Graze: To feed on growing grasses.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.

-Ps. 23:1-6

Growing up on a farm, I used to watch the cows, sheep & horses graze in the pasture. Each morning we would open the gate to the barnyard and they knew there was freedom from that small pen they were in. They also knew there was nice green grass beyond the barnyard. Once the gate was open, look out because those animals wanted to get where the tall, green grass grew – the pasture! They would take off sometimes even running up the old fenced lane that went up over the hill through the cornfield to the lush green pasture on the other side of the farm. There they would graze for a while then lay down and rest for a while then graze some more. They did this all day long. Come evening we would go over to the pasture’s edge and call the cows – 'come boss, 'come boss. They would gather at the pasture gate. Sometimes we would have to go round up a few stragglers and when all were accounted for, we’d open the lane gate and back over the hill they would go to the barnyard for the night. The next morning was the same routine, day after day.
What a life, huh?!

Oh that we could just graze and rest in shady green pastures all day long! But we can rest and graze in God’s green pastures and restore our souls . . . The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. (Ps. 23:1) I believe God wants us to slow down and “rest” and “graze” and “feed” on His Word. Life throws so many things our way and we are so busy – busy doing good things. But are we running on empty a good share of the time? Are we feeling stretched to extreme? Are we content with who we are in God’s divine providence? Slow down and take some time to just leisurely graze, rest a while, then graze and feed on the good things God has provided for you. Graze, rest, and enjoy the “shady green pastures” of God’s abundant love, grace, and mercy.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Raising Boys

I came across this article that gives us moms some good advice on what a mom should try to be to her kids.  I'm not sure who wrote this - but it is good "mom" advice for all of us moms! 

1.  A safe place to figure themselves out.
It happens almost every day, and sometimes many times a day:  Teenagers are always changing.  They will change their clothes.  Their mood.  How they walk, talk or what they’re into.  Some days they just need to figure out what feels right.  Some days nothing feels right.  Being a teenager is hard.  Sometimes our greatest job as Mom is to act like we don’t even notice.
2.  Boundaries.
Our boys need to know what is absolutely ok, and what is absolutely not.  They may resist rules, but deep down they feel safe when there are clear cut rules without exceptions.  Make them clear and consistent, and have absolute consequences in place for when they break rules.  Boundaries = Security. 
3.  Freedom.
Within those boundaries, teenage boys need the opportunity to stretch their wings.  Teenage boys should be encouraged…Even pushed–to try new things, to take some risks, to find adventure.  Given enough opportunities for healthy adventure, they will avoid a lot of trouble.  (Remember–”Idle hands” and all of that…)
Keep boys busy doing character building, exciting activities and watch them become men before your eyes.
Side note: **My personal Mom-motto has always been “With Freedom comes responsibility.”  The minute my boys act in irresponsibly, they will lose freedom.  So the freedoms we give are taken very seriously.  
4.  A Listening Ear.Boys need to talk.  Even the quietest ones will open up when given the chance.  Get them alone, in the car or wherever you can, and make it clear that you WANT to hear about their interests, and their lives.  Be patient, and try different times and places until you figure it out.  I push through the ‘awkward,’ and bring up subjects that make my boys squirm (hello puberty!) but no one has died yet.  This makes it clear that I am OK with any and every topic and I will always be available and comfortable talking.
**When asked what he most needs from me, this was the first thing my oldest son named.  A Mom that can listen and not criticize or manipulate is a really valuable thing. (call me a work in progress here.)
5.  A Sense of Humor.
This is the good stuff.  Teenagers…are hilarious.  This may be my very favorite thing about these years.  No more knock-knock jokes or bad made-up jokes that never seem to come to a conclusion.  Teenagers actually GET STUFF.   There’s hardly anything like the bond of a good laugh with my boys.
When one of my boys come out laughing and want me to watch a funny Vine or Youtube Video, I drop everything for it.
Side note #1: As for us–**We have a rule of “clean” entertainment only.  No swearing or off color anything.  And they know that if I find them following anyone inappropriate, I’ll remove their Vine/YouTube etc account(See #2))
Side note #2**I have a “I can check your phone, computer, etc anytime I want to–no questions asked.”  This keeps everyone in check.
There is plenty of FUN and FUNNY entertainment out there if you look for it.
it’s a hard world:  A good sense of humor will get your kid through many trials in life–So encourage it.
6.  Touch.
Your teenage son will likely pull away from you physically, and that is normal, albeit painful.  But even the most rigid, sulky teenage boy needs hugs from Mom.  Don’t get awkward and keep a distance.  Create a “hug a day” rule or something that makes it routine and normal.  He’ll love it even if he refuses to show it.
7.  Genuine interest.
What does your teenager love?  Learn to love it too.  Know at least enough about what they are passionate about so that you can have a decent conversation.   This will keep doors open greater than any other gesture you can make.
8.  Forgiveness.
Teenagers will make mistakes.  Lots of them.  They’ll act selfish.  They’ll space out.  They’ll get insecure and do stupid things because of it.  They are going to mess up so much you’ll wonder where you went wrong.  If you know it’s coming, it won’t throw you off.  Consequences may be in order, but so is a whole lot of grace.
9.  Direction.
Listen Mom:  Your teenager actually WANTS you to give them guidance.  Sure, they’ll act like they don’t, but they do.  Keep it relevant, and as brief as possible, but when you see them facing forks in the road, go ahead and speak some good solid words of advice to them.  Share a Bible Verse that fits their situation.  Quote someone they might respect.  You are their greatest resource they have, and they need your direction.  They’ll thank you, even if it takes twenty years.
10.  Encouragement.
It’s hard to be a teenager.  (remember?)  The world will yell and scream all kinds of negatives to your son.  So be his greatest fan.  Be his cheerleader.  Believe in him with your heart, and tell him that you do.  Every.  Single.  Day.  I’m not talking about phony, contrived encouragement (Everyone is a winner!) but the authentic kind that finds their greatest gifting's, and speaks them boldly.
11.  An example.
Our kids are watching us.  They get a lot more of an idea about what is right, wrong, good and bad from what you do than what you say.  So take your position seriously.  No, you’ll never be perfect, and you can tell your kid that–but don’t use that fact as an excuse to be lame.  If you don’t want them to swear, don’t swear.  If you teach them to speak well of others, make sure you do the same.  Probably the greatest thing you can do for your son is to model the kind of person you want them to be.
A common key to pretty much everything I have named is that Mom is involved in the teen’s life.  To listen, or share a joke, or a hug…you need to be in close proximity to your kids.  For those moms that work long hours or cannot be physically involved in your children’s lives, I encourage you to creatively find solutions for this.  You will never regret making sacrifices or adjustments so that you can be present for your children when they need you.   And the thing with parenting is–you’re never really sure when they’ll need you.  So being there as much as possible is key.  Do what you are able, rely on others to help when you’re not able, and put your job as parent before anything that you possibly can. 
Finally:  If you’re like me, you’ll love parenting your teenage son.  However at times it can feel like a crazy balancing act…Do they need more grace?  More rules?  Do they need space, or hugs, or advice, or WHAT!!!???  It’s ok.  Pray a lot.  Keep communication open and let your kid know that Frankly You don’t know what they need…But you want to be there for them.  If you have invested in the early years, then the doors will be open and they will trust and respect you as teenagers too.

Friday, July 5, 2019

God Understands Our Prayers Even When We Can't Find the Words to Say Them . . .


Have you ever been to that point in your life where you realized that . . . God understands your prayers . . . even when you can't find the words to say them.

I have literally "been" there - right at that very point in my life.  In my own feeble and frail circumstances, I was there.  My simple prayers and utterings were not only heard by my God but God understood every one of my prayers - even when I could not find the words to say them!! Yes, I believe He heard them and understood every one of them knowing far more than I myself knew. I didn't realize that I had two brain tumors each one the size of a tangerine! I had know idea that they were pressing on my brain gradually limiting my speech, communication, and even my thought processes.  It was so gradual, that I didn't realize until I went to the doctor and was told to check into the hospital by 7:00 pm that very same evening.  But I believe my God knew ALL about me and my circumstances that very day.  I had NO WORDS to say or to pray at that particular day - I couldn't find any words to say.  But God knew the "prayer of my heart" even when I could not express it.  He knows and He truly does understand. I thank God for that "Blessed Assurance" we can have in Christ.  
Here's some things that
many kids today don't 
know how to do. . .