How to Pray for our Children’s Future Spouse

I’ll never forget our son when he was quite young talking about marrying a girl he was sweet on at the time. Of course I was having a full blown conniption fit over the conversation and started peppering him with questions like how he would pay for bills (chore money) and where would he live. I’ll never forget hearing his cute little voice coming back with, “We’ll live here of course. In my room.” It was a no brainer in his mind.

I figured right then it was high time I start praying for that boy and his love life because he was only in elementary school having this conversation. But this just paved the way for a good conversation on the “leave and cleave” aspect of marriage and how his room will be turned into an ART room the second the door hits his little fanny when he leaves. Kidding.

If you’ve been a regular reader of LIABOW then you know I love my Mom’s in Prayer group and reference it often in this space. My MIP group takes the month of February every year to pray for our kids’ future spouses. It has grown to be one of my favorite months of the MIP year because we find ourselves praying in unique ways for our children and their future mates or potential singleness.

Some ways we have prayed for our children and their spouses:

  • To grow up in a home where Christ is honored and loved
  • If not in a Christ-centered home that God would provide godly influences around them
  • Salvation of our children and their future spouse
  • Protection against pornography for our kids’ future spouses
  • A loving Mother and Father that is instilling godly principles
  • To remain pure through dating and engagement
  • God’s help in releasing our children into healthy dating relationships and marriage
  • To be patient in waiting for the right person God has for them
  • Future Son-in-laws to be hard working providers
  • Daughter-in-laws to love and respect their future spouses

If we still have kids at home in school it’s just hard to imagine them with a potential spouse but most likely it’s going to happen and what if……what if we had been praying for our future daughter-in-law or son-in-law years in advance. What difference might that make? I don’t know but I trust that God is hearing my prayers and I won’t stop now.

Give one of the greatest gift you could give your child and future in-laws in 2018 – the gift of prayer.

 

On Kissing Santa’s Armpit…

Our teenage son is getting to write an essay every time he gets a not-s0-great report from the Orthodontist ie: not wearing his rubber bands. He’s also getting the opportunity to save his money to start paying for any Ortho visits that don’t produce a good report.

What I love about Mitchell is his easy going disposition even when facing opposition. His humor keeps us going around here. Today I’m sharing with you Mitchell’s response, with his permission, to two of his recent essays on why wearing his rubber bands and brushing his teeth are important.

“Yesterday I went to the orthodontist. They told me to wear my rubber bands more. I need to find a way to remember to wear them more. One good way to remember them would be to tell myself repeatedly in the morning and after I eat to put them in. Another way to remember them would be to put them around my pinky finger after I take them out, so that the blood circulation will be cut out, ad once i realize how numb my fingers are, and how close they are to falling off, I’ll be like wanting to put them back in that instant. I could also write a note on my hand. Or I could write a sticky note and put it on my computer. If I had a phone (which I don’t yet) I could just set a reminding notification that will scare me into wearing them. I would rather kiss santa’s armpit than to get crooked teeth. M m I ain’t doing it.”

Would rather kiss Santa’s armpit? Really? I’m not even sure it’s worth that dude!

And another one he wrote the other day….. (I’m not sure how many essays it will take)

“…I also got a new color of bands. It used to be green, but now I got blue. If I brush more (which I’m doing just fine on right now) I will also get to keep the color of my teeth. They are a vibrant white right now, I do not want them to turn yellow. I would also have to pay for half of my appointments. (good heavens) I would rather wear four rows of these rubber bands than to get yellow spots on my teeth. Nooooooooooooooooo way!!!!!!!! I ain’t doing it.”

I think some of his inspirational quotes are coming from this hilarious chick that we can’t seem to get enough of right now. We laugh so hard at her videos. Oh muh-word I love her so much.

If you have any tricks of the trade on braces, bands and brushing let us know – Mitchell would be so appreciative.

 

God’s provision in unlikely places

My week had been messed with in all kinds of crazy ways and as I sat in my red chair praying to God for a stranger I’d just met I found myself praying for her provision. That he would give her exactly what she needed that day and the days to come.

If you were to turn the pages of my prayer journal back you’d read where I was crying out to God to provide our own specific needs. A washing machine that blew up, a mouth guard, a big car repair, leaking toilet and…..well, you live on this earth so you know all about unexpected expenses and how when it rains it pours sometimes. We just weren’t sure how the month would play out as far as being able to meet our budget. It wasn’t looking promising at all.

But this particular day my focus was on this woman I couldn’t get out of my head and heart. I made an umbrella prayer for her in my journal and decided I would do a deep clean in my kitchen starting with the cabinets. The ones we call the black hole for a reason.

As I was pulling stuff out and organizing something white caught my eye in the waaaay back. It was a bank envelope. As I opened the envelope and started counting out the cash I realized what it was. We had lost an envelope with $575 cash over a year and a half ago. It was money we had stashed away little by little and it was in a drawer and had fallen back into the cabinet below. To be found on a day when I wasn’t sure how our own needs were going to be met but was praying for God to meet a stranger’s needs.

Overwhelmed with God’s perfectly timed provision I sat there and cried.

Then I called Randy and tried to act all nonchalant and said, “Can you meet me for lunch? I have to tell you something in person.”

We meet up for lunch and I hand him the envelope to open. Immediately he knew what it was. And his deep sigh of relief about blew me into the next booth over….which takes a lot of gusto.

I needed to talk some things out with him though. I told him about praying for the woman I had met and for God to provide her needs. I also told him about a struggle I’d had the week before that in giving to a special cause that we really didn’t have the money to give to and I didn’t want to give to. I argued with God about it. Told him we didn’t have the money and our own kids were going to get  jipped so other kids could have something (which was dramatic and not true anyways). I felt like God spoke to me saying, “And that’s okay, Melody. It’s okay to give when you don’t have it yourself. It’s okay when someone else has something you or your kids don’t have.” He settled my heart and I knew it was the right thing for us to do.

So I told Randy – I don’t want to think I had anything to do with this money being found and with an unexpected check that came to us that same day from a speaking engagement. But I can’t help but see a correlation when we give something that is hard to give or pray on someone else’s behalf for something we need it ourselves how God ends up providing in the most unusual and unexpected ways. He’s always so faithful to do this for us. And yet it surprises me every time. I don’t know what to do with it all. I know it’s all from God’s hand and nothing short of his grace. But is it wrong for me to think there’s a connection between praying for and giving to others when it’s a true sacrifice and seeing God’s provision for us? Not like we’re the ones who brought this provision on but somehow the giving, the praying for someone else touched God’s heart maybe?

Randy listend and said, “I don’t think you’re wrong. I hear what you’re saying and it’s okay to recognize when God responds to us and how he responds. It’s the right thing to give him praise for that.”

So it’s out of a full heart that I post these things. It’s out of heart that is learning how to navigate need yet giving generously and the right response to God’s provision. Not saying we get it right even half the time. We don’t. But we desire to honor God with our money and in our giving.

Lord, thank you for being our Provider. You’re so good to us.

Cultivate what Matters – Lara Casey

Hey ya’ll – are you super excited that a brand stinking new-never-been-here-before year is right around the corner? I am. I love me a New Year and New Beginnings – probably because I mess up so bad and it’s a great fresh start for me every single year. Whoo-hoo!!

I wanted to post about this planner because I simply love it. I’ve spent the last few weeks evaluating and making plans for 2018 with help from this little treasure of a book. It has helped me uncover a plan based on what is close to my heart. I’m so glad to have discovered Lara Casey and some of her resources. She’s a Christ follower and a busy, working Mom so she understands the importance and the difficulty of cultivating time for what matters. She offers some great tutorials and has other products that are really neat too. In fact my Bible Study group is looking at her Write the Word journals as a supplemental option for us this year. Her stuff is too good not to share.

 

So do you have a way you get organized for a New Year? Or a tradition in setting goals and resolutions? I’ve love to hear.  I guess nowadays the big thing is your “word of the year” which I find harder than listing resolutions because I love bullet points that don’t have to come to an end. One word is flat out hard for me to do because I’m a rather wordy person. I can’t even text anything less than a paragraph which is not cool. So yeah I’m still working on my word of the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making room for Friendship

A recent conversation has been stuck in my head and has made me evaluate some things. A woman was saying positive things about another person to me but she said something sandwiched in between and in passing that struck me. She said, “I’m so impressed with this, that and the other…..but she doesn’t have time for a friend.” She didn’t mean it in a negative way. Just matter of fact.

I’ve been evaluating this statement and wondering if I fall into that category. I can see how easily the “friendship” action plan gets pushed way to the bottom when you add family, work, game schedules, spiritual growth, etc to the mix. Who has time for scheduled coffee when you’re simply trying to do life. I get it!

I read a book this Spring with my very busy small group and it really opened my eyes to how important simple friendship is. The book is called Messy Beautiful Friendship.

And it brings us back to the age old question of why we’re here on this earth and it’s grow in Christ and to point others to him. We can’t do that if we’re too busy for friendship. Because often times it’s over those cups of coffee and ice tea that we let our guard down and talk about the grit and grind of doing life. It’s in those times we remind each other of the truth of Gods words. We come away realizing we’re not the only ones struggling like our enemy would like to make us think.

So these thoughts rumbling around in my head nudged me to ask a good friend if she wanted to meet for coffee last week. I didn’t have time. She didn’t have time. But we set aside our busy and said yes to friendship. We talked and laughed for one hour. That’s it. But we both came away refreshed by the spirit of friendship.

And that’s what friends are for. Let’s not be too busy for it.

 

Table Mentoring – a must read book!

Sue Donaldson, author of Table Mentoring, is the kind of woman that I’d venture to say many younger women call a “second Mom”. She’s the kind of woman you see Jesus in and the kind of woman you can call on at the last second….like when you think your chicken dish isn’t going to turn out in time for company.  (Don’t ask me how I know that). She’ll pull you out of a culinary bind from thousands of miles away and put your heart at ease. Sue’s passion is mentoring but she makes a strong case that mentoring should be a part of every believer’s life. And I can’t help but agree with her when I read scripture. This little treasure of a book opens my eyes even more to this fact.

“Do you need a table to Table Mentor? No. But a table imbues intimacy – an elbow-touching-grab-a-hand-in-prayer type of closeness. Table, bench, back steps, dorm hallway, coffee house – choose whichever promotes the progress of a hearty sharing. The place or porch doesn’t matter. Taking the time to listen does. Tell a story, gently nudge, cry some. laugh a lot, and give all to the Mighty Counselor before an after and maybe in the middle. Coming together until the misery is out of the commiserate, as you both sit at Jesus’ feet.” 

Sue goes on to say that in order to mentor we don’t have to have a Bible degree under our belt or a table or tons of time.

So what does one need in mentoring?

“You need an ongoing relationship with the Ultimate Mentor, and a bold desire to get close to someone who needs to hear what you’ve learned” 

I love how Sue points out that really anyone at any age can mentor because we all know someone older than us and someone younger than us. Finding the person to mentor is not the issue because God will lead us to that person. Sue also talks about this more in her book – how to approach finding and being a mentor. What to do once you start mentoring someone. There are wonderful resources in her book and on her website that help you get started. And her recipes are to die for. Sophie and I have already tried a few out and if I can do them then we all know you can do them!

Sue also has a book and a Bible Study out all centered on hospitality and mentoring. I only wish CA was a little closer to NC or she’d be speaking to our ladies at church in a  New York minute!

I hope you’ll check out Table Mentoring on amazon! It’s a quick easy read. For a deeper approach to the topic you’ll want to check out her book Come to My Table: God’s Hospitality & Yours.

So what about you?

Do you have a mentor in your life right now?

If so – what do you find most helpful in this relationship? What works for you and your mentor in terms of meeting and getting together?

Are you mentoring someone in your life right now? 

If so – what are you seeing God do in this relationship? What’s working well?

 

 

What the church can learn from the community of AA

 

 

Alcoholics Anonymous or AA is the name of a group of men and women who acknowledge that addiction to alcohol is ruining their lives. Their purpose in coming together is to give it up and help others do the same. They realize they can’t pull this off by themselves. They believe they need each other, and they believe they need God. Some people don’t believe in God and sadly instead call on a “higher power”.

**I especially love Celebrate Recovery as a Christ-centered recovery program as well as Teen Challenge. I reference AA today because most people are familiar with it and even though I’d prefer Celebrate Recovery or Teen Challenge as a program I still see something beautiful that is formed inside AA that the church should take notice of. **

I’ve never attended a recovery group so I don’t know firsthand but I’ve repeatedly observed some important things in many people who have. They took the time to share with me and these are things I keep coming away with as a general observation.

  1. A strong commitment to each other in the group – what is shared stays confidential and there’s a respect for that ground rule. There doesn’t seem to be judgment or condemnation. Instead there’s a general understanding of each other. Everyone is at their lowest. Level playing field. The weakness is great. And there’s something in that low, weak place that creates a deep bond with those also in the same place.
  2. An outright acknowledgment of their problem. “Hello, my name is____________ and I’m an alcoholic.” It’s stated at the beginning of every single meeting. Each person states is aloud as they start their meeting. An ownership of their problem publicly. Ironically everyone sitting beside them say the exact same thing. And somehow saying it loud over and over again and hearing it from others solidifies the fact that they’re all in the same boat.
  3. An understanding of just how important their “meeting” is. For some it will be a life long commitment knowing that missing a meeting can be the start of a downward spiral. It’s not the meeting itself that produces some kind of magical moment but the connection and motivation from the group is often what one needs in a weak moment. In a Christ-centered group the Bible is their source of Truth and Comfort. Calling on the Holy Spirit for help and strength is where they turn. And this is crucial in daily sustenance for not only the alcoholic but for the depraved sinful person as well. For me. For you.

What if we as the church recognized our own personal weakness and lowliness for what it truly is. If we viewed our sin and the consequences of our sin as sickening as the effects of an alcohol addiction.  I wonder how that might impact our connectedness and community with each other.

Instead of being tempted to share the latest gossip or negativity about a person I wonder if we might cut each other a break more often. The eye rolls and avoiding certain people might disappear. When tempted to tear down someone with words we might pause and realize they’re actually a fellow brother or sister connected in a deep way. And you don’t do that to your own. Nor should we do it to outsiders. But we treat those in the body of Christ especially well according to Paul. (“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Gal. 6:10)

If we are convinced we all have the same great massive need and that we have been rescued by the same great, one of a kind, real life hero, Jesus Christ, then I wonder if we’d understand just how important our “meetings” with each other actually are. Whenever they are….. Sundays or midweek.  , These meetings for Christians are critical in our own survival of the world. The “meeting” itself is not magical. It’s the coming together with the presupposition that we’re all in the same great place of desperate need for the only One person who can fill that need. Nobody is better than the other. The need is the same. The solution is Jesus and He is the same yesterday, today and forever. And that’s why we can go home filled with hope. Hope that even when we slip and mess up we have a place of safety to return. Not only that but it can be a safe place to say out loud, “Hello my name is _______ and I messed up royally this week.” But none of that can happen until we acknowledge our deep depravity and need for grace.

We need the community of Christ-centered brothers and sisters speaking Truth into us. Praying for us. Encouraging us and being there through thick and thin. Relating to and understanding that we have more commonalities than we think. The deep low of sin and the incredible high of being redeemed by our Savior is our common ground as Believers. It’s level ground at the foot of the cross. We’re all in the same state.  If we really see it as this – as being a part of a group of people who have been rescued from  our-sinful-selves then I believe deeper community will take place in our churches. The kind you see in AA and Celebrate Recovery groups.

My prayer is that the local church will see her great need for divine intervention because of our sin on a daily basis. That we will hit rock bottom and see our greatest need for Jesus.

How do we practically cultivate a spirit of deep healthy community within the local church? Because recovery groups, focus groups, prayer groups, theology groups are not the same thing as the church. There’s a very important distinction between Christ-centered groups and church. But we’ll talk about that later. Come back this week for more discussion.

 

 

 

 

Pushing through the Awkward in Friendship

Our small group met at a Pizza place for discussion over the book Messy Beautiful Friendship last night. Ya’ll we do book clubs all wrong. We meet every few weeks and discuss about 64 chapters at a time. It’s ridiculous but somehow it works for us and we like it.

Last night we discussed hospitality. Christine Hoover talks about “back door” friends. You know – the kind that don’t have to knock but just come on in. Maybe you grew up with back door friends. Our family did. Mrs. Flora lived next door with her husband and three sons. She had a signature knock with an added “yoo-hoo” but the knock meant nothing. She was just letting us know it was her coming through our back door. Our families, along with others on our street, were the best of friends going to each others homes often for dinner and parties. Sometimes it was pot luck sometimes not. Planned and unplanned visits. But there was a lot of “company” that didn’t feel like “company” growing up.

So our group started talking about how things seem different now. A lot less back door neighbor type friendships. We are mostly a group of 30 &40 year olds. Times have changed since growing up with backdoor friends. We are busy now. It used to be that the kids were little and under foot and no time to get the house ready for people to come over. Now the kids are older but we don’t want to miss time with them before they head off to college.

We talked about how it’s really easier to huddle in our own families than open our doors to other families. It takes planning and initiative to have others in our homes. And honestly sometimes it takes pushing through awkwardness as well. The awkwardness of not always having a perfectly cleaned home.

I hosted something in my home recently and when everyone left and I was working in the room we’d all been in and something caught my eye. It was dangling in midair. It was a pine straw needle at least 7 inches long. As I got closer I realized Charlotte’s web was taking residency in the corner of our dining room. Not only that but I could’ve written the names of everyone at the table in the layer of dust on the secretary in the corner of the room. I’m not even kidding. It was that bad. Of course nobody said anything about it but I KNOW people had to have seen it. I don’t even want to know what others might have noticed as they’ve come to our home over the years. These are just a few of the awkward things we’ll have to push through in order to build community with those around us. But it’s worth it. Because as we set aside our desire for things to be “perfect” we discover the beauty of real friendship and it takes us places we’d never experience without pushing through the awkward.

Our group started laughing at the fact that nobody offered up their homes to meet in for our discussion on hospitality. We all had really good reasons for not meeting in our homes. It’s Summer. I’m going out of town and super busy. My kids are leaving for the Army. I don’t get off work until late. I hardly know some of you people…..legit reasons. Like we totally get each other.

But guess what. We all decided we want to push through the awkward for the sake of beautiful friendship and we changed our plans for our next two meetings. Instead of meeting at the Japanese Restaurant like planned we’re meeting in our homes.We put out the “the house may not be clean” disclaimer and when one of us said, “it may be sub sandwiches for dinner because we leave out of the country a few days later” someone quickly offered and said, “Nope, you provide the plates and cups and we’ll bring the food. It may be chicken from the store but we got the food covered.” And I have no doubt we’ll enjoy our time together in our homes where we do life with our families and hopeful with each other a little more often.

And friends, this is what learning and growing with each other looks like.

 

 

Celebration of Influence

A ladies event I participated in years ago called “Celebration of Influence” has impacted me every year since. The luncheon was a special day where the ladies in our church invited someone who had influenced our lives in some way. We treated them to lunch and did everything we could to make them feel special and appreciated.

We chose a gorgeous log cabin in the mountains that hosted weddings and other events as our venue. It was beautiful.

Each lady in our group had taken time to write a letter telling the person we invited how they had influenced our lives personally. Letters were placed at each place setting with their names inscribed on a place holder.

After we shared lunch together we gathered in a circle and heard brief snippets of how our friends and guests had influenced our lives. It was so neat hearing from each other and how their guest had influenced them over time. We had a special speaker as well and she spoke on friendship and sharpening each other.

Ever since this time together I have taken on the practice of listing the people of influence in my life each year. Not an exhaustive list but I pray and ask God to help me see the people he put in my path the past year who had influence on me in some way. And then I pull out the old fashion paper and pen and I write a letter to that person. Stick an address and stamp and I just threw a Celebration of Influence party. It’s that easy.

So maybe you’d be encouraged through this to think of just a few people in 2016 who have influenced you. They might know already but chances are they don’t know the extent. Why don’t you tell them? And as you’re thinking about who has influenced you offer a prayer to the Lord asking Him to help you be an influence in somebody’s life in 2017.

Proverbs 27:17
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

When Jesus wants us to act like a three year old.

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What a tender picture of these preschoolers laying a hand on their Operation Christmas Child box and praying for the child who will receive it.

One little girl chose to give her very first baby doll. An adorable doll with a yellow gingham dress with lace trim. Like cutey patootey put-in-the-cedar-box-and-save-for-your-great-Granddaughter cuteness. Mama was struggling about this one because it’s a bit of a keepsake (you know how we Mama’s are about the firsts). It would be easier and less heavy on the heart to just go buy a brand new one like all the other items being boxed up. But the three year old wanted another little girl to have her favorite baby doll.

I love that this Mama’s heart was trumped by her heart for God. She wanted her little girl to walk in that love and give selflessly. Who are we to mess with what God is doing in our kids hearts?

Have you been there before? We talk to our kids about loving God and others and how we should pray for the homeless man we see out our window and then our kids come back with, “Oh, I know what we should do Mama. We should invite him to come home with us!”

Errrr, well……and a slight laugh of “bless him he doesn’t know any better.”

My good friend had that conversation with her son last week. The three year old wanted the homeless man to come over to their house. The Mama’s heart has been burdened for this man for a long time. They see him on the streets all the time.

What do you even do with that?

I’m the first to say that fear would keep me from having a complete stranger in my home. I’m more street wise than that.

I regret not letting Sophie give ALL her money one time as a gift to someone. She was so little and didn’t understand the value of money but her heart is so very generous and I snuffed out her desired act of radical generosity because it didn’t make sense to me.  You don’t give ALL of it. Be generous but with limits. Be a wise steward which means it needs to make sense on paper and always leaving money left over.

You give a baby doll but not the one that means a lot to you. That’s too special to give to someone you don’t even know.

Sadly this is my thinking at times and when I say it out loud it makes me cringe and sick to my stomach because I know it’s not the perspective our God has on things. I don’t want this to be my earthly vision of things.  I want to have a three year old’s perspective when it comes to loving others. Perhaps this is what  Jesus was talking about when he tells his followers to become like a child.

I don’t know what it always looks like and I don’t always do it well but I’m learning and watching the radical generosity and love of our God through the Bible. And I love it. I want to extend this kind of love to others.

So the next time someone accuses you of acting childish – don’t necessarily take offense to it. Unless you like stuck your tongue out at someone or fell down on the ground and threw a temper tantrum in the church aisle because they didn’t use the hymnal or something. Yeah that’s not cool childish behavior.

Well, I’m off to go play in the sandbox.

Ya’ll have a great weekend!