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Are We Passing On the Torch of Faith & Prayer to the Next Generation?

I am preparing to leave for the She Speaks Conference this week. Therefore I’ve decided to re-post one of my most popular posts. This post first appeared on December 12, 2011.

Today I’ve got a lot on my mind. It’s Monday, and as on most Mondays I take time to fast and pray for my children. I started doing this the week after my oldest daughter moved out almost three years ago. It was a very hard time in my life. Having watched my Dad fast and pray all his life, I decided to start this as well. It’s been a learning curve, I must tell you. But the lessons I’ve learned from Mondays are priceless.

The reason I’ve got so much on my mind is because of what I saw and heard at a funeral this past Saturday. Another Saint has gone home. When I listened to the testimonies about Annchen Boge’s life, I couldn’t help but see a lot of similarities to my beloved Oma Sara. Another amazing prayer warrior went home. A comment from her grandson stopped me in my tracks, “My Omi scheduled her day around her prayer time.”

That got me thinking… a lot…

Do I even schedule any prayer time into my day?

How much of a priority is prayer for me?

Yes, Mondays I do pray… But what about Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and all the other days of the week?

A generation that lived and modeled prayer is leaving us. Who is stepping up and filling that gap?

My Oma Sara has prayed for me and my children by name every single day for over 20 years. For over TWENTY YEARS, every single day! I miss that. I miss it terribly. Who is going to fill that gap now?

When we came to say our goodbyes to Oma Sara at the hospital, she was floating in and out of consciousness, and when she was conscious, you know what she said? “Teach your children to pray.” Those were some of her last words. We left her room crying, all the way down to the parking lot. I remember my daughter saying, “Who is going to pray for us now?”

Well, it is up to me and my generation to step it up a notch or more and to get serious about prayer.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded
by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith,
let us strip off every weight that slows us down,
especially the sin that so easily trips us up.
And let us run with endurance the race
God has set before us.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus,
the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”
Hebrews 12:1-2a New Living Translation

How Do You Remove a Thistle Root?

Do you know much about weeds? I don’t. Except that I dislike them with a passion.
I took a few pictures of my weeds and googled “prickly weeds” to see whether I would find a name for the ugliest of them all. I learned it is a thistle. I couldn’t really determine which one, but it is definitely a thistle that has been invading my garden again and again.

And by the way, did you know there is such a thing as smartweed, quickweed, pigweed, chickweed? I wonder who comes up with these names?
Yesterday I got my “weeding gloves” out, you know the ones that are so thick you can pull even the prickliest of weeds. I started at one end of my vegetable garden and worked my way to the other end. 
I arrived at an area that was full of thistles. But at closer inspection I saw that some of them were growing out of the side of a root. There had been a thistle growing before, and I had “pulled” the weed, but only got the tip of the root. That tip had dried up, but the root was not dead. 
A different looking kind of thistle was growing out of the root’s side. This one was bushier, a lot greener, and had hardly any prickles. Take a look:
And here is a picture of the same kind of thistle, the one on the left is growing out of the “original” root and the other is growing from the side of a root.
Same roots, different looking plants… Roots and thistles…
I had to think about our lives and the seeds we are sowing and the roots we are growing. When we attack a bad thought, a bad habit and try to remove it, do we take the time and effort to take out the root as well? 
Did you know the roots of a thistle can be several feet deep? That would involve a lot of digging to get the whole root out. It’s so much easier just to pull on the weed, and it eventually breaks off. We think we have solved the problem because the thistle is no longer visible. 
But guess what? A few weeks later a nicer looking thistle is growing out of the side of the same root. It has hardly any prickles, and is more pleasing to the eye. 
This is a great picture for life as well. We attack the visible “problem” but don’t think much about the origin, the root of the problem. We remove the prickly thistle, and think we’ve dealt with it, we’re done. And within weeks we don’t even notice that we’ve got a nicer looking problem growing out of the same root. It’s still a weed, it’s only a nicer version of it…
Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

If you sow a thought
you will reap an action.
If you sow an action
you will reap a habit.
If you sow a habit
you will reap character.
If you sow character
you will reap destiny.

A tiny thistle seed can grow a root that seems indestructible. 
Let’s not be afraid to dig deep and remove the root. I sure don’t want to be a prickly thistle. Do you?

Have You Planned Your Child’s Future?

In Monday’s post I confessed that I’m a planner. I love to plan!

And my love for planning also includes my children. I think every parent has plans for their child. You have certain dreams and expectations for the life of your child. If you are like me, you also have planned what schools, college, university your child would attend, what professional path she/he would eventually choose. You might even have gone so far as to pick a life partner for your child.

And you have helped along the way by enrolling them in all kinds of extracurricular activities, encouraged them to attend certain events, set them up on dates, all just to push your child in the direction of your plan.

You meant well. You only wanted the very best for your child.

But then came the day and your child approached you hesitantly to tell you he/she has chosen a different path. A different career. A different partner for their life.

Your plan for your child came crumbling down. You were shattered. You couldn’t even wrap your mind around the decision your child made. How could you have been so wrong all this time? How could you not have seen this coming?

You still think and believe you’re right. You think your child will change her/his mind. You’ll just have to give them some time.

Weeks go by, maybe even months, and you have to realize they are serious about their decision. What do you do now?

Let me tell you from my own experience:

  • You have to trust your child. Even if you are still convinced they are making a mistake, it is theirs to make. You have to let go of your plan for their life. If they are happy with their decision, if they are happy with their choices, you have to get to the point where you accept their decision.
  • Acknowledge to your child if you have been wrong. It will help your relationship with your child. Show your child that you accept their decision.
  • Do not cut off communication with your child. Don’t set ultimatums that will only drive your child further from you.
  • Pray – pray – and pray some more for your child and your parent-child relationship through this time. 
  • Trust God with the life of your child. God created your child. He loved your child first. He also has a plan for your child. And God’s plan for your child might actually not be the plan you had for your child. That might be hard for you to accept, but it’s reality.
  • Love your child. Don’t ever stop loving her/him. If you’re not able to love your child, pray to God for supernatural love. God hears the prayers of a parent in distress. God answers prayers of a parent. I am living proof of that.
As I wrote this post, the song “Mama” by Il Divo came to mind. Let’s not wait for our children to say these words of the song when we’re not there anymore. Let’s be there with and for our children when we’re all doing life. Even when it’s not going according to our plan.

Are You a Planner?

I admit, I love to plan. Big Period.

Even as a little girl I would plan all kinds of parties, plays, events. I must have been 10 or 11, when I planned a thanksgiving fest for all the children in our church, complete with a thanksgiving service, a thanksgiving meal, some games etc. Today I’m smiling at these memories. I’m wondering what my parents must have thought about it, and especially the parents who brought or sent their children to an event planned by a kid…

This love for planning has never left me. My planning skills have only improved over the years. Just ask my family and friends.

Planning has also taken over my personal life. I plan my day, I plan my week, I plan my months, and I do plan my life… BUT…

“God seems to have a delightful way of upsetting the plans we have made, when we have not taken Him into account. We get ourselves into circumstances that were not chosen by God, and suddenly we realize that we have been making our plans without Him – that we have not even considered Him to be a vital, living factor in the planning of our lives.” Oswald Chambers

Life has dealt me a few blows and my plans became nil and void. I remember being devastated by it. At times it took me days, other times months and even years to recover and get a plan going again in that area of my life.

I had gotten so good at planning that I, too, did not include God in my planning. And when God decided to intervene and mess with my plans and redirect my life, I had to acknowledge

“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9

I do not like being without a plan. Even for my weight loss journey I do need a plan. It makes my life a lot easier when I can look at my list and see the goals set for the day, for the week etc. After all,

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

And I do not like to have just wishes. I love to do things, I love to see my plans put into action. It is something that I tremendously enjoy!

But I have learned to loosen my grip on the plans I make. Over the years I have also learned to include God in my planning. And trust me, it’s so much easier to plan with God in mind right from the start.

How do I do that? Find out in the upcoming posts.

What about you?

Do you like to plan? Do you like your day structured and planned out?

Do you get upset when your plans fall through? What about when your day turns out nothing like what you had planned?

Let me know, I would love to hear from you.

"Judge Me as I Have Judged Others!"

First impressions are important, right? Often we tend to form our opinion on that one first impression and don’t give a person a second chance.

Just this morning I read a story in a newsletter. The writer talked about his neighbors that had moved in next door. They were from the former USSR. The couple fought a lot, the husband drank a lot. And so the writer formed his opinion and judged the couple of what he thought was true.

Years later he met them again and finally got the whole picture on this family. It turned out the neighbor’s wife had had an abortion and the husband was so distraught about it that he took to drinking which only increased the fights between the couple.

Have you ever judged your neighbour or co-worker based on superficial “knowledge” of that person? I certainly have. Sometimes I dismiss even the thought of giving this person the benefit of the doubt. I’ve formed my opinion, and that’s it.

We can judge someone in our mind, with words, by showing our attitude, or by giving a person THE look. I’m sure you know what I mean.

Oswald Chambers says:

“If you have been shrewd in finding out the shortcomings of others, remember that will be exactly how you will be measured.
The way you pay is the way life will pay you back…
God looks not only at the act itself, but also at the possibility of committing it, which He sees by looking at our hearts…
The reason we see hypocrisy, deceit, and a lack of genuineness in others is that they are all in our own hearts.”

There you have it: we judge because we lack the same things… or maybe even bigger issues?

Do I like to be judged? No.
Do you like to be judged? Of course not.

“Who of us would dare to stand before God and say, ‘My God, judge me as I have judged others.'”(Oswald Chambers)

God has extended His grace and mercy to us. Why don’t we do the same to the person we meet today?

The winner of Monday’s book give-away is Kelly! Congratulations! Please email me with your mailing address at and I will get the books to you!

Race Across America with a Difference (and a giveaway!)

What makes a man give up his life as he knows it and do something, well, really crazy? Like ultra-marathon cycling? Or taking in street children and over the years creating the largest family in the world?

There are many athletes who do ultra-marathon cycling. If you put your heart in it and do the training, you would also succeed in these races. What makes this race different? Because I got to know a man who races not for his glory, he races to make a difference.

I would like to introduce you to Arvid Loewen, 57 years old, a husband, father and grandfather, who finished the Race Across America (RAAM) today.

RAAM is the toughest bike race in the world. A 3000 miles (5000 km) single-stage ultra-marathon cycling race that starts in Oceanside, California and has to be finished in less than 12 days in Annapolis, Maryland.

Arvid finished RAAM for the second time today. Why would he go through this gruelling experience again? Arvid received a cause for his racing: the street children living in the largest family in the world: Mully Children’s Family. Since 2006 Arvid has been able to raise 2.5 million dollars for Mully Children’s Family. He has become a difference-maker for the many children under the care of Charles Mulli and his team.

Arvid’s motto?

“If we want less – we can give more.
Then we will receive everything: 
 the joy of knowing that we have made a difference.”

Arvid Loewen in one of his previous races.

This brings me to the second man, Charles Mulli, who also gave up everything because he met God who revealed a cause to him: go and rescue street children from the city streets and slums in Kenya.

Charles Mulli and his wife Esther

He used to be a street child himself, who was abandoned by his family. But God had a plan for this boy. He grew up and became a very successful businessman. This was not the end of God’s plan for him. God wanted Charles Mulli to care for abandoned children.

Charles Mulli’s life story was beautifully captured by Paul H. Boge in the book “Father to the Fatherless – The Charles Mulli Story” and the sequel “Hope for the Hopeless -The Charles Mulli Mission.”

Matthew Barnett says,

“We have to think big and act small. What that means is that God has given us a big cause – bigger than we can handle on our own and bigger than we can fulfill quickly. So what we have to do is act small – that is, engage in a series of small steps that add up to big impact.”

When I look at the lives of Arvid Loewen and Charles Mulli I can see how they’ve been doing exactly that. Both are great role models when it comes to complete surrender to God, to walking in obedience one step at a time, one day at a time. They both have shown me there is more to life than just accumulating stuff and living solely for myself. I have learned so much from watching one train hard and participate in ultra-marathons and read about Charles Mulli as he rescues children and makes a difference in their lives.

“You help change one life at a time, and if you are sufficiently persistent, you eventually find that many lives have been changed, one at a time.” Matthew Barnett

Has this story inspired you? Check out the websites for Arvid Loewen and the Charles Mully Family for more info & details.

Today I am giving away one set of the books signed by the author, Paul H. Boge. Leave me a comment by Tuesday, June 25, 10pm CST (Canada). The winner will be announced in Wednesday’s post.

On Weight Loss: Evenings & Weekends

It has been easier to stick to a certain meal plan/diet while at work. I’m not nearly as tempted during those 8 hours at work. I hardly ever crave anything. I busy myself with work, and those 8 hours are a breeze. At least when I compare them to my evenings and weekends.

When the evening comes, and especially the weekend I find it’s just very, very hard to stick to it. Unless I have a plan!

I can tell you from a few years of experience, that’s the only way I can and will stick to it.

I need a plan for the evening.

I need a plan for the weekend.

What will I do when I get home from work?
What will I eat?
Will I do some gardening?
Some reading?
Or will I even exercise after work?

Speaking of exercise, I need to plan that for the weekend as well! Otherwise it just won’t happen…

I have also found that the best way to stick to a plan is to write it down. There is a sense of accountability, even to yourself, when you write out a plan. It makes it official. You are saying to yourself you are serious about this plan.

If you are struggling with weight I encourage you to try it out. It will take a while to make it a habit. But you’ll see how much easier it will be to stick to a plan!

Do you want to reach a goal or do you just want to keep on wishing? A plan will make the difference!

What/Who Do I Worship?

Thinking about Monday’s post and the quote by N.T. Wright, I had to think whether I was worshiping something or someone else right now instead of God.

I remember a time when my job was very important to me. This job not only provided for my daily bread and paid the bills, but it also filled the craving for significance. It fed my starved ego, and as time and promotions went on, it became an object of worship for me.

Friends, spouses, children can become our object of worship. They are all good in itself. But “no matter how amazing a person is, humans make terrible gods.” (Kelly Minter in “No Other Gods) We put a human being on a pedestal and begin to worship him/her instead of their Creator.

In essence anything that we start obsessing over can become an idol for us. I remember a sermon by Pastor Vic Neufeld, where he talked about making something good the ultimate thing. And once that object becomes the ultimate thing, it’s an idol.

“Then God gave the people all these instructions:
…You must not have any other god but me.
You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea.
You must not bow down to them or worship them,
for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods…”
Exodus 20

What is your secret indulgence?
How much time do you spend/waste on it?
What is the object of your worship?

It’s time to take care of our idols!

It’s time to worship the One and Only True God!

You become like what you worship

As I have mentioned before, I’m reading through the chronological Bible this year. I’ve just made it through the Bible books of Kings and Chronicles. It’s about the kings that ruled Israel and Judah after Solomon’s death.

King David gave these instructions to his son Solomon:

“And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.” 
1 Chronicles 28:9 (New Living Translation)

But even King Solomon did not follow in his father’s steps when it came to obeying God and His commands. What was King Solomon’s downfall? He loved many foreign women. 1 Kings 11:2-3 says,

“The LORD had clearly instructed the people of Israel, ‘You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.’ Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the LORD.” 

There is a common thread when reading about the kings that ruled over Israel and Judah after Solomon. Most of them “did what was evil in the LORD’s sight.” Again and again we read about their unfaithfulness toward God.

What led to their unfaithfulness? Why were they not worshiping the One true God?

Because they surrounded themselves with people that worshiped other gods, that worshiped idols.

Here is what N. T. Wright has to say on the topic of worship in his book “Simply Christian”:

First golden rule: You become like what you worship. 

“When you gaze in awe, admiration, and wonder at something or someone, you begin to take on something of the character of the object of your worship. Those who worship money become, eventually, human calculating machines… Those who worship power become more and more ruthless.”

It seems to make sense that you and I become like what we worship, doesn’t it?

Second golden rule: Because you were made in God’s image, worship makes you more truly human. 

“When you gaze in love and gratitude at the God in whose image you were made, you do indeed grow. You discover more of what it means to be fully alive. Conversely, when you give that same total worship to anything or anyone else, you shrink as a human being. It doesn’t, of course, feel like that at the time… when you worship an idol – you may feel a brief ‘high.’ But, like a hallucinatory drug, that worship achieves its effect at a cost: when the effect is over, you are less of a human being than you were to begin with. That is the price of idolatry.”

The “price of idolatry.” This phrase made me think. King Solomon couldn’t stay away from foreign women. He paid a very high price for it.

What can’t I stay away from?

Who can’t I stay away from?

What do I worship?

Who do I worship?

If we don’t pay attention to what or who we worship, we will pay a price for our idolatry. Do we want to shrink as a human being? Or do we want to grow?

Weight Loss vs Temptation

For the last 8 months I have really cut down on my calorie intake. It was easier than in the past since I did not have to worry about what to feed my kids. I cleaned out the fridge and the pantry. And it has been great. The reward so far is: 2 sizes smaller!

But this morning I was getting ready for my morning run and my daughter caught me on Facebook before I could head out. So I sat down and chatted for a bit. Then I saw the leftover cake on my stove, and sure enough, I had not just one piece, but two. With a cappuccino, I might add.

It was all nice and good… Until I was on the trail, running, and almost puking… I was so mad at myself for giving into this temptation this morning. Instead, in my fury, I decided to punish myself and do the 8.5 km instead of the usual 6.5 km…

When I got home, I took the remaining two pieces of cake and threw them into the garbage.

I wish the story ended there. A few hours later I had made myself lunch. A healthy one. And as I was opening the trash can to put something in, I saw those 2 pieces of cake in there. Undamaged, I might add. How do I know? I inspected them!!! Yes, I have to be honest here… They were tempting me once more, and I actually looked whether these pieces of cake had touched any other garbage. And they hadn’t.

I got so mad at myself and squished that cake into the rest of the garbage so I would not be tempted to even look at it.

Have you ever been there? Done that?

It’s not pretty. It really isn’t. When you stare into that ugly part of yourself that doesn’t want to leave you alone. I thought I had dealt with it, once and for all. But here I was once again eyeing the “forbidden fruit” aka massive amount of calories.

I could have justified eating the cake since I’ve been pretty good at watching what I eat for so many months now. But this giving into temptation is a slippery slope I know way too well.

Just this once…

Just this one piece of cake…

And temptation doesn’t really leave me alone when I’ve given in once. It will be there the next time, and the next time… And before I know it I’m in the thick of it once again. And it won’t take long, and it will show. I will not be able to hide it. It will be there for all to see…

James puts it this way:

Temptation comes from our own desires,
which entice us and drag us away.
These desires give birth to sinful actions.
And when sin is allowed to grow,
it gives birth to death.

(James 1:14-15 New Living Translation)

And the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter:

“I have discovered this principle in life –
that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.
I love God’s law with all my heart.
But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind.
This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.
Oh, what a miserable person I am!
Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?
Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord!

(Romans 7:21-25a New Living Translation)

The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord! Do you believe that?