"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
James 1:2-4

The Gilland Family of 6!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Teaching our Children about Prayer…

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Romans 12:12
A friend recently asked me some advice about praying with her children.   Her little boys are 2 years old and she is a wise momma to want to know more about teaching her boys to pray.  Who? What? When? Where? And How? 
Teaching our children how to talk to God is one of the greatest gifts we can give them.   They will know that they are weak, but that He is strong.  They will know they are safe in his loving care because He is their protector.  They will know He forgives them when they ask and repent.   They will know He loves them because He is always there to hear them.
Here are some things that have worked well for our family:
·        We pray at all meals asking God to bless our food and thanking Him for providing it.  The first prayer my children learn is, “God, thank you for my food. Amen.”  We begin this prayer when they start talking.  My momma reminds me that my first prayer was, “Tata Jesus.” (Thank you Jesus).
·        We pray at bedtime.  From the moment my children have a bedtime routine, prayer is a part of it.  For a while it is us praying for them.  When our children are very little maybe 2 years old, we start having them repeat after us.   They quickly catch on.  When they are older we both pray.  Meaning they pray and then either Doug or I pray.  I sometimes sneak back in their rooms and pray over them while they are sleeping.  It is a precious time that I treasure.
·        We use several reminders as a “call to prayer.”  These all usually take place in the car.  For every red light we come to we pray for the 147 million orphans in the world.  For every McDonald’s or advertisement for we see for it we pray for daddy.  When we hear an ambulance or fire truck siren we pray for the people who are affected.   I have vivid memories as a little girl riding in the car with my momma and praying.  From generation to generation…
·        When we hear that someone is sick or hurt, we pray for them immediately.  When one of my children falls and skins their knee or gets hurt, we pray right then for healing and comfort.  I want my kids to call on the “Great Physician” for their healing, comfort and peace. 
·        We pray for the nations of the world.  For example right now we are praying for Libya with our children.   The website operationworld.24-7prayer.com is a great online prayer resource.
·        We are teaching them to have a heart of praise.  I want my children to know that when we pray we are not always asking God for something.  We want to give God all the praise, glory and adoration that He alone deserves.  It’s a fun thing for my kids to open up the sunroof of our car and praise the Lord.  Also, when the weather is nice we go outside and the children shout their praises to God!  Psalm 8:2 says, “Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.”
Above all else I am trying to teach my children that we pray at all times for all things…that we are in constant communication with God.  I’m praying they will learn this as they see Doug and I living it out. 
We are teaching them that God turns His ear to hear their precious voices talking to him and that he answers prayer!  It has been so sweet to see their response when God does answer prayer.  We have in the past couple of years prayed for a baby for two friends.  God answered that prayer by giving both of them a baby, one through adoption, the other biologically.  We celebrated God’s goodness and faithfulness in all our lives as we celebrated the gift of those babies.  
But they have also learned that God sometimes answers our prayers in ways we don’t understand.  Like when we’ve prayed for healing for someone sick and instead of them receiving healing on earth they are healed when they meet Jesus face to face.  We still celebrated, because God is always good and always faithful!
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:18
What are some ways that your family has experienced prayer together?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Extreme Makeover: Heart Edition

We are getting close to the final stretch of this pregnancy, so we are working hard to get projects completed around the house.  Before we had children, Doug and I loved working around the house and yard.  Now, there is just not enough time for “extra” projects.  There is barely enough time for all the necessary things: cooking, laundry, dishes, baths, hugs and kisses!
We moved some of the children around to different rooms in preparation for Baby Jack’s arrival in April.  Next we will be painting, putting up a door, and building some built in book shelves for our ever growing library.
This past weekend I decided to rearrange the garage because it needed some major help!  First of all we have so many bikes, balls and scooters that they are taking over the garage.  Secondly, we need it to serve as a storage room and pantry, as well as the garage.  So it desperately needed a remodel!
At the same time this past weekend I started reading a truly amazing, life changing book (Radical, I’ll blog about it later).  There were so many times while reading that my mind drifted to my garage makeover and couldn’t help but compare that to the makeover God has done and still wants to do in my heart.  There is sin that needs to be carved out of my heart.  There are priorities that need to be shifted.  There are some ideas I have about my life that need to be adjusted to align with God’s heart.
Remodeling projects take a lot out of us.  They are also “costly” - physically, emotionally and financially.  This is true with both our house and our heart. 
But here is some Good News for us today.
“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him…” 2 Chronicles 16:9.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Real Women Who Find Real Rest

I recently met with a group of fabulous friends to pray for 2011, our husbands, children, and whatever else was on our hearts that we wanted to lay before God’s throne.  It was a beautiful time as we experienced the presence of Jesus. There was peace and power and such love.
So what else happens when 7 women get together alone? We talk, laugh and cry!  We sat in a circle on the floor together and went around sharing about what was going on in our lives, what happened in 2010 and what we were trusting God for in 2011.  There were lots of tears as we all allowed ourselves to be truly vulnerable. 
At the core of who we are, we all have the same needs and hurts.  We have relationships that deeply need restoration that only God can bring.  We all have physical needs that we are trusting God to heal.  We all have heartbreak that only the love of Jesus can redeem. 
I think it is so important for women to know that no one has a perfect life.  No one has a perfect husband, perfect children or a perfect walk with the Lord.  Because we are not perfect!  We are sinful people that desperately need Jesus every second of every day.  Some of us try to look like we have it all “together.”  That charade is exhausting!
This past Sunday our family had a very stressful morning getting to church and then getting our 3 children in their separate classrooms.   As we were waiting for the elevator some precious friends walked up and said “Hey, How are y’all?”  I quickly responded, “Hey, we are GREAT!”  What? No we weren’t.  As I spoke the words to them I was holding back tears, but we went on to Bible Study all the same.  At the end of class another dear friend approached me and said, “Hey, How are you?”  I burst into tears without uttering one word.  She hugged me and loved me and waited patiently. When I was able to talk, I told her what was going on.  I immediately felt better.  Nothing had changed.  My circumstances were the same.  When I was real with myself, my friend and Jesus about the burden I was carrying I was able to give it all to Him.  I then found real rest in God alone! 
As I have thought back on my time of prayer with my friends for 2011, I have smiled in thanksgiving, but God has shown me something else. I don’t always live my life resting in His presence.  I tote around heavy burdens instead of allowing God to carry my load (Matthew11:28).    
What burdens are you toting around?  Maybe today is the first time you decide to let your guard down and not only be “real” with those around you, but with Jesus who wants to carry all your burdens for you.   I’m praying that you will find peace, joy and rest as you live as a “real” woman of faith today!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Blessings and Broken Hearts

While I was praying with Mary Mac recently she put blessings and broken hearts together in a beautiful way.
"Thank you God for my Legos. Thank you for my family. Thank you God for my pillow pet. Thank you for my beautiful home. Thank you for baby Jack in my mommy's tummy. Thank you for all the people in our world that you love that are sick or hurt or scared or hungry...be with them God..." 

Then she looked at me and said, "Mommy, that just breaks God's heart… and mine."  

Absolutely precious!

I am so thrilled that 4-year-old Mary Mac understands that all blessings are from God!!!  Like the old hymn says, Count your blessings name them one by one, count your blessings see what God has done! 

But Mary Mac did more than just remember her blessings.  She remembered those people that don’t enjoy the blessings that our family has received from God. She connected with the love of God and remembered those things that are breaking His heart.

So what breaks the heart of God?

Some things that come to my mind are...
1.  Our sin
2.  The millions of people in the world that don't know the good news of Jesus
3.  The millions of people that are lonely and hungry, not only for food but for love, security and salvation. 

Dear God,
Thank you for all the blessings in my life.  Instead of asking for more blessings today, I want to bless you by connecting my heart with your heart for hurting people. Precious Father, help me to know how to use my blessings as a blessing to others….


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Car Rides and Christ!

Welcome! This is my first blog post ever! I’m praying God would somehow use my everyday experiences to speak to you.  May you be blessed, encouraged and challenged by what God reveals to you!  Here we go!!!

As a mom of 3 almost 4 children, we spend lots of time in the car driving between school, swim lessons, ballet, basketball practice, running errands and church activities.  It has become the place where we have some of our greatest talks about Jesus.  When we pray for there to be teachable moments about God in the lives of our children we don't know when or where those might take place.  But, I welcome them whenever and wherever!!!

This morning was no different.  Everyone was loaded in the minivan, including me with my large cup of coffee, headed to pre-school to drop off my two oldest.   We have been dealing with some spiritual warfare in our home lately.  I think it’s important to realize that our children are not immune from spiritual attacks.  I want my children to be aware that there is a real battle going on and that they are in it too.  Obviously I don’t ever want to put fear in them!  So this morning on the way to school our conversation somehow landed on Satan and then how Jesus will have final victory over him.

“Mommy, who is Satan?” George asked to start our conversation.  I told them some of the other names of Satan: the devil, the accuser, the great dragon and Lucifer.  When I said that Lucifer was his name when he was an angel before he was banished from heaven, Mary Mac very excitedly yelled from the backseat, “Lucifer is Cinderella’s stepmother’s cat!”  It was hilarious!  This first question lead us down the road to…Why was Satan banished from heaven?, Can Satan hurt me?, Can Jesus kick Satan’s butt?  Umm, a little inappropriate I thought at first. This is a word we don’t use in our family, but at that moment, in that context I said, “Yes, Jesus has and will again kick Satan’s butt!”  I could hardly believe what I had said!  I told them about the lake of fire (Revelation 20:13-15) and how one day Jesus will have final victory over Satan and that he will be defeated forever and that Jesus will finally reign as the King of Kings!!!  That is so exciting and encouraging to me!  And I could see that was how they felt as well!

The hard thing about having these conversations in the car or on the go is that I don’t always feel ready with the best response.  It’s such a reminder that even with my children I need to be prepared to always give an answer. (1 Peter 3:15)  If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have the answer, pray and ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and for words to say.  Then later when you have time, find out the answer and go back to your child.

Here are some practical ways to talk with your children about Satan, the battle we are all in as believers and the victory that Jesus will have over him:

1.      Teach them Ephesians 6:10-17.  Have them draw their own armor.  Tell them that they are “mighty warriors” of God!

2.      Remind them that if they have Jesus in their hearts that they have the resurrection power of Jesus in them!  (Ephesians 1:19-21) 

3.      Teach them about the power, the greatness and the glory of God.  Jeremiah 10:12, Psalm 145:11, Psalm 62:11-12

The words from Chris Tomlin’s song “Our God” are so great and super easy for children to learn.  It’s also helpful to put hand motions with the song!

Our God is greater
Our God is stronger
God, You are higher than any other
Our God is healer
Awesome in power
Our God, our God

And if our God is for us
Then who could ever stop us
And if our God is with us
Then what could stand against
Counting it all JOY,