The Importance of a Name

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Two of the toughest decisions we’ve had as parents were choosing the names of our kids.  It was a painstaking process in which we vetoed decisions from the other,  argued, compromised, and argued some more.  We probably sounded a bit like our Congress during this government shutdown!

A good name is more desirable than great riches;     to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. Proverbs 22:1

Names are important.  A name says a lot about a person.  Throughout the Bible, God and Jesus have many names.  In fact, songs have been written just about their names.

With just a name, I can send my four-year old into a tizzy.  Mention Santa in this house, and you will get a reaction.  My one-year old has the same reaction when you say, “Daddy.”

Some shudder in fear when they hear a certain name.  They cower as if the name itself is a threat.

Yesterday, during my middle school lesson at church, we read through the Ten Commandments.  The kids were discussing what each one meant when they started talking about taking the Lord’s name in vain.  I heard a kid ask why that was as bad as the others.  My first instinct was a quick prayer asking for help with this one.  I replied that God has power in His name.  The name of God, alone, is a powerful word.  I tried to explain that Jesus tells us to pray in His name.  I don’t know how thoroughly I explained it, but hopefully the idea will stick with the kids.  I clearly have a Bible verse for next week’s lesson!

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:13-14

What power does the name of God hold in your life?

Blessings!

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Reactions and Choosing Your Actions

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Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23)

You know those moments when someone asks you a question, you react, and then you try to cover up your reaction?  Let me give you an example.  Yesterday a student asked me a question about a change to my schedule.  I don’t like the change, but I didn’t really want to kids to know that.  My reaction, however, made it all too clear.  I quickly tried to cover for myself by explaining that I will try to reserve judgement until I see the effects of the change.  I didn’t do such a great job hiding my true feelings.

This verse from Proverbs came to mind.  I realized that I have to really guard my heart from negativity.  There are moments when I wear my heart on my sleeve.  I cannot hide my true feelings about a situation.  I need for my true feelings to always be full of love toward others, peace regardless of the circumstances, and hopefulness for the future.  I don’t want to walk around as an example of negativity for my students or my personal children.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that I need to spend more time filling my heart with prayer, Bible study, friendly conversations, and positive self-talk.  If not, my actions and reactions may be full of gossip, hurtful words, and uncertainty about the future.  I know that I can trust my future to God, so my reactions need to be filled with a peacefulness to demonstrate that.

Anyone else have a bad reaction story to share?

Blessings!

Motivated by Joy

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Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning? Many of us can label ourselves as either night owls or morning people.  What if the secret could be found in what motivates us to get up?

How did you wake up? Did an alarm wake you up?  Children come bouncing into your room? Spouse snore until you awoke? Are you one of those lucky people who gets up when your body naturally wakes up?

My alarm goes off at 5am on days that I work.  I get up, fix a pot of coffee, read my Bible readings for the day, spend a few quiet moments in prayer, work on the computer while drinking coffee, and then get ready for work.  Eventually, I get around to waking up the rest of the house.

This morning, when the alarm blared, I turned it off and just laid in the bed.  I thought about resetting the alarm and skipping my writing time.  This is the first day after a long weekend of sleeping later than usual.  I tried to justify staying in bed.  However, I realized that the joy I find in my quiet mornings motivates me to get up each day.

It is so much easier to move through life when we find joy in our daily schedules.  Other than my quiet mornings, I find joy in playing with my kids after the dinner rush.  I also find joy in the few moments I get to spend with my husband each evening once the kids are in bed.  I find joy in working with my fifth graders each day.

Seeking joy in our daily lives motivates us to keep going.  It fuels our soul and replenishes the weariness.  God tells us to seek joy in Him.  We can find joy in our relationship with Him and His promises for our future.  His blessings pour joy into our lives, and we are instructed to revel in our joy.  As Nehemiah said, “…the joy of the Lord is our strength.” That joy gets us going each day.  It keeps us going when we hit hard times.

How do you find joy in the Lord in your life?

Blessings!

Making Those Hard Parenting Decisions

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Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that don’t have clear answers.  We cannot think of a Bible story or verse that helps direct us in a way that makes sense.  We pray for guidance, but we don’t always feel like we know how to handle the situation.  This happens to everyone.  We take advice from others, and we do the best we can.

I know that almost every parent I have ever met has had their child’s best interests in mind. Parents want to raise their children well.  Somewhere along the line, we sometimes get off track.

I had a conversation yesterday with two football moms.  These moms have little boys in the fourth grade, age 9, playing football in the same league.  They were talking about some parents who were forcing their kids to play.  The kids clearly hate it.  These kids cry at every practice.

I try hard to not be too harsh on these parents.  This may be their first time raising a nine year old.  I have spent a decade working with ten year olds.  I don’t pretend to know everything, but I know enough that I can tell them the kid isn’t ever going to want to play football.  It will be a rare case if the kid suddenly decides they like playing the sport when they are this miserable at every single practice.

So why are they doing it?  Is it mean? One parent could be overheard saying that the kid is overweight.  Football would help.  One parent may think football will toughen up their kid and prepare him for rough times in life.  Others may want their sons to feel a sense of camaraderie with their teammates.

Little boys can be tough to raise, but their aren’t always tough kids.  My advice to people in situations such as these parents would be to find someone who raised several boys.  Find a parent who worked hard to raise her sons in a Christian way.  Look at these boys and determine if their life is one you want your son to emulate. Then keep praying.  God is a parent, too.  These professionals can probably guide you well.

Blessings!

Moving Past Your Past

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Anyone else haunted by mistakes of their past?
Not a good feeling, right?
Take comfort in a few words. Jesus was a friend of sinners when walked this earth. He continues to be a friend of sinners today!
The Bible promises that God has a plan for us. This plan is a prosperous plan, not a plan of misery and destruction. Jeremiah 29:11 lays it out for us. We have amazing futures when we follow God’s plan.
Forgive yourselves. Forgive others. Ask for forgiveness. Move past your past. I feel so sad for those that harbor anger and resentment from their past. It makes them miserable to the point that they cannot enjoy their blessings.
Finally, make changes in your daily life that set you up for success. Pray. Read your Bible. Listen for the voice of God instructing you.
I feel a little preachy this morning, but why waste your future on mistakes of the past?

Blessings!

Choices: What To Do with All of My Free Time

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I rarely have free time. My to-do list is always full. The kids keep me hopping. The house always needs to be cleaned. Laundry piles up. You get the picture. In fact, I bet you are in the same boat. However, every once in a while, I will steal a few moments for myself. I may find ten or fifteen minutes while the kids nap when I cannot vacuum or put away clothes in their room. I find little breaks when my to-do list hits a stand-still. So what do I do in my free time? Oh the choices!

When my kids were tiny babies, I slept! Now I can manage the day without a nap, thankfully! So what are my choices? I could spend my free time in a very productive way by working on school work or writing.  I could work on a task beneficial to my family, such as meal planning. I could mindlessly search Pinterest or Facebook. Better yet, I could mindlessly get lost in games of Candy Crush Saga. I could read or dream up new preschool projects for Superhero Son.

Oh the choices I have! Now, none of the choices listed are sins, right? I am not a bad person or participating in any wrong doing if I chose to spend my free time on any of these activities. Unless I put them before God. We are told over and over in the Bible that God must come first in our lives. So how should I spend my free time? My choices narrow to reading my Bible, working on Sunday School lessons, or simply praying.  By putting God first, our lives will remain focused. These quiet moments allow God to speak to our hearts and guide our minds. When we have committed our hearts and minds to God, we may see that spending time with Him is far more relaxing and renewing than time spent on Facebook.

Blessings!

Above All Else, Fear the Lord

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Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. (Proverbs 31:30, NIV)

As a mom and as a teacher, I know that little eyes are always watching me.  One of the first things my professors taught during education classes is that we are to lead by example.  Our students and our children will learn how to act by watching our actions, how to speak by listening to what we say, and how to live by watching our lives.

One of the ways I teach my kids and the kids I work with at church is by helping them interpret scripture.  I fully understand that I do not know enough about biblical translations to adequately interpret scripture for them.  I pray that God will help me and hope that my interpretations are not too far off the mark.  In fact, this week we read the same verses from a couple different translations to help me with this.

One of the biblical ideas I struggle with the most is fear in the Lord.  The verse above tells us that fearing the Lord is an admirable quality in women.  Throughout the Old Testament we read that God shows His wrath, anger, jealousy, and might in some very scary ways.  I am a firm believer that the God of today is the same as the God of the Old Testament, and He will remain the same forevermore.  However, I don’t feel the need to be afraid of Him.

The Proverbs 31 woman lacked one HUGE element in her life that I have in mine, Jesus.  She had to live her life without a relationship with Jesus.  I don’t think the first coming of Christ changed God, but I do think it changed our relationship with God.

I do not attend church because I fear God.  I attend church because I feel Him drawing me to my church.   I feel the Holy Spirit moving in the lives of my church’s members.

I do not read my Bible, write this blog, teach Biblical lessons to my kids, or teach Sunday School because I am afraid of what God will do to me if I choose to not obey Him.  I do it out of respect, praise, and honor.  I may even fear punishment, but not God.

I am not as educated as I should be on this topic.  I welcome your comments.

What does it mean to you to “fear the Lord?”

Blessings!