By Kim Chaffin
Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. Isaiah 54:2.
In the nomadic life that this scripture references, tent is the symbol of a dwelling place. It also means that Israel will have so many more children that her “tent” will need to be enlarged.
Years ago this scripture spoke to my heart when I mourned the realization that I could not have any more children. As I tossed the idea of adopting around in my heart, the Lord spoke to me through His word. He put it on my heart to widen my tent stakes and be a mother to many. To stretch out my arms and to welcome those who needed a mom in their life. He simply said to my heart that if I was willing to do this, He would bring me those who needed a mother figure. He would use me to speak truth, give hugs, pray, and walk out life with those He put in my path.
What God has done, because I was willing to be obedient, has been amazing. I have been honored to pray for so many young adults and the tent stakes of my heart have been widened to love, not only my two children, but many others.
One of the children God brought into my life has a story of heartache and victory. To witness her story first hand has been an amazing blessing. I met Amanda at the Generation Unleashed Youth event in Portland, Oregon. She came with the youth group leader from my church. At the time she was volunteering at Life Services of Spokane. Amanda was giving women and girls their options when they found themselves with an unwanted pregnancy. Amanda herself had been raped at the age of fifteen and chose to put her baby up for adoption. She took what the enemy wanted to use to harm her and turned it into something beautiful by blessing a family with a baby girl.
Amanda is one of the most determined young ladies I have ever met. She graduated from the Running Start program with straight A’s and received a huge amount in scholarships to attend Eastern Washington University. When she turned 18, she moved into her own place, became a full-time student, and was working to earn what her scholarship would not cover. In two years she would graduate with a degree in social work. At 20, Amanda not only graduated from college but she did so with the highest honors.
In those four years I had the privilege of walking with her. At times I had to stand firm and speak to her like I would my own children. I cried and prayed for her like a mom when I saw her drifting away from God. I have felt joy during a late night phone call when she asked me to pray with her as she gave her life back to the Lord. Heart-to-heart talks over coffee have filled me to overflowing. Shopping for prom accessories, taking photos of her for prom, and filling out graduation announcements are just a few of the ways I have been a part of her life. Tears streamed down my checks as I listened to her tell her story at her senior presentation. The panel wiped their eyes, too. One of them told her she would go far based on what she had already overcome.
During her junior year of college I struggled to find the right words to say when she was sexually assaulted. I cried out to God for her because I could not even begin to wrap my head around the pain she must have been feeling after being attacked a second time. With dignity, courage and strength she persevered through that and came out even stronger.
In June of 2015, I saw Amanda graduate from college. Tears fill my eyes as I remember. Standing on the football field among thousands of people, Amanda took off the stole she was wearing and placed it in my hands. It was called a “Stole of Gratitude” and it is a way for graduates to demonstrate their appreciation for those who helped them reach their dream of a college education. The stole hangs in my home as a reminder to always remember to widen my tent stakes and to be a mother to many.
God has blessed me with two children that I love so deeply but He has stretched my heart to love many more. For some I may be the doorstep they come to when they need a prayer or advice. For others, it has been a very deep relationship. I have contended for them with the heart of a mother even though they are not my biological children.
Amanda has truly been a gift from God. She is now enrolled in graduate school. I love my front row seat as the next chapter of her life unfolds. I want to encourage you to widen your tent stakes, and allow God to bring you children, including teens, that need someone to speak into their lives. It is a win-win situation. Just as I have spoken into Amanda’s life, she has spoken into mine.
Don’t hold back. Widen your tent stakes.
By Erin Bishop
It’s homecoming season, so it’s the perfect time to pull this gem, “You Owe Him Nothing” by Kim Chaffin, out of the Whatever Girls archives. Give it a read and come back to the rest of this post.
When homecoming and prom invitations have become as elaborate as marriage proposals, and all eyes are on you, you need to know that you still owe him nothing.
He may have just asked you to homecoming or prom in front of your entire math class with a dozen roses, balloons, and a teddy bear, but you still owe him nothing.
He may have just spent a fortune on a dance ticket, flowers, dinner, and pictures, but you still owe him nothing.
He may have been your boyfriend for months, and you hope to marry him some day, but you still owe him nothing.
Girls, you do not have to say “yes” when every part of you wants to say “no”, or even a small part of you wants to say “no”. It doesn’t matter how many people are watching, or what you think will happen to your reputation if you say “no”.
Let me be clear. When a guy decides that he is going to ask a girl on a date, he knows there is a chance that he’s going to get rejected. He chooses to put himself out there, whether publicly, or privately, and it is not your responsibility to protect his ego. Your responsibility is to choose God’s best for your life. Sometimes that even means saying “no” when you want to say “yes”.
The right guy wants what’s best for you. Even if that means he doesn’t get what he wants. The right guy will protect you from situations where your values could be compromised, and he points you closer to God, not further away.
So how do you say “no”? It’s easy. You politely say: “No, thank you”. That’s it. Say anything else, and you’ll have dug yourself into a hole.
We live in a world where we go to great lengths to spare everyone’s feelings at the expense of our own integrity and comfort. Don’t go there, it leads you down a road called “approval addiction” and the farther you travel down it, the harder it is to remember your way back.
By Lynn Cowell
As youth investors, we see it as our responsibility to mark out the clear road to success. We preach purity. Give guidelines on girlfriends. Teach faithful friendships.
But maybe we’re missing something big.
Preparing teens for trouble.
Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)
Jesus made sure His disciples knew – tough stuff is around the corner! You will have trouble. He didn’t mince words. He didn’t dance around the subject of hard times. He didn’t say, “You might have trouble…” or “If you have trouble…” Nope. He was clear, “You will have trouble.”
But, He didn’t just leave them with this depressing news. In the prior verses, He gave them clear direction. The Holy Spirit will guide you. My Father will give you what you ask for in My name. Find peace in Me. Put your hope in Me…no matter what.
Jesus never promised us sunshine and fun times every day; quite the opposite. If we do not prepare teens for trouble or worse yet, we constantly shield them from pain, we are doing them a terrible disservice. Trouble might take place tomorrow…it might take place today. We must prepare them.
Join us for #WhenMomsPray. Today’s prayer for our daughters is inspired by Lynn’s article you just read. Click HERE to learn about #WhenMomsPray and to join us.
By Erin Bishop
Yesterday a memory from 10-13 years ago resurfaced. It wasn’t just a single memory; it was also the reminder of how I have changed.
My son (11) was taking his time getting the last few things done before we had to leave for school and my frustrations mounted as I looked at the clock. I felt myself wanting to yell at him. But by God’s grace, I didn’t. I was able to keep it together.
That’s when the memory came back. When my daughter was that age, and even younger, I wouldn’t have held back. I would have yelled at her and 9 times out 10 she would have started crying, which would have frustrated me even more, and both of our days would start out horribly.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 (NLT)
As I thought about that, I looked at my son and was reminded about how sensitive his spirit is, and I longed to go back in time and change the way I treated my daughter. My anger would chip away at her little spirit; I could see it in her eyes.
We can’t go back and change the things from yesterday, but today is a new day, fresh with opportunities to do better.
Today’s article was inspired by the #WhenMomsPray daily prayer. You can read more about #WhenMomsPray, HERE. We would love to have you join us!