Praying For What Can Be

My mom is moving from Oregon to Austin. Tomorrow.  My Finnish-immigrant-Oregonian mother will be a Texan. She is 88 years old.  Sweet and feisty.  She struggles with significant dementia and she will live with us for awhile. Without a doubt my life will change, but I am believing for a very special season of life, one in which blessings flow both ways. While she is very needy, she still has much to give. My emotions are a mixture of joy and apprehension. I have felt for sometime that it would be best to move my mom near to my family. Yet, I never actually thought it would happen. She detests hot weather.  She fears flying. My Northwest siblings have wanted her to remain close to them. She and my special-needs brother have been inseparable. She considers Oregon to be her home. Recently my prayers have changed however. Rather than seeking strength and patience to keep traveling there each month to help, I began to ask God, if it were His will, to actually grow a desire in my mom’s heart to move to Austin. I also began to pray that my special-needs brother would want to separate from her. For many reasons it no longer worked for the two of them to live together. Suddenly, my mom began to call me with a decidedly different message. Each day she would explain how, on her walks, God would tell her that she had to move to Austin. And my brother suddenly expressed a readiness to live apart from her. Two seemingly impossible heart changes had taken place. Why does it...

Christ’s Rest

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28 Amelia was an ideal student. Teachers at the Christian school she attended loved her enthusiastic approach to learning. Her peers respected her insights. Her parents were proud of her. She was a standard bearer – someone who certainly would not stray from her beliefs or standards. But, as a college student, Amelia did stray. At first it was out of curiosity. However, she enjoyed what she experienced on the “dark side.” She found the pursuits to be fun and she delighted in feeling free without restraint. Surprisingly she also felt relief. Gone was the need to prove her worth and value in her Christian community. Gone was the pressure to strive for God. Away from the church, she found acceptance without having to work for it and she found herself actually relaxing. She was not about to go back under the stress she had previously felt trying to live up to what she believed was expected of her. I hear many “Amelia” stories today. While her name is changed, her story is real and represents many young men and women who leave Christian homes for college and wind up walking away from their faith and values. However, the happiness she first experienced, as well as the feelings of freedom and relief, were short-lived. Instead she found herself in a nightmarish prison, one filled with fear, despair, insecurity, and shame. Her new friends had no solutions to the discouragement that invaded her heart. Deep feelings of unworthiness prevented her from seeking restoration...

Mini Blog #7: Teaching Kids to Comply with Expectations: Your Approach Makes All the Difference.

The past few blogs have centered on annoying habits such as interrupting, arguing, screaming, whining and complaining. How much of your daily parental efforts wind up being thwarted by these disruptive behaviors? Just think how differently your home would feel if your children instead learned to wait their turn, to thoughtfully express their emotions and to respectfully state their needs and wants! Does that sound too good to be possible? It shouldn’t be. Kids can and should learn these skills but your approach will make all the difference in (1) what actually transpires as well as (2) whether their improvements in behavior flow from a heart change or merely in order to get what they want, to avoid punishment or to gain your approval. We can threaten and bribe. We can yell and scream. We can try to scare them into compliance. But we might lose their hearts in the process and that’s a steep price to pay. In Ephesians 6:4 we are told to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord Jesus. What does that practically look like?  This is what I imagine: Gentle but not weak Consistent but not legalistic Gracious but holding to standards Patient but not excusing Corrective but not criticizing Self-controlled but not controlling Which of these speaks to you today? Recently for me it’s been the concept of gentleness. To be gentle, yet not weak. The opposite of gentle is to be harsh. Irritable. Severe. When I am running late or get inconvenienced, when I am feeling discouraged or disappointed, gentleness does not come easy. These are vulnerable times for me...