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August 30, 2018

Lengthen and Strengthen

In Isaiah 54 God instructs us to spread out our tent, to lengthen our cords and strengthen our tent stakes.  As school begins, I see multiple Facebook posts from parents having to lengthen the cords as their children grow and enter Kindergarten, start to drive or leave for college.  Parents look forward to the empty nest time only to be much surprised by the myriad of emotions they experience.

When Randy and I were first married, we cried out to God that He would use our family as a battle ax in His hand to aggressively advance His Kingdom. Like many others, fell on our face before God asking how to be good parents.  Throughout the years I have reminded myself that God loves my kids more than I do, even when that seems impossible to comprehend.  He not only loves them, but He perfectly loves them. It was during one of those prayers; I realized Randy, and I don’t own our kids, we are stewards of THE Father.

One of those proud moments of stewarding my kids well was when my kids were 16, 13, and 10, our family attended a large mission’s conference. During the meeting, the leader asked, “who would make a stand to chase after God and go even to the hard places?” Because my kids were all sitting with various friends, I quickly scanned the crowd for my children. Proudly, I found each of them standing to make their own commitment. I smile, even now, as I remember little Hannah standing on a chair to be seen in the crowd. At this moment, my heart was bursting with the realization that Randy and I had done an excellent job to instill in them a passion for the Great Commission. But, our good Father was stirring something inside me as well. He revealed another element of stewarding our kids well. He had me stand as a declaration I would not allow my momma heartstrings to trip them up in their obedience to God.

Now, fast forward with me to July 2018.  As a family, we purposed through the blessing of frequent flyer miles to vacation together in Kauai.  This vacation would be one of the last times in the next 18 months we would all be together.  We all found ourselves in positions of significant change.

Randy and I had sold our home without ever putting it on the market.  We packed and moved as soon as I had returned from a PI trip to Macedonia. Within three weeks, we moved into a three bedroom apartment with my dad and four dogs as we wait for our home to be built.

Hannah had returned from a very challenging first year of teaching in East Texas to be employed to teach at Lubbock Cooper, and she helped lead a mission trip in the Czech Republic.  She and her puppy were also living with us in the apartment until she could close on her new home that was under construction.

Boone and Bethany had just returned from leading the trip to the Czech Republic. They were in the process of clarifying what God was doing in and through them in the Valley Region of Texas.

Josiah and Brandi had sold all their belongings, moved into a one bedroom apartment in the same complex as ours with their dog while finalizing all the details of moving to Poland.

We were all tired, yet God was moving. But, how was I to love without tripping them up? How do I steward well in this season? My pillow was wet with tears more than once.  I want to be a good mom.  I want all the kids to chase hard after God.  But, what is all this supposed to look like with my momma-heartstrings pulled tightly?

God reminded me of the battle ax prayer Randy and I prayed so many years ago and how He has been intimately involved in all our kids’ lives.  When Josiah was 13 years old, Zibi, the pastor who Josiah and Brandi are going to serve, came to Abilene and slept in Josiah’s room.  While in junior high, Josiah traveled with Randy to Krakow, Poland. God reminded me that Josiah, who collected swords and such, bought a battle ax in Krakow that year! And now, Krakow, Poland, is to be the new home for Josiah and Brandi.

God softly comforted my heart that the cords are to be lengthened and strengthened. Our family has five tent pegs God continues to drive into our hearts. These tent pegs are meant to be steadfast and immovable. So, we gathered in the living room of our vacation home in Kauai. We prayed. We prophesied. We encouraged each other.  At that moment I realized that our kids can build on and tether to these tent pegs and go further than Randy and I in the Kingdom because the center pole of our tent is steadfast in Jesus!

What are the tent pegs of your family? I encourage you to ask the Lord to reveal to you the areas that build the steadfast characteristics of your family.

But what about the cords? God showed me a picture:  my heartstrings were being attached to each tent, one in Krakow, one in McAllen and one in Lubbock.  But they only connected to the center pole because each canopy was stretching out over their cords and driving down their own tent pegs.  But instead of my heart-strings getting thinner and stretched, they were getting stronger and thicker through prayer and stewarding in a new season of transition.