Raising a Mighty Man of Valor

B509058D-C0B3-46F2-A5EF-1E1AB1C51A28.jpegI’m excited to be participating in the Raising Godly Boys blog party over at Intentional in Life today. We’re spending 30 days giving you practical, Biblical advice for bringing boys into God’s Kingdom. My topic is raising a mighty man of valor. That’s what I call my Man Cub. That’s what I pray for him. I hope you’ll join me for six principles from a real man of valor’s story – Gideon. This identity was given to him by the Lord before he even picked up a sword.

EFCAF5F6-7F26-4114-BE34-A806662DDC3CI’d love to hear your feedback and help you pray for your boys. Leave a comment on the linked post or on my Facebook page or on Instagram.

Be blessed, sweet friends.

 

When All God Wants You to Do Is Stand Still & Watch

quotes-The-Lord-will-fight-.pngI opened up my Bible app on Friday morning to read my plan on Acts and the verse of the day caught me off guard. “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (Exodus 14:14 NKJV)

That seemed peculiar. It’s been awhile since I read the details of the Exodus, but chapters 13-14 are where I go when I need a real reminder of God’s sovereignty and grace. But I missed that verse in my recollections.

To set the stage, this verse comes in the moments before the Egyptian army is to overtake the trapped Israelites. They are scared stiff. They are doing what most of us do when we’re scared – looking for a way out. They attack Moses with their words asking why he brought them into the desert to die. Pretty encouraging, right?

He’s about to part the Red Sea

But I’ve learned something. When I get here, God is about to do something amazing in my life. He’s about to part the Red Sea. Did you hear that? He’s about to part the Red Sea so they can walk away from oppression into a better life.

That encourages me so much.

Moses reaction to this lament of fear was pretty cool. He says, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (Exodus 14:13-14 NKJV)

Then God, says, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.” (Exodus 14:15 NKJV)

Go forward, not backward!

This reminds me so much of the chaos that is my life right before we have to do something big at my house – like be on time for an airplane. It’s like everyone forgets how to follow instructions and they lose all their composure. I’m running through my list and all I want them to do is stand by the door or get in the car.

There’s fighting and whining and miscommunication. They are doing everything but standing still. And there’s that one who keeps running back into the house because she “forgot something.”

You don’t have to worry about Egyptians; just watch!

Oh my sweet friends, it takes everything in me to keep my cool like Moses. I find myself saying things like, “Don’t worry. I charged your iPad. I packed your swimsuit. Yes, we’re going to feel our ears pop, but we’ll get you gum. IT’S ALL GOING TO BE OK! Now get in the car!”

Imagine that multiplied by a few million people. Moses had a JOB, and the patience of Job.

We get like this right before a journey that takes us out of our comfort zones. It’s hard to pack up all your stuff and trust that you have it all together. But that’s the thing, you don’t have to have it all together.

It’s not your job to worry about all the Egyptians coming at you. It’s your job to stand there and watch the mighty work of God. I think that’s what God means when He tells you to “hold your peace.”

Keep your composure. He’s got this.

Action Item: God gives you all you need to thrive in a Godly life. (See 2 Peter 1:3) Do you trust Him enough to part your Red Sea?

 

When It All Seems Tough, Ask a Three-Year-Old What to Do

quotes-Hug--Say--I-love-youI’ve seen this truck several times at the end of my street. It’s a medical supply truck. I thought it was for the tiny lady who lives at the top of the hill.

I once knocked on her door trying to catch my obnoxious puppy. I assumed she owned the tramp that Gifted Puppy chased. Nope. She said, “I’m a shut-in.” My heart broke a little bit that morning. And this is a good reminder that I need to get to know her better.

However, when I pulled into my driveway yesterday, I noticed the truck in my next-door-neighbors’ driveway. He’s fighting cancer and it breaks my heart. They’re the grandparent type of neighbors who adopt you before they even remember your name.

My three-year-old talks to them like nothing’s wrong. She just shares her life. How wise.

Tragedy struck our own family hard last year when my beloved sister died from surgery complications. I almost forgot a few days ago as I picked up the phone to call her.

When I was sending my family a group text picture of my sweet little ones graduating from preschool, her name popped up. Tears sprung up out of nowhere. It’s ok. I missed my sister. She’s the one who would’ve responded first and with “Cute” and “So big” and “I miss them.” Oh, sweet Michelle, we miss you most.

I took a Facebook break that didn’t really last all that long, and when I rejoin, I see the tragedy of divorce and death affecting dear friends and loved ones.

Hug, Say I love you, Repeat

The only thing I know to do when these things happen is to pray and reach out. You never know what that listening ear will do for someone who is carrying a burden too big for them to bear.

When my three-year-old was beside herself because she slept through the awards program at church, all I could do was pick her up and hold her. She knew what to do – draw near to love.

The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. — Psalm 145:18 (NKJV)

Routines to the rescue – everyone needs breakfast

When my sister died, I didn’t feel like I got the time and space I needed to really mourn her loss. I was too busy with my kids. How can I sit in bed and cry when someone needs help in the bathroom or seventh breakfast?

There were times I felt guilty that I wasn’t a mess. In my mind when tragedy strikes, the world should break. And it does at times, but I realized something. The routines of life and are a gift for the brokenhearted.

Ask a three-year-old. You still need breakfast and hugs and to dunk all your puppies in the kiddie pool.

I had a reason to not sit in my bed and cry – three precious, hungry children who seemed preoccupied with where people and pets go when they pass on. They were constantly asking to pray for our lost puppy and my sister. In their innocent, precious way, they get it. They understand on a soul level that we are not carrying this burden alone. Jesus sees every tear and every hard moment.

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. — James 4:8 (NIV)

And you know, it’s not just tragedy that puts us at the brink of wanting to stay in bed and cry. This life is really hard. We’re all struggling – watching a loved one suffer from a disease, wayward children, personal struggles that don’t have clear answers.

It’s ok to fall apart

A few months ago, I was about to crumble because I had so much on my plate that I walked into Bible study bursting with frustration.

The leader looked at me and asked me how I was. I couldn’t help but hand a little of my burden to her. She wrapped an arm around me and prayed for me right there. That little gesture showed me that even when it all seems too tough, we are not alone.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help bearing your burdens.

A few nights ago a friend’s three-year-old daughter was carrying her own tea to the dinner table. It was about to spill. I told her to take a big sip. That still didn’t help, so she asked me to carry it.

That’s what He wants you to do. When it’s all too much, put those arms up and ask for help.

“Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. — Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)

If you’re going through something tough, (nothing is too small) please know that you have a Helper and Healer. If you need prayer, please reach out to someone. I’d be happy to pray for you. Just leave a comment or email me at amanda c brandon at gmail dot com. Blessings, my friends.

 

 

Life Lately and Focusing on Present

1john412It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post. Life got pretty complicated during my Write 31 Days challenge in October. I wrote a book (for someone else) and became a somewhat single parent as my hubby took a job in another state quite suddenly.

Life Lately

That’s a big ole glass of survival mode. I also have a homeschooled fourth grader. I knew it would be intense because she’s intense. We committed to working with each other and not against. That’s tough because it’s like they turn 9 and get this mind of their own or something, but I digress.

“Gifted” Puppy

We also bought a puppy this past summer who turned into quite the challenge around the same time Hubby went away for work.

I was sitting in the vet’s office for her four-month check-up and could barely contain her and my year-apart twins. The vet suggested that I had a “gifted” puppy. Great, I thought. I already have two, possibly three gifted children of the human variety. They don’t come with any sort of instruction manual.

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The strategy for the “gifted” puppy was to put her on a strict schedule and keep her attached to me when she wasn’t kenneled. It’s easy they said. You can do this, they said. Um…no.

I tried. I tried and tried and tried. And then I cried out to my family very angrily, “It’s me or the dog.”

I’m serious. I couldn’t take it anymore. Gifted puppy needed a tutor. So, we shipped her off to camp for a month. She’s much better, but she’s still a thorn in my side.

Why Present Is My Word for the Year

I’m exhausted after writing all of that. So, what’s up with this word for the year thing? Since snow and ice and frozen pipes and a fun and exhausting holiday break, I decided that my New Year started yesterday. And for the first time ever, I picked a word. It’s “present.”

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I want to be present with my hubby and my kiddos (including Gifted Puppy). I want to be present in my study and time with God. I want to be a good friend. A good daughter. A good sister.

A sweet little cousin reminded me of this on Christmas Day. She told me I was her favorite because I used to play with her in the pool. That changed my life in a good way.

I realized that I’m here to do something great and often all I have to do is just show up and be present.

Distraction pulls us so hard. It causes the molehills to turn into mountains.

Messes don’t matter as much as meandering through a book with a sweet princess. Making it all the way through the history book doesn’t matter as much as playing a board game with my big girl. Helping Man Cub get the right remix of Thunder on his iPad is more important than getting to that pile of stuff on the table.

Taking an hour to talk to a good friend instead of worrying about when the lunches will get packed is more important. Spending time retracing the life of Tamar or Dinah in the Word and pondering what God wants me to know from their stories is more important than getting to the final questions of my Bible study so I sound good in class.

Talking to my love on the phone for an hour on Thursday morning while I drink a pot of coffee is soul-filling for him and me. So what if we ate Nutella and pineapple for breakfast?

I can’t get these moments with my people back. I can’t get that soul-filling quiet of the morning back. I can’t say I’m going to pray for someone and then forget to do it. These people are depending on my presence at the table, on the phone, and in the gap. When I’m there, the promises come alive. I’m blessed and they’re blessed.

What’s Next for the Blog?

I’m making some big changes to this blog this spring to reflect how being present can change your life and those around you. As always, thanks for reading. This ministry is not mine. I’m just a vessel and I hope it blesses you.

What’s the Deal With Head Coverings?

Jeremiah 1_5

I’m going to hit on some of the hard points of Scripture. I like to explore the ideas behind something that in our society seems irrelevant or arcane. I’m taking a look at the heart of this passage. I believe God’s truths are timeless and relevant every day. So, I’m asking my dear readers to look at this through that lens. The topic I’m covering today is one that’s been widely debated. Debate is good; attack is not. We don’t know everything about the background of this passage, but we do know that Paul was seeking to educate in grace and love to God’s people. I ask that you do the same if you comment on this blog. 

What’s Under the Head Covering?

I’m in a Bible study this year that covers the letters of Paul to the Corinthians, the Philippians and the Ephesians – all churches that Paul helped get started. He is praising them, correcting them and giving them instructions on how to do this Christian life the right way.

The Corinthians were a church that needed a good lecture. They were crossing lines and taking “liberties” with their freedom in Christ. I love how Paul gets the tough love part out of the way and then starts answering the “questions” or “objections” the  Corinthian “children” have. Isn’t that so the way our kids treat us? They want to know where the loopholes are. Or maybe we all just need the guardrails to keep us on the narrow path.

I also love that he’s willing to deal with the hard topics. A woman’s place is something I argued with my own dear husband about this weekend. In anger, I pulled out that lovely line, “You just want me to be a submissive wife.”

I wanted my hubby to hear why I was upset. I wanted him to let me vent my frustration and not put up one of those guardrails of “Maybe, you’re not seeing this the right way.” (I really don’t like his use of rational thinking.)

God’s Place for You

I think that’s what Paul is doing in the 11th chapter of I Corinthians. He’s showing us that God has a place for everyone in His order. He’s the head of the entire Kingdom and Paul is using a contentious issue to show everyone how God views each “role” in His house. He writes, “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head (authority over) of every man, and man is the head of woman, and God is the head of Christ.” (I Corinthians 11:3 AMP)

Paul is using an accepted social standard of the day – women covering their heads in prayer and public – as an example of accepting and respecting your place in God’s order. I may receive some criticism for my analysis, but I’m not very concerned with what people think of me. I’m concerned with that throne I’m going to stand before one fine day (Romans 14:12). I’m concerned about what I’m going to say about the gifts I was trusted to nurture and foster to the One who gave them to me (I Peter 4:10).

My take on the head covering topic is this – it’s about respecting the life and role you were given. We can fight for what we think we should be or accept what He made us to be.

“All Things Are From God”

Isn’t that what this is really about? All things are from God. He created us. He wants us to know He created us for glory. And we ladies are for the glory of our husbands (I Corinthians 11:7). I want to be that woman.

When I respect my place as a daughter of the King and I respect my place as a woman who asked my husband to lead our family, I have freedom to be who I was designed to be.

Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. (I Corinthians 11:11-12 ESV)

When I embrace my place as the heart of my family, I’m free and whole.

When I know that I’m showing my children how to embrace their purpose (head or heart of a home) with dignity and joy, I’m leaning into the head of my heart. He comes near to me when I come near to Him. (James 4:8).

Do you know what your gifts are? (Here’s a quiz I like). Think about the time you felt most alive. What was your state of mind? Were you living His plan for your life? Write this down as a reminder to yourself when you get lost.

For Discussion: How do you apply Scripture with hard-to-comprehend concepts to your life?