How can I Help?

Do you ever feel completely helpless when someone near you is hurting? I’m not necessarily talking about physical pain. That’s actually not as hard to deal with, right? You can offer to shovel their snowy sidewalk or watch their kids so they can rest or even bring them a meal. I’m thinking about when they’re walking through a season of pain. How do you help? I’ve been reading the book of Job the last couple of days, so this has been very present on my mind. In case you don’t know or need a refresher, the book of Job (that’s with a long O sound) is about a man who loses everything. His crops, herds, and even his children in just a matter of hours. Then the next day he also loses his health. I’ve heard many preachers joke about the one thing he doesn’t lose is his wife though he probably wishes he had. That’s not against wives necessarily, it’s more her attitude after Job loses everything.

There is a huge element of spiritual warfare I’m leaving out of my explanation as well, not because it’s not important but because my point isn’t derived from that side.

Now Enter Stage Right Job’s three friends: Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. Then toward the end a much younger friend speaks up who is named Eliphaz. They all come together for a visit to their troubled friend, and I honestly think they had good intentions. It seems like they were the “tough love” kind of friends. They are convinced that all of these bad things are happening because of some wrong doing on Job’s part and that he’s just in denial when he declares he hasn’t done anything to deserve it. Now as I’m reading, I’m frantically searching for things they say that are wrong. But you know what every time I read this book I’m always amazed at their knowledge of God. Now do they get everything right? I don’t believe so, but they do have an extensive knowledge and this was before they have the Bible to use as a resource, right. Does all this info they have help them comfort/help their friend in his time of greatest need? Not one bit. They have obviously studied, maybe even had Divine encounters themselves, but it seems to me that not a single one of them asked God for his opinion before speaking for Him.

Do you know what our greatest resource can be in helping people around us? God. His love for them, and asking what is He working in their life. It may be obvious, but in Job’s case it wasn’t. And in their defense they had no way of knowing what was truly happening outside of asking God.

My point in all of this, when you want to help, try looking through God’s eyes. This isn’t easy, and if you’re not a Friend of God, it’s impossible. Only by abiding in God and having a constant communication highway between your heart and His will you be in tune enough to help the really deep cases. Not saying you can’t try to help, but without the help of the Almighty, you won’t know what is truly happening, and you might end up being just as helpful as Job’s friends.

Helping Your Child Through Loss

I’m sure I do not have to tell you that becoming a parent changes a lot of things. Some things are obvious. Some hit you a few months into it. Some you realize after years.

One of the biggest changes I’ve been noticing in recent years is friendships. Yes, its harder to make friends when you’re a mom. Blah blah blah. That’s not what I mean, necessarily. I’m talking about losing friendships.

I don’t know about you, but my friends become integral parts of my children’s lives. Probably because, as a mom of four, there really isn’t a way to “hang out” without at least one of them there.

Some friendships just don’t last forever, thats a natural part of life. You drift apart, go through a busy phase. Sometimes you meet up again later in life; sometimes you do not. I’ve had friendships that have lasted around 7 years just fizzle.

Before I had kids, it was tough, sure. Since having kids, its been heartbreaking! I have not experienced anything as tough as trying to explain why “so and so” doesn’t come by to hang out anymore. I, seriously, would rather have to break the news that someone died, before having to tiptoe around why someone suddenly refuses to say, “Hi,” when they see us in the grocery store.

I have not found a good surefire way to break this kind of news, but I do have some tips.

1. Deal with the loss yourself first. Come to grips with it, accept it, then explain it to your child. This helps you control your wording a bit more. If you haven’t fully processed what happened, do not try dumping all of that confusion on your little one.

2. Don’t be afraid to let them see you cry. This is especially true if they start crying. Cry with them. They need to know that it is okay to be sad and that you are going to miss that friendship just as much as they will.

3. Try to stay away from going negative. Be truthful, but do not go into a diatribe of how worthless and stupid this friend was, no matter how tempting that may be. You never know what the future may hold. That friendship might mend someday, but your child will never forget those terrible things you’ve said. Even if you hold no hope of mending the relationship, don’t go negative. This teaches them that it is okay to talk nasty behind people’s backs.

4. If this was a long relationship or a friendship with a family member, remind them that this friend still loves them and it is okay if they still love that friend. Kids have a tendency to internalize in a way that doesn’t make sense to us as adults. Even though we probably did the same thing when we were young. They need to know that friend doesn’t have a problem with them and not to take it personally.

It is still one of the hardest conversations to have, and I do suggest having it. Unless they are 5 or younger do not just wait until they notice and ask about it. It’s a much easier conversation when you control the atmosphere and timing.

Love is not…

Love is not staying silent.

Is there anything more powerful than silence? A long while back a group of friends and I had gathered at a friends house to watch a football game. During commercials it would get pretty loud with the din of many different conversations and groups of small children playing. I remember one commercial silenced the whole room. Was it a commercial for the news or some heartbreaking tragedy for which they were raising money? Or even the one with all the sad footage of the dogs on “doggie death row?” Nope! None of those. It was a commercial for an animated movie. What? Why? The first few seconds of the commercial are complete silence. Every conversation stopped and we all turned to the TV. The animated panda simply said, “Now that I have your attention…” and were all amazed at the ingenuity of it all. Not to mention I’m still thinking about it 5 years later.

Silence is powerful! It can communicate anger, disagreement, or apathy. What are you communicating by your silence? Christians are supposed to be working to make the world a better place, but it seems like a lot of us would rather bury their heads in the sand. The church has been eerily quiet on so many issues over the past generation, then we come out of our spiritual comas and look around and say, “wow, our country has gotten so evil! It must be signs of the times!” Now I’m not saying the end times aren’t getting closer, but most of this mess is due to apathy on our part. Love means shutting Netflix off and saying something.

Don’t like the TV shows or movies coming out lately? Find someone making clean movies and support them.

Don’t like the data showing that only 1% of children born today will ever go to church? Stop bickering with other churches and win the lost. By the way, Jesus did say that if we all just loved each other then the world would know we were His disciples.

Think Abortion is murder? Sign a petition! Support a teen mom! Sign up for foster care! Say something!

Remember before you speak to weigh down your words with love! Only what’s spoken lovingly will truly make an impact.

Motherhood Changes You

Motherhood changes you. At least it should.

For me, I was only 22 when I took my first pregnancy test. I took it just to rule pregnancy out, not because I actually thought I was pregnant. I’d only been married 3 months! My husband and I were saving up money to go live in India and do missionary work for however long we could get away with. As soon as that strip turned pink all of that got flushed down the toilet. Sure, at first I was upset, but the look on my husbands face changed my mind. He was happy. Pleasantly surprised is another way to describe it.

That day my life changed. Suddenly my body was no longer just mine. I shared it with this tiny human, and every choice I made affected us both. What I ate, when I slept, and the stress I allowed myself to feel.

Now a little over eight years later, I’m a completely different person. My life doesn’t revolve around my kids necessarily, but they definitely impact most decisions right now. Last night I laid in bed wondering if I should go along with the plans I made today or stay home so I could let my youngest lay around half naked to dry out his diaper rash.

What’s my point? Your life should change a bit when you become a mother. I’m not saying stop chasing dreams and goals and just stay home waiting on your kid hand and foot. They need to see you living life so they know how to live life when they’re older. But living like a college student on spring break would be the opposite end of that spectrum. I’m not a person to judge how someone else lives their life, but you don’t have your kids with you for very long, just live a life that’s best for them, too, please.

The Best Friend You’ve Ever Had

Have you ever had a best friend? I mean a real, true, I-would-die-for-you best friend? As an adult it either gets easier to have a best friend or harder. I was one of those kids who had at least 5 “best friends” at a time. We moved every couple of years, however, so the next place I would quickly lose touch with these best friends. Why? Because, we never talked. Writing letters was difficult and this was before every 10 year old had a cellphone. It’s hard to know your best friend’s heart if you never talk to each other, and it’s hard to be truly best friends if you don’t know each other’s heart.

This week I had a couple of conversations with friends about their relationship (read: friendship) with God. I asked them how it was going, and they each answered, “Good.” This being their standard answer every time I’ve asked before, I felt the urge to delve deeper. “How’s your prayer life?” I asked. Blank stares. A couple of them had to think about it, and answered with, “Oh, I pray at…” and listed a specific time they pray each day. At least one of them said she only ever prays when it’s her turn to pray over a meal at home. I’m not knocking on these friends. I could talk about how important prayer is until I’m blue in the face (which I probably have). But its definitely ‘Better caught than taught.’

Let’s go back to the best friend conversation. Can you be best friends with someone if you never talk to them? Simple answer, No. I know, I know, when you see them again after a couple of years everything falls back into place and it’s like no time has passed at all. But, you know what? That’s what I call compatibility, not best friendship. Best friends are in your business. Best friends get upset with you when they find out you were struggling with something and didn’t tell them about it.

God wants to be your best friend. Yes, He’s a supreme, majestic, supernatural being, but underneath it all, He loves you more than everything else. Like the shepherd looking for a lost sheep, a woman looking for her lost treasure, and a father watching out for his lost son; He longs for you. He wants to hear about your joys and your sorrows. He wants you to ask Him for help. I always think about watching my two year old trying to put on her jacket when I picture God watching us go through life. I stand there frozen, unable to move on thinking, “Please! Please, ask me for my help!!” How often God must feel this way.

What if someone you love never talked to you. That child that thinks you’re old and boring, who comes home from school and heads straight to their bedroom instead of telling you about their day. Doesn’t God already know about our day? Yes! Of course, but I bet you could guess how your teen’s day at school probably went, but you want them to tell you, still, right?

What am I getting at? Pray!!! Talk to God!! He longs to talk to you! He’s longing to give you peace about the tough things in life. He’s longing to hear how much joy you got from a flower or sunset He created for you. He’s longing to show off His miraculous power and gift you small things you want and need. He’s a good, good father and the best friend you could ever have! But it’s really impossible to be best friends with someone when you don’t know their heart. Do you know God’s heart? Ask Him? It’ll take some practice to listen for His voice, but He’s longing for you to try.

Talk Is Cheap!

“Your walk talks louder than your talk talks”

This phrase I remember hearing over and over growing up, but how many times do I forget its message. What I do sends a much louder message than what I say!

“Do as I say and not as I do.”

Its ridiculous to ask that of anyone! Ridiculous and hypocritical, right?

How many times do we say one thing, but do another? I’m constantly telling my kids they can only watch so much TV in a day, but then I’ll plop on the couch when my work is done and watch enough TV to make up 5 days worth of what their limit is.

We know that children learn by imitation. They imitate our sounds to learn to talk, they imitate our movements to learn to do daily tasks. So why is it, that in some of the more important facets of life, do we forget this principle? You don’t want your child to talk bad about their friend. Do you gossip? You don’t want your child to curse, smoke, drink too much, lose their temper, etc. But do you do those things?

What about things you do want your children to do? Do you want them to respect you? Do you respect them? Do you want them to love learning? Do you love learning? Do you want them to take criticism and grow from it? Do you do that? Do you want them to settle hard matters without screaming and hitting? Do you fight with your partner calmly?

This principle of following in your parents footprints has been around for a long time. Even Jesus in the book of John chapter 5 verse 19 says, “Truly, Truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” And He (Jesus) proved it to be true in the most dramatic way. The night before He was crucified, He prayed “Not my will, but Yours.” He had asked for a different way to accomplish what the cross would accomplish, but knew that there was none. Since there was no other way, He decided to be obedient to His Father even to a horrific and gruesome death. (As a side note, this also proves that God will never ask you to do something that He isn’t willing to do Himself.)

What kind of person do you want your children to turn out to be? What kind of person are you? Don’t forget to try and solve problems inward before trying to solve the problems outward.

What Will You Choose?

A very powerful question was asked the other day? “What do you choose today, right now, and forever?”

Did you know you have the right to choose? For the longest time I thought my identity was made up of how I looked or what talents I possessed or what I could offer others. But lately, I’ve been learning that my identity is none of those things.

My identity is what I choose to be. I choose to be strong! So strength is my identity! I choose to be confident! So confidence is my identity! I can choose my identity!

In this culture of choosing to “identify as” something you were not created to be, I sometimes wonder if we think it’s easier to choose something way off base, because if we fail there’s always the fall back of “well, at least I tried” and “its better to try and fail than to never try at all.” And people oooh and aaah and say “How Brave!”

Truly, I believe its more brave to choose an identity that is already built into our very souls. No body gets recognition for that, anymore. The only person raving about an amazing, strong stay at home mom is her children (if that). She will not make it into the newspaper or draw a large amount of followers on social media. Its much easier and more tangible to choose an identity of “mommy blogger” than it is to choose the identity of “strong.” Why? Because there is a measurement of success with blogging. There is a measure of success with a career. Are those things bad? No!! Of course not!

You know what successes are hard to measure? What identities are hard to know if you are fulfilling?

Being mentally and emotionally strong. Being a good person. Being a good parent. Being a good role model. These are things you don’t know if you’re succeeding while you are building them. Its only after that identity has been formed completely that you see the marks of success.

But when you know your identity, you will know what to do!

So whenever there is a proverbial “fork in the road,” look to your identity.

The latest part of my identity that I have been building upon is being “an encourager.” So when something comes up I can ask myself, “What can I do to encourage?” Just like Rome, an identity isn’t built in a day. Work every day into an identity that you are proud of. I know I’m proud of my Identity!

What is your Identity? Or in other words, What will you choose today?