Monday, March 31, 2008

Beautiful Lips

Lately I’ve run across quite a few passages in the Bible that talk about our mouths. I think the Lord is trying to tell me something. The truth is God cares about our lips. He desires for our mouths to be filled with praise for Him and encouragement for others. We must ask ourselves, are we allowing uplifting, encouraging words to flow from our lips or are we delivering unkind, discouraging or even gossiping words from our mouth? Here are a few words from the Bible concerning our mouths and using them for good purposes:
Psalm 71:15 “My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, or your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge. “
Psalm 34:1 “I will extol the Lord at all times, His praise will continually be on my lips.”
Psalm 34:12, 13 “Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking lies.”
Ephesians 4: 29, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
James 3 also gives us a strong admonishment about the words that come out of our mouths. You may want to take a moment later today to read James 3:1 - 12
Actually, our words are an overflow of what is in our heart. If we are angry, bitter or harboring unforgiveness it will spill out into our words. But if we fill our hearts and minds with thankfulness, forgiveness and praise, our words bring glory to God and are a blessing to others. We have a choice each day as to how we will use our mouths, for good or for destruction. What will you choose? Begin each day abiding in Christ and letting His words flow into your heart, and you will have sincere and beautiful words flow from your lips.

Family Fun: Talk with your kids about the importance of the words they say. Remind them that words are powerful and can be used to build up others, but they can also be used to hurt others. Share the Bible verses above. Also tell them our words are an overflow of what is in our hearts and so it is important for us to get rid of bitterness and anger through forgiving others (as Christ has forgiven us). Encourage your kids to start each day with thankfulness and praise toward God. To illustrate how our words spill over from what is in our heart use the following demonstration. Take two clear water glasses; fill one with water and one with vinegar (or lemon juice). Put a little food coloring in with the vinegar or lemon juice. Place both glasses on paper towels on your kitchen counter. Now carefully slosh both glasses, allow a little of the contents to spill out onto the paper towels. Talk about the water representing our good words, pure and life-giving. Our good words quench a person’s thirst to feel loved and appreciated. On the other hand, the colored liquid represents our unkind words which sting and are filled with bitterness and hurt. It is very difficult to remove the stain which comes from hurtful words, for the pain lingers. Remind your kids (and yourself for that matter) we have a choice as to what we will allow to flow from our lips. We all want beautiful lips with lovely words flowing from the heart!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

3 Tools for Parents

We all have those days when we feel like no one understands exactly how challenging and stretching our role is as a mom. I want to encourage you to consider three important tools for helping you through those difficult times.

1. Positive Friend or Mentor - When you are feeling down, discouraged or completely worn out, a friend or mentor can help to lift you up. We all need a boost from a friend or mentor to give us a new perspective on life especially when we are frazzled. A mentor or seasoned mom can help us see the bigger picture and recognize “this too shall pass.” A friend is one who can give us a good word of encouragement or a much needed listening ear. She can reassure us that we are normal and help us think through our options. A friend can also help us see that certain things just aren’t worth getting angry or upset over in big scheme of life.
2. Patience in the Process – Patience is perhaps one of the most loving gifts we can give our family. Impatience, rage or anger only stirs up emotions, often with negative results. A mother’s patience can make a world of difference in the peace and love exhibited in the home. Patience when our son just doesn’t seem to get it and needs to be disciplined again. Patience with our daughter as she struggles through a tough class at school. Patience as our kids learn to get along and share with one another. Patience with our husband. We need God’s help and strength to be patient moment by moment as often it doesn’t come naturally. We begin by recognizing God’s patience and kindness toward us. We must also recognize the importance of our patience and the tone it sets in the home. Let’s choose to be intentionally patient and wait on God’s timing in our life and those of our kids.
3. Prayer for Wisdom and Strength – Prayer is powerful and effective in diminishing our worries and challenges. Often circumstances or our children’s challenges seem too big to us. We look at it and think we could never make it through, but prayer turns our eyes upward to a God of hope. As we seek his wisdom and direction we begin to see that it is not as difficult as we first imagined. As we take bold steps forward with his help we are able to step by step, bit by bit move forward toward solutions. When we cast our cares on Him, our burden doesn’t seem so big and overwhelming. Prayer peels away the layers of worry which so easily surround a situation.

Three essential tools for every mom: positive friends, patience and prayer! Each of us have these tools available to us, we just need to employ them in our lives. You see, these essential tools are not just for moms at wits end, they are for each of us everyday for all of our life. As we allow positive friends, patience and prayer to flourish in our lives we become a positive influence and example in the lives of everyone around us.

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patricks Day and Easter

What a blessed week we have this week. I hope you enjoyed the wonder of Palm Sunday yesterday, and then today we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. A quick study on the life of St. Patrick reveals a wonderful man who was a hero in the Christian faith. He endured opposition and hardships to bring the gospel message to Ireland. Through his devoted faith and godly perseverance the gospel spread throughout all of island of Ireland. God used Patrick’s diligent spirit and willing heart to transform a culture, and so we must ask, “How does God want to use us?” As we progress through Holy Week let us live with prayerful expectancy for what God can do through the power of His gospel message. Let’s seek His face and ask Him how He wants to use us. The message of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection transforms us from hopeless sinners to redeemed children of God. What great joy there is in knowing Him!

May this be a glorious week for you and your family as each day you celebrate the truth which transforms our lives; the truth that God loves us and sent His son to redeem us from sin and death.

Rejoice! Christ is Risen!

Family Fun: Allow this week to be an entire week of joyful celebration. Celebrate the life of St. Patrick by telling your kids about his devotion to spread the gospel in Ireland, and the powerful transformation in the lives of the people there. Use green food coloring to make a green dinner tonight with green biscuits or mashed potatoes or you can put it in a light colored soft drink. Have fun celebrating the life of a man who was a hero in the faith. The rest of the week enjoy a egg-cellent celebration as you approach Easter Sunday. Talk to your kids about the joy we experience through what Christ did for us. We are forgiven through faith in Him. Christ’s resurrection gives us the promise and hope of eternal life in Heaven with Him.

Easter rolls: In my family we have a tradition of making Easter Rolls. Here’s how. All you need is 2 cups vanilla ice cream and 2 cups self-rising flower. Allow the ice cream to soften, then mix the two ingredients together. Put about 2 Tablespoons in each muffin cup and bake at 325 for 20 minutes or until firm. Serve with butter. These delicious little goodies can also be an illustration of Jesus. Just as there are two ingredients for our rolls, so Jesus was both God and man. The white, bright flour and ice cream reminds us of his purity. He was self-rising. He is the bread of life.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Mommy Burnout

Today I am returning from the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) meeting in Nashville. I’m a part of a wonderful group called Women in Christian Media which meets before the NRB conference. I spoke at a little breakout session on the topic of “Ministry Burnout.” Now it seems to me that Ministry Burnout and Mommy Burnout have a few similarities. Although we love what we are doing, we admittedly get drained and tired at times. Sometimes we just don’t know if we are making a difference, and we could use a healthy dose of encouragement along the way.

As a former track coach, I use the analogy of running a long difficult race to the challenges we face with burnout. But there are also several positive principles from running which can give us strength and perseverance. Whether it is a short race or a long distance one it is important to keep your mind on the finish line. The writer of Hebrews gave the same encouragement to early believers. “Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1,2)

As moms, let’s keep our eyes on Christ, asking for strength, patience and guidance from Him. When I coached sprint races, I told my runners to never take a glance at their competitors. Just one glace to the left or the right would slow them down and they could lose the race. As moms, we can easily become discouraged when we look at other moms. The comparisons we allow to roll around in our minds make us question ourselves or get frustrated that we are not doing enough. Run your own race, eyes firmly fixed on Jesus.

In saying that I want to be careful not to discourage us from reaching out to others to help or encourage other moms. We need to encourage other mothers, and we need to receive encouragement as well. It helps to join together with other moms and give each other a good word and a hearty hug of hope. Mentors can remind us “this too shall pass.” You are not in this race alone. We all need people in our life who can cheer us on.

Finally, we ought to look carefully at our lives and consider anything that needs to be eliminated from our lives. Two areas that tend to weigh us down are bitterness and busyness. Consider if you are harboring any bitterness that needs to be dealt with personally, and if there are any activities for you or your kids which are unnecessary and stressing you out. There is a time and a season for everything and that season may be later rather than right now.

Run your race with excellence. Recognize that burnout happens to us all. Persevere, keeping your eyes on Jesus and getting your eyes off of others. Find encouragement from other moms and mentors and get rid of areas which are dragging you down. It’s a tough race, but it’s worth it!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Life Changes

How has your life changed lately? I can confidently ask that question because nothing in life seems to stay status quo. Your day may change due to a sick child, an unanticipated phone call or even a shift in the weather or traffic. But changes aren’t reserved for just little daily issues; they can also come in large life-altering packages as well. A job loss, a divorce, an injury or illness, may take your life plans a whole new direction. The more important question is how are you handling the changes?

My friend Dr. Paul Lanier was a successful doctor, hunter and pilot. He was a healthy and vibrant man, until he began to experience some curious physical symptoms. As a doctor he was well aware of the terrible suffering those with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) experienced, so you can imagine his devastation when he received the diagnosis that he himself had the disease. Instead of living in anger toward God, Paul began to explore what God wanted to teach him through his suffering. Paul began to write out his thoughts as he wrestled with suffering and loss.

As the disease progressed he eventually lost the use of his arms. Although bound to a wheel chair, his neck and legs had slight movement. Paul was able to continue typing with the use of a laser beam strapped to his head. Painstakingly he pointed to a letter on his computer screen and clicked the mouse which was strapped to his knees (thank goodness for technology!). Pointing and clicking he lovingly poured out the lessons God taught him through the seat of suffering.

As a former pilot, Paul had learned all about registering his flight plan with the aviation towers, yet Paul’s life message became a change in flight plan. With the help of his friend Dave Turtletaub, he wrote a book by that title. A Change in the Flight Plan is a compilation of his thoughts and meditations of God’s truth and lessons he has learned about suffering. Concerning the grace of suffering he wrote, “Anything that God permits to happen to us in this life, whether good or bad, that better prepares us to meet Him as we approach the threshold of eternity, can only be interpreted as grace on His part.”

Take time to ponder Paul’s thought about the grace of suffering today. As you face changes in your life, recognize that God is with you and has a plan for your life. He will see you through. Paul went on to glory this past Friday, after suffering eight years with ALS. We rejoice in the life he had here on earth and the healing he is experiencing now in Heaven. You can read more about Paul on his website

In honor of Paul’s life, I’m giving away 10 free copies of his book to the first 10 people who email me asking for a copy: