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Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones…

But words will never hurt me.  That is what I was told as a child and I am pretty sure I was made to say it back as if it were a mantra I would always need to remember. But it wasn’t true. I have never had a broken bone but I have had many hurts that were a direct result of people’s words. I have also been the cause of pains felt by those I care about because of the words I chose to use when talking to them, especially my children.

I recently have made a new friendship with wonderful mom over at Hands Free Mama. She has so much truth to share with the world and she has had some amazing opportunities to share lately. She is genuine and cares deeply about the families she is hoping to impact by sharing her stories and her journey. I am blessed to call her a friend in this journey of motherhood.

On December 11, 2013, I was up late at night because I was unable to sleep. I came across an article written by the Hands Free Mama entitled The Bully Too Close to Home. It peeked my interest and I was the only one up at 2am so I read it. I highly  encourage you to do the same, Even before you finish reading my post.

As I began to read the article, I immediately knew that it was going to be significant in my life. Her words all at once comforted me while also calling me to the carpet on the way I speak to my children. I can not express to you how convicting her words were for me. If you struggle like I do with the way you speak to your children, then she has such encouraging words about how we can get on track. It won’t always be easy but you can always start over each time you mess up.

The night I read the article I did so through drenched eyes. After I finally made it through to the end of the article, I spend the next 10 minutes on my knees bawling before the Lord about this inequity in my life. I don’t want to be the bully in my home. I want to create a safe haven for my children and for my husband. I want more than anything to encourage them and build them up at all times but many days it doesn’t come out that way.

I am so thankful for being part of a family that does Grace and second chances. My family does not hold it over my head if I make a snap judgement, or snap at them, or treat them like they should already know how to do some things better than others. They just simply say they are sorry and we move on. I know the benefit of apologizing for my behavior as well. And I know the importance of being intentional with them so that they know I want more for our relationships together.

When my oldest was out for school, we had truly the most fun we have ever had together at home. I chose not to be the Bully. I chose not to assume because his brother was crying that he must have done something to him. I sat aside time special just for him each day and I enjoyed it so much. I know he did as well. We went most of the Christmas break with no yelling. Praise the Lord!! Just calm reassurance. It was truly so amazing that I did not want my son to return to school, which if I am being honest, is not the norm. I am usually ready for him to return because the two of them are driving me crazy. But not this time. I soaked up every minute I could get with them, gave them lots of hugs, snuggles, played games, and just spent time together. These were the things that helped me from being the bully in my home.

I feel that this year is starting out better and I am going to continue to be intentional about building up the relationships with those closest to me and not doing anything as far as I am concerned to tear them down. There will be plenty of people in the life of my children that will hurt them with words and I am resolved not to be one of those people. Grace is extended to us each day and in my endeavor to live a more Christ-like life. I want to be extending that same grace to my children in allowing them room to make mistakes.

Thank you Hands Free Mama for sharing your struggles and words of encouragement. And thank you for allowing me to share what your post, The Bully Too Close to Home, has done in my life. I thank the Lord for the friendship he is building in us as well.

Grace and Patience

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Thank you all for being patient during this crazy holiday time. I know your lives are probably just as busy as ours are at this time. There are many exciting things going on. 

My goal is to finish up the Resolution Sessions Hopefully next week. I am so grateful for all the guest writers that helped me accomplish this. I hope that we were all able to share insight and truths that help you become the best wives and mothers you can be as well as all the other roles we have to fulfill. 

Have a great week and be watching for one more post in the Resolution Sessions before the conclusion of this series. 

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Resolution Sessions: Going Crazy Wanna Go!!

I am so blessed to call this next writer my friend and mentor. She has helped me so much in figuring out blogging. I know I can send her the most random question and she is always willing to help me out. You can visit her blog at Going Crazy!! Wanna Go?!! She has excellent family fun posts as well as some good personal growth posts.  I have loved watching her grow over the years in her marriage and as a family and I pray she blesses others with her message. And here is her story….
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When I was growing up, my family was not the church-going type. My parents instilled good values in us and taught us how to be good people. We didn’t talk about God and salvation. We didn’t talk about the bible. My sister and I were invited to churches by our friends at times and we occasionally went to Vacation Bible School…if the bus would come pick us up. My sister was much more social than I was so she was more likely to go to church with her friends and sometimes she would take me along. Even today she is more into her church and serving than I will ever be. I’m just too quiet and timid.
I remember going to a Women of Faith conference with her several years ago when I was in my early twenties. I was amazed at the power of the faith that was in that convention center. I had never experienced anything quite like it. My sister had a lot of faith and we would talk about it at times, but she was still learning a lot and having me question things made her insecure and she would go on the defensive. She felt that I was questioning her faith, but I was simply trying to learn and test my own waters out. During that conference, I prayed with these women and checked a box on a form and suddenly my sister was going berserk and saying that I had been saved and that Jesus was in my heart. I honestly thought the box was to receive more information in the mail that I could study so that I would learn whether I wanted this life of Christianity. I was intrigued and I wanted to know more, but I didn’t know what it meant to be saved. She was way too excited and spread the word through the conference way too fast for me to say “stop” and tell her what I really meant when I checked that box.
What I knew I had come away with from that conference was this: Being a Christian meant a life with huge struggles and challenges that I did not think I could bear. These women talked about cancer and illness, tragedies beyond anything that I wanted to endure. I wanted no part in the learning and strengthening that came to these women because of their strong faith. They had death and destruction in their lives and although they talked about how God brought them through it, I didn’t even want to go there at all!
After I met my husband, a Jewish man, I just knew that I would never be a “true” Christian and I just gave in to what life had dealt me. We had our struggles, like most newlyweds with a baby would, and we just survived. One day; however, he mentioned that a woman at his work had invited him to church and assured him, as a Jew, that he would be welcome because the pastor was Jewish as well. Before I knew what I was doing, I said we should go and see what it was like and I believe this was the first time that God told me to do something and I obeyed. I didn’t hear Him. I didn’t see Him. I just heard the words coming out of my mouth and then I felt obligated to follow through.
Within 6 months of attending Grace Bible Church, my husband and I had accepted Christ in our hearts and we were saved. After 8 months, we were both baptized. We are obeying God in the best way we know how and we are experiencing our own struggles. We haven’t dealt with death and cancer and all that I was terrified of during that WOF conference, but we deal with our daily struggles as a couple, as parents, as middle class income earners. You know the ones, right?
I talked to my pastor’s wife about my fears that becoming a Christian would lead to terrible struggles. She told me that these struggles will happen in life. Death and tragedy is a part of life. But when those things happen to us it is much more reassuring to know that we have the Lord on our side and fighting for us rather than the Devil leading our way into further destruction. When I come across the big fights, I have my weapon, the bible, to fight with rather than my own weak body and hands. I believe that my marriage was saved by God and that He wants us to fight daily to keep it alive.
This past Sunday our pastor was reading in John 12 about Jesus visiting Simon the Leper. He talked about how we often want to host Jesus in our homes and in our lives, but we don’t want to honor Him. Mary was the one to get down on her knees and clean Jesus’ feet and anoint Him with her oil. When I think about the good things happening in our lives, I think about how God can be honored for providing for us. I try not to say the word “lucky”, but instead, I say “blessed” because life is not about chance and luck. It is about God’s will and His blessings. This is not always popular in my family or my work, but it is what it is and I seek to speak the truth.
I’m still terrified that my family will go through destruction and tragedy. Every time someone says that my boy is a blessing to this world and that he lights up a room, I think about the children who die and their loved ones say “he would just bring joy to everyone he met”. I fear that my child, in his loving way, will reach his potential too early (for my liking) and be called to the Lord before I’m ready. But I can’t let myself be consumed by this fear because I am working daily, hourly even, to seek God’s will for me and follow Him wherever He leads me.
-Janet
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Resolution Sessions: Making Much of Christ

The resolution I am sharing about today regards a time in my life where my husband and I were called to be parents who were more involved with our children even if it meant making decisions directly oppositional to what the world would have you believe equates success.

I will share that Stan Britton is the one who preached this sermon and it has never left my thoughts as it has pertained to so many areas of my life since I heard it and therefore it has become a part of who I am and is always factored in when making decisions.

My husband and I were considering me starting a home based business that would help add income to our family but that would also hopefully allow me to become a stay at home. The idea of quitting my full time job and being a stay at home mom was something very near to my heart and I was always certain it was what the Lord would have me do. But it was one of those things that the world tells you is not a good decision. How can you have money and status and move up in any company if you are a stay at home mom? Stan presented three questions during his sermon that related to this personal dillema and they very much guided us in making the decisions that would follow in our life.

1. Does this opportunity give me a chance to share Jesus Christ?

2. Does this opportunity allow me to make much of myself or make much of Jesus?

3. In this deicision, does my answer point people to Christ or does it point people to the world?

I knew immediately that based on the type of company I was going to work for that I could do all these things. I am a consultant for Premier Designs Jewelry. This is a company that is founded on biblical principles. We pray together, we teach each other about Jesus, and the gospel is shared by our senior leadership. It is truly amazing how the Lord can and has used me in this role. I continue to work at Premier Designs and it has allowed me to quit my job which was another one of those times when we really had to assess our decisions based on these questions. Quitting my job did allow me to be more involved with church, it has allowed me to have time with my family and children which is one of mine and my sweet hubby’s number one priorities. We had reached the point where we were no longer comfortable with our children being raised by other people while we worked all day. But dropping down to a one income family for the sake of taking care of children was very contrary to what the world considered successful.

So I tell you all this to say that the day I learned to evaluate each of our life decisions but especially the big ones by these three questions, I made a resolution. I resolved to be the kind of person who would never let the world’s values dictate what was best for my family and the kingdom of God. I resolved that I would always seek these questions and answers and my husband and I have used this model frequently throughout the years each time feeling confident in our decisions because we believe by making the Lord the number one priority we were firmly in his will, making much of Christ in our lives.

Over the next couple of weeks we will have some exciting guest writers to share about the resolutions in their lives. Stay tuned in! You do not want to miss out!!

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It Matters To This One

As the old man walked along the beach at dawn, he noticed a young man ahead of him picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Finally, catching up with the youth, he asked why he was doing this.

The answer was that the stranded would die if left until the morning sun.

“But the beach goes on for miles and there are millions of starfish,” countered the other. “How can your effort make any difference?“

The young man looked at the starfish in his hand and then threw it to safety in the waves.

“It makes a difference to this one,” he said.

-The Starfish Flinger by Loren Eiseley

I was reminded of this story today when a sweet friend of mine was talking to me about my blog. She shared with me that even though she has been married for almost 25 years and has adult children she is able to learn things from my experiences. And that is exactly  why I write and share the messages the Lord has put on my heart.

When I wrote my very first post Grace Abounds, I was begging for input from friends and family. Not necessarily about the topic itself but about whether or not it was useful. I wanted to know if sharing my experiences was helpful to anyone. No one responded directly. Then in a casual conversation with one of my dearest friends she mentioned that she had read the post and it made her think about how she interacted with her child and some alternatives. Grace Abounds is about my struggle with yelling at my children and the steps my husband and I have taken to be intentional with other ways to get our message across.  I was able to talk with her about our struggle and how we have seen it affect our children. I left that conversation with the confirmation that if sharing my experiences helps no one else in my life but her then it is worth it. Then a family member also expressed that it got her to thinking about alternatives to yelling. Again, confirmation that the messages the Lord gives me need to be shared for the benefit of others and their families.

I am not so naive to think that every post I write will help everyone that reads it but if each one only helps one person then I know the Lord’s work is being done. I want to bring God glory in all that I do and that includes writing. I believe he has given me messages to share to inspire and empower other women to be godly women, wives, and mothers and if it is one woman at a time then His work is still being done!

This type of conversation always makes me think of Luke 22:31-32. Jesus is telling Simon Peter that Satan has asked to sift him as wheat. Jesus tells Simon that he will pray for him through it and when he is done he is to strengthen his brothers. Each of my struggles is to be used for God’s glory and I can do that by getting through it, learning what God wants me to learn from the experience and sharing it with others that they may be encouraged and strengthened through their own challenges.

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Resolution Sessions: Intro

Tonight while spending some time with the Lord regarding the spiritual gifts he has given me, I felt this sense of the topic of Resolution Sessions. So here goes my interpretation of what the Lord might like this to look like. It could always change as he continues to develop me as a person and as he continues to develop the content/messages he has asked me to share.

When I think about a resolution, the first things that come to mind are New Year Resolutions which I do not make. I can remember only making one that mattered in this life and the Lord has pushed me more and more each year to fulfilling that resolution according to His will and with the Spirits direction. It was several years ago, maybe 2008, when I resolved to live my life for God(I believed in the Lord but was not living my life for him. I was being far more than selfish at the time). If the things going on in my life did not or would not bring God glory, they were to be removed through God’s sanctifying of me. And they were and continue to be. The Lord has delivered me from so many areas of personal struggles and I know that I could not have been successful at the removal of those things from my life with out Him.

That year I specifically resolved to be the kind of wife and mother that I needed to be for my family under the Lord’s direction not as I had been doing it. My ways were all wrong and my family needed transformation, sanctification, and the process of restoration to begin. And it has and continues on in the other areas the Lord is working in.

It is my hope through starting this mini series that a) the traditional idea of a resolution is revised and we see that we must resolve ourselves to certain things every day if we hope to live a Christlike life b) we, as a community of believers, can come up with some ideas about what Christ centered resolutions look like c) we engage this written community with ideas and we can truly make each others lives better simply by opening up the lines of communication.

Weekly I will do a post or invite a guest writer to do a post about resolutions. Ones they have made that they have been successful at, ones that have failed, ones that challenge  us all to be better in each of our areas of life, or any other ideas around this topic of resolution.

Today I leave you with this, there are many definitions of the word resolution but I like this one the most.

RESOLUTION=FIRMNESS OF PURPOSE

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You Get What You Get and You Don’t Throw a Fit!

As this topic has been floating around in my head and my heart, the above title came up over and over again. I can’t recall exactly who it was that told my now 7 year old child this phrase but I am certain it was one of his many teachers throughout the years and most likely one from Promiseland Preschool. He was always told, “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit” Usually in regards to what color cup they got or if there were different snacks which one he would get. The point was everyone will get something so don’t throw a fit about what you get, just accept it.

It got me to thinking about my relationship with my husband. Now don’t take that the wrong way. I love my husband more than anything on this earth and I never feel like he is “just what I got”. He is the man for me. He is my soul mate, my provider, the father of my children. We were molded together from the beginning and we fit so perfectly together. The part it did get me thinking about is the things I knew about my husband in the beginning and that he knew about me from the beginning of this journey together. And how in some ways we have to accept what we are given and not throw a fit about it.  Because, is it worth stealing your joy because you or your mate do not meet each others expectations?

I will jump right into my examples here. My husband knew pretty quickly into our marriage that I was not a very good house keeper. He may have known sooner but I am sure it became abundantly clear to him with in that first year. One thing I have always known about my husband is that he doesn’t remember things very often, or usually at all.  We have tried different systems over the years to help us out with that but nothing has really stuck. I live  daily frustrated by this fact. My thought is” we already had this conversation why do we have to have it again. I told you where the children and I would be tonight. I told you we had this birthday party to go to.” I get overwhelmed at the things he doesn’t remember and I begin to take it personally. Like if anyone else had told him this information he would remember it or that I am not important enough to listen to. None of which is true and I know this. I know that remembering things is not one of his strong areas but that doesn’t make him any less of that amazing father and husband I mentioned earlier. And I knew what I was getting when I married him so can I really throw a fit.? :-)

Now here is the flip side of that. I don’t think in my ten years of marriage that I can ever remember by husband griping at me for there being laundry piled up that needs to be folded, or dishes that need to be washed, or clothes that need to be washed or fridges cleaned out, or kids rooms organized or floors mopped or carpets vacuumed!! And even now that taking care of our home is my primary job and I am still not the best at it, he never speaks negatively to me about those things not being done. He actually does quite the opposite. When he sees that I am frantic because I am becoming overwhelmed with our home or all the tasks that need to be accomplished, he asks me to sit down with him for a minute or come in the living room and play with him and the kids as they wrestle. He never once has come home from work and said “what have you done all day this place is a mess”. He knew what he was getting when he married me and he understood that. He knows it is important to me to have a clean home but that I rarely have enough time in a day to get it all accomplished! And he loves me none the less.

I on the other hand can nag about something I knew about him from the beginning instead of taking his lead and being content, which is where my challenge lies today. We have all heard time and time again that we can’t change the other person. The only person we can change is ourselves and that is what I have done over the last year or so. I heard a couple talking on a radio segment about communicating to each other the most important things that needed to be accomplished each day. I sat down with my husband and I asked him these things. I asked him if I could only get to 3 things each day what would those three things be. What could I do that would make your day better? His requests were very simple: do the Laundry so that I have clean work clothes each and every day and make sure that each day you are doing something in the way of physical exercise for myself and our youngest. I don’t do so great at the last one but I have been on top of the first. He has his clothes clean and waiting for him each and every morning. Communicating with each other about what things are the most important has helped me see that he doesn’t see me as a degenerate that can’t even keep our home clean. He sees me as the mother of his children, his wife and soul mate and all those other things are tertiary to what I bring to our family.

My husband loves me enough to accept the things about me that he knew from the beginning and it is my goal to do the same for him. Will I get frustrated when he can’t remember what meeting I have on what night, probably. But I will continue to take this frustration to the Lord and allow him to show me what he wants me to gain from it instead of nagging my sweet husband about it. My husband who has been working all day to ensure our family has an income. I will praise him for the things he does well and not dwell on the things he does not do well.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content in any circumstance. Phil 4:11

When you get in that rut, of thinking oh I must not be important enough because my spouse/mate did not do _____________ .  Start to think of ways you can serve them and you will forget about the things they did not do for you or the things they didn’t remember so you had to tell them 10 times. But as Paul tells us you can be content with much or with little. The point is that you learn contentment with what the Lord has given you, your lot. You get what the Lord has given  you and you don’t throw a fit.

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Tune My Heart to Sing Thy Grace

 

I have heard this hymn many times before but it wasn’t until yesterday that I felt the Lord showing me something different through these words. Tune my heart to sing your grace. What a proclamation  to my Lord! Make me more like you! Make my heart gracious like yours. Break my heart for what breaks yours. It revealed different things about myself and reasons why it is important for me to lean on Him daily and not on my own ability to get through a day or any given task. And  then the third verse comes and it just blows me away at how relevant it is to me now in this very season and this very moment in my life.

So to grace, how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be
And let Thy goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above

Lord let your goodness like a fetter(chain) bind my wandering heart to thee. Chain my heart that wants to, by nature, run in the opposite direction of what is good, to you Lord and to your goodness. This was a reminder of the importance of waking up daily and turning my heart over to the Lord asking him to have his way with me today. Because, if left in my control I will let my heart wander. I will let my heart listen to things that will not bring him glory.  I will let my mind read things that will not bring him glory. I will say things that do not bring him glory and I am certain to look at things that will not glorify him. No matter what medium those things come in as if I have not asked the Lord each day to seal my heart for his uses, I can and will likely be easily strayed by my wandering heart.

My husband and I were talking this past weekend about what sin looks like in our lives. We are in a different place than we were 5 or 10 years ago so it does look differently because we have grown and we have allowed the Lord to prune us and rebuke us for our choices that did not bring him glory. So at this juncture in our life, we feel that it would be more difficult for certain sin to take over our life. This is not a piece on sin in particular. Sin is sin is sin. We have all heard that but what sin looks like for someone who is just beginning their walk with the Lord and what sin looks like for a person that has been walking for many years of their life will look different. I will use an example from my own life to help solidify this idea. This is my example and what the Lord has convicted me of. I used to enjoy  getting together with my friends having some drinks and just letting loose. While the Lord has been working to prune that out of my life for quite some time, it hasn’t been that many years ago that on a weekend night it would be a priority. It is not now a priority for me and hasn’t been in about 3 years so I feel that it would be much more difficult to “fall” back into that sin. It wouldn’t be a fall really. It would be a gradual descent. Which brings me to the point that my husband and I were talking about. Because we are at that different place in our life, it is the little concessions that we make for sin in our life daily that could take over and send us spiraling out of control away from the Lord. I believe the Lord has greater purposes for us than that if we rely on him completely  and not our own understandings.

I once heard a pastor(unsure of who it was)  say that we are to make no concessions for the flesh. None at all. It is when we begin to make those small concessions here and there, oh I will just have a drink at this event or maybe one won’t really hurt anything, that we compromise our abilities to be fully used by God. We take the focus off of the Lord and his work and place it on our selves and our selfish desires.

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Our flesh no matter what the topic is wants to run this game. Whether its pride, anger, lust, bitterness, drugs/alcohol, offensive language spoken or heard, things we allow our hearts and mind to take in through music, books, or other forms, you all know this list could go on forever, because if something does not put God first and bring him glory than it is an idol and our flesh pushes us to be idolaters. I know this will look differently for each and everyone of you. I also know that some may be newer Christians and it would be easy for you to just simply step back into your old habits or you might be someone who has been walking with the Lord for a very long time but you see that gradual descent away from Him. My challenge to us all, myself included, is that each morning we will rise and be wise enough to know that our flesh will begin battling for our focus and attention and we must ask the Lord to take our hearts and seal them. Seal them for His courts above.