like trying to fly a kite with no wind

Bruce was out-of-town. I thought I would play the role of “fun mom”, at least for one afternoon. The boys had begged me to fly their kite. After finding each boy’s sunglasses (hard to see a kite with the sun blaring in your eyes), we loaded the car for the park. Do they look cool or what?

As I drove towards the park I glanced at the trees. Instead of branches bouncing in the breeze they remained unmoved. Hmmm. Flags hung limply on poles. Uh-oh.

So I prepared the boys, “Hey guys, just so you know, it’s not very windy today. So the kite may not fly.” Immediately Price began whining, “NOOOOO, I waaaant to fly a kite. Whyyyyy won’t it work?”
“Dude, I want to fly a kite too, but we can’t control the wind. I can’t tell the wind to blow. But we will give it a try, okay?”

He settled down as I pulled into the parking lot.

After fighting over who would hold the string and who would hold the kite to help launch it in the air (string being the preferred role), they settled on a solution. Three turns holding the string then switch.

We found a large piece of grass,fairly free of kite-grabbing trees. Quade held the kite while Price took off running in the opposite direction. Low and behold, the kite stayed up. We yelled out, “Let out some string! Let out some string!” Slowly the kite climbed higher and higher.

Price made a quick u-turn as his open space ended in a row of trees. The kite kept flying. That is, it kept flying as long as he kept moving his little feet. Back and forth he ran across the grass until his three turns were over.

Once he stopped running, the kite gently lowered to the ground. He slowly dropped to the ground in exhaustion.

They took a couple of turns. But the experience lost its charm when they lost their steam. Soon the kite lay on the ground while they ran off to play on the tire swing.

Oh the parallels to ministry. And motherhood.

Serving without the Spirit is like flying a kite without wind. It’s possible, but it’s exhausting. I run back and forth. The kite lifts and “things” get done, but it’s all in my effort. I wear down quickly.

The kite gets left in the grass. I get distracted with other amusements. Assuming service isn’t for me since it was so “hard”.

What if I looked for where the Spirit is moving, or where God is working. Wait for the wind to move. Once I see Him moving, join Him. Let out the string and watch the kite soar with little effort. (*see author’s note below*)

My sweet (fellow boy mom) friend, Erin, tweeted this verse yesterday and seeing it was part of His message to me:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30

As I begin today, I want to pray for His Spirit to open my eyes to see Him. The same Spirit who was in Elijah, Moses, Joseph, Jesus...lives in me! God’s power can lift my ministry with ease if I chose to join Him where He is already working.

What “kite” are you trying to fly in your own effort? Are you keeping company with God and resting in His power so you can live freely and lightly? 

(Anyone else have the song, “Let’s go fly a kite, up to the highest height. Let’s go fly a kite and send it soaring it. Up to the atmosphere. Up where the air is clear. Let’s go fly a kite!” Just me? well alrighty then.)

*author’s note: I do understand ministry, even with the Spirit, can be challenging and exhausting. We can’t stand holding the “string” forever. Just like my boys took turns, we need to trade off our responsibilities, take turns holding the line. Not view flying the kite as a competition but as a community effort. May you be encouraged today in whatever “kite” you are flying. May you find others to help you hold the string. *love*

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A New Measurement for “a good day”

This past weekend I had the glorious opportunity to attend the Sally Clarkson “Momheart” Conference here in DFW.

Yes. I’m still pregnant. Although I had a little “scare” Friday morning…and went to see the doctor. But I got the green light to go to the conference.

When I thought I was going to have the baby and miss the conference, I was devastated (not the typical reaction of an almost 39 week pregnant woman). But I needed this one last “hurrah”. A “cheering session” of sorts before entering the newborn stage.

God was gracious to me. I received exactly what I needed.

Sally Clarkson shared so many wonderful words of inspiration and wisdom. I could write pages and pages with all the things she said. However, as I reflect back on the overall experience there is one main thing I took away:

A new measurement for being a successful mom.

Going into the conference I knew I have been “off-base” in my parenting. I know I’m pregnant and I need to give myself grace. BUT I can’t use that as an excuse for how I’ve been parenting. We’ve been in a bad cycle and I just couldn’t break it.

Over the course of this past weekend several other moms, in addition to Sally, spoke words of encouragement and experiences. Each one shared frustrations with kids who fought. Kids who disobeyed. Kids who said angry or ugly words.

It hit me.

I have been measuring the success of my day and my parenting by my children’s behavior. If they fought. If they disobeyed. If they were “ugly”. THEN I was doing a bad job and we had a bad day.

But according to these moms, their kids do these things too. All kids sin. And they will keep making bad choices and they will keep sinning. In fact, they will sin their entire lives. As their mom, I will continue to sin!

I’ve been using the wrong measuring stick…their behavior.

Sally focuses a lot on connecting with the heart of your child. Spending time working on the relationship. Not allowing life to distract you from your primary ministry in this season…your children.

My new measuring stick of success is my heart connection with my children.

photo credit

If we end the day and my children feel loved & accepted, THEN it was a good day. They may have fought. Broken things. Used potty talk. Disobeyed. Thrown tantrums. BUT if I stayed connected with their hearts in the midst of all that…it was a success.

The key for me is not getting emotionally wrapped up in their behavior.

Focusing, instead, on my response. Controlling my reaction. Showing grace and love.

Connecting with their hearts and worrying less about controlling their behavior.

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

What do you use as a measure of whether you had a “good day” or a “bad day” with your kids? Do you struggle with getting emotionally involved in their behavior?

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Believing like Buddy the Elf

set apart

In Dallas the struggle for those who claim to be “Christians”, isn’t persecution, it’s living in a way that is “set apart”. A lot of people attend church in Dallas but very few live in a way that would show they served a different God.

One night at Bible study we discussed this idea. How do we as moms who love God wholeheartedly and want to serve Him make Him known in a community where it seems everyone goes to church, is involved in humanitarian efforts, and may even be in a Bible study?

I’ve lived in places like San Francisco where wearing a ring with a cross on it was making a bold statement for Christ. Let alone attending church each week. It was easy to be “set apart”. Believing in God was enough to make me different in that community.

buddy

One of our family’s favorite Christmas movies is “Elf” with Will Farrell playing the main character “Buddy”. Buddy is a human who was raised by Papa Elf in the North Pole. One day when he struggled with not belonging in the elf world…not fitting in. His adopted father told him about his biological dad and how to find him in New York City.

What we love about Buddy is his enthusiasm and childlike-faith in all things Christmas. There is no doubt in his mind that Santa exists because he knows Santa. There is joy in all things related to Santa and Christmas. Most importantly he is determined in everything he does to share that passion with others.

At the end of the movie, Santa’s sleigh is broken and the one way to make it fly is if more people would believe in Santa. Here are the different ways that changed hearts to believe:

  1. Knowing Buddy well, they were “won over” by his enthusiasm
  2. Presenting tangible evidence (showing Santa’s list)
  3. Sharing in the joy of singing together–emotional experience
  4. Seeing Santa for themselves

Buddy was “set apart” in New York City. Everything he did (even how he dressed) was different. He whole-heartedly believed in something. He didn’t believe begrudgingly. He believed with enthusiasm, joy and passion. He couldn’t help but share his love with others.

faith with joy

How do we stand out in our own communities? Do we have that kind of passion & joy for our God?

Our God is so much more amazing than the “god” that Buddy believed in. Our God doesn’t make toys and deliver them in one night. Our God created the entire universe! Our God saw us in our sinful state and instead of condemning us, he was gracious enough to send His own son to die for us (John 3:17). That’s something to celebrate!

Why don’t we share God with those around is in a way that draws them to His heart? Why do we act like Christianity is a burden? Why do we allow the activities to take away our joy instead of doing them out of joy?

How are we “set apart”?

We can believe like Buddy:

  • Know God intimately (can only be passionate about a person we know)
  • Grasp the miracle of all He has done for us…be in awe
  • Know the tangible evidence of God’s great story…be knowledgable
  • Everything we do should be consumed with our love for Him
  • Not concerned with what others think
  • Enter conversations with innocence and assume the best of others
  • “The best way to spread (Christian) cheer, is singing loudly for all to hear”

Maybe one way we can stand apart, particularly during the holidays is to SMILE!

“I like smiling. Smiling is my favorite”(Buddy the Elf)

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Strength from Weakness-the Josh McDowell Story

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the screening of the docudrama of Josh McDowell’s early years, entitled “Undaunted”. This weekend also included the anniversary celebration of Josh’s 50 years in ministry.

Josh started by serving with Campus Crusade for Christ (now known as “Cru”) in 1961. In 1964 he launched the Josh McDowell ministry and has since written 127 different books. In 50 years he has delivered more than 24,000 talks to over ten million young people and their families in 125 countries.

Pretty amazing right? You would think that he had quite the Biblical heritage to do such amazing things for God. His parents must have done everything right & taught him scripture at a young age. However, nothing could be farther from the truth…

Did you know that Josh was raised on a farm with an alcoholic father who physically abused his mother. He was sexually abused from the ages of 6 to 13 by a man who worked on their farm. His older sister committed suicide.

Just like only our God can do, He transformed beauty from ashes…

Josh began his faith journey by trying to disprove Christianity. He even went as far as traveling to Europe, reading original manuscripts and other skeptic authors just to prove the fallacy of the resurrection. At the end of his research he discovered, in his own words, that “it was true”. He began to attend church and through relationship with the pastor and support of friends He began to follow Christ.

Through mentoring he felt that in obedience he needed to tell his father he loved him (even if he didn’t feel it) and he needed to forgive his abuser (following Christ’s example on the cross…”forgive them Father for they know not what they do”).

Josh was in a terrible car accident during college and was required to go back to the home that brought him pain & shame, to be in bed recovering from a back injury that left him strapped to a board. It was during this time that he was able to share Christ with his father. His father’s salvation led several others in their small community to faith. Just a year and a half later his father passed away.

If Josh had not been in that accident, he may not have had the opportunity for full forgiveness and reconciliation with his father…freeing him to serve others for 50 years!

A turning point for Josh came after a chapel service he attended at Wheaton College. The speaker was calling them to use their gifts and talents for God’s glory.

The problem was that Josh felt he had no gifts or talents to give. All he had was a history of brokenness and failures. In a moment with the Lord He said, “I only have weakness. But I will give all my failures to you to bring you Glory. Every breath I breathe will be to serve you Lord.”

(From L to R: My sister Andrea, My dad John, Josh McDowell, My mom Cathy, and Me)

Josh is a dynamic persona. He is full of life and compassion. Here are some quotes he shared on Saturday that I loved:

“It’s all about relationship not religion. Prayer is more about the attitude of the heart, not the position of the body.”

“One person can make a difference but you have to be different” (not just in the way he lives but also in the way he dresses…a third button on his shirts that is red, a fun belt collection, funky shoes).

He prays: “Lord make me be a blessing for someone today.”

“Nothing is too great for His power. Nothing is too great for His love.”

“I am overwhelmed by the idea that if I was the only person on the planet God would have sent His son to this earth to save me. God who created the universe wants to spend eternity with me.”

You may feel that you don’t have any gifts or talents to use for God’s glory. I want to encourage you that God created you special. Your experiences and failures are unique to you and God can use ANYTHING for His glory. He just asks that you give it all for Him.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

*If you are interested in knowing more about “Undaunted” or Josh’s other ministries, go to www.Josh.org