December 24, 2013

Little Children. Big God.

I used to be torn on the issue of real vs make believe. My four year old is just entering the age of asking really good (read: really HARD) questions and learning to make his faith his own. Do I teach him that Santa and Batman are make believe? Or am I just ruining the innocence of child's play? Am I making him grow up too fast?  Several months ago, I woke up to his cries from the other room.  Danny had had a nightmare.  As I crawled into his bed to snuggle with him, the conclusion that I came to at 6am that morning is that, in order to equip him to fight spiritual warfare from a very young age, he must understand what a truth is and what a lie is, and he must understand the difference between real super powers and pretend ones. 

For the first time, not only had he had a nightmare, nut he had the ability to recognize that that's what it was. As I crawled into his bed, I asked, ”Did you have a bad dream?” ”Yes,” he whimpered. When I asked him to tell me about it, that was too much. When I asked him specific yes and no questions, he confirmed that it was scary, that he was alone, and that he was hurt. And then the Holy Spirit took over and out of my mouth came the question: ”Do you think that dream was of Jesus or do you think that dream was of the enemy?” With zero hesitation, despite his half-awake state of mind, he said, ”The enemy.”

Here's the thing: I have never before taught him who our real enemy is. What dawned on me in that moment is that (especially to little boys) the idea of good guys and bad guys is totally innate. I used to think about (and fear the day) I'd have to explain that we have a real formidable enemy, and the thought of explaining that there is a really real, really bad guy out there did not sound appealing to me. I was not excited about instilling more fear in him. But in reality, I never had to explain that fact at all. He has known it with every fiber of his being. This is why Superman is such an easy hero to love. All I have to explain is which enemies are real and which are pretend. And I have to give him real weapons to fight with. Not guns or swords, but the real Sword of Truth (the very Word of God) and the Shield of Faith. [Ephesians 6:10-18]

I prayed with him and asked that he be filled with peace and courage and love. Then I started to teach him spiritual warfare:

“Did you know that you can tell the enemy to go away? You have the real power of Jesus inside of you and when you tell the enemy to go away, he has to obey you. He HAS to leave! Come on, let's tell him together.”

But no dice. I'd skipped the most important part. He wasn't ready to fight the enemy until he had gone to the feet of Jesus Himself. “Buddy, I can't make the enemy go away for you. He's in YOUR heart and YOU have to make him leave.” I may be able to kick him out temporarily, as the spiritual authority in my son’s life, but that provides no lasting victory, and does not equip him to fight his own battles.

So, as Ruach gently led me down the path of teaching this to my son for the first time, I tried again. My sweet boy repeated after me, willingly, as though he was verbally crawling into his heavenly Papa's lap:  “God come be in my heart. Give me peace so I won't be afraid anymore.” And THEN he could speak without fear or hesitation, from my physical arms and Abba's heavenly arms, “Enemy, go away. I command you to leave in Jesus name.”

I've never been so proud of him in the dark morning hours! The peace that filled him in the next moment was almost tangible. “Good job, little warrior! Good job!” I thought. With the knowledge of real Truth, he used real weapons to fight a real battle, and with the real supernatural strength of Yahweh, he won.

I know without a doubt that my conversation with Danny that morning was directly inspired by the conversations my sweet friend, Sarah, has had with her kids, and which she has chronicled in her new book Little Children. Big God. 

You don't want to miss this one, folks.  If you have kids.  Or if you have grandkids.  Or if you breathe air and live on planet earth, this book is for you.  So hurry up and go get it!  She will bless your life.

December 23, 2013

Frost

I love a good frost.  When temps drop into single digits and snow just sprays lightly all day long and clings to every surface.  The whole world looks magical afterward.  Last week when this happened, I couldn't resist grabbing my camera and heading outside to take some photos.  Then I promptly came back in to defrost my fingers.  Here's what I got. Not quite in focus... my lens is wobbly and in need of repair.  But still a good reminder of the breathtaking splendor that happened outside our house.  







December 16, 2013

When Disappointment Happens

Mary Kay Ash (the woman) said that if you can control your emotions, you can control your paycheck.  I'd say, with regards to entrepreneurs and business, that's largely true.  I've received a LOT of training on emotional management over the years, and it has really served me.  What has surprised me is that it serves me, not only in my business, but also in my personal life.  How often do we find our whole day derailed because something upset us emotionally?  If your answer is, "not often," then either you are not a woman, or you already know what I'm about to share and you can stop reading.

I was recently at a business retreat in which the speaker asked the following question:  What do you do to keep yourself on track emotionally?

I've learned to have a number of habits in place in order to be proactive about my emotional and spiritual state of mind.  It's important to spend time in Scripture, to surrounding myself with uplifting and encouraging people, to have a plan and work the plan rather than leaving my day to chance.  It's been said that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  I've learned to spend time adding to a gratitude journal every day and to memorize scripture so that, in difficult moments, the Spirit can bring to mind the Truth I've committed to memory and encourage me.

But I've also learned that it's important to have a fall-back plan as well.  The best planning still can't prevent life - or other negative people, or tragedy, or disappointment, or messy kids, or accidents, or whatever else derails me in a day - from happening.  So I have a little thing I do when disappointment hits, in order to keep it from ruining the rest of my day.  Or week. Or month.  Whatever.

It goes like this:

First I stop and I have a fall-apart-moment.  I give time to the feeling.  I allow myself to get upset and to be mad or sad about whatever it is.  Sometimes I cry in the shower.  Sometimes I turn on loud music and sing.  Sometimes I go find chocolate in my kitchen.  Or coffee. But whatever it is... I just give myself time to fall apart...  for a moment.  Or maybe 20 minutes.  Not an hour.  Not an afternoon.  Not a week.  A moment.  
Next, I pray.  'Cuz here's what I know. Yahweh DOES have a plan for the day.  Even a plan to use whatever went wrong.  He is not surprised by whatever happened and in no way does it remove any part of His omniscience.  I may have no idea what He's doing with the day, but I know that he IS doing something.  Sometimes I pray for perspective.  (Be careful with that.  Last time I did that, Yahweh put a homeless man riding a bike, with all of his packs and bags and earthly possessions tied to said bike, with every piece of clothing he owned on his body, pedaling his way across the street in front of me, in ... wait for it ... 8 degree weather, while I sat in my cozy car mad about being inconvenienced that afternoon.  Yeah. Thanks for that, God.) Sometimes I say thanks out of discipline and I will myself to put the situation in His hands.  But bottom line: I talk to Him about it.

After that, I pick up the phone. In Mary Kay, we have a little phrase we use often.  Call up.  It means, we call our mentor, not our peers.  If I'm frustrated about business, I do not call my girlfriend who is at the same level of business that I am.  I call my business coach and ask her expert advice.  If I'm frustrated about marriage, I do not call my whiny girlfriend who is miserable in her marriage. I call my marriage counselor, or my elder friend who's been married 35 years. Or I call my friend whose marriage is great. If I'm frustrated about money, I'm not going to call my broke neighbor. I'm going to call my financial advisor.  Make sense?  Call up.  Get some good advice.  Go into solution mode, not whiny mode.

And last:  I do something productive or proactive. I take a look at my plan for the day and pick one or two things I can do in the next 20 minutes which will move me forward. Sometimes it takes time for the person I've called to call me back, so instead of wallowing or just waiting, instead, I choose to work. Often, this little step pulls me halfway out of the hole I'm in before my mentor can even call me back.

So there you go.  Have a fall apart moment. Pray. Call up. And then do something proactive with the next 20 minutes.  The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy the life-giving kingdom-building work we are putting our hands to, so next time he tries to derail you, I encourage you to try this.  I'm praying that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19
 

December 10, 2013