This. Is. It!

Ray Of Light

(FreeImages.com/CarterPerrier)

I love it when God removes the “blinders” and reveals truth to me!  The interesting thing is that often it’s truth I have known in my head but somehow didn’t really understand and/or believe it, meaning live it.

Remember, what you believe is what you live.

It’s interesting how “old truth” suddenly becomes “new truth” when you finally really “see” it!

That’s how it was for me when I realized anew the truth of the following insights God was revealing to me — truths I had “known” before but not really knew.

For example, I blogged previously how God showed me that faith isn’t something God quantifies; it’s something we simply need to have, and that it’s the Object of our faith — God Himself — that is the Source of our faith.  We can’t produce authentic, powerful faith through our own ability to muster up faith.  We have faith as a result of knowing our God — Who He is.

Secondly, I have come to treasure prayer and to view it as the amazing privilege it is — the opportunity to partner with God in His work in another person’s life and the incredible privilege it is to communicate with God.

I used to think prayer was me, naming off a bunch of requests to God and hoping He would choose to answer some of them the way I wanted or thought they should be answered.

I grew to understand that prayer involved some worship of God.  I remember trying to “tack on” a few worshipful-sounding words in order to meet a higher level of spirituality, or so I hoped.  Sounds really shallow, doesn’t it?!!  To be honest though, my prayer life was often exactly that — shallow.

My prayer life was shallow though because my understanding and therefore relationship with God was more shallow. 

It’s hard to pray to One that you don’t know that intimately, don’t really grasp that His love is unconditional and not affected by performance, and don’t really trust. 

The power of prayer is the One to Whom we are praying.

The problem is we so often don’t really understand God, or our thoughts about Him are based upon misconceptions, twisted truths, and harmful misrepresentations.

I recently read the following quote in the book, Wonder Struck:

The wonder of prayer is rediscovered in Who we are speaking to.

— Margeret Feinberg

Reminds me what God showed me about faith.  Once again, it’s the recipient of our prayers and His interaction with me because of Who He is that makes prayer so vital and so incredible!  It’s not the words, in themselves, that make prayer so powerful.

Prayer is so incredible because it is the opportunity to speak to God or as the following quote says:

“Prayer is the opportunity to bend the ear of God.” — Margaret Feinberg

It’s a big deal because of Who God is!  He isn’t some conniving, selfish, evil, uncaring God.  He is a God who longs to hear our voices, especially when they are lifted in awareness of Him.

Have you ever sat with someone and experienced their inattention or complacency?  It’s not exactly pleasant or satisfying.

A lot of prayer life consists of mumbled phrases thrown out to appease a false view of a vindictive God.

A prayer life is transformed though when we begin to see the amazing and incredible gift it is — an opportunity to commune with an ever-present, ever-loving, ever-powerful God!!!  It is an opportunity to be heard by God but also to hear from God.

This brings me to a third truth.  I read the following quote recently and loved it:

“Hope is confident expectation.”  (Not sure in which devotional I read it.)

Do you see that?!!!  Hope is confident expectation in Who?  The power of hope is in Who the expectation is!  Hope isn’t lasting or “powerful” because it’s something we just randomly possess or stir up in ourselves.  Hope is a powerful emotion that comes from a powerful Source. 

It’s the Source of the hope — what we are expecting or looking to — that determines the resilience and strength of our hope.

As I was pondering the above truths, I was thinking how all kinds of other emotions I can think of owe their power and passion to their source.  If it’s a good source, it can be a good emotion.  If it’s a negative source — a reaction, fear, or bitterness — it can be an emotion that wreaks great destruction.

I couldn’t help but ponder that the authentic reality of truth, love, peace, joy, grace, wisdom, life, hope, faith, and prayer all owe their power to the object or source of their existence: God Himself.

It really is that simple!

This is why I have experienced the pure, authentic fullness of these characteristics only in the Presence of God Himself.

You can pursue peace, purpose, and joy outside of God, but I can personally tell you, it won’t last, and it is only a shallow representation of the authentic reality of knowing the Divine Source!

The secret therefore to the full life is knowing the God of life.  The secret to the above three characteristics is knowing God — truly knowing God.  In order to do that, it may mean laying aside all the false ideas and harmful representations of God so you can finally meet the reality of God Himself.

Additional Notes: 

As I was contemplating these truths further while washing my dishes, it “struck me.”  We often think that people who don’t believe in God don’t believe in God because they are lacking faith or because they are rebellious.  What shattered that pre-conceived idea for me is that just as I need to understand God is my Source of the abundant life so it is with the “unbeliever.”  Perhaps, the person who doesn’t believe in God isn’t about his/her lack of faith at all but more about his/her lack of understanding or false understanding of God.

In other words, how can you believe in One that you think is angry, harsh, uncaring, vindictive, and selfish?  It’s easier to pretend He doesn’t exist than that He does but could be those things.

It is a wrong view of God that is the biggest hindrance to a person’s ability to trust in God.  How can you trust in One you don’t believe loves you unconditionally, perfectly, and eternally?

Rather than telling people they need to have faith, maybe we need to be telling them and showing them more what our God is truly like — not a man-made version of a god but God Himself.  That may mean, we first need to get to know Him more intimately ourselves.

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Sufficiency

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I awoke this morning and began my day my favorite way: a Bible in my lap, my journal, two devotional books, a pen, and a study book.

I kept it simple this morning: read from the two devotional books, glanced at the study book and closed it back up, read a chapter in II Corinthians, prayed, listened for what God wanted to teach me, and then journaled some thoughts.

These are the simple but profound truths, I believe, He wanted me to hear from Him today  (Journal Entry):

I prayed to surrender myself to God for the start of the day.  Felt the Lord challenging me, “Are you surrendering yourself to me?  Then why are you holding onto your cares?”  (I was stressing over some concerns for my day — wondering how I was going to accomplish everything I need to do today.)

The theme of my life in 2015 seemed to be surrender — learning the profound and beautiful truths of surrendering to God — what that looks like and how it happens.

I try to start my days with a simple prayer, telling God that I surrender myself to Him, to be used by Him, and to be empowered by His Presence as I go about my day.

God, though, this morning was challenging me that when I am worrying, stressing, fearing, I am not surrendered.

To surrender is to let go.

How do I let go of those things that worry me?  The question is, “Why do you feel you need to hold onto those things?”  If you are holding onto something, you are in essence believing that you have to protect that thing, that you can’t trust those things with anyone else — even more importantly, with God.

To surrender is to trust in the all-sufficiency of Christ.

A thought that stood out to me in my one devotional this morning was the idea of contentment and how that relates to trusting in Christ’s sufficiency.

Here’s what I journaled:

At the heart of a lack of contentment [and fear] is not understanding or believing in the sufficiency of God — His provision, protection, presence, power, and peace.

That’s it, isn’t it?!!

Contentment comes from a personal belief in the sufficiency of God — that He is the Great “I Am”!  He revealed Himself to the Israelites as the “I Am,” meaning, “Everything they needed, He is and will provide.”

God directed me to read from the following passage in Scripture:

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I feel this was God’s personal encouragement to me, following a heart cry for Him to deliver us from some present trials.  I knew the lie was coming that God wasn’t powerful enough, didn’t care enough, or my faith wasn’t enough.

Instead, God led me to the truth in this Scripture.  God spoke the following thoughts to my heart:

As I was reading II Cor. 12:9-10, I felt God was showing me that in the areas He answered my requests with a “no” — in regards to my own weaknesses and some personal challenges we are facing — that He was telling me it’s so that in our weaknesses we come to rely on His sufficiency, and we experience the intimacy of the personal reality of it.

Let me restate that…

In our weaknesses, we come to rely on His sufficiency, and we experience the intimacy of the personal reality of it.

Doesn’t that change the entire way we view our struggles, weaknesses, and trials?  It doesn’t minimize our challenges, sorrows, and suffering, but it does give us the hope — that as our bodies grow weaker, our spiritual lives can grow stronger; as our circumstances grow more challenging, our spiritual lives can find greater vitality and fullness; and as earthly sorrows threaten to crush us, the immeasurable glories of the reality of the eternal can produce within us the peace and joy that passes all understanding.

The immeasurable glories of the reality of the eternal God can produce within us the peace and joy that passes all understanding!

How Understanding Our Position Secures Our Victory

(http://www.freeimages.com/photo/conqueror-1410207)

As Christians, we have this amazing opportunity to walk in victory and freedom — in Christ!  So often though, we do the opposite.  Why is that?

I believe it’s because we don’t understand our position in Christ.  We lose perspective, and we begin to falter.

The truth is quite simple.

We are overcomers because He overcame!

Our position is in Christ, and as such, we inherit what He has! 

Jesus said the disciples should get excited that their names were registered in heaven, because that meant the grounds of their authority were secured through God’s throne — His kingdom — and that’s why the power of hell could not prevail against them.

— Jack Hayford

We can speak with “authority” so long as we are speaking His words.

We can walk in confidence, which means in faith, because He is completely trustworthy.

The following verses are some great words of encouragement, reminding us of who we are in Him and what we have in Him:

Ephesians 1:14

14 who[a] is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

Ephesians 1:18

18 the eyes of your understanding[a] being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

Colossians 1:12

12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.

Hebrews 1:4

having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

Hebrews 9:15

15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

1 Peter 1:3-4

A Heavenly Inheritance

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,

Let’s walk in the victory Christ won for us and in faith because Faithful is He who called us!

Finding Satisfaction

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(Free stock photo: http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=659478&searchId=6cad826248cd3f4e93da71e7b49928e3&npos=9.)

We are only two weeks into the new year, and my thoughts have been on goals, hopes, and dreams.

A new year frequently spurs people on a new trajectory or encourages new momentum on a recurring goal.

Yet when I pondered all the dreams, hopes, and goals we have as humans, I couldn’t help but think that they all point to the same end…

I remember as a girl, having dreams of being the object of a wonderful man’s love and desire.  A beautiful wedding. Marriage.  Babies.  It all sounded so wonderful!

Being mommy meant chubby cheeks, blowing kisses, hearing “Mama”, and getting slobbery kisses.  I pictured all the cuteness and thought that I would be the “perfect” mom and my kids would be little images of “perfection.”  Why not?  No one dreams about the messes, temper tantrums, and sleepless nights.

We have other hopes and dreams too.  Traveling.  Physical fitness.  A bigger house.  Pretty things.  For women, we might think new additions to our wardrobe will make the difference.

All of these things satisfy for a time so we will often return to the things that satisfied us before in order to keep the sense of euphoria going.

This is the origin of many mid-life crises.  The old is no longer as exciting so we look for a newer, younger, more passionate version.

The old house is no longer as “big” and appealing as it was at first so we look for a bigger, more extravagant home.

Our home town is not the exotic center for excitement so we travel to destinations in distant locations.

Most of these things are fine in themselves.  The problem is when we are chasing after these things in order to either “run from” the things that intimidate us or when we are pursuing these things in order to find a lasting sense of “being”or satisfaction and joy.

As a woman, I have been guilty of ever so often wanting to shop for new additions to my wardrobe or a few new items to decorate my home in order to give me a sense of happiness.  The issue is not with the items; the issue is my desired outcome: happiness from these things.

The truth is beauty fades, strong muscles atrophy into frailty, our health gives out eventually, relationships take work and commitment, clothing wears and so do homes, styles come and go, “familiarity breeds contempt,” the kids grow up and leave the nest, spouses age and eventually die. At some point, it all ends or diminishes.

Nothing in this life is permanent.

It is a grim picture, but it’s not when you find something that is eternal and completely satisfying.

The one thing that remains eternal and transcends the earthly is the supernatural.  This is why there is within us all a desire for something greater, eternal, supernatural.  We all want to know that at some point, we will finally reach a place where we can find “rest,” permanent satisfaction, and joy.

I believe that place is what God promises in the Bible as our eternal and final dwelling: a place with Him.

What comfort it is to know that we can dream, anticipate, and hope for something that is assured to all those who believe and receive this gift.  It is the gift of salvation, the gift of son-ship and daughter-ship, the gift of eternal life, the gift of lasting peace, the gift of victory…

May 2016 be a year where we look not to the temporal to satisfy the eternal longings and needs of our souls.  May it be a year where we discover or persevere in an unshakable faith in an eternal inheritance of life, love, peace, and joy, found in Jesus Christ.

Romans 10:9-11

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”[a]

Romans 5:21

21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 John 2:25

25 And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.

1 John 5:11

11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

1 John 5:13

13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life,[a] and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

Revelation 21:1-6

All Things Made New

21 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John,[a] saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me,[b] “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

And He said to me, “It is done![c] I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.

2016 Soul Food

I am so blessed!  This is the north shore of Lake Tahoe on the way from Tahoe City to Reno.
I used the "dusk" setting on my Nikon digital camera and in Photoshop, I upped the lightness and contrast a bit.  Here's a p...

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=19084&searchId=635828f397ff80825e1a86d9ad9f4b17&npos=12)

The following quote/goal list is borrowed from Ann Voskamp’s blog, A Holy Experience.  Read her blog for the entire post: http://www.aholyexperience.com/2015/12/this-is-the-year-when-new-year-resolutions-feel-hopeless-you-want-some-soulutions-free-printable.  Feel free to print out her printable and make your own goals.  (Thank you, Ann Voskamp!)

2016. This is The Year
I purpose to —

* Embrace Imperfect.

This is The Year to be held by the arms of grace, not to any standard of perfection.

* Engage Silence — not screens.

This is The Year to engage silences regularly & retreat to the “back side of the wilderness.” Because when you do not need to be seen or heard — you can see and hear in desperately needed ways.

You find your true self when you look for your reflection in the eyes of souls — and not the glare of screens.

* Be still.

Be small. Be Loved. Beloved.

Let yourself be loved anyway He wants to love you. God is always, always good & you are always, always, always. loved.

Be still …. & know.

* Believe in Him for impossABLE things.

Believe in Him who makes the ridiculously impossible into the miraculously possible,
the unbelievable into the you-better-believe-it,
the never into the now.
Be the brave people who pray it bold in the space between the end of one year & the beginning of a New Year: BUT GOD.

“Ours is the God who whispers: “With Me nothing, Nothing, NOTHING is impossible.
Believe in Him for impossABLE things — because as long Emmanuel, God is with us & we are with God: nothing is impossible.

Believe in Him for improbable, implausible, impractical, impossABLE things.

* Break idols — or they will break you.

Break free, break out of ruts, break idols — or they will break you.

* Daily 3 for 10:

These 3 for 10 everyday: Word In. Work Out. Work Plan.
It’s not what you do every now and then, but what you do everyday, that changes everything.

Word in: Get into God’s Word for 10 minutes and let it get into you.
Work out: Work out. Even 10 minutes of moving is better than nothing.
Work plan: Write out the Work Plan — even just 3 things. And then just start: 10 minutes working the plan.

* Do Less. Pray More.

More than your doing hands, God wants your bended knees.

* Let Go of the Outcome.

Come completely committed to the process — and completely let go of the outcome.
In the middle of things seemingly not working out for us —- God is working out something in us.

* Learn Endurance.

Do Hard & Holy Things. Break the idols of ease — or they will break you.

* Live Given.

Because #LoveGives.
Because God so loved He gave.
Because Living is Giving.

* Give

It
Forward
Today — 3 times a day.
Give It Forward Today & be the #GIFT — give an act of grace forward, 3 times a day. Be a #GIFTivst
It’s the Giftivists are the activists who believe that radical acts of generosity counter radical acts of inhumanity. #GIFTivst

* Grow Brave. Grow in Grace

Grow Brave. Grow in Grace. Which is basically the same thing.

Hope

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(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=2739393&searchId=6cad826248cd3f4e93da71e7b49928e3&npos=58)

Hope… One word that we all need.

Some possess it and some are seking futilely for it.

The key to finding hope is perhaps best answered in the following questions:

  • In what do I hope?  Is my hope in circumstances, in feelings, in my ability to cope, in people, in things, in places, in promotions, in jobs?  All of those things are temporary and changeable.  There is no security in that which is situationally-shifting
  • In Whom do I hope?  Do I hope in a god that only promises “peace” if people, places, circumstances, feelings, and the environment are pleasant?  Do I hope in a god that only offers a paradise or rewards, based on how I perform?  Do I hope in a god that lived decades or centuries ago and is now dead?  Do I hope in a capricious god that cares not for the individual follower? There is no substratum of hope from a god that has no ability to offer life —  spiritual and eternal life.  There is no sanctuary of hope in a god that does not personally care for each individual.

If our hope is in a God who loves us perfectly because He is righteous and just, then we can rest in Him — even when circumstances around us are anything but peaceful.  There are the valleys and the “shadowlands” of life, but if we have a solid hope, rooted in a solid faith in a true and loving God, then we can have hope.

In what or Whom do you hope? 

Psalm 37:3-6

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.

Psalm 31:24

24 Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart,
All you who hope in the Lord.

Ephesians 3:16-21

16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,

21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

 

For The Desperate Mom

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I finally finished reading the book, Desperate, by Sarah Mae & Sally Clarkson.  I found the book so beneficial that I bought two more copies and mailed them to friends.  My copy of the book has notes all over the margins.  There are so many paragraphs and sentences underlined.  Many stars and exclamation marks decorate the book as well.  I don’t normally mark up my books so this book definitely made an impression on me — a very good one.

I wanted to include some more quotes from the book, taken from the last two chapters I read.  If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it.

“Having little ones is a season … children, Lord-willing, do grow up.”

“A mama’s primary domain is her home. …your first and main purpose is to deeply invest in the souls He’s given you, and you will struggle immensely if you do not have resolve regarding your role as a mother.”

“…there is nothing more important or sacred than being an intentional mother whose time is focused in the home.”

“Give in to your season of life. … the more you allow yourself to be fully and completely invested in the discipling of your children, the less defeated you will feel.”

“…the forming of their souls is a hard, long-distance race.”

“The work of motherhood was the way He wanted me to serve and love Him.  I have always found my source for this inspiration in the way Jesus was willng to lay aside His life to serve and love His disciples and those around Him, and to invest in their lives.”

“…are you choosing in your life to cling to God’s goodness and instruction in righteousness?  Is your heart turned toward Him in a posture of trust and submission, as an earthly child to your heavenly parent?  Is your own soul being formed by His Word and the power of the Holy Spirit?  The call to train up a child is more than a one-time choice; it is a day-to-day, long-term commitment to shape your children, the greatest gift that God has given you stewardship over.  The attitudes and choices you practice now in your day-to-day walk will determine your ability to endure the distance in your ideals.”

“…develop a heart of contentment and trust in God’s faithfulness.”

“…turn your heart toward joy, and celebrate the goodness that God brings into all parts of your life.”

“…engage your heart in God’s grace.’

“….seek to love them and to see the potential in them, knowing that in whomever God begins a work, He will be faithful to complete it in His time.”

“…turn your heart toward being faithful to the end, knowing that God will never leave or forsake you in your journey.”

“…a mother … a warrior who will not give up or cease to keep fighting the battle for her children’s souls.”

“Your labor is not in vain.”

“…overcoming is always rewarded with great blessing.”

“…God wants us to be those who prevail, who are willing to engage in the fight and to hold fast, waiting for His blessing.”

“…don’t measure your worth to God by the times you fail.”

“He is committed to helping me grow.”

“…faith is the key element of the power behind my commitment to be a good mom.”

“He weaves the beautiful thread of redemption through the pattern of your life.”

“…to live within the limitations of your own family puzzle in such a way that cooperates with your personality and with the gifts God has given you.  There is no one ‘right way’ or formula to follow for every family, mother, or child.  Live in the freedom of faith and the abundant life Jesus came to provide.  Understand that children are a gift.”

“…seek to enjoy your children and love them and you will be happier…”

“Filling my mind with truth is the attitude adjustment I usually need.”

“God is the only who can meet your needs.”

“Begin and end your day with prayer.”

“Pray for your husband and children.”

“Cultivate a heart of gratitude.”

“Do not practice comparing your life or limitations to others.  What you water the most is what will grow, and the weeds of a whining spirit will choke your own joy.”

“Create a cheerful atmosphere.”

“There’s nothing like living day to day with children to show you exactly where your own soul still needs work!”

“When you see motherhood as your service of worship to Him and that how you treat your children is your obedience to Him, it gives more importance to treating your children as He would.”

“Remember, training and maturity take time.”

“…give them a foundation of security in their relationship with you…”

“…loving my children, and my husband, was more about my choosing to love them and to extend God’s grace every moment I could decide to do that, and not an issue of how I felt.”

“…failure does not ever have to define us.  Failure and pain become foundations for wisdom and understanding and strength to face life’s battles.”

“…discipline is an issue of training, little by little, year after year.”

“Children are more likely to respond to discipline if they feel loved and affirmed.”

“…many moms try to micromanage every single behavioral issue with their children and feel a need to win every battle, especially when they are young.”

“I should have enjoyed my kids instead of worrying whether I was always doing it right.”

“Do not expect it to be static [the home environment], and you will not be as impatient.  This is a home first, and homes have life and the swaying of days and growth and love.”

“…it is never too late for Christ to change things around in the lives of our children.”

“Choose words that heal, bring life, and empower those in your life.”

These were such excellent thoughts and advice!  They were so timely, following a stressful situation with a son at soccer practice.  It was so encouraging to know that I can kindly and firmly enact consequences, but that I can also remember that such challenging moments don’t define our children permanently nor our success as a parent.  Rather, it is those moments that give us opportunity to walk by faith, to walk in grace, and to walk with unconditional love towards our children.  May desperation no longer define us!