Category Archives: You Want Me to Do What, God?

Areas God wants us as Moms to work on.

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Three Questions To Ask In The New Year?

I’m not a big New Years Resolution Girl, it only takes me a couple weeks to break them. But I am one to evaluate my past mistakes so I don’t repeat them in the future. After the lights are out, I mentally walk through my day; the interactions I’ve had with my family, friends and even complete strangers. Sometimes I cringe at the remembrance of the critical words that escaped my mouth or flippant actions communicating “my time is more important than their heart or concerns”. I pray and confess these to the Lord and at times also to the people I have hurt and ask for their forgiveness.

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In my nightly walks through Memory Lane, I evaluate the good too. Remembering the spontaneous kind words spoken to a complete stranger and the moments I was able to encourage a family member. I reflect with pleasure on the feelings of helping someone in need. In the quietness, I evaluate how I can do more tomorrow.

These ending points beckon a new day coming and provide perfect opportunity for reflection and deliver fresh perspective for a new start tomorrow. This allows space to make positive changes in our lives and all we touch.

With the beginning of the New Year, I was asked, “Who are the three people who have impacted your life the most in 2014?” Other than my husband who faithfully walks with me through all the ups and downs of each day, I came up with three people, who each have these things in common. 1) They love and trust the Lord. 2) They care about people. 3) They unselfishly choose to do what is right even when it is difficult and uncomfortable.

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The three people this year are:

My Dad, who at 82 gets up very early before the sun rises and starts taking care of others, starting with getting the cat his warm milk. Then he goes outside and prunes his Christmas trees for a few hours. About this time, miles away I am waking up, He continues his routine of taking care of my Mother, his bride of almost 60 years who has dementia and can’t even toast a piece of bread by herself or sweep the floor without help. He has to do it all. He unselfishly cares for her even when little is given in return. Dad, I love you and have deep respect for you and are learning a lot from you.

Then there is Rachelle, who made radical changes leaving a life of selfishness and addiction and becoming a woman completely surrendered to her Savior, Jesus and is being transformed by his Grace and Love. Here is her story. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUcmLKvZyMA.

The third is Dee Dee who chose to do one of the hardest things possible for a Mom–give up her son. The deepest desire of her heart was to have custody of her 4 year old son and it consumed her. I listened to her cry out in her deep grief. Then when she decided to surrender her son to the Lord so she could focus on her relationship with the Him, I watched her light up as she began to feel the deep love and approval of the Lord for her choice to obey him. Because of her faithfulness to Him, God recently gave her son back.

Who are the three relationships you want to develop in 2015 that will help you become a better person? and “What adjustments to your life are necessary to have time for them?”

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When You Feel Alone or Discouraged & Don’t Have Answers

I remember the day I heard “Your son might die if he doesn’t have open heart surgery.” The doctor said much more, but those are the words that consumed my thoughts as we drove home that rainy November night.

When life brings disappointment, rejection and loss to us, where can we turn? Around every corner there seems to be another difficult challenge that makes us feel alone in the world. What should our response be? Our natural reaction is to self medicate and each of us has our signature way of escape. Some use drugs and alcohol, others use sex or shopping. Others choose busyness or they simply check out with technology—TV, Movies, Games, and Social Media, etc.

At the end of the day, or perhaps the next morning, all of these mind numbing diversions still leave us empty. So what’s the answer? Here’s my story:

I had just received the news that Blair needed to have open heart surgery. Arriving home after his appointment with the Doctor, my 14-year-old son silently went to his room and closed the door. I collapsed onto the sofa in despair and fear, with tears streaming down my face. I looked up and shouted, “And how do you want me to respond to this, Lord?” It wasn’t a question from a soft heart, but a challenge from a wounded one. Immediately, these words filled my mind, “Worship Me and give thanks in all circumstances” to which I replied, “Are you kidding me?!” But those words lingered in the silence until my fearful heart softened.

I forced myself to pray these words even though I only partially believed them: “Thank you Lord for allowing these circumstances in our lives. You are God, worthy of my praise and worship.” As I said those words, my fearful heart gained courage and a peace washed over me. I continued to worship and the more I did, the more contented I became.

When you’re alone or discouraged, try using those precious few  “Mom Moments” in your day, to worship God–even when it doesn’t seem to make sense. Worshiping Him, can truly rejuvenate your spirit, and I’ve found it gives us mom’s the perspective and energy we must have, to be the Mom’s we need to be!

Have you ever found yourself thanking God for something hard in your life?

 

 

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Thankful One Day a Year?

When someone opens a door for you, the appropriate response is to say, “Thank you.”—it’s just common courtesy. Though we often say these ordinary words without any emotion—or real heart-felt meaning.

Why do we say Thank You?

The value of saying those words goes far beyond just making polite remarks to really becoming a thankful person. As you say “Thank you,” it changes you deep inside, giving you a new perspective on your life.

At times, we don’t necessarily feel thankful, but we may not feel unthankful either—like some kind of neutral zone. But as for our hearts: there is no in-between. We are either a thankful person or we are not. We can be thankful for some things and still not be a thankful person at our core. That seemingly neutral place is a place of complacency or apathy—which is a dangerous place to be.

Some of the most thankful and happy people I know live with almost nothing in huts with dirt floors, surviving on very little food, without cell phones, other entertainment, or even electricity. They have so little, yet they are thankful. Thankfulness is an attitude of the heart that goes beyond circumstances or possessions—it is an attitude that we choose despite our current situation, no matter how dire .

 

When I was a little girl, I received a beautifully wrapped box from my favorite aunt. She was my hero, and she was a seamstress who could make anything. I looked at the gift with anticipation and excitement for what might be inside then I ripped it open, only to be disappointed and embarrassed—it was a pair of lacy underwear.  I’m sure she could have seen it on my face—the gift was not what I wanted.

My focus was on me: I was conflicted between guilt for not feeling grateful and my selfish desires for a gift that I wanted and thought I deserved. I had been taught to “be thankful,” so I chose to say the words: “Thank you.”  The feelings followed the action, and after I got over the embarrassment of showing my new underwear to all my cousins—boys and girls—I became thankful.

In later years, I talked to my aunt about the gift. She explained that having grown up during the Depression, she had always wanted a nice pair of underwear, but couldn’t afford it. For her, to purchase me any gift for Christmas was a sacrifice, as her family lived on a small salary. If I had understood true thankfulness, I would have cherished that gift much more , despite the embarrassment it caused.

We have all been there. Maybe it is our current circumstances that we don’t want to be thankful for, or maybe a tough relationship. We rationalize our lack of gratitude, thinking, “How can I be thankful for this?”

We can become thankful, though, by taking our focus off of ourselves and making a concentrated effort to be thankful to God.

Paul wasn’t in the comfort of a castle somewhere, playing video games, when he wrote: “Give thanks in all circumstances.” He was in prison, in terrible and uncertain circumstances.  At a whim, he could have been beaten, starved, bitten by rats, or put to death. He went even further, writing, “For this is God’s will for you.”  It isn’t often we know God’s will so clearly.

Since this is God’s will for us, we need to give up our arguing and complaining and trade it for “giving thanks in all circumstances.” As we choose to model this in our lives, we become thankful people every day of the year, not just one.

Grapes and Marbles: Responding to Difficulty

With the economy the way it is, so many of us have lost our jobs and our homes, and many of us are having marriage problems. You are not able to pay the bills. Maybe you are forced to move, which is like adding salt to an open wound. The whole complicated situation creates tension and fighting in your relationships. Perhaps, you have begun snapping at your spouse, and yelling at your children about the littlest things. Or, you’ve lost motivation and want to pull back from interactions with other people. It seems like there is no way out. And that is just the beginning. It can get worse from there…

As you step back and evaluate the situation, you realize that you don’t have control over your circumstances and you never really did. Yes, there are things that you could have done differently, but your options are limited now.

Who is really in control of your circumstances?

If you are a Christian, the answer you would give is Jesus. But do you believe it? I mean really believe it. Does Jesus affect the way you respond to life? How does this relationship change your response to the circumstances that He is allowing in your life now?

What if there were only two ways to respond to your circumstances? Either as a Grape or a Marble. Think about the different characteristics of both when pressure is applied:

A marble is hard and resists pressure. A marble tries to escape pressure by rolling out from under it. Eventually, a marble is crushed under the pressure. A crushed marble produces nothing but shards that cut and hurt. No new beauty is created from the ruins of a marble, just pieces to be swept up and thrown away. If you respond like a marble to the pressures of life, you are resisting the work that the Lord is trying to do in your life. Marbles are broken, hard, bitter, and angry.

The other option is to be a Grape. A grape is soft and can be quickly squished. It surrenders easily to pressure. When a grape is destroyed by pressure, something new is produced through the process: grape juice. And with time, wine. If you take a grape-attitude to God when life pressures you, your vulnerability is a willingness to trust Him and an attitude of surrender to Him. When you do this, God will give you a peace that is unexplainable. He will refine you into fine wine. He will transform you into someone new and beautiful inside.

In your current situation, are you choosing to be a Grape or a Marble?

Are you living like you trust that God is in control and has a good plan for your life?

Are you an example to your children of how to trust God amidst painful circumstances?

Have you asked Jesus for a heart to trust Him through the circumstances you are in, for your sake as well as your children’s?

I would love to hear your personal stories that may encourage someone else on their journey to trust Jesus when life circumstances are hard.

Just Words?

I have heard young people comment that swear words are offensive only if we assign importance to them. I understand what they are saying: words, after all, are nothing more than combinations of letters strung together to form expressions. Combine that with the relativistic thinking so prevalent in today’s society, and the idea actually makes sense.

But there is another aspect to this topic: what we say is a reflection of our hearts and minds. Jesus said, “The words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you” (Matthew 15:18, NLT).

The words that come out of our mouths reflect what we allow to permeate our minds. If we justify speaking not only swear words, but careless, crude, or hurtful words, we are not submitting to God in this area. We are arguing with Him!

As Christians, we need to surrender to God our “right” to carelessly speak anything that comes to mind. But first, we have to desire close relationship with God more than we value our right to say whatever we want. When we desire to please God and seek a Spirit-filled life, we will be able to choose to honor Him with our speech.

Enjoying the freedom of living a Spirit-controlled life means accepting and embracing the Spirit’s control in all areas, including language. We do this by deliberately filling our minds with wholesome, good things; then He gives us the desire to speak in ways that please Him.

When you consciously allow the Holy Spirit to act as a filter, the words that pour forth from your mouth will serve as evidence of the Spirit’s fruit in you: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control. Isn’t that what you want your children to see?

Time For You

My friend Andrea is a good mom and devoted wife. She told me recently that she has chosen to look at her young family as a “gift” and wants to spend more quality time with them. She has stocked up on resources to help her with this, including a list of blogs written to encourage moms to be the women God wants them to be.

Andrea said, “Yesterday we all went to lunch as a family, and after we got home, I didn’t do anything except stuff with the kids.” They jumped on the trampoline, played outside, and took a nap together. “It was very nice,” she said. “Today we were invited to the park by a neighbor. We all had a blast. And I’m going to truly strive to spend more time just reading and playing games with the kids. But with all the demands of being wife and mom, when is it OK to take time for ourselves??”

That is a great question. We absolutely need to take time for ourselves. Here’s an even more important question: “How should I use my time in a way that really rejuvenates me?” Each of us gets recharged in a different ways. We need to evaluate what we really need during that time in order to return to life refreshed.

It is easy to feel so ready for a break that when we finally get one, we just waste it on things that don’t revive our spirits. Oftentimes, our natural reaction is to disconnect when we really need to be rejuvenated. We might do this by watching TV or browsing the web. Disconnecting allows us to escape, but it does not rejuvenate us. When we re-engage with our families, we return just as tired and in need of a break as before we left.

Maybe you will only be refreshed by a nap today, because you were up all night with sick kids. It could be that you just need an adult conversation with a friend after three-word sentence exchanges with toddlers all day.

It is essential that we connect with our Lord so that we can be relating and working in His power and strength, rather than trying to keep our sanity and calm in our own strength. Maybe it’s a walk at the park so you can be alone to pray, or an escape to a coffee shop to read your Bible. What do you need?

Using your free time thoughtfully will positively affect so many areas of your life. I have found that when I choose to spend my precious time with Him, somehow I have clarity of mind, get more done and I’m more patient. He helps us discern priorities clearly and leads us to live in a place of peace that only He can provide amid our hectic lives.

As you take time for yourself today, stop for a moment and ask the Lord how He wants you to spend that time. He’ll let you know what will really rejuvenate you. Then watch what happens when you return to your family, how you respond to situations and how you feel. You will be pleasantly surprised!

Don’t Wish Away Today

When I was in junior high, I remember complaining to my Aunt Fae: “I wish I was in high school.” Her response to me became one of the foundational principles that has formed my character. She said, “Brenda, Don’t wish away today. Be all here in the present. High school will come soon enough. Be all here, each day of your life.” I thought about what she said, and put it into practice in my life.

We tend to “wish for high school” in a lot of ways. When we get to high school, we wish we were in college. In college, we wish we had a job… We wish we were married, we wish we had children, we wish our children were older, then we wish they were out of the house…grandchildren…retirement…and then, we die. We could wish our life away and never live in the present.

Looking back now, living in the moment has caused me to enjoy the little things in life, both the good ones and the hard ones. I learned to face the difficult times rather than ignore or resent them. When my children were young and woke up night after night because they needed to be fed, they had a bad dream, or caught the flu and were puking every hour throughout the night, I realized that I had two choices in how I could respond: I could accept my circumstances and embrace the moment with a good attitude, or get angry and irritable about what was happening, and wish that stage of life with my children away. Those long, sleepless nights when my children cried, I rocked them and quietly sang to them, sometimes for hours. I was so tired and at the end of myself sometimes, the tears would come easily, streaming down my face, as I praised Jesus with my songs. That was all I had to give.

The hard times have become some of the most precious memories and growing times for me. I chose not to “check out” of the present and wish for the future. Instead, I chose to worship God through those hard circumstances. Those are the times when I learned to lean on Him for strength, even when I didn’t have any strength left.