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Prayer effects generationsIt couldn’t have been a more perfect day if I had created it myself. The sky was clear blue, the clouds fluffy white.  Green trees jumped out in stark contrast to the picturesque blue sky but were dwarfed by the skyscrapers from a big city that teased the horizon. Wind blew my hair into my face and I remember the welcomed chill it brought my sun drenched skin as I pushed my daughter in a swing. My daughter, I suddenly noticed, was very beautiful and growing too quickly as children tend to do. She was eleven now and but wanting me to push her in the swing. I wanted to protest an argument that she was too old but something in the distance caught my attention instead. When I raised my hand to shield my eyes from the harsh sun something new was in the sky to match the distant hum. My eyes tried hard to focus, both from practicality and disbelief. Were those old war planes flying through the giant city in the not-so-distant distance? All around me parents who had just been enjoying serenity with their children in a peaceful park began to scatter like ants, screaming hysterically. I looked up again at these foreign objects, these planes that appeared to be from WW2, and noticed that now bombs had begun to fall to the ground, shaking the very earth with every impact and obliterating this quintessentially perfect day. Frantically, my eyes searched for any plan of escape. Deep inside, in my heart of hearts, I had a sense of certain doom. I knew that there was no escape, that no plan would work and without a doubt we were going to die. That’s when an elevator shaft, for lack of a better term, came straight up from underground, almost directly beneath me. Instantly other park-goers began to fill the tiny capsule and I ran to claim a space for myself and my daughter, still knowing this plan wasn’t going to help us any but knowing I couldn’t do ‘nothing’.  As the elevator doors began to close, fingers appeared inside the disappearing opening, wrapping around the door and effortlessly opening them again.  An eerie sense of peace and calm filled the air and it’s possible that “time froze” because no one else seemed to notice this new person or move in any way. Standing in front of me was a handsome yet average looking man in blue jeans and a plaid shirt. As I took in his general appearance I was surprised to see a giant pair of wings behind him that were so white they were almost transparent or perhaps the color of pearls. He caught my eyes with his and held them in his command before he said boldly, quickly and matter-of-factly, “Meshele, this is the beginning of The End. You better get right with God.”

In the distance the sound of bombs impacting the earth began to morph into a less of a jolting sensation and more of an annoying ringing sound. It pierced the air like an air raid siren that had been neutered, “Ring, Ring, Ring. —  Ring, Ring, Ring. —  Ring, Ring, Ring. —  Ring, Ring, Ring. —  “

As I began to come out of this deep sleep I still couldn’t separate dream from reality. The only thing I was sure of is the emasculated air raid siren was reality and it was somewhere in my house! I checked the radio in my bedroom, but the power was off. What about the alarm clock? No, it was never set. It must be the TV then. Someone must’ve left it on all night. I attempted to make my way down my small apartment hall but still couldn’t comprehend if I was still dreaming or if I was, in fact, really walking down my hall. Relentlessly the ringing continued, but the TV proved innocent since it was turned off as well. Finally I found the direction the ringing was coming from: The kitchen! Sleepily I made my way there and found the ringing between the microwave and the fridge – The Phone! By now I was beginning to get an inkling that I might be awake but it would still take some convincing. When I answered the phone though, what I heard didn’t give me much to work with.

“They’ve bombed the Pentagon! They’ve bombed the World Trade Center! They have attacked us! America is at war! Turn on your TV!” It was my mother calling from five states and one time zone away, unaware I had been enjoying a rare morning of sleeping late. I turned on my TV and on every channel were the images that are seared into the hearts and minds of every true Patriot, to this day even ten years later. It was September 11, 2001. As the reality began to set in and separate from the dream, I began to tremble and cry. I told my mom, “I just dreamed this! I just dreamed this!” It was more than I could handle. I had never had an experience like this before, in fact you might call my life almost ‘spiritually uneventful’ up until that point (and sadly for far too long after the point as well.) I was no one. I AM no one. I’ve never done anything that anyone could even sugar coat to imply that I had done anything to further God’s Kingdom or even help humanity. I was a young girl, married to the wrong man whom was NOT a man of God to say the least, had a one year old and a baby on the way. I was too busy trying to figure out my own life and why it wasn’t working to pay much attention to God or ‘His People’.  The only thing I had going for me is a promise God made my mother when I was a newborn. She promised to teach me about Him the best she could if He promised I would make it to heaven. Ultimately, that’s all she wanted for me and she made sure that promise was ‘sealed by the Blood of Jesus’ before I was even weaned. I grew up to make a lot of horrible choices and I wound up down some pretty dark paths, even after this dream, but that promise surrounded me like a cloak. God lead me out in His perfect time (and when I learned to allow Him to take the lead). Pray over your children. It makes all the difference in the world.

All we need is Jesus and His Grace, NOT LAW. We’ve had some rough times in our journey on this Earth but there are harder times still ahead. God wants us to know that He will always protect, regardless of what the circumstances and evidence try to prove to us. He also wants us to know that He promised this evil would not thrive infinitely on the Earth and that He would put a stop to it one day, in His perfect time, and that day is drawing near. It’s time to put away whatever guilt or condemnation you feel and embrace acceptance. The Bible is full of imperfect people, people who had affairs, lied, stole and murdered, who were embraced, accepted, loved and forgiven. God’s about heart modification – not behavior modification! The Law has been fulfilled by Christ and there’s no need to earn your place before God! Just accept His love and forgiveness. When thoughts come into your mind that tell you that you are disqualified from God or a hypocrite, remind yourself those are lies and that you are loved, accepted, forgiven and that God ENJOYS conversation with YOU!

Be loved!

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No one has ever accused me of being any kind of math whiz but even I know that you can’t get something from nothing.  If you hope for nothing, faith will produce nothing.  Faith is the evidence of things hoped for. 

What is hope, after all? When we think of hope we think of a feeling more akin to wishing than believing. You might say, “I hope I get a better job.” but inside you have a feeling of uncertainty. Immediately your mind begins to list all the evidence to support your insecurities such as, “The economy is bad. The job market is weak. I’m too young. I don’t have education or experience. I’m too old. I’m very slow and on my way out.”

There’s not much hope at all in that, is there? This is not what the Bible means when it promises you that ‘hope will never disappoint.’

In 1Corithinans 13: 13 it says “These three remain: faith, hope and love but the greatest of these is love.”  God is Love, Faith is the evidence of things hoped for and hope is a joyful, confident, expectation of good. You can have faith and have no good fruit produced if you are not hoping for anything good. Worldly hope is not Bible hope! It doesn’t matter what the evidence against your hope is, GOD is faithful to provide! When God told Abraham he would be a father in his old age and once he finally received that prophesy from God, the Bible says Abraham “hoped against hope!” He had a joyful, confident expectation of good in his life against his doubt and insecurity and his faith is what produced the evidence of that hope:  Isaac.  

Imagine you’re making a loaf of bread. You mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and knead the dough and it’s ready to go into your pre-heated oven. If you leave it on the counter it will continue to rise but eventually it will collapse and dry out. Your oven is pre-heated, working and ready for baking but if you never put the dough into the oven it will never become bread. The ingredients are the desires of your heart; the good things you want to see happening in your life.  The kneaded dough is your hope; your joyful, confident expectation of good.  You may have a wonderful batter and hardy dough but without the oven there will still be no bread. The oven is your faith; however hot your oven is represents how strongly you believe that God is a GOOD God. It can be red hot and ready to go but without any dough there will still be no bread.  Sometimes it takes a lot of courage but if we’re brave enough to put our dough in the oven, risk getting burned but hoping against hope anyway, we’ll have a beautiful loaf of bread! Somewhere along the way we realize there’s a timer on the oven that keeps the bread from getting burned; a Bible promise in Rom 5:5 (NKJV) – Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

The bread represents Jesus Christ. John 6:35(NKJV) – And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” When we take communion we discern the bread to represent Jesus’ body. In Hebrew the town of Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, translates ‘House of Bread’. When we are ‘hungry’ and we seek the Bread of Life, we are ‘seeking first the Kingdom of God’ and part of the many ‘things that will be added to you’ are the ingredients, the dough and the oven, just to name very few.

Ask and it will be given; Seek and you will find; Knock and the door will open! “

Ask continually, persistently, without ever stopping! NAG GOD with a heart of Thanksgiving (there’s a trick for ya!)

Every mother knows that if a small child has gone more than 45 minutes without a snack they behave as if it’s been three days since they’ve had a crumb! They’re at your feet begging for something to eat. The Bible mentions several times to come to God like little Children, not with a whimper or a wine, but with the boldness to ASK for some bread when you’re hungry, the courage to hope and put the dough in the oven and the determination to not give up until the timer goes off and you’ve got it!

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Photo Credit: Meshele Makin

 

I know a certain ogre who likes to say that there are many layers to people, just like onions! That always seemed a bit smelly of a description to me and didn’t completely match up with the image God has given me about who I am in him. All of Earth’s possessions are here to show us the many different aspects of God Himself as well as His precious Son; however, there is one thing found in the deepest parts of the Earth’s crust that show us a glimmering example of ourselves and how God sees US – the diamond.  

First of all, you have this nasty, smelly, black lump of coal that’s only good for one thing – setting it on fire! Take that same lump of potential fuel, break it open and you may discover a new treasure. At first glance this new material may seem like any other piece of glass or clear rock. I wonder how many primitive humans tossed these ‘worthless diamonds’ into oceans, volcanoes or other fire pits? Can you imagine what fortunes that might have been squandered by today’s standards? 

Now take that same clear, worthless rock and hold it up to the light, what do ya see?  A myriad of colors, right! A diamond is a prism and reflects ever possible color there is! There are many, many colors and each of them are beautiful in their own unique way; each providing its own hue and definition to the overall diamond, not dominating or overwhelming the diamond as a whole. 

So we are, before God. We are all diamonds hidden beneath the dirty exterior of sin. Some of us choose to shake off the exterior definition of coal and be called diamonds before God. Make no mistake, it is IN you to be a diamond but you have to choose to see yourself that way.  Still though, many diamonds remain defined by their once-black exterior, even after it has been shaken loose. Diamonds though they are, they remain clouded, their colors muted and their full potential never fulfilled.  When you hold yourself up to the Light of Jesus Christ, let His light define you, He will illuminate the colors of your soul and bring them to their full potential.  

Every day we choose what music plays on our radio, what movies or shows play on our TV, what information we choose to look at or read and the company we keep (be they friends ,teachers or even false prophets). Those choices become our thoughts; thoughts become words. It’s through our choices in thought and word that we achieve the only effort required of us in shaking off the coal and lifting ourselves up to the Light of Jesus. The choice is yours and you have the opportunity to make that choice with each thought that crosses your mind each and every day. Remember: You can’t stop the bird from flying by but you can stop it from building a nest! So tell me, will you choose to leave your colors muted? Or let the Light Shine?

 

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Photo Credit: Meshele Tomplait

In the journey of motherhood there are many things that you will encounter that will take you by surprise; some pleasantly and some not so much.  I’m not sure how other mother’s feel but I expected that as time went on and the more children I had I would get stronger in my mommy skills and be confident and secure in the decisions I made regarding their future. You could say this was one of the not so pleasant surprises I’ve uncovered along the way!  As it turns out, since I am still learning and growing in the Word and as a person it reflects in my parenting process as well. I had to be willing to be flexible and bend my mothering tactics around the new growth I had achieved.  You could say I find myself at one of those places now.

As a Christian home schooling mother I’m almost ashamed to admit that I’ve had the wrong focus and have not given adequate attention to training my children in the Word.  Yes, we have a Bible lesson and read from a little devotional but outside of those few minutes, how did the rest of our day reflect the Jesus that we claimed to live inside us? I have neglected my true priority as a mother: to disciple my children.  When Jesus walked this Earth, He spent three full years training His disciples to emulate Him after He returned to the Father. Not only should this be closely examined as a pattern for our own lives but also a pattern for parenting. As parents our only priority is to train our children as Disciples of Christ, first and foremost, and the details in life like food, clothing, education, luxuries will come as a consequence or direct result of that action.

 “Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.”   — Matthew 6:33

I just finished the most amazing book, Disciple Like Jesus for Parents, that really put my responsibility into perspective for me. It spoke to that part of me that knows I should be training my children better but feels so incredibly inadequate that failure seemed imminent.  After all, I’ve never been to seminary, what do I REALLY know about God? As it turns out, I know plenty! I know the most important thing – to look in my Bible! I learned that it’s ok to not know everything, have every answer or even ANY answers! What’s important is that we never stop learning. It’s the most incredibly rewarding experience to learn alongside your children. As you dig deeper into the Word, God is able to reveal things to you in ways he couldn’t otherwise because nothing speaks to a Mamma’s heart quite like tending the heart of her own children.  

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding”; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.” Proverbs 3:2

So what am I doing different now? Instead of treating the Word of God like another subject in school to get through, it’s become the main theme of the day. When we studied the Parable of the Sower, for example, it was the main project of day and we spent the most time discussing it and working crafts. In science we planted seeds in starter cups, weeded the garden and worked math problems w/ the general theme or tackled them together as they came up in our day.  My girls are older so I also tied in the Parable of the Tares and the Wheat with this lesson since they seemed to build upon each other, cultivating the soil of our heart, guiding the seed to fertile soil, digging out rocks or thorns and to be sure it doesn’t grow a crop of weeds instead of wheat. Numerous times throughout the day we found examples of how these parables applied in our daily lives. Now as future situations occur we have a solid memory of an entire day of examples of this parable to draw back on, instead of ‘that story we read one time’.

Do you see the difference? I sure did, and I was shocked! Here I had spent many countless hours stressing over lesson plans or finding interesting content for each subject when I should’ve been building my day around a single Bible concept.  I’m just getting started too; this is our first week attempting a new approach! I have a lot of ideas of how I would like to see this go, but I know the most important thing is to spark as many conversations a day as I can with my children about our Daddy God, His Word, and how it applies to our everyday lives because that’s the biggest challenge we face in our faith at any age.

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”Deuteronomy 6:7

 This is just one of many examples of how we are here to learn how to build every detail of our lives around Daddy God, instead of the world’s system.  In doing so we discover that all the wrinkles in our fabric of life just seem to iron themselves right out!

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Fabric of Your Life

Photo Credit: Meshele Tomplait

Mary Golds and Hibiscus

Have you ever given much thought to your thoughts? Do you control your thoughts or do they control you? Consider this – You are a Spirit Being. You live in a physical body. You have a soul. What is your soul, exactly? It’s your mind, will and emotions. A Spirit possesses a soul, not the other way around. It belongs to you to manipulate and control to your Spirit’s desire. The problems begin when we fail to maintain control of our mind and our emotions.

Have you ever been ‘lost in a daydream’? Were they more like ‘day-mares’? Do you think it’s possible to decide what you think about? Of course it is! Your mind my present many suggestions but only you can decide which thoughts to indulge yourself in. Remember, you can’t stop the bird from flying by but you can stop it from building a nest. What you’re thinking about becomes a fabric that is placed on a loom and the more indulgence you give the idea the longer it is woven into a garment in which to clothe your Spirit. An idea or memory may cross your mind but you don’t have to pick it up and clothe yourself in it.

Psalms 109:18 He wore cursing as his garment; it entered into his body like water, into his bones like oil.

The fabric you weave on the loom of your mind is sent to the manufacturer – your heart! There the material is molded and shaped into your vocabulary. These are the words that your mind recalls at a moment’s notice when we encounter joy, love, peace, fear, pain, doubt and stress.

Luke 6:45 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

Imagine your heart is like your bedroom closet. When it’s time to speak, the words you have to choose from are like the clothes already hanging in your closet. They have been made from the fabric you have weaved with your thoughts. You will clothe yourself in either rags or riches. Material that is woven with fear, anger, doubt, worry, stubbornness, selfishness and hatred will produce material that is dirty, weak, brittle, thick and frayed. Wearing these clothes will make you feel depressed, vulnerable and exposed because they offer no protection from the storms of life. What little material there is will be eaten away by the moths of doubt.

Isa 61:3 To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” 

When we renew our minds daily in the Word of God, it’s almost like running the fabric through a wash cycle before you begin to weave material on your loom. You rinse away yesterday’s sins with a washing of the Word. You put fresh words of Life into the front of your mind and weave them into the fabric of your thoughts. The results will be beautiful clothing to dress yourself in; Strong fabric that covers you from head to toe, protecting from the roughest of life’s elements but nimble enough to keep you light-hearted. You will be radiant, resilient, and full of life, love and grace.

Proverbs 23:7 For as a man thinks within himself, so he is.

 

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Photo Credit: Meshele Tomplait

 

                Do you remember the precious moment you discovered you were pregnant with your first child? I’m sure that a flood of thoughts and emotions came pouring in. Happiness. Fear.  Excitement. Insecurity. Will it be a boy? A girl? Will it be healthy? Happy? Become a doctor, a lawyer, an accountant or athlete? Will I drive a mini van to soccer practice or cry on their first day of school? You probably felt excited to see their eyes, feel their touch, hear their laughter and rock them to sleep. I wonder, did you ever once think, “I’m ready to compete against every single mother on the planet to prove I am the ULTIMATE MOTHERING CHAMPION!! Bring it on, Moms!”

                Exactly. Neither did I. In fact, until all of this ‘Tiger Mom Controversy’ I wasn’t fully aware there was a competition going on. Anyone else feel that way? Sure, there have been times and certain conversations with the occasional acquaintance that I felt a competitive vibe and I usually distance myself from that type of personality. I can not seem to comprehend why women feel the need to be competitive of one another.  I didn’t understand it when I was a teenager and I don’t understand it now. I’ve always been a jeans & t-shirt kind of girl and never saw the sense of make up. It’s false. You’re pretending to be something you’re not. I have always felt like a person needs to accept me for me, just the way I am or move along. I’m not going to pretend. I’m not going to play games or put on a front.  Now, I’m not saying I’m against make up and if there were a special occasion I might wear it. I’m just saying it doesn’t seem to be beneficial to hide behind it. 

                In the same way, I don’t see the benefit in hiding behind false confidences in ones own abilities. The simple truth is, we’re all wrong; At some point, some days, about some things and even ‘our greatest medical minds’ seem to waver constantly on what qualifies as healthy, safe and good for you. How many different opinions are there about the benefits and consequences of eggs? How many pharmaceuticals have been promoted to be a solution, only to cause more problems? Everyone is wrong. Why? Because life is a learning experience. You do the best you can with the information you have at the time.  Our lives, personalities, situations and the people in them are unique and the variables are as numerous as the stars in the sky.  There is no one right answer for everyone.  You can’t assume that your ways, thoughts and ideas are superior to someone else’s simply because they are different from your own. The only exception might be if someone else’s beliefs and practices inflict actual pain and physical conflict with other people. You’re rights end where someone else’s rights begin.  So what if Mom 1 expects her daughter to practice piano for hours or forbids television or if Mom 2 likes the liberal approach of letting her child express themselves at their own whim.  Neither is right or wrong. Neither is superior or inferior. They are simply different. It is our differences that give life flavor.  Why can’t we embrace the ‘to each his own’ philosophy among mothers? Isn’t it hard enough just getting through the day without attacking each other too? Where is that ‘sisterhood’ women are supposed to be bonded by? These days it seems more like a lynch mob.

                I welcome any thoughts if you would like to share them and please pass this along!

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