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A Family Shaped by Grace

morlandOur youngest child will be leaving for college in about eight weeks, going to a school more than 1000 miles away and we are so excited for her! We helped our girl choose where to go, but it was ultimately her decision, and the school she chose is more expensive than most of the others she considered. This detail didn’t concern us much, because we have given our children a set amount of money for college and they are responsible for the rest, by way of scholarship or sweat. No loans.
Over the last few weeks our daughter has talked a great deal about money and wondering aloud how much is enough for her to make over the summer as a full-time CNA at a retirement community. It finally occurred to me to listen to what she was really saying, and realize that she wasn’t sure of the details of her part in paying for college. We had gone over it more than once in the past, but now that it’s getting close, she needed more information and lots of encouragement.
My guy and I sat down and went through all the numbers last night and you could see the relief wash over Georgia’s face. It wasn’t as bad as she had thought, she was going to be just fine. Uncomfortable, but fine. This little experience reminded me of something I’ve been reading.
I just read a newly released book called A Family Shaped by Grace by Gary Morland. The writer is a sober alcoholic whose addiction and family history affected the quality of their family for years. Over time, with the help of a Christian mentor, Morland learns the importance of leaning on Christ for what he needs, and pouring out grace to those he loves most. This is shown in many practical ways; reacting with love and acceptance over anger and bitterness, choosing not to be offended, and being actively present in conversations, asking questions with real interest and to gain understanding, not information.
The book didn’t necessarily contain new concepts for me; it is Bible based and built on ancient themes, but it was a good reminder to me that I need to be the safest place possible for my people to be themselves, and I need to listen carefully to what is being said, and what is not. It also confirmed a suspicion I have had for years that in order to love well, we must fight against making gods out of our loved ones, trust God to be who He promises and allow our family members to be imperfect, messy humans.
I wish I had realized sooner what our daughter needed from us, simple information and reassurance. There was no need to be evasive or to reprimand her for not getting it before, our job is to love on her and give her what she needs, not necessarily what she wants. I think this book came to me at a good time, I am thankful for the opportunity to gain more tools in equipping this family to be as strong as possible.
To order: https://www.amazon.com/Family-Shaped-Grace-People-Matter/dp/0800727959/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1496953619&sr=8-1&keywords=a+family+shaped+by+grace

Book Review: Dare to Respect

IMG_2918I was sent the book, Dare to Respect by Tammy Oberg de la Garza and was asked to give a candid critique on it. Honestly, I didn’t expect to enjoy it because I have not read The Respect Dare, the original book this one is based on, and because I do not read Christian fiction as a rule. Many years ago, I realized that reading about young couples who spend every waking moment together and falling in love is not healthy for a reader with a husband who travels extensively. It created all kinds of discontent for me and I learned that what is beneficial for one can be detrimental for another. Because I had agreed to, I dove in and was pleasantly surprised to find that this Christian book was different.
The reader is introduced to six women who have a common reason to come together weekly and complain about their husbands. One of the wives suggests the group engages in a 40 day challenge to improve their marriages. This is the story of six very diverse women who embark on a journey they cannot predict and hit upon issues such as infidelity, pornography, alcoholism and co-dependency.
I was on a Spring Break trip with my two daughters and brought this book along on the beach, expecting it to be a quick read. I enjoyed the story line so much, and even sacrificed some quality time with my girls to finish it. The book is hopeful in that it points back to our true source of fulfillment, Christ, and it removes pressure from expecting our husbands to provide where they cannot. I appreciated the fact that the characters were not perfect, that they allowed each other into their lives and were open to change, and I loved that the characters were wildly different from one another, so the reader should be able to connect with at least one character.
I would recommend this book to any woman who has been married for more than five years, it is a refreshing read with an important message. You can read more of Tammy Oberhausen de la Garza’s work on her blog: www.daretorespect.com

Porch Talk

porch

One night we were sitting out on the porch and a friend shared with me that she and her guy had been trying to get pregnant again. This is nothing new, I spend time one-on-one with a lot of women and am often privy to such information. But this situation was different; my friend is in her forties and has already raised her children. I was completely floored, because I can’t think of anything I would less like to be today than pregnant, except maybe the mother of toddlers. I asked if she was excited at the prospect and she sighed and said two words: not really. What??

You see, her guy loves having kiddos around the house. And over the last few months he kept hinting that he would like to have more. They finally sat down and seriously talked about it and he confessed that he felt that they were supposed to have more children. He said he had prayed about it, hoping the feeling would dissipate but it came on stronger, would she consider it? This friend of mine is a fantastic Mom, she is all in on the parenting gig right up until they fly the nest, and is so close to having it be just the two of them. And yet…..she said she would pray about it.

My friend asked God about having more children and did not feel what her guy did, she basically got no answer, and yet she agreed to try to conceive for a few months. She said she never prayed against having another baby, and even got excited at the thought here and there, and yet in her heart, really did not want to start over again. At the time that we talked about it, there was no baby news and as a couple they agreed that the time had come to stop trying. She was sad that her guy did not get what he wanted and believed was right, but she was also so relieved. Bittersweet.

I sat with my mouth hanging open as she shared her story; what would I have done in her place? Can I honestly say that I would be open to such a departure from my plan, just to appease my guy? In my opinion this is an extreme act of service and sacrificial love. And trust, in her guy and in her God. Over time I have watched many friends being taken on adventures that they never could have imagined, because they were open to God’s calling, even when it seemed inconvenient or even reckless. What crazy idea is stirring in your heart these days, or in the hints of your spouse? How are you going to respond?

All Day

pray

I was settling in to bed last night, thinking through my last 15 hours and was convicted that I needed to pray for several people who had specifically asked for it, and for many others who hadn’t, and for situations that are occurring and others that possibly could. I was talking to God about talking to God, telling Him how much more I needed to be praying and wondering how to cover it all.

And then I was gently reminded; yes, this is a time when we need to be praying non-stop for our families and communities and states and countries just like so many points in history and like always, this can be done all day everyday. God walks alongside and is accessible all the time. Yes child, pray but do it constantly and for every thing.

It’s not just my right but my responsibility.

Adventure

IMG_2450The countdown has begun, without really meaning to. Our girl is leaving in just a few days to start a new adventure. It’s been a long time coming; we have known for years that our oldest daughter would do something in the area of missions, and she is now putting details to those plans. Jessica is leaving for Florida in a little over a week to attend Missionary training at the Heart Institute. It’s a semester long, full-time learning experience that teaches students to live sustainably off the land and even simulates a third world village, with no electricity or running  water. Her textbooks include titles like, “Where There Is No Doctor” and “Raising Healthy Poultry”. She will be able to send and receive mail one day a week. As we were making plans for packing, I flippantly said that she could let me know what she needs and I will send it within a matter of a couple of days, and then we realized it would be two weeks at minimum, and that’s assuming that our timing is right! So, in a way, the training has already begun. For all of us.

Please pray? Not for safety or for ease in this transition. We want it to be difficult, because in the difficult comes growth and change and obviously my girl isn’t terribly interested in living a safe life! Lord, please give her adventure and let her hear Your heart, set her heartbeat to the rhythm of Yours. Open her eyes to so many other ways of doing things, to other cultures and value systems. Please deliver her back to us an even stronger, more capable woman filled with compassion and grace for those You are calling her to. Strengthen me to completely trust You with my treasure. Again. And as always, thank you for letting me be her Mama.

http://heart-institute.org/

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