Teens Aren’t the only Rebels

By Jen Ferguson

I always considered myself to be “the good girl.”

When I was younger, I didn’t do drugs or smoke or sneak out my window at night.  I made good grades.  I didn’t sleep with anyone on a whim.  In fact, I waited for my husband.  I had “good girl” friends, participated in church and Bible study, and spent (most of) my money wisely.

But when I read Isaiah 30, I see that I have been a rebel all along, just not in the way the world would deem me so.

“‘What sorrow awaits my rebellious children,’ says the LORD. ‘You make plans that are contrary to mine.  You make alliances not directed by my Spirit, thus piling up your sins.'” (verse 1)

Let me tell you, I have made plans contrary to God’s.  I’ve made plans without consulting God.  I have tried to gather people and things for protection, for success, for security that God never asked me to touch.  I’ve controlled.  I’ve schemed.  I’ve dreamed of my own glory.

I did all this because I was afraid. Because I was insecure.  Because I didn’t understand the purpose of my life.  Much like the Israelites.  You see, the Assyrians were threatening to run them out of town, to destroy their community, and take over their land.  But instead of turning to God for help, they turned to Egypt, a country that was waning in power. But for some reason, the Israelites still sought them out for refuge and relief.

Sometimes we do stupid things, don’t we?

We turn to the world instead of turning to God.  We make alliances with  people who we think will uplift us, help us achieve our goals, to propel us to success.  But guess what?  If God did not intend for those people to be used in those ways, we will fail.  We will get run over, run out of town, and run down.

Why?  Because He loves us.  Because He loves us so much that He wants us to learn, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He is the sole source of our hope.  He is the sole source of our joy.  He is the sole source of our peace.

Anything else is just empty.  It won’t last.  Success won’t last.  Fame won’t last.  Friendships can break down.  Churches fail.  Our children can run away.  Our spouse can cheat.  People die.  If we build our world on these things and do not have a foundational relationship with God who sustains us, who we trust emphatically to make all things that happen work the good of those who love Him, we will run dry at some point.

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We “‘will be smashed like a piece of pottery — shattered so completely that there won’t be a piece big enough to carry coals from a fireplace or a little water from the well.'” (verse 14)

I don’t want to be a rebel anymore.  I don’t want to live for myself. I don’t want to build my life on a foundation of things that can crumble.  How do I stop doing these stupid things?

“This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy one of Israel, says:  ‘Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength.'”

In talking to the Israelites, God completes His thought with this chilling line:

“But you would have none of it.”

There lies my rebellion, friends.  In my own planning and scheming and hoarding of glory, I would not return to the LORD because of what I feared I would have to give up.  But as I watched all my plans and schemes and glory fade, I realized that nothing compares to Him.

But He waits for us so that “He can show you His love and compassion.  For the LORD is a faithful God.  Blessed are those who wait for His help.” (verse 18)

He gathers up His rebellious ones with love, compassion, and discipline.  And we learn to turn away from the stupid things of this world and find refuge and relief in Him.

Have you been rebellious?  What do you hold onto in stubbornness?  Are you willing to let go?

Notes to Teenage Me

Dear_Diary1

I recently pulled out my high school diaries and took a stroll down memory lane. I wanted to dope-slap myself for some of my silliness (I can’t believe I was all excited about a new pair of corduroy pants!) and awkwardness (In another blog post, I’ll have to tell you about the time I slipped on a square of Jello in front of a cute guy!)

But mostly, I felt compassion for teenage me. Oh, how I wish I could go back and tell her a few things!  For starters, I’d say…

September 23

Dear Diary:

PRAISE BE!!!  On Wednesday, we had an Algebra test, and on Thursday I saw the most wonderful number and word: ‘100% EXCELLENT!’  I was overwhelmed with happiness and satisfaction!

C

To Teenage Me:

You certainly got Nana’s mind for math. But remember Who gave this gift to both of you!  By all means, push yourself to learn and grow, but never anchor your happiness and satisfaction on numbers or words. Both will fluxuate. God’s love for you is unwavering.

Ephesians 2:-10

Your Future Self

 

November 11

Dear Diary:

Mother’s been very tense lately. She’s doing bio-feedback to learn how to relax. I’ve done my best to help out! I don’t know why she’s so anxious.

C

To Teenage Me:

Continue to honor your mother. But realize these two things:

  1. What she’s going through is not your fault.
  2. You can’t fix her.

The best thing on earth that you can do for her is to lift her up to the throne of heaven in prayer. 

Philippians 4:6-7

Your Future Self

 

January 1

Dear Diary:

I’m feeling a bit chubby tonight, so I’ll be lean on eating tomorrow. On Saturday I was down to ### pounds, but I also piggged out Saturday night and Sunday, and today I had an ice cream bar!

C

To Teenage Me:

Oh, how I’d love to convince you to throw out the scale, get rid of all mirrors, and quit watching so-called “beauty” pageants. When you learn to turn to God for strength, you will stop substituting diets for deliverence and food for comfort. 

Psalm 18:2

Your Future Self

 

February 14

Dear Diary:

I know this sounds awfully egotistical and selfish, but I just wish someone would satisfy this female longing to feel “special” to someone….just to know that he felt I was important enough to pay heed to…

C

To Teenage Me:

After a quarter-of-a-century of marriage, I’ll tell you this: there is no man on earth who can satisfy your female longing. This isn’t a statement about men; it’s a fact about the power of your desire to feel “special” to someone. This need is neither egotistical nor selfish, although the ways you go about trying to fulfill it always are. Want to find your soulmate? Reach for the One who loves you and pays heed to you every moment of every day…and always will. 

Isaiah 31:3

Your Future Self

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Your Turn!

  • What would you like to say to my “Teenage Me”?
  • What would you say to your “Teenage Me”?
  • Post a diary excerpt that shares what’s on your teenage heart!

My Recent Getaway, the Place You Need to Be

On Monday, Natalie talked about the importance of refilling our cups now and again. I say amen to that. I love taking regular momcations. Whether it’s a getaway by car or plane, making time to recharge my batteries is one way I take care of myself.

This past April, I flew to Texas for the MomLife Today’s MomLife Boot Camp in Tyler Texas. This two-night event just for moms was some of the best fun I have had in ages. My sweet friend Tracey and her team put together an amazing weekend of refreshment, worship and FUN for us moms.

I don’t know about you, but mornings in my house are kind of crazy. Why do kids wait until its time to leave for school to put their shoes on (only to discover they can’t find them), or to tell you they forgot their lunchbox at school the day before? Or, how about those nights right after bath time when you send your son to bed in his swimming trunks because you forgot to wash his underwear?  My long weekend break was much needed.

pine-cove

The moment my friend and I pulled into Pine Cove, the destination for our retreat, I felt the tension in my shoulders easing up. The sun was shining brighter and the air was fresh and clean. The beautiful, sprawling Pine Cove campus was to be our home away from home for the next two evenings.

The amenities at Pine Cove far exceeded my expectations.  I knew it was a camp facility, and while normally my motto is “I love not camping”, I was pleasantly surprised. There were dozens of cabins and large hub buildings where we went for meals and entertainment. The Pine Cove staff does all the cooking and it’s delicious! I knew I wanted to go back when they said we didn’t have to clear our dishes from the table. That sealed the deal for me right there.

That weekend we were treated to some amazing speakers like Tracey Eyster, Dannah Gresh and Barbara Rainey. There was also excellent worship and out of this world hilarious entertainment provided by the Pine Cove staff.

The main point in Tracey’s “Be the Mom” message was to just “be” with our kids. So often, we moms move around at warp speed taking care of our kids, our husbands, our homes and hunting for matching socks and homework, that we rarely get a chance to just enjoy the presence of our family. I’ve found that I have a hard time even knowing how to relax because I’m so used to being on the go all the time.

The weekend I spent at Pine Cove is one I will never forget.  In fact, they offer many themed weekends for any group. There are couples get away weekends, and mother daughter weekends. They also have summer camps for your kids. You can also host your own retreat there, which is something I’m considering for 2015.

Go check out Pine Cove’s web site and see what they have to offer.  If you’re interested in learning more about MomLife Boot Camp, click here.

Do you make time for mom time?

What do you like to do in your time out?

Have you ever heard of or been to Pine Cove?

Teach Her to Pray for Him

My second daughter just celebrated her twelfth birthday.  As her and I drove around town running some errands, we had a beautiful heart to heart.  We have had wedding and marriage on the brain lately as my baby sister was very recently married.  So my daughter and I were discussing her future wedding and husband.  At first she was being very silly.  Saying silly things she wanted in her husband and silly things she wanted out of life.  But then our talk became serious.

We discussed that even though she is only twelve years old, she needs to be praying for her husband now.  This is something I have done for all of my children for years.  But it is time that she does it as well.

Our girls need to begin now pray for their future husband.  If she starts this practice now, she will be creating a beautiful habit of praying for him for life.

Pray for…

…his safety

…his health

…his purity

…his walk with God

…relationship with his family

…schooling and career choice

…his choices

teenage girl praying (2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I tell my kids all of the time that every choice we make now effects our future life.  If she is praying for him now to walk with God, have a solid relationship with his family, and so on, it will have a positive effect her marriage.

Do you pray for your children’s future mate?  Do you teach your children to pray for their future mate?

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s No Guilt in Refilling Your Cup, Mama . . .

By Natalie Snapp

I had no idea such a frenzy would ensue after posting proof of my Saturday-slacker parenting practice a few weekends ago.

With almost 100 likes, many comments on Facebook and several others who mentioned it in-real-life, it got me thinking about why this picture generated such a buzz:

donutbox

 

To give you some background information, my daughter had a few girls spend the night this past Friday.

But here’s the thing: Saturday’s are mine.

As in I sleep until I wake up and if I want to take a nap later in the day, I do. Without guilt.

It’s true that it’s only been a recent thing so if you’re reading this and your children are six months old and two, you won’t be able to pull this one off—yet.

But oh girl . . . You will. There is hope. You will rest again.

I give and give and give throughout the week. I know you do, too. So often, I am moving from point A to point B at a breakneck pace, helping with homework, working on projects, and assisting with bath time. Making meals. Finding lost toys. Comforting skinned knees.

Don’t get me wrong—I am so thankful to be a mother.

But if we take the time to refuel, to fill our own cups, to give ourselves permission to not cater to our child’s every whim, a funny thing happens.

We get more rest. Our marriage improves. Our children begin to realize the world is not all about them. We get back in-touch with who we were before we decided to become a mother.

We start to get our lives back. Ever-so-slightly. And there’s something so resuscitating about that.

Of course, this takes some boundary-setting, but it’s worth it. It might take time for all the parties involved to get the swing of the new boundaries, but don’t throw-in the towel before you taste the fruit, sisters.

You should probably know, too, that I am not preaching at you from a platform but rather sharing what I’ve learned the hard way from a bench you’re sitting upon as well.

I am not the Shell Answer Man of Parenting. Far from it. I’m right there in the trenches with you.

But I do know we’re all in this together and while we do have a manual, it’s true that we need to bounce ideas off of each other now and then.

So if your kids are old enough (as in at your oldest is at least five or six and your youngest is a later three or four), I encourage you to do something that is for YOU. Without guilt.

Because here’s another funny: my kids LOVE Saturday mornings, too. They get to eat cereals like Trix or donuts or Entenmann’s Little Muffins. I pre-pour their milk, OJ, or apple juice so they just have to open the refrigerator and turn on cartoons on Netflix.

They can’t wait.

And neither can I.

OH – and it doesn’t make you a bad mama. It makes you a smart mama. It makes you more like Jesus, who knew the importance of rest and wasn’t afraid to stop giving to others to get it. He listened to His own bodily needs and understood His own limitations as one with flesh and as a result, was able to fulfill what God had called Him to do in the way He was called to do it.

It’s true that it’s hard to love your neighbor as yourself when you’re own cup has been empty for years.

So fill it back up. And enjoy. You deserve it, mama. No guilt.

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