Archive for September 2009

Close the Door

I had eight children of various ages in my home the other day. To give you some perspective of the chaos, we used a whole loaf of bread for lunch. Somehow throughout the day, we had difficulty keeping the door shut with all that coming and going. Everyone and every bug had free access to the house. It was without protection from outside intruders. We were killing flies all afternoon.

We didn’t intentionally leave our home open to intruders, but we forgot to enact a plan to protect it. It reminded me to review how often we are intentional about the spiritual protection of our home and everyone in it. E. Stanley Jones coined this phrase, “When prayer fades out, power fades out.” I have power through Jesus to protect my house from the forces of evil, and I can choose to be wise about wielding that power through the Holy Spirit.

We are becoming more intentional in praying specifically for our own home as a place of refuge that embraces everyone, as a place of grace that allows mistakes, as a place of forgiveness and as a place of growth where each person’s unique gifting is encouraged. We pray to be a light of love to the neighborhood we serve. Several of our conversations with God include binding satan and his attacks on our home in order to allow us to stand as a vanguard for the gospel.

The battle is real, but the Holy Spirit provides tools for the fight.  We have the guidance and power of the Word of God for our protection and direction. If we are diligent in practicing protection, we will not be taken by surprise in all of our comings and goings. A good offense is the best defense.

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence,

so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need

Hebrews 4:16

Sometimes I have looked back on a day where everything is going wrong to realize I forgot to take the time to cover our home in prayer. I have squandered the power given to me. I was lazy in executing my offensive strategy and had to rely only on defense; I forgot to close the door. On these days, only by God’s grace I see how much effort was wasted on chasing down flies.

  • Family Tool for Prayer:  Create a prayer book for your family. Get a notebook and write down meaningful verses on the power of prayer. Also use it to write you own prayers for your home and each member. Take turns reading and recording family prayers.

Changing perspective – The Hooper Family

Ali Hooper is our guest blogger this week. The Hooper family continues to be a huge blessing to Vista. I am often inspired by their hospitality and service to all in the name of Jesus. This entry from Ali exemplifies what it means to live at the intersection of Jesus and real life.

I recently gave birth to my second child, a daughter, and when I arrived home from the hospital, my son was sick with croup. Within a week, both my husband and I started experiencing cold symptoms, and within two weeks, my newborn daughter was congested. It wasn’t long before all four of us were miserably sick.

One night, as I wearily nursed my baby girl, I became overwhelmed with emotion, and the tears poured out. “Why, Lord, why? Why can’t we catch a break? I’m too sick and sore to meet my family’s needs (I was also recovering from a c-section), and my husband can hardly function as he suffers the flu. And my babies are miserably sick. Why us, Lord?”

I was exhausted, discouraged, and frustrated. But God was quick to respond. And, no, He didn’t say, “Okay, Ali, you survived my test and everything will be better in the morning.” Rather, He said, “Do everything without complaining.” (Philippians 2:14)

God commands us to refrain from complaining, and amidst my sniffles, tears, and sore abdomen, I knew He wanted me to change my perspective.

But He didn’t stop there; He wanted even more from me. As you might imagine, my first thought was, “Seriously, God? It’s not enough for me to shut my mouth and refrain from complaining?”

“No,” He said, “Be joyful always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)

WHAT? Be joyful?! I’m miserable. And my son has a fever of 101 degrees. My daughter fights nursing because she can hardly breathe. Sure, I’ll pray, but what do I have to be thankful for?

And then it hit me. I have a FAMILY. I have a son and a daughter who are alive and well. I have a husband who is not deployed, deceased, or uninvolved. I have the strength to nurse my daughter, and I have the ability to care for my family even if I don’t “feel” like it. I have so much for which to thank God. I have plenty that brings me joy. And it is with that perspective that I was able to glorify God even when my tendency was to be discouraged and frustrated.

It is this perspective that God wants us to adopt in ALL things. As parents, this can be difficult, to say the least. We are quick to complain about our unruly toddler. We often forget to express joy when our teenager disappoints us. We fail to give thanks when our baby is up for the fifth time in one night.

Often when people ask me, “how are you doing?” I quickly respond, “I can’t complain.” Because, really, I can’t. But too often, I do. Sometimes I am quick with this response simply to remind myself that I C-A-N-N-O-T complain. Yes, we should have emotions – frustration, sadness, anger – but ultimately, we need to honor God amidst our sufferings.

Things did not automatically improve after that long night. In fact, we are still on the mend. But because of God’s Word, I am more likely to embrace my sniffling daughter rather than complain. I am more likely to cuddle with my snot-nosed toddler rather than be discouraged. And I am more likely to show my family God’s greatest commandment to all of us: Love.

You can read more about the Hooper family at Ali’s Blog: www.blessedtreehouse.com

Tying shoes

Our youngest, Aaron, had to learn how to tie his shoes for kindergarten; this become nessesary when the shoes with laces were cheaper than the velcro ones. Tim worked diligently with him for three days, and  Aaron mastered the task beautifully as God has gifted him with excellent fine motor skills. Through this process, we kept telling him this truth. Hearing our confidence in his fine motor skills allowed him to be diligent in practicing.

Speaking truth into a child’s life has lasting consequence. We acknowledge who God uniquely created them to be by affirming their gifts and talents; this affrimation helps them start to process the specialzed role that God has chosen them for. We believe that this is what God means by “the way a child will go” in Proverbs 22:6. Most schools have adopted this process in behavior modification practices. They say 3 affirmations about a child before attempting consructive criticism. How I wish I could remember to do that every day for my family!

We use 1 Thessalonias 5: 11 “encourage one another and build eachother up” to keep our thoughts on affirmation not critisism. Affrimation brings motivation. By focusing on the strengths of others, we push them closer to the person God has created them to be. This is true of tieing shoes, making the grade, finishing the project or  making wise choices. Much is to be gained by celebrating the unique giftings of the individuals in our midst.

Great book about questions kids ask about God: Does God Know How to Tie Shoes? by Nancy White Carlstrom

Resources we like: Words Kids Need to Hear by David Staal