Ten Ways to Keep the Darkness at Bay

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I know most of us here are Christian moms but we want the same things as every other mom right? Every mom wants to keep her kids safe, help them grow up healthy and strong,  protect them from monsters and let them believe they’re super heroes, agreed?

All mothers can pretty much agree on these points but as moms following God, we have different standards and we see a bigger picture. We see beyond keeping our children safe to making them holy vessels fit for the Master’s use. We see far past our children’s temporal lives and gaze into their eternal futures.

If you’ve ever seen the first Hobbit movie, you might remember this line:

Galadriel the beautiful elf asks Gandalf,  “Why the Halfling?”

Gandalf answers: “I do not know. Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness and love…”

“The small everyday deeds of ordinary folk…” We’re just ‘ordinary moms’ so how do we hold onto the light as the days grow dark? How do we live a life that tells? How do we exhibit the small acts of kindness and love, faithfulness and humility? What can we do as we raise our children to ‘keep the darkness at bay’ in a world growing darker by the day?

The biggest thing I learned raising my daughter is this:

What you model they will follow.

Here are ten things I believe it’s imperative for us to model to our children to keep the darkness at bay:

  1. We will become what we think about. The word teaches us, “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” Guard your heart for out of it flows the issues of life. Be discerning in what you allow into your heart and home via the media, books, internet, music, video games etc.
  2. Listen to your children, especially the older ones, with grace, not judgement and as you listen, pray for discernment.
  3. Believe in your children’s dreams. This is the one thing I lacked growing up. There were expectations for my life but no encouragement and no direction for how to achieve them. As a result, I floundered after high school going to four colleges in two years and not graduating from any of them! I eventually figured out what I wanted to do but I would’ve been saved years of heartache had someone believed in me early on.
  4. Be generous and develop a generous spirit. Live the giving life because we can only keep what we give away. Be generous with your time and your treasure.
  5. Practice His presence in the cooking and the scrubbing and the teaching. Raising children takes time and the daily drudgery will either wear us out or form our character. As moms we serve day in and day out with little rest and less acknowledgement. But drudgery can be turned into the divine with the right focus. Can you change a diaper the way He took a towel…?
  6. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Everything flows from this. Everything. Your loving will drive your living and doing.
  7. Invest in your child’s future. Make what’s important to him be important to you. Value their choices by investing in their dreams. When our daughter was turning 18 but working hard in her fledgling music career, I worked a part time job so I could buy her a really good guitar for her 18th birthday. I sacrificed many hours on my feet to provide her with a professional level guitar she still uses today. My husband and I believed deeply in her future and did what we could to support her in it.
  8. The culture is not your friend. Just because it’s popular doesn’t mean it’s good for you or your family. Pray for discernment and wisdom before jumping into what the culture says is acceptable behavior. 1 Corinthians 10:23 says it like this: All things are permitted, but not all things are profitable. All things are permitted, but not all things build up.” Something that may be just fine for me may not be God’s best for you and the only way to know is through prayer and the witness of the Holy Spirit. There are no shades of gray.
  9. Use your words wisely and well. Words build up or tear down, they bless or they curse. They also can determine someone’s future success or failure. Death and life resides in our tongue so use words with caution and great care.
  10. Believe your children are here to change the world. Because they are! Each of us has a divine purpose and a unique calling. Our job as parents is to dig deep with God and figure out what our children’s purposes are. As we press in, He will show us.

Our children are little mirrors, reflecting in their lives what they see in ours. What are your children seeing?

Blessings,

 Kate

National Adoption Day– Ways That You Can Support Adoption

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“Father of the fatherless…is God in His holy habitation. God settles the lonely in a home.” ~Psalm 68: 5 & 6

God has a particular love for the child in need of a family.
And He has a special love for adoption because He chooses to describe our own relationship with Him as one of– adoption.

“Adoption in God’s mind was not Plan B. He predestined us for adoption before the creation of the world. Plan A was not lots of children who never sin and never need to be redeemed. Plan A was creation, fall, redemption, and adoption so that the full range of God’s glory and mercy and grace could be known by His adopted children. Adoption was not second best. It was planned from the beginning.” ~John Piper

Today, the Sunday before Thanksgiving, is National Adoption Day .

And this time of year is extra close to my heart because it was during the week of Thanksgiving, five years ago, that we finalized the adoption of our fifth child, Lydia.

While God doesn’t ask every family to adopt, He does ask each one of us to care for the fatherless in some way…

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction.” ~James 1:27

“Give justice to the weak and fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and lonely; rescue the weak and needy.” ~ Psalm 82:3

Our family was absolutely blessed by the many family, friends, and even strangers who supported us through both of our adoptions. And there are many ways that we all can support God’s love for children and His heart for adoption:

1) Prayerfully consider if God is leading your family towards adoption. There are a lot of very good, practical questions to work through if you are taking steps toward adoption, but the most important question you can ask is– “Is God telling us to do this?”

2) Encourage families who are adopting through prayer. Pray for specific children who are currently waiting to be adopted. Take time to understand the hard realities that often accompany adoption and pray for those you know who may be struggling.

3) Financially support those you know who are pursuing adoption or offer to help them in their fundraising.  Consider giving to solid organizations that support adoption.

4) Become a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer.

5) Offer free photography services to adoption advocates such as The Heartland Gallery.

6) Become a respite care provide for foster and adoptive families that need support.

7) Be a mentor to a child in the foster care system.

8) Take time to learn about “positive adoption language”. This is really important!  Much is communicated in a simple question like, “Where are her real parents?”

9) Teach your children about and talk about adoption, regardless of whether or not God ever leads you to adopt.

10) Develop a personal love for adoption and take time to understand how it relates to God’s spiritual adoption plan.

Please join us today as we give thanks for, pray for, and show support for–
the gift of adoption.

“…God is graciously involved in our adoptions.  He has done it Himself.  He knows what it costs. And He stands ready to support us all the way to the end.”
~John Piper

With Love,
Kara

 

 

And I Pray…

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Tucked away in my journal is a little list that I find myself returning to often lately. At some point I went through the New Testament of my Bible and jotted down all the times that someone says “and I pray that…” You see, my prayer life isn’t always very rich or powerful or consistent. More often than I care to admit, much of my prayer life is me throwing up quick requests for God to bless my plans as I go about life. So I wanted to comb through the Bible and see what sorts of things Jesus’ earliest followers prayed about.

Two of my favorites are in the book of Ephesians. Ephesians is a powerful letter from the apostle Paul to the newish Christians who lived in Ephesus during the first century. He had poured his heart and soul into the early formation of the church at Ephesus and obviously had some important things he wanted to share with them.

He spends the first half of the letter simply reminding them who they are in Christ. It’s beautiful to recount all the blessings that are ours simply because of riches of God’s grace and the kind intention of His will. It’s like a torrential downpour of spiritual blessings.

Couched among his admonitions and reminders is this precious prayer that Paul utters on behalf of these dear ones. I can’t get it out of my head. Here’s what he prays for his friends in Ephesus:

I pray that they eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.

DSC_0030The bit that I can’t seem to get over… is how different that seems from most of our prayers. Like I mentioned earlier, my prayers pretty much default to the physical realities of my life or the lives of the people around me. Prayers for safe travels. Or for a friend’s frustrations at work. Or for the kids to be more obedient. Or my to-do list.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I don’t think it’s wrong to pray for those things. Paul prayed for healing for himself. Jesus told us to pray for our daily bread. Our daily, physical needs are important. They matter to us and to our Lord. I have a friend who just had her second miscarriage. You better believe I’m praying for God to give them healthy baby.

But, I can’t get away from Paul’s prayer either. It’s like he realized that there was something even more critical for us to catch. That what we need – even more than physical healing or immediate provision – is to know, beyond of a shadow of a doubt, who our God is and how He feels about us. That my deepest need is not a better system of organizing my calendar or more hours in the day or more money to make ends meet or a bigger family room or a healthy husband. That there is a spiritual realm that is just as real as my daily physical one. What if I really believed that? And started praying this for me? And all the people that I love?

I’m going to keep praying for immediate, tangible needs all around me. But, my prayer life could use a pretty healthy dose of praying for the deeper, unseen places – for the eyes of my heart to be enlightened. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s the best thing I could pray for you too.

  • Do you know and exalt in the hope of His calling? Hope does not disappoint!!
  • Do you experience the heaping riches of His inheritance? If you know Him, you are a daughter of the King of the Universe. That’s a lot of riches.
  • Do you believe He brings His great, raise-people-from-dead-type-of-power to bear on your life? He has the power to help you conquer the most addictive behaviors or failures that plague you.

Oh… how I pray that they eyes of your heart will be enlightened. So that you will KNOW.

Grace and peace,

@In a Mirror Dimly

 

When We Are Given More Than We Can Handle

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 “I’m tired of being afraid
I’m wondering how I got this way
I’m trying to remember what life was like before
Panic moved in without even knocking on the door

Have mercy on me
I’m not who I used to be
Have mercy on me
Jesus, please…”
Have Mercy on Me lyrics, -JJ Heller

I remember so clearly, as though it was only yesterday and not nearly three years in my past, those overwhelming feelings of panic that would run through my veins every minute of every day and night for what seemed to be months on end.

I can close my eyes and instantly recall the constant unrest that would swirl around within my mind, and the tears…the most sincere and heartfelt tears I think I may have ever cried in my whole life, that would fall day after day after day.
Night after night after night.

I felt my soul being robbed, my laughter being choked, and my days became a battleground filled with fear and trembling. Yet I remained rooted in the word and constant in prayer as though my life depended on it.

Because truthfully, it did.

I remember the kind words and helpful quotes that people would offer so as to bring me hope and comfort when it seemed so far beyond my reach. The one I remember most often repeated was, “The Lord will never give you more than you can handle…so know that He must really believe that you are incredibly strong!”

Only, I didn’t feel so strong.
In fact, I was weak and defeated and there truly wasn’t even an ounce of “strong woman, hear me roar” left within me.
And on top of already experiencing a little bit of what I felt hell must be like, I also began to feel as though I was letting the Lord down because I couldn’t live up to the strength he apparently felt I should possess.

And while I know we mean well when we say these things, what I’ve come to understand of Gods word, is that He does, in fact, give us FAR beyond what we can ever handle.

Anxiety. Death. Cancer. Abandonment. Depression. Illness. Pain. Poverty. Hunger.

The list goes on and on and on…

But there is good news my sweet friends, and it’s the truth that got me through those very dark days, and it’s the truth that gets me through the tough times even now.
And that hope is not in that God thinks you’re strong enough to handle all that life may bring to you.

2 Corinthians 1: 8-10

…For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.

I don’t know what troubles you may be struggling with right now, and I can’t pretend to know how long God will allow you to be in the midst of them, but what I do know is that God’s power and strength and comfort and love never fail. They never run out.

And so I urge you to look to Him. Run to Him. Abide in Him. Rest in Him. Make everything you have, everything you do, everything you walk through, about Him.

Because where we are weak, HE IS STRONG.

Blessings, S

Summer Saldana
www.summersaldana.com
www.youtube.com/lemusingsofmoi

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