Sunday, September 27, 2009

The world or the family?

1 Timothy 3:1-5 (New International Version)

Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?)

I read this verse in "Riven" by Jerry B. Jenkins two years ago. It has stuck with me, and has been screaming at me a lot lately. I am seeing so many Godly parents with children doing things that I would assume their parents tried to teach them against. While at the same time, I am seeing other young men and women who grew up in the same church (same families) who are strong and admirable Godly men and women. I saw an interview with some celebrity mom and she said that her fear of having teenagers was "Did I teach them as best as I could so they stay in the way that they were raised?" So what is it? Is it the world or the parenting?

As a parent with three young children, I am so worried that I will not raise them right. I don't want them making the serious mistakes that they will regret the rest of their lives. I wish I could just keep them locked up in the house forever, but they won't grow that way.

I grew up in a Catholic family. Church wasn't a priority, but as I got older I felt God's pull on me. I was never a social butterfly, so I didn't go out much. I didn't start dating until I was 16. I married the first man whom I had a serious relationship with. We have known each other for 10 years today. I never wanted the things that my peers were doing - 'partying', drinking, smoking, sex. I had a health teacher freshman year of high school tell us that if we were in a long-term committed relationship, if our boyfriend wants sex, after while shouldn't we respect his wishes? At my husbands 10-year reunion, someone asked how long we'd been together, and we said 9 years. The guy was like "dude she was total jail bait." No, I was only jail bait if something happened. I earned my white dress on my wedding day, thank you very much.

Today when over half the marriages are ending in divorce, girls are getting pregnant in middle school, and young people are working to pay for partying, what am I to do to save my children?

Well, I have to trust in the Grace and Love of God. I need to spend more time in prayer and fasting for my children, even now, when it is not affecting them. I need to surround myself with Godly couples who have raised Godly children and eat on their every words. I need to keep myself and my children around other Godly couples, and pray for them (we will be our support team). I need to pray for the friends that my children will have and plead the Holy Blood of Christ over them and their parents for protection.

So I know what I need to do, but how do I do it? I'm finding that Churches today are focusing on the "feel good" and not the "good for you" approach to things that are attacking our families. It's should be so important for mentor parents to reach out and share their wisdom with young parents. Not every Christian couple in churches today were raised in a two-parent Christian home. Churches should be offering parenting 'classes'. There should be a format for young couples to share their questions and difficulties; there should be open discussions (not just lectures and videos); there should be rotating small groups of similar ages, varying ages, boys versus girls. Lord, lead me to a place that this is happening, or give me the courage to bring this to my own church.

I want my children to grow strong in the Lord. But first, I must grow stronger. I must be more diligent in my prayer (and in front of the children), more active in m Bible study (and involve the kids), more involved in ministries (they keep asking me to let them help me volunteer...) Lord, show me the way!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cancer is killing us

Over the past few months, we have lost many American Icons to Cancer. As a person who's father had cancer, I know only too well how horrible this disease can be. It sucks the life out of someone - even if it doesn't kill them. It affects the whole family. I thought the world had crashed down on me when my father told me.

I remember sending out updates and prayer requests, asking people to send words of encouragement to my parents and brothers. Of about 25 people I had asked, 2 sent cards right away. The rest, well, I'm sure they said a prayer. (Allow me to digress, but when a brother or sister in Christ is calling on you in their family's time of need, take 2 minutes and write a card.) I remember going every other weekend to visit my dad in his first round of treatment, and seeing the cards that they had received: from current and former coworkers, parents of my brothers' soccer teammates, friends they hadn't seen in years, and strangers who had seen a prayer request made by a friend and sent a card. Jesus, to those people, bless their abundant hearts.

Today I heard the news that Mary, from Peter Paul and Mary died from Cancer. A few days ago, Patrick Swazye died. A few weeks ago, Ted Kennedy died, and before that Farrah Fawsette. All from cancer. These people played an important role in our culture (whether we like it or not is not the point). They probably had access to the best treatment in the world because of their fame and fortune (I'm not talking about heath care reform now, either). Despite all our medical advancements, people are still dying of cancer.

I look at family members and friends who are dealing with cancer in one way or another now, and it tugs at my heartstrings. I want to be able to take away their pain, but no matter how hard I've prayed, they still had/have to go through it. This tool of the devil does not belong, and in JESUS NAME! begone from my family and friends!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Remembering 9/11

September 11, 2001. I was in my first sememster at the University of Toledo. I had just come out of Dr. Tucker's Intro to Communcation lecture at 9:15. I got in my car and turned on 92.5, Kiss FM; Denny Schaffer's Breakfast Club. (As a college freshman, I had no need for "Focus on the Family, so I had switched from my usual station 89.3 YES FM). I remember Trisha Courtney coming on with the news that there had been a plane crash in New York, that one of the twin towers had been hit, moments later, stating that a second plane had hit the other tower. I called my mom at home - she had just gotten off morning shift at work and turned on the TV. I drove home as fast as I could.

When I got home, hearing the news that the planes had come from Boston, and we were calling our family to see if anyone had been traveling that day, fearing that one of my family members might have been on those planes (they weren't). I remember sitting frozen in front of the television with my mom; my brothers were in school and my dad was at work, horrified by the images that we were seeing. I went to my 11:30 class and there were student's who had been in classes all morning who had not yet heard the news. Class was ended early that day - they were cancling classes the rest of the day.

I remember calling my husband that day (my ex-boyfriend at the time), begging him to not enlist. His family is a military family, but I didn't think it was the right path for him - he agreed. I don't think we'd be married if he had joined up. I have the utmost respect for the men and women in the military; I pray for their safety and for the peace of their families when they are a away.

It was hard to believe what was happening - and I was so proud to be an American that day. For the first time in my life, patriotism was important and our country's needs became a priority. I wanted to do something, but there was nothing I could do - there were people flooding blood banks, but I am ineligeble to donate (small veins and anemia). I spent the day listening o YES FM - I didn't need to hear any more of the destruction of the terorist acts, I needed to hear the hope of this counrty.

Months later, while with my husband visiting his father, he showed us a tape - he saw what was happening and as a military man needeed to get to work ASAP after the attacks. He had set the VCR to record and had everything on tape. Watching it again was devestating. Last year I saw the special created from diferent people in New York who had set their cameras up durning that awful morning. It was hard to watch, but inspiring.

Recently we were going through old photo files and saw some pictures my husband took at ground zero 3 years later. It's sad because it still looks pretty much the same. Where did it all go? What happened to the patriotism that we all felt? What happened to wanting to work together to make the USA worth fighting for? I want hard work and morals and values promoted; I want to be given the option for charity and giving, not forced to give my earning to help others who won't help themselves; I want my children to have a future where they can freely worship The LORD in the manner that they feel is pleasing, not forced to hid their faith because it could be offensive to others. Jesus, many are saying that you are coming soon. Let me be a voice that leads someone to you, so that we may all join you when the trumpet sounds...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Things of this world

There is so much death happening in the world, it's scary. Many celebrities have died this summer. Ted Kennedy was laid to rest this weekend (I don't agree with most of his politics, but I can tell he loved his family, and he loved my home state of Massachusetts)

I was talking with a friend of my recently about all the deaths and disease that is becoming so prevalent in this day and age. We are called as Christians to go out an pray for the sick and weary. Almost two years ago, when my father was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer, it was the day the music died for me; I haven't been the same since. We almost lost him a few times, I tried to talk to him everyday, not knowing if I would ever get to talk to him again. I wish I could just say a prayer and every one's illnesses could go away, but that's not how it works, I guess.

I have really been questioning as to the whole 'God doesn't give us more than we can handle' concept. My brain can't seem to fully grasp that concept - it's hard to explain, but He's God and I'm not. It's not my place to understand. I know that in my current season in life, I am very scared as to what is going to happen in the next few months; how the bills will be paid, what I'm going to feed my children, how will I get them warm clothes for the cold weather. But I know that everything will be taken care of if I trust in God. I will continue to pay my offerings and tithes as best as I can (which is very hard to do, knowing how much you can get at the grocery for 10% of your income.)

I look at everything going on around me. Charities and Churches falling because of lack of financial support; small businesses going under or at least taking away benefits to keep their employees paid; people trying to scrimp and save as best they can to provide basic needs for their families; insurance copay and deductibles going up so that you have to pay a large sum of money before they pay a dime! How can you cut costs when there is nothing left to cut?!

I have to remind myself often that things will get better - they plans that are in place for me and my family are Divine, and while I can try to plan around them, His plan always wins (and it will probably be better than anything I set out to get for myself).

I'm human, so fear is natural. But I am a child of God, and children are never afraid when their Father says that everything is going to be OK. Lord, I'm going to follow You, and trust in You to take care of me and my family and our needs. For You are God, the All Powerful Alpha & Omega and where I cannot see, you have already seen. My troubles of today may be for today, or may be for a season, but You will make the troubles go away. You have not given me anything that I cannot handle, and I will make it though following your lead. Forgive me my fear, for I know to not be afraid. You are The Great God, and You are Greatly to be Praised! Victory in The Name of Jesus! Hallelujah, Amen!