Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Plethora of Reasons Why All You BabyMamas Should "Get in a Group"

At my church (Gateway Church), we call our small groups "life groups" or "Gateway Groups." Small groups - as it were - seem to be a fad that has overtaken the modern church-going experience, to the chagrin of some. But, have you ever read books in the Bible like Acts, Romans, 1 and 2 Corninthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians...and the list goes on? The Church - or body of those who follow Jesus - have met together in small groups in people's homes since the beginning of Christianity. It's not a new concept, for sure, but it is a vital one.

Jesus' profound summation of the Law and the Prophets (all the Scripture back in Jesus' day) was to 1) Love God, and 2) Love others. It's not enough to just love God. Jesus said it! If you want to experience life the way God intended, then you must risk opening yourself up to others and reaching out to love them. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that you will be embraced and loved as well.

"But I have tried a small group before at church and I felt left out." Or, "I don't know anyone in the group." Or, "What if nobody talks to me?" Or, "What if I wear the wrong thing?"

Let me give you as many reasons as I can think of why YOU should get over yourself and find a group:

1. Sometimes, your attendance at a group is not really about you.
2. Sometimes, stepping out is an act of faith and obedience to God.
3. You might make some new friends.
4. You might hear God speak to you.
5. You might learn something new.
6. You might eat yummy food.
7. You might have fun.
8. You might win a prize!
9. You might make someone's day.
10. You might find a place to serve that you never imagined would have fit you so well.
11. You could leave your nursing bra hooked up for an extended period of time.
12. Other adults will be present for some adult conversation.
13. If you take your child(ren) to Gateway's children's classes, they will have fun and will be overwhelmingly blessed.
14. If you take your child(ren) to the children's classes, no one will be crying at you or calling you Mommy for at least 2 hours.
15. Your heart needs connection with other women.
16. You need to laugh.
17. You need to worship God with people who want to worship Him.
18. You need the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit to blow over you and revive you.
19. Being part of a small group brings you an instant family of people who will support you.
20. Being part of a small group changes your whole "church" experience by allowing you to be connected instead of floating aimlessly.
21. You could swap recipes.
22. You could swap kids' clothes.
23. You could swap kids -, nevermind.
24. You can be mentored by others who have gone before you on the wife/mom journey.
25. You could be the touch of Jesus' hand on someone's shoulder who so desperately needs it.
26. You could be the one who says the very words of encouragement that someone else's life may be depending upon.
27. You could be the one to call out gifts and abilities in a woman who has never known she was good at anything.
28. You could be the one to help break the chains in a woman's life.
29. You could make a difference.
30. You could be blessed.
31. Your heart could be healed.
32. Your body could be healed.
33. Your emotions could be healed.
34. You could get in on seeing others healed by God's power.
35. You can learn how to pray.
36. You can help others learn how to pray.
37. You can show off your cooking/baking skills when it's your turn to bring a snack.
38. You can wear your PJ's if you really want to. (at least in my group, you could...)
39. You can be part of a group project to help those in need - food drive, adopt a family or single mom, serve at a shelter, etc.
40. You could be the very organizer that your group needs to keep things on track!
41. You can be yourself.
42. God can change your heart.
43. God can change your marriage.
44. God can change your family.
45. You will start experiencing LIFE!

Well, I guess you wouldn't exactly call that a "plethora" - at least not up to Jefe's and El Guapo's standard of the word. But, I think that about covers it. (Read the following with an Eeyore voice) If you want to stay the same and hide in your house...and not make any new friends or hear anything new from the Holy Spirit...or eat any sopapilla cheesecake or oreo truffles...then, you probably don't have to try out a group.

Let me just say, back in the day when I deeply detested gatherings of women and I had hardened my heart to a lot of things, it was only in a women's group where the Lord got hold of me. He softened me and massaged the hardness right out of my heart and I had a complete change of heart AND mind. Today, instead of abhorring women and women's groups, I am on track to impact this generation with God's timely message of love and hope SPECIFICALLY to women. Don't tell God what He can't do. His plan for you is bigger than you and it is so exciting! So, get ovuh yoseff and GET IN A GROUP!!!


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My Jewel

Here I am, folding laundry in my guest room – which is actually just an extension of my laundry room these days – and I begin to catch a wave of something the Lord is saying. He is saying it to me, yes, but I believe He is really saying it to you today. Here’s what I sense He is wanting to write on your heart:

Did you know that you are my precious jewel? I know I have nicknames for you, but today, you are My Jewel. I love to watch you turn and sparkle in the setting I crafted for you. The brilliance of your uncovered heart makes Me have butterflies in My stomach. I am so proud of you and I get so excited when you discover, little by little, who you truly are. I made you strong, passionate, and fierce, yet delicate, soft and loving.

I know there are things in your life that you are frustrated with. I see them. Will you give them to Me? Your weaknesses and failures do not make Me mad at you – they actually give Me more room to fill you with My strength and grace. Will you let Me?

I think you are a great mother. You are doing a great job! Your babies are doing well in your care – and I’m right behind you, loving them and parenting them, too. Fear is just a trick to paralyze you and keep you from moving forward with Me – don’t fall for it. I’m right here.

Rest in Me. Let Me wash peace over your heart and let My words renew your mind. You are mine and I love you. Will you come away with Me? Can you feel My heart beating for you? I’m pretty wild about you, My Jewel.


I don’t know about you, but my heart flutters when I sense the Lord speaking to me like that! He is so amazing. Let Him take you on a wild adventure into His heart today! He’s waiting for you to accept His invitation…

Friday, August 6, 2010

Open Up

Knock, knock. Knock, knock, knock.


Knock, knock, knock, knock, KNOCK.

...quiet...crickets chirping...

BAM! BAM! "Hey! Open up! I know you're there!"

Have you been on the locked side of the door when you KNOW that someone is there and they can hear you knocking? And they were even expecting you? Pretty frustrating!

I just discovered that I do this with my children. Not literally, so don't call CPS just yet! I don't leave them out in the 105-degree Texas heat, banging on the door, begging for entry into their own home. No, I just do it emotionally! (like that's any better?)

My children are depending on me to radiate love and acceptance into their lives. I am their mother - the nurturing force that feeds their little souls for a short time. I am training them to open their hearts to God and to listen for His voice - so they can learn to receive His love. But right now, they mainly receive His love through the filter of my love toward them.

I find myself getting so perturbed with children hanging off of me while I'm trying to accomplish a task or complete a thought or, God-forbid, type something on the computer. I have fallen into the bad habit of raising the fortress around my own heart when my children are requesting (a.k.a. demanding) my attention. Most mornings, I'll get the kids their breakfast, get them started on a book or a project or a TV show and then run into the office to work on stuff for a few minutes. If I'm lucky, I can have about 10 minutes of quiet....and then Graham's mommy-alarm goes off. Before I know it, both kids are in the office with me, spinning in the chairs, fighting with swords, yelling, laughing, asking me hundreds of questions...and my precious moments of quiet are over.

Are there lots of solutions to this problem? Yes. Have I tried several on the list? Yes. So, if nothing is working, the problem must be more than face-value. Here's what I'm learning from this pattern: when I focus on my kids and open my heart fully to them, I am peaceful, joyful and a whole lot of fun! When I brush my kids aside and try to focus on other things - even good things like paying bills, phone conversations, writing blog entries (!) - my heart becomes impenetrable to them and they crash into the stone walls I've thrown up. My problem is not my outward behavior or choice of is the condition of my heart.

By nature, I am a very black-and-white person. If I am operating in the default setting of my black-and-white-ness, I usually end up in a pickle...and this seems to be one of them. I have unknowingly (until now) shut my kids out of my love and acceptance when I am focusing on something else. Yikes! I WANT my children to come to me with their joys and successes. I WANT them to find love flowing from me that heals them when they are hurt or fearful. I deeply desire for their growing-up years to be a time full of love and peace in our home, and a time they look back on as adults with happy memories. Tim and I want to give them every advantage in the world of emotional health so that later in life, they will not struggle with who they are or who God is.

How do I know that I have closed my heart to my children? When they are violently competing for my attention, for my approval or my love. In my 6 year old and 2 year old, it usually looks like a temper tantrum, tears, or a crestfallen countenance. I forget how fragile their little hearts are - and it breaks my heart to know that I have hurt them. I have gotten very good at saying, "I'm so sorry! Mommy isn't trying to hurt your feelings, and I am very sorry if I did that. I love you and you're my favorite little boy/girl in the whole world!"

Of course, there are times when you cannot be completely absorbed in Little Kid World. It is valuable to train your children to have play time on their own so that you CAN accomplish things. But as you train them to be a little more independent, train your heart to stay open to those precious ones that are entrusted to you. parallel, God's heart is never shut off from you. He never turns His heart away from you - and He's got the longest list of responsibilities EVER! He is always available to you and His love is not meted out to you based on His agenda for the day.

Just connecting the dots are made in God's image. You bear His likeness and if you have given Him your heart, then your tendencies are to be like Him. It is totally possible for us to keep our hearts open to our children!! By the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us, we can do it!

Oh, and a side-note to all you black-and-white thinkers out there: Being black-and-white is not bad! It is the way God wired you! Being black-and-white usually goes along with the motivational gift of prophecy (found in Romans 12:6) and only gets you in trouble when you are operating on your own fuel rather than the Holy Spirit's power in you. If you have the spiritual gift of prophecy, it means that you speak out truth. That truth and justice are huge to you. Just wanted to cast a clear light on being black-and-white!

The doors of my heart are open! Bring on the little kids!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sometimes it's just the little things

Just a day or two ago, I was up to my eyeballs in frustration with my whiny children. Some days are just WHINY days for them...and I can't, for the life of me, figure out the trigger.

I had been saying the same things over and over to them that day: pick up the toys, get your junk out of the kitchen, no, I can't hold you while I'm cooking, etc. We finally made it through dinner and bath time - thank God - and were getting everyone calmed down and ready for bedtime. I was so DONE with children and my "no-more-little-voices alarm" had gone off in my brain about 7:00. But, when I went in to rock with Graham and read him a bedtime story (our nighttime ritual), I found myself surprisingly relaxed and ready for snuggle time with my little man. We were able to read about Curious George and laugh together - we talked about the silly things George did and silly things that Graham does. I looked into the bright eyes of my precious toddler and felt the warm ooze of joy flood my heart. Graham went to bed happy and snug as a bug (also our little ritual).

Then, I helped Claire get her bedtime snack and choose some books to read together. I cosied up on her bed and she sat beside me crunching handfuls of goldfish crackers as we were transported into the world of Almanzo Wilder in Farmer Boy. The dog sneaked his way into Claire's room and hopped up beside me...and took all of about 30 seconds to commence with a full-on snore. I was sandwiched in between two little warm bodies, who each love me in their own different ways. We enjoyed our story and marveled at all the things that people knew how to do back then...making their own shoes, using every part of an animal when you slaughtered it for food, making soap, projecting how much food to store away from the harvest so you could eat during the winter... Once we had prayed and were ready for lights to go out, Claire had to blow one more kiss toward me and say, "I love you, Mommy!"

Most of that day had been a struggle. But those precious moments at the end of it all were shining and spectacular. The joy in my heart as I allowed myself to become fully immersed in the moment was such a sweet reward for sticking with it.

I know this is a short, simple thing, but I hope you will highlight the sweet moments. Choose to frame THOSE moments in your mind, and not the other ones. There are plenty of whiny, fussy, screamy moments to go around...but the little things (like my snug-as-a-bug with Graham and my snuggle/story time with Claire) can be stored up like treasures in your heart. And I know you all understand how important it is to train your heart and mind on the good things! It helps me see this verse in a different light:

"A good man (or mama) out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things..." Matthew 12:35a (NKJV)

If you have given your heart to Jesus, then your heart is good! (Gotta read Waking the Dead by John Eldredge - just sayin') So, it is fitting for you to store up good things in your heart. Focus on the good, pleasant, lovely, that sounds familiar!

"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." Philippians 4:8 (NLT)

And then....when you find yourself in the middle of an eye-bulging, hair-pulling moment with your little ones, you will be able to access the peace of God. His peace is always available to you - but you have to know where to find it!

"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)

Here's to a fuss-free day coming your way soon...but until then, here's to a treasure box full of precious little things.