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Aside
hApPy??? NeW yEaR!

Most likely, you fit into one of two categories:

One, you love, love, love the blank slate of a brand-new year laid bare before you and you’ve already outlined your goals for the 365 days ahead. Or two, you’re a little fearful and possibly a little anxious about what the new year may hold and resolutions are the furthest thing from your mind because in your estimation they will never materialize, so why bother.

Perhaps surprisingly to some, I tend to lean more toward the second category. After all the excitement of the holidays, time with family and “get togethers”, I tend to feel a little blue once December 26th hits.  Possibly due to the fact that when I was growing up, it meant time to take down the tree, all the decor, and very quickly getting back into “the (dreaded) groove”. Then, there’s the weather which tends to be grey and gloomy with or without snow. The days just seem to melt one into another. At this point, I’m ready for summer. Heck, skip over spring! I’m ready for longer days with more sunshine and time to be outside.

At the heart of the “post Christmas” blues, at least for me, is the fear of the unknown. I am a little afraid, if I’m being honest, of what the next year may look like; or maybe, I’m just anxious about what the Lord may require of me in the year to come. What I fail to remember, however, is that God goes before me. He’s already in my tomorrows. He gives me the grace to face whatever comes my way when I need it. No, this grace doesn’t come early or late, but right on time. In fact, when I think back to times in my life when things did look quite grim, all I can recall is that God carried me through those times. He put people in my life (I call it ‘God with skin on’), to minister to me, to help me, to encourage me; sometimes in person and sometimes in the form of a cheery card, or a meal, even a meaningful prayer. The Lord is with me. He never leaves me or forsakes me. I have to make a conscious effort to factor God into all of my days.

A very wise former co-worker of mine used to remind me that most of the things we worry about in our lives never come to pass. They don’t materialize. They don’t come to fruition. So, why do we put ourselves through the torture of buying trouble for our lives? Why do we torment ourselves with such anguish? I’ll tell you why: the enemy wants us to forget that we have the Lord Jesus Christ at our disposal. He wants to render us useless and have us while away our days wringing our hands in disbelief. We need to remember that God is on our side, as believers in Jesus Christ. If we truly put our faith and trust in Him, we have nothing to fear!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Phil. 4:6)

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  (Isaiah 41:10)

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13)

 

 

hApPy??? NeW yEaR!

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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?

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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,

Aside
Let It Go!

Comparison. What is it and Why do we do this? Why do we hurt ourselves and others?

“To Compare” means: to say that (something) is similar to something else/to look at (two or more things) closely in order to see what is similar or different about them or in order to decide which one is better/to be as good or as bad as something else : to be on the same level or in the same category as something else

That’s how Webster defines it. Let’s see what Scripture has to say about it:

“Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.” (Gal. 5:25-26, The Message)
“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” (Gal. 6:4-5, The Message)
I really love what the first of the Scripture readings says, “each of us is an original“. So true and yet, we as women are the worst about getting into a ‘hen party’, as I call it, and pick each other apart. We judge one another through our comparisons. In essence, we’re really saying, if she looks like me, talks like me and has same basic interests as me then she’s in! She’s one of the cool kids. This is not what God would have us to do.
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” (Romans 12:3, NIV)
Additionally, we like to compare ourselves to others and their achievements or status in life. This is not a physical comparison, rather we judge ourselves according to what our friends have and how we measure up. For instance, she lives in that neighborhood so they must be financially set. Or, they drive a _____ car…what’s wrong with me? I work at the same company they do and I can’t afford to drive a _____. Or, wow! I saw on ______ (social media site) that so & so is on this amazing vacation to _____, why can’t we be there? Or, her husband packs her lunch every day and gives her diamonds every month “just because”. Why isn’t my husband more loving?
As the second scripture denotes, “each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” Comparison only sets us up for disappointment and disillusionment with our own lives. It gets us nowhere fast. We must remember the adage “the grass is always greener” isn’t true, rather deceptive thinking. Realize that Christ is our only source to measure ourselves by.
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” (Romans 12:16)
God has us on a path specific to us. There is a reason why we’re where we are for this time and season in our lives. We may never, this side of heaven, comprehend why we’re walking the path we’re on. A life truly surrendered to Christ shouldn’t be concerned with the why? of it all. Each of us has a story and a testimony to share. We shouldn’t allow the evil one to usurp what the Lord is doing in our lives. After all, why would you want any of it to go to waste?
Comparison=Sin. Think of that famous Disney movie and “let it go!”

Let It Go!

Aside

pen-147110_1280

I’ve been busy this morning….although it may not seem like it should you walk into my house right now. The “work” I do doesn’t always show. Frustrating as it is, so goes the life of a Mom.

For a mere 5 minutes, while I was out of sight from my busy boy this morning, he got into a kitchen drawer and found, what I discovered later to be, an ink pen. Just when I thought things like this had all been put away, he manages to find something else! I know you can’t relate to such behavior in your house….ha ha!

Are you following me? If you are, then you know what my work today consisted of: Scrubbing blue pen ink off his bedroom door and walls. Good news is, the research I did to determine what removes said ink, worked fabulously…paint color and all! That aside, my “Little” was proud of his “artwork”. “LOOK, Mommy!” he proudly exclaimed.

These are the moments. Moments I’ll one day reflect upon….. and laugh. As a matter of fact, my son will most likely be the one to remind me of such moments when his naughtiness caused me unnecessary toil and aggravation.

You see, his childhood will be full of these moments. Good, bad and ugly is all part of raising a child. I don’t want to waste my time and energy feeling or being angry. I don’t want that to be a memory forever engrained in my son’s head, “My Mommy was always angry and yelling at me about something.

So for today, I’m asking God to tame my frustration and irritation over the matter. In the grand scheme of things, it was only a little ink on the wall and easily remedied. The earth won’t stop spinning over it….neither should I. After all, there are much, much, MUCH more serious things worthy of my energy. As Scarlett O’Hara of one of my all-time favorite movies would say, “Tomorrow is another day!”

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34, NIV)

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (the Message)

Writing on the Wall