Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Apron Prayers

I recently read a quote that went something like this: "Sometimes our greatest contribution to the kingdom of God is not what we do but who we raise."

Um. Alrighty then. Just so we're clear that there's no pressure in the parenting department or anything...

This quote reminds me of John and Charles Wesley, the founders of  the Methodist Church. Their mother Susanna  would sit in the middle of her kitchen with her apron pulled up over her head while she prayed for her children. (For some reason, this visual always makes me giggle.) And her kids would actually leave her alone when they saw her in this position. That is astounding to me! I mean, I can't even go to the bathroom without someone, husband included, following me, trying to have a conversation.  (You would think that the bathroom would be a signal that all conversing is off limits for a couple minutes.)

I've thought about getting out an apron and putting it over my head. My family would probably think I'm crazy, but it might buy me a few minutes of quiet time. "Don't talk to Mom right now. She's got that apron on her head so she's having another breakdown." (Yes, I said "another.") Or, to borrow a quote from Jonah, "Mad Mama." (Which, by the way, is from his book Llama Llama Mad At Mama.  It has nothing to do with my temperament.) (Grin)

I do pray for my children, though. A lot. Because, truly, it's probably the most important thing we can do for them. I pray for wisdom and kindness for all of them. That they would be Christ-followers. That they would develop a deep love for God and for His Word.

I can actually see this "love for His Word" taking hold in Brienne's life and it is so much fun to watch. Lots of mornings, she is up before everyone else, reading the Bible and working on her Bible study. She's hungry for the Word, and frankly it's inspiring to me to watch her dive into God's teachings. I hope that she never loses this hunger... (The tween attitude she can lose. But not her hunger for the Lord.)

For Jonah, I'm praying Luke 2:52 - that he will emulate Jesus, growing "in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." I desire this for all of my children, but particularly for my sweet, stubborn Jonah. I want him to make wise decisions, I want others to respect him and trust him.  I want him to be well-liked, for goodness sakes! And of course I pray that he will have the favor of God poured out on him.

For Vivienne, I'm praying that she will drink cow's milk out of a cup. Seriously, that's where I am with her right now. And that when she starts talking, she only says things that are "helpful for building others up, according to their needs." (Eph 4:29) I'm already terrified of the things that are going to come out of her mouth. And I'm not even kidding.

It is so interesting to me to look at all my kids and see how different they are. And it's also overwhelming because we can't just pray a blanket prayer over them. I have to know each child, inside and out. Their personalities, their fears, what they love, what they cherish. When I take the time to learn these things, I can pray specifically for them. I can speak life into them.

Obviously, Christ knows us at a deeper level than I can even fathom, and I am so very grateful for that. When I can't pray or don't know what to pray, He takes over. He intercedes for me. How comforting it is to know that I can approach His throne in prayer, and He hears my cries even before I speak them. (And I don't even need an apron over my head.)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Our Generous God

Today is May 15 and time for me to choose my mid-month Scripture for Beth Moore's Scripture Memory Team. I love Beth so much. Have I mentioned that before? She has a major anointing on her and I've learned so much by studying under her. (And by "studying under her," I mean watching DVDs and completing Bible study homework.) (That actually sounds kind of sad and creepy now that I've written it down. Oh well.)

Anyway, I needed to choose a verse to memorize, and it seemed like all morning I'd been asking God to show me what to do in different situations. So when I came across this verse, I decided it was written specifically for me: "If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking." James 1:5 (NLT)

Our generous God. That phrase just stirs something in my heart. I can't explain it exactly but I feel comforted and wrapped in His love when I read it. And I know that every time I need wisdom and guidance regarding a situation, all I have to do is ask Him. The One who is all-knowing, the One who is Love. And He won't even fuss at me when I ask for His help. In fact, He wants me to seek Him in every little detail.

I constantly need wisdom when it comes to my kids. Most of you know that Vivienne is our little princess. Here's a true story for you: The other day I called our bank to add a savings account to our checking account. The customer service rep was going through all the names on our account. She named everyone - Peter Terrebonne, Adrienne Terrebonne, Brienne Terrebonne, Jonah Terrebonne, and (wait for it...) Miss Vivienne Terrebonne. Really? Miss Vivienne Terrebonne? Even our bank thinks she outranks the rest of us. Ridiculous...

Miss Vivienne the Princess

Vivi has been high maintenance since conception. And I'm not even kidding. The first four months of my pregnancy, she demanded ONLY chocolate. If I ate anything else, I became horribly sick. And my morning sickness was a constant 24-hour-a-day thing for about 26 weeks. Finally around week 30, I could actually lift my head without feeling the need to throw up, but by then all my energy had gone out the window. I never had that burst of second trimester energy that other people always talk about, and I never had that beautiful pregnancy glow either. The only glowing I had was from the post-vomiting sweats. (Too much information for you? So sorry...)

Anyway, Vivienne is precious and I adore her. I wouldn't change a thing about her. (Except that I'd like her to drink out of a bottle. Or a cup. Or the dog bowl, for all I care. Mama needs a break...) But for months now, I've been debating whether to let her cry it out at night or to keep getting up multiple times a night to feed her. It has been such a dilemma. First of all, she's tiny. Tiny! At her 9 month checkup she weighed something ridiculous like 13 pounds. I know babies who were that size when they were born! So, because of her size, I hated to cut out those nighttime feedings. Even if I did feel like a zombie every day. Peter and I kept debating what we should do, and I'd occasionally offer up a prayer for wisdom. But I don't think I every really expected the Lord to give me an answer. So instead, I just kept talking about it with Peter. And frankly, with anyone else who would listen.

Well, about a month ago, I was really at an impasse. Vivienne was 10 months old and I needed some guidance. So one day I just poured my little heart out to the Lord, begging for Him to tell me what to do. To give me some sort of sign. And you know what? He did. He gave me peace about Vivienne's nighttime feedings. Unexplainable peace. And to this day, over a month later, letting her cry it out hasn't even crossed my mind. It's just not an option right now because God took it off the table. He made the decision. And He gave me the peace and the wisdom that I asked for.

Maybe next time I'm in a situation where I'm not sure what to do (which happens about every four hours), I'll remember that my God is generous and wants to give me His wisdom. All I have to do is approach the throne with an open and humble heart.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Nutella and New Shoes

So, I've been doing this Bible study that is rocking my world. Do you hear me? It's turning everything I know on its heels. I haven't been this disgusted by our wastefulness since I went to Ecuador on a mission trip in June 2010.

The Bible study is called "The 7 Experiment" by Jen Hatmaker. It's a seven-week study that explores seven different areas of wastefulness: food, clothes, possessions, media, waste, spending, and stress. Basically Jen takes one area per week, she gives options explaining how we can fast in that particular area, and then we explore what the Word has to say about it. (Jen has also written a book that takes these same seven areas but focuses on one per month instead of one per week.)

The main objective of this little experiment is to open our eyes to our wastefulness as Americans and to figure out how we can transfer our pursuit of the "American dream" to a more Kingdom-oriented mindset, focusing our time, energy, and resources towards doing the Lord's work. We, as Americans, are in the top 4% of the world as far as wealth is concerned, but what are we doing with our money? I don't want to be the rich young ruler who couldn't part with his possessions. (Well, I wouldn't mind being young, but that's for another day...)

You know, I've been trying to teach my kids that obedience means obeying all the way, right away, and with a happy heart. Isn't that how we, as adults, should obey the Lord? And if we know we've been instructed through Scripture to do something but don't do it, or if we know we shouldn't do something yet still do it, then we are being disobedient. Lately, I've been very convicted about our disobedience regarding our resources.

Week 1 of the Bible study focused on food, and y'all, I'm just gonna come out and say it. I'm addicted to food. And I'm not even joking.  For Food Week, I decided to eliminate all processed foods from my diet and eat only fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats. And it was HARD! I've always known that I'm a comfort eater, but until this particular week, I never knew how much comfort I derive from food. (Apparently, not having my daily intake of Nutella makes me a mean mama.) But when we looked at the list of foods the Lord provided for the Israelites to eat in Leviticus chapter 11, I was suddenly aware of all the processed and fake foods that line our grocery store aisles. It's no wonder we, as Americans, are obese, sick, and cancer-ridden. And then when we looked in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 about how our bodies are the temple of the Living God - whoa! I've read that passage and heard it taught a thousand times, but until now, I've never realized that what I put in my body could be considered "destroying the temple." I mean, I take care of myself. I'm thin and I try to exercise at least four times a week. That's good enough, right? But verse 17 says, "God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple." I'm pretty sure that ingesting gross, fake foods and hormone-injected meats would be considered destroying the temple. Whew! So now that I know the truth, I have to be more responsible, not only for what I put in my own body, but also for what I feed to my children.

I'm currently in the middle of Week 2 - Clothing Week. It's not really something that I thought would be difficult for me. For this area, I had to pick out seven items of clothing to wear for the week. I chose black gym shirts, a white running shirt, a gray fitted t-shirt, dark denim skinny jeans, a white embroidered shirt, tennis shoes, and black flip flops. Clothes aren't really my thing. I don't buy crazy amounts of clothing for my children, and I believe I've mentioned before that I pretty much live in gym clothes. So this week hasn't actually been too terrible. (Of course, it is only a week. I wouldn't want to wear only these seven items for the next six months or anything.)

I think I've come a long way with regards to my clothing. In the past, I tended to dress for other people, in order to impress them or to get them to like me.  That was part of my "people pleasing" disease. But probably over the past three years, I haven't really felt the need to dress to impress. I think a lot of my attitude change can be attributed to my deeper reliance on and relationship with the Lord. I don't need to "keep up with the Joneses" when it comes to what I or my kids wear. It's actually quite freeing to not worry about it. Because seriously. Does it really matter whether I spend $65 on some Toms or $35 on some Bobs? Um, no, it doesn't. 

But as I stood in my closet and looked at the 196 articles of clothing (not including socks, pj's, undergarments, etc...), I realized that I could probably feed an entire African village for a few years on what I've spent on clothing. And do you know what? I don't wear even half of what is hanging in that closet. And the sad thing is - two weeks ago, I donated three huge garbage bags full of clothes from my closet. It was eye opening for me, but at least I'm heading in the right direction.

Listen to what Isaiah 3:14b says: "The plunder from the poor is in your houses." This is huge! And it just about knocked me over when I read it. The money I've spent on clothes that I never wear could've been given to the poor so they could have food to eat, shelter to live in, and clothes for their children so they could attend school. The plunder from the poor is in my house. MY house...

This thought process goes against everything we believe about our right to pursue the American dream. But what if we, as the American church, actually took a stand? What if we drew a line in the sand and said, "No more. I don't need another pair of shoes. Or a new shirt." Whatever we deem as a pressing "need" is probably not a need at all. It's just another first-world problem. And people are dying out there while we blow our money at the Gap. (Or Target. sigh)

For the past few months, I've been praying that the Lord would make my heart break for the things that break His heart and that He would kindle in me a Kingdom passion. I think this Bible study is beginning to fuel that passion. I love that He answers our prayers.

I'm sure I'll be updating more in the future as I tackle five more areas of excess. Stay tuned...

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Pressing In

I recently ordered this really neat Bible. The pages on the left side have the Scriptures and the pages on the right are blank so you can take notes.

I bought this particular Bible so that I could read it, write out prayers for Brienne, and one day in the distant future present it to her as a gift. I got the idea from Mark Batterson in his book Praying Circles Around Your Children. This is a big undertaking, but I'm hoping to do this for all of my kids so that one day they will be able to read what I've prayed for them throughout the years and hopefully see some of those prayers come to fruition.

(I'm thinking I'll be skipping over some parts of the Bible, though. I mean, have you ever read Leviticus? Or Chronicles? "Asriel was his descendant through his Aramean concubine... Makir took his wife from among the Huppites and Shuppites..." What??)

And lest you think I'm super-spiritual or some awesome mom for praying through the Bible for my kids, let me reassure you that I'm not. This has actually been a really difficult week. In fact, I even sent Peter this text on Monday:

I am in hell.

I know. It sounds a little dramatic, doesn't it? But when you're in the moment, it can feel overwhelming. Here is why I sent that text.

First of all, Vivienne had decided that sleep was overrated. The previous night, she woke up six times  to eat. SIX TIMES. So Monday morning did not start off very well. Then, Jonah accidentally stepped on Vivienne, but instead of obeying me by apologizing and giving her a hug, he kicked her. Yep that's right. He kicked her. Lovely. So he went back and forth to timeout several times (while both of them were simultaneously screaming at the top of their lungs) until he finally realized I meant business and he gave Vivi a hug. Can you say stubborn? (And my mom wants me to start potty training him. Yeah right.)

After reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom fourteen times (and Goodnight Moon eight times) I put Jonah down for a nap. But he decided that a nap wasn't on his agenda for the day. So instead, I came up with the wonderful plan to take him for a haircut.

Yes, that's a brilliant decision. Let's take a headstrong two-year old who hasn't had a nap to get a haircut! Of course! He pitched a fit as soon as the gal put the cape on him, and there was no consoling him. None. So I had to literally drag him out of the salon. Without a haircut. Super. 

I couldn't wait to get home so the kids could play outside and I could have a little quiet time on the swing with Vivienne. But dear, sweet Vivienne is no longer content to just sit with mommy. She's antsy and nosy and wiggly. So I gave her a cup of juice, thinking it would entertain her for a bit. And entertain her it did. Except that she can't figure out how to actually drink out of a cup. (Or a bottle, for that matter.) So she and I both ended up being covered in apple juice.

After changing both of us into clean clothes, I decided I should probably cook supper. Jonah, however, had other plans. He wanted me to "play cars" so he kept pushing me and whining while I was chopping veggies. He eventually pushed so hard that he fell and landed on his face. (Have I mentioned that he is headstrong?) And frankly, by that point, I was fresh out of sympathy. For everybody.

Needless to say, I will not be getting the Mommy of the Year Award this week. Part of this is my fault. I keep forgetting that my worth is not found in my mothering ability - it's found in the Lord. He tells us in Ephesians 2:10 that we are His masterpiece and that He has made us a new creature in Christ so that "we can do the good things He planned for us long ago."

In His infinite wisdom, He actually planned for me to be a mom to three children. He already knew the challenges I would face. But He also knew the immense joys I would experience in this adventure called motherhood. It is often very hard for me to turn to Christ when I feel at my wits' end. Instead, I want to turn to my own strength (which is obviously working out really well). I have to remember (we all have to remember), that God equips those that He calls. All we have to do is call upon His name and we will be able to do anything through His strength. Praise Jesus! Because my strength is gone.

These three little people are the reason I must press in to Jesus. Every moment of every day. But especially when things seem out of my control.