Crazy Zany Bands

Finally, I have found a use for all of those crazy, zany bands! or Zandy Bands as Jett calls them.

Back in August, the kids and I started memorizing the Sermon on the Mount.  We have had dry seasons along the way and are not as far as we should be; however, we are soaking in the words of Jesus.  We are chewing on the meat of the matter.  We are being changed.  We are finishing up the last few weeks of school memorizing Jesus’ words about murder, anger, and name calling.  It is no secret that anger is a sin that I struggle with.  It is a sin that my kids struggle with.  It is something that God has been working on in me for a number of years now. You can read about it in Anger Management?

Matthew 5:21-22, the words of Jesus

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.  Again, whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin.  But anyone who says ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

Sometimes we just need a physical, visual reminder of our sin.  This is where the Zany Band comes into play.  Each Lotz kid got their own Zany Band, along with myself.  Each time we lose our self-control, call a name, or get angry with each other, we have to switch the band to the opposite wrist.  It doesn’t sound like much, but oddly enough, it really seems to signal to my brain and to my heart that I need to carry on in patience and love toward my children.  Yes, I have had to switch my zany band.  Yes, I have to apologize and ask my kids to forgive me when I lose my temper.  Yes, it is humbling.

Today, Wilson acted unkindly to one of his siblings.  I immediately called him on it and asked him to switch his zany band.  He didn’t want to have to switch it, and I saw his heart grow heavy for sinning against his sister.  Hannah says it is helping her, too.  Even though it annoys the heck out of me, I will not lose my blue Tinker Bell zany band anytime soon…not till my heart is completely changed.

Oh the irony, I think Tinker Bell had anger issues, too...

On this Good Friday, I am thankful for the cross and the sacrifice Jesus made for my sins against Him.  I am thankful for the Holy Spirit and the process of sanctification on this journey Home.

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Step by Step

Recently, I started reading Francis Chan’s Forgotten God and completing the bible study workbook.  I thought I bought the dvd videos to go along with it, but turns out I really just bought Francis Chan reading his book aloud for me on cd.  I do know how to read and should have read the case that I purchased!  Oh well.

Galatians 5:16-26 is a passage that I have read many times on my Christian journey, but I love it that something new jumped out at me while reading yesterday. Paul is describing the always present internal battle of living by the Spirit vs the sin nature (or the flesh as it is in Greek).  There is always a struggle as to whom is going to win, sometimes we follow the Spirit and let Him lead us and other times we follow our flesh and do what we want, but it isn’t really what we want to do, because we really want to do what the Spirit wants us to do…yeah, that was my paraphrase.  Then Paul lists a bunch of examples of the sinful nature, of which, I am guilty of a few.  Next comes the fruit of the Spirit.  Now, here in verse 25 is what jumped out at me.

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”  Galatians 5:25

Sweet Aimee just turned one year old on February 17th.  She started cruising around the coffee table around 9 months and has slowly been working the muscles in her legs to hold her wobbly body. Right before her birthday she started taking a few steps, but she didn’t really like it very much.  What she did love was to hold a hand and have someone walk with her.  When she went off on her own, she ended up on the floor.

Another image that comes to my mind is from back in the college days.  Krystal Jones and I had a couple semesters where we had all of the same classes.  While this wasn’t the best for my GPA, we had a LOT of fun!  Many a day we had to walk (semi) long distances to get to class.  I remember dreading those days when the frigid winter air would blow right through my coat (maybe I wasn’t wearing one?) and chill me down to the bone.  We would walk to class together, heads down in a kind of huddle all the while making weird “It is so freezing cold outside” noises.  While keeping in step with each other, we could face the daunting wind.  Funny how it wasn’t those winter days that made us skip class; it was the gorgeous spring days that always led us astray.

It was during those college years that Rich Mullins died in his Jeep accident.  I love his song Step by Step and would often have that song in my head on my way to class (way back when college students walked to class without an i pod).  …and I will seek you in the morning, and I will learn to walk in your ways, and step by step you lead me…and I will follow you all of my days.

My desire is to walk in step with the Spirit.  I don’t want to let go and try to go on my own.  I know I will end up on the floor.

This is Aimee walking in step with me!  I get to see this cute little face everywhere I go.  Mulling these thoughts over in my mind makes me want to be more patient when my kids are pulling me in different directions.  Well, as you know, one of the fruit of the spirit is patience.

Facebook Without Ceasing

In the New Testament, Paul tells the Thessalonians we are to “Pray continually.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)  I used to do this, as least I used to be a lot better at this than I am now…

When I am walking from upstairs to switch the laundry, God might remind me a bit about his everlasting love.  I will give him thanks.  While I am washing up a few dishes in the sink, He will remind me of a friend who needs prayer. I will ask for His love and blessing to be made known.  Folding a few towels, I will sing a little praise song.  While putting my sweet kids to bed, I pray for their protection and their salvation.  This is who I want to be and what I want to do throughout the day.

Unfortunately, since I have facebook/internet on my phone instead of allowing God to draw my thoughts, prayers, and praises to Him, I allow my brain to be muddled with where my fb friends are eating lunch, who they are hanging out with, and what they are watching on tv.  Please don’t get me wrong, I am not fb bashing.  I love keeping up with my friends and family.  I love sharing what we are eating for dinner!  I love the connectedness that it brings to our lives, especially living in Haiti so far away from “home”.  After the 2010 earthquake, I was amazed that it was the only reliable source for communication!

What I am confessing is facebook without ceasing instead of pray without ceasing.  I am wasting precious moments of everyday interacting with a screen instead of the little faces in front of me.  I catch up on everyone’s updates while I wait for my kids to fall asleep instead of praying for them and with them.  I look up after dinner and see that my kids have taken advantage of my Blackberry addiction to escape from the table (and hoping to escape from the dishes!).  Sometimes it happens during the school day. When my kids are hard at work, I think I have time to read a little thing that someone posted.  When I am finished, I notice that my kids were not focused because I lost my focus on them.  My family deserves my best, and so does my God.  I am have failing them.

So with this confession, comes repentance and a stubborn resolve to keep my phone in my pocket.  At times it seems to be an extension of my hand.  And since I am putting this out here for all to read, I want you to ask me about my time with my phone.  You can keep me accountable.  I did tell my kids to keep me accountable as well.  They haven’t failed me yet.

And please, someone tell me that I am not alone!

God’s Blessing, My Children

When I was in college, I was an active participant in Christian Campus House at the then Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield, MO.  The name is now Missouri State University and the Christian Campus House is still a strong training ground for young Christians to learn to serve and to become “doers of the Word”.  It was through CCH that I went on my first cross cultural mission trip, and ultimately through Campus House that I found myself in Port-de-Paix, Haiti after I graduated.  I learned a lot about serving and doing as an extension of my love for the Lord, and my relationship with Him.  I am forever grateful for my years at campus house!  I met so many great people and I am so thankful for fb and for the opportunity to keep up with my college crowd.  It is amazing to see how God is using them across the US, and the world.  Truly CCH did (and still does) an excellent job training young people that our Christian service was something that was to go with us, no matter where that might be.

During our eight years in Joplin, five of those years were spent at the Wesley Foundation for Missouri Southern State University.  Eric and I were able to reverse our roles and be the campus ministers for some great college students.  Our oldest daughter, Christa was just a year old when we took that job and just after the beginning of the second semester, Hannah was born.  Wilson came along a couple of years after that and then Jett after a couple more.  It was a crazy time of babies, toddlers, much cooking, small group meetings, one-on-one meetings, late nights and early mornings!  Eric was also a student at Ozark Christian College.  Our lives were full and there was always something going on.  I remember having to cut short a discipleship meeting with one of our female students to attend to a crying infant. I remember praying, “God, I could do so much more for you if I didn’t have all these kids!”

Talk about a sudden and instant conviction from the Holy Spirit!  As if God really needed me to help Him accomplish anything, and what or who could be more important in my life than my husband and my children.  That was a humbling time of repentance and submission before the Lord.  God didn’t want me to do a lot FOR Him, He wanted me to become a lot LIKE Him.  I am so thankful and blessed that He chose six beautiful children to help transform my image into the image of His Son.  Oh, there is much left to transform and I am thankful for the willingness of my children to help teach me all about patience, love, self-control, kindness, and thankfulness, and self-sacrifice. 😉

Since that time, the Lord has continually drawn me closer to my home and to my family.  We are now in Haiti, homeschooling and living almost every second together.  Some days and weeks are difficult, but that is when we step back, re-evaluate our blessings, and re-establish our priorities.  Now I am thankful to be a “doer of the Word” in my own home with my own kids. I am grateful for the privilege I have to share the Lord with my little Lotz family.  Ok, maybe it isn’t so little anymore…

Callie (3), Jett (5), Wilson (7), Hannah (9), Christa (11) and our newest baby girl Aimee (8 months).

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does.”  James 1:22-25

A little "jumpoline" fun!

Thanks again to Melinda Wilson for taking some pictures of my kiddos.

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Thanking God

My friend Debbie Hamilton read something to me a couple of weeks ago that went something like this, “What if you woke up tomorrow with the only things that you thanked God for today?”

I have to say that this thought has lingered long and hard in my mind for the last couple of weeks.  I have not failed to remember it each day since I first heard these words.  It has turned many thoughts of thankfulness into prayers of thankfulness.  It has made me look for people and things in my life for which I need to be thankful.  Each day, I find more people to be thankful for and certain things that would ordinarily be taken for granted, I have been turning the praise back to God.  We people have a tendency to turn toughts like this one into little superstitions.  I want to genuinely be thankful for the amazing gifts that the LORD has given to me!

First and most important, I am thankful for the spiritual blessings that God has given to me.  Ephesians 1 outlines these cleary.

1.He chose us.  v.4

2.He predestined us to be adopted. v.5

3.He has freely given us grace through Jesus. v.6

4.Redemption through his blood. v.7

5.Forgiveness of sins. v.7

6.He made known to us the mystery of his will.  v.9

7.He marked us with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.  v.13

Next, I am thankful for my amazing husband.  He has blessed my life in so many ways through his love for the LORD, his love for me and the kids, and his love for other people.  God has gifted him in so many ways and I love that he is able to use his gifts and talents to serve the people of Haiti.  God placed him with Operation Blessing just before the 2010 earthquake to minister to the needs in Port-au-Prince.  I am proud to be his wife and proud of all God does through him.

Eric and me at Club Indigo

Wow!  There is so, so much more, but it will have to wait for another time.

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers.

Too Short?

How would my life be different with arms that were too short or with no arms at all?  I know there are many people who do not have full use of their arms.  Many people, who live in close proximity to me as a direct result of the Port-au-Prince earthquake of 2010, have lost the privilege of having arms and/or legs.  Life has been dramatically altered in so many ways for these people. Many times, they are left with little options for their livelihood, left to be beggars on the street.

If I lost my arms, I wouldn’t be able to prepare food with quickness and accuracy.  Washing clothes would be a monumental task. Sweeping the floor would be impossible.   All of my “work” would have to be done with assistance. The saddest part might be that I would never be able to give my husband or my kids a big hug.  Or what if there was a terrible accident and I couldn’t reach in for a rescue.

This year I am trying to read through the Bible in a year together with Christa (11) and Hannah (9).  I was challenged to read my Bible in a year with my kids because of my great friend Emily, who together with her family, accomplished this very same challenge.  Although we are not overwhelmingly succeeding, we are not failing completely.  The other day, I was reading from Numbers 11 and a word jumped out at me.  It seems this same word jumped out to me a few years previously from Isaiah.  I decided to get out my husband’s huge concordance to see where else this word might show up within the same context.

Numbers 11:23  The LORD answered Moses, “Is the LORD’s arm too short?  You will now see whether or not what I say will come true for you.”

 

Isaiah 59:1  “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.  But your iniquities have separated you from your God;  your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”

 

Isaiah 50:2  “When I came, why was there no one?

When I called, why was there no one to answer?

Was my arm too short to ransom you?  Do I lack the strength to rescue you?

All Scriptures from the NIV, italics mine.

 

Try to imagine God with Short Arms

I love the word picture that God shows us when he asks us if His arm is too short to save.  If God’s arms were too short, he wouldn’t be able to do what He says He can do.  His promises would be empty.  His words be void.

 

I am so thankful that God gives us these words about His arms.  I am thankful that he has rescued me from my sin.  He saved my family from the deadly earthquake.  My God is mighty to save; and He has long arms!

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Anger Management?

I wish I could say that I hate the video games for all the right reasons.  As an educator, I want my kids to be inquisitive.  They need the intellectual stimulation of books and nature.  They need to be finding out the “why” questions in their lives.  As a mom who wants her kids to be healthy, I want my kids to make healthy choices.  I want them to choose healthy, active options instead of watching tv, or playing wii games (my kids have figured out that you really don’t have to stand up and move a whole lot to bat or bowl).  Ironically, these are not the main reasons that I have issues with the video games.  Actually, most of my kids are not concerned about the “no TV, no video games” rule for the school week.  It is the dear seven-year-old that is the one who has the concern.

I started paying attention to his fits of rage in our house.  His punching, knocking things over, his refusal to obey, and his lack of submission went hand in hand with the following:  television, computer games, Nintendo DS, games on the phone, and the Wii. He is a different child when these things are not within his grasp.  He is helpful, (mostly) obedient, a sweet brother, and happy; however, if you add a screen in front of his face, it could turn ugly.  I am really thankful that I started paying attention to his angry disposition and figuring out the triggers which caused him to be like this.  Really, I hate this for him, because I know how much he loves to play these games.

Several years back, I was trying to lose weight (who isn’t, right?) and I had to figure out what was triggering me to overeat.  I discovered that when I was angry (or felt anxious, or things seemed out of control) I would eat, preferably the sweeter and saltier the better. About that same time, I listened to an Ozark Christian College professor, Kenny Boles’s sermon called “Anger Management”. (I tried to find a link to it, but was unsuccessful.  OCC is in the process of archiving the past chapel sermons.) Because of this sermon, I was reminded that Paul says in Ephesians 4:31  to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every kind of malice.”  Suddenly, I was made aware of a great sin in my life that God started burning from my heart.  I started to understand that God wants me to get rid of my anger, not manage it. I am still in process, and have a long way to go.

When we moved to Haiti in 2008, I began home schooling my kids, just my two oldest girls at the time.  The class has now grown to the four oldest.  I was really shocked (not in a good way) how trying to teach my kids brought such ugly overflow from my heart.  I was not the mom I wanted to be for my kids and really dreaded each day of school (just think how the girls felt!).  God has continued to work through this mess in my heart and I continue to struggle through it with prayer and petition.  I know that God is working out His sanctification in my life.  For that I am so very thankful!

I realize that when my children don’t obey me, when they are being wise in their own eyes, when they follow their own desires instead of listening to their mom, these are the things that raise my blood pressure, make my heart beat faster, and make me clench my jaws.  I recently read some of the works of Charlotte Mason, a great philosopher of education, which God used to strike my heart.  She says that we need to see our children as “humans”.  You can read more of her philosophy here. Yes, I am guilty of plowing over my kids with little thought to their feelings, their emotions, and their needs.  Guess what this makes them…oh, angry? Yes, as a Christian mom, I should not ever act this way with my kids!  I think I am finally getting it. Thank God, that His mercies are new every morning!

So instead of hating the video games and how they make my son behave poorly, I should be thankful for them.  They have revealed an area of sin that my little guy can start working on early in his life instead of waiting until he is almost 30.  What a privilege it is to get to help him on that journey!  What a privilege to pray with him and for him to the One who wants us all to be transformed into the image of His Son.