God causes the growth

Ugly Christmas sweaters at church

1 Corinthians 3:6-7 (AMP) I planted, Apollos watered, but God [all the while] was causing the growth. So neither is the one who plants nor the one who waters anything, but [only] God who causes the growth.

Today my oldest son turns seventeen. He will be a senior in just a few short months. Last week we went to watch him wrestle for state (his first time making it to the qualifiers after four years of trying). He had to step out after the second round due to a possible concussion. Ari fought two really tough competitors. In his first match, the guy was a senior and had placed second the year before, and was undefeated so far this year. Ari lost that round. In his second match, Ari and the other wrestler collided right off the start, head first. Then they pulled back and did it again. It was a tough one, it looked like a brawl from the stands. When done, Ari had a mark under his eye and it was starting to swell. The other kids head gear had got him. Since he woke up with a head ache the next day they took him out. It was a little disappointing for him, but he said he is looking forward to doing it again next year.

So today I am reflecting on how we got here. On this day after thirty two hours in labor, and twelve days after his due date, Ari was born weighing eight pounds and twelve ounces. He was (and still is) beautiful. We had some struggle moments when he was a baby and in his toddler years, really we should have known he was going to be strong willed when he spent the full forty two weeks in the womb. There are some really great moments too. We taught him a few words in sign language before he started talking. He could tells us he wanted to eat, some milk, if he wanted more or if he had enough food. Meal times were when we got to sit together, since I worked full time. It was not until he was almost four that he would be able to stay with me all day.

Then he started going to school, kindergarten. That was my very first parent/teacher conference about behavior. I got to have one of those, within the first nine weeks of school, every year for seven more years. There was one year the principal called me so much that I would make a sigh before I answered the phone. On top of all of this he was a straight “A” student!

When Ari got into eighth grade, he tried out for wrestling and fell in love with the sport. We tried putting him in soccer, in baseball and football. He did not enjoy them, but we knew he needed an outlet. He was passionate about wrestling though. Guess what? I have not been called in for a parent/teacher conference in four years!! I love wrestling. I will take him every where to train. I will get him to any club that had it going on. I will hire a personal trainer to teach him foot work.

What is also amazing is that he honors and respects his parents. He will get up from what he is doing in his room and help me with things around the house, happily. At church, he puts the signs out and makes sure the duplication process for the CDs is ready to go. He hands out the CDs after service. We sit down every school morning, along with his brother, and we read a devotional and pray before they walk out the door. What is most important is that he not only does these things because we ask, but he sees his parents do them. He sees us spending time in the Word daily. He sees us serving in the church. When we do service projects in the community, I do not drop them off, we serve together.

What is most important is that he not only does these things because we ask, but he sees his parents do them. He sees us spending time in the Word daily. He sees us serving in the church. When we do service projects in the community, I do not drop them off, we serve together.

In my beginning verse, it says that I get to plant the seed. From what you read above you would think that now I have the perfect son. He still has his moments. He still can be rude, disrespectful and a jerk. Actually two weeks ago we got into a really big discussion on how his communication needed to be improved. He had all electronics taken away for two days (that included his cell phone). Then when he got it back, he binge played on his XBox and came out of his hole an emotional wreck. Fun stuff, right?! Like him, there are days that I lash out at the people I love too. He needed grace in that moment.

He still needs our guidance. Ultimately though, he is God’s. He will be leaving home in a few years to start his life on his own. I pray that we have laid a good foundation for him. I pray he grows. I want him to grow and mature in God. I want him to succeed. Although we may want them to, my goal is that he will not NEED me (it would be selfish of me if I did not do this). I need to point him to Christ. I need to show him where real growth and success comes from. Before a match we thank God that it is through His strength that Ari gets his power source. Ari has done his part in weight training, practicing endurance and learning technique. Now he can rest, and not feel anxious, in how God puts it all together through him when he wrestles. What a difference that perspective has made in his wrestling this year.

If you know how that feels hit the like button on this post. Let me know your struggles and celebrate the successes with you. If you need prayer you can message me at amanda@desiringformore.org.

Begin Again

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and for the past few years my husband and I take the time to talk to the church together about marriage and relationships. This year it was important that we talked about managing conflict and walking in forgiveness. This year with the pandemic we have spent more time with our families, especially if you were in a stay at home order like we were.

I think we did pretty good with it. The stressful activity we did was to paint the outside of our house. We have a ranch style home built in 1968, addition was done in 2000. Part of the house is on foundation, the other is crawl space. It is a brick home that was painted a sea foam green. When we moved in thirteen years ago I had always wanted to paint the house, I did not like the color. The home has sixteen windows that looks to be original to the house (except for the addition) and they have the pained glass. We had gotten quotes to get the job done. They ranged from six to eight thousand dollars. The pandemic hit, and we all had to stay home together. My husband and I went out and bought a paint sprayer, rollers, brushes, paper, tape and lots of paint. Stay at home did not mean we could not go outside, and I did not want my kids playing video games all day.

Marriage, more than any other relationship, is going to highlight your flaws. A project of this magnitude with two teenage boys, was going to highlight some flaws as well. We each had a job, and we assisted each other when our job did not need to be done at the moment. The struggle that we found was when we needed help, how to communicate that. In the middle of the frustration on not being able to do this task or problem solve it, how to communicate without filtering that frustration in how we talked to each other.

Ephesians 4:1-3 (TLB) I beg you—I, a prisoner here in jail for serving the Lord—to live and act in a way worthy of those who have been chosen for such wonderful blessings as these. Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Try always to be led along together by the Holy Spirit and so be at peace with one another.

We each have faults. In love, we must make allowances for each other. Grace needed to be applied to each other. Be patient with your children and spouse. Have faith in what your marriage/family can become. Do not heap on expectations on where you think you should be. Enjoy the journey.

Hebrews 12:2 (MSG) Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. 

If in the process of painting the house we fixed your thoughts on the faults and failure’s of each other the project would probably had never gotten completed. Our family relationship would have suffered a great loss. The problems in our marriage/family are going to be magnified if we do not keep our eyes on Jesus. Study how He lived His life. He had some different personalities to do life with.

The problems in our marriage/family are going to be magnified if we do not keep our eyes on Jesus.

The bigger picture is that I want my children to have lasting relationships. The highlighted flaws that their parents have are going to come out in front of them. When my husband and I first got married my reaction to a question or statement would have been returned with a quick straight to the point answer. I filtered my responses through defense. I thought I was always under a microscope waiting for someone to point out my flaws, this person now being my husband. In return, how I answered was not clear or was often misunderstood because of how I said it, not in what I said. This escalated the conversation into a fight. My husband when he is flustered can come off as very aggravated, this combined with filtering through defense was a combination for disaster. One of us needed to do something. I went to a really good source. I went to my Word.

Colossians 3:13 (NLT) Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

Philippians 4:8 (TLB) Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about.

When tensions started to flair, we had to go back to this. Someone was not ready to change how they approached the problem, that is okay because they need grace in the moment and we are going to give it to them. Did we have a few blow ups? Yes! We are not perfect. In the end, I do not recall what they were about. I do know that the house is painted. We have to redo the porch, we did not seal it…oops! We still love each other. We still enjoy each other’s company. We have had to tackle other projects together and did not dread it!

It is not too late for your marriage or your family. For us, it started with one person making up their mind that they were not going to hold onto offense and to be quick to forgive. I just so happened to be that person in my home. I had to lay down my pride and me wanting to always be right. In turn there was a change in me. I no longer responded in defense. Peace was raging in me, so it was also becoming a part of what our home would be.

You can make up your mind to begin again. What if you spouse is not wanting to make the change? You make the change. Let God work on them. At the end of all of this, we will give an account of what we did, not what they did. I want to hear “well done good and faithful servant”. We are not going to hear “well done perfect servant.” So please stop putting that expectation on the people you have relationships with, including leaders. I want to point out that He uses the word servant. Are we serving in our families? If not, you can begin now. It is not too late. I do not regret making that change. I have my moments, because I am not going to be perfect at it all the time, in return my family have made allowances for me as I have made allowances for them. It is pretty nice.

If you need prayer or would like to talk about anything feel free to email me at amanda@desiringformore.org.