If your child is a star…

The past two mornings have been filled with news of the latest display of child stardom gone wrong. Social media is exploding with pictures and opinions.  I thought this one put things in the right place. While a 20 year old is responsible for their own bad decisions, we must ask ourselves what brings so many child stars to this tragic place.

I find this on going conversation so sad and avoidable, but I must add my voice to the roar.

No child becomes a star alone.

Behind every child star there is a parent.   Who, at the very least drove the child to where they needed to be; and at most, is an intricate part of the machine that makes them a star.

Let’s face it, it is usually the latter.

I am not one to throw stones.  I much prefer to shine a light on a good example.

As I was watching the news this morning I could not help but think about an amazing Celine Dion interview that I watched last spring on the Katie Couric Show.  I had immediately tagged it as a must use in my parenting classes.  As I started searching the internet for the clip, I realized that it was being re-aired today.  I don’t know if it was scheduled that way long ago, but the timing is perfect.  Watch this clip and see the contrast in how Celine’s parents led her through her stardom that began at a very young age.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0KUE8wrhgg&feature=player_detailpage#t=405

There are so many who say that they would never let their child be a star.  Quite frankly, I think that is a cop-out.  God gives some children amazing talents and drives that start at a really young age.  Singing, dancing, athletics, extreme intelligence or just plain funny. Some kids have got IT.  If God opens up the opportunity for them to follow those talents and dreams?  Go for it. Google child prodigy and you will see a list of talents the world would not want to have missed.

BUT…

If you think your child is amazing…

If you think they have a gift that needs to be shared with the world…

PLEASE DO NOT STOP BEING THEIR PARENT!

Don’t stop teaching them how to be a decent human being.  Don’t let them focus on their talent instead of their souls, on themselves instead of others or on the illusion instead of reality.

They need you more now than ever.

Pleased

As I am winding down my day, on the other side of the world, Emily is beginning her last day at the SHE Rescue Home in Cambodia, where she has served for almost 8 weeks.

Even though I know that she already has her bags packed and is anxious to be home, I also know that today her heart is breaking.  It will be hard for her to say goodbye to the girls that have put real names and faces to her fight to end human trafficking.  This is the end of this leg of her journey. A journey that began when she was a young girl with a heart wide open to help the orphans of the world.  A journey that she has laid in God’s hands.

Long before human trafficking was the “in” cause, Emily became aware of the plight of young girls all over the world.  She has worked to raise awareness of this horror that even the adults in her life were ignorant to and not willing to acknowledge and many of her peers just wanted to ignore.  While awareness is finally beginning in the U.S., Em is done with just being aware.  She wants to “get her hands on” these girls and help to restore them through healing in Jesus Christ.  She is asking God what that is going to look like in her life.

This sumer has been a hard one.  She has traveled all alone to the other side of the world and despite a lot of health issues, she has worked hard and faithfully.  She has let God be her one and only and she has been open to his voice.  She has pored her heart into these young ladies as she has loved them and shared with them the one who loves them the most.  She is offering them hope while putting her own hope in God, because in getting closer to this problem she sees how huge it is and how hopeless it seems.

Emily’s brothers have a small group leader who often reminds me not to say how proud I am of my kids.  He points out that in the Bible, pride is never used in a positive light.  Even God refrains from using the word proud when he acknowledges his own son Jesus as he is being baptized by John the Baptist.

Matthew 3:17 

And a voice from heaven said,

“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Emily will be gaining back the day she lost on her way to Cambodia, so her journey home will seem unending!  She will live July 12th for way more than 24 hours.  Add a long layover at LAX and it will be early Saturday morning before she is home.  Like a true southern girl, she has already requested Chick-Fil-A and sweet tea for breakfast.

I can’t wait to get my girl home and give her a whole summer’s worth of loving in just a few short weeks before she heads back to college.  I can’t wait to hear about the amazing things God has shown her this summer, ‘meet’ the girls she learned to love and hear about her exciting adventures. (You can check out her blog here.)

And I can’t wait to tell her how much I love her and how pleased I am with her.

So very pleased.

Jennifer

Word has come from Kenya, and I am very sad to let you all know, that Jennifer has left her life here on earth and has found healing in the arms of her Savior in heaven.

Jennifer

Jennifer

Please remember Maurine, her brother and the young ladies at Mercy House in your prayers as they mourn.

“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.  

In this world you will have trouble.  

But take heart!  

I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

Thank you again for your generosity in prayers and money for surgery.  While the outcome was not what we wanted,  I am confident that in the days to come we will be hearing how Jennifer’s story has drawn others to Christ.  May God be glorified.

A Time For Prayer

**NEW UPDATE-Jennifer has still remains unconscious from Friday’s surgery.  The doctors say there is nothing more they can do.  Jennifer needs a miracle.  Please pray.

*UPDATE-Jennifer is in critical condition.  Please continue your prayers.

Thank you for praying and giving so generously for Maurine’s mom, Jennifer to have surgery.  The funds were raised in less than 36 hours!

Pray for Jennifer!

Pray for Jennifer!

Now it is time to be as generous with our prayers!  Jennifer will be admitted to the hospital on Thursday, and have her surgery on Friday morning, (June 6th & 7th), Kenya time.  For those of you who are not very good with time differences I thought I would post a prayer schedule that I plan to follow.

  • Pray all day Thursday here in the USA.  Let’s pray Jennifer and her family through the nerve-racking and stressful pre surgery process. Pray for peace and confidence.  Pray for the surgeons and staff.
  • Pray as we head to bed on Thursday night.  As we are ending our day, the sun will be rising on Kenya’s Friday morning.  Jennifer will be heading into surgery.  Pray for a successful surgery.  Pray for things to stay on schedule.  Pray for Maurine and those in the waiting room, that they will feel God’s presence.
  • Pray as we wake up on Friday morning.  Surgery should be over and recovery will be beginning.  Pray for comfort during the post operation healing.
  • Pray that God will be glorified through this entire process.

I will let you know how things are progressing as I hear.

Click on over to Kristen’s blog to see a thank you letter that Jennifer wrote to all who helped pay for her surgery.  She is truly grateful and overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity.

“Is anyone among Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”  James 5:13-16

Do you have a favorite verse to claim and pray in times of need?

No Faking Allowed

I was passing time in a waiting room recently, skimming my Facebook feed, when I read something that stopped me cold.

A mom venting and asking if she was the only one having the kind of bad day she was having.  Her kids had been bickering all day and she was at the end of her rope.

Been there, done that.

But that is not the part that caught my attention.

What really got me was her final question:  ”When will they finally learn to at least fake good behavior so that they stay out of trouble?”

Ouch.

I’ve thought that. In fact, my thoughts go something like this…

If you can’t be nice to each other,

if you can’t do it because you love me,

if you can’t do it because you love God….

Fake It!

And then, we can pretend that everything is wonderful.

 

Except it’s not wonderful.  Not even close. In fact, believe it or not momma, it is about the worse thing we can hope for.  And as they grow older, its consequences grow more serious.  Anyone want their teenager to fake good behavior so that we don’t really know what they are up to? Fake a real relationship with God because they know that will keep you from knowing they aren’t really sure that they want one?

I didn’t think so.

You think I am jumping from bickering kids to rebellious teens kind of fast?   Actually it goes slowly.  So slowly that it happens and you never even saw it happening.  Because we taught them to fake it along the way.

It is so easy to fall into the trap of just wanting a little peace, of wanting our kids to get along, wanting to have a happy family. And if faking it is the only way to get there, then let’s just fake it.

If only it worked that way.  If only .

The reality is that faking spreads like a deadly virus.  We think we have gotten away with faking in one area of our life, so we try it in all of the others.  Because faking is easier than the hard work it takes to change our hearts. And it looks prettier, too. On the outside.

It is easier to paste a smile on your face than to really love or forgive.  To flatter than to compliment. To act happy than to share someone’s joy.   If we can pull faking off we don’t have to deal with our anger or hate or jealousy or greed or any of those other ‘ugly’ emotions that faking covers up.

The more we fake things the better at it we get .  The more people we can fool.  The better we look on the outside. The more we fool each other.

The more we think we have fooled God.

Except God is not fooled.  God sees right to our heart.  Every. Time.

The next time you are tempted to suggest to your child that they should at least fake it, to put a smile on it and pretend to be happy, to not say something you don’t want to hear…stop yourself.  Remember that faking it will only harm them more in the long run and take a different approach.

1.  Stop.  Take a deep breath. Bite your tongue if you must.

2. Pray.  Beg God to help you see the situation clearly…now, please.

3. Teach truth.  Calmly and KINDLY point out how the situation looks different from God’s standard.  Fill your voice with love. Try to pose questions. (The question part is the bonus level.  If you stayed calm and kind, you are were amazing! If you got the loving voice part, you are a rock star!)

4.  Keep it short.  Just make a simple point and let it go.  Shall I go on and on about the evils of going on and on?  (Okay, I admit this one is the hardest for me!  Anyone else? Anyone?)

5.  Silence is golden. Don’t demand a reply.  Let them think about it.  My Grandma would have said, “Let ‘em stew in it.”  This is a good time for us to keep silent, too.  Maybe they are listening to God!

My own bickering kids had been getting the best of me several years ago and I may or may not have mentioned something about wishing they would just learn to keep quiet around me.  A friend a few years ahead of me on the mothering journey recommended this method and I decided to try it one day when the following conversation was going on in the back seat.

Child 1:  ”Milk!

Child 2:  ”No!  Orange Juice!”

(Repeat 12 times with volume increasing each time.)

Both:  ”Moooommmm!  Which is healthier?  Milk or Orange Juice?”

(Stop.)

(Pray.)

Me:  ”You both know that they are healthy in different ways. Why are you asking me to choose?  I think you just want to be right.  God calls that pride.  Do you know what God’s word says about pride?”

The bickering stopped (for a while), they learned some truth and I didn’t go all “this bickering is driving me crazy” wild-eyed momma on them.  It was a win.

Look to the heart for what is really going on and address it, because that is where change is needed.  Be willing for things to look a little ugly while things get worked out.  Don’t fake perfection to your kids, but model humility and show your children that you are letting God work on your heart, too.

Pray for wisdom to see what is in your child’s heart and wisdom to know how to address it.  God will answer your prayers because he wants the results even more than you do.  You will be amazed at the wisdom that will come out of your mouth that you know didn’t come from your thoughts.

Changing a child’s heart takes a lot of time, a lot of love, and a hard working momma.

Tell me about a time that you were amazed at the words God put in your mouth.

Full Circle

Today a good friend and fellow MOPS mentor posted this link from “I am totally *that* mom” on our MOPS Facebook group page and I just loved it.

Parenting is hard work and teaching our kids what church is all about is not only hard, but it is critical.  Finding the balance between teaching “proper behavior” and teaching “what’s in our hearts matters more than our behavior” is a long and tedious journey.

But keep the faith because there is hope!

After reading “Dear Parents” today, I remembered a blog post I wrote over three years ago on a day when I realized that God had honored all of our hard work in the pew.

Here is a repost:

When Did This Happen?

So often, as a parent, you see the mistakes that you have made. You see the things you should have done, the opportunities that you’ve let slip by.

Today God allowed me to see something we did right.

Years ago, as our children were leaving the nursery and heading into “big church”, the Hero and I humbly realized that it was our responsibility to model worship to them. It wasn’t always easy and many Sundays, I was so distracted by teaching our children to behave and pay attention, that I couldn’t tell you what the sermon was about, let alone have even one worshipful moment. We tried our hardest to teach them to be engaged in what was going on, not just train them to sit quietly while they ignored the service.

 My children were not perfect. There were the seasons of nudging them awake, of sitting between them to keep them from fighting, of holding firm to the ‘no trips to the bathroom’ rule (and hoping we didn’t regret it!) and of asking them questions about what they learned that day…and they didn’t have a clue.

 But we kept plugging along.

 Then came the tween and teen years. The Hero and I decided that we would to continue to sit together as a family. This had a two-fold purpose. One is that we could keep our eye on each other. That is right, I said on each other. We also wanted them keeping an eye on us. To see that we were being authentic. We wanted them to see that the goal was not just to sit there and put our time in, but to listen to the Word of God and do our best to live by it. In turn, if we were keeping our eye on them, we could honestly assess where they stood spiritually and what we needed to do about it. We could see when they cared and when they couldn’t care less. It was also the only way we could guarantee that they weren’t talking or texting!

 The other reason was much more simple. We just wanted to worship together. They have their own Sunday School, their own small group, their own camp, and their own youth activities that they get to share with their friends. We wanted to have our weekly time that we worshiped together. We felt strongly that it was an important part of our bonding together as a family.

 It did not go over well.

 At all.

At. All.

 It took a long time for them to see that this was not something we thought up as a punishment, but something we did because we wanted to share this wonderful experience with them. The privilege of worshiping God. It is such an integral part of who the Hero and I are and who we want our children to be. We wanted to share it.

 And then today God showed me something had changed, but I don’t know when it happened. Today God blessed me by letting me see the fruit of our labor.

 Today I realized that somewhere along the way it stopped being an issue. We are the family that worships together! Everyone is happy to be there. I don’t have to keep my eye on them, I don’t have to remind them to be engaged…because they are. Thank you, Jesus, they are! They even like it that we are together.

 But a funny thing happened along the way. Gradually, my children stopped asking to sit with their friends, and then gradually, their friends started wanting to set with us! Other teenagers actually would rather sit with our family than hang out with the youth! The five of us still sit together, but now we have several of their friends sitting around us. Today we didn’t even have enough room for all of them. Our family pew is going to have to grow!

 God is so good! He gave Hero and I what we desired: children who are seeking God and who enjoy worshiping as a family. And then he went and put the icing on a teenager’s spiritual cake: friends who want to share it with them.

 How amazing is that?!

Keep up the hard work!  It will sneak up on you, but one day you will realize that God has honored every moment you spent in the trenches!

I promise, but more importantly God promises!

“Let us not become weary in doing good,

 for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  

Galatians 6:9

 

Help A Momma Out

UPDATE:  Praise the Lord!  All funds have been raised!  Thank you for your generosity and prayers.  I will keep you updated on Jennifer’s progress.

Three years ago my kids met an amazing young woman while they were at Student Life Camp.  Through them I have been blessed to get to know her as well.

Maurine

Maurine Owino had grown up in Kenya’s largest slum, a child of poverty. Through the Compassion International sponsorship program Maurine received so much more than an education and a hand up out of poverty.  In fact, Maurine would be really upset with me if I didn’t make sure that you know that material poverty was the least of her problems.

Her biggest problem was her need for Christ.  God used Compassion to end Maurine’s spiritual poverty. Through that her life was completely changed.

Maurine was traveling with Student Life that summer on behalf of Compassion International.  Maurine was a young adult by that time and had graduated out of the Compassion program.  She spent the summer traveling all over the US telling campers her story and encouraging them to not just sponsor a child, but to befriend a child.  To write letters and offer hope.

About that same time Maurine and Kristen Welch started a maternity home in Kenya.  Mercy House.  You can read all about the amazing work they do saving pregnant girls off the streets and giving them a safe place to have their babies and teach them about the wonderful hope to be found in Christ.

Since that summer, Maurine has been changing lives both here and in Kenya.  I have never met a person so sure of God and full of Christ as she is.  She has taught me so much.  She has taught me that poverty of spirit is so much more desperate than poverty of money.  Of course we know that, but our material wealth blinds us from really understanding it.  She is thankful that she grew up in the slum, because without that she would not understand how rich she is in Christ.

I chose today to tell you about Maurine, because Maurine’s momma is in need of life saving brain surgery. Those of us who know Maurine are asking everyone we know to please give to help pay for the surgery.  Give a little and pray a lot! The hospital has cut the cost of the surgery in half because they are supporters of Maurine and Mercy House.  But Maurine needs help coming up with the rest of the money.  She could have taken the education that God provided through Compassion and left Kenya and poverty behind, but instead she has stayed and is working to help others.  Now she needs our help.

Maurine with her mother and brothers.
You can go to Pure Charity and give.  We are over half way to our goal.

I have never had the privilege to meet Maurine’s mom, but she has to be amazing to have raised such wonderful daughter.  And every girl needs her momma!

Let’s help a momma out!

Please give and pray.

Thank you!

Leaving the Nest

Before Mother’s Day I signed up for a chance to win a mother/daughter necklace set from the We Are That Family blog.  They are selling them to raise money for the Mercy House a maternity home in Kenya.  I and some friends had just hosted a home shopping party for Mercy House a few days before.

And I won!

The night before The Princess left for her summer in Cambodia I gave her the daughter necklace.  We both wore them the day she left.

Aren’t they adorable!  I was so happy to win them and I loved how significant the symbolism of the bird leaving the nest was for us right now.

I just got off the phone with The Princess and, 29 hours after she left here, she has arrived safe and sound in Cambodia.

My chick has officially flown to the other side of the world!

On the other side of the world…

“Momma, did you know that there are kids on the other side of the world who don’t know about Jesus?  There isn’t even anyone there to tell them!”

She was so shocked.  So indignant.

She was in the third grade and it was her first glimpse outside of her Sunday School world.

It was also the first time I knew down deep in my spirit that God would one day use her to do something about it.

Through the years, slowly and gently, God has been confirming and preparing me for his plan for my little girl’s life.

Today I put her on a plane and sent her off to the other side of the world.  To tell people about Jesus in a place were there are very few people there to tell them.

It was the hardest thing this momma has ever done.

If God hadn’t spent the last 11 years preparing me, I don’t think I would have been able to let her go, but I sent her off with a smile and a blessing.

Although I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I did it through tears.

But I did it.  And I did it with confidence. I have confidence in her.  This girl is READY.  Just as God has prepared me for this day, he has also prepared her.  He gave me a front row seat to watch it all happen.

However, no matter how awesome she is, my greatest confidence is in God.  It is him alone who has made this all happen. He has brought us here and he will see us through.

This morning’s church service ended with this song. Emotions have been high (and held in check) for a few days, but as soon as we started singing the tears started. Tears of comfort, hope and peace.

In Christ Alone

In Christ alone,My hope is found
He is my life, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid rock
Firm through the fierces, drought and storm
What heights of Love, what depths of Peace,
When fears are stilled, when Strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
 
In Christ alone who took on flesh
Fulness of God in helpless babe
This gift of Love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save,
Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of god was satisfied;
For every sin on him was laid
Here in the depth of Christ I live
 
There in the ground , His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave he rose again!
 
And as he stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ
 
No guilt in life, no fear in death
This the pow’r of Christ in me,
From life’s first cry, to final braeth.
Jesus commands my destiny
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from his hand
Till he returns or call me home
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.

If these words were not true, The Princess wouldn’t have any reason to go and The Hero and I would not have any reason to send her.  But they are true and that is why I have the hope and peace to send my little girl to the other side of the world to share that truth with those who have yet to hear.
If you want to follow her adventure, you can read about it here.