Sunday, June 23, 2013

Distractions that Keep You From the One Thing

This topic of "distractions" has been the theme of 2013 for me so far, specifically distractions that keep me from the "One Thing". You can replace the phrase "One Thing" with the "Better Part", which Mary of Bethany discovered, or the "First Commandment", which is to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Whatever you want to call it, it is the place of prayer, connecting with God our Father in the secret place

Because it is so easy to "do things" many of us believers find ourselves doing more ministry to people than to God. I have my theories as to why, and I wrote a little bit about it in the post Martha Got a Bad Wrap, but this post is not about Martha. Let me say that "doing for God" is not bad, but "being with God", I mean just sitting with God enjoying Him, enjoying me, is the better part, and its also the neglected part for many believers. What keeps us from just sitting and spending time with God? Distraction. 

Lets be honest...

Many of us allow ourselves to be distracted, we actually like to be "busy". We like the feeling of importance "busyness" gives us. Busyness is an art-form of juggling life, also known as "multi-tasking" or the non so popular term, "attention deficit disorder". 

Being distracted is not our fault after all, right? After all, life around us is moving fast and enticing us to partake in the busyness. Here is an example:

"I need to take my child to a party the same day as attending a baby shower, then have people over for dinner that night, find a time to get to the store for the things I need for dinner, prepare my Sunday School lesson for the next morning, call my mom, get an hour of time with my husband before we crash, oh and I forgot to return some emails from Friday, because I work full time, and did I mention I have five children?"

I wish I could say this was something I just made up as and exaggeration, or an isolated incident, but this is pretty much every Saturday for me. So when I set out for a 21 Day Fast Unto my family, it was more than just extra time praying for my family. 

I am daily at war fighting against the distractions of life, navigating the clutter and the real life of a Mom in full-time ministry. In the midst of it all, trying to focus my energies on what really matters. 

What really matters?

If you have ever done a specific fast like this for your family, children, or loved ones, you may have experienced an awakening of "what matters most". When we really look at what our family vision & mission statement is, and then we consider how we are spending our time and daily "walking it out", it can be sobering at the very least. 

I have been in circumstances near death where my life was "re-booted" and I was given a second chance, a few times actually. It's in those circumstances we take a cold, hard look at life and make the decision to live on purpose.

I am reminded of this old song by Cheri Keaggy. 

 The chorus goes like this:

What matters most
Is how much we love
What matters most
Is how much we give

What would it matter if we just lived
Without loving our God, without loving each other
Faith, hope and love, especially love
That's what matters most
What matters most

After listening to that, it really puts things into perspective and I am faced with the reality that I have bowed down to the distractions of life, and that I continue to fall victim to them day after day. 

How do I get focused again?

This may or may not work for you, but what I do is go on a fast every quarter or so. This 21 day fast I am concluding was different because of my unique focus and goals. However, I generally will take 3-7 days, or more, and specifically look over my schedule, my family life, my commitments, my ministries, and dialog my "life" with the Lord. 

I will spend longer time in prayer, time in solitude, and try to get away or my family will get away so I have the house to myself. I will increase my private prayer and worship time. And can I tell you how faithful God is? He always shows up. Always. 

If you desire shifting and re-focusing in your life right now, I want to encourage you to set apart time unto God and put it all out there before Him. Weigh and measure all that you do before Him and ask Him for wisdom from on high so that you will get all out of life He created you to have. So that you will find joy and peace in your comings and goings, and He will be the center of it all. 

If this is something bearing witness in your heart right now as you read this, you may want to read my post on The Power of a Focused Life.

And as always, I'd love to hear from you on this topic. 
- Gina

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Love Prefers One Another

During this 21 Day fast unto my family, I have had to put some of my personal goals aside in order to preserve the integrity of the fast. As we are "unpacking" the "Love" in our mission statement, Love, Laugh, and Live Radical,  I have been experiencing joy in preferring my husband's goals over my own. 

One of the fasting conditions for me was that if the choice of my fast or participating in quality family time was up against each other, I take the 'quality family time'. This also has meant preferring my husband's leading when it comes to many things. 

As I have been leaning into "love", and trying to really exemplify God's love in our home, I have found myself allowing God to use me to prefer my husband and children over me, even over my fast. 

I'll tell you what, parenting is H-A-R-D work, but with God's love in operation in our home, I am finding so much more grace!

I would love to hear your thoughts on preferring one another in your home. Is that something you talk about with your children? Do your children understand this biblical principal? Have you caught them in the act of loving each other and preferring one another?

- gina

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Love Fills the Empty Places

A few months ago during a live set in our prayer room, Nina Landis, one of the worship leaders, began singing this chorus about God filling all the empty places. I can't really express the moment and what the Lord was doing in my heart. Music speaks to us all differently, and to me all the cracks and crevices that only He can fill, can be deposited into in a few different ways. One of those ways is through fellowshipping, or communing with the Spirit.

Since I have been on the topic of family this month, I have been exploring this idea in the relationships with my children. My children also have empty places inside that need to be filled. 

Love doesn't wait for someone or something to come and fill the empty places. Love looks for empty places to fill. When I consider each one of my children individually, they each have different "places" in need of being filled. 

For example, I have one child in particular who needs to be held daily, as her love language is physical touch. When I can see she is very "empty", my husband and I will both sit with her and hold her, look her in the eyes, and give her that individual attention she is needing. 

That's what the Lord does for us. He looks at us and His love knows just how to find us and fill all the empty places inside. He is so good to us. I so love Him and want to be like Him. 

I hope this post encourages you to stop and look for places that need filling in each of your family relationships. I truly believe that we were made in God's image, looking to love and be loved. Filling empty places with love is simply finding ways to say, "you are loved". 

Monday, June 10, 2013

If Love is the Mission...


Recently I wrote a post on making a Family Mission Statement, where our first part of that statement is "Love" above all else. But how do you unpack a mission of "love" in your household?

We are constantly trying to teach our kids to love us and each other by preferring one another over ourselves, sharing our things, and generally showing kindness. This mission, however, is attempting to take things a little deeper. 

I want to take a few posts to unpack the mission of love. 

It starts with the first commandment. 

" “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." Deuteronomy 6:4-9

This commandment to love the Lord with all strength and diligence was so important to God that it was emphasized by being intentional about ingraining it deep in the hearts of the children. The more physical things you could do to put the law in front of the children, day and night, when you come and go, keeping it in front of their eyes, etc., the more it would be absorbed and passed to the next generation. It was not just believing in what is right, but keeping it before your eyes at all times.  

So as we talk about "love" as a family mission, are number one "love" is to adore God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. When we love one another, then we are loving God. We are asking God, "what does this mean for us?" How do we "teach our children diligently" as described here in the modern day America?

How do you teach your children the first commandment at home? How do you pass down the "law" of the Lord intot the hearts of your children? I'd love to hear from you!


Friday, June 7, 2013

Corporate Intercession with Kids

Corporate prayer is a huge family value to us. Tonight I spoke at our house of prayer, Convergence House of Prayer, on corporate intercession. At the end we had a powerful time of "practicing intercession". It was so awesome to see my eight year old jump into the open mic time and pray in front of he whole room. It was so powerful. 

My heart was leaping because my children haven't has a lot of opportunity to participate in corporate prayer meetings in a while and that she jumped right in as if she hadn't skipped a beat, it was just in her.

I am purposing to create more opportunities for corporate prayer for my children to participate in. 

Do you attend a prayer room? Do you bring your kids? I would love to hear how you incorporate your children into your prayer room!

- Gina

Thursday, June 6, 2013

When You Can Not See


Just a short devotional for today on what God is putting in my heart during this 21 day fast

There are many days in a child's life where from their perspective they may be unseen, unheard, or disconnected from their parents. I am having to balance in my belief system that just because things may look that way to my children some days, does not mean that is the reality. 

Today was a very busy day with end of the school year preparations. Even though I missed out on my "quality" time with my kids today, I did some things that I needed to do for their future, that they will never know or understand. There are days like that.

This morning I forgot to grab my Bible and I was in my prayer time without it. I had to use the internet Bible, ugh. But I had my sheet of promises from the Bible and I went down them and prayed and make declarations for my kids. That's the point- everyday not everything works out just right and most days I swing from one improvisation to the next, but I am learning to lean into what I cannot see and trust God for the areas I fall short in.

The same way my kids cannot see the whole behind the scenes picture, I cannot see God's. The same way I desire my kids to listen to me without a "reason why", I need to do the same with God. I'll tell you what, focusing on my family is really teaching me about being God's kid.

What are you learning right now? I'd love to heard from you.
- Gina

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Face Time

What is the difference between spending time with someone watching a movie and sitting at the table having a cup of coffee together? Face time. And I'm not talking about iPhone features...

I "spend" a lot of time with my family, but if I were to be honest, not a lot of quality time. You might be familiar with the book, The Five Love Languages, one of my top two love languages is quality time. Isn't that interesting that the very language that speaks love to my heart I can honestly say I get the least of? You need to understand something about love languages before I go any further. 

love languages.
Your love language is the primary way you hear, understand, and receive love. For example, if I was in France and you tried to buy something from me with Peso's I say, "no comprehendo." (Or something like that cause I don't speak Spanish.) So if my love language is quality time, but you keep giving me gifts, I'm like, "me no comprehendo".  Make sense?

Another thing is that if your love language, for example, was physical touch, and you undergo physical neglect or abuse, it actually damages your heart worse than should you be neglected or hurt in another way. With that said...

Interesting, since my love language is quality time you can see that it being a neglected area in my closest relationships makes me feel disconnected from my family. I don't want to "do" things with my family, I want to be  with them. What's even more interesting, is that is how God feels towards us. He doesn't want us to just "do things for Him" or with Him, He really, really wants us to just sit with Him and have Face Time.

In this fast, one of my "Unto's" is "face time" with those I love.  I am fasting unto looking my family in the eyes, talking to them, sitting with them, and having quality time together. Tonight, it was a simple twenty minutes of talking to each other, putting my son in the "encouragement pot" (where we all give a word of encouragement), and praying over my daughter who has Type 1 Diabetes. 

One of the coolest things tonight was the two kids that fight the most right now were laying hands on each other (gently!) and praying for each other! My son prayed compassionately for my daughter's healing, with sincerity and tenderness. Face time breaks down walls and builds bridges in our relationships. 

I'd love to hear one of your "unto's".
- gina

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Praying for Your Children

One of the most difficult and most important goals of this fast is praying daily, specifically, and intentionally for each of my children. I think every parent, even those who would not profess to be "religious" pray for their children. Even those that don't believe in God, have positive "thoughts" of "hope" toward their children and desire them to turn our to be "good people". What is the difference between "praying" for your kids and what I am talking about? I am talking about fighting a war. 

There is a war going on for our children, for the next generation, and the war is for the generation of parents and grandparents, whether you have physical children or not, to fight. 

It is not a fight that we will win in the natural that our eyes may ever see, but it is a fight we will continue to fight. Some fights are not meant to be "won" and over. Some fights are meant to be fought.

"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses." 1 Timothy 6:12 NKJV

The war in the spirit over the next generation will continue to be warred over. Just as our parents and grandparents warred for us, we will war, and our children will war. We cannot lay down, take a break, or give up. 

As parents, we cannot say, "that's it I'm done praying, they are in God's hands, He'll do what He wants." No, we pray, we plead, we remind God of His promises, we make declarations, and we P-R-A-Y for our children.   

"Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit." Luke 18:1 the Message

I'm gonna get a little rowdy for a minute... is that o.k.? I am tired of buying into that mindset that "It's all in God's hands anyway". You know what I am talking about. Yes, it is all in God's hands but God's desires partners, men, like you and me, on the earth. That we would share His heart, His zeal, and passionately pursue justice on the earth; justice for our children.

I want to encourage you to look at your current prayer life, how much and what quality of prayer time are you having right now? Are you going after God's destiny for your children in the place of prayer? Do you believe that God really wants to bless and prosper your children? Here is the challenge I am doing. 

I am taking the areas I struggle with in each one of my relationships witch my children and finding specific prayers and Biblical promises to pray for them with. 

For example, I have one child in particular, who will remain nameless, who struggles with self control. So I am praying and declaring 2 Timothy 1:7 over this one. I am declaring that God's protection from fear and His abounding love surrounding this one. I am proclaiming His strength in the inner man to keep this one in control of self, full of the fruits of the spirit.

Basically, you take the "problem" area and speak the opposite (the Godly & positive traits) over them.

The hardest part is having time to really go over each child individually each day, and not pray generic prayers. Good stuff, huh? Yep, challenging.

I'd love to hear from you... your turn!

- gina 


Monday, June 3, 2013

Sucessful Family Devotions

As I mentioned in my post, Focusing on the Family, I have always struggled with having successful family devotion time, for several reasons, but this is one obstacle I am going hard after during this 21 day fast.

The first thing I had to overcome was my...

In my mind I had built up an idea that "family devotions" looked like... fill in the blank. 
Because I was not raised having this experience with my parents, I didn't know what it was suppose to look like. My mind was left to wonder, dream, and fantasize that I was sitting on the couch with my husband and all our little obedient children were gathered at our feet while our "rabbi-ish" leader father would educate us in the ways of God. Realizing that picture was not reality when I have four children under five, we set out to try to read together at night, but then one needed to nurse while another needed a diaper change, while yet another ran and hid from us. The pictures in my mind started to fade, as did my will to have them all sit in a room together. 

The second obstacle I had to overcome was...

When is the best time to have devotions with the whole family? Our five children range in age from 4 to 12, and they pretty much are on the same schedule, which should be to our advantage, yet it has been a struggle to nail down a time that we can all sit down together. Mealtimes seemed good in theory, and worked on occasion, but because we are usually eating right before we leave somewhere, I am brushing someones hair, finding someone's socks, or getting myself ready during those few minutes of shoveling a meal down. Not every meal is on the run, but they are not consistent, so it is hard to plan.

Here is what I have been learning and some decisions we have made regarding having family devotions to keep the integrity of our mission statement in the midst of our home. 

Successful Family Devotions Mean the Family is Connecting.

I have deciding that it doesn't matter what book or curriculum I am using, success is when my family is sitting in a circle and talking to each other. When we are asking questions, and they are answering them, we are connecting. When they are sharing what is on their hearts, we are connecting. When we go around the circle and give a word of encouragement to one another, we are connecting. When we are praying for each other, we are connecting. It might not be a pretty perfect picture, but I believe that if we keep at it, when they grow up they will love and values these times together. 

Successful Family Devotions Mean we are Growing Together.

Don't get me wrong, I love to study and go deep in the Word all alone, and frankly, that is why it has been so hard for me to take the time in the Word with my children. I have a very limited amount of time and I have always struggled having time with God and my family. Sometimes I feel like II have so little time that its Him or them, can you relate? But I have realized that I cannot grow deep in God only to wake up 50 one day with my children all grown up and out of the house and them not knowing or loving God because I took all my time to be alone with God and left them out of it. 

You know I am being general and frank here for the purpose of the point I am trying to make, of course they are going to church and learning the Bible, etc. But I believe that if we are growing together in God than my personal life in God will be blessed. I have to believe that if I sacrifice my "alone" time here and there, the Lord will fill me just the same by sitting with my kids. 

A good friend of ours once told us that, "whether I am mowing the lawn, at a baseball game with my family, or in a prayer meeting for hours, it all pays the same." What that means is that whatever grace, mercy, revelation, or encounter God has for me, He will give me. If I could rest in Him and set my priorities straight, then I'll be alright.

Successful Family Devotions Mean I Need to Stop Striving.

I have decided to do the best I can each day and embrace His mercies that are new each morning. (Lam. 3:22-23) If our devotion time flops, we'll try again tomorrow. I am pressing into grace and not perfection. Whew! what a load off my back! 

The book we are using right now is wonderful because Johnny or I just read a little and stop when the kids get restless and then dialog together. It's called "Eyes & Ears" by Jennifer Toledo and its about how to hear God's voice. For us, being more laid back is what we need in this season of our lives to connect with our children and meet our goals of loving each other and laughing together. 

For you, maybe a rigid routine works best, maybe a Bible layout or curriculum. I'd love to hear what works best for your family devotions, or what you have tried that you like. Hope to hear from you!





Sunday, June 2, 2013

Family Mission Statement

Well day 1 has begun, and it begins with a Family Mission Statement. As I discussed in the Focusing on the Family post, having a family mission statement is something we have done, but never really did anything with. Now that the kids are a little older, it was time to include them and get rallied around a focus. 

Does your family have a mission or purpose statement?

We felt like it was important for our family to get focus and vision that could help us to all be unified toward a common goal. Because our priority as parents is to create a home environment where our children can thrive spiritually, we knew that our mission statement was going to have a strong spiritual emphasis.

Here is our revised statement:

We are committed to:

FIRST pursuing the knowledge of God; THEN to helping one another grow and thrive in God; BY loving, serving, honoring, and blessing one another, THAT we might Love God well.

Our Family Goals are:
1. Daily pursue the knowledge of God
2. Lead others to God
3. Be a blessing to all who know us

We really believe, as parents, that if we focus on being like Christ, all the other things will work themselves out. We truly believe that if we can live humbly, blessing others above our own desires, for example, that we in turn will be filled with joy and satisfaction. 

We have a lengthier version of this, but those are the main goals we are focusing on as a family, for now anyway.

We simplified this statement even more, to help create a focus for our kids to really grasp. 


Love, Laugh, and Live Radical. 

LOVE. pursuing knowledge of “Agape”, letting Him fill us, so that we can be expressions of His love in our home and to others. This is the greatest above all. We will be unpacking this word with our children and why there is no greater thing than Love.
LAUGH. pursuing a home full of joy. Playing together, enjoying the life God has given us. Doing the creative things that make us happy together. Exploring the world together.We will also unpack what the joy of the Lord is and go after intentional "joy filling" in each of our realationships in the house.

LIVE RADICAL. understanding that it is o.k. for us to be different. That what our family views as ‘normal’ others may see as ‘radical’. We are committed to doing things like might look crazy to the world if it means being radical for Jesus. Like praying for strangers, going on missions trips, giving away our toys, and having ‘less’ stuff then the western world standards.

Does your family have a mission statement? I would love to hear it!
- gina

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Praying the Bible

One of my favorite topics to practice and preach is on praying the Bible, mostly because something that seems so simple has made the single most dramatic impact on my life. 

Even though praying the scriptures is simple, it still takes effort. You must understand and value it in order to do this diligently. So why pray the Bible? Here are three reasons you should pray using the scriptures. 

1. The Holy Spirit Inspired the Scriptures.

 According to Hebrews 4:12, all scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit, and therefore, powerful. The words of the scriptures are more powerful than my own words. 

"For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Hebrews 4:12

My words are weak, human, and short-sighted. His words are eternal, powerful, and divine. Why wouldn't  use those words to pray?

2. The Words of the Scriptures Release Faith.

Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing the Word of God. As a human, I lack confidence and faith. Let's be honest, on a good day, our faith is wavering at best. We believe great things, yet doubt God will actually do them. When I pray using scripture, I not only am praying powerful prayers, but I am building my faith. Faith literally rises as I pray! 

3. The Scriptures are the Will of God.

The scriptures are the only clear, absolute truth and will of God. The scriptures reveal God's heart, what He wants, what He thinks, and what He feels. Why is this so important to know when we pray? Because according to 1 John 5:14-15, when we pray according to His will, He hears us and will answer us.

"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him."

Personally, I can testify that when I am daily praying scriptures I have a significant increase in my spiritual life. I walk in more joy, more faith, and honestly, I have less stress. I am telling you this because it is actually measurable. I cannot express this great enough in text form, but I encourage you to try it. 

How do I start?

In my previous post, Drawing Life From the Word,  I mentioned this resource available on this site in the Children's Ministry resource section: Biblical Promises to Speak over your children- try using some of these.
Biblical identity promise: "Your steps are established by the Lord Ps 37:24"
Prayer: "Father, thank you for establishing my steps. Right now I give you my life, I surrender each step to You. You alone know my days, and I trust You."

Pretty easy right? I hope you'll take advantage of this resource and begin speaking these passages over yourself and your family.

In Preparation for the 21 Days:

  • Our bulletin board is up. The family mission statement is posted. I'll share it tomorrow...
  • I am working on cards and things to put on it tonight
  • I am cutting out the shortened version for the door tonight as well
  • I printed out scriptures and posted them around our home for strengthening.
  • I decided that as our devotions develop each day I will fine tune which passages stand out to us as a family and they will end up on the board as we go as well.
  • The kids found containers today to turn into their mailboxes. That will be a family project tomorrow night. 

Considering joining me in a Fast Unto Your Family. I am starting tomorrow, but you can create your own time frame, I'd love to hear from you!