It's not quite a quiver full, but it's a start!

Monday, October 31, 2011

25 Days of Thanksgiving: A Journey to 1,000

revelation [ˌrɛvəˈleɪʃən]
1. the act or process of disclosing something previously secret or obscure, esp something true
2. a fact disclosed or revealed, esp in a dramatic or surprising way
3. (Christianity / Ecclesiastical Terms) (Christian Religious Writings / Bible) Christianity
a. God's disclosure of his own nature and his purpose for mankind, esp through the words of human intermediaries
b. something in which such a divine disclosure is contained, such as the Bible
[from Church Latin revēlātiō from Latin revēlāre to reveal]
revelational adj

I love the word revelation because it always seems to fit so perfectly with what I hear from God during my time with Him. He is always revealing truth in such an obvious way through many different sources, and there is never any denying when it is something that has been truly revealed from the Lord rather than my own thoughts. It's amazing how God always seems to weave together so intricately the fabric of my life. When God gives me a revelation, it seems there is continuous confirmation, affirmation, and an all-around sense of perfect timing that comes along with it. This latest truth that I have felt in my life is to be truly thankful. Thankful for what I do have, for what I don't have, for the good, for the bad. I feel God leading me to be thankful for every single aspect of my life no matter how small and no matter how hard it may sometimes seem. I am to be thankful for it all because my life has been woven together specifically for me by the Creator and Master of the universe, and He has woven it together to work out not only for my best interests, but for the best interests of the Kingdom.

This leads into confirmation #1, which just so happened to come only one day after I felt the Lord leading me to this heart of Thanksgiving. Since beginning this blogging adventure I have discovered an entire world of encouraging, godly women. One of whom challenges her readers to write 7 things you are thankful for every day (you can find a printable booklet for the week here or just use your own notebook or journal) with the goal of continuing on to 1,000 things and beyond as it becomes a habit in our daily lives. I would like to get to 1,000 things, which at 7 a day means it will take around 6 months. And as I began to think about this challenge I realized that today marks 25 days until Thanksgiving! I don't know about you, but when things like that happen it just leaves me breathless. What perfect timing to begin counting down the things I am thankful for! And with 25 days until Thanksgiving my goal is to reach 250 things (1/4 of the way to my total goal of 1,000) by recording every day 10 things that I have to be thankful for. I know in the beginning it will be easy with obvious things like my beautiful home, my amazing family, a great group of godly friends, etc, but I can't wait until I get to the point where I will be forced to start thanking God for the not-so-nice things in my life like our budget (which is very tight, but has never failed us) or like my son's autism (which has been a great blessing to us, but also one of our greatest challenges) or the not-so-obvious things that I think of every day. I can't wait until I get to the point where it truly becomes natural to begin thanking God for everything: the good, the bad, and the ugly (like these crazy grey hairs I am beginning to get!) God is calling us to be thankful for every single aspect of our lives, whether we feel like it or not. We are to be thankful knowing He is in control and He has it all planned out!

Matthew 6:25-34
25"For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink ; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing ?26"Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?27"And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life ?28"And why are you worried about clothing ? Observe how the lilies of the field grow ; they do not toil nor do they spin,29yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.30"But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith !31"Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will wear for clothing?'32"For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things ; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.33"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.34"So do not worry about tomorrow ; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

What do you have to be thankful for? What things has God given you that you refuse to think of as blessings? How often do you feel God's blessings have passed over you and on to someone else? Take this challenge with me as I journey to 1,000 things to be thankful for!

UPDATE: Check out where God has led me as I continue on this journey Day 8. Day 20 and my realization of such a Gracious Thanksgiving.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

To-Do or not To-Do...

When it comes to being the manager of my household, things have a tendency to get forgotten or there's not enough time to get it done. Add to that the fact that I have a Mary personality in a Martha world. In order to be able to get the "Martha" tasks accomplished I need to get creative in my "Mary" way. This is where my To-Do lists have come to my rescue! (For those of you who are very task oriented and have a "Martha" personality, try making to-do lists to ensure you are not spending more time taking care of your household rather than the people who live there.) My to-do lists are broken into categories: Meals, Activities, and Chores. Let's explore how these lists can help manage our time and our household no matter what your personality.

The first To-Do is "Meals": this is about being good stewards of our bodies, our budget, and not being wasteful with our food. God has really impressed upon my heart the past several years how important this simple task is to the well-being of our families. We are in charge of our family's health as part of our responsibility as life-givers. Scripture clearly states our bodies are temples to the Living God, and we are to be stewards of everything God has given us (including our physical selves I Corinthians 6:19-20). What easier way to start than to be aware of what we put into our bodies. Whatever "diet plan" you chose for your family: Organic, Natural, Low Fat, Vegetarian, Etc. is up to you and what you feel God has impressed on your heart and mind. The best way to make sure your family is eating in a way that is glorifying to God is to be well-prepared. If you are a working mom or don't want to spend a majority of your time planning what you will eat, an online pre-set meal plan is a great option! I, however, make my own lists according to what I have on hand and what items are on sale, then I plan my shopping trip according to what we will be eating  (this is where the budget and not being wasteful come into play). Each week I make a breakfast and lunch menu, a snack menu, and a dinner menu. I do not plan every single meal and snack we eat the entire week, although you can, I just plan a majority so I don't find myself running to Burger King because the kids are starving. I will only plan 3-4 dinners since I know we will also be eating with my parents and eating left-overs. A lot of dinners I do in the crock pot and do my prep work the night before. For example: Tomorrow we are having bean soup. Tonight I have all of the seasonings and beans set out by the crock pot, the veggies are all chopped and in a bag in the fridge ready to use, and the sausage has been cut. Tomorrow I just have to mix it all together, turn on the pot, and I'm done until dinner time! I also plan a weekly cooking night where I will cook several batches of pancakes for the freezer, muffins, bread, and other healthy snacks. So here is a to-do list about making your meal to-do's!
  • Plan enough breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks for you to feel equipped for the week. Keep in mind any eating out you will do and take into account left-overs.
  • Make sure your shopping list reflects your meal plans so you do not end up forgetting ingredients or buying extra food you don't really need. Also keep an eye out for what items are on sale!
  • Try to do any prep work the night before. Chopping veggies and meat, making sure all ingredients are on hand, whatever you need to do to make it quick and easy to cook the next day.
  • Have a "cooking night" where you prepare snacks, breakfast foods, or even dinners to freeze. It's taking prep work to the next level and making it even easier! (Your kids' nap time is also the perfect opportunity to get meal prep done.)

The second of my To-Do's is "Activities" : this is about planning the time we spend with those we love. Making it quality time rather than just a quantity of time. We have set weekly activities like story time at the library and Bible Studies, then we have random daily activities like play dates and activities that I plan, then I also try to plan little games and crafts. Thanks to Google, Pinterest, and my very creative mommy friends I can make sure we have enough planned to keep everyone entertained throughout the week! So here's the breakdown:
  • Have a couple of set weekly activities to keep some sort of routine (we all know how much better everyone does with that!)
  • Plan ahead what you will do with your children daily, so you don't sit around wasting time allowing them to get bored. This keeps melt-downs to a minimum and helps ensure you will enjoy productive time together.
  • If you can, invest in membership passes (like to the zoo or children's museum). Also keep a list of favorite activities handy for those spur of the moment "I need to get the kids out of the house" days.
  • Find several arts and crafts projects you can do with your kids each week. Even if it's just tracing their outline in sidewalk chalk and drawing on the clothes. It doesn't have to be fancy!
  • Let your kids have time to explore on their own, develop their own interests, and give yourself some down time.

Lastly, is "Chores" : this is about making sure you have enough time allotted for housework. This helps ensure your chores do not get neglected, but it can also make sure you are not dedicating too much time to housework and not enough time to the truly important things. This is the most important list for me since I will put chores on the back burner until there is just no way to ignore them (like when my hubby runs out of underwear!) I have daily chore lists, weekly chore lists, and the occasional "spring cleaning" list. Daily chores include dishes, meals, laundry, cleaning up toys, etc. Weekly chores are things that can be put off, but still need to get done like washing sheets, cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming, mopping. And the "spring cleaning" list includes cleaning out the refrigerator, washing baseboards, steaming the drapes, things that just need to be done occasionally. I also have set times to do certain things. I do dishes every morning while the kids eat breakfast and clean up their toys after they go to bed at night. Here's the best way to make your chores to-do list work for you!
  • Make sure your To-Do lists are broken down into daily, weekly, and occasional chores based on how important it is that things get done. This gives you enough time to get chores accomplished so you can focus on other things without having to neglect your work.
  • Time your chores when you will be most productive and your work will not be in vain (Are you a morning person or a night owl? Plan your chores around your daily schedule, not your daily schedule around your chores!)
  • Make a chore calendar, write it down, and stick to it. Wash sheets every Saturday and clean out your refrigerator the first of every month, whatever works for you! Assign every task a specific day and time so you will not be able to forget, and you will not be able to spend more time than necessary doing every task that comes to mind on a particular day. This makes housework more natural for those who have "Mary" personalities and allows the "Marthas" the freedom to get their work done without becoming slave to it!
  • It's not about which is better, being a "Mary" or being a "Martha", it is about being rulers over our households without letting our households rule over us!
I hope you find these To-Do lists helpful! Feel free to add your own to-do lists, chores, and housekeeping ideas and share with us!

Friday, October 28, 2011

"The Wife Challenge" 5 Simple Steps

Earlier, I wrote about our calling as wives. While I was thinking about my calling as a wife I started thinking, "How am I fulfilling this calling?" Again it led me to challenge myself! So here I present my current challenge...The WIFE CHALLENGE: 5 Simple Steps!

The entire basis of our calling as wives is to be our husband's life-partner. God created Eve with one purpose, that man would not be alone! Adam was not complete without Eve, so what am I doing to make my husband's life complete? What am I doing to show him he is loved and respected? What am I doing to cultivate in him the reaction the noble wife received in Prov 31? Her husband called her blessed and praised her saying, "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." I pray that at the end of every day my husband goes to bed thinking, "Many women do great things, but my wife is the greatest!"

Step #1: Create an environment my hubby can thrive in!
But I have 3 kids 3 and under (including an exclusively breastfed baby who is pretty attached to his frequent meals) so let's be realistic here. Will my husband come home to a spotless house every day? I think it's pretty safe for me to say definitely not! But what can I do to make our home a little more organized, a little less stressful, and a little more relaxing? For this challenge you really have to think about your hubby's work environment. What does he deal with all day that you can make sure to avoid at home? For me, it's pretty easy to come up with a few major changes I need to make! My husband deals with fourth graders all day long. They run around, they scream, they are crazy. He has to discipline them all day long and it wears him out. He spends all day cleaning up paper airplanes, wadded up book pages, broken pencils, and every other type of clutter his students can manage to make. What can I do to make sure he doesn't feel that stress as soon as he walks through the door? How can I prevent these things from happening at home?

Let's be honest, there are some days I feel like I just cannot control my kids. Those days my first reaction is to call my hubby. "When are you coming home? The kids are being crazy. I need you to come home now!" And if I don't call or he doesn't answer, I attack him as soon as he walks in the door. "The kids are in their room. You need to go have a talk with them. Oh, and can you change Kason's diaper when you're done? I need to lay down. I can't handle this right now." So the first part of this challenge for me is to handle these discipline issues myself. I can do it, I am well-equipped with the powers God has given me. I just don't want to on some days. Some days I want to be lazy. Some days I don't want to be the "bad guy". But that's one of my jobs as my husband's partner. This is one job that he needs me to take care of so he can enjoy his time at home, so I will! (And on the rare days when I truly feel like I can't do it anymore and I just really do need his help, it is a must to give him at least 30 minutes to come home and breathe before giving him his discipline to-do list.) For the second part of this challenge I need to create a clutter free home. If he has to kick and trudge his way through a pile of toys to even open the door (which happens pretty often) I'm probably not creating an environment that screams, "Welcome home! Forget the troubles of your day and come on in!"  It will not be spotless, but I can at least make sure the counter is free of dirty dishes, the majority of the toys are picked up off of the floor, and that the mountains of laundry that usually cover two of our three couches are taken care of. What are some challenges your husband deals with on a daily basis? How can you make sure he can leave those at work and not have to deal with them again when he comes home? What are some things your husband needs you to be able to handle for him, so he doesn't have to?

Step #2: Make sure my hubby feels loved, respected, and admired!
The first part of this challenge will be tough for me. Obviously I love my husband more than anything, but sometimes I just don't want to show it in the way he wants me to (Hello, five love languages)! My husband has been asking me for weeks to wake up early with him so we can have breakfast and some quiet time before he goes to work. But it is sooo early since he leaves at 6:30 and we have a great relationship so what good is an extra 30 minutes in the morning together really going to do? But, my hubby wants to spend some one on one time with me (something we rarely get) and I am always asking him to do something with me (even though I'd prefer we do it at night rather than at 6 in the morning!), so I will do my absolute best to peel myself out of bed, make some coffee, and enjoy some time with the man who loves me more than anything else in the world! Is there something your husband has been asking you to do that you just keep refusing? Consider the possibility that doing it for him may help him to feel loved and that he just wants to love you in return! 

The second part of this challenge is the most important! When it comes to respecting your husband it is Rule #1! Let's face it, to a man respect means more than anything else ever will. I don't know many women who are flat out disrespectful to their husbands, but sometimes the little things make the biggest difference. This is something I really don't struggle with now, but at the beginning of our marriage I got caught in the "gossip" trap. I hate anything and everything about gossip. It is hurtful, it is destructive, it is rude. But when we first got married it just seemed so natural to share every thought, feeling, and intimate detail with my friends. The problem is, not everything that came out of my mouth was uplifting to my husband. What I say about my husband determines how everyone else views him. If he upsets me and I share it with my friends some will try to defend me even to the point of tearing down my husband. If he does something embarrassing he probably won't want me sharing that information with others. Something that I think is funny, could be very harmful to his self-esteem if I share it with others. Does every word that I say about my husband lift him up or tear him down? Do I praise him in front of others or do I mock him? Do my words show others how proud I am of my husband? Are my words loving and kind? Is he comfortable with what I tell others about him and about our relationship? Do not say anything negative about your husband (whether you are speaking to him or about him!) and make sure what you do say about him shows him and everyone else how much you appreciate him!

The third part of the challenge will probably be the easiest for most of us. Make sure your husband feels admired! Plan a surprise date night, cook him his favorite meal, watch the football game instead of Desperate Housewives. Make sure you spend some alone time together every day. Even if it's just sharing a glass of wine after the kids go to bed. Get romantical, get spontaneous, and get excited to spend time with him! And don't forget the importance of intimacy in your relationship. We all know if there's one way to make our man feel admired, that is it! Choose to serve your husband in ways that you know will make him feel adored by you!

Step #3: Encourage, Encourage, Encourage!!!
Never underestimate the power your words and actions have over your husband! You determine how he feels about himself. You play a major role in how he views his successes and his failures. You are the one he wants to impress more than anyone! No matter how "tough" our guys may pretend they are, we all know they are just big balls of fluff on the inside. We need to make sure these balls of fluff don't get replaced by stone. You know what I'm talking about. We need to make sure we are not causing our husbands to build a wall around their heart, and we need to be able to help them break down any walls they put up during the day with their co-workers, their boss, or because of a hard situation they had to deal with! Make sure you are keeping your hubby's spirit uplifted! Make sure he realizes the amazing call God has placed in his life! Make sure you are helping him tear his walls down, not forcing him to build them up!

Step #4: Quit fussing about all the little things!
This one hit me full force while I was making my hubby some pumpkin bread to surprise him. I opened the egg carton and there they were...all the old egg shells that my hubby apparently finds so hard to throw away so he just puts them back in the carton. I am such a germaphobe so you can only imagine how gross I think this is! But yesterday when I saw those egg shells, I just smiled. I smiled because it was a reminder that my hubby cooks me breakfast. It was like a little "Hello" from my husband while he was at work. It's silly, I know, but all I could think about was how much I would miss those things if he were gone. Putting the loaf of bread on top of the breadbox instead of in it because he doesn't want "smashed" bread. Leaving the bags of chips and cereal on the counter instead of putting it in the cabinet because he's just going to keep getting it out anyway. These are things that bug me, but what would hurt even more is if my husband weren't here. Find joy in those little things your husband does that drives you crazy! See them as a reminder of the man you love rather than things he does to get under your skin. There's plenty more of the things my husband does that I enjoy, and I will miss out if I focus on the little annoying things. And, honestly, I'm sure he doesn't particularly enjoy me leaving my hairbrush and straightener in the sink in the bathroom or when I leave the laundry in the washer for just a little too long and it starts to smell musty or the way I just don't want to cuddle since I've had little people climbing on me all day. If I don't want him to focus on my little annoying habits, I need to stop focusing on his!

Step #5: Sit back, relax, and just enjoy your hubby!
This is my favorite step because it doesn't require any work (well, manual labor anyway)! Let's be honest, sometimes sitting still requires much more work than running around does. When we are sitting on the couch at the end of the day I need to enjoy my time. I need to put out of my mind the laundry, the dishes, the things the kids did during the day that upset me. I need to be still and enjoy being with the man God has given me! I think this simple step has the potential for the most impact in our marriage. When was the last time you just enjoyed your hubby? When was the last time you took the time to revel in your marriage?

I can't wait to see what comes of my wife challenge! I already noticed a difference after one day. I got a huge smile when he came home to a clutter free living room and fresh pumpkin bread. And even though I did end up falling asleep 20 minutes after he walked in the door he just laughed instead of telling me he felt like I had abandoned him...that's a good first try! Please share your successes, failures, and inspirations you have had with this challenge! We could all use as many ideas as we can on how to honor, love, serve, and partner with our husbands!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Whose Powers Do You Put Your Trust In?

This list was sent to my email from one of my Bible Study moms (evidence of why we should be surrounding ourselves with encouraging, godly women!) What a perfect reminder of who we are in Christ and the calling we have as mothers!!! I linked up the verses, so make sure you look them up when you get a chance.

  1. Does
  2. Tries to impress others
  3. Controlled by an agenda
  4. Self worth is found is her accomplishments
  5. Peace is found in the "perfect" environment
  6. Discouraged by failure
  7. Expects perfection from herself and others
  8. Teaches her kids to be good
  9. Frustrated with her lack of Spiritual Fruit
  10. Does things with her children
  11. Her perspective is based on what is seen
  12. She chooses quantity of activities

  1. IS (Psalm 46:10)
  2. PLEASES THE LORD (Eph 5:10, Prov 29:25)
I think it's pretty obvious hands-down who the true super woman is!!!

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    But WHY?

    It seems like life is full of WHYs. Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do good things happen to bad people? Why did that happen to me? Why didn't that happen to me? Why, Why, Why??? Have you ever prayed for God to just tell you WHY? Do you feel like He never answers?

    He already has answered the WHY!
    Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future."

    Isn't it the #1 rule we have as mommies? Don't ask me "why". I cannot stand when I tell my children to do something and they come back with that response! I cannot stand it because they should not require an explanation of me! I am their mother! I love them more than anyone else on this earth, I am looking out for their best interests, I am trying to teach them life's lessons so they can grow up to be prosperous adults. And they are going to sit here and ask me, "WHY"!?! My children should not require me to answer the "why" because it should be a given that the answer is, "because I love you and I want what is best for you."

    If that is what I require of my children, then why is it I still feel the need for God (the all-knowing, all-seeing, all loving Father of ALL creation) to answer me when I ask Him, "Why"? And why do I keep asking when He has so clearly stated His reasons before? God has already made it known to us, "My child, it is because I love you and I want what is best for you."

    God has a personal message for you..are you listening to what He has to say?

    Being a Christian is not a one time choice. It is not just about a prayer, a walk down the aisle, or even trying to make the "right" decisions rather than the "wrong" ones. It is a relationship. It grows, changes, and becomes complete as we continually seek God. Salvation is only the first step on our journey as a Christian. If you desire a relationship with God, you should hunger and thirst after Him. You should focus on the facts of God and strive for a knowledge of who He is. The same as we strive to learn about those things we are interested in, the same as we desire to spend time with those we love, the same as we desire of others let us desire even more to pursue our relationship with God!

    Only 1% of professing Christians read their Bible daily. What a wake-up call that we are not living our lives as Christians to the full potential we are given. We are called to not only be "saved" we are called to be disciples. A disciple is "one who learns." How are we to know what our faith is based in if we do not have a concrete understanding of the Word of God? How can we defend our beliefs if we do not even know what they are?

    Psalms 1:1-4 says "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law (teachings) of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." We are called to meditate on the scriptures day and night and surround ourselves with people who are meditating on the Word also.

    Psalms 119:11 "I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." How are we to commit scriptures to memory and be able to recall them when necessary if we are not studying them? 2 Timothy 3 speaks such truth about the importance of studying, committing to memory, and living out the scriptures. Look over the chapter (it's short, only 17 verses so it won't take long!) when you can, but right now I want to focus on 16-17 "All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." What a clear message about the purpose and importance of scripture! We are to study the scriptures to learn His ways, to see the wrong in our lives and to be able to correct it, and to grow in righteousness. All of this is to prepare us to live our lives as Christians.

    The most important aspect to daily studying the scripture is the personal aspect of Scripture. Do not just rely on the teachings of scripture from your pastors and group leaders.
    A) Not all pastors teach Biblical truths. It is very easy to treat the Bible like a buffet by picking and choosing which scriptures "fit" your personal belief system. 2 Timothy accurately describes many of today's teachers. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 "For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead to suit their own desires, they will gather round them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn aside from truth and turn aside to myth."
    How are we to know what is true versus what is masquerading as truth if we do not study the scriptures in whole to judge the scriptures in context? How are we to learn God's truth if we do not allow Him to speak it to us in personal study and prayer?
    B) God wants to meet us where we are. He desires to speak life into our circumstances through His Word. Every day we need to approach God with a heart that resounds Psalms 119:18 "Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderous things out of your law." My personal study of scripture is what has revealed the most to me. God knows where I am at in each season, and He knows what it is that I need to learn to get through that season.

    Do not let the fear of not being able to understand the Word discourage you. Remember I John 2:27 says "But the anointing that you received in Him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie--just as it has taught you, abide in Him." If we abide in Him and are seeking out His revelations it will be revealed to us. Matthew 7:7 says "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened unto you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks the door will be opened."

    As Christians our most important resource is the Bible. We need to be seeking to know God more every day and the easiest and most crucial way to do this is through scripture. Take time each day to hear the words God has for you! Just as you set aside time each day to strengthen your relationship with your children, your spouse, and your friends do not forget to set aside time to strengthen  your relationship with your Creator!

    Sunday, October 23, 2011

    Wife Calling

    In the Beginning God had created man with His own hands, in His own image, and brought man to life with His very own Spirit. Then He appointed man over every living thing on earth. In Genesis 2:18-22 when God took the rib from Adam's side to create Eve, He also designed her with a purpose. God called woman to be man's "suitable helper" (literally translated "a helper like man"). Woman was called to be man's life mate. "Helper" is not a demeaning term. In fact, Psalm 33:20, Psalm 70:5 , and Psalm 115:9 all use the term "help" to refer to God Himself. Woman, just like man, was created in God's own image and has a plan and a purpose just as great.

    Perhaps it was man's very own desire for a mate that is what gave woman such power in our calling. Man was not complete without woman in spite of all God had given him and appointed him over. Think about that in terms of our "modern" situations. No matter how successful our husbands are, no matter how much power they have been given in their positions at work, no matter how great everyone else thinks they are, it is ultimately their mate who determines their feeling of "completeness." It is us, their wives, who determine whether our husbands feel truly satisfied.

    As a woman our greatest gift is the gift of influence. It all started in the garden...why do you think Satan approached Eve? He knew she would be able to convince Adam to eat of the fruit because of her influence over him. Women are life givers, called to cultivate emotional and spiritual well-being in our families. This starts with our husbands! If Satan can influence a marriage, he can destroy a family. If he can destroy a family, he can destroy the future.

    Our husbands have a divine calling and it is our responsibility as wives to make sure they are equipped and confident in this calling. It is our job to give them godly encouragement to lead them in the direction of their calling. Our men point us in the direction we are to be headed, but as wives we are the ones who do the steering of our families! The importance of a good wife is stated clearly in Proverbs 31:10-31. "A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life...honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate." And this is just a portion!

    A godly wife of the Bible is successful, respected, well educated, and blessed. What a great calling! She is her husband's supporter and business partner, and in return her husband has full confidence in her and praises her works. But what happens to our husbands if we instead use our powers of influence to tear down and harm them? Our powers of influence have the ability to destroy our husband's spirit, to remove all of his confidence, to build up walls around his heart.

    If we want a husband who is the leader of our family, who is a godly partner, and who is loving and kind in all he does it is our job to cultivate these things in him. This is not about manipulation. This is not about turning our husbands into the man we want them to be. It is about seeing our husbands the way God sees them. It is about seeing our husbands as God's sons, the princes of the Kingdom of God. It is about recognizing in our husbands the call God has placed on their life, then using the call God has placed on us to bring it to fullfillment! What an amazing responsibility we have been given as wives! Don't forget to join me in my wife challenge!

    It is no wonder a noble wife is worth more than rubies. Wives, you are a priceless gift to your husband.

    Sunday, October 16, 2011

    Gentleness: The 30 day challenge

    Having 3 children 3 and under one can only imagine the noise level in our house. During breakfast "Little Einsteins" is blasting on the TV while the kids are jumping from couch to couch either singing along, laughing, or fighting depending on their apparent mood. At the same time I'm trying to get dishes done while they "eat" and the radio is tuned in to the local AM talk station so I can get my dose of local news and conversation. Of course the radio is turned up so I can hear it above the running water, clanging dishes, and to try to cover up the noise coming from the living room.
    To top it off I am one of those people who is just "loud." I mean, I am physically LOUD. My voice just carries! Then the icing on the cake, I grew up in a family with four children where, unfortunately, our conversations consisted more of arguing and raised voices than nice, gentle conversation.

    So combine this family background with my naturally loud voice and the noise level in our house and top it off with an autistic child who at times doesn't even realize there is anyone else on the planet and it had begun to seem impossible for me to ever keep my voice to a normal level! I began to feel like I wake up screaming! The need to speak so loudly put a major strain on my emotional health throughout the day. I felt like my children weren't listening, that in order to make them listen I had to speak louder. And because I was already speaking loudly the level I felt like I had to reach in order to discipline my children reached levels that I'm pretty sure our entire neighborhood, if not the entire city, could hear. I'm talking birds flying out of trees, dogs howling, make my children's eyes get as big as saucers loud. Mommas, this is not a part of our calling.

    Have you ever reached that point where you are shouting so loudly you don't think you can shout any louder? Then some how you find it in you to give it just a little more? I always picture the scene in "Beauty and the Beast" when the Beast is yelling at her to get out when he discovers her about to touch the rose. Why did he react this way? Out of fear that she would touch the rose and it would jeopardize him ever being able to become a prince again, out of anger because he told her not to go in there, and probably a little out of surprise. Seems pretty similar to why I react the way I do as well.(Yes, I know I am analyzing a Disney movie, but if you have ever been in my house to see me scream you would realize just how perfect that scene is so stick with me!) Do you remember Belle's reaction? She is so afraid that she runs not just out of the room, but out of the castle, and runs straight into the wolves grasp as she escapes into the forest. Are you beginning to see why this scene is so perfect for so many reasons?

    Commit to memory Proverbs 15:1 (The book of Proverbs is where my entire knowledge of discipline has been learned. If you haven't read it lately you should read it searching for truths about discipline. It will amaze you.) Proverbs 15:1 says, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." I love the New Living Translation which says, "A gentle answer defects anger, but a harsh word makes tempers flare."

    This verse is perfect for any relationship, but let's really look at how it will effect our relationship with our children. My children are all still small so that's why the image between Beauty and the Beast is so perfect for me right now. I am at least 2 feet taller than my children, and I promise the fact that I am a very petite person compared to most adults does not make me any less frightening to my kids! We have reenacted this scene many times. I realized I really needed to change the way I was reacting when I saw the same reaction in my children as I saw in Belle. They ran from me screaming with terror, into whatever room was closest, and locked the door. My son was screaming, "I don't want to unlock the door," as I pounded on it so hard I swear the door was about to fly off of its hinges. Talk about giving in to my flesh! I had completely lost all sense of the fruits of the spirit, but I wasn't the one who was getting hurt in that moment, it was my children. My children had run from me and had reached the point where if there was a fire in the house I would not have been able to convince them to open the door. My children were becoming afraid of me, and I knew that once they were afraid of me my chances of being an effective parent were shot.

    How did I know this? Insert the scenes that were flashing through my mind while I was yelling at my own children. I saw all of the times my parents had yelled, gotten physical, and let their anger show more than their love for me. Trust me the scenes I remember from my childhood that matched up so well to the scene in "Beauty and the Beast" were NOT the scenes that I wanted to run through my children's minds as well. I knew what would happen once my children began to feel those feelings from me and for me because that is how I had felt towards my parents. As children they ran to the safety of a locked room to shut me out, but as they got older I knew they would run to very different and even more dangerous places. So here's where it led me...

    I challenged myself to 30 days of gentleness. I chose 30 days because I heard somewhere that it takes about 27 days to break a bad habit and I figured I'd need a few more days. So for 30 days I did not allow myself to raise my voice. Did I fail at times? Of course I did. At the beginning it wasn't until I was coming up on minute #2 of shouting at my children to listen, that I caught myself and switched to my "gentle" voice. Trust me, there is no effectiveness to the "gentle" voice once it has been preceded by the "harsh" voice. In fact, I think my children realized I had done something I didn't want to do and decided to take advantage of the moment of weakness. This led to even more opportunity for me to practice my "gentle" voice.

    After about a week though I realized that I had gone a couple of days without raising my voice! (Please, don't confuse things here. During times of discipline there is still a need for a very firm tone, but tone and volume are two very different things. Also remember that a firm tone needs to be used with gentleness rather than anger). The funny thing was by the third week not only had I began to go days without raising my voice, but my children did as well. I promise you when I realized what had been happening the heavens opened and I could hear the angels singing and that is the complete truth!
    Remember our children model everything from what they see, and that means they model everything they see in us.

    I cannot even begin to describe the changes that have come from this 30 day challenge. That natural reaction that I used to have of yelling and waving my arms and all the other craziness I used to do has now been replaced by a reaction of bending down to their level and speaking with a calm, quiet tone. In turn, their reaction to me has been one of obedience and even more tenderness. My children now give me a hug when I scold them. I promise you I did not see that one coming, but they do. It's almost like they are thanking me for not yelling at them (I have to guess here since they are so young it's not like they can even begin to explain to me why they do what they do.) It has also changed the way my children have reacted to each other. If you ever want to know what you sound like, listen to how your kids talk to each other. I found they talk to each other the same way I talk to them. The good thing is it makes it very apparent to me when I am doing something wrong.

    So, I challenge every one of you mommas who struggles with this to take a 30 day gentleness challenge. I know it will work for you the way it did for me. Commit Proverbs 15:1 to memory, write it on your mirror if you have to, put it on a rubber band that you wear around your wrist to pop yourself whenever you find yourself screaming. Whatever works for you, do it! Then just sit back and watch in amazement the changes it will bring to your life! Here's a hint on where to begin: I learned very early on in the challenge to turn the TV down, leave the radio off, and enjoy the peace and quiet while I do my dishes. It's amazing how easy it is to be more gentle when you don't have so much noise to compete with!


    Friday, October 14, 2011

    I am fearfully, wonderfully, and PURPOSEFULLY made

    In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. We know all the lines, but do we remember the impact of these words? When it came time to form man, God did not just speak us into existence. God took his very own hands and formed us, then He breathed life into us. God created us out of an act of pure joy and love. Revelation 4:11 says that we were created for his "pleasure" (KJV) and for his "will" (ESV). Amazing. We were created for God's pleasure! How great is that. So what about all of those times when we think He has made a mistake with His creation?

    When our first son was born it was AMAZING! I mean absolutely, I couldn't even breathe because it was so beautiful, amazing. I actually watched with a mirror as our baby was born (as I have with each of our children) and absolutely nothing could have prepared me for that moment, but as soon as we got settled into recovery I began to notice little things. His eyes would roll around. He never looked at me. But he was a newborn and the doctors said he was perfect. Still, I knew in my heart that he had autism and it seemed the confirmation came more and more every day. The doctors continued to say he was perfect. He was "just a boy", he was just "distracted", he was just "too focused", on and on and on. But I knew. He began to hit himself in the head constantly. He banged his head against the wall, his bed, the floor. They said it was from the fluid in his ears. They told me it was too early for any child to get a diagnosis of autism, but despite what they said I knew.

    Finally, after the birth of our daughter I had to do something. He was 18 months old so he was "borderline" on whether they would diagnose him or not. Luckily, our neurologist is amazing and she agreed that by giving him the diagnosis early we could begin to try getting the treatment he needs. Most parents are afraid of the diagnosis. Afraid of the stigma. Afraid of the label that they believe will follow their child around for the rest of their life. But I knew the only way we could get him the help he needed was to admit he had a problem.

    The strange thing was I had known literally from his birth that he has autism. But I still remember when our Neuro (who happens to be a dear, dear friend) looked at me and said, "Well, he definitely has autism." All of the air was removed from the room, my heart literally stopped, and I don't think I breathed for about five minutes. I walked out clinging to him for dear life sobbing. I probably scared every single person in the waiting room. You would have thought my child had been given a death sentence, but in my mind it was much worse. In my mind, he had already died. This little boy that I loved with all my heart had died. No, not physically, but he was no longer the little boy I knew.
    Especially with being diagnosed so young, it could go two ways. It could A) be a sign that he is just so non-functioning that there is no hope or B) we caught it early enough to be able to get the diagnosis completely removed in several years after very intensive therapies. Can you take a guess which one my mind flew to?
    He was gone. My little boy had no hope of a future. No hope of ever being the little boy that I thought he would be. And there was no hope for me to have the life with him that I always imagined. I mourned this loss for what felt like a very long time.

    Fast-forward to me getting out of the self-pity trap and into action mode (which surprisingly happened about 2 days after his diagnosis). We began doing as much research as possible on everything we could. We began massive amounts of therapies and diets and found out as much as we could about his condition.
    I remember looking at the test they use to diagnose autism. A person is required to have a certain number of symptoms in a certain number of categories. He had most of them. I began to have another pity party when I saw the overwhelming amount of symptoms he had. But I remember so clearly as I was looking over the symptoms something just awakened in me. He had always been this way. He had been this way from birth. In fact, when God knitted this baby boy in my womb he was this way.

    So why did God make him this way? God doesn't make mistakes does he? Maybe God didn't make him this way, it was just a genetic fluke? Maybe God doesn't make disabled children so much as He just allows it to happen? NO, God formed this beautiful, autistic boy in my womb with every plan and purpose for him already and that included his autism. Jeremiah 1:5-8 says, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, Before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you to the nations." Alas, Sovereign Lord, I said, I do not know how to speak, I am only a child. But the Lord said to me, "Do not say 'I am only a child' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue  you." This is so great because A) it shows God knew us from the very beginning of time and B) He did not allow Jeremiah any excuse because he was who God made him to be and God was with him. WOW. Immediately after that realization, my attitude changed.

    I cannot even begin to explain the verbal hurt we faced from others. The "I'm so sorry", "Oh, how aweful for you", "That's such a shame", "What are you going to do", on and on and on and on. Finally, I just started telling people I LOVE his autism. The weird looks I got could literally knock you over. But it is 100% true.
    In fact, the things I love about my son like his organization skills, his constant desire to learn, his conversation skills, the way he notices the little details in everything, the way he's so wonderfully and perfectly him, those things I love so much are all attributes of his autism. And they are not negative things. In fact if you look throughout scripture God constantly called those who had "disabilities" to be used for His greatest glory. So I say, not only did God make these disabled children fearfully and wonderfully, but He made them PURPOSEFULLY.

    He formed my son in my womb with the same love and care as he formed Adam long ago at the beginnings of creation. He knit together my son's innermost parts, wispered into his soul the grand plans He has for him, and then he breathed the breath of life into his body.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    The Call to Encourage

    When I was a young child I went in front of our church and accepted a call to ministry. At the time I didn't know what that exact calling was, but I had just returned from my first mission trip to Duson, LA and I knew I had a calling on my life. I always assumed that the specific calling would be revealed to me at least by the time I was finishing high school, but it wasn't.

    From middle school until college I devoutly attended church services, youth events, and went on several more mission trips. I led praise and worship at school and for our youth and was very verbal about my life as a Christian. 
    During that time I led many small groups and found myself mentoring a small group of girls and began to think maybe I was called to youth ministry. In college I continued to lead praise and worship, led several Bible studies, and was even planning on moving to another state to begin being mentored by a wonderful woman of God and learning the art of her woman's ministry. The funny thing was this "great calling" I felt on my life still had not been revealed to me and I continued to bounce back and forth between ministry callings.

    When things fell through for me to move it was at the exact moment I met my husband. Still not feeling a "clear" call on my life I decided to take a semester off of school and never went back. I continued to search for my calling. I tried my hand at real estate, banking, and even played around with the idea of cosmetology. I just couldn't seem to find my "call". Have I found what my call to ministry is yet, I don't know. But I do know that God has taught me that with every mission trip, with every song, with every spot that I was in my life I was called to minister in that moment. So maybe I haven't found my "ultimate" ministry calling. But I've learned that the "little" callings are just as important .

    When I started this blog three months ago  I was at a point in my life where I was just getting a grasp on the idea of these "little" callings. I was beginning to notice the importance of every single thing I do. That every action has the ability to impact the kingdom of God. That every day holds the opportunity for a life changing moment. When I began getting so many messages from pregnant friends (which to all of you who messaged me about your pregnancy before you told everyone else you have no idea how much of an act of God it was for me to keep it a secret! I am the worst secret keeper ever, so thank you for teaching me the art of keeping my mouth shut!) and other mommy friends asking for encouragement through different situations the idea of this blog was planted in my spirit.

    By the time this blog was put out to the public I had asked around 30 people- pregnant for the first time moms, other Christian moms who were at the same point in life that I am, and even a few men- to take a look at several blog posts that I had written. The feedback was so amazing, the energy level was high, and I knew in my Spirit that this was what the Lord was calling me to do at this moment. So imagine the frustration, confusion, and hurt that came when at the very first post such personal attack began to happen.

    Here's what I have taken out of all of this.
    #1 is that the world will reject a message of truth. 1 Corinthians 2:14 and John 15 are very clear at what the world's reaction to us will be. I think the problem was that I had surrounded myself with such a strong group of Christian influences for so long that I had forgotten what it was like to be confronted by the flesh in such a strong way. Is it wrong that I have such a strong support system of women who hold my same beliefs? Absolutely not! In fact, it is vital. But my problem is that because I had the ability, I had been able to completely remove myself from the world in a way that left me unprepared to witness in it.
    My ministry calling through this blog is to Christian women, but that does not mean I do not have to deal with non-Christian women at the same time. And I was completely caught off guard at this.Sometimes God doesn't give us all the details of what will happen when we answer a call, He just expects us to answer.

    #2 people are messy. We all have our past which has raised in us "flesh patterns" that are almost impossible to break. We all have made mistakes which can easily bring up in us a spirit of defensiveness. And we all struggle with our insecurities. When I had began this blog it had never occurred to me that some would see it as a "judgement" call. I never once considered that it would cause some women to feel the need to become defensive. Why? Because when I started this blog it was out of the call of Romans 8. In Christ there is NO condemnation. vs 9 says, "You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you." Going back to vs 5-6 it says "Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. " I poured into this blog with a Spirit of God, not out of flesh. With a mind set on bringing life and peace to fellow mothers. The problem is, not everyone came into reading it with the same goal. And that's okay, it just wasn't something I was prepared for.
    I had prepared myself for a group of women whose minds were all set on one common goal through the Spirit.

    #3 When something has the ability to be great Satan has to get his mess all up in it. As stated in Romans with God there is no condemnation, but Satan sure does like to come in and make it feel that way. In fact Satan doesn't attack us by coming in the opposite direction as God, he comes at us from the side. He is just close enough to make it "appear" like a godly thing at the time because he knows that if he came at us in such an obvious way he would be defeated every single time. We would reject the devil flat out. But sometimes it is hard to recognize where our feelings are coming from. But I assure you God meant the Scriptures to encourage not condemn, to build up not tear down, to give you strength not to make you feel weak.

    Our problems as humans is a thing called guilt. There are two kinds of guilt that are so closely related it's hard to see where one begins and where one ends.
    But the difference is one is a true guilt from God. A prodding of the Holy Spirit to direct us to follow His will. The other is the false guilt from the devil. This false guilt taunts us, condemns us, and brings us shame. It brings in us a spirit of defensiveness rather than openness. It hardens our heart to the word rather than softens it. And it puts in our spirit a sense of blame rather than forgiveness.
    2 Corinthians 7:10 says, "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death." 1 Peter 5:8 tells us that Satan is a lion who prowls around looking for someone to devour.

    My friends, I speak out in the name of Jesus, do not let Satan turn these words of encouragement into words of condemnation. Do not allow guilt of your mistakes to take over the hope you have through forgiveness. Let these teachings bring love to your spirit not anger, peace not hurt, joy not sorrow, patience not frustration, kindness and goodness rather than defensiveness, faithfulness not questions. Do not allow Satan to distort the truth and turn it into lies in your heart.

    A Call to Blog

    I feel like I need to go off topic here and stray from all of the posts that have already been written and make one point very clear. This blog is meant as an encouragement for Christian moms based on Scriptural teachings.If you are not a Christian this blog is probably just not going to make sense to you. And guess what that is FINE! There are hundreds of blogs out there that have a message for you. This just may not be it. I have no problems with people disagreeing with what is posted in this blog, but my beliefs are not based on someone's opinions of what I have to say.That being said, to my Christian mothers I have a major word of encouragement that I feel can come out of the recent comments I have been getting and thank you to all of you who have encouraged me through this!

    Have you ever heard the Metallica song "Holier than Thou" in which the phrase "Judge not lest ye be judged" is repeated over and over? Has anyone noticed that this has become the battle cry of our culture? It is their "proof" that Christians are supposed to accept their sin, and the sad thing is some Christians have begun to believe it themselves because it has become such a prevelant thought.
    Yes, it is true that scripture says, "Judge not or you will also be judged." Matthew 7:1. But like most other scriptures thrown around by non-believers it begins and ends there. If you continue to read you will soon stumble upon verse 5 in which Jesus said, "You, hypocrite, first remove the plank from your own eye and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." Jesus, never told us not to judge, he told us to judge rightly. He told us not to judge out of hypocritical thoughts or self-righteousness. In fact there are many other verses that instruct us on how we are to judge. Matthew 7:15-16, John 7:24, 1 Corinthians 5:9, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, Philippians 3:2, 1 John 4:1, and 1 Thessalonians 5:21 all exhort believers to judge other people. As I once heard it said, we are called to judge consistently not hypocritically, with humility not superiority, with facts not assumptions, to judge words and deeds not motives or intents, biblical issues not personal preferences, temporal matters not eternal ones (salvation), and with the intention to direct others to Christ.

    The problem is when a Christian speaks the truth it is viewed two different ways based on if the person is a believer or not. According to 1 Corinthians 2:15-16 believers are to be of the same mind, and that is to be the mind of Christ. Therefore we are to judge eachother. However, when talking among Christians who are at different walks in their faith it can be a slippery slope, so let's just remember here that these are scriptural truths and not my own opinions. Nothing I say comes out of my own pride (or even means that I do it all perfectly). It is just an encouragement to remind us all about what it means to be a Christian and what our lives can be about if we follow our calling through him. We cannot continue our spiritual journey if we don't recognize the stumbling blocks we have in our path. We have to be able to call to attention our faults so that God can come in a perform a good work in us.

    Truth on the flip-side to a non-Christian will most likely always be seen as judgement because a non-Christian has no foundation to base these truths upon. In fact, there is specific scripture that speaks to judging a non-Christian. I Corinthians 5:12-13 says, "What business is it of mine to judge the outside church? Are you not to judge the inside? God will judge those outside. You expel the wicked person from among you." WOW. Can we just take a minute to let that sink in. This is the exact reason why this blog is devoted to fellow believers. We are called to certain standards and reminding eachother of those standards and encouraging our fellow believers to uphold these standards is very important. It is also pretty impossible when you are trying to get the standards of Christians and non-Christians to line up. It will never happen. In fact in Matthew 7:6 right after he speaks of removing our own planks Jesus warns us to beware of "dogs" and "pigs" that we do not waste our time giving them the knowledge of God. Why? As a lovely woman once said, "Getting a non-believer to understand scripture is like trying to send a fax to a person who doesn't have a fax machine. It doesn't matter how life saving the fax is or how often you send it there is nothing on the other end to receive it."

    The reason we cannot speak truth to a non-believer is simple. It is all based on our guidelines for judging others. They will always see it as hypocrisy since we Christians do mess up. They will always feel we are approaching them with a sense of surperiority rather than humility because the world's view of humility is very different than the Biblical teaching. (Humility is not about making yourself less than what you are, it's about recognizing your power comes from the Lord and recognizing the abilities and resposibilities that come from that power.) They will always feel we are judging through our own opinions since they do not believe the Scriptures to be truth. They will always feel we are judging their motives rather than their actions because they do not know how to seperate the two.
    They believe our Biblical views are our personal preferences rather than actual facts. They cannot recognize the judging of a sin, but not the sinner. In fact 1 Corinthians 2:14 says, "but the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned."

    Am I saying that this blog is all about judging Christians? Absolutely not! But at the times when you find yourself thinking with that mindset I want you to remember these Biblical Truths. Do not allow Satan to come into your heart and turn words of encouragement into condemnation. But most importantly do not let the allegations of judgement keep you from speaking the truth.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    In Response

    After getting several comments about my first post, although knowing where they are coming from and expecting such comments, I definitely feel the need to respond. I stand by every single thing I said. Not only is what I said what I truly believe, but it is BIBLICAL. Telling a mother that she does not have to feel overwhelmed is not "judgemental". Telling a mother that she needs a dose of reality at times is not "Holier than thou". Defensiveness is our natural response based on our own pride. Maybe you need to search out what it is about my words that were offensive to you and why? If you don't particularly enjoy being a mother, yes, you will become defensive against a mother who says that she thinks it's the best job in the world.

    Christ said that as believers we are to be judged by our fruit. If you are not a Christian I do not expect you to agree with my posts. If you are a Christian who does not agree with my posts then I am inclined to ask you why? What is it that you do not agree with about living in the Spirit? What do you not agree with about acting out of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control. Do you really believe that as a Christian we are called to live our lives as mothers overwhelmed, emotionally empty, angry, and wishing we were doing something else? Do you not agree that if we are living out of the Spirit then we cannot be acting out of our fleshly emotions? The scriptures say that a good tree cannot bear bad fruit. If your role as a mother is bearing bad fruit, then you need to take a serious look at why you are not instead bearing good fruit.

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    “No Time to Play”

    My precious boy with the golden hair
    Came up one day beside my chair
    And fell upon his bended knee
    And said, “Oh, Mommy, please play with me!”

    I said, “Not now, go on and play;
    I’ve got so much to do today.”
    He smiled through tears in eyes so blue
    When I said, “We’ll play when I get through.”

    But the chores lasted all through the day
    And I never did find time to play.
    When supper was over and dishes done,
    I was much too tired for my little son.

    I tucked him in and kissed his cheek
    And watched my angel fall asleep.
    As I tossed and turned upon my bed,
    Those words kept ringing in my head,

    “Not now, son, go on and play,
    I’ve got so much to do today.”
    I fell asleep and in a minute’s span,
    My little boy is a full-grown man.

    No toys are there to clutter the floor;
    No dirty fingerprints on the door;
    No snacks to fix; no tears to dry;
    The rooms just echo my lonely sigh.

    And now I’ve got the time to play;
    But my precious boy is gone away.
    I awoke myself with a pitiful scream
    And realized it was just a dream

    For across the room in his little bed,
    Lay my curly-haired boy, the sleepy-head.
    My work will wait ‘til another day
    For now I must find some time to play.

    Dianna (Mrs. Joe) Neal

    Idle hands really are the devil's playground...

    I'm always amazed when my Bible Study moms pull out their calenders so we can schedule a girl's night out. The days are packed! I never really thought about why until Rob came home from his first few days of teaching 4th grade completely defeated. The first words out of my mouth were, "You just have to keep them busy. You can't stop for a minute!" I swear it was like the heavens opened. I got it! I finally understood why I have something solid scheduled for 3 days of the week and fill the others with playdates with whatever friends are available or "special" activities for me and the kids to do.

    We have a yearly zoo pass, a stockpile of Chuck E. Cheese tokens, and I even have a list of the kids' favorite places to go that I keep handy for those "I need to get the kids out of the house NOW" moments. Chick-fil-A for breakfast is pretty common since they can play on the playground while I enjoy my coffee, do some Bible Study, or read a good book. The BREC indoor playground has become a favorite place for playdates since it is gated off and there is so much for the kids to do we mommies can have around 3 hours of adult conversation without worrying about children wandering off. I will even go to the mall before it opens since there's no crowd but the mall is open for employees (and those cute mall-walkers).Now I'm not saying you have to spend every single second out of your house. In fact, if you walk into my house at any point during the day it will look like a day care in here! Why? Because it IS a day care!

    Our home is where our kids play, learn, and live! We have a playroom upstairs where I keep their "mess". I go up there no more than once a week to clean and the kids can just do what they want to do. BUT that is not the only place we have toys. We have a "play" section in every room of our house. A box of toys will even make it's way into our master bedroom and bathroom on occasion. The kids wander from room to room pulling out whatever they want and rarely put one thing back before getting out something else. And it will stay that way until they go to sleep because I do not follow them around all day picking up the trail of mess behind them. Usually I am on the floor beside them making the mess too. Even though my house may look like a toy store exploded (and most of the toys look like casualties of war), I get more joy at the end of the day looking at this hot mess of a house than I ever did looking around at a house where everything was perfectly in place.

    In fact the days when I tried to keep everything perfectly in place were the most stressful, most unenjoyable moments of my entire life. It is literally like trying to follow after a tornado to clean up after it. Not only that, but imagine that after that tornado passes another comes through and then another and another and another. Yeah, spare yourself the stress! Learn to not only love the mess, but learn to help make it!

    Sunday, October 9, 2011

    Teach a mom to pout, she'll be happy for a day. Teach a mom to shower, she'll be happy for a lifetime.

    The most important thing to remember is that we are weak, weak people. We are weak emotionally, physically, and we easily become weak spiritually. If we are not careful our flesh will literally suck the life right out of us. But here's something we seem to forget, if we surround ourselves with flesh we will get the life sucked out of us even faster! God recognized this in us from the beginning of creation. He gave Eve to Adam, Aaron to Moses, Elisha to Elijah, Silas to Paul, and on and on and on. Even Jesus had 12 chosen disciples. Sometimes we just need something physical to plug into so we can reharge our battery. The problem when trying to plug our spiritual selves into a fleshly socket is that we will short out and become, well, useless.

    But what does this have to do with motherhood? This is why it is so important to practice discernment when we decide who to surround ourselves with. Here's a real life example: I am beyond exhausted, frustrated, and cranky. Eden was up all night with a cold, Maddox was having night terrors, and as soon as we finally got everyone settled down and asleep at 3am Kason decided it was time to par-tay! Physically I am done, emotionally I am hanging off of the cliff, and my spiritual self is on the back shelf completely.

    I call up a friend who says she is on her way and for me to put the coffee on. She gets here, we pour a cup of coffee, and spend the next two hours while the kids nap talking about how difficult being a mother is. I cry, she says she understands and even cries a little herself, we hug and she leaves. The problem is, I feel even more exhausted after she left and now that the kids are awake I feel completely d.o.n.e. done. But I don't know why because I felt "better" while she was here. I felt so "understood". I felt "encouraged".

    Now imagine if I had called a different friend. I tell her what happened, she tells me to put on a pot of coffee because she's coming over. As soon as she walks through the door I start crying, but instead of letting me have a pity party she tells me to go take a shower and she will take care of the kids if they wake up. While I'm in the shower I have my time to relax and finish "pitying" myself. As I come out and see that she has done the dishes and is folding my laundry I immediately feel the need to get to work cleaning up this crazy mess of a house while the kids are taking their nap. She leaves and my house is in better shape, but so am I. Why? Because instead of having me spend two hours plugged into my flesh and focusing on how difficult things are she realizes it is time for me to wake up. She realizes that I need time to pity myself, but that it's also time for me to pull it together. She encourages me that, yes, I had a bad night, but guess what it's morning! The kids are all napping at the same time and instead of trying to make the best of my day I am still stuck focusing on the worst of my night.

    The spiritual gift of goodness is one that I absolutely adore. It is the partner to the gift of kindness, but it is the physical act of it's emotional counterpart. The reason I love it, is because, ironically, goodness is all about rebuking others. That is what I need! I need a fellow mother to have a tender heart for my situation (kindness) but a firm hand when it comes to how I handle it (goodness). I don't need a mother to give me advice, I need a mother to give me guidance. I'm so blessed that very early on in motherhood I learned the art of taking a shower!

    If you haven't yet read about your super powers now is the perfect time to do so!!!