Creating and Nurturing a Culture of Authenticity

The Women’s Ministry in which I serve at King’s Harbor Church has become a refreshing place of authenticity for many women, including myself.  Because of God and how He is stirring among us, we are increasingly leaving off our “church faces” and drive for perfection and becoming more and more okay with who we are, recognizing where we’ve been and trusting God to not leave us stagnant.  As God peels back the layers, it’s crucial for women to partner with Him in creating a culture where we can allow Him to do the deep work in and through us.

In the time I’ve been leading the women at King’s Harbor Church, there have been so many lessons learned from those I serve alongside.  I’m so thankful to be guest posting the thoughts produced from these lessons on Lifeway’s Women Reaching Women Blog today.

Would you stop by and read more about Creating and Nurturing a Culture of Authenticity by clicking here?  Please consider sharing some of your thoughts as well in the comments about what you have learned about authenticity.

Let’s Talk About Sex Baby {5 Conversations: Saying No}

If you’re following along in our study on 5 Conversations You Must Have with Your Son, Raise your hand if the Salt ‘n Pepa song came to mind at least once this last week.

If you are doing the study with us, here is where we will converse about the daily study.  Contribute to the conversation by leaving your thoughts in the comment field.  Answer one question or answer all… feel free.  Make sure you check the box for “Notify me of follow-up comments via email” so the conversation isn’t just one-way and you can also respond to comments.   If you have insight into parenting boys but aren’t necessarily doing the study with us, you are also free to join the conversation!

This week’s study was thought provoking to say the least. It caused me to think about my own upbringing, experiences, impressions, conversations with friends and parents {or should I say – lack, there of}.  And along with some other random conversations this week, really made me think about how the subject of sex is being leaked out, presented and impressed upon our kids.

From page 81:

“Our sons need to know that sex is good and that God, the Creator of sex, put some rules in place so that they might experience the best sex life possible.”

Question – How did you learn about sex growing up?

I’ll go first… I learned from my friends, the media, and thankfully at the right time in my life learned from some amazing youth leaders from church and other people’s parents.  {Shout out to Mrs. Reed!}  If God hadn’t intervened, life may have turned out very differently for me and I’m thankful that in the midst of hearing from a mom in my community, I realized even then how I wanted to approach the subject when I became a parent.

Consider this quote from page 92:

“For evangelicals, sex is a ‘symbolic boundary’ marking a good Christian from a bad one, but in reality, the kids are always sneaking across enemy lines.”

If you were to take a moment of honest introspection, is your view of sex

closely tied to your view of a good Christian? What are the results you are looking for in your kids?

About 15 years ago, I would have reluctantly answered yes.

This week’s conversation drove home the concept that we as mothers ought to be about shepherding and nurturing our children towards a relationship with God.  An authentic-Christocentric-Jesus-loving-Holy-Spirit-leading-Sheep-hearing-His-voice-kind of relationship with the Living God.

I want to do my best to impress upon my children the truth and give them a God honoring perspective of sex and how fantastic God intends it to be. That being said, we must be careful not to make virginity more important than a heart turned towards Jesus.

Should they remain pure until the day they are married, praise God… this is only one sign of fruitfulness.  Behavior modification will only go so far… heart transformation is eternal.

In retrospect, my view of sex was largely based on a rule, “don’t do it.”  I didn’t grow up understanding the “why’s” of God’s design.

Have you and if so, how have you began the conversation with your son? 

If your sons have reached adolescence, do you encourage them to wait? If so, how?

In our home, it’s began in 3rd grade.  The questions came up and we decided to answer them {age appropriately} lest they hear a different, less accurate answer from a friend.  My son told me the kids are already talking about it, so I was glad when we began.

Consider the following:

“We moms must approach the topic of sex with confidence and assurance, so our sons are left with no doubt that it is an amazing gift from God.  If we’ll only ask, God will give us the wisdom to know when to initiate conversations about sex and the boldness needed to approach the topic with confidence.  Our boys need to hear the truth.”

What makes you nervous about these conversations? 

If you are married, do you think it’s just as important for you to be having the conversations

along with your husband?  Or would you rather leave it up to him?  Why or why not?

And just a note… one of the best books I’ve read on the subject so far is called Teaching Your Children Healthy Sexuality by Jim Burns.  Jim is the President of HomeWord Ministries where they have a plethora of resources on marriage, relationships and parenting, including books on sexuality you can read along with children as young as 6 (which we’ve used).  We have found these resources helpful… and I didn’t get paid to say this.

5 Conversations: Redefining Manhood

Today is the week one wrap up for the study we are doing on 5 Conversations You Must Have With Your Son.  If you are doing the study with us, here is where we will converse about the daily study.  Contribute to the conversation by leaving your thoughts in the comment field.  Make sure you check the box for “Notify me of follow-up comments via email” so the conversation isn’t just one-way and you can also respond to comments.  If you have insight into parenting boys but aren’t necessarily doing the study with us, you are also free to join the conversation!

The title of this week’s conversation is “Redefining Manhood.”  There was so many rich things we could talk about here but what really stood out to me was the building up of character.  Drawing from examples in 2 Kings and Genesis, there was a building up of character we want to nurture in our boys.

A Penitent heart  (a tender or responsive heart over wrong doing)

Humility (Having or showing a low estimate of one’s own importance – - the rare quality of caring more about God’s approval than the approval of men)

Courage (grounded in faith, seasoned in love)

From boyhood to manhood, we want to partner with God in raising up men who embody these three characteristics.

In one of the personal reflections, the question was asked: “How might you encourage a penitent “softening of the heart” when your son does something wrong?” 

I have to be honest here… my answer was:

I. don’t. know.

In our family, we believe in discipline, we believe in consequences.  These are good things, but I was really challenged with whether or not we are also forming the hearts of our boys to respond with a heart like Jesus… a heart that breaks like His.

It all came to a head on day three when another character trait came up. This time it wasn’t regarding the boys, it was for the moms.

Fear.

“But while at first glance hovering Helicopter Moms may appear to have their child’s best interests in mind, their high need for control is unhealthily rooted in fear.  Fear of danger. Fear their child will not find future success (as defined by the Helicopter Mom). Fear their children may not be accepted if they don’t look or perform a certain way.  In a nutshell, Helicopter Moms want to ensure that their children turn out according to their personal script and time line.”

I was really proud when I took the Helicopter Mom quiz, I only checked one thing (Confession – I’ve signed my kids up for 2 extra curricular activities in one season).  I’ve never considered myself a “Helicopter Mom.”  But I was challenged that I often respond, discipline, and react from the root of fear.

What do I fear?  Perhaps they will not choose the narrow road.  What if they would not live healthy lives – choosing things or lifestyles that are unhealthy? What if they end up doing drugs? Or get caught up in pornography?  What if they choose friends or a spouse  who will not love them or love God.  I have many fears about the outcome.

In the beginning of the week, the author used the illustration of a mother perhaps acting like a “regent” to a king. Someone working to surround him with Godly role models throughout his reign to help him make good decisions, be a good influence to help him live up to the potential and carry out God’s plan for the boy and the nation.  We ended the week with Rebekah, a mother who manipulated and made her plans and timing supersede God’s.

There is a thin line between a regent and a manipulative, helicopter mom.

Our plans and God’s plan.

Courage vs. Fear

One way to teach our boys courage is to parent courageously.  Knowing there are lessons with skinned knees and brokenness.

Father, help us raise these boys to men according to the plans you have for them, not our plans.  Give us courage to let them live adventurous lives, learning how to trust you when they encounter difficulty and danger.  May they learn throughout life how much bigger you are than them and may they learn to seek you with all their heart, soul, mind and strength so that at the end of their lives, they would be known as men who did what was right in the eyes of the LORD.

Questions:

1. What, if anything, do you fear in parenting?

2. How do you encourage penitence, humility and courage?

3. What were you challenged in your parenting this week?

4. How were you encouraged in your parenting this week?

Feel the freedom to answer, one or all of the questions in the comment field.  Be sure to check the “follow-up box.”

Rain

20111106-074331.jpg

 
Rain. Rain outs. Rain delays. A reminder of how little control we have.

It can ruin the best laid plans for a day or it can bring a reason to find shelter to stay in its warm embrace.

You can either feel defeated by it or relieved for it.

You can be drenched by it or learn to dance in it.

It can lull you to sleep or awaken you.

Perhaps today, you woke up refreshed from that extra hour of sleep. The day is like a canvas waiting to be painted.

Where ever you are in your inner being, if you are in the South Bay, my church is leaving its building and bringing Church to the city. If you don’t belong to a church or if its been a long time since you’ve been, then come.

Don’t let a little rain stop you from becoming refreshed by a message of hope, a warm cup of coffee, the strum of a guitar and some people who will be glad to be with you. It’s not going to be weird. No one wants your money. I promise, you’ll be glad you came.

Come to a park, come to a school, come to a restaurant on the strand. Our family will be at Calle Mayor, El Retiro Park and Bluewater Grill.

Take your pick. Visit http://cominghomesouthbay.com to find the location nearest you.

Hope to see you there.

Recommended Reading

I read my blogs through Google reader which is a much more efficient way than going to each individual blog you like to keep up with.  It’s also helpful because you don’t have to read everything… you can scan and read only those that pop out as interesting to you.

A few of my friends have asked me which blogs I read so in addition to the ones you can find on the links to the right, I thought I’d post a few things I’ve found noteworthy over the last couple of weeks.  I’m posting these not only for the two people who read my blog, but also for me to come back to these one day when needed {see post on “How to Write a Book Proposal” or “Baked Oatmeal”}.

Ed Stetzer from Lifeway Research has begun a series on The Pornification of American Culture. This is an important read for anyone… especially parents. It’s harder to keep away from porn than it is to find it now and Ed has some important things to say on the matter.

Jenni Catron is the Executive Director at Crosspoint Church in Nashville. She has a lot of compelling things to say about leadership. Many people are obviously aware of their leadership, but some people lead without even realizing it.  Some people embrace being in leadership while others shy away from it.  In this post she writes about leadership at all levels.

Bianca Olthoff has written some very honest words on food addictions and surrender.  Something that we can all relate to no matter what your poison, addiction, or idol of the moment may be.

Brett McCracken via the Jesus Creed blog has some thoughts on what divides Christians.  Not that the list is anything new, but the comments are really interesting in terms of seeing what ideas are out there.

Ann Kroeker’s Food on Friday post from last week.  Baked Oatmeal. I’m definitely making this.  As soon as I have some time to make anything other than a bowl of cereal for breakfast.

Rachelle Gardener is a literary agent who blogs about publishing.  She has a very straight forward post here on How to Write a Book Proposal.  One day.

Leave it to the Gypsy Mama to keep us all grounded when it comes to our illusions of the perfect life.

My favorite thing I thought on this year was on Habakkuk.  The study of it was so moving for me and thankfully God has put it in order for me to develop it into a 4 part teaching for Point Loma First Church of the Nazarene’s women’s retreat in October.  I’m wondering if I can somehow incorporate some of Jon Acuff’s commentary on Habakkuk.

The women (In)Courage always have some good offerings on their blog.  This is a good reminder along with some good recipes that taking a meal to someone is a wonderful way to serve.  We have benefited from many hands over the last couple of months bringing us delicious meals and giving me one less thing to think about.

What about you?  Have you come across any interesting blog posts lately?

Unlocking the Creative Process

20110718-112742.jpg

This morning, I was pleased to happen upon a blog series initiated by Darrell at This is Me Thinking. Whether it has to do with developing a teaching, a blog post, writing a devotional, visioneering a retreat, helping a child with a diorama, setting the table for a party… creative muscles need to be flexed. There are times when these muscles get weak and even feel like they have atrophied. It was a good prompt to get me thinking about what needs to happen in order to get creative about some things coming up in the Fall. So, here is what I know about my creative process {which clearly needs to be better organized and formulated with some order}.

Being a working mom requires multi tasking but in order to get anything done, focused time is a must. For the inevitable moments of busyness, I always have a notebook handy or Evernote within reach. This gives me access to space where thoughts, ideas and inspiration are recorded to be further developed when I actually get some focused time for a project. If It’s not recorded, it will disappear.

Music is a must. Ever since high school, when I’ve needed to buckle down and write, Ive needed a secluded space with classical music turned on, taking my fingers to the keyboard. This practice has carried me through college and throughout every job that requires writing. Now, occasionally I will switch it up with some jazz or worship music. I’m pretty selective though because music can also distract me with lyrics.

Lately, a visual muse has helped as well. I will visit sites like Pinterest or Creation Swap to find images of real life, art, books, people and music to spark an idea or develop a plan to bring an idea to fruition. For example, this is a teaching on “expectation” waiting to happen:

People. People are so inspiring. Getting insights from others, seeing the Word of God, and getting glimpses of the ordinary through different eyes brings much more richness to my own perspective. Another beautiful reason why God places us in community. People also help me get my ideas into action. Without being able to verbally process and tap into gifts other people have, my ideas would just be… ideas.

A change of scenery is also beneficial. Every summer our family takes a trip to Yosemite. Being in the grandeur of God’s creation always stirs up ideas. But when I can’t get to Yosemite, a new coffee shop or a walk by the beach can also get things in motion.

Finally, there is nothing more prompting, more inspiring, more edifying, more encouraging and more grounding than the revelation of God through His Spirit and Word. To read the story of the Divine Creator, experiencing His goodness, reading and seeing that God still creates, develops, doesn’t give up on, produces and works through imperfect people never gets old. It gives me courage to actually take the steps of making ideas into reality, helping me realize my ideas are not my own, the vision should be shared and the outcome belongs to Him.

What does your creative process look like?

This post is part of Darrell Vesterfelt’s series in the personal creative process. You can read more and contribute your own here.

Caring for Orphans

James 1:27:

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Several friends of mine as well as family have enjoyed the privilege of adopting kids.  From nations in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Haiti, Georgia and even here through the Los Angeles Foster System.

There is an anticipation like no other as they wait, holding their breath until a judge finalizes the adoption or a dossier is stamped with approval.  Faith is grown as families raise the necessary funds to bring their kids home from far away countries.  Trust is built as parents learn before they even hold their children that they are not their own and that God the Father is holding them, watching them caring for them as they wait in an orphanage or foster home. There is also the heart ache of losing a child that you have loved and cared for over the first year of his life.

Adoption rates and awareness seem to be increasing as more and more people are recognizing and living out the truth that to be pro-life means a lot more than being against abortion.  There is a responsibility we have to not only keep life and save lives but to sustain life by nourishing souls, bodies, minds and hearts.

While not all of us are called to adopt, according to the passage above, we are called to care and look after orphans and widows in their distress.  There are so many ways we can care for orphans now through wonderful organizations such as Compassion International, World Vision, Child Hope International.  We can also support families we know who have adopted through prayer, giving, baby showers, child care, etc.

As any parent knows, raising a child is much more fruitful with the help and support of a community.  The same goes for adoption.  Our family has not been led to adopt thus far, but we are committed to supporting those who have as well as doing what we can to care for orphans now.

Today, the opportunity comes as our church welcomes home a team of people who have given themselves to serve children in the LA County Foster Care system for one week through Royal Family Kids Camp.  One week of saying “yes” to kids who rarely get opportunities to have the kind of fun they had at camp this week.  One week of doing whatever it takes to send a message to a child that they are loved… wanted… planned for with a hope that springs eternal.  One week of being the hands, feet and heart of Jesus who happens to think they should not be hindered because the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them.   As they load the buses to come home they will be worn out. Sad. Emptied. And the kids will return to their foster homes a little more full but sad that every day can’t be the way it was at camp.  They will leave with a greater longing in their heart for a place to call home.  But hopefully some of them will leave knowing their home is in Jesus.

Will you join me in praying for them? 

Let us pray that God will continue to give us all unique opportunities and show us how to care for orphans and widows in their distress?

Curveballs

Wikipedia describes the expression “to throw a curveball” as:

“Introducing a significant deviation to a preceding concept.”

The Bible describes it as:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.”  ~ Isaiah 55:8

or

“The heart of man plans his way,
but  the LORD establishes his steps.” ~ Proverbs 16:9

Have you been thrown a curveball lately? How have you been challenged and/or blessed by it?

National Day of Prayer

On this day, I will pray…

Not for God to bless America, because He already has. Rather, I will pray we will become a nation that will bless others because of how He has blessed us.

Not for politicians I may think are the best to take office. Rather for the ones God has appointed according to His purposes. I will pray they will lead with integrity, preferring others and upholding the law.

Not for the state of California to resolve its dire financial mess. Rather that we would all {myself included} be better stewards of what we have, not be so greedy, give generously and live abundantly.

Not for education cuts to just be stopped… But for policy makers and school board members to look into the eyes of a child and realize what a critical part of their future and ours they play. I will pray for the teachers and staff that are passionate and dedicated, like the ones at Taper Avenue, to take heart and stand firm in these times and find their hope in the God who sees them.

Not for Gay Marriage to pass or not pass. But for families… all of them… to be transformed into the image of Christ and His Church as originally planned to bring greater transformation to society.

Not for peace in the middle east. Rather, I will pray for Peace in the hearts of men.

Not for our troops to stay safe, because safety is not what they signed up for. Rather, I will pray for them to be strong and courageous and to know Who the Lord God is, and that He is with them wherever they go.

Not for churches to be filled with people.  Rather I will pray for the Church to be filled with the Spirit so the people who walk through her doors will experience radical faith and authentic community.

Not for God to heal the land of America.  Rather that He will heal and bring restoration to all His creation.

Lastly, I will pray to my Father in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread and forgive our debts, and help us forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. I will thank Him forgiving me of all the wicked things in my heart and things I’ve done and pray that I can forgive anyone who has hurt me, my family, my community, my country… The one I came from and the one I belong to now.

Let Him be glorified… Not our nation.

How will you be praying?

Surprised by Hope

The word hope is an indication of waiting. 

It’s a waiting for our prayers to be answered.

For light to shine into the dark night of the soul.

It breathes the anticipation of the not yet but the soon to come.   

Hope gives us confidence in the future.

There really isn’t much more painful than the absence of hope. The Proverbs tells us that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

I am so honored to be guest posting on (In) Courage today about hope.

Surprise by Hope

She called me to ask if I had any idea why the church had sent them a check with the words “love gift” in the reference.

I informed her that someone must have had it on their heart to give them some money and did so through the church to remain anonymous.

She began to weep.

“You have no idea what this means.”

Click here to read the rest.