Loud and Proud

Driving home last night, I had the radio on and was singing a favorite song as loud as I could. I guess I was caught up in the moment of worshiping the Lord. My moment was short lived however.  Brady, my sweet-but sarcastic- 10 year old started groaning. “Mooommmm, you are singing wayyy too loudly!”

I get that a lot. Especially from my family. Singing has always been my thing. OK OK. It’s not my thing that I’m good at ( I guess I can be a tad bit tone deaf at times) but it’s still the thing I love to do with all of my heart.

There is nothing more joyful than singing for the Lord. I probably sing too loudly in church, but I don’t care about that either. Jesus loves my singing and that’s all that matters. My boys and husband might groan, but I catch them singing and humming too sometimes. The boys will also sing along with me at rare moments and there is nothing more precious in this world than listening to your little boys sing about Jesus. Trust me, it’s so much better than listening to them sing about money or girls. You know the things 8 and 10 years need to be worrying about at their age-money and girls.

It took me a while to realize Jesus wants us to sing for Him as a way of giving glory to Him.  When we go to church and sing, it’s not about us singing for ourselves.  Even if we really, really love the song. We are singing for Him. He’s listening to us. Sure I might sound like a wounded animal, but to Him, I bet it sounds like a beautiful symphony. Right? OK I will just keep telling myself that. No, but really, He does delight in our offering of song. So I’m going to keep on singing. Loud and Proud. 😉

Dear Paige, Remember your singing is a way of serving the Lord.  Your song is an offering to Him.  It’s not about how good or bad you sound, it’s about honoring Him with a joyful heart. 

Psalm 104:33  I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.

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Crossing Guard

I ran a ton of errands yesterday for different events that are going on in my life. Running in and out of stores, fretting around, worrying about getting the right party supplies or travel items. It was just one of those days. During my running, I encountered some really, really nice people. In fact, I had pleasant conversations with every cashier I encountered.  We talked about the weather, the party I was planning, the trip I was going on etc. They really were just delightful women who seemed to be taking pleasure in their work.

When I arrived home, I thought about how I go out every day and meet (mostly) pleasant people and talk with them about the weather or other mundane things that are happening in my life, but I don’t ever talk to them about Jesus.

Then I thought about how I wear my cross around my neck devotedly. I love my cross (See The Knot in My Cross Post), but why am I even wearing it if I don’t share my love of Jesus to others? Is it pointless?

Am I a crossing guard? Or am I guarding the cross?

Think about what crossing guards do. They help people get from one end of the street to the next. I need to be helping people get from one side of the street to the next too. From this world to His world.

But nope. I’m guarding the cross. I wear it around my neck and go out into this world and don’t say a thing. Why? Fear for the most part. Fear of rejection. Fear of being looked at like I’m a freak. Fear that I will be laughed at. I could go on and on.

You know all the same fears the Apostles had, but they ended up doing it anyways. Because they were following a command. A command to go out and make disciples of all men. They endured much worse than I can ever even fathom, but they still did it.

Dear Paige, stop being afraid. Put your big girl pants and start really spreading His word. Who cares what other people think? Remember, just as your remind your children daily. We aren’t living for this world. We are living for His. 

Mark 16:15  “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’”

Five Dollars

Brady and I have been heading up to Richmond every morning this week for his VCU basketball camp. We (and when I say we, I mean my children and myself, not my never likes to leave Enon husband) enjoy going to the city. The boys get excited when they get to explore different parts of it like Carytown or the Canal Walk. Trips to Richmond also help introduce them to other parts of the world they are not always so aware of when they are in their suburban bubble. Numerous questions come up from different things they observe and from these questions, I’m hoping, reflective conversations.

One question that always inevitably comes up is the one about the homeless people that stand on the sides near the interstate exits. Brady, being almost 10, is extremely concerned about why these people are there. What happened to them to cause them to stand outside and hold a sign all day? He always asks me to give them money. I don’t know if they actually need the money. They might. They might not. I don’t really know.

Here is what I do know. My son is watching me. He is watching me all of the time. He’s watching how I respond to the waitress at the restaurant. He’s watching how I interact with my friends. He’s watching how I greet my husband. He’s watching if I drive past the homeless man, knowing good and well I have five dollars in my wallet.

We are our children’s single biggest influence when they are young.  We can talk all day long about showing kindness to others, but our actions always, as we know, speak louder than any word ever will. I don’t want my son remembering a mother who talked to him about showing a Christ like love for others but drove right by every homeless person they saw.  I’m sure he’s going to remember all of the other parenting mistakes I have made throughout his life!  At least let him remember I could be kind. Remember that saying “Your children are a reflection of you?”  This may or may not be true, but I do know, ultimately, who I do want them to be a reflection of and it’s not me.

Dear Paige, Do what He would do. If you have doubts,  think about how He would respond.  Little eyes are watching you and little ears are listening. Through your actions, honor Him, while teaching your children to become more Christ like as well. 

Philippians 4:9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Just Keep Trying

My sweet, gentle spirited Brady went off to VCU basketball camp yesterday morning. He was so excited to actually get to spend the entire day on the floor of the Siegel Center.   Basketball is his thing. It’s the first thing he thinks about in the morning and the last thing he thinks about at night. This morning, before he left, he snuggled up next to me during my bible time. Normally, I get a little (ok a lot) frustrated when my quiet time is interrupted, but he was bursting with excitement and also a little nervous about his day.  The rest of our house was asleep, so the peaceful morning appeared to be the perfect opportunity for some God talk with my oldest son.

First, we talked about the NBA MVP Stephen Curry and how he tries to honor Jesus first in everything that he does. He uses his fame as a platform to speak with others about The Lord and explains how he can’t do any of it without Jesus. Stephen Curry uses his fame for His glory.  Reading to Brady from Luke, I talked to him about someone else who was chosen to be The Lord’s servant in a much more powerful way.  Mary was chosen to have the Son of God. Yet, even though she was highly favored by Him, Mary still made sure everything she did was all about The Mighty One. Not herself. She was his humble servant.

Using Mary and Stephen Curry, I explained to Brady that no matter what he did at camp that day, he needed to make sure, first and foremost,  he was glorifying Jesus.

He looked at me like “Huh? How do I do that?”

That’s a good question Mom. How do we teach our children to glorify Jesus?

Well I tried. I’m hoping I got it right. I told him when you make a basketball shot and everyone cheers, be humble about it and know you can’t do it without Him. When another kid forgets his snack money, share yours.  Respect your coaches, work hard and show others a Christ like love. This is glorifying Him in all that you do.  I think he got it. Hopefully.

Then I explained to my sweet little boy he is still a human and he will mess this up too. We all mess this up. The point is, Jesus died so we would be forgiven and so we can continue to keep trying. Keep trying to serve him and keep trying to glorify him every day.

Dear Paige, you are going to mess this up because that is what humans do. The great thing about walking with Him is He will make you better. He is in your heart and all around you. When you stumble, He will pick you up and push you forward. Be humble too, remembering it’s never about you. Make sure all you do is about His glory. 

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

A Steady Light

Have you ever overheard a conversation and you couldn’t stop yourself from listening to it?  The other day, while out with the boys, I heard a group of ladies just totally slamming another woman. It was so bad I really started to wonder what in the world the other woman had done to them.  They were talking rather loudly and from what I could gather, without making assumptions, the woman came from a background that was not like their own backgrounds and they were not very fond of her entrance into their social circle.

Guess where their social circle was? Yep. You got it. Church. When they mentioned being Christians, my stomach just turned. I wanted to go up to them and ask what church they went to- just so I wouldn’t ever enter its doors.

It was very convicting for me to be sitting away from these ladies and to observe from afar. I have been guilty of doing what they were doing. Oh yes indeed. My foot and my mouth have met each other several times.   I don’t think these ladies really thought they were doing anything wrong, although they did ask one woman, who was being rather quiet, if she liked to “gossip about other people too.”  These women did not realize how bad they sounded. Or maybe they did, I don’t know and just didn’t care. Either way, the example they were setting for Christians made me really sad. It also made me really think about the example I need to be setting in this world as a Christian.

When you walk with Jesus, it sometimes feels like  you are holding a mirror in front of you at all times. Or it should feel like that right? He begins to convict your heart and once this starts to happen, you begin to wonder how you can become more like Him in everything that you do.  But when you get caught up in all that this world is, His reflection starts to fade.

Dear Paige, Remember you are, foremost, a reflection of Jesus.  Make others see Him inside of you first.  Not the you that’s inside of this world. Be a steady light, leading the way and not one that flickers on and off, unsure of where to go.  When His reflection is there, you can do all things,  so shine your light as brightly as you can. 

Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

The Grand Prize

My legs are so sore as I write this post. We just arrived home from Busch Gardens and are all completely exhausted. Riding roller coasters and being out in the heat all day can really take a toll on you. While the boys love riding rides and eating junk food, they also love playing those darn games. You know the ones. The ones that cost five dollars and it’s a miracle if your kid wins. If they do happen to win something, it’s certainly not something you would have chosen to spend five dollars on.

Eli has never won anything ever. In fact it’s become a Busch Garden’s tradition that Eli picks a game, loses it and then throws a straight up- can you believe he’s almost 8- temper tantrum.

Thankfully, the Heavens were in his favor today! He picked a basketball game and actually won. His prize? A tacky, little green pillow with the words Busch Gardens on it. His reaction? Pure joy. He could not believe he won something! Finally! Thank you Jesus! It didn’t matter how big or how small the prize was, he was just so happy to have finally won something. He couldn’t wait to tell everyone about it. He probably told his brother twenty times about it.   His cousins heard it about twenty times too.

I hope one day when he wins the biggest prize- acceptance of Christ into his heart and a relationship with the Holy Spirit, that he is just as excited to tell everyone. I hope he shouts it from the rooftops! I hope he can’t wait to tell all he can about it over and over again.

Why is it so easy to tell others about the winnings happening in our daily lives (promotion at work, acceptance into graduate school, new house) but it’s so hard to tell people about what winning the grand prize feels like? I’m so guilty of this. It can be very hard for me to discuss my love of Christ to others. But isn’t He worth the most recognition?

Dear Paige, He is the ultimate prize. Talk about him with a childlike enthusiasm. Share your joy for Him with others, just like you would share your other joys. Letting others know about your biggest “win” may hopefully help win them over someday too. 

Psalm 119:4 I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame,

Bedtime Prayers

Sometimes I feel like I’m still getting the hang of this whole prayer thing. Especially when it comes to teaching my own children how to pray. My oldest son Brady and I pray together every night before I tuck him in. I also pray in the morning after I read my devotions and have my Bible time. The morning time prayer used to be my “real” prayer time where I talked deeply with Jesus, speaking to him about my worries, areas I needed to work on  and the successes I was having in my life .

My evening prayer time with Brady was an entirely different event. There was a big problem with this prayer time.  This prayer time was  all about Brady.  Yep- all about what I wanted Brady to fix or improve. Poor Brady. He really is a good kid. I just figured prayer time was a good time to tell Jesus how I really wanted him to be more compassionate or to practice self-control when his little brother was annoying him etc.  I did praise Brady for the good things he was doing, but certainly, most of my prayers were about the things I wanted him to fix.

Yikes. Didn’t I want Brady to like Jesus? Didn’t I want him to think of Jesus as his best friend? Someone he can talk to about anything? I didn’t want him to view Jesus as standing with a clipboard in hand, checking off all of the things he needs to work on.  No, Jesus is there to have rich conversations with.  Not just to listen about what Brady needs to work on, but to listen to what is on his heart. To listen to his fears, his worries and to also feel his joyfulness.

Needless to say, my nighttime prayers with Brady have changed. Brady hears me talk about my own fears, share my own wrong doings and celebrate my own joyfulness in the Lord. He is learning that prayer is not just a time to talk about your sins, but a time to share everything you have in your heart with Jesus. It’s also a time for me to model that being a Christian doesn’t mean you are always perfect. I want him to hear how I, his mother, mess up daily, but Jesus is still my BFF.

Dear Paige, Remember you are trying to raise boys who will have a deep, meaningful relationship with the Lord. One built on love and not fear. Pray in front of them often, not just at bedtime.  Show them the conversation is ongoing and that He is always there to listen to the good and the bad.      

Thessalonians 5:17     pray continually.