

It is not a good sign when pastors, who are charged with the responsibility of helping us answer our whys, could not tie their answers to anything greater than popular opinion and reason.

As a pastor, when I’m asking myself why, I must have a solid foundation upon which to build my answer.

For those of us who follow Jesus, this foundation is His word and His finished work of salvation.

Asking ‘why’ questions must lead us closer to Him and deeper into committed action rather than to a ‘deer in the headlights’ head-on collision with societal norms.

Remember: today’s norm is broke, divorced, depressed, rebellious, and fearful.

This is considered our norm principally because we’ve forgotten to ask, “Why?”

Let’s challenge ourselves by asking, “Why?”

Why are we married? Or not married?

Why do we educate our children? Or ourselves?

Why am I committed to this career?

Why this church? Why these friends?

At some point, every area of our life needs to come under the scrutiny of our ‘why’ and when this is clear and anchored to something greater than ourselves, then “How?” and “What?” will make sense.

Question: Have you ever asked a ‘why’ question like this and had it mark a distinct shift in your life? Share with us! You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Shake That Mama Anxiety

Hi! I just spoke with a dear friend of mine who is going through a very hard time and battling, among other things, some anxiety. I wrote this a while back to encourage another dear friend who was having panic attacks due to what I call Mama Anxiety. If you’re a dude, please stick around! This will give you some insight and tools to help those ladies in your life who may struggle with this. Here’s some fresh strawberry lemonade my daughter just made for us, let’s go for a walk while we talk about this.

I suffered with anxiety early in our marriage. Thoughts of Brad not returning form one of his trips, or some accident happening to him bombarded me. It’s almost like the devil found a weak spot and jabbed as hard as he could. Mercilessly. Constantly. Brutally.  I felt unconditionally loved and accepted by Brad and the fear of losing him crippled me.

These thoughts plagued me off and on until about 3 years ago! That’s 15 years too long! The Lord showed me that I was looking to Brad for my sense of identity, security and love.

He showed me that although Brad will be an important part of these things for me, he shouldn’t be my source, only God can be that in a perfect way.

It would hit me even worse right after I would have a baby. Post-partum emotions are already a mess anyway! They magnify any weaknesses in our thinking times 10,000!

The Turning Point: I know this is hard to believe, but we are CHOOSING our thoughts. It’s not really about fearing the circumstance (abandonment, rejection, illness, death of a loved one, etc) but the twisted “reward” we get by thinking this way.

You know what God started dealing with me about? How much He loved me.

I wanted to hear God promise me that nothing would ever happen to Brad. But instead, He showed me that, even if something happened to Brad, God loves me so much, He would take care of me in the most loving way possible. That my kids and I would be just fine because He is my God.

NOT WHAT I WANTED TO HEAR! Ahem! But… He shows us things in such a loving way, it melts away all our walls, our stubbornness AND our fears. So I chose to believe HIM and HIS LOVE. Now I can tell you I am free from the oppression this thought pattern brought.

These thoughts sometimes still come across my path (i.e. when someone else loses their husband or a loved one), but now I choose to remember the TRUTH about His love for me, and that has set me free.

Friend, God loves you so much and has such a huge potential inside of you and your precious family that you’re scaring the devil spitless and he’s throwing everything he can at you to take you out of the game. Don’t put up with him. He’s a liar.

So, if you’re in any way dealing with anxiety, think about these verses and their immediate context and really take them in. It’s time you dug up some evidence of God’s perfect and fathomless love for you, for only then can you roll these cares over onto Him.

Ephesians 3:19
Romans 8:35
1 Peter 5:7
Psalm 55:22

Here’s an awesome song to remind us of God’s remaining presence even when we’re blinded by fear and anxiety.

Question: What is the verse of Scripture you go to when fear and anxiety come knocking on your door? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

How I’m Teaching Our Kids To Meditate

After watching Zootopia more times than I care to disclose, I realized my kids had a warped view of meditation. They would re-enact one of the scenes where a hilarious hippy creature chants “OM” and then it hit me: I better get proactive about teaching them how to meditate God’s way before they think “OM” is the truth!

Why meditate? 2 Corinthians 3:18 says it this way:

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

I want that! For all of us!

So let’s take the mystery out of it, OK?

To Meditate simply means to attend to, to practice, to ponder and imagine.

So the way I do this with our kids is:

1. We pick a verse, any verse. Easy, right?

“A soft answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1″

 

2. We repeat it whole several times to get a feel for it. My 3 & 6 year-old enjoy some hand motions. If they’re older, have them copy it into a prayer journal. Make it fun but simple!

3. We take a word at a time and define it in our own terms.

Courage (my 3 year-old), repeat after me: A soft answer (pause) turns away wrath (pause).
Q. What does “soft” mean, Courage?
A: “Soft is like… hmmm… like a stuffy! Soft and cuddly”

Courage, wrath is like an angry face with a bad attitude… show me a “wrath face”.

Q: Caleb (my 7 year-old), can you think of somewhere else you’ve heard the word “harsh?”
A: Pause… nope, nothing.

Q: Maybe like a “Harsh winter?”
A: (Light bulb comes on) Oh yeah! Like getting snowed in, or having all your animals die on the farm… or things falling apart because of the harsh cold.

Q: Is that constructive or destructive?
A: DEstructive.

Q: Imagine one word can be like that!

Q. Savanna, (9 year-old), how could you stir up a hornet’s nest?
A: By shooting my arrow through it!

Q: What would happen?
A: I better ruuuuuuuun!

You get the picture. You help them (and yourself) take one beautiful word at a time and hold it up to the light and compare it to others. Define it. Play with it a bit. Enjoy the insight.

And last but not least:

4. Practice it. I’ll bring up actual situations that have happened in the last few hours or so and play it with both scenarios. I may even have them act it out.

The beautiful thing about doing this with your family is that you get so much out of it! My new aha! moment when we did this verse is this:

When I “soft answer” somebody who is about to get upset, it will turn away their wrath. But, (I LOVE THIS!) when I answer softly because I’m on the brink of madder-than-a-hornet, I turn away my OWN wrath! WOW! So, my harsh words only stir up my anger further! That is the complete opposite of what I thought… I thought I was supposed to vent! Ha! Oh well, there went that!

On that note, some of my favorite books for taking great verses and helping us meditate are Crossroads of Character for littles (2-8) and the Character Trails for the older kids (6-12) . These are affiliate links, if you purchase them by clicking here, you will be supporting our work at no extra cost to you!

Meditation is not a huge lesson to tackle. Start small and keep it simple. You will be teaching your children a life-long skill that will be for the Glory of our Creator and give them a tool for success!

Learning to Say Enough

Honestly? Most of us need to say “enough”! Here’s another great thought that helps us answer the Busyness issue so many of us face. Personally, this one really hits home for me (Celina), and I’m glad I’ve got Brad reminding me of this very thing on a consistent basis! Now you can have him reminding you too!

Being busy is a badge of honor in our culture. Join us as we rethink what it means to be busy!

Question: Has saying ‘enough’ brought you freedom today? Share with us! You can leave a comment by clicking here.