Wednesday, August 30, 2006

35 never felt so fast!


This is Mike, my son. We kid a lot, and he lets me use him in many illustrations (see previous blog posts), because he tells people our stories as well.

So, my Mike story for the day :) I picked him up from the movies last night - 9:30ish - and let him drive home to get some night driving experience. First let me say, that whoever thought letting 16 year old boys drive was a good idea was probably well advanced in years and didn't remember their own child being 16. This has been an interesting experience for me as a parent, one I have yet to grow used to.

We took all surface streets as opposed to the expressways, thinking that a safer option. Besides, I knew he couldn't go faster than 35 - surely my heart could take that! Thirty-five mph never felt so fast - it's dark, I'm tired, there's more traffic than I have ever seen!

But in all honesty, Mike did great his first stint at night. Bless his heart!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Holy Spirit Parenting

My eyes opened and I was wide awake instantly. My heart raced. The room was dark and quiet. What woke me, I wondered? In a moment I heard the back door close as if someone was trying to close it gently, but the frame squeaked as it had swelled with the humidity of the night.

Then I remembered – a basement full of teenage boys. Something must be rotten in the state of Denmark!

I walked quietly to the window of our bedroom overlooking the driveway, where I captured a perfect view of a “crime” playing out below. The boys were concocting a homemade bomb!

“No, no and no,” I said firmly enough to stop them without yelling and thereby scaring them into throwing the contents on the ground. My nephew, the instigator, looked up and with the fear of God overshadowing him, whispered, “Aunt Amy,” as if the good Lord Himself had spoken to him. If my adrenaline hadn’t been full throttle by this point, I would have laughed.

My husband and I had prayed before going to bed that night to keep the boys safe while they had fun at my son’s 16th birthday party. I didn’t know exactly what to pray for – who knew they would be trying to set off homemade bombs at 4 am? But, the Holy Spirit knew exactly what to do.

…God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer our of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
Romans 8:26-28, The Message

The good that came out of the situation? I had the opportunity to “hold it together” (not overreact as I am often prone to do), and Mike had the opportunity to see the importance of pausing to think about consequences. Good growth lessons for both of us – and we are the better for it.

Will my teenage son make any more bone-headed choices? Probably. We expect them; it’s part of growing up. But I’m learning that while I cannot always be there to make the decision for him, I can trust the Holy Spirit to alert me when we need to step in – even in the middle of the night.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Book Review - The Barbarian Way

Think a moment about the cross…what happened the months, weeks and days leading to the moment when Jesus hung by His hands, taking His last breath? What do you think carried Him to that moment?

Love, Compassion, Conviction, Sacrifice – Radical living because of the Hope set before Him!

But is this what our church looks like today – untamed faith that settles for nothing less than capturing the heart of the Lord and Savior? Unfortunately, we, the church, have become downright civilized, domesticated, religious and ordered. We have fallen from our First Love.

These are not the days to bemoan the powerlessness pervasive in our pews! No, it’s time to rise and acknowledge the awesome inheritance we have, the powerful position we have in Christ and the Kingdom of which we are citizens!

Erwin Raphael McManus, in his latest book, The Barbarian Way, does a fabulous job of pointing God’s people back to the path of radical discipleship that Jesus’ first-called exhibited. He challenges all followers to leave the civilized life of safe Christianity and to take up the cross with Jesus the barbarian way – choosing passion over lukewarm religious practices.

The Barbarian Way may offend some Christians who think they have all the answers, or are satisfied with their "fire insurance." This book is not for them. Instead, this book is for the adventurer at heart, who fell madly in love with Jesus, picked up their cross without hesitation to follow Him, but somehow got “tamed” along the way. If you’re longing for your First Love and the life of adventure, McManus’ The Barbarian Way is sure to spark your faith.


Buy this book for less from a Christian-owned store - urfree2fly.com

Monday, August 21, 2006

Call My Name

When he calls me Mom, my attention snaps to whatever he is saying.

When she calls me Mimi, my heart melts into puddles of love.

The more I study the Bible, the more I am aware of the significance of names. People intentionally chose names for their children based on their circumstances or based on the kind of person they wanted their child to become. God gave people new names after encounters with Him. Our name resonates in our bodies every time we hear someone say it – whether in love or anger.

My own name means “beloved.” I never thought much about the meaning until the times in my 20s when I didn’t feel much loved. But I would imagine my parents sitting on the couch late at night, my Dad’s hand on my Mom’s big belly, a baby (me) bursting at the seams to enter the world, and them picking my name with love on their minds and with love flowing between their hearts to mine.

What I’ve been thinking about lately is how our names and, therefore identities, are added to as we become parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. These are the names that grab my heart and pull them toward Heaven.

I remember the first time Mike called me Mom, and for every day thereafter. Because he was 14 and made a conscious choice to give the gift of mom to me, I hope I never take the title for granted. I hope hearing him call “Mom” always stops me in my tracks with the wonder of God’s plan for our family.

I think with great melting of heart the way “Mimi” (what my grandkids call me) sounds in the voice of a 2 and 3 year old. Just today, Natalie (almost 2 years old) and I spent some time together swinging, playing airplane, throwing pebbles (don’t tell her mom) and just being alive together. I can hear the softness of her toddler voice with hope and trust calling me Mimi.

I smile to think I am an Aunt to two boys. Perhaps the title with the least amount of responsibility, but with the greatest capacity for fun. I love talking with Hunter, who has a better vocabulary than many people with whom I went to college. And while they live too far away, I love that they are my nephews, and that we will spend fun times together, crazy times.

What’s in a name?

A prism of all that we are and more.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The testimony, Part 2

They overcame him [the accuser] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony... Revelation 12:10 (NIV)

The awesome thing about sharing what God is doing in your life is you never know the impact your story will have. I shared in my previous post about the healing Mike received on his hand. The story doesn't stop there.

The weekend after Mike's healing, our family went on a leadership retreat with our church. We shared the testimony of what had occurred, and a woman jumped up and said, "I have a ganglion cyst on my hand!" So, a few people laid hands on her and began praying. The cyst went down before our very eyes, and the eyes of 18 other witnesses in that room. The shrinking seemed to stop, so Pastor Kim told me to go and get Mike who had received the same healing on the same hand only a week previous.

Mike jumped out of the pool, grabbed a towl and ran to the room to lay hands on this woman. The cyst shrunk to the size of a mosquito bite.

So often we talk about overcoming the enemy - the devil - by the blood of Jesus. And we do. However, reading the next phrase of the verse is something of great importance in our overcoming as well - by the word of their testimony.

First Peter 3:15 says," But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Alsways be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect..."

This isn't just our testimony about how we came into a relationship with Jesus...although that is a very important story. But your story didn't end the day you came to Jesus - it just started! Therefore, we should have new stories all the time! If we don't - well that's another issue.

Jesus told stories. Jesus told those he healed, saved and delivered to tell others. There is POWER in the story! We never know how our testimony will effect others; it's not our responsibility to know. Just tell it!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Balm of Grace

The Balm of Grace

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32 NIV).

“If this is for you, get up and run!” the preacher said. My son remained in his seat in spite of the invitation for healing that was extended to him.

The preacher sensed someone had a cyst on a wrist or hand that the Lord wanted to heal, and if that person wanted healing to get up and run for it. My teen sat planted in his chair looking despondently at the unsightly ganglion cyst that had grown rapidly to the size of a walnut over the past few months. Surgery was in fact scheduled to remove it.

“I guess God didn’t choose to heal me,” Mike said later.
“You didn’t run,” I replied.

Fast forward three days. Mike is at camp playing a game of capture the flag. He began running to tag someone when he felt a sharp pain in his hand. He stopped suddenly when he looked at his hand and realized the cyst was completely gone.

Healed when running as was offered to him a few days before.

God’s grace applied to the body of a teenage boy struggling to make sense of his faith.

We so often talk about the grace in God’s salvation – and that is huge. However, Romans 8:32 says, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (NIV). I believe God wants to show Himself – desperately to desperate people. He takes His amazing grace and applies it to our healing, to our finances, to our relationships so that we will know we live by grace, even as we are saved by grace.

We all need God’s balm of grace applied to our lives. What area could you most use His grace applied to today? Ask Him to touch a specific area with His grace and look expectantly for Him to apply His amazing grace.

Father God, You are amazing and generous with Your grace. Thank You for giving to us extravagantly. Thank You for showing Yourself intimately involved in our lives. Please touch the areas of the hurting people reading this so they too may experience the balm of Your grace. Amen.