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Ruins, Spices, and Mysteries

 12.10.14

You can travel to faraway lands
and find mysteries unsolved:
some are hidden under tree roots,
stone temples,
hardened soil,
hardened hearts;
behind deep clouds of smoke,
and weak smiles,
and men whose legs are no more,
"an anti-human mine" 
they'd say. 


You can travel to faraway lands
and find new flavors and smells.
Sweet fragrances that transport you
To places you thought
Could only exist in your dreams.
Lemongrass and cinnamon,
Galangal and taro,
Sweet Basil and tamarind,
The children's dreams,
The women's pain,
The shame of men,
All mixed under the heat of the sun.
and the humidity in the air.






You can travel to faraway lands
And find how unanswered pleas
Are strangely mixed in the air with smoke.
A magic land indeed.
Black smoke.
It is incense burning here and there,
I tear up.
It is incense offered to gods who can not
See,
Hear,
Reach.
I am crying.
The smoke is heavy.
Black. Magic?
How can they see?
How can they breath?
Who will tell them?
A child covers her nose,
I tear up again.

And the woman is there again,
In this faraway land,
Day after day at the feet of her god
In the temple,
Selling to all passing men
The flowers and the food,
The charms and the incense,
The spices.
I watch and
See ruins all around me.
Mysteries unsolved in this woman's heart.
I murmur a prayer,
That she may see
Through the smoke.
Through her pain.
Through her years
The One and True God
With One face
Who needs no more
Offerings.
I pray through the smoke,
And offer her my smile.
Smoke again.
Black.
Ruins.


You can travel to faraway lands to hear
Of a prince who left his palace,
All his riches,
All his comfort,
To see and try to understand
The suffering of men.
And, yet, with his four faces:
Charity,
Compassion,
Sympathy,
Equanimity
This Prince could not see
Cannot see
The emptiness in his
follower's faces.
Smoke again.
Black.
Ruins.

This prince left it all
And cannot give anything back.
This prince with the many hands
Cannot carry the burdens,
The sins,
The deepest pains.
His chest is empty.
Smoke surrounds him.
Black.
Again and again.
Silence.


I stare at the prince's faceless figure,
"The robbers," they say,
"They cut his head."
And the incense burns,
And the women,
And the men,
And the children,
All bow down,
Again and again.
And their life remains in ruins.
Silence.
Smoke again.
Black.

That they may have eyes to see
Through the smoke,
Trough the ruins,
Through the silence,
Through the mysteries,
The Prince of Peace,
Jesus Christ.


Eyes to see the one face of the
King who left his palace,
Left it all
And became like us,
Suffered like us.
This Prince didn't fail.
His one face has
Eyes to see,
Ears to hear,
Mouth to speak life.
Come to Him!
Come to Jesus Christ!
Breath in life,
Not smoke. 

Jesus the King
Has two arms,
That hung from the cross.
His chest is not empty,
His heart was pierced
For the ruined temples,
For all the ruined lives,
The broken,
The blind,
The deaf,
The ones with empty hearts,
For us.

You don't have to travel to faraway lands,
To see find this King.
The Prince of Peace
Sees through the hardened hearts of men,
Breaks them in pieces,
And makes them whole again.
He turns ruins into palaces
For his glory to shine through.
He loves broken vessels,
And picks them up,
And makes them new.

You don't have to travel to faraway lands
To offer your prayers to a strange god
In hopes to be heard.
The King of kings, Jesus of Nazareth,
Rose again from the death
And He, the True God,
Hears the prayers of men.
Huge stones,
Hardened soil,
Disbelief,
Hatred,
Sin,
Could not hold Him back
In the grave.
He welcomes the broken men.
Offer your life as incense
To Him.
He hears the weary,
He bends the brokenhearted.
No more darkness.
No more smoke.
No more silence.

Come to Him,
To Jesus Christ,
The Prince who left
His home,
His heavenly palace,
And Became like us,
And died that we may die,
And rose again, and
Now lives so that we may live.

You don't have to travel to faraway lands
To find life,
Jesus is the Way to Life.
He is Life.
Through darkness and smoke,
His Light shines through.
And welcomes the
Needy the poor in spirit,
The hungry he feeds,
And the thirsty he refreshes
With everlasting water.

Hear Him, Jesus Christ,
The Prince of Peace,
Calling your name,
In this land,
In this time,
In this ruined moment. 
No more darkness.
No more smoke.
No more silence.







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Be Hospitable, Love the Body of Christ, Look Up -Pursuing the Intentional Life-

 21.8.14


I am enjoying this series of letters on pursuing the intentional life so much. I pray you will be encouraged to make a commitment to live an intentional life, to start counting your days, to live fully in Him and for Him.

You can now read Melissa's response here...






Have a blessed day,



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Teachers, Do Some Soul-prepping Before the School Starts.

 20.8.14

Course prepping and soul prepping; both are equally necessary before the school starts.  I have found this book perfect to tune my heart and get me ready to do what I love: teach.



Canon Press
"Love is not a sentiment. Love acts. Love studies. Loves gets into it. Love asks for details. Love works through difficulties, and answers tough questions. An effective teacher is not someone who skims over the surface od things. He wants to know more about all of this. He wants to know theology because he loves God. He wants to know life, because the school he teaches is located in the middle of that life. He wants to know his students' middle names, and where they want to go to college, because he regards them as people -and not as carbon-based-receptacles for his upcoming data dump. And he knows his subject because every time he teaches this lesson, he learns something new." Douglas Wilson, The Seven Disciplines of Highly Effective Teachers




Happy planning and prepping!


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Three (Four) Goals as I Pursue the Intentional Life

 13.8.14

This is my first reply to a series of letters that my friends Trisha, Melissa, and I will be sharing as we reflect on the beauty, as well as on the challenges of pursuing the intentional life in this season of our lives. To read the introduction and the first letter go here.

                                               ***************************



Dear Trisha and Melissa,

What a gift to the women of faith Jean Fleming has given in her book Pursuing the Intentional Life. The message she shares and the way she does it is encouraging and beautifully done. Thanks for the recommendation, Trisha.

In your first letter you asked us these two good questions: What are three of your goals as you pursue the intentional life? How has Fleming’s book encouraged you in these areas? So here is my answer...

                                               You may continue reading here.





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Letters On Pursuing the Intentional Life (part 1)

 11.8.14

Our dear friend Trisha recommended us a book that I read with much gusto. Jean Fleming's words are exactly what I needed in this season of my life.

And because we are on the same season, but in totally different circumstances, my friends, Trisha, Melissa, and I thought that it would be wonderful to write each other letters to converse about this book. 

Would you like to join us? Please, go ahead and read Trisha's introduction and first letter here.






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A Poem by Jean Fleming

 28.7.14

"At ninety-seven, will I be able to write a poem capturing the scaffold of my life? How would I want it to read?"

Vermeer, The Kitchenmaid Commons

Old woman, keeper of a house,
Keeper of her heart,
Lover of one man.
Her life a scaffold of discipline and creativity:
Morning after morning: Jesus.
Her heart Bible-bent.
Prayers rise.
Every day an offering of various-sameness:
One hour of exercise (Oh, I wish!),
Dishes washed, laundry hung,
Generations welcomed,
Fed.
A good book, read.
Art made life,
Life made art.
Preparation made forever.

Praying that we will live well the week ahead of us,

Blessings,


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Importunate Prayers

 23.7.14

Sometimes we are importunate with our words because we speak (or write) too fast. Without giving our thoughts, our words a second thought. With God, in prayer, we will never be importunate. What if instead of letting the words come out of our mouth (or fingertips) unedited before our friends (or in social media), we first pray about that particular worry, situation or person?

Let's remember that there is never an importunate time to meet with God with our needs, concerns, with our petitions.




"Importunity is made up of the ability to hold on, to press on, to wait with unrelaxed and unrelaxable grasp, restless desire and restful patience. Importunate prayer is not an incident, but the main thing, not a performance  but a passion, not a need but a necessity... Few things give such quickened and permanent vigour to the soul as a long exhaustive season of importunate prayer.

Our seasons of importunate prayer cut themselves, like the print of a diamond, into our hardest places, and mark with inefaceable traces of our characters. They are the salient periods of our lives, the memorial stones which endure and to which we turn."

E.M. Bounds

Under His sun and by His grace,


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Throw Yourself Under the Wings of Your Redeemer and Into His Promises

 22.7.14

Ruth is a woman who came boldly, and importunate before her redeemer, and she was not rejected but welcomed with steadfast love by him. Ruth is a woman who found safety under the wings of Boaz, because she knew he was a merciful and kind redeemer. There is so much we can learn from her, throwing ourselves under the wings of our Redeemer is one of the most important ones.

This is an excerpt from pastor Ben Merkle's series on Ruth*. I pray you will find in these words encouragement and that you will fear not come under God's wings and aim to be, by God's grace a woman of faith, a Proverbs 31 woman.

"Ruth shows us what it looks like to embody the attributes that are in Proverbs 31. What is the most striking thing about Ruth?

Ruth's loving-kindness, her faithfulness, her steadfast deep devotion and commitment to the promises of God. She throws herself with complete faith, headlong into the promises of God and in particular, she throws herself into the promises of God with respect to the relationships and trials that God has put her in. So she has this deep confidence in Yahweh. And it is so funny because why would this woman from Moab have this confidence? Why would she have that?

But God gives her this deep faith that she is able to take God's promises and utterly commit herself to them and live out that commitment through her relationships, through her marriage, through her relationships as a wife, as a daughter in law, ultimately as a mother as well as she has children. She is somebody who looks at her relationships and her covenant commitments around her and sees what faith will look like in those relationships, and she does it after trial after trial gets thrown at her. She does it in the context of those sorts of trials that will make every one around you say, "Why are you still here? Why are you still committed to this? Clearly this is a dead end, just quit and go home. Or as Job's friend would say "Just curse God and die because this is ridiculous."  And yet Ruth will continue to throw herself at that.

And if you think about that all of the descriptions in Proverbs 31 start to make sense. This is a woman who is devoted to her husband, to her family, to everybody who is around her and she is spending herself on their behalf because of her deep faith. Ruth shows us what that would look like. Ruth shows you how to do this even when heavy trials come on you and every one is saying quit... Ruth hangs on because of her deep hessed, this loving-kindness that just keeps getting better and better the more the trials come at her. That is the virtuous woman. That is the one who that is described in Proverbs 31. That is a woman of valor who is a fitting wife for a man like Boaz, for this mighty warrior. And then when you see that, when you start seeing it that way, you start seeing that the virtues of the virtuous woman are all the natural implications, the natural result of being a woman of faith. If you are a woman of faith, if you have a deep commitment of God then these are the works that are going to flow from that. Faith without works is dead; if you have a living faith you have living works."

Maybe today would be a perfect day for us to read Proverbs 31 and the book of Ruth all in one sitting.

Let's pray that we will learn to throw ourselves under God's wings, into His promises with deep faith. A faith that will be manifested in living works toward those around us even in the midst of trials.

Blessings,



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 *You can listen to the whole series on Ruth entitled, The Lovingkindness of God, by Pastor Merkle here. This particular excerpt comes from part three which you can listen here.




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Prayer and Battles

 21.7.14

I just finished reading -again- Douglas Wilson's book, Standing on the Promises: A Handbook on Biblical Childrearing, and I have to say that this is the one book I most recommend on the subject. In one of the last chapters Douglas Wilson writes about parenting teenagers, and says that we need to pick our battles carefully and prayerfully.

Now, that is a phrase that struck me, because it is not only true when we are talking about childrearing. It is true about every battle we face.





As Christians we face many opportunities every day to pick battles not only in our home, but with our brothers and sisters in Christ, our close friends, and our fellow believers in social media: these are battles that call us to stand for the Truth, to say the right thing, to do the right thing, to expose lies, to confront sin, to ask the hard questions, etc. But we must learn that the fact that there are many opportunities for us to pick a battle every hour doesn't mean that we are responsible to fight every battle.

We must learn to carefully and prayerfully (that is the key word!) discern when when are we supposed to do or say something. We must resist the temptation to react before praying to see if we are indeed called to do something more than praying for that particular person or situation. have you considered why do we so easily forget -in a very practical way- that the effectual prayer of the righteous man availeth much (Jas. 5:16)? 

Some other women may face the temptation of never picking up any kind of battles, they never leave their comfort zone, and are always afraid to stand for the Truth, they are never willing to do and say the right thing, to expose sin, to deal with it. This exhortation is also for them. We all need to learn to pick our battles carefully and prayerfully. We all need to learn to live this.

Picking up our battles carefully and prayerfully will help us grow into more mature Christian women who can rest knowing that the Lord is Sovereign and uses pastors, elders, deacons, parents, professors, husbands, etc. to keep His people from going astray and make the Church even more beautiful.



Under His sun and by His grace,



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Refusing the Temptation of Take Matters into Our Own Hands

 13.4.14

This is not the first time that I buy a book on Kindle, start reading it and end up buying a "real" copy to be able to underline it and write my notes -with real pens-, and truly make it my own. The book I am now talking about is by A.W. Pink and it is entitled Gleanings from Paul: The Prayers of the Apostle.

I plan to share some portions of it with you as I read through.

In Romans 1:8-12 we read one of the prayers of Paul, and among other things he asks the Lord to make it possible for him to visit the Christians in Rome  (v.10). Pink comments on this passage,

"Let it be duly noted that he refused to take matters into his own hands and act upon an inward urge. Instead, he subordinated his own longings and impulses to the will of Him whom he served. This is very striking and blessed. Paul did not consider what many would regard as 'the Spirit's prompting' a sufficient warrant. He must first be assured, by His providences, that this journey was ordered by His Master. Accordingly he spread his case before God, committing the matter to His decision and pleasure."  (emphasis mine)

I don't know about you, but for me the temptation to take matters into my own hands is real, which means that reading these words was convicting.

However, as with all temptations, there is way out; and we the effectual remedy against the temptation of taking things into our own hands is Prayer.

I read once that dependency is the heartbeat of prayer; and now think about this, when we decide to take things into our own hands -instead of praying and trusting in God and in His Providence- we are in a sense saying, "God, I don't think you can handle this. I know which things need to be  done and I will start doing those few things that must be done right now -before it is too late-." Sisters, as we start acting in urgency, responding to our own longings, impulses, and feelings we are in reality denying our dependency on God.  And that, we all know, is a sin from which we need to repent.






Really, Sisters, if we keep insisting into taking all the difficult circumstances into our hands instead of bringing them in prayer to God we will only going to make up messes. A.W. Pink reminds us, "Unless we 'rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him' (Psa. 37:7) only confusion and trouble will ensue."


Prayer is the only way to resist and overcome the temptation of taking things into our own matters because in prayer we say, "God, I cannot handle this on my own. I need you. Give me patience to wait in you, in your Providence; draw me to your Word, Oh Lord. Grant me a humble heart to seek advice, and a quiet heart to trust in your timing. I am wholly dependent on you, my sovereign Lord."

Praying with you as we learn to be wholly dependent on Him at all times,

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Because We Never Stop Being Moms -Book Club- Chapter Ten and Conclusion-

 9.4.14

It has been a good thing to read this book with you all; thanks for reading along, for your emails, your messages on Facebook, and your comments here.

The last chapter in our book is about the time in which our children get married and we start increasing the members of our family. A chapter in life that my husband and I will start living -not only reading about!- soon. As I read this chapter and the conclusion, five principles stood apart which I want to remember in the years ahead:

1. Your children's marriage is sacred.  As our children get married, they will start their very own family, in which their primarily concern will be to please their spouses, not me or my husband.

2. Respect should always be present. In my relationship with each one of my children and their spouses respect should never lack. By respecting their decisions, their dreams and desires, "their obligation to raise their children according to their own conscience and convictions, remembering that the Lord has put them in charge of our grandkids," we will be strengthening our relationship with them.

3. Become a source of blessing to your children and grandchildren. Through respect, wise conversations (in which listening plays a major role), laughs, prayer, willingness to help, and generosity, we can bless our children, their spouses, and our grandkids.

4. Trust God for your children and grandchildren. My God is a faithful and sovereign God who loves to save families. Who has promised to be faithful to a thousand generations. I believe in Him and in such Rock I stand. As one mom who from fear moved to trust in this stage, beautifully said,

"The outcome belongs to the Lord. I really have a sense of freedom having this attitude. The other idea is that I don't have to know everything that they are into, who they are with, or where they are going, because the omniscient, omnipresent Lord knows. I don't have to take up that "burden" (so to speak) which belongs to Him. Therefore I am really free to focus on building the relationship and at peace to trust God to work his perfect will." (emphasis mine)

When we parent in fear or through worry we are in fact not parenting in love. We are not building a relationship, instead we are pulling it apart.

5. Pray and ask for help. Always prayer before action, is what my wise friend told me once. And the action to take at times is to ask for godly advise.

Sisters, we have a great challenge before us every day. No matter in which parenting stage we are now, we need God's grace, God's wisdom, and God's Word. But all those are not hidden from us. God has given us, his children, grace to endure every season in our life. He has promised to give us wisdom (and wisdom in abundance!) when we ask for it. And we have His living Word, our sure anchor, a light to our feet! We have all that we need to do this. God is faithful and we can rest assured that His plans for us and our children are perfect.


 Under His sun and by His grace, 






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Because We Never Stop Being Moms -Book Club- Chpater Nine

 1.4.14

Thank you, Friends, for coming again to our weekly meeting to discuss the book, We Never Stop Being Parents.

This week it is an honor and a great joy to introduce you to my friend Angel Warner. We met a few years ago when we left our sons in College, and we can honestly say that our sons have been blessed by this family. The Lord has given them grace to raise godly children and many of us are now enjoying the blessings of their hard labor. God is good!

Thank you, Angel.

****************


Chapter Nine.

Our Dreams, Their Dreams, though unsure of the source, I have often heard it said that the most important decision after choosing to serve God with one’s life is the answer to the question: Alongside whom shall I serve Him? 

For parents, even of children who have been given grace to rightly choose God as their master, the potential answer to the second question can be the source of much concern, and rightly so. As married people themselves, parents know firsthand the pitfalls of being joined into one flesh with another sinner. Moreover, married couples are joined to new families who are likewise comprised of sinners. The potential for conflict and trouble grows exponentially, but so do the opportunities for all involved to grow in wisdom, maturity, humility and grace. In chapter nine, the authors do a wonderful job of demonstrating some of the ways in which parents can fall off the rails if they are not seeking to guide their adult children by biblical principles. Deferring to preference when our children are selecting life mates has the potential of doing serious and long-lasting damage to our relationships. But, as in all stages of parenting, we have God’s Word to guide us toward prudence.

As has been pointed out in the other chapters we’ve read so far, our relationship with our adult children must shift from authority to counselor. The same holds true as our young adults select spouses. Because we want the best for our children, Christian parents begin praying early that God will be preparing godly spouses for them. As we pray, we naturally begin to envision the ideal characteristics we’d like to see in our future sons and daughters-in-law. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. The problem comes when we create idols: phantom men and women who will be members of our particular church, children of our dearest friends, skilled and witty conversationalists, gifted musicians or artists, on it goes, even down to physical features. As the authors so wisely point out, the problem is that these are our daydreams, and our children have no biblical obligation to make our dreams come true. For parents to try to impose such an obligation where none exists is to usurp the authority that belongs to the Lord as the sovereign over our lives and those of our children. In some Christian circles, fathers have been taught that they are the supreme authority even over their children’s marital choices. It is true that, for a season and to illustrate heavenly realities, fathers act as prophets, priests, and kings in their homes. However, this temporary authority is designed to help fathers point their children to the Lord who is the true Sovereign. Fathers who can see themselves and this temporary authority rightly should delight in relinquishing their adult sons and daughters into the care of a King whose judgments, mercy, and leading are without error. Thereafter, parents must trust their children and all their decisions into His care. Our dreams are not as important as God’s will. 



We have been through this process four times now, and I can say without reservation that it can be challenging. We have one son-in-law, two daughters-in-law, and one daughter-in-law to be. We dearly love each one of them, but we have had to confront our pre-conceived notions each time. I have to admit that this was most pronounced with our daughter, not because of her choice, but simply because she was a daughter. We had taught her (and all her brothers) the principles of biblical roles in marriage and male headship. It is one emotional milestone to marry off a son; it is quite another to walk one’s baby girl down the aisle and place her into the care of another man who will become her head. My husband and I found that it required us to exercise a new level of trust in the Lord’s care for our daughter. In contrast, when sons marry, there is something very humbling about watching the father of a young woman walk down the aisle and place his baby girl into the care of your son. This has been a summons for us to pray fervently that our sons will be godly, merciful, tender, strong, and faithful servant-leaders who will love these women who have been entrusted to them. In either circumstance, trusting God to lead our adult children in our stead is both freeing and sanctifying. Our children are called to their own journeys and their own struggles. They may choose spouses who surprise us. They may handle their trials in ways that we would not. Yet, if we truly believe that God is sovereign, we can trust that God is using these things to mature them in grace. We have seen this at work in the lives of our married children and have been amazed at the refinement that is being produced through trial. Likewise, we can see how God has used our relationships with our married children and their spouses to refine our own growth in grace.

One thing I most appreciated about this chapter was the continual exhortation to exercise love, even if we are disappointed in our children’s choices. It is so easy to be critical and narrow in our definition of who warrants our love. The biblical principle, however, is that we are to exercise love toward others—no qualifiers. There are times when adult children may enter into relationships that go beyond mere preferences crossing the line into sin. In the section “We Are Free to Love and Welcome”, the author states:

"By remembering the gospel message, that we are both sinful and flawed yet loved and welcomed, we can welcome this uninvited visitor warmly. When you keep the doors open, you’re helping your own cause because the uninvited visitor will view you as a friend and perhaps even a counselor. No one wants to take counsel from someone who really doesn’t like them. If you openly welcome your child’s new friend, you will remove the pressure of disapproval, and your child may then actually invite your counsel." (p. 144) 

Of course, there is a distinction between loving a sinner and enabling sin. True love does not make provision for the practice of sin. I believe this makes the author’s point above more poignant. It’s a fine line to walk, but when we are warm and loving, our children are more likely to be understanding of our refusal to facilitate immorality. Here again, obedience to the biblical principles, in this case exercising love and upholding righteousness, may not be easy, but God plainly tells us that He will bless faithfulness to His commands. Thus we have another opportunity to take Him at His word and show our children that our faith is genuine.

Finally, after reading this chapter, I found myself reflecting on two underlying theological aspects of the larger discussion. The first is indicated in the initial illustration about the father who refused to embrace his daughter’s romantic choice simply because the young man held doctrinal positions that were different than his own. While his reaction was extreme, if most of us were honest, we’d probably have to admit to this same type of bias in our own hearts. Of course, we would prefer that our children marry people who embrace our theological leanings. It certainly would make for fewer potential landmines in table conversations. Yet, to look askance at someone who does not is evidence that we are not discerning the body of Christ as we should. His church is much larger than our particular segment of the Christian faith, and we should embrace opportunities to exercise grace toward our Christian brothers and sisters. How much more so when they are part of our own families?

The other theological principle is that of generational faithfulness. If we truly believe that we and our descendants are in a covenant relationship with God, then we ought to be thinking in terms of how we are part of God’s plan to pass on the truths of the covenant to future generations. There is simply no way we can be part of this plan if we jeopardize our influence by ungracious behavior toward the parents of our grandchildren. Any hard-heartedness on our part will prohibit our witness. We must earn the right to be heard; we must demonstrate that we can be trusted; we must humble ourselves taking on the attitude of servant-hood to our adult children, loving them and showing them respect. Only then can our message convey a sincere love for our Lord and His covenant.


May our Lord help us to live with grace as we seek to be a blessing to the next generation.

Angel Warner

****************

Angel Warner is married to her best friend, David. They are parents of eleven (7 by birth, three by marriage, and one by engagement). Their greatest earthly delight is their family, which now also includes a grand-daughter, their first grandchild. More than anything, Angel lives in wonder and gratitude for the continual faithfulness, love, and mercy of the Father. She, her husband, and youngest daughter live in beautiful Geneva, Illinois, and are in the process of restoring a 1927 home—their third historic restoration project.




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Because We Never Stop Being Moms -Book Club- Chapters Seven and Eight-

 26.3.14

Last week I was busy enjoying my adult children and their friends in a beautiful beach in Mexico; maybe that explains why I didn't post here.

Chapter seven has three main principles that we don't want to overlook.

1. We are responsible for raising our children in the Lord, they are responsible for their own choices, but God alone can save our children.

Sovereign saving grace, God's desire to save the lost, and His covenantal faithfulness should be our hope and comfort.

What a wonderful reminder to our heavy souls that God is the one who does the changing in our children's lives. Not us. We don't have the power to change their heart.

What a convicting exhortation to parent our sons and daughters not motivated by guilt and fear but by genuine love that has learned to rest on God alone.

"Our dollars won't buy their love or repentance, and we can't fund their admission into God's Kingdom. Only the Holy Spirit can change their hearts."


2. We need help. We need help. We need help. Yes: WE NEED HELP!

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him." James 1:5

The author says it in such a clear way that we cannot miss the exhortation:

"[T]he Bible is the only sufficient source of wisdom for our lives. In faith we need to trust in His Word, rather than merely following our own thoughts and feelings." 

And then, an encouragement to seek the advice of godly people:

"We need objective (and sometimes tough) godly advice from friends who are not afraid of wounding us by their counsel when necessary (Prov.27:6)"

3. Saying "no" is many times the louder way to say, "I love you."

"Only with the Lord's help will we be able to be as strong and as patient as needed."
I appreciated very much that under this principle, the authors advice parents to involve their pastors and elders (when the children are members of the church) in specific situations, even to the point of church discipline.

Understanding the role of the church as we raise our children is an important part of understanding the covenant bond among us.


It is important, however, to remember that saying "no," or making drastic changes, doesn't mean that we should totally shun them out of our lives. Maybe, you have the huge blessing of not having  wayward children, but remember that we must apply these love principles with our friends' children to. Let us be always hospitable, waiting in hope.




**************

Chapter Eight is, in my opinion, kind of repetitive. Do you agree with me?

It is a chapter about money management and how we should not finance our children's irresponsibility or sinful lifestyle. However, many of the important, wise, and timely advices the author mentions here, he has already pinpointed somewhere else in the book. So I want to avoid doing the same thing...


Next week we'll be talking about chapter nine: Marriage: Our Dreams, Their Dreams. I hope you can join us.


Praying for grace as we keep pressing on, 


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Because We Never Stop Being Moms -Book Club- Chapter Six

 13.3.14

First of all sorry for the late post, and thanks for grace and understanding!

This chapter is the perfect one in which differentiating between a principle and a method is important.  The examples the authors give at the beginning of it are more of methods based on the principles that further in the chapter the author will tackle. Understanding the difference is essential in order to embrace what one must do -Biblically speaking- in our relationship with our adult children and what we may do in specific circumstances.  

For example: one may or may not have a curfew for his 19 yo daughter living at home (method), but one must protect her. That is a biblical principle.

Chapter six is about us not about our children, and as I read it I was challenged by the biblical principles that the author points here.

First of all, we, like our children, are sinners. Not because we are older and -hopefully-more wiser are free from sin. No. We often struggle with the same kind of sins that our children struggle: self-righteousness, pride, selfishness, bitterness. We need a Saviour too and we need to be washed with the Word every day. We need to ask forgiveness and be forgiven. And pride, I think you might agree, might be the most prevalent as we parent our children. The author says,

"Pride blinds us not only to our sin but also to the true struggles of others."

And what is the opposite of pride? Humility. Thankfully humility is not something we produce in ourselves by trying hard. Humility is, the author reminds us, "the fruit of the Holy Spirit's work in our hearts as he convicts us of sin and overwhelms us with reminders of our unmerited blessings."


"Humility is that quality is Jesus' life that enabled him to deal gently with sinners... Humility caused him to empty himself and become like us -to share in our weakness- to bear with our frailty."
So, the principle is clear: we need humility to deal with our children.That is the starting point no matter which method we end up using.

"Humility is the eyewash we need to use every day."

The authors say that we specifically need humility in these areas:

1. Humbly convey clear expectations. And I would add, humbly ask forgiveness if your expectations have not been clear or if your expectations have not been real (by this I mean that you are expecting from them to allow you to micro-manage their life under the cover of "submission").

2. Always offer humble respect. 

"Nagging will always damage a relationship because it is not the fruit of humble respect. It is the fruit of pride and impatience."

3. Humility speaks little and listens much. When we have a humble attitude we will find that it is more easier to listen fully and attentively -not thinking at the same time of a response with which to strike harder- (Read James 1:19, Prov. 20:5). Listening, Newheiser reminds us, is a skill that not only requires humility but love. It takes effort to be a good listener.

"Because we are sinful and proud, the majority of us are poor listeners. We're accustomed to doing most of the talking while our kids listen to us. Listening is an easy way to demonstrate that we are sincerely interested in them as human beings. Careful listening demonstrates humble respect for their opinion and perspectives."

 When we listen humbly we are persevering in communicating with them. And as one mom pointed out, this only happens when "we refrain from interrupting or correcting our adult children." Humble listening, of course demands that we recognize that we don't know the correct answer at all times and that other times we have erred.

A good question to ask ourselves to see if we are humble listeners would be, "When I listen to my son/daughter's perspective, am I  open and willing to reconsider my position?"

4. Humility makes an effort to communicate. Communicate clearly all your expectations, don't assume that they will read your mind on all sorts of manners. I firmly believe that a clear communication clears the way to build stronger relationships.

5. Humility respects their individuality. 

"Humble respect for our kids' individuality flows out of the truth that each one, though different, is created in the image of God."

6. Humility admits sin and wrong. I love, love, love this principle which I think summarizes all the rest:

"Relationships can only survive where there is grace. Not only do our children need grace from us, but we also need grace from them."

We need humility to ask forgiveness and seek reconciliation.  Ann Voskamp said it well somewhere else: "First to listen is wiser. First to forgive is freest. First to begin afresh again is happiest."


"We need to incorporate grace in our parenting. Nothing must ever stop us from loving our children. "

7. God's grace helps us assume the best of our children because "Love... hopes all things" (I Cor. 13:7).  But at the same time God's grace will help us see the sin in our children and be blind to it. 
I was reminded here of the book by Puritan Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed; if you have not read it and the kind of faith you see in your child 's life is only a weak flame, I recommend  it to you. It will sure help you see with hope those sparks of faith.






8. Humility overlooks and forgives. Our own children can hurt us, but we sin against them when we don't forgive them quickly, but instead let bitterness be rooted in our hearts.  Humility, I would add, recognizes that God is in control of our children's lives. Humility draws us to God in prayer for them and gives us hope when we seem there is none. 

9. A humble heart will say, "I want to spend time with you because I enjoy being with you."

10. A humble attitude will always be willing to give. Always give your children grace in a thousand tangible ways.

The questions at the end of the chapter are very good. Don't overlook them. I was convicted of some things as I answered them.

Note: Next week I will be traveling and might not have an easy access to Internet. So, I ask you to bear with me if you don't see me posting timely next Wednesday.

God is good and Him our hope is secure.



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Because We Never Stop Being Moms -Book Club- Chapter Five

 5.3.14

How was your week? Mine has been a mixture of everything: wonderful moments (visiting our dear friends in Las Vegas for a long weekend) and busy moments (having to catch up with all my papers to grade). But each day I have seen that I have been given more grace than what I'd have ever expected. God is good.

We are now in chapter five (half way through our book!), a chapter that mainly deals with three issues: being productive, financial responsibility, and living in community.

In this chapter the authors stir us up to consider how are we to live in community in our homes with our adult children when they are staying home for a season and for the good reasons. Newheiser warns us that "we might be tempted to micromanage their day or fly off the handle..." I agree. And even through distance, even if our children are off in college, we may face this same temptation because we are only a "text away" from them.

The authors recognize that not all the children of parents reading this book are Christians, so they remind their readers that "through common grace even a non-Christian can learn how to work hard and live productively in a community." However, he also reminds us that we should never "lower our household standards to a level that would displease the Lord."

If we could summarize the suggestions the author gives us in the next part of the book we would have these main points:

1. Develop an open friendship with your children, so that they will be open to hearing our wise counsel when they ask for it (p.71). Maybe you can review your notes on chapter one as this was an important principle Newheiser laid clearly at the beginning of the book.

2. Parents must set expectations and make them known (p.72). And I particularly love that the author reminds us that "laying out these expectations is both wise and loving."

3. Expect them to be productive (p.72). Being lazy is a form of stealing, and not making the best use of our time is a sin. This sentence, in my opinion, summarizes the principle in a clear way: 

"Rather that seeing a schedule as enslaving or as thwarting their creativity, our kids need to embrace it as the good means God has given, so that they might know the joy of accomplishing much for him (Prov.21:25)."

4. Young adults living at home should do an adult share of the housework (p.74). We have seen -and heard- this many times: children demanding to be respected and treated as adults but at the same time don't want the full package of what it means being an adult. They want the privileges only but not the responsibilities.

"One twenty-one-year-old told us that he had learned that "nothing kills work ethic and discipline more effectively than the welfare state of parental indulgence."

5. Establish reasonable moral standards (p.75). The reason, the motivation for this should be that we want to honor the Lord in our home. (Remember Eli and the way he neglected honoring God in his household?)

"We want to help our young people understand the difference between our negotiable house rules and timeless, biblical standards."

6. Nothing is more important for living in community with others than trust (p.77).

7. Failure to meet expectations must result in consequences (p.78). I have found through many conversations with friends that trying to avoid the consequences we, parents, find ourselves tempted to overlook the lack of meeting of the expectations we have established beforehand. We are may times so much like Eli. We forget that God cannot be mocked, sooner or later the consequences of all our sins will come.

6. Follow through (p.80).
"Discipline is hard work and often unpleasant. "All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet those who have been trained by it afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness" /Heb.12:11). But we continue to discipline our children in the hope that God will work in their hearts to make them wise."

7. Get good, godly counsel from your pastor or trusted friend and cry out to God for the courage to do the best, most loving thing for your young adult (p.81).


I purposely left out the point in which the author says that, forcing or not an adult child living at home to go to church is a matter of personal conscience on the part of the parents. And I did so because I think that in this particular issue, the godly counsel of the pastor would always be necessary.

What about you? Thoughts?

May God give us grace to parent well each one of our children through all the different seasons of their lives.

God is faithful and good, and in Him we can fully trust,



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On Modesty: a Question for You, Sister, who are Tired of the Modesty Talk.

 27.2.14

Yes, it happens in Mexico too. The "modesty talk," and all the different opinions surrounding it. The arguments are the same, the same Bible verses about one's liberty are also brought up. It should not surprise us, we are made of the same material here, in Brasil, in the USA, and Chile.

So, I won't write another article to try to convince you that being immodest is a temptation for women, or that is a good, good thing to pursue modesty for the sake of God, your dad, your brothers in Christ, your future husband, your children, or your testimony (there are some who have done it wonderfully already).

I only have one question for you.

If you are a true believer and proclaim the love of Christ, why is it so hard for you to just say, 

"Because I love you, brothers and sisters in Christ, and because I have heard that the way I am dressing is a stumble block for many of you (I hadn't stop to consider how hard it was for you to fight against pornography! Please, forgive me for not helping you!), I will just change the way I dress. No big problem at all. I love you more than I love this skirt or this top."?

Please, dear Sister, try hard not to answer with one of the old arguments that you have already memorized. Answer this in the prayer closet (not over a coffee table with the group of friends whom you know will try to appease your conscience); be honest and give it a second thought. Pray about it, let the Scriptures speak to you and then answer it before God.






May God give us grace to love our neighbor as ourselves,




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Because We Never Stop Being Moms -Book Club- Chapter Four

 25.2.14

This is certainly a strong chapter, don't you agree? In this chapter, Saying Hello to Please God, the author challenges us to see if we are not acting like Eli, "this sad figure in Israel's history [who] is the quintessential example of a father who chose to please his sons rather than God and lost everything he cherished as a result."

We are like Eli when we hear that our children are not being faithful to the Covenant, when they are not walking in the Lord and we pretend we are dealing with the matter using words, an infinite number of words that sound hollow in our children's ears. We are like Eli when we refuse to do what we know God wants us to do, but instead we only keep up having conversations with our children -while fooling ourselves knowing that the reality is that they are not listening to us.

"Eli was fully aware of his sons' actions, and he knew that they were not only in the wrong but in danger of the Lord's judgment. He certainly nagged them and criticized them, but he did not restrain them and ultimately both he and his sons paid the price."

How many times we, parents in the church, have not done everything in our hands to restrain our children from doing evil? May the Lord have mercy on us!

Moms, if you are reading this and have younger children, don't fall into this trap. The world is telling you that the best thing you can do to make your little one come to her senses is not the rod, but a good conversation. Beware of this philosophy; if you start following this pattern of not doing the hard, biblical thing, of not doing something beyond a good talk with your daughter to restrain her from sin, you won't be able to find a way out of this terrifying maze when she grows up. Remember, the sin of not restraining our children often starts when they are young.

And as always, there is a heart issue behind our actions -or behind our lack of obedience-. In the text we read that Eli honored his sons more than he honored God.

"Eli's sin was that he treated his sons as more weighty or important than the Lord. He was so concerned with maintaining the peace that he didn't have the courage to do what the Lord required him to do."

The authors give us some good examples on page sixty-one in which we can clearly see when parents are nagging their children and not seeing changes: the sluggard child, the one who parties every Friday, the girl sleeping at her boyfriend's house, the one who abuses their parents' provision, the child who gets drunk over and over again and brags about it on Facebook, the one who is disrespectful, the one who is unloving, the one who shouts and wants things done her way. But we can also think of lesser examples that if are not dealt with, will only lead to our children's destruction. Oh, that the Lord will give us a humble heart that recognizes and admits these struggles. That He will give us grace and courage to deal with the most difficult issues and stop pretending that things are really not that bad.

The key in how to act once our children are adult but are living a sinful life under our roof (or somewhere else with our credit card) is found on page sixty-one:

"While parents cannot be held responsible for the sins of their independent adult children, they are responsible for what goes under their roof. When dad and mom, like Eli, become enablers of a sinful lifestyle, they inadvertently dishonor the Lord and share the sin and guilt of their kids, even though that's the farthest thing from their minds." (emphasis mine)

We know that in this life there is no neutrality. We are either building or destroying. We are either enabling sin in our children's lives or we are restraining it. 

Sisters, we have a God full of grace who not only gives us grace to endure the hard providences in our lives, but One who also gives us grace to obey Him in the most difficult things. His Grace is sufficient.  God can give us the grace to open our eyes and see what we have been trying not to see all along because "we feel entrapped by our love and hope for them." The questions are real, "What would happen to them if we told them to choose between right and wrong? What if they chose wrong?" But there is no way around, the only way to keep our hope for our children anchored in Christ is to obey our Lord.

And, oh what a great and unshakable hope we can have in Christ! In our Savior! To know that He hears our prayers, to know that His promises are truth, to know that His desire is to save families! What a blessed hope!

On page sixty-four we read some practical things that the Lord might call us to do in order to restrain the sin in our children's lives, but I like the way the author summarizes it:

"Parents don't always have to actively chastise their irresponsible children. Often the best thing for us to do is nothing. Sometimes love looks like taking a step back and allowing them to experience the fruit of their choices (Galatians 6:7)... If we continually step in to "protect" our children from the consequences of their wrong choices, we may be guilty of honoring our children above the Lord by standing between them and the chastisement the Lord is bringing upon them... Remember that the Prodigal son only came to his senses when his circumstances were so bad that he longed to eat pig food."

And I am reminded again of this powerful article in which Abraham Piper and his father John write about the time in which Abraham was excommunicated from his church. It is certainly a powerful testimony of a father who honored God more than his own son and the way God answered his prayers. It is a story that will build up your faith and renew your hope. It is a story like the ones that God loves to write.




This is something that I understand should be dealt with as a couple. I encourage you to talk to your husband about your concerns, read this chapter with him and answer the questions on p.68 together, seek the counsel of wise men in your church, and mostly don't lose hope. 


  Trusting in God with you,


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Because We Never Stop Being Moms -Book Club- Chapter Three

 18.2.14

Chapter Three, You Say Good-Bye But He Says Hello, brings to our attention the generation of twixters, those in our age who are trapped between adolescence and adulthood.* Jim Newheiser quotes an article from Desiring God, and writes that this "Peter-Pan" phase is "characterized by identity exploration, instability, focus on self, feeling in limbo, and a sense of limitless possibilities. These characteristics accompanied by transience, confusion, anxiety, obsession with self, melodrama, conflict, and disappointment." Sadly, this phenomenon is not only happening outside the church; it happens among us too. And it happens because parents allow it to.

This is a good place to stop and consider, especially if we still have teenagers or young adults at home (or college), these questions that I formulated after reading this chapter:

1. Am I always trying to come in between the actions of my children, their choices, and the consequences of these?

2. If I see that my son or daughter is instable, selfish, always confused, filled with anxiety, notable obsessed with self, egocentric, non-reasonable, do I always find myself excusing his/her behavior in one or another way? Do I always find myself giving explanations to cover up her sinful behavior?

3. Does my son or daughter who is still depending from us -the author mentions good reasons for this- have a plan that include a time table and good reasons for this? Do I find myself promoting this economical dependence in order to have always the "right to say so-and-so"?

4. How am I doing to practically teach my daughter or son the dangers of self-gratification?

5. If you are a mom of younger ones (teenagers), do you find yourself constantly contacting your child's teachers to ask for extensions, for "one more opportunity," or to try to explain the teacher that "she is a great student" even though the facts are shouting the contrary?

6. What practical steps are you taking to teach your son that we can't enjoy the fruits of prosperity without having to sacrifice and work hard?

"This self-centered narcissism is at the heart of what drives this lost generation."

7. When our children complain about hard work, do we teach them what the Bible says about perseverance or are we are prompt to encourage them to look for another job, something more fun and that would bring them pleasure, and help them to their "self-realization"?

"A Christian perspective on labor...must include a profound joy that originates in understanding that our work is for the Lord, who labored and languished on the cross for us. We work out of deep gratitude, whether our job is boring, strenuous, or dull."

8. Am I encouraging my children to be financial and emotional independent to build their own families or to pursue their own selfish pleasures?

"Dr. Al Mohler, president of Southern Seminary, warns that 'the delay of marriage will exact an undeniable social toll in terms of delayed parenthood, even smaller families, and even more self-centered parents."

9. Am I ready to let my children grow? If not, this is the time to seek the Lord and pray earnestly that He will give us the confidence that He has a plan for our children. Trying to hold them back (emotionally or financially) will not only affect us and our children, but also the church.

"Even though it doesn't feel like it, and even though our hearts want to help and continue to parent our adult children, sometimes the most loving thing you can do is to say good-bye."

The section at the end of the chapter "Let's Talk More about It" has very good questions also. I encourage you to go through them.

Remember that I am just like you, learning how to be a good mom in this new stage of life, and so far, I can say that there is one thing I am absolutely sure is essential in parenting our adult children: prayer.

And, Sisters, it cannot get more practical than this. Prayer is where we start and where we end. "Always prayer before action," as one of my dear friends reminded me lately.





Thank you for all your comments, they are rich, thoughtful, and are definitely making the reading of this book a more profitable endeavor. Thank you so much.

Next week: Chapter Four: Saying Hello to Pleasing God
Optional "Homework": Read the articles and listen to the sermons under More Resources (there are six links, maybe one per day?).



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* Twixters as defined by Wikipedia

More Resources:

A Church-Based Hope for "Adultolescents."

Sermon: Get a Holy Ambition and Skip Adultolsecence.

An excellent article by Douglas Wilson: A Childish Life

"We have entered the era where every self manufactures his or her own ethical system and hangs it from his or her very own hook in the sky. One might say the closets of our generation have a whole lot of “self space.”" D. Wilson


Sermon by Al Mohler: The Generation that Won't Grow Up.

"Adulthood is meant for adult responsibilities, and for the vast majority of young people that will mean marriage and parenthood." Al Mohler here: The Delay of Marriage and the Decline of Church Atendance.

"How do you live as a mature Christian in a culture that celebrates adolescence? How do you maintain the gravity of the Gospel in an era when the most immature person in any given room is likely to be the most celebrated?" Al Mohler (Oh, Grow up!)


Another excellent article by Matt Walsh: Adolescence: A Modern Plague, but there is a Cure.

"So, yes, adolescence can last until 25. It can last until 55. It can follow you right into your casket. We created it, and we can abolish it. And we can do that simply by expecting more out of people."

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When your Adult Child is not Walking with the Lord

 14.2.14


The Return of the Prodigal Son, Rembrandt
Such an encouraging post from John Piper and his son Abraham. Please, read here.


"The only ultimate reason to pray for them, welcome them, plead with them, eat with them, or take an interest in their interests is so that their eyes will be opened to Jesus Christ.
And not only is He the only point, but He’s the only hope. When they see the wonder of Jesus, satisfaction will be redefined. He Himself will replace the money, or the praise of man, or the high, or the sex that they are staking their eternities on right now. Only His grace can draw them from their perilous pursuits and bind them safely to Him—captive, but satisfied.

God will do this for many. Be faithful and don’t give up."


May God renew your hope today as you continue to persevere in prayer, 


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Because We Never Stop Being Moms- Book Club- Chapter Two

 12.2.14

This week's chapter is one that kind of brings us back to the early years. Back to when we were just starting to read books about parenting; in chapter two, Newheiser gives us some means God may use to help us achieve two main goals that we must have in mind as we raise our children; principles which are the core foundation that our children will, God willing,  take with them before they walk out of our home's door.

But before I continue, I would like to take a minute to encourage those moms who are reading along, and know that they have failed to instill these truths in their children's heart. Maybe you came to an understanding of what true parenting means too late in life, or maybe you were just too busy doing other things that you left aside the essence of a true education in the Lord. It is today the time to repent, to find forgiveness before God, and move on. Move on, to seek restoration with your children and to pray fervently for them. God is full of grace and Grace meets us when and where we need it most. It is never too late, as the authors of this book say, to "Show them Jesus."


And now a word for moms with younger children, read this and make it your priority to install, by the grace of God, these truths in your child's heart.

Book Talk

Chapter Two: Before You Walk Out That Door...

Newheiser, starts this chapter clearly stating that respect must always be present in our relationship with our children. It is one of the key factors he says, that enables us to shape their hearts as they mature. When I respect my children's point of view, when I learn how to listen patiently (as we read in Ch.1), I can build a relationship in which my advice can be taken. How important it is to take note of these words to avoid falling in the trap of thinking that we know best and we never fail to have the perfect advice:

"They [their children] trusted our counsel because we respected them and only spoke absolutes when we could prove our point clearly from the Bible." (emphasis mine)

Now, the author points out two main goals we must have as we raise our children into maturity (same goals that Paul had for those he was discipling): 1) that they will love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith (1Tim.1:5 NASB), 2) and they will come to know and to believe the love that God has for us (1 John 4:16). To reach these goals, Newheiser suggests these means:

1. Teach your children the love of God in Jesus Christ. This is, Newheiser asserts,  our primary calling: to show our children Jesus.  And how is it that we are going to show them Jesus now that they are adults? The only way to do this is to live in such a way that we may invite them to see our manner of life and imitate us.

2. Teach your children to fear God and live for His glory.  True, "we cannot make our children wise." But we can continually pray for them; "pray that the Holy Spirit will use our meager, faltering attempts as means to speak to our children's hearts." 

3. Show your children how to put others ahead of themselves. How much we need this in the body of Christ!  Men and women who are willing to live putting others first -in all possible practical way- is, without a doubt, a need in the church and in our communities. And there is no other way to teach them how to live like this without first pointing them to Jesus and setting an example ourselves.

4. Help your children how to communicate with wisdom and humility. This is teaching them "the art of avoiding unnecessary offenses though quarreling, and careless or angry speech." It means also, teaching them how to listen actively and carefully to build each other up, to solve conflicts biblically, and to confront sin with all gentleness.

5. Teach your children God's design for sex and marriage. This is not trivial, in this age there are many false teachers -especially among our young adults- spreading the lies of egalitarianism.What a gift to teach them from the Bible the different roles God gave men and women.

6. Teach your children to choose their friends carefully. This point reminded me of something Douglas Wilson posted this week: As you choose your friends, remember this -- you are choosing what you will be praised for. Amen to that.

7. Let your children practice making the choices of adulthood. By doing this we encourage them into maturity and dependence on God. We want them to take firm steps, not to be crippled.

8. Teach your children the true value of hard work and money. To work hard to earn a living, but not to live to make money is, in my opinion, a perfect way to explain this.

The author finishes this chapter by encouraging us to keep praying and seeking God's wisdom to be able to discern and to have our hearts enlightened "to correctly say either 'good-bye' or 'please stay.'"


As I finished reading this chapter, I kept thinking that the only way to truly be at peace about our children leaving our home is to trust their are the Lord's and that He will finish His work in their lives. Trials will come, difficult circumstances will arise, but to know that they have been raised in a covenant home must help strengthen our confidence. When we have raised our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord; when we trust wholeheartedly that our Lord wants to save them and sanctify them, then we can continue to pray and persevere in building a relationship with them in hope. It is Grace, the Grace of God, that draws our children to Him, it is His loving-kindness that leads them to repentance, and His Mercy that welcomes them. Now they are adults, maybe they are not living at home anymore, but we can approach them as brothers and sisters in Christ understanding that we belong one to another because of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Now, Friends, I would love to hear your thoughts on this chapter, join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

Have a blessed day, sisters!


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Because We Never Stop Being Moms -Book Club- Introduction and Chapter One

 4.2.14

Thanks for coming!  I am very excited to start this online book club with you; and even though nothing substitutes a face to face discussion, I am confident that this will be a blessing to all of us. Isn't technology a blessing?

Book Talk

Introduction

Jim Newheiser in the introduction of the book tells us that one of the reasons why he decided to write this book was because he couldn't find books to help him and his wife learn how to deal with the challenges they were encountering in the new season in their lives: "challenges that confronted both [them] as parents and [their] sons as adult children". 

Newheiser asks, on page twelve, some questions that well-intentioned parents have asked when the time to let go of their adult children arrives; and this one, in my opinion, is the hardest one to answer, "What should parents do if their children make choices with which they disagree?" As we'll continue to read on, we'll find many of our questions answered.

I appreciate on page thirteen that the author makes it clear that this book is "based on the assumption that Scripture is sufficient, not only to tell us how to gain salvation, but also to help us establish wise, godly relationships with our own adult kids." Yes, the Scriptures are the key and the door; the map and the road that will help us be better parents, better spouses. Sometimes, however,  we need the advice from a friend, a counselor, or a book to help us see with more clarity and to understand better the things that are not evident to us right in the midst of the circumstances we are going through. So let's continue considering this book with a grateful heart for books like this one, and friends like *you,* who recognize that it is only when we rely on God that we can bless our children no matter what age they are.

Chapter One: Is It That Time Already?

So true! All our stories are complex because we are complex people. The relationships among us "are often a tangled web, woven over decades. For this reason, none of [our] stories is black-and- white, and each requires wisdom from the Lord."  This made me think that we will need, as we read on, to be able to distinguish principles from methods.* The principles apply to every case, the methods may vary. As we read on, let's pray that God will help us understand which are the principles and discern which methods are the best for us to approach in our relationship with each one of our children.

The fact that the brevity of the season of parenting our children is God's design, is a comfort to every  momma who thinks she will never be ready to let them go. If it is God's design that children must leave their parents, and it is, it is then a very good thing: good for them and good for us.

God's design is perfect and perfect are all His ways. If we believe this, it will be easier for us to start preparing our hearts for the day our children leave. God's design is perfect and it will do us good to trust Him on this.  I love the author's input on this matter, because really, we all have heard so much about the "empty nest," that without even giving much thought to it, we are dreadfully expecting its coming (like we were once having nightmares about the "terrible-two-years" or "the-impossible-teen-age-years"), and making room for it in our hearts. Yes, we don't necessarily like change, "particularly when the change means that our identity and relationships must be reshaped," but doesn't this make you think on how important it is for us, in the first place -and pass this to younger moms-, to strive daily to have our identity well grounded in Christ? Who we are in Christ should be the anchor of our lives in any kind of waters.  

"We've come to realize that the term  empty nest is misleading. When the kids leave, the nest is not empty because you are both still there. Furthermore, as your marriage relationship grows and becomes even stronger, your home can become a very special, warm place to which your adult children will want to return for special family events and holidays. And it can be a place where they can seek refuge in times of trouble. Empty nest? Hardly."
Besides the challenge of the idea of the "empty-nest", do you agree with me, that maybe one of the hardest things to do in this new season of our lives is to understand the changing of our attitude toward our children? To remember that "we are not to fight to maintain control, but to strive to change our relationship from in-control parents to respected friends" is not easy. It takes practice and intentionality as well as time and many conversations.

Openness, mutual respect, and love (p.21-22) are key elements, the author says, that should be present in our relationship with each one of our children.  One of the most important ways to show that we are pursuing these three is by being good listeners. I totally agree with that one answer a parent gave to the author,  "The greatest challenge has been not giving my opinion about things. I often have the urge to offer advice in order to help my children keep from making mistakes or poor choices." What about you? Is this a hard thing for you too?

Do you remember how we used to repeat over and over -and over- again the same instruction to our little ones? I am sure we all, at a certain point, said the ugly phrase in an ugly tone, "How many times do I have to repeat to you not to do that!" Well, maybe now it is the time to repeat over and over -and over again,  to ourselves how much we need to listen with love, patience, and attentively to each one of our children. Moms, let's be intentional: "No Interruptions Allowed Here" might be a good sign in the kitchen.

"If we can patiently learn to listen rather than always demanding to be heard, as James 1:19 teaches, our child will know that we respect his opinion and his right to differ with our views."


Where to look now that our children are becoming independent?  Now as always, we must look to Jesus. Jesus was, and the author reminds us through different examples, the perfect son to Mary and Joseph. Jesus was an independent adult who never failed to honor his parents. But wait, let's linger a little bit more in the story plot. What about Mary? She never tried to pull him back, to restrain him, or to manipulate him. Oh, she was indeed full of grace! That God may fill our lives with such grace and wisdom!

"It is a sad reality that some parents sinfully abuse their position of authority."

This abuse not only happens when mom and dad are bigger than their child and misuse the rod. We don't have a rod anymore, but we have words, and they sting and hurt even more. All the cases we read about on page twenty-six are not that extreme, they do happen. Can we think of a case in which I have tried to use my authority to push my adult child into a certain decision? Am I falsely accusing him for not being submissive and for not honoring me when his only fault is that he has a different opinion than mine?

"[O]ur young adults are responsible before God to make their own choices. They are responsible to choose their vocation, marriage, partner, and place of residence."

Because we all are sinners, "every human relationship requires grace to survive." How true this is! And how true that "we are tempted to think that our own way is the only way. We're really convinced that we really do know best." We should know best, of course! But when we are in the midst of a conflict, hearing the clashing of opinions, it is pretty hard to take a deep breath and say, "I will think more about what you are saying. I will give it a thought, pray about it, and we can talk more about it later."(Note: Don't just say these words to appease the moment, actually go and give a thought to what she thinks, pray about it, and pursue a follow-up conversation)

And there is no better way to end this chapter, and to enter this new stage in which there are so many practical applications, than with "the power of forgiveness and grace we have been given in the gospel."



Being Intentional:

The three questions at the end of the chapter are meant to make us think, to draw us to the Word, to prayer... and most likely to converse with our own husbands and, in some cases, we will be drawn towards our own children to ask them forgiveness.

A note on question number three: This question talks about our marriages and asks us what kind of concrete actions we should take to make our marriages "sing again." Please, Friends, let's resist the temptation to think that we have nothing to do to make our marriage better (that all the problems in our marriage are our "husband's fault". We need to be intentional about putting in practice all that we are learning, all that we are called to do.)

Now it's your turn. What challenges did you find in these pages? Any particular quote that struck you hard, or one that gave you hope? Or, perhaps you have been walking through this road longer than the rest of us, if so, do you have a piece of advice, a word of encouragement for us? Share your thoughts here, in the comments.

Again, thanks for joining me in this book club.



Next Wednesday: Chapter Two: Before You Walk Out That Door...

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*I learned about the importance of differentiating principles from methods from Pastor Douglas and Nancy Wilson's talks and books (you can read a good article about this here).


***Feel free to grab and share the image with the bible verse/ quote. 

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From Diapers to Adulthood -Why Every Struggle Counts-

 31.1.14

God has brought me close to three beautiful mommas of young children, three wonderful friends with whom I enjoy sharing prayers, laughs, meals, coffee, deserts that involve chocolate and berries, and messes that only 3-10 yo children can make.  Yesterday we had a conversation about the difference between the battles and struggles mommas of young children have to deal, with those that mommas of adult children face.

And you know what, momma of little ones? That conversation made think of you. Don't feel bad when older women come to you, give you that particular look, a pat on the back, and say somehow sarcastically, "Oh, don't fret over potty training, or school choices, those are nothing compared to what you will be dealing with in a few years." or "Seriously? That tantrum will be nothing in a few years from now. Just wait, one day you will be wishing it all were about little things like this one..."

The seemingly small battles are not small battles at all. The problem is that sometimes we are not used to see the big picture, the whole story; we are so tangled up in our daily duties and to-do lists, that we forget what we are actually doing with those little ones we have at our table every morning spilling milk on the floor. Keep this in mind, every decision we face, every "no," every "yes," every step we take (or not take) is important because day after day, over and over, we are building character in our children's lives. The over-looked tantrums of a two year old boy, will eventually turn into the slamming of a door of a teenager, and then into a husband who yells at his wife. With every decision, with every moment of discipline, with every hug, with every book we read aloud, and with every prayer we are building an adult's character.

And if you are the mom of adult children, please, don't despise the struggles of younger mommas. Encourage them instead to persevere, to keep pressing on. Remember that you were once changing diapers and asked in every single online forum help on how to choose the best how-to-read curriculum; remember that you didn't know how to teach your little one how to be polite and look in the eye of the elderly woman at church; remember that every time you asked your child to turn off his game-boy when having company (iPods were not in the market yet) was a big thing.

Each struggle, each decision that my husband and I have made in the last 20 years has brought us to where we are now with our young adult children. There were no short-cuts; it has been a day after day race.

So be encouraged; what you do today is important, is your vocation, is what God has appointed for you to do in this season. You are not just doing ordinary things. You are building lives. Read that again: You are building lives. Your words and example, your time and prayers, your hugs and the correction you firmly give in love, all are needed in the process. Don't be weary of doing what is good. God has promised that in due season you will reap, if you don't give up.







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Becky
If I am happy it is because of God! God, in His sovereign grace, has called me out of darkness into His Admirable light. He has opened my eyes and has shown me the way to Eternal Life. He has set my feet on a journey, and now I am walking Daily on My Way to Heaven. I did not find Jesus, He found me. I did not seek Him, yet He called me. I did not love Him, yet He loved me. I deserved death and He gave me Life. This is the place where I keep a journal of my life under His sun and by His grace!
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Borrowed Words

"It becomes us to spend this life only as a journey toward heaven... to which we should subordinate all other concerns of life. Why should we labor for or set our hearts on anything else, but that which is our proper end and true happiness?"

Jonathan Edwards

"I am still pondering God's greatness in His creation. I have so many questions that I would like to ask the Lord about the universe, creation, the fall of man... But when I'm in heaven, I wonder if I will even remember them. At that time, being in the presence of God will be enough. I'm thankful that I can look forward to that day."

-Persis

“Heaven is not here, it’s There. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom, where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for.”

- Elisabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart



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