Kids and Worship

One year. I’ve been worshiping in this church plant for one full year. I’ve learned a lot from the preaching, I’ve felt loved a lot from the people, and I have become happily involved in a variety of ways. Its been a really great place to heal a broken heart. And today the worship transformed into something amazing.

And it wasn’t a new song.

But lets back up for a minute.

My 3 children, my husband and I came here from a good sized church with a kids program with around 100 kids. And here, in this very young church plant, my children warrant nearly half the regular attending kids. Now I admit this worries me- particularly as my daughter enters the preteen years with no set of Godly girlfriends. (By the way- this is a place I am daily turning to God in prayer relying on his promise to work all things for the good… and its not easy!!) Not long after we began attending I began volunteering in the kids church. I quickly learned that our small group of kids are amazing and curious about God. They love to come and learn, and they ask really intense questions!

As the year progressed some of the kids began to come and sit near me (presumably to be near my kids). I love to watch them sit, giggle, chat, and sing together. Most Sundays its like a pre-church kids club hang out- they kinda just sit and watch as the adults do this thing we call worship.

Until this past Sunday.

The morning began as usually, with the same kids hanging around. As our worship pastor began I felt a little tap on my side, “Ms. Stacy, can I come in?” So all the kids squeezed in between me and my husband. And all together they began to sing. To praise. To worship.

Sure, they don’t know all the words and they can’t always read them off the screen. But they tried. And their voices aren’t mature enough to hit the right notes, but they cried out anyway. When the song changed one little guy looked at me and with so much excitement proclaimed, “I do know this one!” In that moment my heart melted.

A little tingle ran over me. I was watching our kids worship. Give their hearts and minds to the God who loves them. And they did it without reserve.

I want to worship like that- without hesitation, even when I don’t know all the words. I want to cry out with joy when I know the words. But more than that, I want to continue to see our kids worship. I hope to see these kids continue to grow and ask questions. I want to see their worship become trust and reliance on the God who is watching over them even now.

And let me continue to heal as I watch you work in them.

Its time for War

Far too long have I listened to the voice of evil tell me I am not good enough. I have let it choke the words right out of my writing, talk me down from big projects at work and home, convince me that I am a terrible mother, and keep me in my own little world of doubt.

But that ends now.

Three weeks ago I was ready to launch some new material and a big project. I worked hard for days reading, writing, and researching. But life gave me a few stumbles… a sick kid, a small car issue, extra hours at work. In those small tasks of life I let the enemy voice convince me that I shouldn’t be doing that writing and that  project anyway. I let myself believe I wasn’t good enough for it…

So, for three weeks I haven’t lifted a finger of progress on those materials.

A few days ago I began to think about all the ideas I have and what I want to do with them. My natural instinct is to think there is nothing good that I can do. Nobody wants to read my stuff. I have nothing new to give. And I am not worth a thing. And in that moment of doubt I felt the Spirits tug. “Its time to wage war like never before.”

So I went over that list of ideas again, and I realized they are all God-given leads. If I silence the evil one’s seduction calling out “You’re not good enough,” I will hear the voice whispering, “With Me all things are possible, and all the things you do in My Name will result in goodness.”

I’ve listened to the enemy say “You’re not good enough!” far too long.

I've listened to the enemy sayfar too long.

Its time I secure my armor and prepare for an epic battle. I refuse to believe the lies any longer. I refuse to believe that I am unworthy. I refuse to believe I have nothing to offer in this world.

Are you with me on this? Is the enemy shouting something at you that is keeping you from hearing God’s whispers?

Prepare your armor. Its time to fight.

A Perfect God in my Imperfect World

Back in the day Joan Osbourne recorded the song, “What if God was One of Us,” where she poses that question- What if God were one of us? Just a slob like one of us?  Just a stranger on a bus tryin’ to make his way home?

 

Too often we don’t want to imagine our Holy God as a stranger on a bus. We have a hard time seeing him as a “slob” since he is called perfect.

 

Instead we put God in a tight box. We pack it with the beautiful language of the 16th century, touch it with white gloves, and dare not to let him see us as a mess.

 

But let me ask you this: what do you think the world was like when Jesus walked it? He walked the dirty streets as a simple man from a town of the outcasts. He didn’t speak in fancy words, dress in the best robes, or even hang with the respected leaders. He was a carpenter who said things that were outrageous. He touched dirt and dirty people. He hung with the outcasts, wandered from town to town, and was despised by the leaders of the day.

 

And yet He was perfect.

 

You see, perfect has no bearing on clean. Or messy. Jesus’ perfection is a part of his being, not a lifestyle.

 

For us to be a bit messy, or a little dirty, is not sinful. If you leave that mess in the kitchen because you choose to do something God-honoring it is going to be okay. If you choose to read the ESV translation because it makes more sense to you, God will be delighted because you are spending your time with him! And if you kneel at His feet in your yoga pants and dirty hair, He is going to embrace you for being His child. Its a personal relationship, and God knows just who you are anyway.
Don’t get yourself stuck on the little things. Even in His perfection, He simply wants all that you have to offer in its imperfect form.

Its time to clean out the Junk drawer!

It’s beyond capacity. It’s overflowing with random projects, school papers, craft materials, and candy wrappers from my secret stash. I was looking for something the other day and pulled open this overflowing junk drawer to find myself even more frustrated as a result of the overflow of mismatch that poured out. And instead of calmly sorting through the stuff I did what every mom of young ones did… I yelled. And then I shut it. And somehow I have a far fetched hope that the next time I open it will be different.

 

But it won’t.

 

Later that night as I sulked in my bad mood I began to think about some of the junk in my mental drawer. And, like the physical drawer in my house, my mental and emotional drawer is packed with old stuff, new ideas that have been halted, and the trash that I am trying to hide from others. And I closed it with the same hope I had for the drawer in the house… the hope that next time I open it I will see neat and tidy with no garbage.

 

But I won’t.

 

Too often we want to be neat and tidy. We want our house to be clean and organized, our schedules to be perfectly planned, and everything to be perfect for others to see. So when something on the counter is just not fitting that image we toss it in the junk drawer and shut it out of sight.

 

In our minds we do the same. We suppress our emotional distress so that on the outside we appear happy and relaxed, we shove our “Im not good enough” thoughts to the back hoping nobody will see them, and we hide our spiritual struggles just out of sight of our friends and family. And when we can shut the drawer we are able to put on our game face and act as if we are living our dreams.

 

And somehow it works until our drawer is so overflowing its pouring out the sides so much that we trip. We stumble over something ordinary because of something we tried to shove into our “don’t let them see me this way” drawer.

 

So let’s take a minute to organize that internal junk drawer into truth and garbage.

 

Empty out the thoughts of perfection because we all fall short (Rom 3:23). Empty out the thoughts of not good enough, because you can do anything with Christ in you (Phl 4:13). Get rid of the comparison to others, because you are God’s unique creation (Eph 2:10). And ditch the idea that you are not worth it, because Christ paid for you with His blood when you were at your worst (Rom 5:8).

 

Now fill that internal drawer with this: God’s love for you is so perfect, so complete, and so deep that nothing in this world can take it away- not even your own fear!(Rom 8:35, 1 John 4:9). He created you unique, to be YOU, and to be His (Psl 139:13, 1John 3:1).

Let’s declare this week as Junk Free Week. Every night empty out that internal junk drawer by spending some time in your Father’s graces, turning over all your worries and emptying any of your past. Turn it all over so you will stop tripping over it. And let Jesus fill that entire drawer with love and promises.

 

He will.

 

We will save that junk drawer in the kitchen for next week.

Temper Tantrums of Love

“I can’t calm down unless I can see you! I need you, mommy!”

That was the screams of my six year old this evening. He was sent to his room to calm down after yelling and screaming over a little piece of candy before dinner. When he gets so upset about things he forgets to listen. And so I have tried my best to not get into a yelling match, but rather lead him to his room so he can calm himself so that we can discuss this. If you are a mom you can probably picture the scene: he screams as if I am torturing him, I am red faced from holding back my own yelling, and everyone else in the house begins hiding.

In reality, my son simply needs to calm down before he will understand a word I say. And I also need this separation so that I can think about how to explain to him what I don’t like about his behavior. This is not easy! He often continues to scream out in anger for a few minutes before he changes to screams of loneliness and fear. That’s when I hear things like, “I need you here with me!” “But I love you mom, and I just want you to come near me so I can calm down.”  Its difficult to not give in when I hear this, but in an effort to teach him to self-soothe I fight my urge to run in and scoop him into my arms. My maternal instinct is to grab him in my arms and cry with him so that his little heart calms.

After tonight’s particular round of events I caught myself thinking, “Is this what God thinks of me when I go on a rant?” I can look back on the past and see this situation happening between me and God. You see, I get mad. I throw fits and yell over little things. I even get irrational by telling God how I think it should be. And when He doesn’t give in I begin to look around and think He has left me. So, though I know he is near, my cries become desperate attempts to find Him with little result. Eventually my emotions calm down and I begin to seek Him in the correct way- in church, in His word, in obeying His call even when I don’t know how. And suddenly He is there. I can feel His presence again. And just like my baby boy does to me, I find myself snuggled in His lap making up for the lost time I spent away from Him.

I wonder if He sees me like I see my child. I wonder if he is frustrated to the point that he has to let me calm myself so that he can speak clearly to me. I wonder if my cries generate a desire to scoop me up, but he waits until I am ready. I’d like to think that my maternal instincts are one of the qualities he gave me “in his image.” I know that my love for my children is a reflection of his love, therefore I am sure that this is from His love, too.

 

In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears  Psalm 18:6

Overwhelmed by Assignment

Its been a few weeks of planning, organizing, and enemy attacks. And its been hard. And I am weary.

Yet is in this moment I am reminded that God gives strength to the weary, so He is with me now.

I launched this site one month ago, at the very beginning of August. I also launched into my first year of homeschooling, at the very beginning of August. I quickly fell face down crying out, “Lord what have I done!”

Ever found yourself there, in that place of doing what you really want to do but so overwhelmed you think you’ll never make it?

As I sat there feeling overwhelmed I realized that I had just taken on two major life assignments: spreading the Gospel and raising three children of the King. I paused in that moment and tripped over the fear. I am not good enough for even one of those tasks. There is no possible way I  will be successful at either job. I have no idea what I am doing or how to do it.

And that is where the attack began.

I became paralyzed, allowing the long struggle of depression and anxiety flare up like a wild-fire: because I couldn’t do everything I chose to do nothing. I stopped writing, stopped teaching, and stopped reading. It was a full on break down!

And that is where God spoke.

In the hours of my breakdown I felt empty and useless. But the voice of my husband reminded me that I have beaten this before and I will do it again because God is on my side. He reminded me that the enemy is attacking viciously because I am embarking on a journey that will stomp him to the ground. And if I press on, not only will I be able to manage my assignments but I will be blessed throughout them.

I once heard Lysa TerKeurst say that as Christians we need to “Stay in Alignment with our Assignment.” (In fact, her book The Best Yes is pretty much about that. )  This time of walking in the valley has helped me to realign so that I can complete my assignments. I know what He has asked of me, and as I walk down this path I do so in the encouragement that he is with me.

Feeling overwhelmed by your assignment today? Afraid you are not going to make it? Comment below so that we can pray with and for you.

And take comfort in this: “The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.” Psalm 29:11

 

Sinking My Boat with Blessings

Ever feel so tired of doing the same thing over and over? Like laundry. Or dishes. Or chicken for dinner.

Some days the mundane routine of our day after day can exhaust us, mentally and physically. Yet day after day after day we continue to put in the effort it takes. Packing lunches, cleaning bathrooms, changing diapers, wiping tables, fixing dinners, and mediating arguments. We go through our days in sequential order, filing them with our best effort at being a Godly woman.

How often do you pause in your mundane to experience the Master?

In the book of Luke, Jesus is teaching from aboard the boat of Simon Peter. Now Simon had recently wrapped up a day at sea. He was a fisherman, and he had just come in from a full day of work doing the same ol’, same ol’. He had docked his boat on the shore and was washing his nets wrapping up his day’s work when Jesus climbed into his boat. Jesus asked Simon to push out to sea just a little so that He could teach the developing crowd.

Lets pause for just a moment and ask ourselves this: Do you really think Simon wanted to get back in his boat?

Potentially just like Simon, sometimes the last thing I want to do is load the dishwasher for the third time today. And sometimes the last thing I want to do is open my Bible at the end of a very long day.

Thankfully, Simon obeyed.

And then his long day stretched into one of those never-ending kind.

After He finished teaching Jesus told Simon, “Put into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” (Luke 5:4) This time Simon allows himself to speak out a bit and replies, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night long and caught nothing but at your word, I’ll let down the nets.” (Luke 5:5)

Notice that big, giant ‘but’ there… that’s where I stumble.

I begin with the same complaint, “I’ve done this a thousand times,” or “I’ve tried for days to get this done.” I find myself too bored or too frustrated to even consider trying again. I just want to give up. And when I allow myself to stop – even for a moment – I am missing the overflowing nets of blessing.

When Simon obeyed he filled his nets so full he had to call for backup. And both boats trudged into shore sinking because they were so full! When Simon agreed to allow Jesus to interrupt – even in its inconvenience – He poured out in abundance.

What if you and I could allow Jesus to stop us in the midst of our mundane to listen to His Word? Where is God asking for your faithfulness so that He can teach you? What is He asking you to do just once more so that He can pour into your world? What blessings would fill our nets?

Welcome!

I am ecstatic to finally launch this page! It has been years in the making, and I hope it lasts for years to come. I have blogged for a while now, and this new set-up is the start of the next phase.

God has given me a story to tell. This is it:

I am beautiful. And I am loved.

And so are YOU.

All of this because He chose to love me first (1John4:19). And I know without a shadow of a doubt He loves you too. Feeling tired? Overwhelmed? Dry? No matter who you are, no matter where you have been, and no matter where you are going: Jesus loves you right were you are. Come as you are and walk this journey called life step by step with me, searching for glimpses of His unending, beautiful love.

Together we will:

  • Dive deeply into the word once a month via the News and Notes. (Subscribe by email below and receive it in your inbox around the first of every month.)
  • Explore the relevance and application of the Word in our daily life on the blog, which will have a weekly post beginning in August.
  • Immerse our day in scripture and influence with posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (find me with the links on the bottom of this page!)
  • Commit ourselves to seeing God at work in our life by interacting with others who walk with us

Come. Sit. Prepare to see God at work.

With love-

Stacy