family, Kids, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 10: “Childlike”

Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift?

    the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?

Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows

    are the children of a vigorous youth.

Oh, how blessed are you parents,

    with your quivers full of children!

Psalm 127:3-4 (MSG)

The innocence of young children is precious. Watching how they stand in awe of everything around them brings wonder and beauty right into your lap. Answering “why” countless times as they seek to figure out how this world works is both exhausting and hilarious.

Children are a heritage from the Lord. They are not only your future leaders and caretakers. But, they deserve your “right now” focus and outpouring of intentionality and grace.

Kids believe they can conquer the world. They are full of hope and great ideas. They are creative and funny. They have no inhibitions when they are comfortable. It’s important to love and value the children in your life. It’s easy to pray for them and to support them because their needs are often obvious. They ask for help and articulate their fears in a way that prompts you to seek God for them.

Are you approaching Jesus with childlike faith today?

Jesus used ‘little ones’ as examples of how you should come to God. Ask yourself if you are pushing aside all your grown-up worries and sitting at the feet of Jesus, awaiting his encouragement. He will speak truth to your situation if you let him. He’s standing like a happy Father outside his car at school pick up, anticipating your endless chatter about your day. The Lord’s arms are open wide and he longs for you to climb onto his back; let him carry you.

Look at your own children with eyes that omit faults because of their innocence and purity. Then, exonerate yourself with the same respect. God is well versed in your flaws and indiscretions. And he loves you anyway.

Take the brokenness of your mistakes and the disappointment of regret and allow Jesus to put you back together. You are his precious child no matter how weathered you are with the passing of time.

*Ask God to reveal what areas of your faith are inhibited because of pride or an unwillingness to hand them over to your loving Heavenly Father. Pray for the children in your life. Ask God to heal the childhood wounds of your friends and family members. Most of all, see yourself as a cherished child of God today.

family, Health, Prayer, Social problems, Uncategorized

Day 8: “Family Matters”

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua 24:15 (NIV)

Family Ties, The Cosby Show, Hey Hey It’s Saturday, Neighbours, Full House. Decades have passed with television mirroring family life. Do you have a favourite family sitcom or drama?

Watching other families struggle, laugh, fight, and love has always been a drawcard for audiences. Maybe it’s the reflection you see in your own life coming alive on the screen. Or, maybe you like the stability and perfection of TV show families (remember Leave it to Beaver?) as you daydream ideas for your own.

Every family is made up of unique individuals. Households look different depending on culture, work, living arrangements, urban vs country, and more. As you choose the path of putting God first in your life to start off your year, you are making a hearty declaration for your unique tribe. The foundation in your personal life spills over into your marriage. You build security for your children, your grandchildren, and extended family as you put God first.

As the health of the family goes, so goes the health of society. 

Imagine a healthy community of believers whose spiritual lives are stable and secure. You are a piece of a larger puzzle, fitting together God’s greater plan. Once your own four walls are stable, you begin to fortify those around you. Your family unit acts as a beautiful pillar in a long row of columns holding up all of society. This applies even if you’re not married with children!

Our community needs people like you. Strong and steady. Full of joy and peace. Your family, an example of unity and enthusiasm for life, bringing heavenly contributions wherever you go.

Today, pray intentionally for the Christian families you know. They face trials and have struggles; sometimes, afraid to reveal them for fear it might ruin their witness for Christ. As you are more capable in your own walk with God, begin to ask him who in your church or in your friendship circle might need specific prayer today.

Pray for protection over other families you know. Pray that marriages would stick out the hard times. Ask God to guard the mouths of those who might harm others with their words. Jesus, help those who resort to numbing their pain with pills or alcohol. Show them a glimpse of your love today.

Transparency and trust are at the centre of the family unit, so pray for families to fight for what is necessary to be honest and vulnerable with each other. Pray that dinners dinners and quality time together building bonds and memories will be a priority.

Domestic violence, divorce, and lack of financial security act as conduits for dysfunction within homes. Pray against these issues today. Winning the daily battles families face wages a war against brokenness across all of society.

*God loves you unconditionally no matter what your family situation is like today. No doubt, there are relationships that need work. Grief might be overriding your sense of peace and joy within your home. A loved one who has gone astray might consume you with fear and doubt. Lay these burdens at the foot of the cross today and expect God to intervene in a supernatural way that only he can.

Contentment, Courage, family, Finance, Inspiration, Leadership, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

Lady Wisdom

Happy New Year! 2020… a new decade! Time to pull out the diaries and start goal setting, resolution-ing, and asking good questions:

“Do I have time for this?”

“What should I say “yes” to?”

“What items in my cupboard need to go?”

“Can I afford this?”

These are questions I’ve heard my friends, my family, the teams I lead, all asking. I bet you are too. Andy Stanley wrote a great book many years ago called “The Best Question Ever” and it changed my thinking. Andy says, “In light of my past experiences, my current circumstances, and my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing for me to do?” (Emphasis mine.)

Before Greg and I ask if we can afford something, what we should cull from the calendar, we query, “What’s the wise choice?” When someone begs me to take on another volunteer role, it’s not “Do I have time?” Rather, “In light of my current and future priorities, dare I say ‘yes?’

Does this expenditure align with my value to put God first in my finances? To stay out of debt? To live minimally so I create margin to do the things I love like supporting my kids’ endeavours, traveling, etc?

If I take out the buzz of emotion that’s shouting in my ears, do I hear the whisper of prudence and sanity speaking to me?

This method takes off so much pressure and fuels my priorities! Wisdom tells me I need space in my days to feel alive, to hear the voice of God, to rest. Savvy says my budget is stretched and one more activity will only add to my stress. Wisdom reminds me that my kids are going to be just fine if they skip a year of XYZ sport or music or art. Chances are, they aren’t the next Beethoven or Steph Curry so giving them space to play outside, eat a proper dinner with the family most nights, and giving them my undivided attention as their mother (not just their Uber service), matter more. Good judgement calls out to me from the early mornings reminding me how much I need exercise for my sanity so my day must include TIME for that as a priority. Experience has taught me that I can make time for another activity but I won’t because these other priorities rank higher.”

In your gut, your heart of hearts, your intelligence and discernment, you hear Lady Wisdom speaking her truth to you too!

Listen to her!

She teaches you how to establish your values as a person and family. Then, you must find the courage to not let other people dictate how you outwork those values. What other families do or don’t do, how big their cars and houses are, how smart and amazing their kids might seem, what their social media account looks like with regards to their travel and experiences shouldn’t be factored into your goal setting or planning for the year ahead. This year, be brave and chart your own wise course.

Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.

Colossians 1:9-12 (MSG)
family, Inspiration, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

November, Again.

Every November comes around with the velocity of a high speed train. Daylight savings, spring, open pools, sunshine.

And birthdays.

Three of them.

All in five days.

Sydney’s on the 5th, mine on the 8th and Sam’s on the 9th. No merging with traffic. November arrives – and, BOOM! So do all the birthdays.

I feel overwhelmed with another piece of childhood left behind; and, in the frenzy of planning parties, buying gifts, baking cakes for classmates, I forget about my own birthday. (It’s also very weird to celebrate in Spring when for 35 yrs mine fell in fall. Void of the changing leaves and leftover Halloween candy, there are no triggers telling me it’s my turn.)

So, this year, I decided to reflect a little more intentionally, to pick up blogging again, and hopefully inspire someone else who resents the audacity of the calendar with all its overreach and disregard for the pace I reckon we would all like to keep. The passing of time is a universal truth common to human experience. But we don’t have to like it!

I spend a lot of time prepping for the future: saving money, planning holidays, exercising and eating right. And, in the midst of all that habit-stacking and goal-setting, I often lament what was. Nostalgia rings a familiar bell with the sound of laughter and hope. I want to live in the present but I struggle to do so. I long to be content with what is but I have a hard time reconciling the vision I once held for what would one day be with the harsh reality of what actually is.

Disappointment has been an all-too-familiar friend over the last decade. Sure, Instagram shows the highlight reel of everything that’s been good. And, there’s been a lot of good. But, unmet expectations, betrayal, money stresses, mistakes, loss, (did I mention cellulite and wrinkles) have also taken up real estate in my life. No one ever puts those things on a vision board, do they?

The reality is, perfection is never a promise made by the One who gives us our breath. Easy isn’t extended to even the most lucky and blessed. Whatever our family, finances or faith, we aren’t immune to heartache and hurt.

So, this birthday week, as I reflect on my 43 yrs, I feel a little bit of ‘blah’ mixed with a little bit of ‘bliss.’ I feel free even though the heaviness of sadness threatens to invade. I can admit my faults and disappointments with unfettered honesty but when I do, vulnerability seeks to bring shame. I’m liberated when I can acknowledge I don’t have simplistic answers for complex problems but I would rather stick my head in the sand.

Embracing the monotony of putting one foot in front of the other is actually living footloose and fancy free. The fact that I woke up this morning means I’ve been given permission to use the gift of another plain old day to make a difference in someone’s life, to love the ones I hold dear and to give thanks.

Today, on this 43rd birthday of mine, I am more resilient, tested and true to myself… less insecure and more focussed on the things that matter most. I care about giving of myself more than of what I can gain. I feel grateful for every healthy breath and for a solid marriage. I’m pleased that my shoulders are a strong platform upon which my children can stand. I see my Heavenly Father through a sometimes beat up lens but what always comes into focus is his faithfulness and love for me (and YOU).

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Devotion, family, peace, Series, Social problems, Uncategorized

Day 11: “Peace. In Family, pt 2.”

Healthy families are the fabric of a thriving society. Despite their imperfections, families provide stability and structure around the home life, our communities, and ultimately entire nations.

Broken families lead to poverty, lower academic achievements of children, and increased social problems. Although studies have been done the world over which draw these conclusions and validate God’s word in regards to his plan for marriage and family, you’re bombarded with the opposite messages.

The media tells you men can’t be trusted and that they are “toxic.” They are degraded and demoralised in our television shows. It’s a weakness for a woman to express her need and desire to have the leadership of a strong man in her life. The feminist movement has pushed a false agenda of “empowerment” onto women which says they don’t need fathers for their babies or two incomes to survive. All the evidence proves otherwise.

And, most importantly, God wants families in tact.

He longs for two parents to raise their children in loving, stable homes. God desires marriages to be strong and for your life and calling to intertwine and intermingle with your kids and their callings. You aren’t meant to live with a compartmentalised hierarchy of priorities. Allow God to flow through the mess of everyday life; and, by bringing unity in the home, let him weave his will into every situation. God first and everything else second. Moving in a rhythm of grace, pursuing God as individual family units creates momentum in our neighbourhoods and communities.

Your impact snowballs and takes ground everywhere it flows.

Today, let’s join in prayer for the family unit itself. If your family doesn’t look like you wish it did, it’s okay. God knows your desires and he has a plan for you. Spend time praying into your situation and asking the Lord to bring together strong families all across our nation. Pray for children who are being exposed to domestic violence and who are neglected emotionally. Ask God to mend broken hearts and give husbands and wives a fervour to fight for their marriages.

“To the fatherless he is a father.
    To the widow he is a champion friend.
    To the lonely he gives a family.
    To the prisoners he leads into prosperity until they sing for joy.
    This is our Holy God in his Holy Place!
    But for the rebels there is heartache and despair.”

Psalm 68:5-6 (TPT)
Devotion, family, Fasting, peace, Prayer, Series, Uncategorized

Day 10: “Peace. In Family.”

Photo: brushworkbyjustine

The good, the bad, the ugly. Your family has seen it all. They know your strengths, your weaknesses, your successes and your failures. Blood bonds since birth. Some families are tight tribes; others – broken bonds of separation and strain.

Divorce, abandonment, disunity, misunderstanding. Lack of forgiveness, ingratitude, abuse, neglect.

Safe, secure, aligned. Tradition, celebration, secrets. Laughter, travel, connectedness, prayer.

Whether the former or latter describes your clan, no doubt, you understand the importance of family. You may be praying for a wayward child to come home like the Prodigal Son. Your prayer and fasting could be for the salvation of a brother, auntie or parent. Maybe you’re struggling with a teenager or sibling rivalry and you desire peace to tamp down the fires of controversy.

God placed you in your family and he knows your heart’s desires. He loves each member and has a plan and a purpose for them all. You can impact your family dynamics through prayer as you lift up the needs and people in your life. God can do miracles in impossible situations and can bring healing and life to that which is dead.

You are a chosen daughter or son, belonging firstly to God’s forever family.

No matter your position or standing within your earthly family, God has crowned you as royalty within his. You have an eternal inheritance and all your concerns will be set right when you see Jesus face to face.

Spend time today thanking God for adopting you into his household. Give over any concerns you have about your earthly family to him who is more than able to bring healing, unity and hope to each and every situation.

The God of Glory ] “How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.”

Ephesians 1:3-6 (MSG)