Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Day 27 - Prayers for Reconcilliation

"Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty (snobbish, high minded, exclusive), but readily adjust yourself to [people, things] and give yourselves to humble tasks. Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits.  Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is honest and proper and noble [aiming to be above reproach] in the sight of everyone.  If at all possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Romans 12:16-18

Do you remember the story of Cain and Abel?  They were two brothers who were the children of Adam and Eve.  Cain was a tiller of the ground while Abel was a shepherd. Both brothers gave offerings to God, but Abel's offering was pleasing to God, while Cain's was not his best and was not pleasing.  The results of this was that Cain asked Abel to go out in the field with him one day and while he was there, he killed him.  Imagine that, Cain murdered his brother Abel. (Genesis 4)

Have you ever read the story of Joseph and his brothers?  Joseph was the son of Jacob.  He had 10 older brothers,  but he was the first son of Rachel.  His other brothers were sons of his father's other wife, Leah.  Leah and Rachel were two sisters married to Jacob and they were ALWAYS in competition for Jacob's affection.

The competition between Leah and Rachel was something that spilled over to their kids, Joseph and his 10 older brothers.  Joseph was the 11th son, but he was Jacob's favorite child b/c of who his mother was - Rachel.  The story goes that Joseph's brothers HATED him. They hated him enough to want to kill him.  Instead of killing him, they sold him into slavery.  They told their dad a different story though.

What about the two brothers - Ishmael and Isaac?  Ishmael was Abraham's first son that was conceived with his wife's maid.   He was the son that was first, but was later "cast out" and "disowned."

Some of the things that have been shared with me during this prayer challenge is that sometimes you've been hurt by those closest to you- family members.  There are those of you who may have had a mother or a father "cast you out."  Or you have had a sibling stab you in the back.  You may have had a parent show favoritism to your sibling and leave you feeling less than.  Or you may be like Ishamel's mom and have to watch as your child is disowned and cast away by their other parent leaving you to clean up those bruises and wounds.

Familial hurt is a deep hurt.  I personally think it is a clever way for Satan to attack the promises over our lives.  i mean if you get a parent to abandon a child from a young age, then that child is carrying that rejection and abandonment throughout their lives.  You get a parent to play favorites with their children and then you have one growing up feeling unloved and searching for that love to be replaced by others who cannot replace the love they missed out on as a child.  And what about those loved ones who have abused children and family members left in their care?

I mentioned the story of Joseph and how his brothers hated him.  If you recall the story of Joseph, them sending him off into slavery was an important point in Joseph's life.  Although he had some rough patches and hard times, he eventually rose to a position of authority and was able to "look out for" and provide for those same brothers who had tried to destroy his life due to their jealousy.  Joseph did not retaliate and he welcomed them with open arms.  But how?

How can you be reconciled to the person who has hurt you the deepest?  Maybe Joseph was stronger than you and more forgiving than you could ever be right?

Whenever you fall and scrape your knee, there is a sting but within a few days, you may have already forgotten about that fall.  You may have been able to clean that wound up and put a bandage on it and unless there is a permanent scar, you are able to keep moving on wiht your life.  What about when you have a fall and you break your leg?  That's not something that can be repaired with one visit to the doctor. It's not something that you can clean up on your own.  It will involve going to an expert for assistance and help.  It may involve some time for healing.  You will probably have reminders of that break for a while.  Let it get real cold or maybe it's about to rain, you'll feel it in that bone and well you're healed but you still remember.  Now take it a little deeper, you have an accident and you have to get your leg amputated.  There is no way you can ever fix it by yourself.  You will need an expert and you will need them more than once.  Everytime you look down at that leg you are reminded of that hurt and that incident.  You may have to have some therapy. You may even need a prosthetic, but pretty soon you are going to be able to walk on that leg with your prosthetic of course.  There will probably be life long checkups occasionally to make sure everything is ok with that leg. You have a reminder though. But you will NOT be in pain.  You can see the results of the amputation and sometimes you may feel a tinge but you are NOT in pain like you were initially. The expert that fixed you up has helped you to be able to live a "normal" life.

When I think about reconciliation something similar comes to mind.  Small battle scars don't have such a lasting affect on us.  We even forget how we even got the scars. But very deep wounds take an expert to help us recover from.  And even when we recover, there is still reminders of HOW it happened.  But we have learned to live with the memory of it but not be hindered by it going forward.

"If at all possible.. Live at peace with everyone."  Such a simple statement, but sometimes so very hard to do. One of my favorite scriptures says, "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds [curing their pains and sorrows]." Psalm 147:3

I'm not asking God to do anything to anybody when there is hurt.  But I am asking him to heal ME.  When I'm totally healed by God, it doesn't matter what they do.

I have prayed for years for my oldest son's father.  So much so that it has become second nature.  I don't feel "hurt" per se personally, but I do feel that being absent from my son's life is painful for him.  There is nothing I would ever attempt to say to remind anybody to be the man that God has called them to be. I know that God will always work things out for my children's good. With or without anyone else in the picture.  And I do believe that God can do ANYTHING he wills, even the big things that I can't even imagine.

Some of you may not have anyone to be reconciled to. My father was absent from my life and there's no way for reconciliation because he's deceased. But there are others who do desire to be reconciled with family members or perhaps they've stopped expecting it because it's been so long and the hurt has been sooo deep.  I do want to encourage you with another of my favorite scriptures, "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as are the watercourses; He turns it whichever way He wills." Proverbs 21:1

Whenever I think about something being too hard, I remember how the Red Sea was parted. If God can separate the water, if he can cause a river to change courses - he can surely change the heart of a man whom he created right?
NOTE:  This is Day 27, just posted early as I had to change my study time this week. :-)
Today I want to ask you to pray for reconciliation. If you don't have anyone in your family that needs to be reconciled, consider yourself blessed. Pray that your family always stays whole and connected and that you never have to understand the pain of loss of a loved one who is still living.  For those of you who may be in this situation yourself, I ask you to pray for reconciliation. Even if that is not what you want b/c the hurt is too deep. Ask God to heal your heart.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Day 26 - Prayer & The Fruit of the Spirit

"But what happens when we live God's way?  He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way fruit appears in an orchard- things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity.  We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people.  We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely."  Galatians 5:22-23

When I went home in July, we had a birthday outing for Kayden at a waterpark.  One of my cousins came and brought her 3 kids.  When I lived in Baton Rouge, she was the only family I had living in the same city. She would sometimes babysit for me.  We did things with the kids quite a bit.  So she knew my parenting style.

After we were at the waterpark for a while, she made a comment, "Val you have changed a lot. Kayden is all over the pool, slides, etc. and I keep waiting on you to 'get him.' But you seem so calm and not worried. I remember when Tyler was his age, he didn't get to do anything b/c you were all over him."

I think parents change and grow as parents the longer they are parents. So the things I may have stressed about with Tyler don't even phase me with Kayden.  But there has always been parts of my personality that I cringe about when they rear their ugly heads- specifically my temper.

There are also things that I don't always understand why I feel a certain way about things and wish I were different - things like being compassionate and caring even when people are ugly to me. Or sticking with something that I'd rather give up on and not understanding why I am the way I am.

The fruit of the spirit is something of a "guideline" or "standard" for how I'd like to be.  The scripture above is taken from the message version, however when reading the King James Version, the fruit of the spirit is listed as:  love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.

Now as for me, they are a standard that I'm working on but don't always meet the standard on.  Temperance and gentleness are areas that I struggle with.  There are times when I pass and other times I fail. And when I do fail, I'm convicted and nobody has to remind me that I missed the mark but it's an inner conviction.

As part of my job at work, we receive monthly file audits.  Each month, we are given our scores.  One time I remember my supervisor emailing me my scores for the month. One file was a great score the other one I had all of these things marked off and you'd think the person grading the file never read it. To top it off, the file had been transferred to me b/c someone else left. The someone had previously been supervised by the grader. SO rather than instruct their employee while they had the file, they were grading me on their employees' bad work.  I got the audit result over email one morning and later on that morning I would have my weekly meeting with my supervisor.

I read that and got LIVID. I really own my mistakes and can admit when I messed up, but that file wasn't it.  I was so mad i had to get up from my desk and walk around my house to calm down.  I came back and sat down at my desk and started writing out a list of things that were graded wrong or didn't apply to me.  So that when I had my meeting with my supervisor we could go over them.  After I finished my list, I prayed right before I was to have my meeting.

When my supervisor called me on the phone for the meeting, she said something along the lines of, "I reviewed that file audit and I didn't agree with a lot of the markdowns and these were my concerns, so I have written the grader to re-evaluate this. So this score is not final."

I couldn't believe that I didn't have to do any fighting. I didn't need to be angry. The "battle" was already handled before I even knew anything about it.

There are many days at home with raising little boys and them doing silly stuff that I become angry.  I'm much better about being angry and going in my room and talk to God before I address the issue with them (Tyler).  Being calm and gentle is something that I am continually working on.  I know that it is the best way to handle things.

Gentle speech can take you a long way.  Often when we allow our emotions and reactions to lead us, we run off in a direction that we end up regretting.  Yes, it feels good in the moment, but what about later? What are the repercussions of the fall out?

I had a recent experience where I was very disappointed and angered by someone's action. It showed complete inconsideration for my family.  But when I reflected on it later, it wasn't so much what they did or didn't do but moreso my reaction was based on my fears.  It was a big lesson for me in trusting God in everything and knowing that HE is my source.

We live and we learn and hopefully each day is a new day to work towards developing more. If you were to make a list of the fruit of the spirit, how would you measure up?  Do you exhibit these characteristics? Are you consistent in some areas but fall in other areas?

For today's prayer challenge, I would like you to pray about developing the fruit of the spirit.

Note:  This is Day 26, however it was prepared the day prior.  Only four more days of this challenge!

First Day...

"WE survived Day 1 of 7th grade!"

Tyler seems to like his teachers and he didn't mention not having friends when I picked him up.  I'm excited for him and think he will have a great year! Thank you for prayers for his first day...

Day 25 - Prayers for Children

"Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it."  Proverbs 22:6

One of the most important areas of prayer for me is praying for my children.  Not only for their lives now, but also for their futures.  Have you ever heard someone say their success was due to the prayers of their grand mom and/or mom?  Often times, we may not be able to pray for ourselves, and yet someone somewhere is praying for us.  For me, growing up that someone was always my Aunt.

There are so many traps and distractions in the world that try to attack children from a young age. Kids are sometimes robbed of happiness at a very young age.  Think about children who are abused early on or kids whose parent or parents abandon them.  Those children face serious circumstances and attacks early on and often bring those problems into adult life.  Some of you have even commented about things such as one parent being absent. Think of how that has affected you as an adult.

When we look around at the world, we see so many things happening to children even younger - school shootings, minority children being suspended from daycares, abuse in childcare facilities, violence in communities, temptations from peers and social networking distractions, etc.  Things occur all around us that threaten our children's futures.

I constantly pray over my children and their future.  Yes, I give them a safe and loving home and I teach them about God and try to be an example of a christian for them, but when they leave my home I can't be with them everywhere at all times.  And that's when my prayers come in.

When I started working from home, Tyler stopped going to before and after care at school. He was able to just ride the bus from our home. The bus stop is on a busy corner street.  Initially, I was a little nervous about this corner. What if a car is coming through too fast? What if the kids are playing and get out in the street?  There are so many things that could go wrong and if I focused on the worries, I'd stress myself out.  When he started catching the bus on this corner, my worries were turned into prayers, "God send your Angels out with Tyler wherever he goes.  Keep him safe from any harm and danger."

When he goes to school, while I have given him instructions on respecting authority and choosing good friends, I"m not there to know if he is doing so.  So I'm including in my prayers that he is respectful of all those he comes in contact with and that he is NOT a follower with the crowd, but a leader who stands on the teachings of his home and he is able to share his faith with others.  I always want him to have favor wherever he goes. Favor with those in authority over him and even those who are his peers.

I am always praying that he has excellent teachers who care about his success and make learning fun for him so that he will continue to do well academically. Tyler is only in 7th grade now, but I include routinely in my prayers that when he graduates, there will be so many doors of opportunity open for him and he will have scholarships coming to him and he will not have to even think about how he will pay for college.  Wherever he goes to college, he will again have favor. He will be handpicked for opportunities and leadership positions, he will obtain internships and letters of recommendation in all of his endeavors.  He will be a man if principle and will always operate with respect and will take care of any responsibility he has.  He will select wisely when it is time for him to start his own family and his wife will be a christian and he will be an example to other men of the best father that children can have.  He will be successful in his business endeavors and he will be compassionate to those in his community and there will be lots of evidence of fruit in his life.

So yes, he may be in 7th grade and his biggest worry right now may be will he make new friends at his new school and my concern may be can the school give him a closer bus stop, but those prayers are small and my prayers for him cover his future as well.

Note:  I also pray similar prayers for Kayden.

So for today's challenge, I'd like you to pray over your kid(s)' future.

"If you will listen diligently to the voice oif the Lord your God, being watchful to do all his commandments which I command you this day, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.  And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you if you heed the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city and blessed shall you be in the field. ."  Deuteronomy 28: 1-3

"The Lord shall command the blessing upon you in your storehouse and in all that you undertake.  And he will blesss you in the land which the Lord your God gives you."  Deuteronomy 28:8

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Weekend Randoms

This weekend was our last weekend before Tyler heads back to school. His return to school will mean changes in all of our schedules.  Getting up earlier, leaving the house earlier and earlier bedtimes.  We spent the weekend getting organized for the week.  But there was also a little fun mixed in.

 Saturday I took the boys to visit the Aviation Museum here.  I think Kayden enjoyed it most. He kept screaming, "Mommy look airplanes!"

  •  Today we went to church. My church is being renovated so there is service in a conference room and one service at our old church.  The conference room is suppose to be more casual and for kids. The nursery is closed right now and there's no SUnday school. This was Kayden's first time sitting in church with me.

  •  He did ok but you can definitely tell he's not acclimated to quiet places. He'd yell, "Mom I want my own chair."  Or he'd scream for me to pick him up.  I had lots of snacks and he was still a busy body.
  • Today is usually a day of rest and a good nap for me. But I had lots of laundry, making sure Tyler is ready for the start of school tomorrow and I did some work for work.  I wanted to make sure that I've worked ahead b/c I have no idea how the week will go.
  • Let me just say that Tyler had me running hot today! He couldn't find one of the bags of school supplies i'd bought just the other day.  I'd even doubled back to Walmart to see if I left bags there.  Turns out the bag was in his laundry basket. Sigh...
  • I have written out a few of these cards below to put in random notebooks, lunch, etc. for him. I want him to get it firmly in his heart and mind who he is and what he's capable of.

  • One of my Aunt's friends from home texted me yesterday to ask about the boys and I sent her photos. She also wrote me telling me to not let the white man take my boys away from me and to always talk to them and watch who they hang out with, etc.
  • It really made me sad to read that. Not b/c I don't understand where it comes from, but that is something that i have to even explain to my kids.
  • Todays' message was based in Isaiah 48.  And there was a discussion about Babylon that turned into a discussion about today's current events in Ferguson.  All of the thoughts of this make me weary.
  • Tonight when it was time for Kayden to go to bed, we did a family prayer. Usually I pray with Kayden in his room but tonight, I let Tyler pray.
  • Tyler's prayer made me smile. He never hears me pray but he prayed about exactly the same things that fill my prayers.  He just said them in a child's way.
  • I hope you guys have a wonderful week!