Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Counting My Blessings

I'm pretty blessed. I've been doing "30 Days of Thanksgiving" for my Facebook posts all month (today's the last day!) and it has truly made me turn my gratitude meter UP. I was even thankful for my dog one day...now I know a lot of furparents who love their pets like their children. I even know some people who care more for their dogs than their own flesh and blood. But, that is not me. I like having pets, I think there is definitely a purpose and reason people love animals. Like, maybe because God put us humans in charge of them. We name, watch, and generally steward them - usually from afar. But, I think getting our dog was a little bit of a mistake. It's like having a perpetual toddler that you can't actually take with you when you leave the house. Plus, the black dog hair everywhere is a pain frustration. However, there is no denying the comfort of that big black body sleeping beneath my feet in the evening and the "high alert" status he goes on at night. Protector of the house!

I hope to continue this atmosphere of gratitude and well-being as we enter the Advent season. Keeping my eyes and, by extension, our children's eyes set on the heart and person of Jesus Christ will definitely help. I'm thrilled to be preparing to take the journey of Jesus from Angelic Proclamation to His flight to Egypt. Talk about an Advent-ure! I'm thinking about getting a small tree to feature the children's special ornaments they're going to be making from Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands this month. I definitely need to prepare the special calendar with each day's focus to explore. I hope you will all go on the journey with us. Amanda is offering her incredible e-book for only $4.99 and it is full of great ideas, beautiful crafts your kids can actually make, and moments you'll always treasure. Consider joining the fun on the Tinsel Facebook page too! http://facebook.com/truthinthetinsel
We're working on our special "custom" advent calendar right now; we'll (of course) use our Lego one too. ;)

What special preparations are you making for Christmas?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Convicted....and Consecrated

Our amazing pastor, Blake Lorenz, at Encounter gave a great message on Sunday featuring Romans 12:1,2 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

Of course, I am familiar with this passage, and have studied and prayed on it before. My body is a sacrifice to the Lord. Not only my body, but my entire life. But...am I truly proving the perfect will of God if I hold part of myself back? Always before, I'd dwelt on whether I was treating my body as an acceptable sacrifice. Wondering. Does that mean I should exercise more? Eat less sugar? Get up earlier to read the bible, pray, make the kids breakfast?

Now, on Sunday, I found God convicting me on a different level. Don't get me wrong, He is happy with me. He loves me with a LOVE unbound. Unfathomable. However, He likes to teach me in gentle whispers. He wants me to be aligned to His perfect will. After the birth of our 7th child, I made the decision to have an IUD implanted in my womb. At the time, it made sense. We'd considered tubal ligation, vasectomy, the essure procedure, but figured the IUD worked with the body's natural system best. Plus, it was good for years. I should have known it was a mistake right away. The midwife put the wrong IUD in. She used the Mirena, which uses chemical hormones (like the pill) as well as the IUD technology, and I knew it was wrong. She said to give it a try, and if I didn't like it, they'd take it out. I was 6 weeks post-partum and just wanted my life back to "normal." It seemed to. After a few months, I didn't even have a regular cycle. However, after I stopped nursing when Sabina was just over 1 year old, I started putting on more weight. I hadn't heard that the Mirena did that. Out of laziness, I guess, I never did anything about the thing. It's been 4 years.

Now, God is directing me to think about trusting Him. I need to present my ENTIRE body as a living sacrifice to Him. It's time that I stopped being conformed to the world in this ONE way. Stop holding this part of myself back from Him. God is our provider. He is our caretaker. He hasn't let us down yet! I have to be willing to submit and prove what is good, acceptable and within the perfect will of God.
It's time to consecrate myself, my WHOLE self, to God.

Thanks for listening.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Truth About the Truth in the Tinsel (Review!)

I'm super excited today. Not only am I blogging again, which has strangely burned within me for the past few months of hiatus, but I'm starting it all off with the beginning of the Holiday Season. As a extra bonus, I've been asked to review the new e-book The Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands by the awesome mom-blogger after God's heart, Amanda White, of Impress Your Kids! Click here to visit Impress Your Kids.

It's always on my heart to make the advent season purposeful and focused on Jesus in the midst of the hype. This book is a perfect way to carve out a small part of the day (only about 30 minutes) and create something with your child(ren) that will make it easy to share the birth story of Jesus in a way that will be sticky to their hearts and minds - and maybe even their hands sometimes. What got me truly enthusiastic about The Truth in the Tinsel is this part of the section How to Use This Book: "The key to this entire advent celebration is to have a daily focus and meditation on God’s greatest gift. Your children will learn the ins and outs of the story because you’ve facilitated a time to discuss, play, and create. And in those moments, God will speak to their hearts and yours. 
The little Baby is no longer in the manger but alive and sitting on a throne—waiting to have a relationship with you and your children. Help your children get to know Him this Christmas!"
I almost cried with JOY!

Each day of December preceding Christmas has a small ornament craft planned around scripture verses. The sections on each page "Read it Together", "Make it Together", "Talk About it Together", and "Do More Together" make it easy to glance at and find your place in the midst of artsiness and - let's face it - noise. The accompanying photos show the materials needed, step-by-step shots, and the finished product hanging on a tree branch. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. I love the idea of reading the bible together and then talking about it while creating. Amanda White has planned this activity book to reach pre-school through middle elementary aged children, but I'm pretty sure all of my kids will want to make these cute ornaments (with the possible exception of my 13-year-old) and participate in the scripture reading and discussion. For days when we have extra time to spend on this, we will definitely be exploring the activities in the "Do More Together" sections; these can be additional scripture, picture books, singing, play-acting, and bringing others in on the fun!

In the weeks to come, my family and I will be exploring and creating The Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands, so make sure and check back here to see all the fun we're having getting to know the birth story of Jesus a little better. I know you'll love it and TODAY ONLY Amanda is offering this beautiful gem for only $2.99! After today, the e-book will retail for $4.99, so don't wait! GRAB THAT DEAL. Then, you can use the supply list at the beginning of the book and take full advantage of the fabulous coupon you got for Michaels, or Hobby Lobby, or JoAnn's. Make this Christmas season the best ever - be intentional and share God's heart with your little ones. They need know that He loves them than Santa Claus ever could.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Under Construction! I had all this great stuff planned out to revitalize and renovate my blog and then I got on to update and found everything on Blogspot had changed. So sorry! Until I get it all figured out and fixed, things are going to be a bit weird around here. Be patient and check back soon! :)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Time to Continue this Drama called Life

After a week camping in the Smoky Mountain National Park, "roughing it" with no showers (!), we are home again. We spent a day cleaning out the van, doing laundry, and catching up on phone calls. Cecelia spent some quality time with her parrot, Storm. He was so happy to see her that he did NOT want to go back in his cage. Then, today we packed the girls off to church camp. I was sorry to see them go after only a day home, but I know God opened the door on this for His purposes. On another note, we got the call this morning that Nick's grandma passed away last night. She has been suffering for some time and we were praying for her to be healed by God - she was ready to go home to Jesus and we're happy that she is free. She was 91-years-old, lived a good long life, and got to encounter Jesus in an amazing way two years ago. Please pray for the peace of the family as they celebrate Marcella's life and mourn her passing.
If this had happened 2 days earlier, we probably would have all driven up to Nebraska with my parents straight from Tennessee. The kids are sad, but they all (except the youngest two) got to visit her within the past few weeks during their visit.

So, Nick is prayerfully purchasing airplane tickets to fly back for the memorial and funeral services, to help his mom who has bravely been the caretaker for Marcella for the past 5 years. He is going to his first staff meeting at Encounter House of Prayer tomorrow (Monday), we're celebrating Carlo's 7th birthday on Tuesday, Nick's teaching Encounter's youth group that evening, then he's flying out on Wednesday morning. We'll have to delay celebrating out 16th wedding anniversary until he gets back next week. (It's Saturday.) Of course, there are many other things we're dealing with in the meantime. Transition is never easy. I need to finalize plans for homeschooling this year as well as finish up the kids' evaluations for this past year. There are MANY people I have to touch base with and get together with this month. And my internet is down right now. I'm typing away in Starbucks. Thank goodness for free Wi-fi.

I've been through an eye-opening, thought-provoking, life-changing weekend through the amazing Bethel School of Supernatural Evangelism hosted at OHOP just last week! My whole perspective on Holy Spirit and our lives as Christians has been shifted. How blessed we are by God who wants to BE with us! He wants us to know how much He loves us and He wants us to share it with others! He loves us all much more than we know. And you know what? Jesus wants His money's worth - He died and rose again for more than a feel-good moment here and there. He sent us Holy Spirit so that we can do more miraculous things than He did! Isn't it time we walked that out? Are you ready to get out of the boat?! I AM!

By the way, the Warrior Prayers 21 Days of Prayer for Sons is already planning on a fall session toward the beginning of September. See you then? I am in the process of writing and praying out a similar prayer focus time for Daughters. Any suggestions on focus that you would like? God has given me some great words. Look forward to sharing with you all soon and posting some great pictures soon from our recent adventures.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Captured Moments...

There are moments - too rare, jewel treasure moments - that you have to attempt to capture. 

Moments of joy. Moments of fun. Moments of just plain silliness. 

Moments to crank up the stereo and grab your broom guitars and wii microphones. Moments to head-bang and dance around the floor you're in the middle of cleaning. 

Moments to share...

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fun in the Sun!

On our family fun day last Monday, we started in the morning at the Winter Garden splash park. I was particularly pleased when Antonio, a too cool 13-year-old, got in on the fun. Missing them this 4th of July, but I know they're having fun. We're about to head out to do something fun and watch fireworks with our 2 youngest. God bless the USA!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Few Amazing VBS Pictures

The Little Warriors learning how to work together as the Body of Christ.

Nick teaching on prayer.

Sabina had so much fun and made great new friends.

Sorry it's a bit blurry, but the dance to the Lord's prayer was great!

The little warriors working together so much better with the big parachute!

Pastor Blake leading the altar call - all of these kids chose to trust Jesus with their lives!
We had an amazing week at Encounter helping with the Let's Go Pray vacation bible school. It grew from an idea God gave me to this amazing week with almost 40 kids and an awesome team of volunteers. We were so blessed as an entire family.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

21 Days of Prayer for Sons - Humility (Day 21)

It's the last day of our journey together in intense prayer for our sons. Yes, I'm a little sad, but a little relieved as well. How do you feel? Of course, I still plan on praying for my sons, but this has been a challenge of organization and purpose! I plan on taking a little break and posting some fun summer pics of things we've been doing as a family. My oldest 5 flew north this evening with Dad. I won't see the kids for over 3 weeks; it's bittersweet because I know they have so much fun and need to keep those ties to family, but I miss them SO! I'm also working on plans for a similar prayer challenge centered on daughters. Let me know how many of you are interested in participating!

Anyway, as most of you know because you have the ebook Warrior Prayers, there are actually 22 sections of prayers. I encourage you to go ahead and pray through the Honesty prayers when you get the chance, but Brooke wanted to end the 21-Day Challenge with Humility because, as she says, "I chose humility as our last day's topic because it is such an amazing posture of the heart. Scripture just seems to scream God's favor over those who are humble in heart." I have to agree with her, and my sons definitely could use prayers in this direction. Like most boys, they are loud, boastful, and always think their point of view is RIGHT! However, it takes a humble heart for true salvation. We have to admit that we are sinners. We have to ask for forgiveness. We have to put our lives into the hands of our Savior. We have to thank Jesus, praise His name only, and love Him above all others!

Another part of this challenge is modeling humility before our sons. Pray and ask God for ways you can show humility today, and then your sons will know what to do when their time comes. So much of this job of parenting comes not in the "do what I say" but in the "do what I do."

What are some specific ways this challenge has been meaningful for you? Please leave a comment and share with all of us! As a result of this journey, as God to show you three specific ways you can pray for your sons every day.

Congratulations!!! Keep praying, Warrior Mamas! 
May__________humble himself before the Lord, and be exalted (James 4:10) 
May__________humble himself, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt him (1 Peter 5:6)
May God give grace to__________as he humbles himself (James 4:6) 
If__________who is called by My Name humbles himself, and prays and seeks My Face and turns from his wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive this sin and heal his land (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Lord, lead the humble in what is right, and teach__________Your way. (Psalm 25:9) 
May__________have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind (1 Peter 3:8)
May__________take God's yoke upon him, and learn from Him, for He is gentle and lowly in heart, and__________will find rest for his soul (Matthew 11:29)
May the LORD take pleasure in__________, and adorn the humble with salvation (Psalm 149:4)
May__________have all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with others in love (Ephesians 4:2)
May__________be subject to the elders. May he clothe himself with humility toward others, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (1 Peter 5:5)

Monday, June 27, 2011

21 Days of Prayer for Sons - Heart Change (Day 20)

In Matthew 23: 25-26, Jesus preaches, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also." It's not good enough to look pious or righteous. We don't want our sons just to "act good," we want them to truly be good! For example, a lot of times my boys get in trouble for over-reacting to something that another sibling did to them. "She hit me!" "He was making fun of me." "He did it first!" When they try to give me those excuses, I try to explain, "You are responsible for your own actions. You have a choice in how you react to them." I also sometimes throw in, "You're going to let them control you?"
I help them see a way out of those situations, "You can ignore them. Just walk away." Or, maybe, "If you start feeling mad, go in your room and pound a pillow!"

But, what I'm truly hoping for is when they are clean on the inside. They will forgive and let it go even as it's happening. They will truly turn the other cheek. Instead of reacting in anger, they will reach out in love. They will shine inside and out!

Oh, Lord,  cleanse their hearts! Let my sons truly die to themselves and let You live through them. God, guide my own responses to my children, as they are watching and learning from me day by day!

Keep it up, mighty warrior moms! This prayer journey is almost complete. I am rooting for you and your sons!

Heart Change
May__________first clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean (Matthew 23:26)
Give__________a new heart, and a new spirit put within him. Remove the heart of stone from his flesh and give him a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26) 
May__________honor God with his heart, and not just his lips (Isaiah 29:13) 
May__________out of the good treasure of his heart produce good, for out of the abundance of his heart his mouth speaks (Luke 6:45)
May__________heart cry be, "not my will, but Yours, be done." (Luke 22:42) 
May__________draw near to God, and He will draw near to him. May he cleanse his hands and purify his heart (James 4:8)
Create in__________a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within him (Psalm 51:10) 
May__________be like the wise man, whose heart inclines him to the right.(Ecclesiastes 10:2) 
May__________not take idols into his heart, and set the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face (Ezekiel 14:3)
When he hears the word of the Lord, may__________be cut to the heart (Acts 2:37)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

21 Days of Prayer for Sons - Salvation (Day 19)

Antonio prayer-leading at OHOP
Today's prayer focus is the key for the entire challenge. To quote from the eBook: "Day after day you will parent, intentionally seeking the heart of your son. But until the King of kings and Lord of lords turns his heart of stone to a heart of flesh, your son's actions will be motivated by what is pleasing to him, rather than what is pleasing to the Lord."
We can spend our formative years parenting with pure hearts, great intentions, and our eyes set on Jesus, but if the stone doesn't turn to flesh it's a losing battle! I don't know how you feel about it, but I'm willing to put up with a pig-sty room and wet towels on the bathroom floor as long as my child turns to me with shining eyes asking, "Can I pray, Mom?" Talk about moving hearts!
Take a moment and look around your home, think about your days, consider whether the life you and your family leads is truly Gospel-centered. Do you talk to your children about Jesus? Do you TALK to Jesus in front of your children? Do you allow them a chance to ask questions, to lead prayers, to learn about God's Word? I know I need to better in all of these areas. 
Pray hard today - there is nothing so important as your son's salvation!

May __________ confess with his mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in his heart that God raised him from the dead, and be saved (Romans 10:9) 
May__________be saved by grace through faith. Not of his own doing; but the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8)
May__________believe in the God who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began (2 Timothy 1:9)
May__________fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for him today (Exodus 14:13)
May the LORD be__________light and his salvation; whom shall he fear? May the LORD be the stronghold of his life; of whom shall he be afraid? (Psalm 27:1) 
May__________take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17)
May__________work out his own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12) 
May__________be guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:5)
Lord, make Your face shine on__________; save him in Your steadfast love (Psalm 31:16) 
Lord, save__________to the uttermost as he draws near to God through him (Hebrews 7:25)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

21 Days of Prayer for Sons - Anger (Day 18)

"So much of the Christian life is a choice. Every day (multiple times a day) we're presented with a choice to choose God or choose ourselves. Anger is a perfect example."(from the Leader's Guide by Brook Mcglothlin) This is so true. I often have to "counsel" my children to choose not to get angry with their siblings, or at least not act in anger. How often do we all get in trouble by acting out in anger? Wouldn't things be smoother if we chose to turn the other cheek, forgive and move on? 
Yesterday afternoon, shortly after we got home from VBS, the kids were supposed to be getting themselves sandwiches for lunch and I went upstairs to the bathroom. During the following 5 minutes, I heard yelling, scuffling, the front door slamming shut, and then a little knock at the door and Luca's plaintive voice. When I opened the bathroom door, there was Luca, in tears, telling me about Rocky and Antonio's fight. "Are you okay, are you hurt?" I asked him. "No, it's Rocky, my buddy. He's bleeding." "You weren't in the fight?" "No, it's Rocky my buddy."
I was moved by his concern for his big brother and buddy. I've never seen him like that. In a fleeting moment, I rejoiced that he was showing maturity in his feelings of concern for someone else.
Anyway, there was Rocky on my bed: upset, still angry, tears in his eyes. The whole story tumbled out. He was in the kitchen making a sandwich for Luca and himself and Sabina was trying to open the dishwasher to get a plate. "The dishes are dirty." "I need a plate," Sabina said. "They're dirty." "I need a plate!" "These plates are dirty. Cecelia! Get a plate for your buddy!" Sabina, enraged, yelled,"AAH! Stupid Rocky!" So, yes, already the anger had begun. Out of frustration with the rising level of noise and craziness, Rocky vented, "Everybody SHUT UP!" Then, Antonio felt that he had to step in and control the situation AKA put his hand on Rocky and control HIM. This turned into one of the epic physical fights that they've been getting into since they were 1 and 2. Nobody was hurt, but Antonio stormed out of the house and took off on his bike. I didn't even get a chance to talk to him. Luca and Sabina were watching Rocky as he told me the story. I looked at the three of them, my own anger rising up that I couldn't even go to the bathroom without this happening. I noticed Luca still had tears next to his eyes and pointed it out to Rocky that he was so concerned for him. Rocky didn't actually have any blood, but a scab on his shoulder had partially ripped off earlier in the day and I told Luca that's what it was. Then, I turned to Sabina because I saw how it all had stemmed from her fit of anger. She is little (only 3) and angelically cute; she needed to know how her anger affected her brother. I told her that she needs to listen to what Rocky says to her and told her she needed to apologize for the mean words she said to him. Now, as God's child (we dubbed her thus while I was pregnant with her), she seems unnaturally capable of understanding when she needs to apologize and go all the way with it. She sweetly said sorry to Rocky for the way she treated him and they hugged. Then I wanted Rocky to comfort Luca and the other way around. I tried to explain how when we show love toward one another it can diffuse anger. They ended up hugging too. 
I spoke to Rocky, "I know you feel upset when things are noisy and crazy sometimes, but you have to use your self-control and calm down. Remove yourself from the situation so you don't get angry." He agreed and then left to find Antonio. At the park nearby, he found him to apologize. It took another half-hour for Antonio to come home. The anger was still all over him. Some of the kids had said to him, "It's better when you're gone." (He'd spent the night at a friend's house the night before.) His feelings were hurt and he was in the middle of a "poor me. No one understands or likes me anymore because I'm a teen now, but I'm the same kid." adolescent mood swing. I had to choose to step away from my own anger at him for treating his brother badly and then taking off. I saw how hurt he was, and took a moment to pray and hug him after cracking through his anger shell. This motherhood business is a constant challenge.
I had the other kids apologize to him for saying that. I think they understood that it was pretty mean. I also think Antonio grew to understand that they only said it to hurt him, just like he sometimes says mean things out of anger. This was a pretty big lesson for me in how one little seed of temper/anger can grow into a storm of junk for the whole family. We have a choice in how to react to others' anger. Do we let them affect us? Do we let them control our emotions and actions? No, we use our fruits to love, to be patient, to use self-control, to be kind. We let God, and sometimes Mom, handle the situation.
May all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from __________, along with all malice (Ephesians 4:31)
May__________ put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from his mouth (Colossians 3:8)
May__________ give a soft answer, which turns away wrath, and avoid harsh words which stir up anger (Proverbs 15:1)
May__________ not be quick in his spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools (Ecclesiastes 7:9)
May__________ never avenge himself, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written,"Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." (Romans 12:19) 
May__________ know that God himself is our peace (Ephesians 2:14) 
May__________ make peace, and so have a harvest of righteousness (James 3:18) 
And let the peace of Christ rule in __________ heart, to which indeed he was called in one body. And be thankful (Colossians 3:15)
May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard __________ heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7)
May__________turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it (1 Peter 3:11)

21 Days of Prayer for Sons - Self-Control (Day 17)

I have to apologize for posting this a day late. Yesterday was the last day of our VBS, it was exciting, rewarding, and absolutely BLESSING! It was also exhausting. Due to overwhelming drama in our life on Thursday, I didn't get to prepare for things on Friday morning. I stayed up till 3 in the morning getting things done I should have done in the afternoon. I spent Friday afternoon laying around and parenting from the couch. Not too pretty. When I went to bed, extremely early last night, I felt a twinge of guilt for not posting the Day 17 entry, but there was no way I could have stayed awake to write. I actually fell asleep praying for my sons last night.

This fruit of the Spirit has been in MUCH discussion in my family of late. In my mind, it's the fruit of ANTI-SELFISHNESS. I love this quote from Brooke in the Leader's Guide: "The choice to love Him more begins from the beginning... hearts made to worship Him...choose Him. Hearts that left to themselves will choose our own way every time. How many times have I chosen my own way when I knew the consequences? How many times have I forfeited the sweet, peaceful blessings of obedience in order to stamp my feet, cross my arms, dig in my stubborn three-year-old-like heels and have my own way?" We all struggle to put Jesus first in our lives, to make the choice to turn away from our own desires and set our eyes on Christ. That's why it's so important to grow and mature in the Spirit, to bring forth that fruit of self-control. That's why it's vital to pray over our sons to grow likewise; so that fruit can get them out of sticky situations. I was so moved to pray these 10 prayers over my boys. I hope that you are blessed likewise.

May__________know that he is God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in him (1 Corinthians 3:16)
May__________not let sin therefore reign in his mortal body, to make him obey its passions. May he not present his members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present himself to God as one who has been brought from death to life, and his members to God as instruments for righteousness (Romans 6:12-13)
May__________present his body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is his spiritual worship. May he not be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewal of his mind, that by testing he may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:1-2)
May__________discipline his body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others he himself should be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:27)
Whether__________eats or drinks, or whatever he does, may he do it all to the glory of God (Ephesians 5:15)
Let not__________heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day (Proverbs 23:17)
Remove far from__________falsehood and lying; give him neither poverty nor riches; feed him with the food that is needful for him (Proverbs 30:8) 
Let the words of__________mouth and the meditation of his heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, his rock and his redeemer (Psalm 19:14)
May__________have a tranquil heart that gives life to the flesh (Proverbs 14:30) 
May__________be wise in doing right and stay innocent of any wrong (Romans 16:19)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

21 Days of Prayer for Sons - Gentleness (Day 16)

This week, we've been leading a vacation bible school completely focused on prayer called Let's Go Pray! It's all about empowering children to use their gifts and be joyful in the place of prayer, ministering to God, relationship with God. Yesterday, Nick was teaching on the verse "Pray without ceasing." (1 Thessalonians 5:17) He was talking about how when you love someone, you hold them continually in your heart and thoughts. That means, when you have Jesus in your heart, He's always with you. He's with you when you wake up and lie down. He's with you when you eat your Cheerios and when you're playing soccer. Jesus is with you when you're disobedient or fighting with your brother. That's when you turn to him, pray to Jesus, ask Him what's going on with you. He hears your voice, He knows your heart. He loves you beyond imagining. That Still, Small Voice is gentle as a lamb, but strong as a lion.

Praying for you all. The enemy is raging this week at our house. The VBS is going AMAZING, but we've been attacked physically and spiritually. I believe this is in direct response to our leading children in prayer and my own efforts here. I am praying for you and your sons. I am lifting my boys up as they grow in the knowledge of God. Please take 90 seconds and pray for me and my family. Take a moment and lift up the other moms taking this prayer trek with you! We bear one another's burdens in love.

May__________know that a gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit (Proverbs 15:4)
May__________take God's yoke upon Him, and learn from Him, for He is gentle and lowly in heart, then__________will find rest for his soul (Matthew 11:29)
May__________be completely humble and gentle; patient, bearing with others in love (Ephesians 4:2)
May__________be gentle, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children (1 Thessalonians 2:7)
May__________not be a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money (1 Timothy 3:3)
May__________pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness (1Timothy 6:11)
May__________correct his opponents with gentleness that God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 2:25)
May__________speak evil of no one, avoid quarreling, be gentle, and show perfect courtesy toward all people (Titus 3:2)
May__________have wisdom from above that is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere (James 3:17) 
May__________honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks him for a reason for the hope that is in him; yet do it with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

21 Days of Prayer for Sons - Faithfulness (Day 15)

"Mature Christians are keenly aware that they can't raise their kids. It's a no-brainer. Even if they are perfect parents, they still can't get inside their kids' hearts. That's why strong Christians pray more." (from Paul E. Miller's A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World)
I don't think I can add much more to that. What we really want, when it comes down to it, is for our sons to be faithful to God. Everything else falls under that. Therefore, my main prayer is for my sons to love the Lord, their God, with all their hearts minds, souls and strength. 
This is what we're fighting for. God's children. 
May__________fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and in faithfulness (Joshua 24:14) 
May__________fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all his heart, considering what great things He has done for him (1 Samuel 12:24)
All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness for__________as he keeps His covenant and His testimonies (Psalm 25:10)
May God's steadfast love be before__________eyes, as he walks in His faithfulness (Psalm 26:3)
May__________trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness (Psalm 37:3)
May the Lord never remove from__________His steadfast love or be false to His faithfulness (Psalm 89:33)
May the Lord cover__________with His pinions, and under His wings may he find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and buckle to__________(Psalm 91:4) 
Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake__________; may he bind them around his neck; write them on the tablet of his heart (Proverbs 3:3) 
May__________call this to mind and therefore have hope: Because of the Lord's great love he is not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is His faithfulness. May__________say to himself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." (Lamentations 3:21-24)
No temptation has overtaken__________that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let him be tempted beyond his ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that he may be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

21 Days of Prayer for Sons - Goodness (Day 14)

I've really been blessed by praying the daily prayers over my sons right before I go to sleep. It calms my mind and my heart. I end the day thinking good thoughts toward them and focusing on God. How has it been going for you? What works best in your daily routine to pray?

Today's focus of goodness strikes home for me. I am having a difficult time with Luca right now (age 5). It's not the typical "boy stuff" of running around and being loud that bothers me, it's the defiance and anger directed at me for daring to challenge his behavior. I've had to take a lot of time-outs for myself. I think the biggest challenge for me is that I don't necessarily expect them to act perfect or even "good" all the time, but I DO expect them to have a good HEART all the time. I know, I know, I can't change their heart. But, GOD CAN! That's why this prayer challenge is SO good! This battle will be won on my knees.
To close, I want to challenge you with these questions originally posted by Brooke on the M.O.B. Society blog:
  • What parenting tools have I been using that only focus on changing behavior and not the heart? Am I willing to lay them down even if they produce what looks like a good child?
  • Reaching a child's heart takes time. Behavior modification is much faster! Am I willing to change things about my life so that I have the time to invest in the hearts of my children?
  • Most importantly: Am I willing to submit my own heart to God and allow Him to mold me from the inside out?

May__________be glad of heart for all the goodness that the LORD had shown to his people (1Kings 8:66)
May goodness and mercy follow__________all the days of his life, and may he dwell in the house of the LORD forever (Psalm 23:6)
Remember not the sins of__________youth or his transgressions; according to Your steadfast love remember__________, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD (Psalm 25:7) 
May__________believe that he shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13)
How abundant is Your goodness, which you have stored up for__________and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind (Psalm 31:19) 
May__________be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple (Psalm 65:4)
May__________taste the goodness of the word of God (Hebrews 6:5) 
It is not good that__________should be alone; Lord, make him a helper fit for him (Genesis 2:18)
May__________do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it may go well with him (Deuteronomy 6:18)
May__________go and celebrate because of all the good things the LORD his God has given to him (Deuteronomy 26:11)

Monday, June 20, 2011

21 Days of Prayer for Sons - Kindness (Day 13)

Rocky showing kindness to Luca (at the end of a long birthday)
One of my main directions to my older sons is to be loving and KIND to their siblings. I think a lot of times they get caught up in trying to control or "boss" the others and forget to treat others as they want to be treated. When Antonio and Rocky were little, the ages that Carlo and Luca are now, they were pretty self-sufficient boys. However, there were times when they lost control of their tempers or forgot the rules (just as their brothers do.) I found then, and it still holds true, that boys need kindness and a strong hand. Discipline is not about bossing or punishing, but training with love.

As Sally Clarkson wrote on the M.O.B. Society blog, "I noticed that when I treated my boys in a gentle way, with respect and spoke directly to them, at eye level, and touched their little backs or shoulders, they were much more attentive.'A gentle answer turns away wrath,' from Proverbs became the pattern for my speech to my boys. Treating them with gentleness and patience created a desire in them to become civil with me. I was firm and consistent, but honored their desire for kindness."

This is such wisdom. Even now, at 13 and almost 12, my older boys respond much better to me if I look them in the eye (almost eye-to-eye! Yikes!), touch their arm or hand, and speak to them in a gentle, firm manner.  We all want to be treated with respect as well as kindness; it pays to honor your sons in this way.

May the LORD now show__________kindness and faithfulness (2 Samuel 2:6) 
May__________be kind and compassionate to others, forgiving, just as in Christ God forgave him (Ephesians 4:32)
May__________, as the Lord's servant, not be quarrelsome, but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil (2 Timothy 2:24)
May__________never repay anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to others and to everyone (1 Thessalonians 5:15)
Let__________speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that he may know how he ought to answer each person (Colossians 4:6)
May__________love others with brotherly affection, outdo others in showing honor (Romans 12:10)
May the the Lord bless__________and keep him. May the Lord make his face shine upon him and be gracious to him; the Lord turn his face toward him and give him peace (Numbers 6:23-26)
May__________not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares (Hebrews 13:2)
May__________be kind to others, tenderhearted, forgiving others, as God in Christ forgave Him (Ephesians 4:32)
May__________live in harmony with others; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble (1 Peter 3:8)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

21 Days of Prayer for Sons - Patience (Day 12)

I want to start off today by wishing my wonderful husband, Nick, a Happy Father's Day. It seems that more often than not, I get caught up in the responsibilities and challenges of being a mom and don't give enough thought or credit to him as the father of these seven amazing, smart, creative children of ours. He has been patient with me through most of it and I am so grateful to him for sticking with me through all of the craziness. I am blessed by Nick daily, and my kids are so lucky.

I also want to apologize for getting to this so late. I have been praying for you all and your families. My own sons seem to be getting some benefit from my time in prayer the past 12 days. How has it been for you?

I want to share this great jewel that Brooke included in the Leader's Guide for today. It really touched my heart because it's what God's been speaking to me about in the past few months as well. Be blessed. "I'm convinced that God cares less about how much I accomplish in life...the "great things" I do in His Name...than He does about how I respond to the things He allows into my life on the daily. Some of the most accomplished in the Kingdom of Christ are those whose names you and I will never know this side of heaven. And greatness is only measured by how well we respond to Christ in the little things. Being patient for what God's plan is and not necessarily pursuing our own dreams."

Hold on to that when your patience is being tested. May the fruit of the Spirit grow large and ripe for you!

May__________be an example of suffering and patience (James 5:10) 
May__________be strengthened with all power, according to God?s glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy (Colossians 1:11)
May__________prove himself by his purity, understanding, patience, kindness, by the Holy Spirit within him, and by his sincere love (2 Corinthians 6:6) 
May__________preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and ex-hort, with complete patience and teaching (2 Timothy 4:2) 
May__________not presume on the riches of God?s kindness and forbearance and patience, knowing that God?s kindness is meant to lead him to repentance (Romans 2:4) 
May__________put on then, as God?s chosen one, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience (Colossians 3:12) 
May__________be patient, for the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit (Ecclesiastes 7:8)
May__________have good sense making him slow to anger, for it is his glory to overlook an of-fense (Proverbs 19:11)
May__________make every effort to add to his faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love (2 Peter 1:5-7) 
May__________be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness (Titus 2:2)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

21 Days of Prayer for Sons - Peace (Day 11)

Because this has been a busy, stressful day and I still have a lot to do this evening, I am going to keep it short and sweet. Lord knows we all need peace — I am so thankful Holy Spirit provides it! This is pretty much a daily prayer in my house "God give us peace!" I don't mean just quiet, that's almost impossible with 7 children aged 3 to 13, but peace in our hearts. Peace in our minds. Peace in our bodies. Peace in our home.

Laura Lee Groves, author of  I'm Outnumbered! One Mom's Lessons in the Lively Art of Raising Boys, gave some simple tips that we can use to "Help Ourselves" when we feel the need for peace in the midst of the mothering.
  • Find someone to confide in
  • If at all possible, step away from the demands (even for a little while)
  • You can help yourself by shifting your perspective as your son grows
  • Pray for him and for your relationship

Let__________turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it (1 Peter 3:11) 
Now may the Lord of peace himself give__________peace at all times in every way (2 Thessalonians 3:16)
Peace God leaves with__________; His peace He gives to__________. Not as the world gives does God give. Let not__________heart be troubled, neither let him be afraid (John 14:27) 
May__________be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage others. Live in harmony and peace.Then the God of love and peace will be with him (2 Corinthians 13:11) 
May__________sow a harvest of righteousness by making peace (James 3:18) 
And let the peace of Christ rule in__________heart, to which indeed he was called in one body. And be thankful (Colossians 3:15)
May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to__________(Jude 1:2) 
May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard__________heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7)
May__________be justified by faith, and have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1)
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify__________completely, and may his whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

Friday, June 17, 2011

21 Days of Prayer for Sons - Joy (Day 10)

Carlo - Joyful in the House of Prayer!
There are plenty of times when I plead with Jesus to urge Holy Spirit grow fruit of Joy within me. (He is the great intercessor, after all.) Those times of frustration, irritation, brokenness all resolve when I remember "The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him" from Psalm 28:7. I will praise Him! My strength and peace and love in the face of ugliness comes from the Joy of the Lord!

You've heard the expressions "Love is a choice," well I truly believe that Joy is a choice too.  In those sleep-deprived early months with your son, you choose to take joy in his beauty and purity. In the wild toddler times of tantrums and two-million questions, you choose to take joy in his growth and wonder. In the tough years of discipline and training, you choose to take joy in the man God is growing him into.

So, this morning, when I had to struggle to get out of the house with my 4 youngest, appropriate clothing, hair and teeth brushed, shoes matching and tied, I really didn't want to go to the prayer room. I chose joy as we went to a back room with a couple other kids for a short teaching to prepare us for the time in the Children's Prayer Watch - in the midst of a hundred distractions. I chose God and I chose to take joy in Him and my children and the other children there. And guess what?

God chose to bring His JOY too!

As Brooke wrote in the Leader's Guide for this prayer challenge, "So how do I find joy and strength from the Lord? Enough to make me 'burst out in songs of thanksgiving?' How do you? Here's the secret: Focus on Christ. Focus on what He did for you (and for your sons) on the cross." Trust in Jesus Christ's work of grace on the cross to get you through those rough days with your kids. Trust Him to hear and answer when you pray for Him to turn their hearts of stone into hearts of flesh.

He hears and brings His Joy to you!

May the joy of the Lord be__________strength (Nehemiah 8:10) 
May__________be filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22)
May__________go out in joy and be led forth in peace (Isaiah 55:12) 
May the God of hope fill__________with all joy and peace as he trusts in him, so that he may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13) 
May__________go to the altar of God, to God, his joy and his delight (Psalm 43:4) 
May__________count it all joy when he meets trials of various kinds, as the testing of his faith produces steadfastness. May he let steadfastness have its full effect, that he may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:1-4)
May__________know that while weeping may tarry for the night, joy comes with the morning (Psalm 30:5)
May__________be imitators of us and of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 1:6) 
May the God of hope fill__________with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit He may abound in hope (Romans 15:13) 
May__________know that the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

21 Days of Prayer for Sons - Love (Day 9)

Luca showing his Love ;)
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." ~Galatians 5: 22
Today, we're getting into the first part of praying the fruits of the Spirit for our sons. In reality, praying for the fruit of Love is asking to know God in a new way. There are so many facets to God's personality that it we will not hesitate to spend eternity seeking more of Him. 1 John 4:8 says "Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love." God = Love. This is truly heartening because it means that anyone who loves, either in their actions or their hearts, knows God in some way. I believe that this is a major part of how we are made in His image; how we love.

So, if you're ever frustrated in reaching your son's heart, or frightened that maybe he doesn't even know God at all, do not fear. You will see God in how he loves to hug you, helps his little sister tie her shoe, spends time talking to his grandparents on the phone. As Brooke wrote in the Leader's Guide for this challenge, "There is no real love apart from God, and God is behind all real and genuine acts of love."

To get real for a minute, while writing this post, I've had to discipline Carlo and Luca for fighting - saying mean things, grabbing arms, even biting. This is frustrating to me after faithfully praying scripture into their lives all week. But, my heart is encouraged when they are so quick to forgive each other and make up with hugs. I just need to keep sowing those seeds of LOVE into their hearts, it has taken root and will grow as they do, eventually into a fruit-bearing tree.

May__________ not love the world or the things in the world (1 John 2:15) 
May our sons love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God (1 John 4:7)
May our sons love one another earnestly from a pure heart (1 Peter 1:22) 
May our sons, when they become husbands, love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself (Ephesians 5:28)
May the Lord make__________increase and abound in love (1 Thessalonians 3:12) 
May__________know that this is love, that we walk according to His commandments... (2 John 1:6)
May__________not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth (1 John 3:18) May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to __________ (Jude 1:2) 
May __________ love the LORD his God with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might (Deuteronomy 6:5)
May__________know that this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10)