Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Desperation and Servanthood

Do I have any readers left? So sorry I hardly write any more. I want to. I am getting my butt kicked by life! ;)
The last few weeks have been so hard for me. I have been utterly exhausted from being up all night every night for over 2 months now. I rarely get a chance to nap during the day because life goes from 0-100 mph as soon as I wake up and doesn't stop until bedtime. "Girlfriend" is growing and is so beautiful. She blesses my soul in a way I can't describe. She is evidence of God's love for me.. as are the boys and their cute daddy.
I have felt VERY inadequate as a mother lately. I am pouring my life into the boys spiritually and they do things that make me wonder if they comprehend anything I teach them. They can quote loads of Scripture yet still be lazy and unkind on the baseball field. I discipline them for the same things 1,000 times in a row.
Now, I know they aren't going to be perfect but I was so discouraged last week. I hit a wall and a couple Sundays ago at Church I went to the front and prayed that God would change the hearts of my children and give them hearts that are full of Worship. I cannot do that. It has to be the Lord. I have felt so DESPERATE for Jesus.
I also had written on my last post about how I feel like they are becoming self-centered and realized that it was my fault. Their life IS all about them. It would be like sitting on the couch and eating all day long but never moving. Would that be healthy? NO. They have to serve or things get out of balance. I have let things get out of balance. They know WAY too much of God's Word to not be serving, so we have a new homeschool class... as of this week. It is called Servanthood 101. Every Tuesday we go to the nursing home and Reece will read the Bible, we will pray and exercise with the "people who are older than us". Today was day 1 and we had so much fun. The boys were a little shy but we are memorizing these verses...
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are SERVING." Col 3:23,24
I am teaching them that this world is not about "us". It is about Christ and others. That He has told us how to be great and it is to serve.
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to SERVE, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:45
"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a SERVANT, being made in human likeness." Phil 2:5-7
I also have them handing out gospel tracts at their baseball games. Again, they were shy but I talked them through it and helped them understand what Pam Tebow just taught me...
"We cannot earn our salvation but we sure can earn rewards!".
"And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded." Matthew 10:42
Our children should look forward to meeting Christ in the clouds because He is bringing their rewards and crowns for faithfulness!
I was so proud of them last night when they went into the dugout of the other team handing out tracts. I was a little nervous when the whole team was huddled and my boys were handing out tracts that our coaches would be annoyed with our family. But, Tim called for them to come and our head coach said, "No. Let them stay. It is more important than what we are doing.". That was a relief because I hadn't asked the coach if we could do it. So, they finished handing them out and then headed into the huddle for the after-game talk. Reece hit 2 homeruns last night. Tim has been working with the boys all the time. We are so grateful for sports and the wonderful coaches God has given our boys. I feel like sports are absolutely critical if you homeschool. They are learning so much I can't teach them out there. They are making friends and having the best time. The coach gave Reece the game ball and he hasn't let it out of his sight since. Their baseball team is amazing this year. We have incredible coaches. They know how far to push the boys for excellence. I am watching like a hawk as I want to be able to do that with them at home too. To know how to make them WANT to do their best and be excellent in all things. I cannot thank God enough for this baseball team and the coaches. They are filling a huge void that can make homeschool go wrong... and it CAN go wrong.
I am not saying that all homeschool kids need to play baseball but they definitely need to be doing something outside the home that provides friendships and the opportunity to learn respecting authority and striving for excellence.
I am a cheerleader by nature (not in real life because I am uncoordinated but I do love to jump up and down and cheer people on!). When Reece hit his first home run, I am not sure I have ever been so excited. When he hit the second one, I just about flipped my lid. I was holding Hope. I hope she isn't hearing impaired after this baseball season.
I was very encouraged over the weekend after attending a parenting conference by Tim Tebow's parents.
Here are some of the key take-aways....
*We are working from a flawed base
*Building on God's Word
*Evolutionary approach to parenting (time+chance) will NOT work
*You must be deliberate and have a plan
*Best book on parenting: Proverbs
*Goals for your children should be:
1. Teach your children to fear God
2. Teach them to obey God
3. Teach them to love God
4. Teach them to worship God
5. Teach them to do right.
*Your children are like the arrows in a warrior's quiver. You are aiming your children at a target and that target is the GLORY OF GOD. If you are going to hit the bull's eye, it is a full-time job.
*Become desperate (I was so thankful she said that since that is exactly where I am!!!)
*Parenting is so challenging that it drives us to Him. "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." (Matt 11:28) Yolk yourself to God and He will do the work.
*Asked the one thing Pam Tebow would do differently... "I would never try to do it in my own strength."
*We must believe in our kids long before we see their potential
*Study your child to know their strengths, giftedness, bents and love language
*First, you must draw near to God and ask Him to draw your kids to Him
*Wrestle in prayer on behalf with your children. You are in a tug-of-war for their souls against the world.
*Discipline them so they are a delight (to you and others) and so your home is peaceful.
*Love and accept them just as they were created and packaged from God.
*Value your children as a reward/gift.
*Focus on the eternal: God, His Word, People, Rewards
They encouraged us so much as did their son, Tim, who spoke that night. He is so unashamed of the gospel. His 3 main points were:
1. Be willing to Stand Alone.
2. Be Passionate
3. Finish Strong
We left so inspired, so encouraged, so excited about tackling this mountain of a thing called PARENTING.
After I had asked God to give my children a heart full of worship for Him, I found this when I was cleaning up....
Bubba drew this (he is 5). I had absolutely nothing to do with it and didn't see it until he was snoozing away in bed. If you click on it and make it bigger you will see a little stick guy bowing down near the cross. I asked him who that was and he said, "that is me, momma- worshipping God". Needless to say, I see God answering my prayers. I cannot change their hearts but He can. I know this was an answer to prayer and God showing me that He will do it- not me. I just have to be faithful and let Him move in their hearts. If the Spirit teaches my children, it is beautiful. If I do it apart from the Spirit, it is a big loud clanging symbol.
This is beauty from God. I can't do this. I am starting to see the difference between parenting in my strength and parenting in God's. I don't want to do this-- I CAN'T do it. But He can through me.
******************************
We received a warm welcome in our new Servanthood Class. ;)

She (below) is 100 years old.
One lady (not pictured) told me about her husband who was a pastor. He died and now she is unable to move from her chair because her body is so weak. I said, "That chair can't keep you from praising God!" and she said "I sit in this chair and praise God all day long".
Can't wait to go back and see her next week. If she is still there. :(
There is also a retired biology professor there that I want to teach the boys! Fun.

This is a special place to me. When I first moved to Chattanooga as a single person, I used to go and volunteer there. Reading the Bible, sharing the gospel and just loving on the people. That was before I met Tim. Single girls: SERVE. Find somewhere and serve while you wait on your prince. I know it is so hard but TRUST HIM and serve while you wait. Please don't let the enemy rip you off during your days of singleness. He wants to rob you of the joy God wants to give you and speak lies to you telling you God will give everybody else a husband--- except you. That is not true. If he didn't spare his only Son, won't He along with Him graciously give you all things? And you have a husband anyway. He is your Maker. He knows your name. Knows how many hairs you have on your head and gives GOOD GIFTS.
Serve. Pray. Trust. Wait.
Repeat. ;)
God blew me away- and made my prayers for a husband look silly in comparison to who He was about to give me. TRUST HIM. There are godly guys out there. Just serve Him with all your heart. Ok, sorry. I always go into preacher-girl mode when it comes to waiting on God's best. I can't help it. I have just seen how God honors girls who trust Him in this area OVER and OVER and OVER. He is faithful. Please don't believe the enemy's lies.
When I met Tim and he asked me to marry him, I had a surprise engagement party at the nursing home for him with a cake and balloons. It was cute. He was SURPRISED alright. LOL. They didn't know who we were (even though I had been visiting them for months and told them about the cute boy I was falling in love with) but they all lined up for cake and partied the night away with us. Those sweet people were so precious to me at that time in my life. Dear friends. None of them are there now. :( Hopefully they are all partying with Jesus Christ... sans walkers!


Here we are almost 10 years later back at the very same place. I had no idea how God would bless me with my children and that I would be able to bring them back there to read the Bible with me. What gifts they are!

(Yes, Tim looks 16. He was 28.) We hardly know each other here but we knew God wanted us to get married and serve Him together as a team.
Wow!! I had no idea how great marriage would be in this picture. We were babies (25 and 28)... getting ready to have lots of babies and weather lots of storms together. I don't remember life before Tim. I truly believe God created me to be his wife... his helper... his biggest cheerleader. He is still my biggest crush. I want to kiss him now as much as I did in this picture. :) God's best is worth waiting on girls. DON'T SETTLE. (oops, there I go again. I am telling you I just can't help it! WAIT ON GOD TO WRITE YOUR LOVE STORY!!!)

Party time!
There is Valerie-- my first friend who introduced me to Tim. Still a best friend to me.


Here is another love story for those of you who maybe didn't wait on God's best or feel like your marriage is headed for trouble.
My new friend Chasity's marriage was crumbling. She and her husband have been married almost 10 years. They have 2 boys. When I first met her, I felt insecure because they looked like they had the perfect family. Everyone was beautiful and happy and had matching socks. People whose kids have matching socks intimidate me. It doesn't take much to make me feel defeated these days. Matching socks are high on the list.


She later shared with me that when I had seen her during basketball season that their marriage was hanging on by a thread. That she was so DESPERATE (there is that word again!) that she got on her face in her bed room and begged God to help her. It was that prayer that turned everything around. She began to hunger for God's Word for the first time in her life and started praying for her marriage. She couldn't get enough of God's Word and would just read and read. Months go by.


She was praying for her husband. He went on a 3-day Christian retreat. When he came back, he got down on one knee and asked her to marry him and to start all over vowing to love her. He is now hungering for God as well and God has resurrected their marriage. I took pictures of them this Sunday renewing their vows. It was a BEAUTIFUL ceremony.
“Behold, I make all things new.” Rev. 21:5



The Power of Prayer.
Don't ever think your marriage is unsalvageable.
Jesus loves to bring dead things back to life.

Random pictures of life.... beautiful...busy...blessed... LIFE.






















So, those of you who are desperate out there... BE ENCOURAGED. Desperate is good. It is realizing your utter helplessness before the Lord and letting Him take over. Whether that is waiting for a spouse, resurrecting your marriage, giving you a baby, getting your baby to sleep through the night ;), changing the hearts of your children, teaching you how to parent, or breaking free of a besetting sin.. BE DESPERATE. Every person I know who is used greatly by God has been on their face before Him.

"Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need" Psalm 142:6

"I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me." Psalm 57:2

"Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.'"Jer 33:3

"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Matt 7:11

Be Blessed~

Steph

ps I am getting back into teaching Ephesians this week. Email me if you would like to come to our Bible Study on Wednesdays. Child care is provided.

16 comments:

Trinity said...

Keep preaching sister! And Hope is so cute- you are seriously making me miss the baby stage terribly! Even the sleepless nights sound fun....maybe I could just come over and help instead of having another one myself!

gillian said...

beautiful!!! i love that you're teaching Serventhood 101, how awesome is that!!!

Erin said...

I just got down on my face and prayed after reading this. I am desperate to be a good mother to wynn. Thank you for being so real.
You rock.

Beth said...

Preach on! Thank you for posting this. I am so encouraged when I read your blog. It is almost like you crawled into my head and read my thoughts the last few weeks.

That picture Bubba drew, Hope, your boys reading the Bible at the nursing home and passing out tracts at the ball field, and yours and Tim's love story....precious.

Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend said...

So glad that you are back...I had missed your posts...Great pictures...
I have not had enough blog time lately...So glad that I stopped by..Be sure and stop by main blog and read about a miracle.
http://teresa-grammygirlfriend.blogspot.com/2010/04/i-think-god-smiled.html

Jackie Blue said...

Steph...

Even though we have never met, and I am not sure how I ever even stumbled upon your blog.....your words and faith continue to lift me up and give me the strength I need to go on. Please keep serving (with your writing) it brings change to more people than you could know....

Abby Davis said...

By far one of my favorite posts, Steph! So uplifting and encouraging. I love what you're doing with the boys at the nursing home (I love the pictures of them with "people older than them" too!). Just think, because of your boys, a non-believer elderly person may finally find Christ in the last days of their life! How amazing. I'd say God is definitely using them to reach hearts with His Spirit in incredible ways! Awesome: )

amanda said...

Loved this post. Thanks for always sharing your heart.

Your Wedding Hostesses said...

To answer your question, YES you still have readers! Readers who patiently wait for posts like this because we know you will continue to inspire us! Thank you soooo much....

Now I have to go get on my face and pray for my own marriage to be 1/2 as great as yours.

Claire said...

WOW!!! What a humbling post!! You continue to be an inspiration to me..I wish I had met you when I was single..Preach on sister..people ARE LISTENING!!! May God continue to bless you all!!

Jill said...

Steph, I just found your blog recently while reading another one. Can't remmember whose blog it was but I am so happy I have found yours. Even though you and I are at different seasons in our life I so enjoy your posts. As someone who has never had children I am very encouraged by your dedication to raise selfless, serving children. For quite some time I have felt like I should make a career change but have not stepped out on faith to do so. Reading your post made me realize I have not truly sought His will. You have encouraged me to be more obedient even when I can't see where He is leading. Thank you for sharing what you have learned! Blessings to you and your family.

Shannon said...

can i just say what a HUGE inspiration you are to me and you don't even know me personally! i have just started homeschooling this year and am scared to death of the struggles that lie ahead... but i see you trusting in God and glorifying Him and raising your boys to men of God ... which is the only type that I want to so badly for my 3 girls one day. (arranged marriages... :) )
keep on keeping on stephanie .. you are a true inspiration and i love to see you being real and transparent.. thanks for sharing all of your life with me.
shannon
(and as far as blogging.. i haven't in almost a year now) :( hope to get back into one day...

Anonymous said...

thanks steph--you are such an encouragement. You help us to keep our eyes focused on Jesus. Keep it up.
Be blessed.

b said...

Erin said it best: you rock!

Ginger said...

Thank you Stephanie for blogging your heart! God uses your words to encourage me. thank you for encouraging me in the spirit to be desperate!
It was so special to me that many months ago I was praying for you to have a baby girl and I had not been reading your posts recently and finally when I tuned back in I was so thankful to see how God answered the desires of your heart and gave you Hope! AMEN!

Alone in Holy Land said...

Fantastic post!
Exactly what I needed...your beautiful words brought tears to my eyes and hope into my heart.
Thank you and bless you!
Ramona aka Alone in Holy Land