Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Junk Food {Craving things that make us sick}

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, 
who is to judge the living and the dead, 
and by his appearing and his kingdom: 
preach the word; 
be ready in season and out of season; 
reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, 
but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 
and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 
(2 Timothy 4:1-4 ESV)

When our Ethiopian daughter first came home at three years old we took her to a pediatrician who specialized in treating children adopted from foreign countries.  The doctor did a thorough exam, drawing (lots of) blood and setting a schedule to catch her up on immunizations.  She asked me how she was eating and I told her it was hit or miss.  Everything was so new to her that, unless I could tell her the Amharic name for it, she wouldn't touch it.  We ate lots of beans, rice, and chicken in those early days.  (I didn't know that much Amharic!)

"Well, don't give her junk to get her to eat," the doctor advised.  She said this because she knew the temptation, when you have a child who was once starving, to keep their bellies make them happy so they will trust you and believe they will never go hungry again.  But her advice was so right and good.  Our girl struggled with food issues, fixating on pizza and frozen waffles, and we had to refuse junk food to a hungry child who had refused to eat her healthy lunch.  It was a major battle of wills and boy, was it ever a tough battle.

Fast forward three years.  Though she still has food fixations (right now it is grilled cheese sandwiches) she readily eats a wide variety of foods.  Her diet is much more balanced and she is healthy.

Read the passage at the top again.

How often are we just brain-weary?  There is so much to digest, so much of the Word of God that requires painstaking study to understand that we just want to stick to the happy parts.  It is easy to be tempted to stick to the "lighter fare"  such as the verses that remind us:   Jesus loves you and God has good plans for you.  

We CRAVE easy when life is hard.

But God has so much more than "happy clappy faith" for us.  He is deep waters, full of mystery and beauty that will only be revealed to those who seek him with all of their heart.  

Why settle for frozen waffles when there is a banquet prepared?  Why fill our stomachs with empty calories that give us a temporary sugar high when our Lord promises to set our feet upon the Rock?

This means we have to prioritize.  It means intentionally studying the Word and diving deep into the hard parts.  It may also mean turning off the computer or smart phone in order to take back the time we are wasting.  (Ouch.)  It means putting first things first and seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. The result will be worth it, though, because we have no idea what tomorrow holds.

My daughter who orders grilled cheese sandwiches or pizza every. time. we. eat. out...well, we got some blood work back yesterday.  It turns out she is allergic to wheat, dairy, and eggs.  The very things she craved were making her sick.  But because we have intentionally given her good food, not letting her limit her palate, she has learned that fruit, vegetables, and meats can taste good.  She realizes that though there are many things she now cannot eat, there are many things she can.

Our appetite for the meat of God's word will only grow if we feed it.  If we limit ourselves to spiritual junk food then we will grow spiritually anemic.  Our souls will eventually reject the sweet poison we continually pour into them and we will go into crisis mode...where we have to acknowledge our need and change our habits if we want to be healthy.

I have a feeling, if you are reading this, that you want to be spiritually healthy.  I figure there are a lot of us who have reached the point in life where we see the world spinning out of control and we want calm.  We want to know there is a place of peace and rest where truth is true and right and wrong are crystal clear.   We are willing to admit failure and throw away the habits and time-wasters that just aren't working and turn to what will fill our hungry souls.

We want pastors in our churches that will give us a swift kick when needed, calling sin for what it is and not letting us excuse ourselves any longer.  (I have one of those...I hope you do, too.  If not, find one.)

We want prayer to be more than a laundry list of wants or the cry of a desperate woman.  We want daily communion with our Father, life and strength flowing into us directly from His hand.  We want to hear His voice, feel the movements of the Spirit working within us, pray in faith and know we are taking part in a cosmic battle that is unseen yet so very real.

We want to read our Bibles and actually get something out of it.  Enough of the fluffy girl Bible studies! We want to go deep, use the brains God gave us and actually study His Word, not just "read" it.  (And not just the parts we like.)

And we want to be light in the darkness because the darkness is closing in.  Spiritual junk food makes us weak and susceptible to believing the lies of the Enemy.  If we do not know and understand the truth, then we have no sword with which to fight.  (See Matthew 4 and Ephesians 6:10-18)  We are like a malnourished child who is alive but frail.  Their growth is stunted and they easily become very sick.  We cannot stand against the enemy when our spiritual immune system is compromised.  But if we are strong in the Spirit, standing on Truth, then our light will surely shine!  We have been placed right here for such a time as this and whether we are folding laundry or sitting in a business meeting we can be used by God to light this world!

Oh, sisters, I pray there are many of us who will drop the waste and fluff and dive deep.  Let's do this, and let's hold one another accountable to keep at it.  Don't give in to the temptation to fill up on junk.  Don't think doing good things for God is enough to fulfill you.  It is not.  It never has been and never will be.  Let's sit at the feet of Jesus and serve Him because we love Him.  Let's choose the excellent over the good and let Him fill us to overflowing.  We will be much more effective that way, much braver and stronger in His strength instead of our own.  Our acts of service will draw others to Him when they are the natural result of a thriving relationship with Him.  We will be less hesitant with our words when He is the one speaking them.  And we will be less easily shaken when our feet are standing solid upon the Rock.

Holy, Bible, pen, front porch, coffee, God, Jesus, quiet time, prayer
With coffee, of course :)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Game Plan

basketball Kevin Durant Game Plan

They have lost every game this season.  Lost big, too.  My boy who lives and breathes basketball has managed to keep his chin up, though, because he loves the game so much.

The daddies, who happen to be the coaches, have jumped and waved their arms to no avail because these seven year old boys, once they are on the court, all believe they are Kevin Durant.

Every last one of them.

So they play in their dream world, not listening for the instructions being shouted from the sidelines.  They walk away frustrated because they don't know what they did wrong.  They go into a new game intimidated because they are afraid they won't know what to do.  Through tears he disclosed his fear and intimidation so
I sat my son down and we had a talk.  I tried to explain to him WHY it is so important to listen on the court.
"Your coach's job is to tell you what to do.  They know you don't know what to do, which is why they are there.  You're not supposed to know everything.  You can't see what they see, so they tell you where to go and who to look out for but you have to listen.
Did you know that Kevin Durant has to listen to his coach?"  He looked at me with total shock, having obviously never entertained that idea!
"Yes, he has to listen just like you!  In fact, if he didn't listen and just went out there and did whatever he wanted he would get fired."

I had his attention now.  Those brown eyes were fixed on mine.

"Part of being a good basketball player is being a good listener.  You have to choose to focus on the voices of your coaches (one of them who happens to be your daddy!) and do what they say.  If you do, not only will you know what to do but y'all will win some games!"

A week came and went.  We had a few more conversations about listening because, honestly, it is not just on the basketball court where he has trouble using the ears God gave him.  Then today arrived.  Game day.
He was dressed in his jersey before breakfast.
Shoot, he probably slept in it.
On the way to the game I reminded him to listen, and encouraged him in one other slightly important skill:
"You know when the other team has the ball?  Who does that ball belong to?"
"Me, " he said with a grin.
"That's right.  And it is ok to go after it.  It is ok to take it away, alright?"
Oh my...I sound like one of those moms!  But isn't it funny how we tell our kids to be nice and share all through childhood, but suddenly expect them to be ball-snatchers when they begin playing sports?  But I digress.

Those boys played their best today.  The 4th quarter ended in a tie and the mamas were happy, expecting that to be the end and aren't we just so thrilled that they TIED?
But oh, no, that was not the end!  They got to play OVERTIME.  Their faces lit up and they suddenly had energy and zest that I had never seen on the court.  They wanted it and they wanted it BAD.  Overtime ended and we were still tied, so they got 40 more second.  With 7 seconds left my boy passed it to a teammate who has never scored a single basket for this team and he flung it at the hoop where it bounced, wobbled, and went in.
The mamas were screaming, the daddies were pumping fists, and the boys were leaping all over the court, high-fiving and hugging each other and it was just so good.
Victory is always sweeter after defeat.

So why am I telling you this story (besides the fact that our grandmas will love it)?  Well, think for a second about the conversation I had with my son about listening.  Do you see the parallels?

Some of us waited years to become moms.  We prepared, prayed, and even made a game plan as to how we would raise our children.  As our families have grown we have probably realized adjustments to the plan had to be made.  But what happens when our plan just isn't working?  What happens when we are floundering and "our team" is losing and we are frustrated and intimidated because so many voices are shouting at us, telling us what they think we should do?

What happens when we stop listening to the Coach?

Now God, He is so much more than a coach.  He is our Creator, Redeemer, Father, and King.  But so often I have plowed through life, through motherhood, and ignored His voice.  So often I have thought I knew what I was doing only to lose my grip on the ball and fall flat on my face.  If I am not choosing to listen to His voice letting Him show me the next step or even stop me in my tracks, I will fail.

I'll fail because I can only see what is right in front of my face, but He sees the whole picture.  He sees the beginning and the end all at the same time.  Wouldn't common sense tell me to ask the One with the best view to describe which way I should go?  Of course it would.

I have to be teachable.  I have to be humble and open to His directions, His plays, His game plan. I have to remember that my finite mind and limited view restrict me in ways that I cannot see right now.  He sees the hearts of my children.  He made their hearts.  He alone knows exactly what they need from me at any given moment and I must stop and listen for His voice before plowing ahead with my own plan.

And isn't it wonderful how He turns the lectures we give our kids right back on us?
Motherhood is nothing if not humbling.    :)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

When Praying Isn't Practical

"Ain't nobody got time for that!"

Right?  Or maybe not...

In 1 Thess. 5, the Church is encouraged to make herself ready for Christ's return.  Among the many ways we are encouraged to stay alert is verse 17:  "Pray without ceasing."

Sounds good.

Until you have five kids, homeschool, and need sleep.

This has been a struggle for me for years, the knowledge of the amount of time I should be spending in prayer verses the amount of time I actually DO spend in prayer.

Why is it that the more I need to pray (I have a teenager, for crying out loud!) the less time it seems I have to do it?  And fasting?  Don't even go there.  How do you fast when you are preparing meals three times a day? The instruction to "spend the time praying that you would have spent preparing meals" is difficult to follow when you have hungry kids and a kitchen to keep at least sanitary.  

But there is the reality of the Word of God.  He didn't say "fast if you have time" or "fast when your kids are little and that will get you through the teen years."  And He especially didn't say "don't worry about fasting. It's really not necessary."  Nope.  In Matthew 6:16-18 Jesus said "when you fast."  WHEN, not if.
Hoo, boy.  How do I do this in real life?

I've tried fasting in the past, only to end up feeling like a hungry failure.  I read about those who had breakthroughs and experienced awesome times of communion with the Lord, but I had not experienced it myself.  Not in that context.

Praying is easy when I am in crisis.  When the enemy is attacking our family you can bet I am a prayer warrior.   I'm on my Abba's lap and holding on with both hands, soaking in His reassurance.   But what about when every day is the same?  What about the days when I'm just tackling a pile of laundry and the kids are playing video games and we aren't really under attack but just "not into it?"  What should prayer look like on a mundane Wednesday afternoon?

I've mentioned before how the Lord has given me a word for this year.  "Prayer."  I have pondered this and sought how to apply it to my life, to make it an effective part of my walk and NOT be legalistic (because I, unfortunately, tend to default to legalism...baggage from my upbringing) so I have asked Him to show me how to pray when, to all outward appearances, it just isn't practical.

I want to preface what I am sharing by reminding you that I'm not giving you a "how-to list."  I'm giving you a "what God has asked of ME list" in the hope that you will ask Him to give you the same.  I want to encourage you to seek Him and be obedient to what He shows you.

First of all, I have broken out some old prayer books.  One of my favorites is a series by Phyllis Tickle called "The Divine Hours."  Now I know written prayer is not for everyone, but I have found it to be a wonderful springboard for me.  In reading aloud prayers that have been spoken over decades and centuries, my heart is drawn upward and I find words that had been bottled up spilling forth.

Second, I have set aside one day each week to fast breakfast and lunch.  I'm two weeks into this and I can already tell you that God is blessing it, despite my weakness.  The first week I survived and gratefully ate a tortilla chip at 5:00, giving thanks for the privilege of going without for His sake.  There were no fireworks, but I did it and felt good about it.  The next week was, shall I say, hilarious.
The night before, I whipped up a batch of Pioneer Woman's chicken salad because we were in a lunchtime food rut.  I deboned a delish rotisserie chicken, made the dressing, chopped up onions, celery, and grapes, and put it in the fridge to sit and get happy for the next day.  That night I sat in my reading chair and opened my Bible and, of course, happened upon a passage about fasting...
which reminded me that I had committed to fast the next day.  To say I had a sour attitude about it is an understatement.  I was all "Aw, MAN, what was I thinking?  WHY did I make that chicken salad?  Maybe God wouldn't care if I put it off a day.  But didn't I make a commitment and have only kept it once??"

So I decided to keep my commitment.   The next day I served up breakfast and lunch and prayed silently for strength not to lick the spoon the whole time.  I played worship music and tried not to smell the chicken salad and prayed.  I cleaned up the kitchen and sat down with my kids to finish out our school day.  Then I went into my bedroom to freshen up and saw my book of prayer lying on the bed.  I picked it up and opened it to the current reading, noticing that voices were raised in the other room because someone was arguing.  I battled silently within myself then went into my closet...locking the door.

I fell to my knees with the book open, and recited the poetic words of Psalms.  I spoke praise to my Father and felt His pleasure.  I sang to Him and realized that His presence was filling the air I breathed and I inhaled deeply.  I thanked Him for the privilege of being empty before Him, for loving me and being so patient with me when I was almost derailed by chicken salad.  I cannot describe the sweetness of the moment, the power I felt coursing through me as He filled me, or the sense of accomplishment when I walked out of the closet and my kids were still arguing.  Yes, the enemy would have loved to distract me in that moment, to have robbed me of that time with the Father.  He would love to make me feel like a bad mom for ignoring the chaos.  And too often I have let him do just that.  But not that day.  That day, I submitted to the calling of the Spirit and the result was true peace.  Incentive to keep going, to keep fighting for my much-needed alone time with God, to ignore my flesh and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit one hour at a time.

Last of all, I am listening to less talk and reading more.  I'm limiting my exposure to talk radio and the 24 hour news cycle.  Not eliminating it, just putting it in it's proper place.  I can get fired up over the evil that is permeating our culture.  My blood pressure rises and my anger boils and 2 hours later I'm still listening to what is only making me mad.  But what good is all of this education doing if I'm not taking it before the Lord?  So I'm still informed, but not obsessed.  I no longer need to know every gory detail, because God does.  I'm lifting up my church, my government, and our country to God and spending more time reading the Bible or books that help me go deeper into His Word.  (Beth Moore, Bob Warren, Susie Larson...just to name a few.)  I'm turning off the talk and listening to more music that lifts up the name of Jesus.  I'm logging onto the International House of Prayer in Kansas City and worshipping live with brothers and sisters who have devoted their lives to 24 hour a day, 7 days of week of praise and worship.  (There is even an i-phone app!)  The media I choose to ingest makes a huge impact on my heart and attitude, so I must be so careful to make wise choices with the limited hours I am given each day.  The atmosphere of my home is much more peaceful with music drifting through the air than with a TV blaring in the background.

So really isn't practical, is it?  When I look at it through the eyes of this culture it makes very little sense to carve out time to sit and talk to God.  Those who don't know Jesus think we are crazy, wasting out time.  Even some Christians would offer me a million excuses as to why it is acceptable to put some of these things on the backburner in this busy season of life.  But when I look beyond the veil, to the very real battle that is swirling and the storm that is gathering around the children of God, praying is more than practical.  It is vital. It is the very heartbeat of God's people.  It is another chance to choose life, so that I and my children may live.  (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Monday, January 20, 2014

This Good Day

I read the last three pages of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech to my kids this morning.  When I got to the know the one...where little black boys and girls and little white boys and girls can hold hands as brothers and sisters, I couldn't hold back the tears.  In a world where so much is wrong, I can look at my family and say that so much is right.  

Because one man dared to dream, dared to speak and refused to be silent, so much IS right in my family, church, and community.

Today I am thankful to get to live a little slice of Heaven right here, under the sun.  Every nation, tribe, and tongue...when we stand before the Throne will will stand as brothers and sisters.  And for those of us blessed to have multiple races living under our roofs and calling us "Mom" we get to begin now.  

What an honor.

What a privilege.

What grace.

Thank you, Dr. King and all those who stood arm in arm with him in the generation before mine.  Thank you for refusing to back down and risking it all for the generations to come.  Because of you God was able to build my family as He saw fit.  Because of you my kids' friendships are based on commonalities, never on color.  Because of you, the church is able to love more freely, without barriers of color or nationality.  May we not lose sight of your vision and admonition..."as we walk we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead."

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Five Minute Friday {encouragement}

sign, 1 Thess. 5:5, encouragement, Five Minute Friday

Today's Five Minute Friday prompt is the word "encouragement" and how there is nothing easy about it.

My first thought was, "well, why would that be?"  Then I set my timer...


There is nothing easy about it?  I guess that is true when it comes to receiving it.  I'm great at giving it.  I believe it is one of the gifts God has given me.  But receiving it, I'll admit, can be difficult.
Well, for one thing, sometimes I just want to have a pity party.  To wallow in my stuff.  Sometimes I just don't want to feel better, at least not yet, because of this nasty thing called pride.

And the other thing?  Maybe it is because I feel I deserve the discouragement.  Maybe I've blown it and I know it all too well and when the sweet friends says "It will be ok" I'm thinking no, no it won't because this was too bad, too big, and there are going to be real consequences to this one.  You've been there, right?  You know what I am talking about?

Encouragement is a gift easily given, yet not easily received.  The key to effective encouragement does not lie in the heart of the one attempting to give the gift.  No, it lies in the heart of the recipient.  Encouragement only roots in soft, fertile soil.  In a heart willing to accept the possibility that the encourager is right...that God is bigger and no mistake is beyond His ability to repair.  Humility is vital to the ability to be encouraged.


(The Five Minute Friday prompt is courtesy of  It is a fun exercise in writing where you write freely, no editing allowed, for five minutes.  Join me here and let's see what flies out of our fingers each Friday!)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

For the Weary Mom

Today was long, I know.

Everything seemed to take twice as long as it usually does, attitudes began to sour early on, and by the time you got the kids to bed you had nothing left.  The last thing they saw before turning in was the look of frustration on your face because you just wanted the day to be over.

You raised your voice today and immediately regretted it.  Again you apologized and again you repented and again you wondered why this battle is so difficult to win.  The little ones were out of control and no one was interested in reading a book.  You were too tired to argue.

You wanted to pray but the words seemed stuck.  All you could muster was "Jesus..." and your voice trailed off as your heart sank.  You know you should pray.  You even carved out a few seconds to spend with God, but by the time you sat down alone you couldn't even get through one chapter of Scripture without your eyes becoming heavy and sleep closing in.

So another day has come and gone and all you have managed to say to God is "Jesus."  You feel like a failure and wonder how in the world are you going to raise these kids to love Him when you struggle to even talk to Him?  Why would they want to be like you when you appear to be miserable?

Oh, sweet mom.  It may not feel like it now, but God has you right where He wants you.

You're at the end of yourself?  Good.  Because at the end of yourself stands the Lover of your soul with his arms stretched wide.  Yes, dear mama, grace has driven you straight into the arms of Jesus.  Look up into His face.  Do you see that?  He is not disappointed in you.  No, He is smiling!  He loves you so and He knows your weakness.  He heard your cry...that one word that just happens to be the Name that is above all names...and He is there.  He beckons you to rest, dear one.  Sit and ignore the laundry.  Open the Bible with just one goal-to hear His voice.  Drop your agenda and let Him have His way.  He will lift your burden.

This day that you thought would never end?  It has.  Stop beating yourself up, for you can never go forward by looking backward.  Open your hands and let God fill your empty spaces.  Realize that you are not battling against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities and the rulers of this present darkness.  (Eph. 6:1)  Know that the battle rages because you intend to raise your kids for the glory of God and the enemy will fight it tooth and nail.

But you know what?  The battle has already been won!  Are you standing in the victory you have in Christ? Are you praying from a position of victory or failure?  Do you realize that Romans 5 declares you have been justified by faith?  Yes, you have been justified..."just-as-if-I-had-never-sinned."  What a beautiful word.  What an incredible place from which to approach the Lord!  And it goes on..."we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Peace...ah, yes.  The elusive goal of every mother.  We just. want. peace.  Today you may not have achieved that in your home, but whether you felt it or not, Romans says you have peace with God.  That moment when you yelled at your child for leaving the freezer door open for the umpteenth time?  Yes, that lapse in judgement, that failure, did nothing to disrupt the peace you have with God!
"For while we were still weak, Christ died for the ungodly."
Do you see it?  Do you see that He sacrificed the most when we were at our worst?  Do you realize the depth of His pleasure over you?  Do you think that approaching Him from a position of peace and victory might change the way you pray?
I do.  I have.  It did.

So soak in His pleasure, dear mama.  Let Him give you a new vision for tomorrow, a vision of grace covering your failures and love spilling out of your soul into the hearts of your kids.  A vision of choosing to forgive yourself because He has already forgiven you and raising your kids from a place of peace and victory.  Let God have His way with your heart, then creep upstairs and lay your hands on your babies.
Fight for them tonight and pray over them as they sleep.  Let the Holy Spirit give you the words you lack. Pray passionately in His strength with the heart of a warrior, because that is exactly what you are.

"Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."  (Romans 5:4-5)

May the God of all hope grant you the vision He has for your family.  May the reality of your right standing before Him bring healing to your spirit and hope to your heart.  May you rejoice in hope of the glory of God, knowing that He is at work and has poured His love into your heart.  And, finally, may you remember that He wants you to stay at the end of your rope...

because from there you can jump safely into His arms.  

beach, sunrise, morning, Great is Thy Faithfulness

Friday, January 10, 2014

Five Minute Friday {SEE}

Today's prompt from Lisa Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday is the word "See."  Remember, the goal is to write for five minutes, unedited.  Just let it flow and then hit "publish" without fear :)

So here I go:

see, SEE, eye, eyes open, God, Jesus, boys

He sits next to me at the kitchen table, a boat and race car made of Legos and sound effects coming from his beautiful lips.  It seems one of the creations just won a trophy, which my son just happens to also pull out of the Lego box.

He is a big boy.  Big for his age.  But he is still a little boy at heart.

I guess he is a late bloomer in some ways.  Reading is a long, slow, sometimes painful progress.  But there is progress and lately there has been a jump!  But when it comes to things of the heart, things that make him like Jesus, he is well-ahead of his years.

My little prayer warrior, my sweet boy who loves to worship.  Yes, these things make my heart sing.  My son who is unusually aware of the battle that rages in the air around us, somehow he knows how to pray powerful, effective prayers.  My heart rejoices.  God sees you, sweet boy, and he has beautiful plans for you.

Here comes my oldest now.  My one who has taken that leap of maturity that comes with adolescence, who can still annoy the snot out of his siblings just for the fun of it yet his sweet demeanor, his calm willingness to just be with mom, in fact seeking out time with me just to talk and share...this is my dream.  This is the fruit of battling for many years for his heart as attack after attack waged on this child.  The battle is not over, this I know.  I will be fighting hard for all five of them...I assume for the rest of my life.  But the fruits are ripening on our family tree and Jesus is near.

Yes, I see, Lord, you are near.

So thank you for letting me see this morning.  Thank you for the three girls still snoozing upstairs.  I'm going to awaken them now so I can see their sweet sleepy smiles and soak in their warm early morning hugs.  And I'm going to make breakfast.  :)


Tuesday, January 7, 2014


names, baby, what, cute

When I named this blog, my daughter helped me.  I wanted something cute, catchy, and unique.  "Birds in the Treetops" was fun, sing-songy, and happy.  We both liked it because I thought I'd be writing a lot about parenting, adoption, homeschooling, orphan care, and just encouraging stories for my mom friends.  I have done a little of that, I guess, but the Lord has lit a fire in me that made me wonder if I misnamed my little corner of the blogosphere.

I mean, what does "Birds in the Treetops" have to do with spiritual warfare, fighting for our kids, being different and resisting the lures of the world?  (Because that is kind of where this thing has gone lately.)

As I thought about it, my focus went to John 1:14-
     "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."

We have seen His glory!  We cannot help but declare what the Father has revealed to us, His Son...Jesus!

Just as a bird sings when the skies are blue, it also sounds the alarm when danger is near.  From the treetops come messages of celebration and of warning!

We did, in fact, choose the perfect name for this blog, for that is exactly what I have felt God calling me to do!

I want to celebrate Him...His victories in my life and the lives of my family.  I still plan to share stories, memories of my kids and the craziness that comes with having a family of 7.  But I have become much more careful because as my kids get older I have to respect their privacy and realize that if one of their friends ran across this blog I would not want anything on here to be a source of embarrassment.  So it has become less about my kids and more about Jesus.  I want to give Him praise for answered prayers and for His visible hand of mercy in our lives.  I also want to be a voice of truth, sometimes sharing a message that the world may not want me to share; a message of choosing holiness, of obedience when it doesn't make sense, and of being in the trenches of battle for the hearts and lives of these kids with whom the Lord has entrusted us.  I want to remind my fellow moms that we can do this because God is the one who does it.  We are the vessels for His endless power and our prayers ARE heard.  I want to shout this because it is often ME who needs to hear it.

Yes, I am usually writing to myself.  You just get to read along :)

So there you go.  I hope you stick with me and, if you like what you read, share Birds in the Treetops with your friends.
I would also love feedback.  What are you struggling with as a mom?  Where does doubt creep in when it comes to raising and praying for your kids?  When is it hard to believe that God is in control?  (I know you have those moments because I do, too.)  I'm excited about what God is doing here, and I want you to know that each post is published with prayer.  I want to be a voice of Truth, pointing you to Jesus.  I pray that is exactly what happens when you read what I write.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday

I'm so excited to take part in the Five Minute Friday fun!  When the prompt was posted I got out the Chromebook and hit the keys, letting my fingers fly with one eye on the clock and, well, I don't know what came over me.
Well, actually I do.  And it was amazing.
I wrote this and realized the rallying cry that is resonating in my heart, put there by God.  This call to prayer he has given me for 2014 (and beyond)?  Well, this is the heart of it.  It is to FIGHT for my family, for my friends, even for myself.

So here is the post.  Unedited and, I'm sure with many typos.  (Which is the point of this whole write uninhibited and just let it be what it is.)  The prompt for this week was the word FIGHT.

Here I go.

Fight.  This word prompts a racing heart and a balled fist and I look at what is coming down the line for me and my kids and this word pops up strong in bold and with endless exclamation points.
Fight.  The enemy hates us.  He hates me.  He hates you.  He hates my family, my children, the fact that we are trying our level best to be follower of Jesus.  He is sneaky and unfair and he wages war when we are weak.
But we fight.  We fight in the power of the Holy Spirit.  The resurrection power of Jesus.  The awesome Creation power of the Almighty God.  We fight on our knees, with hands lifted and voices muttering, rising, shouting above the battle that this war is won already,  This war has been decided long ago and you don't get them.  
Do you hear me?
You don't get them...or us.
We are children of the king.  We are bought and paid for by the blood of the Lamb.  We are seated right now in the Heavenly places and our destiny is secure.
Jesus loves us.  Oh, how He loves us.  Endless, beautiful, pursuing our hearts day in and day out and we are HIS.  We are beloved and held close to His heart and oh, if only we could SEE.
But we will.  One day we will see and all this hard fighting and warring on our knees will bear fruit.  We will see and the will be over.
But for now we fight,  We stand in the gap and we declare our families to be knitted in love and joy for the glory of God.  We declare victory in Jesus' name and we trust Him even when the fight wears us down.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Word {What God wants from me this year...and the next...and the next}

And, BAM, we have a new year!
I don't know about you, but it really snuck up on me this time.  Despite my best efforts to keep Christmas low-key, it felt very busy and the season flew by.  It was wonderful, don't get me wrong, and was probably much more low-key than it would have been without being intentional to keep things at a slow pace, but I am about as far from Type A as it comes so the busyness, parties, recitals, games, dinners, etc. have worn this mama out!

So back to the topic at hand.  It is New Year's Day.  2014.  As I have reflected back on the past year I am keenly aware of God's grace in what were some pretty hard times.  He once again proved Himself faithful and carried us through some scary moments.  I look at my five children who are happy, healthy, and whole today and I realized that it might not have been so but for the grace of God.  I also realize that for too many families there is a real struggle to see God's hand in the hard muck of day-to-day living.  The lifeline feels just out of reach.

Trust me, I know.

So I have meditated on this lately.  I have read of others asking God for a word from Him for the upcoming year.  I thought to myself, "Hm, that sounds like a neat idea. I wonder if He would do that for me?"  I prayed about it and then let it go, because I didn't want to make it happen by looking for "the word' on every billboard or in every cloud formation.

Is He going to ask me to persevere?  That's a good word.  What about dedication, focus, living intentionally, or being organized?  (Not that I struggle with organization...ahem.)

So many "good words" have been shared on blogs and Facebook pages and I didn't want to be a copycat so I tried to just put the words of others out of my mind and hear from the Lord.

December 30 it came.  In a consistent whisper it came and it was undeniable from Him.



Of course!  Of course You would bring me back to the basic!  How often do I throw up prayers of desperation, even a quick "Thank you, Jesus," but neglect to sit...really sit and pray and wait upon You?  I've been reading my Bible every day and praying as I begin the day but the time spent in these most important of pursuits is disproportionate to the time spent on other things that have much less importance and, honestly, are often frivolous.

New Year blue phone prayer God Hello

I can try to be dedicated, focused, live intentionally and be organized.  I might even make headway.  But if I am not spending quality time at the Throne of God, I will fall short.
I can trudge through the hard days and hope for better tomorrow, but without devoting my whole self to true communication with the Lover of my Soul I will just trudge.

I don't know about you, but I want to do more than trudge.

...but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like Eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.  (Isaiah 40:31)

Sister, we have to stop trying and start waiting.  Falling on our knees has to stop being a last resort.  (I'm speaking to myself here!)  We cannot expect to keep a single New Year's resolution in our own strength because life will get in the way.  Surprises will interrupt our plans and if we are not in constant communication with our Father, drawing strength and vision from He who is never surprised, we are destined to fail.

And here's the thing.
This call to deeper, intercessory prayer?  This drawing upon my heart to cut out the fluff and make the One who formed the Heavens and the Earth my ONE THING?
I'll mess it up.
Yes, I will because it is what I do.  I will forget and realize that I forgot and kick myself for it but He will still be there, at the other end of the phone, refusing to hang up.  He will smile when I pick up my end of the line and whisper a timid "hello?" because He is faithful and it is never, ever, too late for a new beginning.

It is a New Year, which makes us feel like we have a clean slate with which to work.  But the truth is...and oh, I hope you hear this...

The truth is that every day is a clean slate.

As far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.  (Psalm 103:11-13)

If you have asked God for a word, I'd love it if you would share it here!  Happy New Year, friends!  May we live in His strength and power for His glory!