Posts Tagged ‘children’

Leading Them To Water

Moses: Hello rock.

Rock: Hello Moses.

Moses: How are you today?

Rock: Oh, ya’ know, it pretty much rocks being me.

Moses: lol, always so witty.  Hey, do you think you could give us some water?  God said it was cool.

Rock: Well sure (transforms into giant office water tank).  Go ahead.

Moses: Wow, that’s a pretty nifty trick.

People: WHOO HOOO.  Hooray for the Lord, God of Moses! All of creation responds to His desires!

You may not recognize the above story from your time in scriptures.  That’s because it never got a chance to happen.  In Numbers 20:8, God directs Moses to relieve the thirst of the people and their animals by speaking to a rock “that it may yield its water.”  Who knows what they may have looked like?  Okay, probably not the situation above, I just had a bit of fun with it.

Instead, Moses was filled with anger and frustration at a whiny group of untrusting people.  Even after all they had been through, they were blaming God for their thirst, and asking if Moses had led them to this place to die.

I imagine a large group of kids in the back of a mini-van.  This trip has been much longer than they thought.  They’ve asked “Are we there yet?” about a hundred times, and now have escalated to the drama of “I’m going to die, I’m so IMG_9800thirsty!!”  Mom and dad are in the front, thirsty too, but driving through traffic jams in the middle of midwestern cornfields doesn’t offer many chances to stop.  Finally dad slams on the breaks and pulls over.  He’s had enough.  He turns around to look at his children and the main goal in that moment is to stop the whining.  He gets out of the car, and hits a rock.  The rock starts gushing water, and the need is met.

Now for a “bigger lens”…

As parents, we want to meet the needs of our children.  Just like Moses, we feel the burden of providing for our family.  There are ways to do it, that honor God and help turn the hearts of our children toward responding to their ultimate provider in worship.  There are other ways to do it, that simply (or luxuriously) put food on the table, but end in a result of our children being amazed at our abilities and filling their thirsts.

It’s difficult…sooo very difficult to spend time talking to rocks.  But in the end we recognize our children have a thirst that goes deeper than any material item in this world can quench.  More important than causing the water to flow, and meeting their every immediate need – is providing them a path on which they see and experience the love and provision of God, and are shaped to depend on Him.

The question then becomes – Where is the rock God is calling you, as a parent, to talk to?

 

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“Bring You Where I Am” by Wick – Music Video

I know, you’re probably sick of hearing about it by now. But here’s the official music video to go with our song, complete with links to purchase the song or donate to our adoption if you’d like!!

Suffering Joy

This morning, it doesn’t take long for the difficult words from this past Sunday to come whispering back into my mind… “Rejoice always.  Pray continually.  Give thanks in all circumstances.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18a)

The world is broken, and mourning the loss of so many young lives.  Attackers stormed a school, with automatic weapons and the indifference of knowing they too were going to die, and killed over 126 people – mostly young children.  Largely between the ages of 12 and 16, the victims were just beginning to have grand thoughts about what to do with their lives.  Daydreaming, passing notes, and looking forward to the weekend….many of their lives ended without being able to express what was really on their hearts and minds.

My prayers are with them this morning.  The community that weeps.  The parents whose homes have been torn apart. The friends who’ve lost their classmates.  The young loves who’ve lost the one they were inspired by.  The students who’ve lost a teacher.  May God bring comfort, even to those who may not be able to give name to the source.

Certainly God didn’t have any of these scenes in mind when He gave us the words of Paul to the church in Thessalonica.  Surely if God would have known we’d have things like this happening, he would have given a different command.  Something closer to, “Rejoice when you can.  Pray if you can spare the time.  Give thanks before you lose it.”  But we know better than that.  Even as Paul gave those words, God’s people had known immense suffering.  God looked across the suffering that would come to His people, and painted a picture of who we are to be…even in the midst of the brokenness of our world.

Not those who avoid it.  Not those who seek it.  But those who seek God’s presence in the midst of whatever may come.  Those who are able to suffer with those who suffer, have “compassion”, and simultaneously be comforted by a God who has promised He is with us.  Those who are able to celebrate blessings in life with the humility that sees the reality much larger than the moment.  Those who recognize that the only way we become people with hearts grounded in God’s reality is to be those who “pray continually”.  Not starry-eyed false hope that someday this suffering will all make sense.  But a solid foundation of hope that today, right now, even in the midst of brokenness and ugly humanity – there is the presence of a God who says through His tears….”I love you.  I am with you.  Listen to my voice, and receive life that transforms.”

We cannot throw extra God-presence in a box, wrap it, and ship it to those suffering from this tragedy.  But we can allow these moments to call forth transformation in our own lives.  Give yourself time to pray today.  Rejoice, as one Beloved by the Son.  Spend time both speaking AND listening to the voice of our Father who loves you.  Give thanks for the movement of the Spirit that brings New Life.

Allow yourself to feel the story, even in the midst of a day/news-hour that moves right on to the next thing.  Allow the pain in your heart to enable you to cry out to God with them….”Lord, come.  Lord….come.”  And know that He has.  Know that He is.   Know that He will…

smiles.

Back when we were dating, a song emerged as “ours” in the way songs do as couples travel through life together.  It was by a small band that only existed for a short period of time, but whose CD I borrowed from her all the time.   The title was “You Make Me Smile”, and yes…we often got sappy to it.  But it communicated so much of our early relationship and still today.  I often traveled in a band throughout college, and during the time we spent apart there were many moments where the thought of her, or surprise visit would brighten my face in great ways.  I would’ve never imagined it has now become a bit of a “Family Song”, offering a new perspective when sung/heard by or for our children.  But as any parent knows…..our children have the ability to make us smile.

Often in simple ways…

Our 5 year old, as we’re walking up to the playground, singing “Time is tickin’ away!  Tick Tick Tickin’ away!!”  Granted, we’d just ridden in my car where my incredible cassette-player was pumping out incredibly solid standards of Christian rock.  So she doesn’t know all the words to “Jesus is Still Alright” yet….she’s got time.

Our 8 year old, breaking in on a grown-ups version of charades, grabs a slip of paper to write down a name.  She’s giggling like she’s just written down something hilarious.  I’m thinking a vague cartoon character of some sort.  Maybe a common princess.  But she’s so excited to have that name in the mix, she actually stays and joins the game with us.  So who did she write down?  Pavel Datsuk.  One of the greatest Detroit Redwings to ever perform magically with the puck.  Well, actually she wrote “DASUK”, but we’ll give her time.  Those European names can be tricky.

One of the coolest moments from this past week, however, came from our 6 year old.  It was in the midst of dinner, before we began to carve our pumpkins.  The only night all week where we had no commitments, we had looked forward to a nice relaxing family time together.  Sarah had made a pot roast so tender, you could spread it on bread if you needed.  The whole house smelled of comfort and tranquillity.   We were all sitting down, and just barely keeping the girls reigned in to eat together, as they were so excited to be done and move on to dessert and pumpkin carving.  Sophie gets up and runs into the kitchen, I almost yell but realize she’s refilling her water cup and I calm down.  That’s when it happens.

“OH MAN!!  You guys have GOT to come see this sunset!!  It is soo beautiful!!”   And so, just like that, we all collectively sat our forks down, and followed her call to the kitchen.  Sure enough, it was quite pretty.  Pretty enough that we all went upstairs to get a better view above the neighborhood.  image1(2)

It wasn’t long before we all had breathed in enough of the wonder and beauty of a perfectly pink sunset that could never be captured fully by an iPhone.  We slowly made our way back to the table, and back into the rhythms of a busy fall night.  (did I mention this was also bath night?)   But several times this week, I’ve remembered that moment our 6 year old called our whole family to come and appreciate the beauty of what God was painting on the horizon.  These girls make me smile….

Kids Book Now Available on Amazon!!!

Okay friends, here’s a quick update and we need YOUR help getting the word out!  We’re very close to needing to send our next payment in to help bring Phoebe home.   Documents we’ve been waiting for over a year are finally being acquired!  We’re so close to having the amount we need, but one more fundraiser will help tremendously!

Over a year ago, our daughters helped draw pictures to illustrate a poem I’d written about an imaginary land.  We sold a small amount of physical copies of this book, and those who purchased it yelled “hooray!”  Unfortunately, it costs a lot of money to produce a physical book, and our profit margin was really really small.

So we’ve made the first book in a 3-book series available as an E-Book!  The 2nd and 3rd books will be released eventually, based on how much response this first one gets.  It’s a great book to help start conversations in your home about choosing to live simply, so that your family can be a blessing to others.  It’s available RIGHT NOW for only $3.99!! Just go over the Amazon by clicking the picture below or this link!

Thanks so much for your prayers and support, and please help us out by forwarding this along to anyone who might be interested!!!

LandFullofStuffCover

bedtime prayers.

Sometimes we can spend a few minutes in prayer, and move straight into our bedtime story without anything seemingly significant happening or being said.  On those nights, we believe the significant “thing” is simply the faithful prayers, and routines/rhythms of a home that values coming before God together.  Even when parts of the prayer seem rote and automatic, we make time and space available for hearts and minds to be honest before each other and before God.

We confess: there are nights this doesn’t happen.   (gasp)  We’re not too worried about forcing a child who was sleeping in the van on the way home to wake up and have a prayer time.  Or when mommy & daddy are wiped from a long hard day, we’ve been known to skip right to hugs and “good nights”.  But more oft than not, the days close with a pause for prayer and conversation about what God is doing in our hearts and lives.  If it does seem like the prayers become more repeating a few quick things without much pause for thought, we mix it up.  Some nights we ask each daughter individually what’s on her heart and mind, and then a parent will summarize all of these things in one family prayer.

Our church is beginning another emphasis on prayer right now as a reminder.  I’ve written before about the helpful reminder found in “7-5-2”.  It’s not a magic formula, and prayer does not guarantee a healthy family/home.  But prayer brings together hearts and minds in the presence of God, and when that’s done on a regular basis….it sure offers a great place for His Love and our relationships to grow.

Here’s a short video, where my hidden iPhone camera catches the unpolished prayers of our 5 and 6 year olds. It may help to know that we are adopting a daughter from Africa currently, our church is praying for a young woman named Mollie who’s been bed-bound for a while now, and our extended family were on their way to visit us that weekend…

confession: I want to prove God.

For as much as I wasn’t a giant fan of “God’s Not Dead” for reasons we can talk about in person…I will confess I have something in common with the young college student.  I have a desire to prove God.   It’s not that I want to prove His existence, or even prove to someone that Jesus was divine.  It’s not an intellectual debate I want to win.  I want to prove to my children, the goodness and faithfulness of God, in the midst of a world where such testimony may be hard to hear behind other noises.

It struck me in a particular way recently, as I was praying for our adoption.  You may have something else weighing on your heart.  Something your family is praying fervently for.  Something you and your children name regularly every night in family prayer time, and the main thing your kids might mention if they’re praying before bed at a friends house.  Whatever that thing is, beyond praying for that “thing” itself….as a parent we also find ourselves praying it for the sake of our children.   That they will experience God’s hearing of the prayer, and be able to celebrate together as a family when He responds.

So what happens, when that “main family prayer”, becomes the one unanswered?  The one a family is left to struggle with.  What if our children grow up praying about it, almost as a reflex, but slowly and accidentally learn never to actually receive a response from God on the issue?http___makeagif.com__media_5-05-2014_dpmt43

In my anxiety and frustration, God calms me down.  Hand on my shoulder, tears welling up in his own eyes, He speaks with love.  “You and your family are not the beginning, or the center of what I’m up to, Chadwick.”  In a moment of humility, He reminds me of where I sat just a few weeks ago, at a Seder dinner with my children. From my own lips, my children heard God’s story as one we are now the continuation of.  That His people lived for hundreds of years in slavery, and have faced suffering and death for millenia.  That the story of God’s people is one of embracing what it means to suffer in a world that is not yet made right.  What it means to not pretend everything is easy or can make sense.  Imagine what it would’ve been like for an Israelite parent to teach their children the goodness of God, in the midst of generations of slavery.  God calls us to live uncomfortably in a world that idolizes comfort and ease.  We are a people who have been crying out to God for thousands of years, and God has been/continues to respond to that cry.  He invites us to actively participate in that response as well.  Not by denying or avoiding the brokenness of the world – but by how we suffer as those who know God is with us.

His was a reminder – one of the greatest things we do as a parent is to give our children, and younger generations a context for their struggles/doubts.  A safe place to express suffering…(any youth pastor who’s heard a teenager lament at a broken relationship can understand this)…and a larger view/context that helps to bring genuine perspective and comfort knowing God is with us even in these moments.  Not promising to make everything better for every individual who comes to Him like a genie inside a magic lamp.  Yet….not like a removed deity who has nothing to do with the world He set in motion, either.

God is at work.  In faithful and world-changing-ly large ways.  But also in small, thankful whispers of reminder.  We know that His heart is seen being revealed in “Immanuel, which means ‘God with us.'”

All of that to say, be encouraged.  Even when it seems our prayers aren’t being responded to.  Not because “God’s working it all out to be even better than you would’ve prayed.”  But because, God is with us.  Always.  Has been, and will be.  That’s the story we invite our children to live within.   That’s the story that invites them to prove God…

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