"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
May 5, 2010
And Cinco de Mayo
And Gayla's birthday
A special day is coming up on Sunday, and I'd like to wish all the mothers a "Happy Mother's Day!" Not being a mother myself, it is always difficult for me to come up with something to write in our devotional at this time each year. In previous years, I've always used my mom as an example. But this year I wanted to go in a different direction and try something new. I tried writing something myself, but it's hard to write from a mother's perspective when I've never had children. And no one likes reading or hearing advice from someone who has never walked in their shoes! Jon and I may have opinions on child-raising or parenting, but we try to keep those to ourselves and not offer advice to parents. After all, what do we know? So I decided to invite a very special lady and one of my best friends to write the devotional for our Mother's Day edition of the newsletter this week. She also happens to be a wonderful, Godly mother and an awesome grandma. My sister, Janie, was gracious enough to accept my request to write the Mother's Day devotional this year, and I greatly appreciate her doing so. Janie and her husband pastor Praise Assembly of God Deaf Church in Tulsa, OK. She is an excellent teacher and speaker. She is very active in teaching in their church, and also has been the guest speaker at several retreats and conferences. After writing this, Janie said she discovered that she has a much easier time speaking than writing. Her exact words were, "This is hard!" I, on the other hand, would rather write, because once something is out of my mouth I can't go back and edit; and in writing I can rewrite and edit as much as I want! But she has done a great job and I thank her for her help this week. So read and be blessed by this weeks devotional written by my sister, Janie!! Happy Mother's Day!
Grace to Embrace
When I look in a mother's face,
I see reflection of God's grace.
Tenderness, mercy, patience, care
in her tender touch,
on her child's hair.
Her smile as she looks in her baby's eyes;
her voice as she sings lullabies.
Acceptance, pride, love, joy;
this one is mine,
my girl, my boy.
When I look into a mother's face,
I see a reflections of God's grace.
It seems to be a common thread among women, mothers in particular, the pressure to not only do things well, but to be excellent in all things -- all the time. When we conceive a child, we begin planning for our perfect child to become the perfect example to our perfect parenting. Average is a dirty word, and heaven knows we will never make the 'mistakes' our parents made with us!
It only takes a few sleepless nights for reality to set in. This mothering thing is not the piece of cake we envisioned. Then somewhere along the way, we lose confidence in our ability, become disappointed, and lose the initiative to seize new adventures and opportunities. What we need is a big dose of God's grace!We need the grace to accept our weaknesses; the kindness and favor of God.
Let's see how Paul dealt with his weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:7b-9 says, "So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time He said, 'My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.' So now I am glad to boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ can work through me."
What insight can be gained from Paul's struggle?
Paul prayed for the "thorn" to be removed again and again.
God said, "No!" This thorn was for Paul's benefit. It was not Paul's "sin", but a weakness that he had to contend with.
In Paul's weakness, God was strong. Our weak area is the place where we learn to lean on God. It's also a place where we accept our weakness as a blessing, and a place for God to show up in power. In other words, your weakness allows God's powerful grace to work in your life.
As our babies grow from infant to adulthood, we need to recognize that they will have areas where they will not excel. That's okay! These are places they will have the opportunity to learn and grow, areas where God can show He is mighty, and places where the grace of God can shine through.
In a house, the windows are the weakest points of the wall. It is the vulnerable places where thieves can break in. Yet a house without windows is dark and gloomy; a prison for those living inside. Sunlight from the outside cannot get in; neither can the light from the inside shine out.
So it is for our children and ourselves. Our weakness is where the grace of the Son shines into our lives, and the light inside us can shine out to bless others.
What is the light inside? It is the gifts that are deposited in us by the Holy Spirit. As mothers, we often dream of our little ones' futures. We are elated or disappointed, depending on the child's performance in meeting our expectations. Sometimes our disappointment is displaced. We are not using the gifts that God put in us, so we look to the child to not only perform for their benefit, but for ours as well. We transfer our dissatisfaction for ourself onto our children. They are expected to perform with excellence to prove that "I" am a good mother!
Embrace God's grace to accept your gifts. "In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well." (Romans 12:6a)
Closely examine yourself. Find the gift that is in your heart. Allow your children to develop the gift that God, in His grace, gave them as well. Here are the gifts that Paul listed that are in us, and instructions on how to use them. These are found in Romans 12:6b (paraphrased):
Prophesy -- speak out with as much faith as God has given you.
Serving -- serve them well
Teacher -- teach well
Encourager -- be encouraging
Giving -- give generously
Leadership -- take the responsibility seriously
Kindness -- do it gladly
God will enable you to express your gift. He will empower you to use it to bring satisfaction to yourself and glory to Him. Encourage your children as they develop in their God-given gift. Give them the freedom to imagine the possibilities of what God can do. Whether they are age 2 or 62, rejoice in their accomplishments, and pray for them in their discouraging times. Show your child by example that God is faithful to perform His grace in your life. Joy comes not by recognition or monetary compensation, but in pleasing God our Father. In this, grace flows from us to our children.
When I look in a mother's face.
I see reflection of God's grace.
(Since Janie wrote the devotional, Jon is taking a break and I (Loretta) am writing his portion of the newsletter this week.)
I have heard people comment to kids, "You look just like your mom/dad," or "You act just like your mom/dad". More times than not, the reply will be along the lines of, "No I don't!" or "Please don't say that! I am NOT like them!!" At times it is said jokingly, but then other times they're serious when they reply.
Over and over again we've all heard parents with babies or little ones say that they'll never say or do some of the things their parents did. "When my kids ask me a question, I'll never say, 'Because I said so!' I'll give them an answer." "I'll never get impatient with my kids and send them to my room or make them go outside if they're bugging me and getting on my nerves." It always seems easier when you're not right in the middle of a situation, and are just anticipating what you'll do when something happens in the future.
But when those sweet little babies grow into irritating pre-teens, it's difficult to remember those promises you made years ago. My niece was recently reminiscing about her younger brother. She told me and Jon that he went through a stage where he would get right beside you and lay down or turn his head where he was looking up at you and say, "You look so funny upside down!" Then he would laugh and laugh. He would do that over and over again. It got to the point where they couldn't even sit down without him doing that. His mom would get so aggravated at him and say, "Jared, you're going to your room if you don't stop right now!" It was very irritating, and he was continuously doing that. Thankfully, he finally outgrew that stage!
Then those boys and girls grow into teens where they want to drive, date, stay out past their curfew, try to find loopholes in their parents rules, etc. All the patience and good intentions you had stored up when they were an innocent little baby suddenly flies out the window.
I've heard many couples admit that over time they find themselves becoming their parents. Suddenly they hear themselves saying some of the same things their parents said to them; acting the same way; doing the same things.
At that point, having someone tell them that they are just like their mom or dad is a good thing and considered a complement. They come to the realization that their parents were a whole lot smarter than they gave them credit for. They remember some of the things they hid from their parents, or some of the things they snuck around and did behind their parents back, and no longer is it silly or unloving to have rules and be strict. Now it's their own children saying to them, "When I have kids, I'll never....."
One of the greatest compliments someone can give their parent is to be proud to be their son or daughter, and striving to follow their example. No, parents aren't perfect, they all make mistakes, and all wish they could redo some of their decisions. It's not about being perfect! If it were, no one would survive parenthood; nor would they survive being a son or daughter. But it's about grace. The grace of a parent to bestow favor and kindness to their child when they disobey and don't deserve it; and the grace of a child to forgive and love their parent when they make bad decisions and mess up. Grace doesn't only apply to the parents and their children while the children are still living at home, but continues throughout adulthood. Grace doesn't have a timeline that stops at a certain age. But the grace of a parent for their child and the child for their parent continues for the length of each of our lives upon earth.
Not only mother's, but may we each be a reflection of God's grace.
Oreo Cookie Dessert
1 half gallon vanilla ice cream
1 pkg. Oreo cookies
1 stick melted butter
Crush the Oreo cookies in a Ziplock bag. Mix the Oreo's with the melted butter and pat into a cake pan; cool in refrigerator for 1 hour.
Scoop ice cream 1/2 inch to 1 inch thick over Oreo crust.
1 pkg. Chocolate chips
1 stick butter
1 can evaporated milk
2 cups powdered sugar
Put chocolate chips, butter and evaporated milk in a saucepan and cook together on medium heat until chips are melted. Remove from heat and stir in powdered sugar. Pour fudge sauce over ice cream and sprinkle with nuts (optional). Put in freezer until ready to serve.
Children are generally very blunt in what they say, sometimes to their parents embarrassment. At times the kids are just repeating what they've overheard their parents or family say; not realizing the child has heard their comments and will repeat it in public. Over the years I've had kids say things to me that I thought was funny because of the innocence in which it was said; but knowing that their parents would be embarrassed if they knew.
Many years ago I was babysitting my cousin's son. The two of us were eating dinner, and he reached over and started playing with the flab on my upper arm and commented, "This is fun to play with; it reminds me of my grandma's arms!" I was probably in my late teens or early 20's at the time. Just what I wanted to hear, that my arms looked like his grandmas!
Another time, during children's church the leaders had the kids make cards for their parents, and also for those in the church who were unmarried or didn't have children. I think the kids got to choose who they made their cards for. I was probably in my 20's at this time. My cousin's daughter made a card for me. I thought it was funny and still have it. On the inside the message she wrote was, "Dear Loretta, You are very pretty and special. I don't understand why no one has married you. You're very special. Everyone loves you, especially God and me." I wondered if she had heard her grandparents (who were my uncle and aunt) or some of the other family members talking about me. I could just imagine the conversation; "Loretta's not that bad looking; I wonder why nobody has ever married her yet?"
My aunt used to babysit years ago, and one day the mom of the little girl she was babysitting told her, "I won't believe everything she tells us about you, if you won't believe everything she tells you about us!"
Watch what you say around kids, because you never know who they'll tell!
If someone were to tell your children, "You're just like your mom," would they [child] consider that an insult or complement?
Happy Mother's Day to Jon's mom, Diane and to my stepmother, June.
We also are very proud of our sisters and sisters-in-law for the wonderful mothers and grandmothers they are:
Gayla, Alfreda, Joyce, Linda, Shirley and Janie
We are also enjoying watching our nieces and nephew's wives thrive as mothers:
Tara, Kandis, Nicole, Amanda, Jenny, Kissa, Machall, Denise, Shelby and Janee'
Happy Mother's Day to all our readers!! May your day be blessed.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon