Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Are you there?

This week we took one giant leap into boyhood and away from baby town. It's not that K couldn't have done it before now, but we, as his parents, have been slower to accept that he wants to be big. We finally removed his training wheels off of his bike to see what he could do. My son, who is a perfectionist, wanted to do it right the first time and got very frustrated when it did not happen as he thought it would. His first words to his father were, "I know how to do it. I can do it by myself." I videoed the whole interaction and quickly realized that this is probably how I often relate to God, our Heavenly Father. He is with me trying to help me. Trying to show me but I keep turning away saying, "I've got this...I know how..." All the while He stands by asking, "Are you done struggling? Are you ready to do it my way yet? How much longer will you waste your time figuring it all out while I stand here with the answer?"

Now K was successful by the end and also gave in to allow his father to help him but it wasn't until after he stomped around, threw his bike around, and let out a lot of frustrated "grrrs." It would have probably have been a lot more enjoyable journey if he just would have listened the first time. In our struggle of growing up spiritually, it would really benefit us to slow down and allow God to gently guide us.

The "Pro"

Life lessons

There are days I feel like a complete failure as a parent. Moments in time that I wish there was a "do over" button. Unfortunately, that does not exist and so I am relegated to praying that my child can see past all my faults. (That doesn't happen either...he usually points them out!) No one told me that at 5 years my son would know EVERYTHING and would have complete meltdowns if I tried to tell him otherwise. The last couple of weeks have created more grey hair than Clairol could ever cover. The perfect angel that most people see and know would turn in to a green hairy monster at home. Every night we would pray, read our Bibles, discuss how good decisions bring good things, and bad decisions bring bad things. Honestly, I thought that I wasn't going to make it out alive this time. However, today was the dawning of a new day. As I sat down with my son this morning he began to tell me that he wrote me a letter yesterday (mind you, he can't really write but that is okay). He told me that it was an "I'm sorry note." He said that he was thinking about how he had been acting and he wanted me to know that  he wanted to do better. At that point my husband walked into the room and told him to go get the note. After he left the room I asked my husband if he had helped him and he told me no that K had spent a lot of time quietly writing the note and he didn't even know what he was doing until after he was done. By that time K was back and this is what is says:

You can clearly make out Mom and Kayden, but he tells me that he was sad that he had hurt me by how he was acting and that he did not want me to feel like he didn't love me. He said that he wrote, "I love you mom and I will do better." (insert crying and angels singing here) Yes, I started crying and then I had an epiphany: I hadn't been on my best behavior either. I had raised my voice, become impatient, and even stopped him from telling me ONE MORE TIME about how he didn't want to do something. What kind of example did I set? I kept telling him to tell me what was making him act that way but I shut him down every time he started to express himself. So what did I do? I decided I would be honest with him too. I told him that I am human. I make mistakes. I am not perfect and I do not always make good choices like I should. I try but I also fail. I also would do better.

In teaching our children the all important life lessons sometimes we may actually learn a lesson or two ourselves.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Bluebonnet Boy


In Texas...it's a tradition.

Blessings in Barrenness

I started writing this entry May 2012 and it became a forgotten draft in the wake of my grandparents passing. I rediscovered it today, a year later, and felt that maybe it could still help someone...maybe...hopefully.

There are many Americans who either do not believe in a supernatural power (i.e. God) or, if they do, think that He created them and then walked away. Believing what I believe often labels me as weird or out of touch with reality. However, I want to share my opinion openly and with that I will take whatever criticisms come along, knowing that I am being true to myself. I am set to convince you that God is not only real but He is concerned with your everyday affairs.

I am not a fancy person who requires overt signs to determine what I believe. I believe because I have faith. I do feel that Christianity, in order to become more mainstream, has decided to shirk the wild unconventional elements of our faith instead of embracing them. Prophecy, though discredited in many circles today, has never been a requirement for me.  (Here goes the “crazy religious lady” stuff) Yes, there are people who are not true prophets. Yes, there are instances that prophecy is misused and twisted for man’s own agenda. However, true prophecy reveals God and His heart for His people. Prophecy confirms that He exists and He knows us. Why have we allowed this gift to go un-nurtured? My church believes and preaches the value of prophecy.  My husband and I happened to be the recipient of a prophetic word at our annual prophetic conference this week (May 2012) and it has ruined me. For one who did not require such grandeur, God really outdid Himself.

Three ministers, who did not know anything about us but our names spoke as if they had studied us our whole lives and knew the recesses of our hearts. So to increase the validation of their statements they wrote down their words before they even came to the meeting and gave it to us afterwards. There are so many things to process and digest out of what was said but I want to focus on one key point: a word that came about barrenness. Basically, the statement said that God gave me barrenness...now please do not get all theological on me...stay with me.

Take a moment. Think about it. What does the word “barren” mean to you? What comes to mind?
Desolate          Empty             Fruitless          Dry      Useless                        Wasteland
Incapable of Producing          Unprofitable               Habitual failure          Lack of Life
One of my favorite Bible verses, over the last 5 years, has become Isaiah 54:1-3.
Sing, barren woman, who has never had a baby. Fill the air with song, you who've never experienced childbirth! You're ending up with far more children than all those childbearing women." God says so! "Clear lots of ground for your tents! Make your tents large. Spread out! Think big! Use plenty of rope, drive the tent pegs deep. You're going to need lots of elbow room for your growing family. You're going to take over whole nations; you're going to resettle abandoned cities. Don't be afraid—you're not going to be embarrassed. Don't hold back—you're not going to come up short.

What has barren become to me?
Opportunity    Freedom from my own limitations      Increased Dependence on God for provision/life
Loss of things that were shallow (weeds) and deepened roots for the things that remain

Your probably thinking: Mandy, are you saying barrenness is better? By no means! For me, YES! Are you saying that everyone who struggles with infertility is MADE to be that way by God? No! What I am saying is bigger than that. You see God knew me from the foundation of the earth. He created me for a purpose beyond me. He made me barren because He trusted me with children who are alone. He knew I wouldn’t make that decision on my own. He knew I needed Him to make it clear. I have tried to help other people understand my contentment in this. I am settled. I am reconciled to it. Have I doubted myself? Yes, constantly. It's not normal. It's not accepted. It goes against the cultural beliefs we were raised with. When God spoke over me the word of barren I couldn’t contain my peace. I cried because in that moment I knew God, this all-powerful magnificent being, heard me and understood ME. What people could not comprehend, God made clear, it was of Him. Doctors could not explain and were dumbfounded that a healthy girl like me couldn’t conceive. What many see as a curse, I see as a blessing.

As I contemplated writing this personal blog post my child started singing..."Forever God is faithful, Forever God is strong, Forever God is with us, Forever and ever..."Tears once again started pouring as I realize I am walking out my divine plan. I will walk out my faith before my child(ren) so that may know God is faithful and He is near to them. He is concerned for them. He KNOWS them. He saw them in their loneliness and set them in a family.

Two things I want you to consider out of this. Two things I want you to see from a different point of view. One, your afflictions and trials are meant to be opportunities. Barrenness is not a social stigma or something to be ashamed of. I see it as a gift as some of you see birthing your child as a gift. Secondly, God KNOWS you. He created you. He has never stopped being present in your life. You may have removed yourself from Him but He never left you. He is waiting and is only a breath away from overwhelming you with His mercy and love. Prophecy is not a trick or a gimmick. It is an honest revelation that God is near.

In love,

Baseball Fever

We are in full SWING at the Mansell house. Every year, a little boy bounces up and down in anticipation of warmer weather, baseball cleats, and THE RANGERS! This year we were able to participate in Youth Baseball Day where the kids walk the big league field with their team. Here are a couple of pictures we snapped... 
Daddy and K standing in line, ready to walk the field.

A quick pic at home plate...not the best of me, I know.

My distracted child who was dreaming of playing ball on that BIG field.

He kept talking about wanting to play for the Rangers and getting on that field...

"Mom, look at the signs from down here...that's where the home runs go!"

Baseball...a sport that inspires dreaming, discipline, and determination for my son...SWING batter-batter, SWING!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Love VS Law

I had a major download into my spirit today after reading Deuteronomy 6 in The Message Bible. I have been feeling a need to read it for sometime but got "caught up" in a reading plan that I kept forgetting to stop and read this particular passage. If you haven't read this passage recently I encourage you to do so before continuing the reading of this blog (at least go get your Bible and read the parts I'm going to refer to).

To set the backdrop, the scriptures leading up to Deuteronomy 6 are about The Law (i.e. 10 Commandments). In chapter 6 we learn the "why" of the commandments. I don't know about you but when someone tells me to do something I will not put in a vested interest without a deeper meaning or explanation. The "why" is important to me. Here are some of my thoughts.

Israel had continued to be disobedient despite all the things God had done for them. They would be good for a while but their "hearts" were not committed to God. They never really left behind their old habits, old desires, old mindsets. They wandered around for 40 years while God patiently taught, corrected and waited on them to fall in love with Him (I know that's a "girlie" way of putting it but isn't that what devotion is?) He wanted them to live FOR Him without a "slave" mentality. However, that's sometimes how we view Him too. "All these rules. All these commandments. If I'm not a slave to one thing…I'm a slave to another." WRONG! Jesus even said, "The first commandment is this: Love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy. And here is the second: Love others as well as you love yourself." Mark 12: 29-31 Why these set of rules? Verse 2 in Deuteronomy 6 states, "this is so you'll live in deep reverence before God lifelong…you, you and your children…living good lives." Not just a surface commitment but a DEEP love, deep passion, deep reverence. One that is not shaken by outward circumstances. One that holds steadfast when temptation knocks on your door. One that relies of God fully.

Verse 3: "Listen obediently." There are two actions here: Listen and Obey. A lot of times we listen without a heart ready to obey. Think on that for a moment. A heart that is devoted is ready to obey. Don't get mad at me yet…I am building on a point (and NO I am not perfect!) Further in the same passage it emphasizes that God had already made provision, they were about to enter "a land abounding in milk and honey" but to live in that fully they (we) would have to listen and obey. It's not that the provision wasn't there but they couldn't attain to the abundance of it all without obedience; they (we) would be self-limiting. Continuing with that thought, verse 4 says, "God is the ONLY God." Do not take up false idols and distract yourself from God's provision. You will only harm yourself. The abundance God has provided will not be fully experienced because your actions, thoughts, wealth and attentions will be drawn elsewhere.

Verse 5: Everything, from the depths of you to the groaning of your soul, must be devoted/desirous of Him. Love Him wildly, passionately, and wholly. Not because He commands it but because YOU DESIRE IT. You have a free will, a choice. It is not love if it is demanded. The chapter then goes on to teach the Israelites how they could keep these thoughts ever before them. Remind yourself daily that God does not require anything from you except love and devotion. He is your God, your one and only God.

Vs 10-12: I love this amazing passage. It is a true mark of God's provision for all of us. He will take care of us. "Houses you didn't buy…wells you didn't dig…orchards you didn't plant…" WOW! Don't forget how you got these things. Not of your own hand, not because you were perfect, not because you followed the Law but merely because you have found favor in God's eyes. Why not devote yourself to the One who loves you so completely?

Vs 20-24: Why? We were slaves….God intervened and got us out. It is not by our power: "We STOOD there and WATCHED as GOD delivered miracle signs, great wonders…" Our own salvation we did NOTHING to earn it. He gave it freely. He did a miraculous wonder and we stood there, enslaved in our sin, and either accepted or denied His provision of freedom. Israelites who went along with the crowd and left their slavery but didn't have a heart change died in the desert because they either rejected or denied the fullness of the gift they had given. It is the same for us. You can confess with your mouth but you must also BELIEVE in your HEART to be saved. Notice that doesn't say brain, it says heart. Mentally it may make sense to believe but your hearts devotion must change. God commanded us so we would live reverently before Him, the One who gives us this good life. Serving God is not about fear of breaking a rule. Yes, sin separates BUT Christ died on the cross to cover all our sins. The "rules" are there to teach us how to love God and others. If our actions are motivated by love of Him and love of our neighbors then we ARE keeping His commands. I am grateful that in my imperfection God has made me righteous through Christ. In that I will live a long and abundant life.

No I do not live by the Law BUT because of the grace He has shown me by delivering me from "slavery" I will reverently obey His ways. It is out of gratefulness my soul submits, not obligation.

Moral of the story: Love Him from the deepest part of you, wildly and without abandon. Develop relationship NOT legalistic religion. He has made provision, step into it and don't be distracted by what the world offers you as a cheap imitation to replace His bounty.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mother's Day

Sunday will be a day of celebration for many women in the United States. It is a day we remember our mothers. The women who gave of themselves, often selflessly, to see that we were raised to be whatever our hearts wanted to be. Personally, I have a really awesome mom. She is truly my best friend and she is why I have become who I am. I also was gifted a really great mother-in-love as well. Because of their sacrifices and unconditional love my husband and I can raise a new generation of little ones who can achieve all that their heart desires as well. However, my heart is sad today for those who may feel loss this Mother's Day. Yes, many mothers may no longer be with us but I speak specifically of mothers in waiting today. I remember a time, not too far back, that I was waiting to be a mom. Friends my age already were mothers of multiple children while I was still waiting. Mother's Day celebrations were overshadowed by the reminder of what I didn't have. So, this Sunday I will stand with those mothers in waiting. I will not forget the struggle. I will not forget the sorrow or pain. I will lift you up to my Heavenly Father and I encourage you to open your Bible to this passage to say it aloud. This is His promise to you:

Isaiah 54:1-3 (The Message)

Sing, barren woman, who has never had a baby. 
   Fill the air with song, you who've never experienced childbirth!
You're ending up with far more children 
   than all those childbearing women." God says so!
"Clear lots of ground for your tents! 
   Make your tents large. Spread out! Think big!
Use plenty of rope, 
   drive the tent pegs deep.
You're going to need lots of elbow room 
   for your growing family.
You're going to take over whole nations; 
   you're going to resettle abandoned cities.

You may not hold a child in your arms or know what he/she may look like but you carry all your children in your heart. God is faithful.

With all my love,
(mother of many nations)