Sweet Dreams and No Bloody Noses

As a Christian and as a parent it is my duty to teach my boys how to pray to God. In that simple act I am teaching them that our God is approachable, and that He cares, and that He desires to hear from us.

Every night, I tuck my boys in and then we pray.  I start off with asking, “What are we thankful for?” then we pray for our family.  The night isn’t over until I wrap up our prayers with, “Sweet dreams and no bloody noses.”

It became a routine after Carsen was having bad dreams so, we would read about a certain curious monkey. One particular night the story was about George visiting a Candy Factory.  Ever since that night,  we prayed for sweet dreams, like George in the candy shop.  Tucker would often get bloody noses near bed time so the second tag line was added for good measure.

Often we hear how people think God is some genie in a bottle waiting to grant our wishes. I thought I was doing a good job teaching my boys to be thankful for what God has given us. We prayed for the healing of friends and family, safe travels for those who were, and thankful for the house, right down to the dog.

I believe God still speaks to his people.  When He does speak to me it’s been few words that pack a punch, like opening a Pandora’s box of truth that spills out and opens doors of revelation.  Sometimes it’s a thought that I know did not originate in my head, and that’s what recently happened to me.

I was in the kitchen doing something and this thought breezed past me that I almost didn’t catch it.  It was like walking past someone you vaguely think you know, but aren’t quite sure; once they are halfway down the street it hits you.

“You are not teaching them to ask of Me.”

I stopped in my tracks.  Nothing I was doing or thinking would have led me to this notion.

I am teaching my boys to be thankful to God but there is so much more to prayer than that.  I wasn’t teaching my boys to ask God; to come to Him with prayers of petitions.  He is the Giver of every good gift and I was missing showing my boys the generosity of our Father.

Luke 9:11 – “…I tell you, ASK, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

and

John 15:6-7  “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ASK whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

God reminded me of a deep-seated root in my own prayer life.  I have no problem with asking God to help others, but rarely would I seek His help for me.   What if help didn’t come?  Then I would be disappointed in God and I didn’t want that to ruin our relationship.  I shouldn’t be disappointed with God.  I wanted things to be good between us, so, I wouldn’t ask unless I was desperate.

This attitude stems from my parents’ divorce.  I know this. I’ve said this.  I wouldn’t ask my Dad for things because of the what ifs.  I didn’t want to be disappointed or mad at my Dad.

God still isn’t a genie.  He isn’t waiting for us to ask for a million dollars.  In 2 Chronicles God says to Solomon,  “Ask for whatever you want me to give to you.”   Solomon could have asked for riches or any earthly desire, but you know what he asked for?  Wisdom.  Wisdom to rule his people.

Do you know how God responded?  He gave him wisdom AND riches.  He was the richest King ever!  Ask, and ye shall receive.

I will leave with this story. Several years ago, when my boys were into Beyblades (a modern version of the spinning top), Tucker had lost one outside.  We saw where it went but when we looked for it we could not find it for the life of us!  For three days we looked in that same darn bush to no avail.

We prayed one night to find the toy.  The next day, determined to find it, I urged Tucker to look once more in the bush and around it. It was a small bush to top it off.  Triumphantly, Tucker squealed.  “He found it!  God found it!”, as he hoisted the toy in the air as if to show God, himself. That look of pure joy on his face, with eyes squinting in the Spring sunshine towards heaven, was truly a gift to me.

See, God cares about the little things too.  Tucker knew, without a doubt, that God heard him.  God answers prayers.  And I will say, that joy God saw on Tucker’s face was the truest picture of His love for giving His children every good and perfect gift.

ASK Him.

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He Hasn’t Forgotten

My son Carsen has not forgotten he wants to be baptized. He hasn’t forgotten that we told him to wait. He hasn’t forgotten that we questioned him and his decision because, well, at first he wanted to follow in his brother’s footsteps.

It’s been almost a whole year and he hasn’t forgotten.

This Sunday morning, because Todd and Tucker were serving in the coffee House, it was just Carsen and I in the sanctuary (do we call it that at Journey?) and he wanted to switch seats and sit on the couch, the couch that is in the VERY front row… How could I say no to a seven year old grinning and mouthing “pleeeease” as he batted his eyes up at me?

It was a good excuse to move away because someone sat behind us, I don’t know who they were, and that time to meet and greet those around you was coming up and I wasn’t feeling social so I bailed in the name of “it’s for my child” excuse. I am ashamed but I did it.

ANYWAY Carsen and I sang and it was a great moment to look down and see and hear my youngest sing songs he actually knew. Que the little hearts popping like bubbles around my head as I discretely watched him. (sigh)

We were a few feet away from the big baptismal tank thingy and my little bug tells me, “I still remember you said I could get baptized.”

My heart sinks a little. I had been putting it off ONLY because I needed to check with the family to see when everyone could make it and I hadn’t. Shame. On. Me. (I know!).

“I remember Tucker said yes to all the questions they asked him…”

Carsen has been worried that he will be asked a question he doesn’t know how to answer and that maybe he won’t be baptized because of that. My heart is drowning, gurgling on shame by now.

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O Holy Night

Ah, Christmas carols!  I love them.  Many of us can sing these songs from memory, memories that go as far back as kindergarten or first grade! I sang them for years and they always make me feel happy.  I remember going caroling and singing in kids choir up in the loft of St. Joseph’s Catholic church.  Great memories.

“O Holy Night,” is my favorite Christmas song and this is the most beautiful rendition (above) I have ever heard.  I am in awe of God’s love for mankind and His desire to  be with us once again, as it was before the Fall, most arduously, that He should suffer and bear the sins of this world even unto death.  He loves you THAT much.

It’s easy to lose sight of why we celebrate Christmas with hectic schedules, parties and shopping.  As I grow older and crave time to slow down I have been paying more and more attention to the Christmas songs I have sung for years. A year or two ago the words of “Little Drummer Boy” spoke to my heart, stopped me in my tracks.  It was not one of my top ten songs but it was one that I sang along with belting out the “rup pa pum pums” with the best of them.  This year, when I hear it, I pause to listen to it… really listen.

Often times I have wondered what I could possible give God.  Sure there’s the Sunday school answers, “my heart,” “my devotion” but come on I can’t put a bow on it.  It’s the age old question, “What do you give a man that has everything?”  literally.  The words of the Little Drummer Boy suddenly opened my eyes.  It really was a revelation and it seemed like an “aha!” moment for me.

All the little boy had to give was his drum and his talent to play it.  He was like the poor woman with only a penny to give, and she gave it.  He was like one of the saints before the throne casting their crowns at God’s feet.  The boy gave the baby Jesus everything he had, his talent  and it pleased Jesus.  Perhaps it didn’t seem much to the boy, maybe even insignificant, but to Jesus… that was everything He wanted. Continue reading

A Time to Wait

A mother and her young son sit alone in a near empty sanctuary in the midst of a sea of country blue pews.  I notice that both of them are sobbing almost uncontrollably.  Faces are red and splotchy and washed with rivers of tears.

I don’t remember talking to them but I think I did because I found out why they were crying.  The mother was just told by the departing Youth Minister that her youngest son was not ready for baptism.  They were crushed.  Her oldest son had just made the decision to be baptized and as expected her youngest wanted to be baptized as well.

It’s an image as fresh on my mind as it was almost eighteen or nineteen years ago when I came upon it.  Now, here I was facing the same crossroads.  My oldest son just announced his decision to be baptized and my youngest wanted to follow suit.

In my gut I knew why Carsen wanted to be baptized.  What six year old would want to miss out on possibly the last chance to be in a pool of water?  Summer was at an end and school was about to start the very next day?

Carsen heard the jubilant phone calls being made to grandparents and invitations for coffee and cake after the event.  He wanted to be a part of the excitement.  He wanted the party to be for him too.

We questioned Carsen and tried to finagle the true reason for his decision.  I was careful not to lead him in his answer but he couldn’t say why he wanted to be baptized or why we are baptized.  We had just sat in the baptism class to explain our church’s belief. The kid forgot to take notes.

There’s only so much you can explain in the car while talking over your shoulder.  I felt this conversation needed undivided attention so it would have to wait until we got home. Continue reading

God of Thunder

Joel 3:16

The LORD roars from Zion And utters His voice from Jerusalem, And the heavens and the earth tremble. But the LORD is a refuge for His people And a stronghold to the sons of Israel.

 

Is it strange that I find God in the thunder and the crack of lightning?  I am in the midst of a storm and my first thought is to gather the black clouds around me like a wild blanket.  I want nothing but to hear the deep groaning’s and explosive thunder in my ears.  I find comfort in that.  I find God in that.  Come near to me oh Lord.

I searched for scriptures that referenced thunder and found seventy, perhaps there is more, I don’t know.  A lot of verses liken the sound of thunder to God’s anger and wrath.  It is a display of His terrible might.  People tremble, some even flee.  Heaven and earth tremble.  Thunder, to most, is to be feared and at times it causes me to flee under the nearest blanket.

When I was nursing my youngest son in wee hours of the night (although often my clock said it was 2AM) I would be the only one awake.  Even Carsen was sleeping while he nursed.  It was the loneliest time for me.  The house was utterly silent.  Nothing stirred.  Then one night while I was nursing a distant thunder rolled.  It was a lazy lingering roll.  My ears latched on to it and in my desolation I asked, I prayed for it to come closer to keep me company. Continue reading

A New Creation in Christ

A brand new Life

A brand new Life

Proverbs 22:6  – Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

August 25th, 2013, on our way home from church, my oldest son decided he wanted to be baptized.

He had expressed interest in the past, asking about why we get baptized, why is it important and how long do you have to stay under water.

So, when our church announced they would be baptizing anyone who wanted to follow in the steps of Christ they could do so at our church picnic that afternoon.  They were offering a short class on what our church believed about baptism and they would be available to ask any questions.

As a family we decided to go.  It was great to learn our church’s mission statement on such a monumental decision in a Christian’s life.  We are baptized because Jesus was.  We are baptized because God commanded us.  We are baptized because we want the world to know that we identify ourselves with Christ and that we are His followers.  I. Am. A. Christian. Continue reading