These Few Sheep

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In the midst of raising little ones, a mother may find herself at odds with the future. Often, dreams and gifts are shelved in preference of little people with constant needs.

Conflict ensues between the privileged nature of motherhood and the long pause in what was a productive, somewhat predictable life.

How does a mother measure success?

Some say life is made up of defining moments. A typical Sunday revealed itself as one of those moments for me. While the speaker expounded on the life of David, I did not expect to be singled out by the Lord. No one around me suspected the arresting that took place that Sunday morning – of my mind, will and emotions – held captive by a thought which transformed into a desire to take the Lord at His word – at home.

Mothers of young children can feel overlooked in the church setting. From the pulpit we hear of mission trips, service opportunities, small groups, worship bands and all sorts of public endeavors. But with a van full of car seats and nap times looming – I was in no place to serve in public. I knew it – but needed affirmation from above.

The speaker described in vivid detail the life of David. Not David the king, but David the shepherd. As the sermon unfolded – time stood still for me. I felt all alone – in a good way – personalizing the story.

David’s brothers mocked him for having such a small job – tending to his ‘few sheep’. They were fighting the big battles, had the upfront positions and represented little brother to the world. David had no voice for public ears. His thoughts were relegated to the mound of sheep off the beaten path of real life and no one expected more of him.

But David sought the Lord in his isolation. He used the years of serving and protecting his ‘few sheep’ as an opportunity to know God. He did have a voice – and an audience of ONE. On the backside of a mountain David learned to pray – not in the, ‘I’m asking for things’ kind of praying but in the, ‘Lord, I want to know your more ‘ fashion. He turned his thoughts into songs (Psalms) which soothed the sheep and brought heaven to earth.

David fought off lions and bears – archenemies poised to steal, kill and destroy his flock. His sheep knew his voice and he knew their limitations.

While David was being faithful in the little – God was training his hands for war and capturing the shepherd’s heart for His own. Culture would eventually be shaped and history rearranged by the actions of this unassuming sheep herder.

I remember the Sunday service, like it was yesterday. I left church with my pile of notes – and mulled over the facts, chewing on the hard truths of God’s ways.

Little becomes much – Up is down – The backside of the mountain is in the presence of the King.

My eyes were opened to the possibilities. What if?

What if I embraced this role of mom/shepherd tending to my ‘few sheep’ with everything I had? What if I learned to know God during these busy, quiet years? What if  I was all right with being misrepresented without a voice?

Fast forward a decade, or two, and this shepherd/mom is in a whole, new place. The little lambs are strapping men and lovely ladies. Some days I long for the season when life was simple, kids were little and God was so near.

I’m  thankful for a church leader who ministered the word of God in a timely fashion – fitly spoken for my hungry heart in need of a defining moment.

Young mom – use these tender days to watch over your little ones. Learn the dynamics of spiritual warfare by protecting them and get to know your God while in the quiet place on the backside of the world.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
 Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

When Life is Too Overwhelming to Ask for Help

Pam

Thankfully there are only a few times in life when things become so overwhelming, it seems impossible to ask for help. I know I need support but crises are coming like rapid fiery darts. As my being shifts from one difficulty to another, the thought rests in the back of my head to reach out for help. Yet, dodging the darts seems to occupy every second.

I think about sending out a prayer request email but quickly decide that the circumstances of my life presently sound like a bad soap opera. Realizing it would take forever to draft the email, I resolve to “lift my eyes unto the hills….where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord the maker of heaven and earth”.  I mouth the prayer believing it in my head while counting on it to make it’s way down to my heart.

My conversation with my Heavenly Father goes something like this, “Lord, I believe you are sovereign. You are aware of my problems. You have even orchestrated them. …(Well, I probably wasn’t ready to admit that at first, even though I knew it to be true)…. Father, I need some help but can’t get it together enough to even ask. Lord, I think I need about five Aarons and Hurs to lift me up. Father, I don’t even know who they are right now. But I believe I need about five. Would you send them?”  Then I just proceeded to dodge the next dart. He is still patiently waiting on me to embrace the fiery darts and welcome the trial as James admonishes us to do as believers.

Remember when Moses was fighting the battle of the Amalekites (Exodus 17) and as long as Moses held up his arms, the Israelites were winning. But as soon as he dropped his arms, they began losing the battle? So Aaron and Hur each held up an arm of Moses in order for the Israelites to win. I knew I needed some women friends holding my arms up.

I could go into details about the nature of our family’s problems to try and help others know things can get really bad even when you follow Christ. But then the problem gets glorified.

Or I can expound on what God continues to do in spite of my problems. And He gets glorified rather than our problems.

My situation bottomed out on Friday. But on Saturday, at my son’s football game, an old friend approached the bleachers. She did not even have any children playing. She simply came to support a mutual friend’s child.I jumped up to say hi and give her a hug not realizing I would fall apart in her arms. She listened and encouraged me but did not stop there. The following week she showed up at the store with flowers and a card letting me know she had been praying for me. My friend Kelly, who I only see sporadically at surprise times, became an Aaron for me.

Later in the week my first night of community outreach was to begin. Because of circumstances, I was feeling quite disqualified. Yet, God placed me here as leader. I took a deep breath and glanced over the parking lot as women and children arrived. A new attendee named Kay popped out of her car. I was so excited to have her even though it was a surprise.

I could not help but laugh out loud when I actually realized she was my next answer to prayer for an Aaron or Hur. As my story unfolded for Kay, she realized it was divine intervention for her to be there. Kay is the mightiest prayer warrior I know. Because it was our first night of outreach we were able to spend the full time in prayer.

One after another, the Father brought me my five…each a tangible expression of God’s loving kindness and care for his children. They were not the usual ones I reach out to on a regular basis. I was paralyzed. But they were the ones God desired to use.

Once the five prayed me through the first week, I was able to reach out online to long distance prayer support from women who have practiced being intentional to cultivate a relationship even if long distance. We share a common love for God and a common desire to see Him high and lifted up in our homes.

Sisters, NO MATTER your walk in life, your problems or pain, we need a support system, a community of believers to walk through life with.

I believe suffering is inevitable. God uses it to conform us to the image of His son as we depend on Him. And He is so very faithful to be present in the darkest times of our lives. Do you sense Him near you, caring for you, sustaining you during your times of difficulties? Would you ask God to send you an Aaron and Hur? And, like me, even if you don’t know who they are, God does. Ask Him, look and wait for Him to send them.

The battle you are in is not yours friend. It is the Lords, the maker of Heaven and earth. May our Maker be glorified in and through each of our trials.

Arms Held Up,
Pam

***The 24 hours of the .99 on Amazon is now over, but as an almost full length book, I think you will enjoy it and be blessed at the normal price of $4.99! We were so happy that we were able to do a 24 hour deal for so many of you. Thanks for making the launch such a wonderful blessing to us, who work on the blog and books just for you! You were amazing!

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How to Speak the Vision of God’s Best Into the Lives of our Children

Gwynedd Wales Conway Castle

Gwynedd Wales Conway Castle

 

Do you ever have days, as a mom, that you feel like you’re surrounded inside high castle walls with no route of escape? And harder still, maybe instead of the “enemy” being locked on the outside of those thick walls, they are trapped in there with you?

Now we all know in our hearts that our kids are the furthest thing from our enemies, BUT there are days when our heads pound with what we are confronted with…when all we seem to face is opposition and battle! And we can feel imprisoned – totally unsure of how to deal with the attitudes and behaviors that are literally staring us in the face.

Sixteen years of mothering – five kids later – I’d have to say I’ve juggled more than a little defiance and insubordination within my castle walls, and there is something I have come to realize…God calls us, as moms, to step up on the castle walls and look beyond what we see right in front of us.

In fact, I believe He desires to fill us with vision for what lies ahead in their futures and not just observe what is right before us with our little warriors.

Let me explain: when I feel surrounded by the discouragement of conduct that flies in the face of what I desire to see pouring out of my children, I have learned to call upon a principle that I find in God’s Word. It says in Romans 4:17 that, “He calls things that ARE NOT as though THEY WERE.”  Think about that in relation to our own castles…

If we were to call out what we know God desires for our children, instead of just criticizing what we are faced with, it changes our whole approach!

Maybe you already do this on a regular basis, or maybe you tried it for a few weeks and didn’t see change – I will say it is a job, this role of mothering. And the results we want to be instantly rewarded with may be a few years down the road, BUT the years inside my castle walls have given me vision to see beyond the fights and I want to encourage you to NOT GIVE UP.

Our little castle dwellers will test every button that God has built into us, and some days we will be sure the castle walls are going to cave in for all the tremors they are enduring. Our children do need to be lovingly disciplined and issues addressed, but don’t stop there! Take hope and keep calling things (miserable attitudes, frightening behaviors, angry words) that are not as though they were (loving attitudes, patient behaviors, kind words)!  When we do this we can hold hands with God to help draw out all the good that He has in their futures.

 Will you share the beauty you see in your children with us below in the comments? Let’s celebrate together the work we know God is doing in their lives.

***Thank you for making this launch week so much fun! The winners of this week’s many Rafflecopter Giveaways will be announced on the blog next week! Stay tuned!

The 24 hours of the .99 on Amazon is now over, but as an almost full length book, I think you will enjoy it and be blessed at the normal price of $4.99! We were so happy that we were able to do a 24 hour deal for so many of you. Thanks for making the launch such a wonderful blessing to us, who work on the blog and books just for you! You were amazing!

1ogiftsifwisdom3D

“The wisdom and guidance in this read is yet another of Sally’s wonderful admonitions on how to raise a family with grace and love. There are many practical applications, suggestions, hints and admonitions to guide the mother daily in the things that truly matter. You will be encouraged to drop formulas behind and to embrace what God has for you and your family and will inspire you to have a vision for the many things God has prepared for you.”

Amazon Review

You can get the book here.

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost–It has made all the difference!


Recently, at the webinar, a mom asked, “How did you face your friends and family who didn’t understand your ideals?”

Taking a risk to do life differently, better, following God’s trail by faith, has changed the course of the Clarkson history–but, by taking the road less travelled, we have witnessed the miracles and provision of the hand of God in amazing ways.

This, one of my favorite poems, (and I made all the kids memorize it) reflects the faith, following ideals, road.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both,
And be one traveler , long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
But as for that, the passing there
had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted I would ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two rods diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

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Since the first year Clay and I were married, we tried each fall to go drive through the mountains to see the aspen when they changed to the golden and read and bronze. A mother is the god-ordained professor who is to open the soul and mind of her children to the truths reflected in God’s creation. God has provided ample evidence of His wisdom, power and beauty in each season.

Last weekend, Clay said that he thought we should take the time to go for one day to the mountains before we left to make time to see the beauty together. Though we were all busy, we are so very thankful for the way it filled our souls to marvel at His handy work and to reflect that each season has its own beauty and evidence of God’s intimate involvement.

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.” What a beautiful poem this is–and such a rich amount of wisdom to discuss and reflect with your children—choices have consequences, whatever decisions you make will determine much of the rest of your life–it is so important to let God’s word and truth direct your priorities and decisions. And I love the last line, “And I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

Clay and I took the homeschooling road when no one thought we should. We moved our family into ministry situations with us all over the world when no one thought we should. We raised support when certain family members thought we shouldn’t. We left a good job and security and insurance and went 5 years without a salary to start Whole Heart Ministries when it seemed crazy. We committed ourselves to idealistic discipleship grace-based parenting when others thought we would ruin our children. Obviously we have not lived a perfect life and have made mistakes along the way. However, we made our decisions by faith, based on convictions we found in scripture. Our desire was to please God, to build foundations that could not be shaken. God has been so faithful to us each step of the way–we took the road less traveled by and that has made all the difference.

Today, I celebrated the 93rd birthday of my oldest, sister type friend’s mom’s birthday. We had a chocolate party for her (brownies, cake, cookies, candy bars and mousse–it was her favorites) She has lived through two World Wars, the depression, breast cancer, the deaths of her husband and two of her three children. Yet, she has lived to see God’s faithfulness.

This summer, fire devastated and destroyed 500 homes. Now we are in the midst of a crisis of flood over our whole state. This year, 3 precious ones have committed suicide that are dear to us. Several of my best friends have had cancer.  We could all be tempted to panic when life feels so uncertain. 

Yet, taking the risky roads less taken has taught me that God is trustworthy. He is in control, He will be faithful to us as we walk roads of faith. It is an important for us to teach our children to have the courage of their convictions to take the road less taken-the road of faith, the road of ideals. Life does not always turn out as we would expect it to, but God is always faithful. We all only have one life to live in which to live by faith in God, to trust in Him and rest in His peace when we are tempted to panic. We are given one life to live for His ideals and for His convictions. Then we will see Him face to face.

Let us be bold before His throne in this challenging time. Let us be of those who do not shrink back. Let us be of those whose hearts remain steadfast even in the midst of trials. God will be faithful to us. We will grow and be stretched and become less selfish and more mature and give our children a better model –if we stay faithful to his call upon our individual lives. He will call each of us to different ideals, but He will call us to step out in faith, in courage and in ministry. May His goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our lives and may we resist fear and live by faith until we see Him face to face. May God give each of you a special gift of His grace and peace in the midst of your trials. May He allow you to reflect on His beauty in creation as an example of His seasons and may each of you have a peaceful heart. Many blessings of His grace.

As Sarah recently wrote, “Hard realities–broken hearted facts are not ignored but faced with grace. This rises up with a lifestyle of hard work and community that, while never denying grief, yet seeks to move through life with a fragile but real hope.”

Indeed, God led us to take the road less traveled, and that has indeed made all the difference.

The Discipleship & Discipline Webinar

Over 1,000 moms joined us on the Discipleship & Discipline Webinar! If you weren’t able to attend the live course, now you can get it on-demand. If you would like to get access to the Webinar, simply click here. It was so much fun, and we are so excited to share this with you.
webinar

 

No Time to Waste On Stress

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“But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” -Luke 10:40-42

As I approach 60 years old in another month, I am more aware than ever that life flies by. The most important investment I have made in my life is to seek to love deeply. Loving my children and husband has required sacrificing my schedule and expectations in order to have time to listen, to be a friend, to share mutual joys and to cry together. Taking time to love well usually requires a simpler life that has the flexibility to cultivate “best friendships” with those are most dear.

Much of my life was lived at such a pace, however, that I felt like I was always in a hurry to get some place or to complete a task. These overcommitted times turned me into more a drill sergeant  than a loving companion. How easy it is to focus on all of our “to do’s” and to miss the magical moments of childhood and celebrating it together rather than gutting it out in frustration.

Statistics show that 88% of mothers feel severely stressed and overcome with anxiety due to poor time management and difficulty prioritizing. In a hectic world that is over-stimulated on our phones, computers, social media, and Starbucks addictions, are we losing sight of what is truly important in the midst of the balancing act? My mind ponders the fact that we were simply not designed to multitask to this extent. We often try so hard to juggle one million ideals, and once we drop one of them, we feel defeated.

As mothers and wives, it is absolutely crucial that we learn to breath, relax, and focus in on what should be prioritized. Life is short and ideals are constantly interrupted, so be sure to focus on the most important. The people in our lives should be the priority. Do the priority people in your life (your children, your husband, your friends) feel that you are often distracted by all the things you do? Do they comment on how much they appreciate your ability to give full attention to them or do they complain that you are not listening?

Are you so stressed about making your home squeaky clean that you don’t make time for game night or a stroll at sunset? Is your mind so preoccupied with getting back to the kitchen to clean all the dishes that you forget to actually enjoy dinner with your family? Did you fill your day with so many errands and “have-to’s” that you ran out of energy to extend a kind word, an affectionate kiss and warm greeting to your husband?

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Psalm 90:10,12 tells us:
“As for our days, they contain 70 years or if due to strength, 80, but soon it is gone and will fly away. So teach us to number our days that we might present to you a heart of wisdom.”

Worst of all, is the neglect of our Father. He is so ready to give peace, to guide us in wisdom through His gentle voice, but if we do not still our souls, we are likely to get into a snit as Martha did. We create our own snits by refusing to take time to be comforted in the presence of our living, loving Father.

We must make time to sit at His feet so we don’t get into a huff. If you are too busy, the consequences will be grumpiness, frustration, and missed opportunities. (What is causing you the most stress and depleting your life? What can you do about it?)

Being women of wisdom means setting realistic goals so that we don’t become drained. When we are constantly operating on a tank of gas that is almost empty, we have little in our hearts from which others may draw. It is so easy to listen to the voices of others and feel the guilt of performing up to other’s expectations, instead of committing to the limitations and strengths of our own puzzle of life.

Make a list today of what you can reasonably accomplish and cut out those drainers that are unnecessary. What do you need to cut out? What do you need to add to your life to give your children more of a sense of love, peace and affection? Getting our priorities in order enables us to be better mothers, wives, friends, and women of God.

Today, each of has a choice–will we take time to celebrate the joys that God has provided? the beauty that He wants us to explore? The sweetness of intimacy that comes from investing heart time with those we love.

Take time to experience His pleasure. Remember: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

The chores and responsibilities will always be there, but the time to invest in the ones we love, will soon be gone.

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