She Doesn’t Love Jesus the Way I Love Jesus

Isabella is 5-years-old, with spunky white-blonde curles, and the personality to match. Izzie boldly approaches us with her request, be it rude demands some days, with not a care in the world. No doubt in her mind that Of Course we would want to give her the desires of her bubbly heart. She knows she’s loved.

She Doesn't Love Jesus the Way I Love Jesus #jesusjukedbymykids

This is the same girl who doesn’t think twice about if children would want to play with her at any given second. She’ll easily march up to children in a play-place or park and begin a game; no need for names while other children slowly and methodically wonder, choosing exactly who they think will allow them to play alongside them and eventually engage with.

On a particular day that her expectations rubbed me the wrong way I realized somthing. Why wouldn’t we be awaiting Izzie’s requests? Why wouldn’t all other children want to play with her?! She IS a child of the One True King; priced and protected.

You see, my eldest daughter Maggie loves Jesus with all her heart. She’s chasing after Him as fast as her little heart knows how. I think our brains work very similar and I can totally see my younger self in her. I understand how she sees things most of the time and her motive in certain desires.

Izzie, my middle daughter... She doesn’t love Jesus the way I love Jesus. And that’s a beautiful thing! I’m learning so much about the heart of my Jesus, how He loves me through, and how we are to love Jesus wants us to love Him, all through her. My favorite thing I’ve learned from about Christ through my Izzie Ru is how God truly wants to give us good gifts.

I’m not completely sold on this idea most days. You know, being the evil little twit that I am, deserving nothing. But Iz doesn’t see it that way. She knows the depth of His love and sees past the insecurity of once being a lost little sinner with an evil heart. She sees straight to how He sees us after His blood washed away the stank stains of sinful garbage in our lives.

The insecurity satan has bottled up in me keeps me captive in people-pleasing. I am sure that I miss opportunities all the time under the guise of “they wouldn’t wanna,” “I sure they don’t like me.” Half of you right now are resonating with those thoughts and the other half of you are thinking, “You have issues.” Don’t get me wrong, I think there are Christ-like qualities in both, modesty and confidence.

But in these instances, I want to live in the self-assurance [through Christ] that Princess Isabella of Heaven has as she lives out her God-given forgiveness. I am so so thankful she doesn’t love Jesus like I do. I pray for her boldness to stay strong as she learned about following Jesus and that I never hinder her gift of tenacity!

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TMNT Share the Gospel {finding truth in the secular}

I was recently watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie with my hubs and a friend. Well, lets be honest, I was 'mom watching' it meaning I was going something else at the same time. I was catching the bulk of things and the main plot of the movie. That's when I realized that TMNT were sharing the Gospel.

TMNT Share the Gospel {finding Truth ni the Secular}

Everything under the sun is groaning for the day when all will be set right again so I don't know why I was surprised at yet again finding truth in the secular. April Oneal is chasing Jesus {or at least a shadow of Jesus}.

You see, we're all on the hunt for the grand plan we're made to be apart of. For April, she runs toward things that seem to be meaningful. She knows there's more and she needs to know what it is. We can learn a lot from her in this movie and apply it to how we should be digging into the bigger picture we're apart of.

{{possible spoiler alert!!!}}}

How to Chase Jesus Like April Oneal

In the mist of her hunt she is taken hostage momentarily and rather than focus on how she is going to be affected she turns immediately to how she can use the situation. She thinks of how she can learn and expose the bad by growing through the situations. Doesn't fear but looks for opportunity. She's not sure how but is sure that there is a way to heal the hurts occurring.

After the "vigilante" saved the day {as she trusted would happen}, April chases the "vigilante" down in hopes of exposure to those in need. When she finds out it is in fact 4 "vigilantes" she begins a relationship with them. Though there are obvious reasons to question what is happening, she trust those who have saved her {and so many others} with few questions.

As a natural reaction to salvation and meeting the one whom loves unconditionally, April runs back into her world to tell as many people as she can about story unfolding behind the scene.

The vigilante(s) makes a plan to capture April, bring her into his custody, and protect her from harm. Once in his care, he wants to train her the best way to live as well as how to protect others.

April realizing the war she's in the middle of is way bigger than she had once seen but decides to join the adventure she's been seeking knowing she'll be taken care of and can't wait to share the awesomeness she's discovered with others.

19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Romans 8:19-24

Our "vigilante" is Jesus Christ. He comes to rescue us as no one else can. We along with the rest of our world are seeking that salvation. Just like April, the natural reaction to salvation and meeting the one whom loves unconditionally is to begin an intimate relationship with that person as well as run back into our world to tell as many people as we can about story unfolding behind the scene. Christ has a plan to bring us under His protection and wants to train us the best way to live as well as how to lead others to His life-changing salvation.

God is in everything. Nothing is inherently bad because He made it all. Therefor it isn't hard to find truth even in the seemingly secular.

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Boom. Parenting like Jesus 101.

During those oh so rare times I am driving alone and get to complete a thought, my mind seems to wonder. Maybe it's more like circling. Yeah, circling a point to complete itself... Any who. See what I mean.

House_MD

Anyways, today I was heading home from delivering my 802K items {hyperbole for dramatic effect} to the consignment event in town and was whining to myself about the back muscle I pulled while trying to hulk through my procrastination-induced tagging frenzy yesterday. Not sure if its pulled, pinches or what but it's one of those that you're constantly aware of and if you make any sudden, unskillful, rash moves if feels like someone stabs you in the shoulder blade. {ouch}

During this little pout/rant inside my head, I was lecturing myself for not taking more tylonal before going into town. Then I was making a methodical map of how, in what order, which items first, what path into the house to take, etc in order to not have to return to the car for things but more importantly how to create the fastest route to the pain meds.

Then I remembered I had expired pain pills from after my c-section. I kinda smirked to myself. "Oooo, I bet that'll knock out this pain fast!" I thought to myself. "Where did I put that?"

Then my detailed plan started vividly laying out the possible consequences of taking such strong meds for just this back pain. I found myself in Dr. House's doctor's office having to explain all the minute history of my "health" to get an accurate description even though we all know I'm dying because of that one expired oxycodone I took for my back. It all seemed so innocent. Find a pill. Swallow it with my amazing Dr. Pepper from the hour of happy at Sonic {my reward for successfully delivering my 802K items before said hour was over}. Laugh, play, be amazing with my hubs and kids. But NO. That's not how it's gonna end.

Then Dr. House then begins to drill me on where I acquired my poor education on medication consumption. He shames me for having expired medicines in my home and for taking them!

Then, if you're me, the obvious thing that comes to mind next is the amazingly bold, snarky, wish-you-would-really-have-the-guts-to-say-it-to-someone retort you'd deliver to that Dr. House. "Well, Mister House. {see what I did there- demeaning title change} If you didn't shame your patients for making less than wise choices, maybe they'd be more honest with you right off the bat and you wouldn't have to spend 1/2 of every episode trying to find out what's really causing their health issues because as you always say, "Everyone lies about something."

That's when it hit me. What the smack to I do to my children every time they are caught in a lie, admit fault, have their poor choices laid out in front of the both of us? I shame. I lecture. With good intention I think this will modify their behavior. But that's not Christ-like parenting. Our heavenly father does not shame us. We already know the outcome of our sin. He loves us. Snuggles us. Gives us lil smoochies. Fixes us up and sends us on our way all the while teaching us His ways and looking forward to the day(s) we follow Him in them and don't show up at the doctor's office.

Boom. Parenting like Jesus 101. now...how to implement that?

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My Kids are Getting Dumber

I wanna quit. My kids are getting dumber.

My Kids are Getting Dumber

I've had this urge this entire school year. I keep looking for all the reasons my kids don't need me as their teacher. Missional living seems to be the one satan is using most often but God's not letting this go. "It would be so much easier to love on people if we were in public school" doesn't seem to be a good excuse for Him.

Today I banished my children to the backyard for "recess" after blowing up multiple times for Not. Following. Directions.

My insides hurt. Do  any of your insides just hurt so bad they bust out of your body in the form of tears after temper tantrums haven't done the trick? I'm using their time of banishment to try to figure out why I'm supposed to be doing this homeschool thing. They aren't learning anything. If they are, it's seemingly counterproductive. I've even pointed myself back to- my intention for homeschooling is not to make them geniuses or scholars but to more fully I can fulfill my purpose as their mother, teach them that God loves them and we should follow Him to find life. But am I? Am I really  teaching them to see God in the true light of HIS character as their awful teacher?

What letter are we learning about this week?

{blank stares}

What letter have we been talking about?

G!

No. What comes after G?

{blank stares}

A. B. C. D. E. F. G..........H!

{murmur} H

We are working on the next page in your H book. We are going to color the letter Hh, then cut it into a puzzle, then we are going to put the capital letter H puzzle together in this box and the lower case one in this box, and then glue them down.

I turn my back to help Mags start work.

Scribbled boxes everywhere, glued pieced in random places, blacked out box with no sign of the letter H behind the brown.

I tried to pull the pieces off to help her try again but there was no turning back. The same goes for the giant brown square. I give them a different sheet to work on and go to print new pages...which of course takes forever because my computer and printer hate me.

I return and decide to walk them through the page on step at a time. Color only the Hh. Trace them to show me where the Hh is. What letter? H. Where is it? Yes! You just traced it. Good. Color only inside the lines of the Hh.

Jamin is utterly confused and continues to freak out because he doesn't know where the Hh is that he is supposed to color.

I turn my back to work on the sticker chart because obviously we're going to need some reinforcement today. When I turn back around I find Izzie is cutting. Not only cutting even though she wasn't instructed to but cutting the Hh out rather than on the lines to create the puzzle pieces.

I correct Izzie and tell her she looses a sticker for not following directions.

She cries.

Jamin finishes coloring and start making fringe along the edge of the paper while I'm dealing with Izzie. Sticker lost.

I want to pop off little heads because I have taught them nothing. Nothing other than my pleasure in them is dictated by their behavior and therefor is a portraying Jesus as a behavior based god. Why am I doing this? The thing I'm trying to target, spiritual growth, biblical knowledge, correct portrait of God, I'm jacking it up.

My kids are running a tyranny in the backyard as I type. Who did they learn that from? me.

All I keep thinking is, "If they were in school, someone else would be teaching them to follow only the directions given, color instead of scribble, SIT, not talk, wait their turn to be helped with work, understand that they can't have someone's undivided attention, and to Follow Directions." Yeah, all those things public school parents think or even say aloud to be off-handed, "Yeah, if they were in school they'd get in trouble for or learn to do _____."

Then, I write those words I realize, someone else would be teaching them those things. And the thing about that sentence that's worse than the someone else is the those things. I often forget that my actions teach them what to expect from others but more importantly teach them how to life.

I don't want my kids to only follow the directions given. I want them to learn initiative, anticipate what's next, see what needs to be done and try it even if that means you might fail.

I don't want my kids to color instead of scribble. I want them to always think outside the box because my God is bigger than any form we could ever imagine.

I don't want my kids to sit ad not talk. I want them to burst with energy and talk through things.

I don't want my kids to wait on help. I want them to beg for help unhindered; with no fear that God will shoot them down the moment they need help.

I don't want my kids to believe they can't have undivided attention. I want them to know God has the ability to give them His undivided attention and is always waiting for them to come to him.

I DO want them to follow directions. God will always be at work in their lives. Sometimes it will be easy 1. 2. 3. steps that make us feel accomplished and smart. Other times the directions will be hurry up and wait. Complete 1. and anticipate 2. Listening clearly and following directions first time is a vital part of spiritual growth. It involves patient listening and immediate action.

I guess letter Hh week stands for humility. Now that I've stopped blubbering and God's redirected me, I guess I'm going to listen to His gentle directions and act with humbleness as I go apologize to my kids, do a fun Hh craft, and start lunch.

My kids don't need me as their teacher. They will become dumber. They will follow the ways of the world...if I'm not life-long-learning from my teacher and teaching them to look to Him rather than me for their learning as well.

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The Cake

Today, I am honored to introduce Candice Ashcraft to you. She's a friend, fellow DIYer and church planter, photographer, wife, mom, and so much more. She has written this story and would love to share it with you. I love sharing story. More and more, I am being convinced that STORY is what God uses to draw us closer to one another and more important, to Himself.

~~~

My family is here again…the beginning of what I like to call “Birthday Season” in our house. It all begins the beginning of September, right after “Back to School”. (That’s real fun for the pocketbook.) "Birthday Season" is set into full swing on 2nd of September with my son, Austin’s birthday, then two weeks later is my wonderful day, followed two weeks later with my daughter, Haley’s birthday, and ending exactly one week later with our beautiful anniversary. Whew!! My poor husband John feels left out. Then as soon as all of this settles down, we have Christmas.

The. Cake.

This year, for Austin’s birthday, I tried saving as much money as I could since I have recently taken a giant leap of faith, quit my job, and took the giant leap into ministry! Never did I expect that when I took that leap, that it would be almost a year until I would have a full-time income again. However, I know that God’s got this and all things are according to His will and timing.

So, back to Austin’s birthday. One way that I tried to save some money was by avoiding the bakery and creating for him the cake that he really wanted. I really enjoy baking so this was going to be easy and enjoyable.

Austin and I looked online and at the store to find one he REALLY wanted- a camo cake with bright orange icing. I thought, “This is going to be so easy.” They now sell a camo cake mix in the grocery store and even have bright orange icing!! I was SO excited!! It looked a little bit beyond my skill level, but I knew I could do this.

I bought the cake mix, icing, and all the remaining ingredients needed to make this cake. I took it home, placed it all in the pantry until it was time to make it. In the meantime I pulled up some videos of how EXACTLY to make this masterpiece. It looked pretty simple, but I was still a little nervous. This was the one and only thing that Austin REALLY wanted for his birthday…no specific toys, games, or a party…just this CAKE. So it had to be perfect!

The day came to bake the cake. It was a quiet afternoon around the house, so I thought, “This is going to be perfect! I will be able to concentrate and it will be awesome!” I watched the video one more time and got to it. Now, let me explain exactly what “got to it” means. In this cake mix, you have one batter to mix. Inside the box, with the mix, are two food coloring packets. You mix your cake mix and then separate into four bowls. Then, you add a specific amount of coloring to each bowl. You end up with a light brown, dark brown, light green and dark green cake batter. You then take a spoonful of one color and pour it into the cake pan. Since I was making a two tier cake, I had to pour a spoonful in one and then use the same color and pour a spoonful into the other cake pan to make sure it was all even. Then, you alternate the colors and continue on until all batter is in the cake pans. From the time that I opened the box to the time that I put the two cake pans into the oven, it was ONE HOUR!!!! It looked pretty cool though and Austin was very excited. I cleaned up my mess and sat down while it baked and boy, oh boy, did it smell good!!

It was time to take it out. It smelled so yummy! As I was opening the oven door to let John and Austin peek at it, while giving it just a few more moments to bake, both of their reactions were, “That looks so cool!” Then we all screamed!!! Well, at least I did.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something moving outside of the back door. Just then, the dogs spotted it and started going crazy!! It was a… huge… snake!!!! The dogs’ instinct was to run out the doggie door to get it, so I raced them to it and shut it. John rushed outside to figure out what type of snake it was and commenced to killing it.

Then I remembered THE CAKE IN THE OVEN!!!!!! So, as John is outside brutally killing a snake (from the sounds of it), I rush to the oven to pull out the cake. Whew!! It wasn’t burnt. As my heart is about to beat out of my chest from the chaos I was very relieved to see that the cake looked awesome! I was hoping it looked just as good as the picture on the box when we would cut into it. So, I left the cake to cool and went to check on John and his snake situation. All was good, snake was gone, and dogs were on the hunt.

The Cake.

We were going to see a band in concert at a local church that evening and it was about time to go. I put a towel over the cakes and off we went. When we returned from an awesome night of pumped up worship, it was time to put this cake together for the family party the next day. As I was preparing for the icing extravaganza, two things concerned me about this cake. 1.) This sides/edges looked really thin and 2.) The middle had baked up really tall.

I thought, “Well, I’ll just shave off the middle and make it flat.” I’ve done this before and it’s always great. So, I take the piece that will be the bottom layer and shave off the “hump” in the middle. I place it, shaved side up, on the cake plate. I open the icing and give it a good stir. It seems kind of thin, but I decided to just go with it. Icing the bottom layer went smooth. Then, I took the second layer, shave off the “hump” in the middle, flip it over and place the shaved top side down. This is when everything. went. wrong.

The top layer would not sit flat, but I went with it anyways and tried building the icing up along the thin edges. The icing was thin so it was just running. THEN, the top layer started sliding off! I kept working with it and it just kept getting worse. Then, my wonderful husband walks into the kitchen and sees that I’m “not happy”. Now, I know he had good intentions, and was only trying to help, but he told me how his mom always did cakes and put the rounded “hump” facing up, which is usually how I do it too, but the video showed otherwise. Then he leaves the kitchen because he can see my frustration building. If I tried to pull the top layer off and flip it over at this point, with all the icing on it, it was going to crack, and let’s face it, that’s not a good thing.

Well, I flipped it over anyways. It was very messy and it started to crack some. This is when I lost it! I threw the cake in the refrigeratorthinking maybe the icing would get cold and stop the slipping and sliding of the top layer and mend the crack.

Now I‘m sure that all of us ladies have a place that we like to go to when we need to cry. Mine is the bathroom. Why?? Well, 1.) There’s a door that I can close and hopefully my kids will think that I’m using the bathroom and give me some privacy, 2.) I can lock this door if I choose to 3.) There’s a seat when you close the toilet lid and 4.)There are tissues to wipe away your tears and a trash can to throw them in. I think it’s a great place to have a good cry.

As I walked out of the kitchen, tears filling my eyes, I went undetected to my children. My husband? Not so much. He always knows when I’m heading to the bathroom for a good cry. He has a radar for it. So what does he do? He follows me in to the bathroom. Sometimes he helps and sometimes he makes it worse. I guess he’s a brave man! This time, he made it worse.

Now I will admit that this “little cry” was more like a two year old throwing a fit. Embarrassed? Maybe. After he left the bathroom, I stayed in there for awhile crying and trying to brainstorm on what to do. All Austin wanted was an awesome cake made by his mommy. This cake was NOT awesome at its current state. I thought about just going to the store and buying a whole new kit and starting over. That would leave me up all night baking a cake. Didn’t want to do that either. I had no idea as to what to do so I just sat there.

Once I composed myself and left the bathroom, still clueless as to what I should do. My very sweet and patient husband had an idea. He said we could put toothpicks in it to hold it together, like a dowel rod, put it in the refrigerator and let it sit over night. Then, maybe it would “glue” together and in the morning we could take out the toothpicks and I could finish icing it. I figured, “What else do I have to lose?”

We went into the kitchen and I pulled the cake out of the fridge. It had already started to stiffen so I thought it might just work. I slid the top layer into place and held it while John put the toothpicks in the cakes. It looked like it was going to hold it!! I carefully placed it back into the fridge and cleaned up my mess.

I was just so upset because I wanted this cake to be perfect for Austin. I wanted him to be so thrilled when I cut it open. I wanted it to meet all of his expectations. I wanted it to look just like the picture on the front of the box!! As I told John all of this he lovingly told me that Austin was going to love it no matter what it looked like because his mom made him the cake that he wanted. Guess what? He was right.

The next morning I get up and get myself ready. I can’t even bring myself to look at that messy cake. The whole family was coming for lunch and I still had to finish this cake. I took a deep breath, said a prayer, and opened the fridge, fully expecting to see the top layer slid off and in two or more pieces.

It looked just like it did when I put it in there the night before!! What a relief!! I pulled it out, with a new mind set and finished the cake. I even pulled out my icing tube and tips and put some flare onto this cake! It looked good and Austin was tickled to death! I was very pleased with the cake that I allowed to ruin my evening.

The family all met us for lunch at a local restaurant. We ate and had a great time! Then we all went back to our house for presents and cake.…cake. I was so nervous. I told my family all about this cake experience and if it turned out awful we’d just have to eat ice cream. I took a deep breath and cut the first piece. It looked awesome!! It looked just like the camo pattern on the front of the box! I was tickled to death that it looked so good. Now came the taste test…another big deep breath and… it was one of the best cakes I’ve ever had!!! The family just ranted and raved over how good this cake was and how neat it looked!! (I may have shed a tear.) I just could not believe that this mess, this big mess, turned out to look and taste so good!! Not to mention that I had one VERY happy boy on his birthday!

The Cake

Later that day, I was sitting there thinking about that cake. How messy and broken it was. How it was falling apart and needed lots of help standing up to become the cake that it was meant to be. I felt very much like that cake…broken, messy and needing help.

I realized that when I’m like that, I’ve got the very thing that I need holding me up, like the toothpicks held up that cake. I’ve got Jesus. He’s in me, holding me together when life gets messy. I might be falling apart, broken and messy, but He has greater things in store for me.

Sometimes, we have to become broken before He can fully use us to the extent that He wants. We have to become so broken and messy that only HE can hold us up! Then, at that moment, is when He turns it around and uses us and makes us into something beautiful.  Just like that broken cake being held up by toothpicks, I am a broken person being held up by Christ. Just like that cake was pleasing to everyone that saw and ate it, I am pleasing to my Father. No matter what others think of me, He has a purpose for me in this world. I am to further His Kingdom.

Make me broken. Make me messy. To the point that only You can hold me up, Jesus. Then, I will become the beautiful, confident, work of Your art on display for all to see, and in return will lead others to You through the works that You have done in me.

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