Peacemakers

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I am blessed that my children enjoy playing with each other.  For our family, two sisters being three years a part has worked well, giving them hours of pure joy as they play with their American Girl dolls, dress up, put on makeup for fun and create Barbie stories at their three level Barbie House.  With that being said, there are times when these two girls need a break from each other.  Nonstop summertime bliss can eventually lead to an impasse.

Yesterday, I heard them coming.  You just get a feeling as a mom when you are about to become a police officer and a judge to work out problems.  I am not perfect and have tried many parenting tricks to ease conflicts between my two girls.  It seems that each time I am faced with what to do now, I respond based on the following criteria:  

1) How rested and unstressed I am

2) If I have already refereed a situation that day and

3) My willingness to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.

The youngest child didn’t want the oldest child to change the name of a Barbie with which they had played for a while.  The oldest child insisted on changing the Barbie’s name which had turned into a huge disagreement between them.  They came to me for direction.  Both of them told me their side of the story.  I had some choices to make as to how to respond.  I was fairly rested and had not policed any other situation that day.  I sensed that I needed to sit down beside of them, hold hands and pray.  I do not always stop everything and pray in a situation like this, but realized that prayer was the answer at that moment.  

As I prayed, The Lord put into my mind Matthew 5:9 so I prayed, “Blessed are the peacemakers…”  I told God that I didn’t know what to do about this situation.  I needed Him to help my girls come to an agreement about the matter.  What followed was beautiful.  The youngest told her sister, “I am sorry for getting mad at you.”  Up until that point, I had not picked up on the under current of “being mad” as the issue.  I thought they were just insisting on their own sides and getting irritated the longer they tried to persuade each other, but realized that being angry was the issue fueling the argument.  After we prayed, though, the air was cleared and an apology was offered without my prompting.  My kids have accepted Jesus into their hearts so the Holy Spirit can work in them.  I believe that the Holy Spirit encouraged them to become peacemakers and come to a place of forgiveness.  The oldest accepted the apology offering her own apology to the youngest.

For those of you reading this , if you have ever told two children to say “I am sorry,” then you will likely notice that I did not tell my girls to apologize.  They just did.  I also appreciate that God allowed them to see that when there is a problem, we don’t have to harbor the negative feelings, but can instead release their concerns to God and let Him work on their hearts.  I often have felt like one child would feel that they did not get their way when I solved their problems in the past, but this time, Prayer changed the situation.  I hope that when conflict comes next time, they will hear each other out and pray for God to work in their hearts.  As God’s children, they have to practice peacemaking.  I was so pleased in their effort to pray and let God shape their thoughts which led to peace.  The rest of our day together was filled with laughter.  Blessings come in many forms.  I witnessed how blessed we could be when my girls prayed for peace.

You’re needed!

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Last week while being a church camp counselor, I met an amazing family.  Steve and Sandra Hogue, after dealing with infertility, decided to meet not just their own need to have a child, but to provide a family for children known as orphans in America.  I didn’t realize it, but there are 100,000 children in foster care waiting to be adopted.  I was astounded to realize that Steve and Sandra Hogue have adopted eight of these children.  Each of their children participated in ministry through music and leading worship.  I even got to work with one of their daughters as she participated in my cabin’s events like swimming, boating and riding horses along with cabin devotions.  There was an incredible peace that exuded from this family, one that only God can provide.

I just felt like sharing their story today and wanted to share their website.  On it, I recommend that you watch their video on their home page.  As the four minute video plays and Steve, Sandra and their children tell their story, glimpses of broken pieces of stone are placed into the shape of a heart.

http://hoguecrew.org

 

I know that God has a plan for each of our lives.  As I have prayed for Jesus to guide my life as I follow Him, I have seen Him illuminate dark places in my life and put the pieces of my life back together.  Even though I have not adopted children, I realize that I have been adopted into the family of God by having faith in Jesus.  I am not alone.  God’s love penetrates my mind and daily heals me.  Jesus paid a great price for me to have His Spirit to live and work in me.  I am the temple of the Holy Spirit according to His word.  I belong to Christ and as a believer, I seek Him to provide for my needs.  Thankfully, I can worship Jesus and praise Him for the joy that he gives as he pours into my heart and renews me.

One of precious friends has faced infertility over the past four years and has decided to rest her body.  Perhaps during this period of rest, she and her husband will sense renewal and continued hope.  After watching my friend go through heart break time and again, I never want to be insensitive and say the wrong thing to anyone, especially those who have lost a loved one.  God is lighting my friend’s path and taking her to opportunities that are bringing Him glory. I am also praying for her that she will continue to follow Jesus and in doing so, will have His light to guide her and her husband into next steps, whatever they may be.

My post today is written in a place of hope.  I saw with my own eyes how the Hogue family has offered healing to their eight children and seen them boldly share Jesus.  All of the Hogue Crew is helped by Steve and Sandra’s willingness to open their hearts.  God calls us to be members of the body of Christ and work in ministry areas where he has equipped us.  My prayer today is that God would help me to offer hope to the hurting and healing to the broken.  As a public school teacher, I am presented with the opportunity to work with 1,200 children as the Technology Teacher and to build a home with my husband and my children.  Wherever God has placed you, be open to how to help the broken around us.  One of my daughters drew the picture in the sand at the beach two weeks ago which I placed in this post.  Our children need us and want us.  As a wife, parent and teacher, I need God to fill me with His Spirit daily which enables me to be all that he has called me to be and do.

Steve has developed amazing children’s ministry resources involving interactive computer games, upbeat Christian music and Bible videos. You could also check out their Ministry Resources tab to see the resources that He developed as a Children’s pastor alongside his wife.  They are now USA missionaries promoting ministry to orphans in America.

The New Bridge

In my town, a highly anticipated new fly over bridge opened last week. It is located in an area leading from highly populated suburbs onto the interstate loop which wraps around the city.  On the day that the bridge opened and the exit sign was unveiled, it had a spelling error of the name of the city to which an exit led.  The news media received calls and the spelling was fixed the next day by the Department of Transportation (DOT).  Social Media picked up on the mistake showing the before and after sign pics. So, this event led me to think about how many times I am anticipating something good but then get distracted by something unrelated.  I mean, this new fly over could still be the path on which travelers drove which enabled them to not be hung up in miles of traffic waiting to turn left onto the interstate, but the traffic congestion relief was barely mentioned in the media due to the spelling mistake on the sign.  There is still construction going on below the bridge, so the traffic merging from the fly over bridge onto the interstate below is having to demonstrate merging patience.  Eventually, though, this bridge and the wider interstate lanes below will alleviate issues that bring daily headaches to drivers and hopefully improve their morning commute times thus allowing drivers more family time in the mornings.

Life Lessons I learned from the opening of the new Fly Over Bridge:

1.  Anticipate growth.  Bridges will be built to improve our driving experience.  You could take the long route, but why? The bridge took time and required collaboration and resources.  Be willing to build your compassion, your capacity to care and your vision for the future.  Pray and ask God to give you clear direction before you start down a path.

2.  Recognize setbacks as setbacks and don’t let them get us off track.  The misspelling on the sign made drivers lose focus and possibly not bask in their new found and long awaited relief path.  Could I miss thanking God for His Provision by blowing a setback out of proportion?

3.  Focus on driving and learn how to turn the steering wheel to keep up with traffic while on a bridge.  It’s a new feeling.  Give yourself time to learn.  Move toward God and focus on the leading of His Spirit.

4.  Merge into traffic with patience.  New growth does not necessarily mean that everyone knows what to do.  Get out of the way.  Press the brake.  Stay in your lane.  Work with the other drivers who also have a common goal:  to make it to the next level.  Use common sense.  Patience is a trait that develops over time, but with many opportunities to practice it.  Do what you know to do and respond to others the way Jesus would.

5.  You may have liked the old light that allowed you to turn left from the bridge onto the interstate. It’s been taken down.  The old has gone, the new has come.  Rejoice!

6.  Give yourself time to adjust.  Leave a bit earlier to study the new traffic pattern so that you won’t be late.  Have a plan.  Autopilots don’t belong here.  If you aren’t sure about which direction to take, find the DOT cameras online and study the new traffic pattern.  In life, our new patterns and habits come about with prayer, studying God’s Road Map which is the Bible, and not veering from the path which He is lighting.  Follow Him.  “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalms 119:105

7.  Use your resources and follow the signs that lead to the path which leads to your goals.  At first, the path may seemed tainted with unexpected circumstances, but be undaunted.  Move ahead in prayer.

8.  Be open to feedback and respond to it.  You may need to adjust your original plan like the DOT used the feedback to fix the spelling on the sign.  People may make a big deal out of your mistakes, but remind yourself that you are moving in the right direction.  If you feel strongly that you should not take the fly over bridge, then be sure to get in the right lane to exit in another direction.  God has plans for you because He designed you with your special traits.  Use your gifts for His glory.

9.  Driving strategies parallel life strategies.  Road rage has no place.  Do your part and hope that everyone else does theirs.  If God closes a door, then He is giving someone else an opportunity to do their part.  He has a specifically designed plan for your life.

10.  Stay committed to reaching your destination.  If the fly over bridge leads to your goal, then get on the bridge.  Don’t be distracted and miss the “exit” or the new opportunity.  Keep your eyes on Jesus by spending time with Him.  You will sense opportunities that He arranges for you.  If you are not praying according to His Will, you may push your own plans.  Just be sure that you have put on the whole armor of God.  You’ll need it for your protection.

Spending Time

I love to spend time with my family.  We laugh. We enjoy. We count on each other.  Spending time with them is a choice.  I want to be there and participate.  On earth, there’s no better place than sitting around the dinner table, sipping on southern, sweet, ice cold tea and sharing stories.  I care about the experiences of my family and love to hear their thoughts.  As a follower of Christ, I intend to spend time with Him and listen to what He wants to share with me and talk to Him.  I have been adopted into His family so I imagine that He loves for me to spend time with Him!   Do I always spend quality time with Him?  I wish I could tell you a resounding YES, but the truth is, I do not always reach my goal.  When I do spend time with God, I feel happy and joyful, much like what happens when I hang out with my family.  My perspective and attitude are shaped by the Holy Spirit as I pray and leave my burdens with Jesus.  He has promised to take care of me.  I have to spend time with Him if I want to be like Him and realize all that He has in store for me.  Jeremiah 29:11 tells me God’s thoughts like this gem:  “For I know the plans I have for you, says The Lord.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you a future and a hope.”

My life is full of joy because of the peace that I have been given by God.  In order to continue feeling the peace that passes all understanding, I must spend time in God’s Holy Word, the Bible.  I like to share inspiration from the Bible that comes my way with my family and friends.  As I spend time reading the Bible, praying, praising God in songs and worshipping Him, I become more like Jesus.  He had compassion for others while allowing himself to connect with them.  Others demanded His time and attention, but He ALWAYS spent time talking with people.  Many wanted His Healing power as he walked the earth.  He had such an effect on people as he spent time with them.  Like Zaccheaus, after Jesus ate with him at Zack’s house, I want my actions in the world to reflect the mind of Christ and His Love.  Distractions are all around.  The fruit of the Spirit can grow in me as I spend time with The Lord.

I really don’t know what he said to Zaccheaus once old Zack came down from the sycamore tree, but Zack changed his ways following his encounter with Jesus.  When I spend time in God’s word, pray and worship, I mentally sit at the feet of Jesus.  I intend to spend time with Him and allow the Holy Spirit to shape me, taking away the clutter.  I have decided to follow Jesus.  His word tells us in John 8:12 some powerful words.  He said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me shall never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”

My vision for this blog is to share my experiences with God and with my family.  I plan to share recipes and songs too.  I intend to spend time with my family and with God.