Kim’s Jeans

Candy Abbott, Executive Director of Mothers With a Mission

Candy Abbott, Executive Director of Mothers With a Mission

Although my daughter is now the mother of two teenagers, I vividly remember a day when she was twelve that helped me learn to recognize God’s voice. It was a simple matter, really. She needed new jeans for her sixth grade class trip to the Smithsonian Institute the next day. In a sudden growth spurt, she had shot up two inches and could hardly bend over in her old ones. For a month, I’d been promising to get her a new pair, and I was down to the wire.

At that time in my life, I had another mission, too: to get better acquainted with the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Every morning, I climbed the stairs to our attic for some alone time with the Lord. If you’ve seen the movie, War Room, you’ll have an idea of how serious I was about this. I called it my “prayer closet” where I used The Helper, a book by Catherine Marshall, as my devotional guide.

The page open before me that morning was “He Saves Me Time,” so I prayed that I’d be able to find Kim some jeans that fit and still get to bed on time (not only for her benefit but also for mine since I was one of the chaperones). Before leaving my attic prayer closet, my eyes rested on these words from pages 75–77:

Lord Jesus, so often I ignore or ride roughshod over these strong inner feelings supplied by the Spirit. . . . What is willfulness in me, Lord, change . . .  Nothing could be more foolish than thinking I know better than You do. Help me this day, no matter how busy I get, to listen and to obey.

I worked as a secretary at Delaware Technical & Community College, and things were fairly slow at the office, so my thoughts drifted back to the day’s lesson. Would the Lord save me time if I could actually recognize and heed the voice of His Spirit? Around 11:00, I began to toy with the idea of using some overtime hours to make a quick run to the Salisbury mall to look for Kim’s jeans. My boss was in a meeting, so I arranged for someone to cover my desk. I’m sure he won’t mind, I rationalized, and it sure will save me time. Off I went.

The 45-minute ride was, in a word, harrowing. I hardly ever speed, but I did that day. My thoughts kept time with the speedometer as I raced along. If it was difficult for me to recognize the Lord’s voice in the quiet of my home, how could I ever hope to hear Him with cars and trees whizzing by my window?

My heart tugged and told me not to go, but I tried to ignore it. Wonder if that nagging feeling is God’s inner nudge? No, I countered, it’s probably just my guilty conscience because I didn’t get the official okay. Besides, I asked God to save me time, and this looks like a golden opportunity time-saver.

“Listen. Don’t go,” the tug repeated. My heart thumped, but I sped on.

Rounding the bend, an inner voice cautioned, “Turn back; it’s not too late.”

“Is that You, Lord?” I couldn’t be sure. “If it is, please bear with me.” Was I guilty of ‘riding roughshod’ over the strong inner feelings supplied by the Spirit? Maybe I shouldn’t buy Kim’s jeans without having her along to try them on. As I reconsidered my excursion, the internal struggle eased a bit. My mind is made up! I insisted. Again, something grabbed at my gut as I pressed on the accelerator.

“Turn back, turn back, turn back,” the voice seemed to echo.

“Lord,” I prayed, “if this is You and You’re trying to keep me from having an accident or something, please make it clear.”

“You’re speeding.”

“I know. I’ll slow down.”

“Go back. Don’t waste your time.”

“Lord, I’m sorry if I’m being bull-headed, but it’s too late to turn back now; I’m over halfway there. Besides, this will be a good test. If I don’t find any jeans in Kim’s size, then I’ll know it was Your voice after all. On the other hand, if I’m successful, then I’ll chalk this up to a vivid imagination. Either way, I’ll learn something. Thank You, Lord, for seeing me safely through this experiment.”

I rushed into the store and before my eyes stood a rack of 12-Slims, just what I was looking for. I scooped a pair of designer jeans off the rack and onto the sales counter where the cashier was quick to accept my credit card. I signed the form in haste, not paying any attention to the total.

An ear-splitting alarm sounded the moment my foot passed through the door on the way out. I jumped but, knowing I had paid, kept on walking, although I could hear a distant voice calling, “Ma’am, oh, ma’am.” When I turned around to see who was in trouble, the sales lady was racing toward me!

“What have I done?” My face flushed as she reached for the bag I was holding. She had forgotten to remove the security device from my purchase, and, although I was innocent of any wrongdoing, I had this eerie feeling that I’d been caught.

On the return trip, I concluded it must not have been the Lord’s voice to turn around, after all. My mind must have been playing tricks on me. The jeans were easy enough to find, and there were no traffic complications. Back at the office, everything was fine. I was relieved but a bit puzzled about that inner tug. I really had hoped that it was the Lord.

But surprise, the jeans didn’t fit! They were even tighter than Kim’s old ones. My heart skipped wildly.

“So it was You, after all! That is what You sound like.”

About that time, as if the ill-fitting jeans weren’t proof enough, I noted the sales slip and the outrageous price I’d paid. “Thank You, Lord, for convincing me. Next time, help me not to doubt Your voice and to be more obedient.”

Kim and I went shopping together that night, as originally planned. But this time, there was a difference. I was tuned in to the Lord’s voice, and I wasn’t racing around in a panic.

“You know where today’s sales are, Lord. Where should we go?”

“Dover.”

“Okay, here we are; which shopping center?”

“This one.”

“Which store?”

“This one.”

We drove into the parking lot and walked leisurely into the nearest store where Kim and I discovered a half-price sale and three pair of jeans that didn’t pinch, pull, sag, bag, or need to be hemmed. We were home and tucked into bed that night by 9:15.

Eventually, I returned the unwanted jeans to Salisbury. Some might say, “What a waste,” but I say, “What a workshop!” So many glorious lessons came out of that experience. It was almost as though God had enrolled me in a special “mobile classroom.” The return trip provided valuable time for reflection. Never again will I think that God is too busy with important things to be bothered with my trivial concerns. Not only did I learn that the Holy Spirit cares enough to save me time, but I know He’s big enough to pay attention to the tiniest detail and tolerant enough to deal with my clumsy experiments.

We don’t need good hearing to detect the Lord’s voice, just a sensitive, willing heart. I actually think the Holy Spirit delights in providing sensitivity training. Although the voice may be still and small, it is near. In fact, Luke 17:21 says, “The kingdom of God is within you”—in our very own hearts, souls, and minds.

But thoughts can be tricky. Not all inner nudges, promptings, impulses, or impressions come from God. The handcuffed, suicidal maniac I saw on the news who insisted, “God told me to do it!” as he was being thrust into the back seat of a squad car was responding to the voice of the god of destruction, not the God of heaven.

How can we be sure it’s God’s voice we’re hearing? Examine what the voice tells you in light of God’s attributes. I compiled the following checklist as a tool to test the validity of any inner leading I may have. Let the truth of these points sink deep into your heart, soul, and mind.

Checklist for Hearing God

  1. God will never lead me astray.
    He won’t ask me to do anything immoral, unethical, corrupt, vicious, dishonest, unkind, or unbecoming. If my morals or integrity are jeopardized in any way, the voice cannot be His. He is a God of righteousness.
  2. God will never violate His Word.
    He will never ask me to do anything that is contrary to the Scriptures. Even if I can find a passage that seems appropriate, I must be careful not to twist it to suit my own needs but rather consider the context in which it was written. He is a God of honor.
  3. God will never cause confusion.
    He offers me peace, joy, and clarity of mind. If I am experiencing anxiety or confusion, it is probably because of my own pandemonium, worldly pressure, or some unholy spirit—which I promptly and deliberately reject. He is a God of order.
  4. God will never bring condemnation.
    He is compassionate, righteous, and just. While He insists on confronting me with my own sin and shortcomings, He will not whip me with guilt. His desire is not to cripple but to lead me in the ways of repentance and restoration. His trademark is not incrimination but forgiveness. He is a God of mercy.
  5. God will never entertain discouragement.
    He builds me up and calls forth courage. He does not throw in the towel, promote defeat, or look for easy escape routes. He offers power and victory, no matter how bad a mess I get myself into. He is a God of hope.
  6. God will never contradict Himself.
    His message will never be in conflict with His nature that is comprised of unconditional love coupled with unwavering justice. God is love, and His Word is truth. Christ’s character and His law will always be reflected in the words His Spirit says. He is a God of conviction.
  7. God will never hurt me.
    He is the Great Physician—the healer and the restorer. He is the Good Shepherd—the seeker of lost sheep, the protector, and the guide. He is the Solid Rock—a ready fortress and refuge. He is a God of grace.

Morning by morning, O Lord, You hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before You
and wait in expectation
(Psalm 5:3).

Clay Christensen on Religious Freedom

Video

Let us know what you think about this. How important is religious freedom to you as a mother?

 

For the Back-to-School Teacher Mom

Lauren Pinkstonby Lauren Pinkston: Upwardly Dependent (Walking the Delicate Balance Between Absolute Truth and Overwhelming Grace)

FOR THE BACK-TO-SCHOOL TEACHER MOM

I remember the Christmas of 2012 so well…it was when we finally announced our pregnancy with extended family and friends. Well, and the world.
     There were so many exciting text messages and tight hugs, and I think it was the first time I had ever seen my grandmother cry.
     It was also the first time I started to feel mixed emotions about the future of my work as it meshed with motherhood.
     A friend of mine called to congratulate me, asking all the right questions and sharing her joy with me. Then she made the statement, I just can’t imagine having kids right now…maybe ever. I like my work too much to give it up.
     I sat listening for a moment, but then told her that I didn’t have plans to quit working. I confessed that I loved the life growing inside me deeply, but that I also found a lot of purpose and identity in holding a steady job.
     And as I told her about the ways I felt led to serve in my home and in the workplace, it reminded me that we still haven’t quite come to accept the fact that a woman can do both—and do both well.
     This is the part where I make a disclaimer: If you are a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom), if you have chosen to leave work to spend time with your kids, and you are loving this time of soaking up memories with your littles, I APPLAUD YOU AND SUPPORT THIS. There are many days I want to be like you.
     There is nothing dishonorable about being consistently present for your children and your husband, for working in the home and for loving it there. Many women are writing from your perspective and I think it is a beautiful and needed one!
     This post, however, is for all you mommas who are gearing back up to enter the classroom. You’re doing your best to enjoy a few more play dates while laminating learning centers and scoping out teacher blogs in the wee hours of the morning. This is for you, those who want more than anything to be a SAHM, but the student loan payments are just too high to give up an extra income. And for you, who are secretly excited to spend seven hours a day with somebody else’s crazy kids.
     If you are a teacher, a custodian, an administrator, a paraprofessional, a cafeteria chef, or a professor, AND YOU HAVE YOUR OWN KID(S), I’m sensing your anxiety, sister. The fibers of your heart are being stretched in what feels complete opposite directions. You lay awake at night imagining the faces that will soon fill the desks in your classroom, but you are already mourning the memories that you will be losing with your flesh and blood babies. You question whether or not you are doing the right thing by going back to work. You remember the stress of the job and fear you will bring that stress into your home come August. You read the comments of women like yourself who have just called in their resignation, and you wonder whether you have chosen the greater good.
     Can I just breathe a little life into you now? Can I speak a little truth? Your place of influence does not have to stop with the children who live in your home. Due to moving a gazillion times and then landing in a job overseas, I only experienced the classroom for three years. Now I’m a part-time language student and part-time grad student and part-time blogger/culture navigator. But all it takes is closing my eyes and I can feel the nervous excitement of back-to-school time. You don’t have to close your eyes to feel it. It’s becoming a part of your every day routine. You’re looking at your class list and trying to place each student’s face. You’re cleaning cabinets and organizing libraries and re-reading curriculum. You’re making notes of new systems to initiate and new strategies to try.
     And still, there’s part of you that seems to contradict this nervous excitement. It’s looking into the eyes of your own children and feeling as if you aren’t giving them enough as their mother. It’s the fear of losing their loyalty to a daycare provider or a relative, or even another teacher. I need you to stop those thoughts right this second. Because they are self-imposed and they are not healthy.
     What I do want you to do is to say a prayer of thanksgiving that the Father has counted you worthy to not only serve your biological children, but also the ones you will adopt into your heart this year.
     Take a few moments to reflect on last May. Picture the names and faces of the children you graduated to the next grade. Remember the blessings that flowed from the lips of parents who were so thankful for how well you loved their children. Or maybe think on the students who had no one to support them on the last day of school…the ones who you wanted to take home for the summer.
     If you are still in the throws of diaper duty and damage control like me, let’s face it: Our babies are going to grow up. And soon they will buy pencils and folders and backpacks. And while I still refuse to admit it, they’re going to be sent off to big person school in a few short years.
     And when that happens, I want my kids to be loved by people like YOU. Women who would be ever so honored to spend their days at home, but have chosen to walk into the classroom and love someone else’s kids, too. Don’t be deceived that you are only to find your worth in the children who call you “Mom.”
     I’ve taught in private and public schools, and my friends, they are ALL dark places. Children will be placed into your hands this year {I’m calling them children all the way through college, ok?}. And you have a responsibility.
     Love well the person in front of you. Whether you are choosing to work because you love it or because it’s a financial necessity, when you are at work, be present there. Pray over the names of your students as you write their names on desk labels. Mold their character through discipline, but teach them about grace through your forgiveness. Witness to them each day as you share your life and your faith and your family with them.
     And when you’ve graded the papers and picked up your own children and you walk back into your home, be present there, too. Pray over your own children as you watch them play. Put away your cell phone so there’s no distraction from this sacred time. Invite them to share in your work as you tell them about your own personal mission field. I’m going to say it again. Your realm of influence can be powerful both in your work and in your home. teacher moms It will take much prayer. It will take loads of grace. But don’t ever feed yourself lies that say your mothering is second-class. Don’t you dare believe that the children in your classroom or library or lecture hall need you any less. You are the kind of woman that brings hope to children without. And that little light that you put inside your students is carried home to their families and into their neighborhoods and on into their futures.

Deeply meaningful song about sister’s autism

Candy Abbott, Executive Director of Mothers With a Mission

Candy Abbott, Executive Director of Mothers With a Mission

So many parents face the challenge of raising a child with autism, but other members of the family are equally invested in the ups and downs of daily life. . The words, the emotion, and the love expressed by this caring sister serve as a reminder that any expression of kindness and gentleness can ease the burden and put things in perspective. May “Beautiful Blessing, Beautiful Curse” touch your heart:

http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=WGZDGPNX

Open Meeting on Saturday – Mothers With a Mission ORIENTATION

If you’re anywhere within driving distance of Georgetown or Newark, Delaware, on Saturday, May 3, we’re offering two orientation sessions for those who want to learn more about Mothers With a Mission. If you’re interested, call Candy Abbott at 302.856.6649. Below is a picture of Katlyn Street, her beautiful daughter, and Rita Clucas, at a breakfast meeting where we planned the panel we’re going to have on Saturday that will provide insight about why we’re changing our terminology from “mentoring” to “doing life together” in our goal to impart eternal values. Please help us spread the word.

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