Category Archives: September 2015

I Don’t Know about You….

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shelf-159852_1280As a fellow Mom, do you feel like you’re drowning in parenting books? I mean really! I literally have a stack (and I do mean a nice tall stack!) of books on this subject. It seems I keep hearing of yet another “great” book that I “just have to read” and “this one trumps the last one!”

Now, I’m not much of a reader of fiction, until earlier this year, when I started to need a break from all the heaviness of reading parenting books. You know the ones I’m talking about (without mentioning actual titles) “You Can Potty Train Your Kid In No Time” and “Disciplining the Active Child”. I have found some gems in the books I have muddled through, no doubt. I love to learn and have a teachable spirit, but do I really need to read so many books?

So, while I was at church on Sunday, I bumped into a rather wise friend of mine in the hallway of the children’s building, of all places! We were exchanging niceties and then plunged deep into the subject of you guessed it, parenting. Being an avid reader herself, she shared with me that her husband asked her recently why she feels she needs to read yet another book on parenting. He encouraged her to pray for wisdom and discernment on being the best Mom she can be. WOW! Her words hit me right between the eyes since I, too, have been reading and reading and reading to discover one more nugget that just might be the answer to all my parenting woes.

This is not to say I won’t pick up another book on this subject, but for awhile, at least, you’ll find me in my “War Room,” or with a work of fiction in my hands!

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What Does Contentment Look Like?

Do you feel like a pauper or a person of wealth? Do you find yourself on a never-ending treadmill, trying to accumulate all you can in this life? Do you have a roof over your head, food in your pantry and clothes on your back? Do you feel you are in a constant state of comparison with others whom you feel are “better off”?

In an effort to become (more) content, I’ve started a thankfulness journal where I can record my blessings. I believe it to be a simple and excellent way to stay positive and keep a proper perspective. I aim to record only one item per day in an effort to keep my thoughts simple and focused. You’ll find a short list below of what I’ve written thus far. Some entries may seem overly simplified; however, nothing is too simple to record. In order to be truly content, I want to be intentional in thanking God for each and every blessing He’s bestowed upon me.

  • I’m thankful to be a Stay-at-Home Mom
  • I’m thankful to be both a wife and a mom
  • I’m thankful my husband works a “9-5” job allowing us to have dinner as a family every night.
  • I’m thankful for the Bible study I recently started attending and that it offers free childcare!
  • I’m thankful for a community of Moms I can do life with
  • I’m thankful we have 2 paid-for, reliable vehicles
  • I’m thankful for a healthy, growing child
  • I’m thankful to have money to shop for groceries
  • I’m thankful to have a home that’s safe and keeps us dry; staying warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Living in an age of such affluence, it’s quite easy to get lost in the “comparison trap,” as I call it. Comparing ourselves to the so-called “Jones’,” who supposedly have it all, which is such a lie! You who are well-traveled or have taken a mission trip, already know that in comparison to the rest of the world, we are quite blessed as a nation. Having a car, much less two cars, makes one quite wealthy.

Being caught-up in the trappings of this world will get us nowhere fast. We’ll never, this side of heaven, gain all that we want; it’s a never-ending cycle. When does the roller coaster ride come to a screeching halt? I’m convinced it won’t until we change our perspective.

“Let your character [your moral essence, your inner nature] be free from the love of money [shun greed—be financially ethical], being content with what you have; for He has said, “I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!” (Hebrews 13:5, AMP)

For me, I need to work on holding loosely to the things I possess. After all, it’s only stuff and can’t be taken with me when I leave this earth. Possibly the greatest example of contentment and thankfulness, that I know of, is found in Philippians 4:11-12:

Not that I speak from [any personal] need, for I have learned to be content [and self-sufficient through Christ, satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or uneasy] regardless of my circumstances. I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need.”

I’m convinced that when we focus on thanking God for all that we do have, our perspective changes for that which we feel we don’t have. If we have clothing, shelter and food, we are indeed rich. Anything over and above that is simply God’s favor and grace. I know I am quick to forget this truth when I take my focus off my God who supplies my every need and look to my neighbor who, in my eyes anyway, has everything I think I need, or even deserve.

“But godliness actually is a source of great gain when accompanied by contentment [that contentment which comes from a sense of inner confidence based on the sufficiency of God].” (1 Timothy 6:6, AMP)

But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” (1 Timothy 6:8, AMP)

Won’t you join me in recording your blessings, no matter how small, to remind yourself just how blessed you are? Let’s train our focus on the Giver of every good and perfect gift. I believe it will change both our attitude and perspective so that we can get on to what’s really important in this life.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of lights [the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens], in whom there is no variation [no rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [for He is perfect and never changes].” (James 1:17, AMP)

 

What Does Contentment Look Like?

Look Down the Road

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Look Down the Road

I am so happy to be in a women’s Bible study again. It’s been awhile, like 3 years, since I’ve been actively involved in a study. I’m not talking about a Sunday school class, rather a group of women committed and focused to studying God’s Word together. I knew I had missed being in such a group, but it really didn’t sink in with me just how much, until this morning.

As I was sitting in my favorite chair enjoying a cup of coffee and reading my Bible, a passage in Deuteronomy came alive to me like never before. Now that I’m a mother, it really rang true just how vital it is.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”   (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

While I’ve read this scripture before, this time it took on a fresh new meaning as I realized just how short the window of time I have with my child. I have become increasingly aware of my need to teach him the truths of the Word of God. Yes, we go to church weekly where my now 3 year old is involved in a little Sunday School class. While this is good, it certainly cannot be all there is. I want to read to him from his (children’s) Bible daily, teach him how to pray, and trust that God not only exists but He created him, loves him, and cares for his every need. I want him to love God’s Word, and learn the principles therein for living a godly life that honors Christ.

By far, the best and most effective way he will learn about God is in our home as he observes his Mommy and Daddy modeling a godly lifestyle. For him to see us sitting down to pray and reading the Word consistently is far more effective than only hearing us talk about doing it. For him to see us model what a godly family looks like, what we allow into our minds through TV and radio, who our friends are, how we spend time as a family, watch us resolve conflict and seek God’s wisdom in time of need are all tangible ways that he will learn. For him to really grasp what it means to be a believer, it has to be lived out so that as he matures, he will see the value of a life lived with its foundation in Christ. This foundation is the best way that my son will (hopefully) learn to make God-honoring decisions and take appropriate stands for his faith even when it’s not culturally popular, or “PC”. Our culture is going down the drain on a fast track. No longer can we stand by, apathetically, and hope our children will pick this or that up on their own. It is our job, my job to teach him. I cannot depend on my church, his SS class or any Christian schooling he may be part of.

While imparting these things into his young life seems at times like an overwhelming task to me, I feel the Lord giving me strength, wisdom, and the desire to equip him with truth. It is freeing to know that it’s not about me, rather allowing myself to be used of Him. I was encouraged this week at my son’s 3 year check-up. Our pediatrician wanted to listen to our son’s chest and as he was about to place the stethoscope on his heart, my son exclaimed, “God lives in my heart!” My husband and I were both in the examining room and exchanged glances that he is catching at least some of what we talk about. The pediatrician giggled a bit as we were all caught off guard by his response and said “let’s see if we can hear Jesus in your heart.” Such a precious moment, one I hope to have forever engrained in my mind.

I’ve heard it said that when raising a child, you have to think long-term. In other words, you need to “look down the road,” so to speak, and visualize them as a grown, fully-raised man or woman. What disciplines and attributes do you want them to have? What kind of person do you want them to marry? Do they have the tools necessary to live on their own? After all, we’re raising not just a child, but a man or woman. We have a big responsibility in raising them. They are simply “on loan” to us for just a short while. Our job as parents is to train them up in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). God hears and honors our prayers. Decide today to commit your child(ren) to prayer, it is the wisest thing we can do.

Expectations

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Expectations

Expectations. Everybody has them…. I know I do!

To understand it, I find it best to define it:

Expectationa belief that something will happen or is likely to happen / a feeling or belief about how successful, good, etc., someone or something will be

Have you ever shopped for just the right gift for someone, the occasion finally arrives and you are beside yourself with excitement to watch them open this gift and….. crickets. No smile, no “thank you,” no squat, nothing. At that moment you are feeling utterly deflated, discouraged and maybe even a little resentful.

Or perhaps you’ve built up in your mind an upcoming visit with a friend or family. The long-awaited visit finally arrives and you are  overjoyed about seeing them, the activities you’ve planned and quality time together. The next thing you know, nothing goes as planned, an argument ensues and you find yourself wishing for their quick departure.

Still yet, maybe you’ve planned a special birthday for your child. You’ve ordered a beautiful cake, shopped for gifts, invited friends for the big party, built in a few surprises, …..and their reaction is a lonnnnngggggg way off from what you were expecting or hoping. As a matter of fact, they come right out and tell you they don’t like the gift you were oh so happy to have found on a mega sale; the very item they couldn’t take their hands off in the store, for the tenth shopping trip. Disgust. Frustration.

Other times, inflated expectations exist within our home base. Take for instance, our marriages. We “expect” that our spouse will be that knight in shining armor that we’ve dreamed about or even read about in romance novels, seen in TV shows or even in the ‘chick flicks’ we women flock to. We’ve gone so far as to place these unrealistic expectations on our mate, only to be sorely disappointed. We find ourselves living in a dream world that simply does not exist. You simply cannot impose these inflated thoughts and beliefs upon another person, it just isn’t fair.

Living in an “expectant” state is quite dangerous, plain and simple. It can squash friendships and destroy marriages. It can leave us isolated and disillusioned. Honestly, as long as I’ve lived, I’m disappointed with myself that I’m still struggling in this department. I find myself disappointed time and time again by people. There, I said it. Why? You cannot control another person’s reaction or response. It is simply unreasonable to put such an expectation on them. Try flipping things around by putting yourself into someone else’s shoes for a change of pace.

So, what should we do, live a life of numbness by having no hope in others? I think not. I am learning it is best to severely lower my expectations with other people, letting them off the hook, so to speak. When I choose to do this, I find myself pleasantly surprised when I’m proven wrong and receive the very response or reaction I didn’t anticipate. For me, I’d rather live in the state of surprise rather than in the state of disappointment.

 

 

 

 

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Dear Momma,

Do you feel poorly about yourself for yelling at your Littles? Do you feel like your child(ren) control you more than you control them? Are you tired of being tired from correcting their behavior? Feel like a failure?

First of all…know that you are NOT alone. The enemy wants us to feel isolated as Mommas, that we are the only ones struggling in this journey we call motherhood. He (the enemy) wants to render us useless by making us feel worn out all the time and down on ourselves. Parenting can be such an emotional roller-coaster. I know, I’m living it. I believe the enemy wreaks havoc in our homes and seeks to steal our joy as Moms.

In my struggle, I’ve found that when I do the following, my days go so much more smoothly and I feel better equipped to take on whatever the day holds. I admit, I’m not the best at employing these things, but I pray that I can get in a routine to do them regularly because I know for a fact that they work.

Here’s my prescription:

  • Set your alarm if you have to, but get up at the very least 30 minutes before your children wake up in the morning. The earlier you get up, even if you’re not a morning person (like me!), the better your day will go.
  • Make yourself a cup of coffee (or a pot!) or whatever beverage that aids you in being more alert.
  • Take some time to be in God’s Word to renew your mind and transform your thinking. If you have the time, take a minute or two to personalize the Scriptures through journaling how these verses apply to you and your life.
  • Take a hot shower.

These (4) things alone have helped me tremendously! The more time you have, the more you can accomplish, such as making your bed, or taking time to exercise. More important than exercising your body however, is investing time in the Word. If you can work in a nap while your children are napping, that can do wonders for your mental outlook and energy level, especially if you’re an older Momma, like me!

In addition to this morning schedule, I’ve found that being in community with other Moms, such as MOPS, is extremely helpful. Also, time out in the evenings with a girlfriend or even just time alone outside the walls of your home, can be a real shot in the arm. Occasional date nights with your spouse is extremely important and something I fail to do. I’m working on it. Committing to a short-term Bible study at your church, which also offers child care is yet another idea.

Having time to yourself, being in God’s Word to renew your mind, and being in community with other like-minded Moms is the best recipe I’ve found to shore you up emotionally, mentally and spiritually all to equip you for whatever your day holds. Try it and see if you agree!

 

 

Dear Momma,